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Exclamation Avast_Security_News: Answers to 5 key questions about highly publicized NSA-Microsoft
Posted by: harlan4096 - 10 hours ago - Forum: Avast Blog News and Info - No Replies

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Flaw could have undermined a key trust mechanism, and spy agency took unusually public step to point it out

What happened?

The U.S. National Security Agency discovered a major security flaw in Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system, and tipped off the company. Microsoft made a software patch to fix it, and credited the agency for finding the flaw.

Why was that such a big deal?

Two reasons. First, an attacker could have exploited the vulnerability by “spoofing” a code-signing certificate – counterfeiting a key trust mechanism – so it looked like a file came from a trusted source. The company said “The user would have no way of knowing the file was malicious, because the digital signature would appear to be from a trusted provider.”

Second, the NSA chose to publicly reveal the vulnerability to the world’s largest software maker rather than exploit the flaw in order to gather intelligence about threats to the United States. The spy agency said “NSA contributed to addressing this problem by discovering and characterizing the vulnerability, and then sharing with Microsoft quickly and responsibly.”

Luis Corrons, Avast’s security evangelist, said this combination of factors made the incident noteworthy. “The vulnerability was serious, and the NSA’s statement was unusual in its transparency. Combining those two things makes for a big story. Frankly, this is how things are supposed to work. The public has a right to know and a need to understand this kind of risk – and what government and companies do to counter it.”

"Frankly, this is how things are supposed to work. The public has a right to know and a need to understand this kind of risk – and what government and companies do to counter it.” – Luis Corrons, Avast’s security evangelist

Is this different from past NSA procedures?

Yes. Experts say this is likely a reflection of changes made in 2017 to put more emphasis on disclosing vulnerabilities to protect core internet systems. Those changes happened in 2017 after trust in the NSA was damaged when a hacking group released high-level hacking tools that had been stolen from the NSA. This release of tools forced companies including Microsoft to repair their systems.

Did Microsoft say the vulnerability was not as significant as NSA claimed?

No, but the software maker did rate the flaw as “important,” rather than “critical,” noting that it has not been exploited as far as the company knows. NSA said “This vulnerability may not seem flashy, but it is a critical issue. Trust mechanisms are the foundations on which the internet operates.” Some say this was a discrepancy between the two organizations, others noted that Microsoft has classified other major threats as only “important.”

What should I do?

You should always install operating system updates to ensure your computer has the latest software and security. Microsoft has guidance on how to check if your computer is up-to-date and how to set it to receive automatic updates. The NSA has guidance for system administrators responding to this specific threat to Windows 10.

If you do not currently use an antivirus, take this opportunity to check out Avast Free Antivirus, the only award-winning free antivirus strong enough to protect a global community of hundreds of millions of users. And see how Avast stacks up to the competition in this comparison of best free antivirus software.
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Lightbulb Avast Blog_Tips & Advices: Avast continues support for Microsoft’s Windows 7
Posted by: harlan4096 - 10 hours ago - Forum: Avast Blog News and Info - No Replies

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If you are a user of the operating system and are wondering what will happen to your Avast Free or Premium Security, we have good news

You probably heard that Microsoft officially stops support for Windows 7 on Jan. 14th 2020. If you are running the popular operating system, your computer will still function but Microsoft will no longer provide technical support for any issues, software updates, or security updates or fixes.

“While you could continue to use your PC running Windows 7, without continued software and security updates, it will be at greater risk for viruses and malware,” Microsoft says.

In light of that security warning, you might be wondering what will happen to your antivirus. Will Avast still be working?

Yes, we have you covered and we will fully support Avast antivirus products on Windows 7.

“Worldwide, roughly 26% of PC users are still running Windows 7, the operating system (OS) that as of January 14 will no longer receive technical support in the form of updates and patches from Microsoft,” says Martin Zima, Avast senior product manager for protection products.

We have you covered and we will fully support Avast antivirus products on Windows 7.

"According to our own research, more than a third of our PC users have Windows 7 installed, which is largely due to ongoing preference for the product versus newer versions.”

