|The TR Podcast 181: In which we avoid talking about Skylake||19|
|Gigabyte's X99-Gaming 5P motherboard reviewed||42|
|Is FCAT more accurate than Fraps for frame time measurements?||46|
The Pick 6
Read more... Mozilla CEO protests Win10's default application setup process
Mozilla CEO Chris Beard has written an angry open letter to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella regarding a change to Windows 10's default application settings. Apparently, if you aren't careful when you upgrade to Windows 10, the upgrade process will change the default browser to Edge without asking.
In his letter, Beard calls on Microsoft to revert those changes to the upgrade process. Beard says these changes "throw away the choice [Microsoft's] customers have made about the Internet experience they want, and replace it with the Internet experience Microsoft wants them to have."
Fortunately, changing your default browser back to Firefox isn't difficult. The first time you launch most any web browser, it offers to make itself the default. When you answer in the affirmative, the Default Apps screen opens, and you can choose any web browser—not just Firefox—to be your PC's default. Mozilla has posted an illustrated guide to switching your default browser by launching Firefox.
According to Ars Technica, the Windows 10 upgrade routine does allow you to keep your default applications, but that's not the default behavior. You need to click at least two obscure buttons to manually select your default applications instead, which is kind of onerous. In a statement to Ars, a Microsoft representative indicated changes were possible, saying, "As with all aspects of the product, we have designed Windows 10 as a service; if we learn from user experience that there are ways to make improvements, we will do so."Deals of the week: Samsung's 850 EVO 1TB for $310 and more
It's Friday once again, TR readers, and that means it's time for us to pan for gold in the rushing river of online deals. We only got a couple of good ones this week, but man, the first one is a doozy.
That's it for this week. If you found a deal elsewhere that we've missed, share it with other TR gerbils in the comments.Report: new Google Glass is a clip-on model for businesses
The Wall Street Journal has a report on a new version of Google's Glass eyewear, which is apparently targeted exclusively at businesses. According to "people familiar with the situation," Google is pitching the new version at several industries, including health care, manufacturing, and energy.
The new version is described as a clip-on model that can be attached to wearers' own glasses. The insiders also told the WSJ that the new prism can now be vertically adjusted as well as horizontally. According to a previous report by 9To5Google, the new "Enterprise Edition" packs an Intel Atom processor, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, a larger prism, and an optional battery pack.
Right now, the company is distributing kits to developers building custom business apps. WSJ's insiders say a new consumer version was in the cards in late 2014, but eventually Google decided otherwise, moving the Glass team into the Nest division under the umbrella of former Apple executive Tony Fadell. Google reportedly hopes that businesses will begin using this new Glass this fall.
There's still hope for regular users, though. The WSJ says that Google still intends to release a consumer version of the new model some time in the future.14 million have upgraded to Windows 10 in its first 24 hours
As we found out when we got together and recorded our latest podcast last night, Scott is the only member of the TR staff that's using Windows 10 so far, but at least he's not alone. Microsoft says 14 million people have upgraded to Windows 10 in the new operating system's first 24 hours of general release. Despite scattered reports that something tends to happen when upgrading, the company claims that reviews and consumer feedback have been "overwhelmingly positive" so far.
That 14-million figure seems likely to grow manyfold over the coming weeks, as Microsoft continues the phased rollout process for Windows customers who took the company up on its free upgrade offer. Win10 is also available for purchase in Home and Pro editions if you're not eligible for the upgrade program for whatever reason.Nvidia recalls Shield Tablet due to battery fire risk
Some Nvidia Shield Tablets built between July 2014 and July 2015 could pose a fire risk. The batteries in the affected tablets can apparently overheat to dangerous levels. As a result, the company has issued a recall notice. The recall applies only to tablets that show a battery model of Y01 on the About Tablet screen in the Settings application.
If you own a Shield Tablet, Nvidia recommends that you make sure it's running the latest software update. The company will send a notification to affected Shield Tablets which includes the tablet's serial number and instructions for filling out the recall form. Once owners receive a replacement tablet and turn it on for the first time, it appears Nvidia will remotely disable the affected device, so be sure to back up your data beforehand if you're an owner of an afflicted Shield.EVGA X99 Micro 2 mobo offers USB-C in a microATX package
EVGA has announced its X99 Micro 2 motherboard, which looks to be aimed at enthusiasts who want to stuff a whole lot of CPU power into a microATX chassis. The X99 Micro 2 includes an onboard CPU temperature display, six-phase digital VRMs, and EVGA's E-LEET X tuning software package. Its four DDR4 DIMM slots can hold up to 64GB of memory.
