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YoYoTech Easter 2014 discounts available now

YoYoTech Easter 2014 discounts available now

YoYoTech’s discounts are available from now until April 25th


Starting today, our friends at YoYoTech are hosting some week-long Easter Specials, with discounts quietly being made available on a select range of Asus motherboards, graphics cards and accessories.

As bit-tech readers, you’re the first and only ones to know about it, and we’ve asked YoYoTech to provide links to the discounted products, which you’ll find below.

If any of them take your fancy, we recommend getting in there quick as stocks are limited and the deals won’t be returning once they’re exhausted.

First up we have two Asus ROG-branded Intel Z87 motherboards, the Maximus VI Hero and the mini-ITX Maximus VI Impact, both of which did enough to earn themselves awards in our reviews (here and here). You’ll find them both discounted by £20 at £128.99 and £151.99 respectively.

For AMD fans, YoYoTech is offering the target="_blank">Asus Sabertooth 990FX R2.0 for £109.59 again at a £20 discount. We’ve not reviewed this new revision, but the original board was also award-winning.

Continuing the theme of £20 discounts on Asus products, YoYoTech will have the Asus GTX 760 DirectCU II OC card going for £169.99.

Finally, the Asus NFC Express will be offered at £15.99, a £7 discount. Using near field communication technology, this accessory works with specific Asus motherboards to provide instant pairing with NFC-enabled phones and tablets, which can then be used to control various functions of your desktop PC.

These deals will be ending on April 25th – will you be taking the plunge on any?

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Julian Gollop’s Chaos reboot successfully funded

Julian Gollop's Chaos reboot successfully funded

Julian Gollop, creator of the original X-Com, has succeeded in his efforts to raise funding through Kickstarter for a reboot of his Chaos franchise, born on the ZX Spectrum.


A crowd-funding campaign to reboot the classic ZX Spectrum title Chaos: The Battle of Wizards has succeeded, raising $210,854 on an original goal of $180,000 for its creator Julian Gollop.

Strategy game giant Julian Gollop published the original title through Games Workshop in 1985, on the back of his partnership with the firm on 1984′s Battlecars. In 1990, Gollop’s now-defunct Mythos Games published sequel Lords of Chaos through Blade Software, expanding the title’s appeal with ports for the Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC range and 16-bitters the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga as well as a copy for ZX Spectrum stalwarts. His true breakthrough, however, was MicroProse-published UFO: Enemy Unknown, the first title in the X-Com series and the game for which he is best known.

Having disappeared under the radar after working on Ubisoft’s 2012 title Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation, the Bulgarian-based developer kept a low profile until exploding back onto the scene with a crowd-funding pitch for a next-generation successor to Chaos and Lords of Chaos. Dubbed Chaos Reborn, the title asked for $180,000 via the Kickstarter crowd-funding site for a modern reboot of the series. Taking the turn-based strategy theme of its predecessors, Gollop promised an attractive title missing the iconic attribute-clash of its predecessor and switching out the tile-based graphics for the Unity Engine that retained the spirit of his much-loved earlier works.

Just 34 hours before the funding run came to an end, the goal was reached and exceeded with $210,854 from a total of 5,051 backers pledging to the project as it closed this morning. ‘Thank you to everybody who backed the project and promoted it,‘ Gollop wrote in an update to the project. ‘Thanks to my team for working after hours to make the prototype possible, and providing all the art and publicity material during the campaign. And thanks mum for being such a vocal supporter!

More details on the game are available on the official website, while an animation preview – a far cry from the visuals of the ZX Spectrum original – is reproduced below.

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Microsoft reissues Windows 8.1 Update 1 via WSUS

Microsoft reissues Windows 8.1 Update 1 via WSUS

Microsoft has resolved the issue with rolling Windows 8.1 Update 1 out via WSUS and appeased customers with a new 120-day grace period, but home users are still facing the 13th of May deadline.


Microsoft has reissued its Windows 8.1 Update 1 patch for Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) users, having resolved a flaw that would prevent client systems from installing future updates.

A mandatory install for all Windows 8.1 users – those without Update 1 will be blocked from downloading security and bug-fix updates starting with next month’s Patch Tuesday on the 13th of May – the update has been the source of more than a little heartache for Microsoft’s customers. As well as the flaw that saw it pulled from WSUS shortly after release, users have reported numerous issues installing the patch and further flaws once the software is installed.