Zima said ending technical support for Windows 7 leaves the machines on which it’s installed vulnerable to cyberattacks that seek to exploit unpatched flaws. “In the interest of our users’ security and privacy, Avast will continue to provide virus definition updates and product updates for Windows 7 for those who are unable or do not wish to make the switch to a newer version of Windows.”

How long will Avast continue support for Windows 7? For at least two years. So far we don’t foresee a speedy increase in the migration of users to the newer Windows versions, and haven’t set any hard deadline for our support.

What will happen if I purchase an Avast Premium Security license and decide to change my OS later?

You are always able to transfer your subscription. You will simply require an activation code or Avast account login credentials. You can find more information about that on our support pages.
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Exclamation Mobile Security - this path will not be easy...
Posted by: harlan4096 - 10 hours ago - Forum: G DATA Security Blog - No Replies

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Updates are essential for the security of Android devices. However, given the different operating system versions, it is difficult to keep track. We shed light on the version labyrinth and provide tips to improve security.

If you always want to have the latest Android version, you can’t beat Google's Pixel series. Other Android manufacturers are not as reliable. The update policy of many manufacturers has so far left consumers confused as to whether the devices available in stores will still receive updates in the long term. Google has taken a first important step with Project Treble, to provide the major Android flagships in particular with updates more quickly. Whereas it previously took an average of 192 days for the Nougat update to reach the most important smartphones, and 170 days for the Oreo version to do so, OEM manufacturers rolled out Android Pie just 118 days after its launch. However, the times vary considerably between individual manufacturers. Samsung, Huawei and Xiaomi, in particular, have almost halved deployment times.


Monthly Android updates ensure the protection of the devices and, thereby, the users too. The manufacturers always provide an up-to-date overview of current patches and security fixes very promptly. The most important addresses are:

* Google: https://support.google.com/pixelphone/answer/4457705
* Samsung: https://security.samsungmobile.com/securityUpdate.smsb
* Huawei: https://consumer.huawei.com/en/support/bulletin/
* LG: https://lgsecurity.lge.com/security_updates_mobile.html
* Motorola: https://support.motorola.com/us/en/softwareupgrade
* Nokia: https://www.nokia.com/phones/en_int/security-updates

There's a catch, though. Even if the patch level is up to date, there is still a residual risk. This is because a review of missed security updates raises doubts about Google's Android patch level system. German security experts have found critical patches that should have been installed on devices with a given patch level, but were not there. On some devices, up to a dozen patches were missing. This may seem sketchy, but Google is not necessarily to blame. This is because the US-based company usually releases two patch levels per month - one for Android bugs and a second one for bugs in kernel and chipset drivers. In their review, the experts have come to the conclusion that some manufacturers give users a false sense of security. One possible explanation for missing patches is the chipset used in devices and a specific vulnerability associated with it. However, security updates represent only one security level among many to protect Android devices. Further protection measures are app sandboxing and the Play Store Bouncer. In addition, experience shows that it is easier for cyber criminals to compromise smartphones via infected apps - either directly via Google's Play Store or via third parties. If you want to monitor the patch status of your device more closely, you should use the free patch verification app “SnoopSnitch”.

Other Google projects

With each new operating system version, Google implements projects with the goal of providing the most comprehensive enhancements for Android devices. One example is Android One. With this initiative, Google provides much faster updates to a wider range of customers. The reason is that Android One devices are equipped with a standard operating system. Consequently, they lack user-defined skins, software or applications that need to be updated and tested for compatibility. While this is certainly at the expense of individuality, it does benefit security. In addition, Android One smartphones receive upgrades to the current version of the operating system for at least two years, as well as monthly security updates for three years. Google promises extensive security combined with a consistently high performance. Android One is much tidier and has fewer dependencies within the system, making it more widely distributed, especially on cheaper phones.

Another project is called Mainline and is based on Treble. The goal is to make the deployment of Android updates easier and faster. Basic operating system components are updated in the same way as apps are updated via Google Play. This approach enables developers to deliver selected components faster and over a longer period of time - independent of a full update from the respective manufacturer. The updated framework components are located above the Treble interface and hardware-specific implementation and below the apps layer. Users benefit in terms of security, privacy and consistency. In this way, with Project Mainline, Google delivers faster security fixes for critical security issues - for example, by modularising media components, which accounted for nearly 40 percent of recently patched vulnerabilities.