Despite the microATX form-factor, the X99 Micro 2 includes plenty of internal expandability in its 9.6" x 9.6" package. Three PCI Express x16 slots technically support SLI and CrossFire in either a 2x16 or 3x8 configuration, but that middle slot would only fit a single-slot card for triple-GPU setups. Ten SATA 6Gbps ports and an M.2 slot with up to 32Gbps of bandwidth offer plenty of options for storage.
External I/O ports are linked to the X99 chipset's USB 3.0 and 2.0 controllers, and there's also a single USB 3.1 Type-C connector on the rear. An Intel Gigabit Ethernet controller handles wired networking. EVGA claims to have isolated the audio traces on the motherboard to keep analog signals clean, and Realtek's premium ALC1150 codec runs the soundboard.
EVGA lists the X99 Micro 2 on its web store for $229, making it one of the less expensive X99 boards out there.The Tech Report Podcast is live on Twitch
Come join us for the live recording of the latest episode of The Tech Report Podcast on Twitch. We'll be discussing a boatload of new phones, Windows 10, Intel and Micron's 3D XPoint memory, and whatever listener questions our viewers throw at us. Come join in:Wake-from-sleep vulnerability leaves UEFIs open to attack
Most modern motherboards support firmware write protection to prevent unwanted BIOS flashes, but a vulnerability in many UEFI firmware implementations could accidentally disable such protection. A new warning posted by Carnegie Mellon University's CERT says that when many x86-based systems wake from sleep, they fail to enable that write protection .
The security hole opens when an affected system goes to sleep and then wakes up. Many Intel-based x86 systems use a specific flag stored in a BIOS register that controls write protection. When the bit is turned on, the BIOS is write-protected—but that bit is turned off by default. Every time a PC resets, this register is also reset to the default state, and it's up to the BIOS to set it correctly. When a PC sleeps, the wake process is treated as a hardware reset, so the register resets in turn. Many BIOS implementations don't flip the write-protect bit again, so after a sleep-wake cycle, write protection is disabled.
CERT lists several vendors who may be affected, including Dell, Lenovo, and Apple, and also lists BIOS vendors like American Megatrends and Phoenix, whose BIOS implementations are found in many other systems. Apple and Dell have confirmed that at least some of their systems are affected. In response, Apple has released an EFI security update, and Dell has provided CERT with a list of affected systems. Dell customers should visit the company's support site to get their system's latest BIOS.
Amid the torrent of vulnerabilities uncovered by the Hacking Team leaks, Trend Micro warned of the gray-hat developer's UEFI rootkit, which could infect motherboards with a nasty bug. One of Trend Micro's suggestions is to make sure that one's BIOS is write-protected, but for systems affected by this sleep-wake flaw, write-protection wouldn't be enough. Another of the anti-virus maker's suggestions is to install any new BIOS with any security-related updates that might be available from your vendor. We think it'd wise to visit your motherboard vendor's support site and look for updates.GPU-Z utility gets a Windows 10 update
Do you regularly fire up TechPowerUp's GPU-Z to check your graphics card specs and status? Just upgraded to Windows 10? You'll want to download the latest GPU-Z, version 0.8.5, which adds Windows 10 support and a number of other useful features.
This update allows GPU-Z to detect CUDA compatibility on graphics cards running on Windows 10. It also allows owners of graphics cards based on AMD's Fiji GPU to monitor voltage. Owners of Radeon 300-series cards will see the proper information for those cards in GPU-Z, as well. Finally, those with AMD Sea Islands, Volcanic Islands, and Pirate Islands silicon can monitor memory controller load in the utility.
Version 0.8.5 can be downloaded here.Windows 10's Solitaire games go freemium
In a bold move, Microsoft is paving the way to the future of PC gaming with its expanded Solitaire suite. What's that mean? You have to pay a monthly fee to disable ads. That's right: the three Solitaire games Microsoft has bundled with Windows for years aren't just paid apps now. They're part of a subscription-based service. In fact, after I played a hand to get a feel for the ads, I unlocked an achievement called, "The first one's free." That's great, you guys.
As PCWorld points out, Windows 8 didn't include Microsoft Solitaire Collection by default. Instead, Microsoft chose to put it on the Windows App Store. With Windows 10, Microsoft upped the ante and dealt out a hand of ad-supported Klondike, Spider, Freecell, Pyramid and Tri-Peaks. For $1.49 a month or $9.99 a year, you can again play
with by yourself ad-free.