The cause of the WSUS flaw has been isolated, at least, and Microsoft has officially rereleased the update for corporate customers. ‘This means that you can now easily deploy these updates to the computers or servers you manage,‘ explained Microsoft’s Brendan LeBlanc in the company’s announcement. ‘For computers and servers that have already installed these updates, note that Windows Update will re-offer them but it will only install the portion of the update that addresses the fix. Other portions of the update which users have already downloaded and installed will not be downloaded or installed a second time.

Having perhaps recognised that the rollout of the first major update to Windows 8.1, and a mandatory one at that, hasn’t gone smoothly, LeBlanc also announced a new grace period to win over corporate customers. ‘We’ve decided to extend the timeframe for enterprise customers to deploy these new product updates from 30 to 120 days,‘ LeBlanc explained. ‘In order to receive future updates, all customers managing updates using WSUS, Windows Intune, or System Center Configuration Manager have until August 12th to apply the new updates. For those that decide to defer installation, separate security updates will be published during the 120-day window.

For home users, however, the extended deadline does not apply: anyone outside a WSUS-controlled corporate network who has not installed Windows 8.1 Update 1 by the 13th of May will not be able to download updates until Update 1 is installed.

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Intel pledges Skylake ramp in 2015

Intel pledges Skylake ramp in 2015

Intel has pledged to begin mass production of its 14nm Skylake family in the second half of 2015, despite the schedule slip suffered by predecessor Broadwell.


Intel has pledged to continue with plans to begin mass production of its next-generation Skylake chips in the second half of next year, despite the schedule slip that delayed predecessor Broadwell.

Broadwell, the successor to the current-generation Haswell microarchitecture, is based on a 14nm process node which has been giving Intel a spot of bother. Plans to begin mass production of Broadwell processors last year were postponed due to yield problems at the extremely small feature size required of the parts. Although since resolved, Broadwell is still hanging back with rumours claiming overstock of Haswell parts is staying Intel’s hand.

The delays that have beset Broadwell may have a knock-on effect for its successor, Skylake. Detailed in a slide leaked in July last year, Skylake follows the process shrink of Broadwell with an updated microarchitecture at the same 14nm process node. Skylake will, the slide claimed, support PCI Express 4.0, Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX) 3.2 and DDR4 memory. Officially, Skylake has no formal launch date but those following Intel’s earlier release schedules have expected a release some time in late 2015 to early 2016.

Although Intel refuses to comment on rumours surrounding its launch schedule, the company’s chief executive Brian Krzanich has suggested that Skylake will be hitting the market within its originally-rumoured timeframe. ‘We had a lot going on,‘ Krzanich claimed, in response to an analyst’s query regarding Intel’s use of Taiwan Semiconductor (TSMC) for SoFIA chip production, in his company’s most recent earnings call. ‘The ramp of Broadwell, the ramp of Skylake in the second half of next year, plus bringing these products inside.

Krzanich also confirmed plans to transition its mobile parts, including the outsourced SoFIA heavily-integrated chip, to internal production on a 14nm process. These moves, Intel has claimed, will boost demand for its parts – but profitability for its loss-making Mobile and Communications Group is a long way distant. ‘I’d say for 2015, I would expect to see reduction in the loss [of the group],‘ chief financial officer Stacy Smith added. ‘Not profitability, but a reduction in the loss will feel pretty good when we get there and then we’ll keep driving towards the long-term profitability goal.

Sadly, Intel did not confirm any further details regarding Skylake – but if production ramp is planned for the second half of 2015, retail availability should not be far behind.

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Halo composer fired from Bungie

Halo composer fired from Bungie

Martin O’Donnell was responsible for the score in several Bungie games and had been working with the company since before it was bought by Microsoft in 1999.


Halo and Destiny composer Martin O’Donnell has seemingly been fired from Bungie.

Having previously been the studio’s audio director, O’Donnell revealed over Twitter that the company’s board of directors had let him go last week for no reason.

’I’m saddened to say that Bungie’s board of directors terminated me without cause on April 11, 2014,’ said O’Donnell.

A statement on Bungie’s site contrasts slightly with O’Donnell’s comments and instead states ’today, as friends, we say goodbye,’ and goes on to wish him luck on future endeavours.

He had worked on the scores for several of Bungie’s projects, including older titles Myth 2 and Oni and Halo: Combat Evolved. He was also working on the score for the studio’s upcoming title Destiny, collaborating with former Beatle Paul McCartney. The score is planned as a full release of its own under the title Music of the Spheres.