An essential component of Project Mainline is Pony EXpress. Android Pony EXpress (APEX) is a container format used in the installation process for subordinate system modules. This format makes it easier to update system components that do not fit into the standard Android application model. This allows important security and performance enhancements that were previously required for full operating system updates to be downloaded and installed as easily as an app update. Google has also developed new fail-safe mechanisms and improved testing processes to ensure the secure delivery of updates.

Mobile Security - there is still much to do

The issue of security is becoming ever more crucial for smartphones and tablets, because smartphones are taking on more and more security-critical tasks. More and more people are using smartphones and tablets as a digital cockpit for their everyday lives, for example to control their smart homes while they are out. Another example of security-critical use is the Payment Services Directive PSD2. This ensures that more and more people use two-factor authentication for online banking with their mobile devices. .
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Exclamation SECURITY ALERT: Microsoft releases critical security updates to fix major vulnerabili
Posted by: harlan4096 - 11 hours ago - Forum: Heimdal Security Blog Articles - No Replies

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Do not delay these updates!

Microsoft released its regular patches on the second Tuesday of the month, and as always, they included fixes for multiple vulnerabilities. Namely, 49 security bugs have been now fixed, out of which eight are considered to be critical.

Rumors started to circulate before the patches were officially out and sources were saying that Microsoft was very likely to fix “an extraordinarily serious security vulnerability in a core cryptographic component present in all versions of Windows.” The same sources were indicating that Microsoft had quietly shipped a patch for the bug to branches of the U.S. military and to other highly valuable customers that manage key Internet infrastructure. Those organizations were allegedly asked to sign agreements that forbade them from disclosing details of the flaw prior to the January 2020 Patch Tuesday.

Microsoft declined to respond to these allegations, saying that they do not wish to discuss the details before the patches were officially released.

In short, there were some early signs that some serious flaws were going to be fixed, and the first Patch Tuesday of this year only confirmed the rumors.

So, keep on reading to find out what you should expect from Microsoft’s January 2020 updates.

CVE-2020-0601, the Windows CryptoAPI Spoofing Vulnerability

By far the most significant security bug that has been fixed (CVE-2020-0601) is indeed critical.

Here is what Microsoft has to say about it in its Security Update Guide:

Quote:A spoofing vulnerability exists in the way Windows CryptoAPI (Crypt32.dll) validates Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) certificates.

An attacker could exploit the vulnerability by using a spoofed code-signing certificate to sign a malicious executable, making it appear the file was from a trusted, legitimate source. The user would have no way of knowing the file was malicious because the digital signature would appear to be from a trusted provider.

A successful exploit could also allow the attacker to conduct man-in-the-middle attacks and decrypt confidential information on user connections to the affected software.

The security update addresses the vulnerability by ensuring that Windows CryptoAPI completely validates ECC certificates.

In other words, this vulnerability can allow spoofing and bypassing normal security mechanisms that validate the credibility of binary code, including ECC certificates and this can circumvent your endpoint protection.

The vulnerability impacts Windows 10, Windows Server 2019, and Windows Server 2016 OS versions. According to Microsoft and the NSA (which first reported the bug), no active attacks were spotted before this month’s patch was released. The Agency has published its own security guide, with details on mitigation and on how to detect exploitation.

CVE-2020-0609 and CVE-2020-0610, the vulnerabilities found in RDP

An additional relevant security update is related to the Windows Remote Desktop Gateway (RD Gateway) that address the CVE-2020-0610 and CVE-2020-0609 vulnerabilities. The update applies to Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2016, and Windows Server 2019 and it’s crucial you apply this update as well in a timely manner.

Sending a specially crafted request to an accessible and vulnerable RD Gateway via RDP opens the risk of arbitrary code execution. These vulnerabilities can be seen before the RDP authentication process and require no user interaction. A malicious hacker who manages to exploit these vulnerabilities may be able to then install programs, view, change, and delete data and even create new accounts with full user rights, Microsoft said in their Security Update guide.

