Hardware

Ask Slashdot: Is There A Screen-Less, Keyboard-Less, Battery-Powered Computer? 167

Long-time Slashdot reader Wycliffe writes: So I have a travel keyboard that I love. I can carry my OS on a USB flash drive. There are several options for portable battery powered monitors. The only thing I'm missing to have a completely modular laptop is the CPU/MB/RAM... I can get a laptop but it seems silly to carry around a laptop with a keyboard when I never use the keyboard. I don't need a long battery life, if I need more than an hour then I can find somewhere to plug it in...

I've thought about buying a small box like a Zotac and trying to replace the hard drive with a battery -- but does anything like this already exist...? Also, are there any systems like this with decent specs? Most stuff I see like the Intel Compute Stick are horribly underpowered compared to a decent laptop.

The original submission drew some interesting discussion. Another option is "a good x86/x64 tablet that I can install Linux on" -- especially with a decent processor -- or "laptop-like systems that got rid of the screen entirely... I just need the travel CPU part without the added weight of a second keyboard and monitor." So leave your best suggestions in the comments. Is there a good, lightweight computer that's battery-powered without a screen or a keyboard?
Intel

Intel Drops Thunderbolt 3 Royalty, Adds CPU Integration and Works Closely With Microsoft (windowscentral.com) 107

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Windows Central: Over the last few days, Thunderbolt 3 has been a hot topic amongst Windows users especially with its notable absence with the new Surface Pro and Surface Laptop. Part of the problem is adoption, integration, cost, and consumer confusion according to Microsoft. Intel is aware of the current roadblocks to Thunderbolt 3 implementation, which adds 40Gbps data transfers along with charging and display support for USB Type-C. Today, the company announced numerous changes to its roadmap to speed up its adoption, including: Dropping royalty fees for the Thunderbolt protocol specification starting next year; Integrating Thunderbolt 3 into future Intel CPUs. The good news here is that Intel is dropping many of the roadblocks with today's announcement. By subtracting the licensing costs for Thunderbolt 3 and integrating into the CPU, Intel can finally push mass adoption. Getting back to Microsoft, Intel noted that the two companies are already working closely together with the latest Creators Update bringing more OS support for the protocol. Roanne Sones, general manager, Strategy, and Ecosystem for Windows and Devices at Microsoft added that such cooperation would continue with even more OS-level integration coming down the road.
China

Chinese Giant Huawei Gets Serious About PC Business, Announces Plans For Global Expansion (reuters.com) 53

Speaking of new laptops, Chinese conglomerate Huawei plans a global expansion into computers, it said on Tuesday, posing a fresh challenge to established PC players in a market that has suffered two years of falling sales volumes and pressure on margins. From a report: At a news conference in Berlin, the Shenzhen-based company introduced its first line-up of three personal computer models, including a 15.6-inch screen notebook, a 2-in-1 tablet and notebook hybrid and an ultra slim, metallic 13-inch notebook. Initially, Huawei plans to target the premium-priced consumer market, competing with Lenovo, HP and Dell, which together sell more than 50 percent of all PCs. To a lesser extent, it will also go up against Apple's high-end, but shrinking, Mac computer business. Huawei's Matebook X is a fanless notebook with splash-proof screen and combined fingerprint sign-on and power button, priced between 1,399 and 1,699 euros ($1,570-$1,900). Its Matebook E 2-in-1 hybrid will run from 999 to 1,299 euros while the Matebook D with 15.6-inch display is priced at 799 to 999 euros, it said. Huawei said it aims to offer the new PCs in 12 countries in Europe, North America, Asia, and the Middle East in early June.
Microsoft

Microsoft's New Surface Pro Features Faster Intel Kaby Lake Processor, 13.5 Hours of Battery Life (thurrott.com) 65

