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Posts Tagged ‘Race’

Intel upgrades Bay Trail NUC to Celeron N2830

Intel upgrades Bay Trail NUC to Celeron N2830

Intel’s NUC DN2820FYKH kit is to get a free upgrade to the bug-fixed and speed-bumped Celeron N2830, as the months-old N2820 gets discontinued.


Intel has officially discontinued its Celeron N2820 Bay Trail chip mere months after launch, replacing it in its own NUC DN2820FYKH Kit with the faster and bug-fixed Celeron N2830.

A low-cost entry-level model based on the Bay Trail architecture, the NUC DN2820FYKH Kit bundled Intel’s 7.5W Celeron N2820 processor with a NUC motherboard and casing, offering two cores running at 2.13GHz – 2.39GHz burst – in a low-power, small-footprint system. The launch wasn’t without its problems, however, with reports of driver glitches and issues with the on-chip USB controller causing early adopters no small amount of heartache.

Some of those flaws, it would appear, have been traced back to the processor’s design. Despite only launching late last year, Intel announced back in February that the chip was to be officially discontinued. In all cases, manufacturers who are currently receiving the Celeron N2820 were told to move to the N2830. A bug-fixed successor launched early this year, the Celeron N2830 boosts the clockspeed slightly to 2.16GHz – 2.41GHz burst – while retaining the 7.5W thermal design profile (TDP) and 4.5W scenario design power (SDP) of its predecessor, along with the $107 recommended price tag. The memory controller is also modified, adding support for DDR3L-1333 low-power modules.

The move to discontinue the months-old chip is to have an impact on the recently-launched NUC DN2820FYKH Kit: silent cooling specialist site FanlessTech was the first to notice the move in an official Product Change Notification sent to Intel’s customers earlier this week, confirming that the N2830 would be the new standard chip for the DN2820FYKH.

Those in the market for a low-power Bay Trail NUC are warned: Intel has confirmed that it is holding inventory of the earlier N2820 models, and will deplete said inventory before shipping the upgraded revision to its customers. Coupled with retailers own stock, it could be a while before the upgraded NUC kits actually start filtering into customers’ hands.

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AMD Athlon 5350 (Kabini) Review

AMD Athlon 5350 (Kabini) Review

Manufacturer: AMD
UK price (as reviewed): £40.72
US price (as reviewed): $63.99

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

There was some interesting news regarding AMD recently. Financially, it recorded some significant losses throughout 2013, which can arguably be traced all the way back to Intel’s launch of its Core architecture and AMD’s somewhat ill-fated Phenom. However, while it hasn’t really clawed back any significant ground in the high performance desktop CPU market, the APU arena is a very different story.

The case for budget gaming systems is pretty strong, and Kaveri and Richland (think A10-7850K and A10-6800K) have strengthened the idea that there are playable frame rates to be had below your typical budget CPU and cheap discrete GPU setup.

AMD has seen enhanced sales of GPUs thanks to cryptocurrency mining (not forgetting that the company is also in a fairly equal fight with Nvidia when it comes to frame rates too), and it also has fingers in plenty of next-gen console pies. Its Q1 2014 net income of -$20m is actually a lot better than what we’ve seen recently – the same quarter last year, for example, saw its net income at -$146m.

Things are arguably looking up for AMD, then, and with Intel’s inferior but ever-increasing graphics performance on its CPUs, with Kabini, AMD’s latest APU, it is looking to cement its dominance at the extreme budget end of the market, and fend off competition from budget Intel CPUs.

AMD Athlon 5350 (Kabini) ReviewAMD Athlon 5350 (Kabini) Review
So where exactly does Kabini fit in? Well, AMD wanted to be clear here – this isn’t a 1080p gaming setup, nor is Kabini going to be competing with Pentiums or Core i3′s in 2D performance stakes either. It’s not even really a cut down version of Kaveri – Kabini is essentially a low power desktop version of its latest mobile and console-based silicon sporting up to four Jaguar cores along with a Radeon GPU portion – more on the technical side of things over the page.

As we reported here on the day of launch, Kabini is essentially AMD’s answer to Intel’s Bay Trail, which is found in some low-power Pentium, Celeron and Atom-based systems including NUCs amongst other things. Steam OS, HTPCs and generic budget systems all come into play here, especially as Kabini APUs also sport Radeon graphics, and this market is precisely what AMD is aiming at.

AMD Athlon 5350 (Kabini) Review
It’s certainly lucrative given the sheer volumes involved, especially in the home/office PC side of things. However, something that’s really raised some eyebrows is the cost of the APUs and indeed their counterpart Socket AM1 motherboards. The latter are currently available for as little as £20, and the top-end APU that we’re looking at here today, the Athlon 5350, only costs £40 with the low-end Sempron 2650 retailing for just £24. Throw in a budget PSU, 4GB of RAM and a mini-ITX case such as Cooler Master’s Elite 130, and you’re looking at a complete base unit price of no more than £150 – something Intel simply cannot match, at least if you’re buying up-to-date gear.