We recommend that you place RDP services internally, so that they can, for instance, be accessed via a VPN connection and never as a service available via WAN / Internet.

Other notable vulnerabilities covered in January’s Patch Tuesday

Some other products that received fixes this month, besides Windows, include Internet Explorer, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Office Web Apps, Microsoft Dynamics, ASP.NET, the .NET Framework, and OneDrive for Android.

Patch, patch, and patch again

Here at Heimdal we always advise both organizations and individuals to never fall behind on their updates, since this practice alone will notably increase one’s defenses. Through our X-Ploit Resilience, which covers both Microsoft and 3rd party software, our corporate customers apply their patches four times faster than the global average. X-Ploit Resilience features all updates and patches within four hours since their launch, silently, in the background, with zero user interruption.


Even though Microsoft’s January 2020 Patch Tuesday is smaller compared to most of the other patches that were released seen in the past, it is, without doubt, still highly important. And the main lesson here is to always keep up with your patches!
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Lightbulb What Is AMD FreeSync? FreeSync, FreeSync Premium and FreeSync Premium Pro Explained
Posted by: harlan4096 - 11 hours ago - Forum: Tech News - No Replies

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A breakdown of AMD's display tech for fighting screen tears.

AMD FreeSync is a technology found on certain gaming monitors, laptops and TVs to help fight screen tearing, stuttering and input latency (the time between when you move your mouse and when the cursor actually moves) during fast-paced games and video.

Introduced in 2015, FreeSync is AMD’s alternative to Nvidia G-Sync and requires an AMD (including third-party branded) graphics card. There were an estimated 1,000 FreeSync-certified displays as of January 2020. The feature comes in three tiers: FreeSync, FreeSync Premium and FreeSync Premium Pro.

Screen tearing is an unwelcome effect (see photo above) that makes the on-screen image look disjointed. It’s the result of the game’s framerate (the rate at which the game displays frames) failing to match the display’s refresh rate (the frequency at which the display redraws the screen). FreeSync displays have a dynamic refresh rate (also known as a variable refresh rate or VRR), allowing it to sync its minimum and maximum refresh rates with the framerate of the system’s AMD Radeon graphics card. That refresh rate range, known as the FreeSync range, can go as high as the monitor’s maximum refresh rate. However, if you seek max framerates that are greater than your monitor’s refresh rate, you may still see some tearing.

All versions of FreeSync are based on VESA’s Adaptive-Sync protocol, so it works over DisplayPort, (which also works over USB Type-C) and HDMI ports. For a display to be FreeSync-certified, it has to pass AMD’s testing process, which looks at its Adaptive-Sync support range, brightness, color range and more.

The best gaming monitors typically come with either a flavor of FreeSync or G-Sync. Some general use and professional monitors also use one of these types of Adaptive-Sync, as well as certain laptops and TVs (more on these below).
FreeSync vs. G-Sync

FreeSync is AMD’s take on Adaptive-Sync, similar to Nvidia’s G-Sync. Just like you need an AMD GPU to use FreeSync, you need an Nvidia GPU (it could also be third-party branded) to use G-Sync.

One key difference is that in addition to DisplayPort, (which also works over USB-C), FreeSync works with HDMI. G-Sync only works with DisplayPort, with the exception of LG's G-Sync Compatible TVs, which work over HDMI connection to a supported PC.

Performance-wise, we’ve found negligible discrepencies between standard FreeSync and G-Sync. For a detailed exploration of the performance differences, see our FreeSync vs. G-Sync article.

FreeSync is built on an open standard, and display makers don’t have to pay AMD a licensing fee or for hardware modules to incorporate it. Contrastingly, to use G-Sync, monitor makers have to pay for Nvidia's proprietary chip, which replaces the scaler they'd typically buy. As a result, FreeSync monitors are usually cheaper than G-Sync ones. However, Nvidia is fighting back with G-Sync Compatible monitors, which it certified to run G-Sync despite lacking the hardware as a standard G-Sync display. Many G-Sync Compatible displays are also FreeSync-certified, and we’ve found that numerous FreeSync monitors can also run G-Sync Compatibility even though they’re not certified to do so. To learn how, check out our instructions for how to run G-Sync on a FreeSync monitor.