On the sidelines of Windows 10 China Government Edition release, Microsoft also announced a new Surface two-in-one laptop. The latest addition to company's hybrid computing line up, the "new Surface Pro" sports an improved design, and houses a newer processor from Intel. From an article: The new Surface Pro features the same 3:2 12.3-inch PixelSense display as its predecessor, providing a resolution of 2736 x 1824 (267 ppi) and 10 point multi-touch capabilities. Surface Pro is based on faster and more reliable Intel "Kaby Lake" chipsets in Core m3-7Y30 with HD Graphics 615, Core i5-7300U with HD Graphics 620, and Core i7-7660U with Iris Plus Graphics 640 variants, which should make for a better experience. As with the previous version, the Core m3 version of the new Surface Pro is fanless and thus silent. But this is new: The Core i5 versions of the new Surface Pro are also fanless and silent. And a new thermal design helps Microsoft claim that the i7 versions are quieter than ever, too. The new Surface Pro is rated at 13.5 hours of battery life (for video playback), compared to just 9 hours for Surface Pro 4. That's a 50 percent improvement. urface Pro can be had with 4, 8, or 16 GB of 1866Mhz LPDDR3 RAM. The new Surface Pro is built around the USB 3-based Surface Connect connector and features one full-sized USB 3 port and one miniDisplayPort port. Microsoft also announced a new Surface Pen (sold separately), and claims that the new pen is twice as accurate (compared to the previous version). No word on the pricing but it will be available in all major global markets in the "coming weeks." The new Surface ships with Windows 10 Pro. (Side note: Earlier Microsoft used to market the Surface Pro devices as tablets that could also serve as laptops. The company is now calling the Surface Pro laptops that are also tablets.)
AMD

AMD Unveils 'EPYC' Server CPUs, Ryzen Mobile, Threadripper CPU and Radeon Vega Frontier Edition GPU (hothardware.com) 76

MojoKid writes: Today, at its financial analyst day, AMD lifted the veil on a number of new products based on the company's Zen CPU architecture and next generation Vega GPU architecture. AMD CEO Lisa Su lifted a very large server chip in the air that the company now has branded EPYC. AMD is going for the jugular when it comes to comparisons with Intel's Xeon family, providing up to 128 PCI Express 3.0 lanes, which Su says "allows you to connect more GPUs directly to the CPU than any other solution in the industry." EPYC currently scales to 32 cores/64 threads per socket and supports up to 8-channel DDR4 memory (16 DIMMs per CPU, up to 4TB total memory support). AMD also confirmed the previously rumored Threadripper CPU, a 16-core/32-thread beast of a chip for the enthusiast desktop PC space. AMD's Raja Koduri, Senior Vice President and Chief Architect for Radeon Technologies Group, also unveiled Radeon Vega Frontier Edition, a workstation and pro graphics card targeted at VR content creation, visualization and machine learning. Radeon Vega Frontier Edition offers 13 TFLOPS of FP32 throughput, 25 TFLOPS of FP16 performance and is powered by 64 computer units and 16GB of HMB2 memory for about 480GB/sec of memory bandwidth. The cards are expected to ship in June but there was no word just yet on when consumer versions of Vega will hit. Finally, AMD also shared info on Ryzen Mobile, which will incorporate both the Zen CPU architecture and an integrated Vega GPU core. Compared to AMD's 7th generation APUs, AMD claims Ryzen Mobile will up CPU performance by 50 percent while offering 40 percent better graphics performance. AMD also claimed those gains will not come at the expense of battery life, with a 50 percent reduction in power consumption, which reportedly will pave the way for faster, longer lasting premium notebooks and 2-in-1 devices.
Intel

Apple To Refresh Entire MacBook Lineup Next Month, Air and Pro To Feature Kaby Lake (bloomberg.com) 234

Apple will unveil new laptops during its annual developer conference, known as WWDC, next month, reports Bloomberg. The company is going to refresh the MacBook Pro (as well as Air and just the 'MacBook' models) with new seventh-gen processors from Intel, the newest available, the report adds. Last year, Apple launched three new MacBook Pro laptops with older sixth-generation chips, which means people who already own the newer model may be a bit dismayed by Apple's refresh. From the article: Apple is planning three new laptops, according to people familiar with the matter. The MacBook Pro will get a faster Kaby Lake processor from Intel, said the people, who requested anonymity to discuss internal planning. Apple is also working on a new version of the 12-inch MacBook with a faster Intel chip. The company has also considered updating the aging 13-inch MacBook Air with a new processor as sales of the laptop, Apple's cheapest, remain surprisingly strong, one of the people said.
Electronic Frontier Foundation