As well as composing scores, O’Donnell was also responsible for a lot of the general sound work and for directing voice talent in several of Bungie’s games.

O’Donnell had been working with the company since before it was bought out by Microsoft in 1999, originally working on a contract basis out of his own company, TotalAudio.

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Intel Q1 financials show data centre growth

Intel Q1 financials show data centre growth

Intel’s Q1 2014 results slightly exceeded analysts’ expectations, but the company’s mobile arm is suffering a significant drop in revenue.


Intel has released its financials for the first quarter of 2014, and things are looking good with better-than-expected results despite its continued struggles to break into the mobile arena and a still-shrinking desktop market.

The company’s official figures for the quarter show $12.8 billion in revenue, exactly matching analysts’ expectations, with a gross profit margin of 59.7 per cent for a total earnings per share of $0.38 – above the $0.37 average expected by analysts. $3.1 billion of this came from the Data Centre Group, responsible for server and high-performance computing (HPC) products, which enjoyed a bumper 11 per cent boost in revenue over the same period last year; the PC Client Group, which targets the still-shrinking PC market, brought in the lion’s share at $7.9 billion, a one per cent drop compared to Q1 2013.

In the first quarter we saw solid growth in the data centre, signs of improvement in the PC business, and we shipped five million tablet processors, making strong progress on our goal of 40 million tablets for 2014,‘ claimed Intel’s chief executive Brian Krzanich during the company’s earnings call. ‘Additionally, we demonstrated our further commitment to grow in the enterprise with a strategic technology and business collaboration with Cloudera, we introduced our second-generation LTE platform with CAT6 and other advanced features, and we shipped our first Quark products for the Internet of Things.

Other highlights include a 10 per cent quarter-on-quarter drop in revenue for the Internet of Things Group which ended the quarter with $482 million in revenue, still an 11 per cent improvement over the same period last year thanks largely to new low-power Atom and Quark processor products. The company’s Mobile and Communications Group, responsible for smartphone and tablet oriented chips, was by far the biggest loser: with just $156 million in revenue, its income was down 52 per cent quarter-on-quarter and a massive 61 per cent compared to Q1 2013.

Investors seem pleased with Intel’s performance in the quarter, with the company’s share price rising 1.08 per cent in pre-market trading to $27.06, still short of its recent April 2012 high of $28.38.

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LaCie customers hit by data breach

LaCie customers hit by data breach

Storage specialist LaCie has warned customers of a data breach which has resulted in ne’er-do-wells making off with usernames, passwords and credit card details.


Storage specialist LaCie has warned customers of a major data breach that may have compromised their personal data used for purchases between March 2013 and 2014.

The hole in the company’s servers is not, it has been quick to reassure customers, indicative of the security of its storage products in general; no customer data stored on the company’s cloud services or network-connected storage devices is thought to be involved in the breach. Rather, the attack targeted the company’s ecommerce system, making off with transaction information for purchases made in the last year.

On March 19, 2014, the FBI informed LaCie that it found indications that an unauthorised person used malware to gain access to information from customer transactions that were made through LaCie’s website,‘ the company explained to customers in a statement made nearly a month after it was alerted to the breach. ‘We believe that transactions made between March 27, 2013 and March 10, 2014 were affected. The information that may have been accessed by the unauthorised person may include customers’ names, addresses, email addresses, and payment card numbers and card expiration dates. Customers’ LaCie website user names and passwords could also have been accessed, which is why we required a reset of all passwords.

LaCie has not confirmed how the data was stored; while credit card information should be encrypted, password are better stored as salted one-way hashes which become much harder for an attacker to crack. Either way, those with LaCie accounts are advised to change their passwords, both on the LaCie service itself and anywhere else where the same or similar password was used, and to keep a close eye on their credit card statements for unauthorised activity.

As a precaution, we have temporarily disabled the ecommerce portion of the LaCie website while we transition to a provider that specialises in secure payment processing services,‘ the company added. ‘We will resume accepting online orders once we have completed the transition.

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Google pledges January launch for Project Ara

Google pledges January launch for Project Ara

Google’s Project Ara, created by one-time subsidiary Motorola and based on Dave Hakkens’ Phonebloks concept, is scheduled to hit the market in January 2015.


Advertising giant Google has confirmed that it is forging ahead with the Project Ara modular smartphone concept, and plans to release the first commercially available parts in January 2015.