FreeSync vs. FreeSync Premium vs. FreeSync Premium Pro

There are three different types of FreeSync: FreeSync, FreeSync Premium (announced in January 2020) and FreeSync Premium Pro (renamed from FreeSync 2 HDR in January 2020).

FreeSync Premium

While all types of FreeSync fight against screen tearing, flickering and low latency, FreeSync Premium kicks things a notch up by requiring a 120Hz refresh rate or greater when operating at FHD (1920 x 1080) resolution. It also adds low framerate compensation (LFC). With LFC, if your game’s framerate drops below the monitor’s lowest supported refresh rate, frames automatically display multiple times. This means you’ll stay in your monitor’s supported refresh rate range and, therefore, maintain smooth gameplay.

There are currently more than 300 FreeSync Premium monitors, according to AMD.

AMD FreeSync Premium Pro

FreeSync Premium Pro, known as FreeSync 2 HDR until January, targets those with HDR content.

A FreeSync Premium Pro display is supposed to differ from a non-FreeSync HDR monitor by offering lower input latency by having games tone map directly to the display, circumnavigating large in-between steps. It also promises over 400 nits brightness with HDR.

And like FreeSync Premium, FreeSync Premium Pro automatically activates LFC if the game’s framerate dips below the monitor’s refresh rate.

Gamers should note that not all games support FreeSync Premium Pro. Here’s every game that works with FreeSync Premium Pro.

What You Need to Run FreeSync

To use any form of FreeSync you need a FreeSync-certified display and a PC with an AMD graphics card or APU. Alternatively, you can pair a FreeSync display with an Xbox One X or Xbox One S (no PlayStations).

For PC gamers, your system will need a DisplayPort, (which also works over USB-C) or HDMI connection, plus the compatible Radeon Software graphics driver. Supported graphics are all AMD GPUs, including third-party branded ones, from 2012 (Radeon HD 7000) and on and any AMD Ryzen-series APU.

To use a PC monitor’s FreeSync, you have to turn it on in AMD Radeon Settings software.

FreeSync Laptops

Some laptops running AMD graphics have FreeSync built into the display. They’ll say so on their spec sheet.

In addition, any laptop with a RX 500-series GPU supports external FreeSync monitors.

Here’s a list of every FreeSync laptop.

FreeSync TVs

Samsung has dozens of TVs with FreeSync. Of course, you could pair these displays with a PC, but they primarily target those with an Xbox One X or Xbox One S, which both also support FreeSync (sorry, PlayStation fans).

You turn on a TV’s FreeSync function by activating the Game Mode in its Settings menu.
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Information AMD 600-Series Chipset Expected to Land Before 2020 Ends
Posted by: harlan4096 - 11 hours ago - Forum: Hardware News - No Replies

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The B550 and A520 chipsets aren't out yet, but there are already whispers of the 600-series.

AMD's upcoming 600-series chipsets might not be as far off as we think, based on a DigiTimes report today. The Taiwanese news outlet's unnamed "industry" sources claimed that the next wave of AMD chipsets should arrive at the end of 2020.

As The China Times reported earlier this month, ASMedia is expected to start producing AMD's budget-focused B550 and A520 chipsets in Q1 of this year. According to today's DigiTimes report, ASMedia has already secured orders from AMD for the upcoming 600-series chipsets as well. ASMedia and AMD have been buddies for years now, so it was anticipated that ASMedia would land the orders.

Rumored time frames for AMD's new chipsets and processors align. The China Times estimated that Zen 3 desktop processors, which will probably be called the Ryzen 4000-series (codenamed Vermeer), are likely to drop in the second half of this year.

DigiTimes also reported that ASMedia's USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 controller chip should see a rise in demand. The reasoning shared was that the integrated chip inside Intel's current chips is only capable of supporting USB 3.2 Gen 2 transmission speeds up to 10 Gbps, while ASMedia's solution offers double the performance at speeds up to 20 Gbps.