EFF Warns Most Of Intel's Chipsets Contain 'A Security Hazard' (eff.org) 158

The EFF is issuing a warning about the "tiny homunculus computer" in most of Intel's chipsets -- the largely-undocumented "Management Engine" which houses more than just the AMT module. An anonymous reader quotes their report: While AMT can be disabled, there is presently no way to disable or limit the Management Engine in general. Intel urgently needs to provide one....vulnerabilities in any of the other modules could be as bad, if not worse, for security. Some of the other modules include hardware-based authentication code and a system for location tracking and remote wiping of laptops for anti-theft purposes... It should be up to hardware owners to decide if this code will be installed in their computers or not. Perhaps most alarmingly, there is also reportedly a DRM module that is actively working against the user's interests, and should never be installed in a Management Engine by default...

While Intel may put a lot of effort into hunting for security bugs, vulnerabilities will inevitably exist, and having them lurking in a highly privileged, low-level component with no OS visibility or reliable logging is a nightmare for defensive cybersecurity. The design choice of putting a secretive, unmodifiable management chip in every computer was terrible, and leaving their customers exposed to these risks without an opt-out is an act of extreme irresponsibility... EFF believes that Intel needs to provide a minimum level of transparency and user control of the Management Engines inside our computers, in order to prevent this cybersecurity disaster from recurring. Unless that happens, we are concerned that it may not be appropriate to use Intel CPUs in many kinds of critical infrastructure systems.

TLDR: "We have reason to fear that the undocumented master controller inside our Intel chips could continue to be a source of serious vulnerabilities in personal computers, servers, and critical cybersecurity and physical infrastructure."
Businesses

Intel's Itanium CPUs, Once a Play For 64-bit Servers And Desktops, Are Dead (arstechnica.com) 138

Reader WheezyJoe writes: Four new 9700-series Itanium CPUs will be the last and final Itaniums Intel will ship. For those who might have forgotten, Itanium and its IA-64 architecture was intended to be Intel's successor to 32-bit i386 architecture back in the early 2000's. Developed in conjunction with HP, IA-64 used a new architecture developed at HP that, while capable as a server platform, was not backward-compatible with i386 and required emulation to run i386-compiled software. With the release of AMD's Opteron in 2003 featuring their alternative, fully backward-compatible X86-64 architecture, interest in Itanium fell, and Intel eventually adopted AMD's technology for its own chips and X86-64 is now dominant today. In spite of this, Itanium continued to be made and sold for the server market, supported in part by an agreement with HP. With that deal expiring this year, these new Itaniums will be Intel's last.
Intel

Intel's Remote Hijacking Flaw Was 'Worse Than Anyone Thought' (arstechnica.com) 200

An anonymous reader quotes Ars Technica: A remote hijacking flaw that lurked in Intel chips for seven years was more severe than many people imagined, because it allowed hackers to remotely gain administrative control over huge fleets of computers without entering a password. This is according to technical analyses published Friday... AMT makes it possible to log into a computer and exercise the same control enjoyed by administrators with physical access [and] was set up to require a password before it could be remotely accessed over a Web browser interface. But, remarkably, that authentication mechanism can be bypassed by entering any text string -- or no text at all...

"Authentication still worked" even when the wrong hash was entered, Tenable Director of Reverse Engineering Carlos Perez wrote. "We had discovered a complete bypass of the authentication scheme." A separate technical analysis from Embedi, the security firm Intel credited with first disclosing the vulnerability, arrived at the same conclusion... Making matters worse, unauthorized accesses typically aren't logged by the PC because AMT has direct access to the computer's network hardware... The packets bypass the OS completely.

The article adds that Intel officials "said they expect PC makers to release a patch next week." And in the meantime? "Intel is urging customers to download and run this discovery tool to diagnose potentially vulnerable computers."