AMD has cited a need from developing countries for a low-cost offering and price-wise it’s certainly met that, but where the new Socket AM1 also surprised us when we first heard about it, is that it’s socketed – not embedded like its predecessors. The reason for this, again according to AMD, is to offer a modicum of future proofing for the new socket but also to allow some flexibility when it comes to hardware choice, even if at launch there are only four models to choose from.

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OpenSSL forked into LibreSSL

OpenSSL forked into LibreSSL

The Heartbleed vulnerability has shone a light on the OpenSSL project, and OpenBSD developers have discovered enough flaws in its code to justify the creation of a fixed fork dubbed LibreSSL.


The OpenBSD project has announced the inevitible outcome of its recent deep-dive into the OpenSSL source code: a full fork of the project, dubbed LibreSSL, to feature a significantly improved codebase.

The OpenSSL cryptographic library made unfortunate headlines earlier this month due to the Heartbleed vulnerability, a nasty bug caused by incautious coding that allowed an attacker to steal memory contents – including, but not limited to, usernames, passwords, and even the entire private key – from any server using the software. With an estimated two-thirds of all webservers using OpenSSL for encryption, that’s a significant target base – and the attack, before it became known to the public, left no trace on the host machine.

OpenSSL is an open source project, meaning anyone can download, examine and modify the source code that drives it. In theory, fans of the open methodology claim, this leads to improved code quality and security – the ‘many-eyes’ theory. In practice, it appears, when an open source project reaches a certain size, individual contributors can become the sole controller of particular sub-sections – with the result that their code goes unchecked by their peers.

OpenBSD is, as the name suggests, an open-source port of the BSD operating system. Designed for maximum security, the project was hit by the Heartbleed bug and vowed to examine the OpenSSL source code more closely in the future. The result has been the exposure of numerous terrifying kludges and bugs in the code – which, it must be remembered, still drives two-thirds of the web – in what has been dubbed the OpenSSL Valhalla Rampage. Having found everything from ‘temporary’ compatibility code reaching back more than a decade to a kludge which uses the server’s private key as entropy for the random number generator – potentially exposing the entire private key to any plug-in RNG used on the system, a major security hole – the OpenBSD researchers have reached a conclusion: OpenSSL can’t be trusted.

The result: LibreSSL, a fork of OpenSSL which benefits from the changes made by the OpenBSD project. Announced on a particularly spartan website – ‘donate now to stop the Comic Sans and Blink Tags,‘ its creators exhort visitors – the LibreSSL project will become the default cryptographic library for the OpenBSD 5.6 release. Initially, that will be the only supported operating ssytem; once the codebase has been cleaned of extant bugs and rewritten to improve maintainability and a source of funding secured, LibreSSL will be extended to additional operating systems.

Whether LibreSSL will improve security overall or simply divert resources that could be better used improving the cross-platform OpenSSL directly remains to be seen.

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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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Amazon says no to Bitcoin

Amazon says no to Bitcoin

Amazon’s head of payments Tom Taylor has said that the company has no plans to add support for Bitcoins to its webshop, despite rivals doing exactly that.


Amazon has indicated that it’s not going to join in the cryptocurrency revolution by adding support for Bitcoin to its payment system, even as increasing numbers of its competitors do exactly that.

Bitcoin, created by the pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008, is a distributed, decentralised cryptocurrency based on proof-of-work principles: set your computer generating SHA256 hashes for transaction validation and you’ll get rewarded with Bitcoins of your very own, generated at an ever-decreasing rate by the algorithm itself. The cryptocurrency is free from governmental control, anonymous yet entirely traceable – until you attempt to convert Bitcoins into fiat currency or vice-versa, of course – and runs on a decentralised system of volunteer computers.

It sounds remarkable, but Bitcoin’s meteoric rise from being worth fractions of a penny to a high of more than $1,000 per coin has been fraught with difficulties. Amateur coding errors in major Bitcoin exchanges like MT Gox – originally set up to be a trading site for Magic: The Gathering cards, hence the name – has led to the loss of millions of dollars in Bitcoins and a significant drop in their value on the open market. For every country like the US which is making its laws more Bitcoin-friendly, there are countries like China which have banned the use of the cryptocurrency outright.

In the UK and US, increasing numbers of retailers are accepting payment in Bitcoin – largely out of a hope that it will continue its rise in value, recover from the recent slump and make yesterday’s £50 payment double in value or more. Amazon, however, has said it won’t be joining the revolution. ‘Obviously, it [Bitcoin] gets a lot of press and we have considered it,‘ Tom Taylor, head of Amazon’s payments arm, told Re/code in a recent interview, ‘but we’re not hearing from customers that it’s right for them and don’t have any plans within Amazon to engage Bitcoin.