ASMedia is also cooking up a USB 4 controller chip, which it plans to commercialize this year.

According to DigiTimes, the U.S., China trade war resulted in clients turning to ASMedia for "packet conversion ICs and USB 3.2 host controller chips for server CPUs," so its revenue is expected to grow "gradually" throughout the next three years. It pegged its net profits as growing 13.48% year-on-year during the first three quarters of 2019.
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Information Samsung’s Odyssey Continues: Ultra-Curved QLED 49-Inch 240 Hz HDR1000 Monitor w/ Adap
Posted by: harlan4096 - 11 hours ago - Forum: Hardware News - No Replies

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Nowadays, you can barely impress a gamer with just a curved display. So when Samsung started development of its new Odyssey G9 and Odyssey G7 gaming monitors, it decided to make them ultra-curved, ultra-fast, ultra-bright, and ultra-futuristic. As a result, the new Odyssey LCDs for gamers feature a unique combination of a 1000R curvature, a quantum dot enhanced backlighting, and variable refresh rate support up to 240 Hz.

Samsung’s Odyssey gaming displays lineup includes three models: the 49-inch G9 featuring a 32:9 aspect ratio and a 5120×1440 resolution, as well as the 32-inch and 27-inch G7s featuring a 16:9 aspect ratio and a 2560×1440 resolution. All three monitors use a VA panel with a QLED (quantum dot-enhanced LED) backlighting that enables 600 nits or 1000 nits peak brightness, along with a wide color gamut (see general specifications of the displays in the table below).

From a gamer’s perspective, the key features of the Samsung Odyssey displays are their 240 Hz refresh rate, complete with variable refresh rate support. Samsung's specifications don't make this entirely clear, but it looks like the display uses VESA Adaptive Sync, meaning that it's supported with both AMD and NVIDIA GPUs.

Meanwhile, the monitor also sports a 1000R curvature that promises to enable better immersion when compared to regular curved LCDs.

Since the Odyssey monitors are designed for gamers, they feature an ultra-futuristic design along with LED-based lighting on the back to emphasize features of the design and just follow the general industrial trend.

Samsung will make its Odyssey G9 and Odyssey G7 displays available sometimes in early second quarter, which is why the company does not publish all specifications and characteristics of the products just now. Prices of the monitors will be revealed at launch.
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Information Intel’s Confusing Messaging: Is Comet Lake Better Than Ice Lake?
Posted by: harlan4096 - 11 hours ago - Forum: Hardware News - No Replies

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This year at CES 2020, Intel held its usual pre-keynote workshop for select members of the press. Around 75 of us across a couple of sessions were there to hear Intel’s latest messaging and announcements from the show: a mixture of messaging and preview of the announcements to be made at the keynote. This isn’t unusual – it gives the company a chance to lay down a marker of where it thinks its strengths are, where it thinks the market is heading, and perhaps gives us a highlight into what might be coming from the product hardware perspective. The key messages on Intel’s agenda this year were Project Athena, accelerated workloads, and Tiger Lake.

We’ve covered Tiger Lake in a previous article, as it shapes up to be the successor to Ice Lake later in the year. Intel’s Project Athena is also a known quantity, being a set of specifications that Intel wants laptop device manufacturers to follow in order to create what it sees as the vision of the future of computing. The new element to the discussion is actually something I’ve been pushing for a while: accelerated computing. With Intel now putting AVX-512 in its consumer processors, along with a stronger GPU and things like the Gaussian Neural Accelerator, actually identifying what uses these accelerators is quite hard, as there is no official list. Intel took the time to give us a number of examples.

In this case, we’re seeing AI enhancements in the Adobe suite, Cyberlink, Blender, XSpit, and a few others. Eight of these are CPU/AVX-512 enhanced, six are GPU enhanced, and one is via the GNA. For a technology like AVX-512 to only have eight enhanced consumer applications several years after its first launch (Skylake-X was launched in May 2017) isn’t actually that great, but at least Intel is now telling us where we can find them, aside from specific compute benchmarks (3DMark Physics, y-cruncher).