Saturday Ars Technica found more than 8,500 systems with an AMT interface exposed to the internet using the Shodan search engine -- over 2,000 in the United States -- adding that "many others may be accessible via organizational networks."
Businesses

Startup Offers A Chip Based On The Open Source RISC-V Architecture (computerworld.com.au) 73

angry tapir shared this news from Computerworld: An open-source chip project is out to break the dominance of proprietary chips offered by Intel, AMD, and ARM... A startup called SiFive is the first to make a business out of the [open source] RISC-V architecture. The company is also the first to convert the RISC-V instruction set architecture into actual silicon. The company on Thursday announced it has created two new chip designs that can be licensed... but the company will not charge royalties. That makes it attractive alternative compared to chip designs from ARM and Imagination Technologies, which charge licensing fees and royalties.
One of RISC-V's inventors co-founded the company, and he says that support is growing -- pointing out that there's already a fork of Linux for RISC-V.
Intel

Intel Announces Xeon Scalable Processor Family (hothardware.com) 52

MojoKid writes: Intel unveiled information regarding a new Xeon processor family today, some of which will be based on the company's Skylake-SP architecture. Intel will have four levels of Xeon processors that scale with respect to feature support and core counts. Intel is calling it the Xeon Scalable Family with Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum processors. Today, Xeon model names follow a fairly easy-to-understand format. Take for example the Xeon E5-4640 v4. "E5" in this case means that it is in the middle of Intel's current stack in terms of features and capabilities, where the "4" signifies use in a 4-socket system. Finally, the "v4" represents the architecture. With this change, a model like the one above would become Intel Xeon Gold 4640, as an example. Regardless, the chips will include support for AVX-512 instructions, QuickAssist and Volume Management Device (VMD) technologies that will take advantage of NVMe solid-state drives. The platform will also support complementary processing engines and IO technologies like Intel FPGAs, Xeon Phi accelerators and Silicon Photonics connectivity. Intel notes the processors will be arriving to market this summer.
Intel

Samsung May Overtake Intel As World's Largest Chip Maker In 2017 (pcmag.com) 56

According to U.S. semiconductor market research firm IC Insights, Samsung is likely to overtake Intel as the world's largest chip maker later this year. Bill McClean, president of IC Insights, explained that "If money market prices continue to hold or increase through the second quarter and the balance of this year, Samsung could charge into the top spot and displace Intel." PC Magazine reports: Intel first became the world's largest chipmaker back in 1993 and has held the title ever since. But as the mobile market has exploded, so did the need for the chips that make them work. Unlike on PC where Intel dominates, mobile is a different matter entirely, and Samsung is on hand to provide the DRAM and NAND chips they require. Intel first became the world's largest chipmaker back in 1993 and has held the title ever since. But as the mobile market has exploded, so did the need for the chips that make them work. Unlike on PC where Intel dominates, mobile is a different matter entirely, and Samsung is on hand to provide the DRAM and NAND chips they require.
Microsoft

Microsoft Unveils the Surface Laptop, a Traditional Notebook That Is 'Better' Than MacBook Pro (engadget.com) 247

On the sidelines of Windows 10 S and affordable Chromebook-like laptops announcements, Microsoft also announced the newest addition to its Surface computing lineup. Dubbed the Surface Laptop, the laptop starts at $999, and is for everyone, the company claims, though the focus is on students and professionals. From a report: The Surface Laptop includes a 13.5-inch PixelSense display (Microsoft's branding for its unique screen technology) and a keyboard draped in Alcantara, a smooth cloth-like material. It's powered by Intel's most recent Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs, and it can pack in an SSD up to 1TB (that's notably integrated directly onto the motherboard). Performance-wise, Microsoft's Surface head, Panos Panay, claims the Laptop is 50 percent faster than the Core i7 MacBook Air while also being lighter. (Editor's note: Panos added that the Surface Laptop also outpaces the MacBook Pro on performance.) You can also expect up to 14.5 hours of battery life, thanks to Windows 10 S's battery savings and more efficient hardware. One thing you won't see on the Surface Laptop: Speaker holes or grills. Microsoft managed to fit the speakers behind the keys, which Panay claims delivers a more enveloping sound. Microsoft says it has also improved the standby time -- so much so that "you could go away on spring break and still have the same battery life when you returned."
Intel