Now what am I going to do when I'm supposed to be working? Welcome to 2015, I guess.Samsung docs detail Linux TRIM bug and fix
We've been covering a report from search provider Algolia pointing out a potential issue in Samsung SSDs' TRIM implementation. More recently, Samsung itself reported that the bug actually resides in the Linux kernel, and that the company had submitted a patch for the problem.
Now, we have more details of the bug. Samsung has provided us with internal documents detailing the exact cause of the issue, and the subsequent solution. We're geting a bit technical here, so we'll take some liberty to simplify. When Linux's RAID implementation receives a sequence of read or write operations, it creates separate buffers in memory for each of them.
When it comes to TRIM operations, however, a single shared buffer is used. That works in theory, except there's a bug—more specifically, a form of race condition. A sequence of queued TRIM commands in a specific order all need to make use of the shared buffer, but after the first command is queued, subsequent ones may erroneously free the buffer before the previous operation completes. Boom. The wrong sector in the disk gets zeroed out, and chaos ensues.
Samsung developed a fix and reportedly ran Algolia's test scripts for a week without issue. It then submitted a workaround patch to the Linux RAID mailing list on July 19. A healthy discussion ensued until a more permanent solution was tested and agreed upon, which was then commited to the kernel source tree.
In the meantime, users with linear, RAID 0, or RAID 10 configurations using SATA SSDs are advised to disable TRIM altogether until a kernel version is released that includes the patch. RAID1 setups are not affected. The reason why this problem cropped up with Samsung's SSD is due to the precise sequence of events needed to trigger it. Martin Petersen from Oracle notes that the bug is dependant on "timing and a very heavy discard load."The Tech Report Podcast live stream returns tonight
We'll be recording the next episode of The Tech Report Podcast live tonight at 6:30 PM PT/9:30 PM ET on our Twitch channel. We'll take reader questions, dicuss the week's biggest news, and chat about our most recent reviews. Kick back and tune in if you're able. Here's the video version of our last episode:
If you can't join us live, or want your questions to be first in line, leave as many as you like in the comments and we'll try to answer them on the show. See you this evening.Samsung Q2 earnings fall, mobile device sales disappoint
Samsung Electronics has released its Q2 2015 financial report. Sales were down approximately 8% from the year-ago quarter, totalling 48.54 trillion Korean won ($41.3 billion). Operating profit was down 5% compared to Q2 2015, at 6.90 trillion KRW ($5.8 billion) for the quarter.
Samsung's smartphone sales declined, with the IT & Mobile division's sales down 10% to 26.06 trillion KRW ($22 billion), contributing 2.76 trillion KRW ($2.2 billion) in profit. The profits represent a drop of more than 37% from a year ago. Q2 sales and profits were down for the second straight year. Q2 smartphone sales were down from the previous quarter, as well, and Samsung blames lower sales of older phones. The company says shipments of the flagship Galaxy S6 line have increased since launch, and that it will maintain sales of the premium smartphones by "flexibly adjusting the price of the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge." It's hard to see that statement as anything other than a pre-announcement of a price cut.
In brighter news, Samsung's semiconductor sales were strong. Both sales and operating profit are up from the year-ago quarter. Sales totaled 11.29 trillion KRW ($9.6 billion), and operating profits increased 90% to 3.4 trillion KRW ($2.9 billion). Memory sales were lower than their seasonal average, but Samsung credits high demand for 14-nm mobile chips and high-end LSI products such as its high-megapixel CMOS image sensors for picking up the slack.
Looking forward, Samsung says it expects demand to increase for its mobile devices, albeit at a slowing rate of growth. It also expects high demand for its high-density DDR4 memory chips, solid-state storage products, and 14-nm foundry capacity later in the year.IDC: Worldwide tablet market continues to decline
Do we officially live in a post-tablet world yet? IDC reports that tablet sales worldwide declined for the third straight quarter, continuing a trend that started at the end of 2014. In the second quarter of 2015, IDC estimated global tablet sales at 44.7 million units, down 7% from 48 million from the same period last year.
IDC research director for tablets Jean Philippe Bouchard blames several factors. "Longer life cycles, increased competition from other categories such as larger smartphones, combined with the fact that end users can install the latest operating systems on their older tablets has stifled the initial enthusiasm for these devices in the consumer market," Bouchard said. The last point likely refers to Apple's decision to support the iPad 2 with iOS 9.