At the time of writing, a single Bitcoin was valued at just shy of £300 – a significant dip from its high of more than £600 before the recent crash.

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Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth announced

Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth announced

Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri is receiving a spiritual successor in the form of sci-fi-themed Civilization: Beyond Earth, launching this year on Windows, OS X and Linux.


A spiritual successor to Sid Meier’s intergalactic classic Alpha Centauri has been officially announced, and it brings the promise of treats for PC gamers including support for AMD’s low-level Mantle application programming interface (API) and cross-platform gaming on Windows, OS X and Linux – the latter to include Valve’s SteamOS.

Released in 1999, Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri was a spin-off from the Civilization franchise, acting as a follow-on of sorts for anyone who had completed a space victory in the game. The player was given the task of colonising Chiron in the eponymous star system, and later the option of playing as one of two non-human races – previously limited to non-playable characters in the game.

The game was critically acclaimed, but a poor seller; following its release, the Civilization franchise would again return to historical rather than futuristic settings and never again venture beyond our solar system – until now. Firaxis has announced Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth, the first space-based title to carry the official Civ branding – and a spiritual successor to Alpha Centauri.

Announced at PAX East this weekend, the game promises to revamp the Civilization experience with a new web-like technology tree, a more open-ended progression system no longer tied to real-world history, and many of the developers who worked on the original Alpha Centauri. For PC gamers, the news gets better still with Firaxis announcing that the game will launch later this year on Windows, OS X and Linux platforms – the latter to include support for Valve’s SteamOS Linux distribution. The company has also promised support for AMD’s Mantle API at launch, giving hope that the game’s performance will be acceptable even on lower-end hardware.

If all that has whetted your appetite the company has offered a teaser trailer for the title, reproduced below.

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Windows 8.1 Update 1 installation problems continue

Windows 8.1 Update 1 installation problems continue

Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 Update 1, a mandatory patch for future security updates, is proving a pain for some users who are unable to install it on their systems despite recent patches.


Microsoft is continuing to address problems with Windows 8.1 Update 1, its first major update to the operating system formerly known as Windows Blue and a mandatory install for anyone who wants to continue to receive security updates in the future.

Released earlier this month, Windows 8.1 Update 1 introduces a number of tweaks and improvements to Microsoft’s flagship OS including user experience enhancements for those who eschew touch-screen interfaces in favour of the traditional keyboard and mouse. While the biggest of these improvements, the reintroduction of the Start Menu which was removed in Windows 7 after its introduction way back in Windows NT 4.0, has been held back for a future release the mandatory nature of Windows 8.1 Update 1 makes it quite literally a must-install for Windows 8.1 users.

Sadly, all is not well with the update. Last week Microsoft was forced to pull the update from WSUS following reports that it would prevent the installation of future updates for corporate users. Now, the company is working to patch additional issues with the update – some of which prevent its installation altogether.

One bug, which presents the error code 0x800f081f during installation, has already seen a patch released on Windows Update; a second patch has been provided for users who are finding that installing Windows 8.1 Update 1 prevents Internet Information Services (IIS), Microsoft’s web server package, from being uninstalled at any time.

Despite these patches, problems with the update still remain. Many users are taking to the Microsoft support forums to claim that, despite the updated patch being released to Windows Update, Windows 8.1 Update 1 still fails to install. A work-around suggested in the forums has been noted by some to improve matters, removing a damaged version of the package so a fresh copy can be downloaded, but others report that the process makes no difference to their systems.

With Microsoft planning on enforcing installation of Windows 8.1 Update 1 by refusing security updates to anyone still on plain old Windows 8.1 starting on the next Patch Tuesday in May, the race is on for the company to fix the flaws and get the update rolled out to all its customers.

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Web hit by OpenSSL ‘Heartbleed’ vulnerability

Web hit by OpenSSL 'Heartbleed' vulnerability

Versions of cryptographic library OpenSSL since 2012 are vulnerable to the ‘Heartbleed Bug,’ which allows an attacker to silently steal the contents of system memory.


Security researchers have released details of a serious vulnerability in the popular OpenSSL cryptographic library which exposes encrypted internet services to information disclosure attacks.

Continuing a terrible year for information security, what with the verification flaw in GnuTLS and Apple’s infamous goto fail bug, the OpenSSL project has confirmed that versions of its software since 2011 have held a serious vulnerability which has been dubbed the ‘Heartbleed Bug,’ and which can be used to read a system’s memory remotely – gathering secret keys which can then be used to decrypt previously-transmitted information.