As always with these presentations, part of the company’s aim is to showcase how they beat the competition. These are often cherry picked benchmarks that highlight the key points, however as it has been noted of late, Intel has been focused on ‘real world performance’ benchmarks, and is trying to shun what it calls ‘unrepresentative tests’, like CineBench, or synthetic tests. As part of this showcase, Intel was quick to point out that its laptop offerings provide more performance and better features than AMD’s Ryzen Mobile 3000 series.

It’s worth noting that when Intel or AMD show benchmark numbers, as a member of the press, it’s best to actually not pay too much attention here. Because these are often cherry picked numbers, first-party benchmarks by the companies aren’t the same as an independent test in a review. We take them with a pile of salt, but only if we bother to listen to them in the first place.

Now this is one slide that caused a lot of discussion after the event from social media, rather than the press. In this slide, Intel shows two comparable systems, the R7 3750H with an RTX 2060, against an i7-9750H with the same GPU at the same speed. Both CPUs are targeting the same market, and with the same discrete GPU, Intel puts itself ahead in the gaming tests.

Intel also added in the ‘best’ gaming system on the market today, at the maximum price, to this slide to offer a comparison point to show that there is currently no AMD system on the market with the ‘best’ graphics. This graph was meant to demonstrate that AMD can’t play in this high-end space, because OEMs won’t pair their CPUs with the best graphics. With these results, the press agreed that AMD doesn’t play in this space with Ryzen Mobile 3000, and the benchmark comparison was somewhat obsolete in that regard. The discussion on social media turned to whether Intel was being genuine in comparing AMD’s best with Intel’s best, despite the significant price difference in the CPU and comparing an RTX 2060 to an RTX 2080. To be honest, I agreed with Intel here – it wasn’t a graph designed to show like for like, but just how much performance is still on the table when money is no object. This graph became somewhat obsolete very quickly anyway, given that AMD announced its new Ryzen Mobile 4000 CPUs the next day.

However, this isn’t the slide I want to talk about today. There were a pair of slides that Intel showed that had me rather confused and surprised that I don’t think anyone else picked up on.

For the 15W processors, for thin and light laptops, Intel showed two sets of data. I’ll give the raw graphs here.
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Information AMD Ryzen Mobile 4000: Measuring Renoir’s Die Size
Posted by: harlan4096 - 11 hours ago - Forum: Hardware News - No Replies

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I’m pretty sure that the next time I go to a trade show where new silicon is being announced, the next tool I need in my backpack is a set of calipers in order to measure the die size. While die size doesn’t in of itself mean much as a number on its own, it is the end result of lots of hard work, focused co-design between silicon engineers and the semiconductor fabs, and ultimately there’s a fine balance between features, die size, performance, power, and at the end of the day, cost. With AMD showcasing the first x86-based 8-core CPU to move into the 15 W power envelope, finding out the die size is one of the elements of our investigation into how AMD has created its new Renoir / Ryzen Mobile 4000 product.

When I first saw the silicon, I wasn’t able to take pictures. Instead, I had to guess the size by manually placing it next to a 8-core Zen 2 chiplet from AMD’s monster 64-core Threadripper 3990X. We’ve known the die size for a while now, at 10.32 x 7.34 mm, or 75.75 mm2. My guess at the time that the new Renoir APU was almost exactly double the Zen 2 chiplet, and I mean it was scary how close to double the size it was. At the time of the announcement of Ryzen Mobile 4000, I had stated in our article that I estimated 150 mm2 for the die size. Turns out, I wasn’t too far wrong.

Later at CES, I went up to the AMD booth and this time they were more than happy for me to take photographs of the new silicon. The 3990X was also there, so I could place the two side by side and get a reasonable reference photograph on which to do calculations. This is the point of the event where I should have remembered to bring calipers! Taking photographs of chips is actually quite hard, making sure you get them lined up perfectly to get the same perspective, but also having enough light to get clear defined silicon edges.

n our picture, the Renoir chiplet you may notice is very slightly angled to the camera, which we’ve compensated for in our measurements.