Intel Patches Remote Execution Hole That's Been Hidden In Its Chips Since 2008 (theregister.co.uk) 164

Chris Williams reports via The Register: Intel processor chipsets have, for roughly the past nine years, harbored a security flaw that can be exploited to remotely control and infect vulnerable systems with virtually undetectable spyware and other malicious code. Specifically, the bug is in Intel's Active Management Technology (AMT), Standard Manageability (ISM) and Small Business Technology (SBT) firmware versions 6 to 11.6. According to Chipzilla, the security hole allows "an unprivileged attacker to gain control of the manageability features provided by these products." That means hackers exploiting the flaw can silently snoop on a vulnerable machine's users, make changes to files and read them, install rootkits and other malware, and so on. This is possible across the network, or with local access. These management features have been available in various Intel chipsets for years, starting with the Nehalem Core i7 in 2008, all the way up to Kaby Lake Core parts in 2017. According to Intel today, this critical security vulnerability, labeled CVE-2017-5689, was found and reported in March by Maksim Malyutin at Embedi. To get the patch to close the hole, you'll have to pester your machine's manufacturer for a firmware update, or try the mitigations here. These updates are hoped to arrive within the next few weeks.
Open Source

Linux Kernel 4.11 Officially Released (softpedia.com) 55

prisoninmate quotes Softpedia: Linux kernel 4.11 has been in development for the past two months, since very early March, when the first Release Candidate arrived for public testing. Eight RCs later, we're now able to download and compile the final release of Linux 4.11 on our favorite GNU/Linux distributions and enjoy its new features. Prominent ones include scalable swapping for SSDs, a brand new perf ftrace tool, support for OPAL drives, support for the SMC-R (Shared Memory Communications-RDMA) protocol, journalling support for MD RAID5, all new statx() system call to replace stat(2), and persistent scrollback buffers for VGA consoles... The Linux 4.11 kernel also introduces initial support for Intel Gemini Lake chips, which is an Atom-based, low-cost computer processor family developed using Intel's 14-nanometer technology, and better power management for AMD Radeon GPUs when the AMDGPU open-source graphics driver is used.
Businesses

Intel-Powered Broadband Modems Highly Vulnerable To DoS Attack (dslreports.com) 59

"It's being reported by users from the DSLReports forum that the Puma 6 Intel cable modem variants are highly susceptible to a very low-bandwidth denial-of-service attack," writes Slashdot reader Idisagree. The Register reports: Effectively, if there's someone you don't like, and they are one of thousands upon thousands of people using a Puma 6-powered home gateway, and you know their public IP address, you can kick them off the internet, we're told... According to one engineer...the flaw would be "trivial" to exploit in the wild, and would effectively render a targeted box useless for the duration of the attack... "It can be exploited remotely, and there is no way to mitigate the issue."

This is particularly frustrating for Puma 6 modem owners because the boxes are pitched as gigabit broadband gateways: the devices can be potentially choked and knocked out simply by receiving traffic that's a fraction of the bandwidth their owners are paying for... The Puma 6 chipset is used in a number of ISP-branded cable modems, including some Xfinity boxes supplied by Comcast in the US and the latest Virgin Media hubs in the UK.

The original submission also notes there's already a class action lawsuit over the performance of cable modems with Intel's Puma 6 chipset, and adds "It would appear the Atom chip was never going to live up to the task it was designed for."
Data Storage

Intel Launches Optane Memory That Makes Standard Hard Drives Perform Like SSDs (hothardware.com) 145

MojoKid writes: Intel has officially launched its Optane Memory line of Solid State Drives today, lifting embargo on performance benchmark results as well. Optane Memory is designed to accelerate the storage subsystem on compatible machines, to improve transfer speeds, and reduce latency. It is among the first products to leverage 3D XPoint memory technology that was co-developed by Intel and Micron, offering many of the same properties as NAND flash memory, but with higher endurance and certain performance characteristics that are similar to DRAM. The SSD can be paired to the boot drive in a system, regardless of the capacity or drive type, though Optane Memory will most commonly be linked to slower hard drives. Optane Memory is used as a high-speed repository, as usage patterns on the hard drive are monitored and the most frequently accessed bits of data are copied from the boot drive to the Optane SSD. Since the SSD is used as a cache, it is not presented to the end-user as a separate volume and works transparently in the background. Paired with an inexpensive SATA hard drive, general system performance is more in line with an NVMe SSD. In benchmark testing, Intel Optane Memory delivers a dramatic lift in overall system performance. Boot times, application load time, file searches, and overall system responsiveness are improved significantly. Setting up Intel Optane Memory is also quick and easy with "set it and forget it" type of solution. Optane Memory modules will hit retail this week in 16GB and 32GB capacities, at $44 and $77, respectively.
Transportation