Originally developed by Motorola Mobility based on concept work carried out by Dave Hakkens under the name Phonebloks, Project Ara was acquired by Google when it picked up the Mobility division from Motorola. Although the company would go on to sell the bulk of Motorola Mobility to Lenovo it kept hold of Project Ara, announcing in February this year commercialisation plans for the technology.

Project Ara aims to offer the same level of customisation available in the PC world to the smartphone – and, eventually, tablet, markets. The Ara platform uses a central chassis dubbed an Endo, to which component modules are connected via magnets. These modules contain everything from the display to the processor, storage, camera and battery, and can be assembled in almost any combination or pattern. As well as ending the annual phone upgrade cycle – the Endo itself, Google claims, would be good for five to six years – by offering the chance of incremental upgrades, the system would also allow for complete customisation: one Endo may have a high-end processor and high-spec camera, while another opts for a slower processor, no camera and a bigger battery for longer runtime.

Google held its first Project Ara developers’ conference this week, and CNET reports that it offered a timeline to commercialisation: the first Project Ara Endo will be on sale, barring any major setbacks along the way, in January next year for just $50. It will be joined by a range of component modules, although the specification and pricing for these has not yet been confirmed.

Google also outlined fabrication hardware for the modules themselves, developed in conjunction with academic and business partners and taking the form of large-scale 3D printers capable of working with conductive materials. More details on these will be provided at the next conference in July.

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MSI Shows Z97 Motherboards Including Mini-ITX

MSI Shows Z97 Motherboards Including Mini-ITX

MSI looks set to continue its support for mini-ITX when Intel’s Z97 chipset arrives


Following a leak that showed images of future products, MSI has released a few previously locked-down images of its new range of motherboards.

We’re assuming they sport Intel’s anticipated Z97 chipset, which still uses LGA1150 CPUs, and is set for launch this summer.

As we reported here, there will be several ‘Gaming-series’ motherboards, but the images show Gaming 3, Gaming 5, Gaming 7 and Gaming 9 name titles in addition to a mini-ITX board.

Many of the boards feature 802.11ac WiFi adaptors, with the mini-ITX board sporting what appears to be a custom, integrated adaptor on the I/O panel, rather than a standard slot on the PCB.

The Gaming 9 model looks like quite a beast, with an imposing red and black colour scheme and we also spotted an M.2 expansion slot between the two lower 16x PCI-E slots along with voltage measuring points near the on-board power button.

MSI Shows Z97 Motherboards Including Mini-ITX MSI Shows Z97 Motherboards Including Mini-ITX
MSI Shows Z97 Motherboards Including Mini-ITX MSI Shows Z97 Motherboards Including Mini-ITX
MSI Shows Z97 Motherboards Including Mini-ITX MSI Shows Z97 Motherboards Including Mini-ITX
The Gaming 3, Gaming 5 and Gaming 7 also offer the M.2 expansion slot, which suggests this will be a familiar feature on Z97 boards, although it appears to be absent from the funky-looking mini-ITX model.

What do you make of MSI’s new line-up? Let us know in the forum.

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Attenborough working on a documentary for the Oculus Rift

Attenborough working on a documentary for the Oculus Rift

Attenborough is reprising his work with production company Atlantic to create a nature documentary for the Oculus Rift.


Beloved nature documentary veteran Sir David Attenborough has announced that he is working on a project for the Oculus Rift.

Conquest of the Skies is currently being filmed for the virtual reality headset in Borneo’s jungles using an eight-camera setup to produce a full 360 degree experience. It is being produced by a joint venture between production company Atlantic and broadcaster Sky.

Attenborough, best known for his documentaries aired through the BBC, has worked with Atlantic before with nature programs that have been filmed in 3D.

Production company Atlantic has already acquired several Oculus Rift development kits and the company’s commercial director John Morris told Realscreen that he considers this new virtual reality technology as being ‘a new platform you can monetize’ and predicts that millions of the headsets will be sold.

Morris also added that the company is excited by the fact that there are no rules of convention around what a non-fiction experience on the Oculus Rift should be like, comparing this phase of virtual reality to the beginning of cinema. This will be one of the first non-gaming productions to be considered for the Rift.

Oculus VR has achieved a significant level of mainstream recognition outside of the gaming industry thanks to Facebook acquiring the company for $2 billion last month. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg explained that he sees the technology as having massive potential for the future of communication beyond its gaming capabilities.

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