It’s a serious flaw; OpenSSL is the standard library for driving SSL and TLS encryption in a variety of software packages and information appliances; Apache and nginx, two of the most popular server packages around accounting for an estimated 66 per cent of all web servers, use OpenSSL; the library is also commonly used in other encrypted systems such as virtual private network (VPN) appliances, point-of-sale (PoS) systems and messaging servers.

The Heartbleed Bug works by exploiting the heartbeat extension of the Transport Security Layer (TLS) protocol; attackers are able to read unlimited system memory in 64KB chunks, with exploitation leaving no trace on the system. These memory chunks can be reassembled and analysed to gather usernames, passwords, encryption keys, and other privileged information which should not be exposed to the public.

The OpenSSL project has confirmed that the code responsible for the flaw has been present in its software since 2011 and available to the public since the release of OpenSSL 1.0.1 in March 2012. Since then, the 1.0.1 branch has become widespread, shipping by default with numerous operating systems including Ubuntu Linux and OpenBSD. While the project has released a fixed version, OpenSSL 1.0.1g, this will take time to distribute – leaving servers with less proactive admins vulnerable to attack.

Ironically, those who have not upgraded in a while may be protected against the flaw: the older OpenSSL 1.0.0 and 0.9.8 branches are unaffected, having been frozen before the bug was introduced.

More details of the flaw are available at Heartbleed.com.

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Games Workshop’s Mordheim getting the digital treatment

Games Workshop’s Mordheim getting the digital treatment

Playable races include all of the basic races featured in the original Mordheim.


Games Workshop’s cult classic specialist game Mordheim is getting its own digital version with Mordheim: City of the Damned.

The game will be a turn-based strategy game where players lead small bands of warriors into skirmishes in a blend of RPG and tactical combat gameplay.

The miniatures-based war game Mordheim is based on Games Workshop’s highly successful Warhammer franchise. Instead of fielding large armies, players would build small gangs that would then level up and grow depending on their performance in battle.

Mordheim: City of the Damned sounds to be faithful to the game’s setting with warbands squabbling over Wyrdstone fragments in the ruins of the ruined city in the same way as the tabletop game.

The digital version will include playable gangs from the Skaven, the Empire, the Possessed and the Sisters of Sigmar with more factions to follow.

The game is being published by Focus Home Interactive, the independent French studio that was also behind the digital rendition of Games Workshop’s fantasy football game Blood Bowl. The company also has Cities XL, TrackMania and Farming Simulator in its portfolio.

Mordheim: City of the Damned is scheduled for a late 2014 release.

Several games in Games Workshop’s back-catalogue have made the transition to video games in recent years. Space Hulk, Warhammer Quest, Talisman and the aforementioned Blood Bowl have all seen a digital release on various platforms.

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Eich pledges to support Mozilla’s inclusiveness

Eich pledges to support Mozilla's inclusiveness

Newly-appointed CEO Brendan Eich has claimed he will fully support Mozilla’s policies on inclusion, despite his personal support for a bill proposing to ban gay marriage.


Newly-appointed chief executive of the Mozilla Foundation Brendan Eich has responded to criticisms of a donation he made in support of the banning of gay marriage, promising to uphold Mozilla’s inclusiveness.

The appointment of co-founder Eich to the role of CEO caused a stir when his support for Proposition 8, a law which would ban gay marriage, was made public thanks to a $1,000 donation to lobbying efforts. Mobile developer Rarebit, founded by a married gay couple, was the first out of the gate with a statement that they would cease plans to port their products to Mozilla’s Firefox OS and remove already-ported software from the platform as long as Eich remained in charge.

Although Mozilla issued a blanket statement supporting diversity, it made no direct comment on Eich and his personal beliefs. Late last night, however, Eich broke his silence and spoke on the matter – even though the issue of the donation itself was not a topic up for discussion.

I know there are concerns about my commitment to fostering equality and welcome for LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender] individuals at Mozilla,‘ Eich wrote on his personal blog. ‘I hope to lay those concerns to rest, first by making a set of commitments to you. More important, I want to lay them to rest by actions and results.

Eich’s commitments include the promise of full equality in employment, Mozilla-run events and within the Mozilla community, continued work with LGBT communities, no changes to the community participation guidelines or the inclusive health benefits offered by the organisation, and a personal claim that Eich himself will ‘work on new initiatives to reach out to those who feel excluded or who have been marginalised in ways that makes their contributing to Mozilla and to open source difficult.

‘I know some will be sceptical about this, and that words alone will not change anything,’ Eich admitted. ‘I can only ask for your support to have the time to “show, not tell”; and in the meantime express my sorrow at having caused pain. I am committed to ensuring that Mozilla is, and will remain, a place that includes and supports everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, age, race, ethnicity, economic status, or religion. You will see exemplary behaviour from me toward everyone in our community, no matter who they are; and the same toward all those whom we hope will join, and for those who use our products.

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