Grand Theft Auto V Is Being Used To Help Teach Self-Driving Cars (bloomberg.com) 57

An anonymous reader quotes Bloomberg: In the race to the autonomous revolution, developers have realized there aren't enough hours in a day to clock the real-world miles needed to teach cars how to drive themselves. Which is why Grand Theft Auto V is in the mix... Last year, scientists from Darmstadt University of Technology in Germany and Intel Labs developed a way to pull visual information from Grand Theft Auto V. Now some researchers are deriving algorithms from GTAV software that's been tweaked for use in the burgeoning self-driving sector. The latest in the franchise from publisher Rockstar Games Inc. is just about as good as reality, with 262 types of vehicles, more than 1,000 different unpredictable pedestrians and animals, 14 weather conditions and countless bridges, traffic signals, tunnels and intersections...

The idea isn't that the highways and byways of the fictional city of Los Santos would ever be a substitute for bona fide asphalt. But the game "is the richest virtual environment that we could extract data from," said Alain Kornhauser, a Princeton University professor of operations research and financial engineering who advises the Princeton Autonomous Vehicle Engineering team.

Government

President Trump Misses 90-Day Deadline To Appoint a Cybersecurity Team After Alleged Russian Hacking (politico.com) 347

From a report: President-elect Donald Trump was very clear: "I will appoint a team to give me a plan within 90 days of taking office," he said in January, after getting a U.S. intelligence assessment of Russian interference in last year's elections and promising to address cybersecurity. Thursday, Trump hits his 90-day mark. There is no team, there is no plan, and there is no clear answer from the White House on who would even be working on what. It's the latest deadline Trump's set and missed -- from the press conference he said his wife would hold last fall to answer questions about her original immigration process to the plan to defeat ISIS that he'd said would come within his first 30 days in office. Since his inauguration, Trump's issued a few tweets and promises to get to the bottom of Russian hacking -- and accusations of surveillance of Americans, himself included, by the Obama administration.
Communications

Microsoft's Skype Is Most Used Messaging Service For Cyber Criminals, Study Finds (securityledger.com) 57

chicksdaddy quotes a report from The Security Ledger: Cyber criminals lurk in the dark recesses of the internet, striking at random and then disappearing into the virtual ether. But when they want to talk shop with their colleagues, they turn to Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft and its Skype communications tools, according to an analysis by the firm Flashpoint. Mentions of different platforms were used as a proxy for gauging interest in and use of these messaging services. Flashpoint analysts looked, especially, for invitations to continue conversation outside of cyber criminal marketplaces, like references to ICQ accounts or other platforms. The survey results show that, out of a population of around 80 instant messenger platforms and protocols, a short list of just five platforms accounts for between 80% and 90% of all mentions within the cyber underground. Of those, Microsoft's Skype was the chat king. It ranked among the top five platforms across all language groups. That, despite the platform's lack of end-to-end encryption or forward secrecy features and evidence, courtesy of NSA hacker Edward Snowden, that U.S. spies may have snooped on Skype video calls in recent years, The Security Ledger reports. The conclusion: while security is a priority amongst thieves, it isn't the sole concern that cyber criminals and their associates have. In fact, sophisticated hacking communities like those in Russia to continue to rely on legacy platforms like ICQ when provably more secure alternatives exist. The reason? Business. "These cyber criminals have a lot of different options that they're juggling and a lot of factors that weigh on their options," said Leroy Terrelonge III, the Director of Middle East and Africa Research at Flashpoint. "We might suspect that cyber criminals use the most secure means of communication all the time, that's not what our research showed."

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