With that in mind, here are our numbers.

The Zen 2 chiplet on the left, measures 10.32 mm by 7.34 mm, which is a ratio of 1.406 to 1.
In our image, the chiplet measured 265 pixels by 189 pixels, which is a ratio of 1.402 to 1.

In our image, the Renoir SoC measured 282 pixels by 350 pixels, which is a ratio of 0.806 to 1.
If we take the corresponding pixel dimensions, that gives us 10.98 mm by 13.59 mm, a ratio of 0.808 to 1.

This means that the die size of an eight-core Renoir APU with eight 2nd Gen Vega compute units, according to our calculations, 149.27 mm2.

That’s pretty close to my 150 mm2 estimate, and I’ve also spoken to a few trusted individuals who have been tracking Zen 2 die structure sizes and graphics structure sizes, and they came out very similar, within 1mm2 or so.

At 149.27 mm2, assuming that AMD is achieving the same defect ratio on the silicon as reported by TSMC for the standard N7 process (0.09 defects per cm2), the process yield should be around 90%. Obviously that doesn’t take into account manufacturing for yield, or the distribution of the power/frequency of the chips within a wafer, but it’s still rather impressive.

Before AMD announced this new chip, there was a good deal of speculation as to how AMD would build it: either four cores with more graphics, or with eight cores and graphics only a little better. One factor of that was the die size: at 200 mm2, one would have expected AMD to definitely use eight cores. For sub 125 mm2, in order to maintain GPU performance, perhaps a quad-core design only have been suitable. However, AMD is claiming a great win here: eight Zen 2 cores, with frequencies at 1.8-4.3 GHz at 15 W, and despite fewer graphics compute units (down from 11 to 8), a higher per-compute unit performance claim of +56% means that performance is actually higher. All just shy of 150 mm2.

We are living in the future. I can’t wait for more.

It's worth noting that AMD's official number for the Zen 2 die size is 74 mm2. This is derived from the floorplan of the chip, which during manufacturing has additional space added to ensure clean die seperation between adjacent die prints. Ultimately what we get as the consumer is that seperation lane (known as a scribe lane) from one side of the die to the other, which is just slightly bigger than the floor plan that AMD supplies to the fabrication plant / TSMC. With calipers, what we get is that additional space, which is above AMD's quoted size.
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Information Windows Calculator will get a Graphing Mode: first look
Posted by: harlan4096 - Today, 09:44 - Forum: Windows News - No Replies

[Image: windows-calculator-graphing-mode.png]

Microsoft released a new build to the Fast Ring Windows Insider channel yesterday. The update increases the build to version 19546 and one of the changes that it brings along with it is the new Graphing Mode of Windows Calculator.

Windows Calculator is the built-in calculator of the Windows operating system. Microsoft improved the tool in previous Windows 10 releases, e.g. by adding an always on top functionality to it, after ignoring it for a very long time.

Tip: you can run Windows Calculator in your browser as well now (third-party port). Do this if the Windows Calculator interface is huge and you want to size it down a bit.

Windows Insiders who have upgraded to the new build already may start Windows Calculator to test the new Graphing Mode that is now supported.

Microsoft notes that it should be considered a preview right now and that graphing mode is one of the top requested features in Feedback Hub.

Besides that, it is also a tool designed for students to explore linear algebra.
Quote:Graphing capabilities are also essential for students who are beginning to explore linear algebra. With this feature, we hope to empower students to learn mathematics by improving their conceptual understanding and attitudes towards math.

Microsoft highlights a few features of Windows Calculator's Graphing Mode in the announcement on the Windows Experience blog.

* Plot equations on the graph. Graphing Mode can be used to plot one or more equations on the graph. Just enter one or multiple equations and Windows Calculator will plot them on the grpah.

* Work with equations with secondary variables. You can work with equations that have secondary variables; these can be manipulated to see how different values affect the graph.

* Graph analysis. You may trace plots using the mouse or keyboard to "better understand the relationship between variables in the equation on the graph. May also be used to identify key graph features.

Now You: do you use Windows Calculator?
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