Apple and Samsung came in first and second in IDC's sales numbers, respectively, and they also suffered the most: each company posted double-digit year-on-year declines. Lenovo actually saw a slight increase in sales at number three. LG and Huawei tied for fourth place, with 3.6-3.7% of the market. Those companies grew sales by 103.6% and 246.4%, respectively, from less than a million units to 1.6 million units each. Bouchard said IDC believes growing vendors found ways to "address available pockets of growth."
Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for IDC's Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers, believes tablet makers can turn the market around. Ubrani says 2-in-1 tablets and new software features like iOS 9's multitasking should bring growth to the market.Intel updates IGP drivers for Windows 10
And that's three for three now. Intel has joined the Windows 10 release party with updated IGP drivers for the new OS, with the version number 18.104.22.168.4256—which I'm sure means something in Lost. Here's a direct link for your convenience.
Besides support for Windows 10 and the shiny new DirectX 12 API, the new driver supports DirectX 11.3, PlayReady 3, and Miracast. It also fixes a bug with improper game scaling for programs running at non-native resolutions on touch-enabled systems. All IGPs in the Iris, Iris Pro, and HD Graphics families are compatible with this update.
Check out the release notes for more information.G.Skill prepares for Skylake with 4GT/s DDR4 memory
Those of you interested in building a new Skylake-based system once Intel's newest CPUs launch will need DDR4 memory, but why just buy plain old DDR4 memory when you can get DDR4 memory? G.Skill has just updated its memory lineup with the Trident Z and Ripjaws V series of DIMMs. The company claims that the fastest Trident Z kits are the first capable of running at speeds of 4,000 MT/s.
The headliner of G.Skill's new offerings is the Trident Z series, available at speeds betwen 2,800 MT/s and 4,000 MT/s. G.Skill says the Trident Z family is built with the very best memory chips Samsung has to offer. As for that nosebleed-inducing 4,000 MT/s figure, G.Skill says it hit those speeds on an as-yet-unannounced next-generation ASRock motherboard. Four billion transfers per second comes at a price, however: the highest speeds require looser 19-25-25-45 timings and a higher-than-usual 1.4 volts. The Trident Z heat spreaders feature a single-piece design with cooling fins, and they appear to be relatively low-profile.
G.Skill's Ripjaws V DIMMs come in at slightly lower speeds: 2,133 MT/s to 3,733 MT/s. These kits also feature Samsung memory chips, though they're not "hand-screened" as with the Trident Z. The top-end Ripjaws V kits hit 3,733 MT/s with latencies of 17-19-19-39 and 1.35V. Builders can take their pick of red, blue, silver, gunmetal gray, and black heat spreaders.
The two memory families share plenty in common: both families will have kits with capacities ranging from 8GB in a 2x4GB DIMM configuration to 64GB with four 16GB DIMMs. The highest-clocked kits are only available as 16GB across four DIMMs, though. Pricing information isn't available yet, but with the claim to "fastest desktop memory ever" on the line, we're guessing that the highest-end kits won't be cheap.Nvidia releases GeForce 353.62 drivers for Windows 10
For your convenience, here are direct download links for the Windows 10 version, or for previous versions of Windows if you're not moving to the new shiny just yet. If you have GeForce Experience installed, you can update through it as well.
Along with support for the new operating system, Nvidia has added a handful of SLI profiles, namely for Batman: Arkham Knight (yum, quad-SLI at 30 FPS), Metro: Last Light, MotoGP 15, and Total War: Arena.Catalyst 15.7.1 drivers bring Win10 support
Windows 10 just came out today, and it's safe to say that a few of you are already installing it. In tandem with the OS's release, AMD has made available a minor update to its Catalyst drivers, version 15.7.1, which you can download here.
As you can probably guess, the big, new feature is official support for Windows 10, which includes the new DirectX 12 API. All GCN-based Radeons are supported, from the Radeon HD 7000 series onward.
The new Catalysts also include a handful of bug fixes, most notably for Battefield Hardline, Battlefield 4, and Dirt Rally. For more information, check out the release notes.Windows 10 now available for download
Now that the official launch day is here, some folks who reserved Windows 10 upgrades for their PCs are getting prompts to install the OS via Microsoft's upgrade tool.
If, however, you don't want to wait or would prefer to create installation media for a fresh install, you can now download the Windows 10 media creation tool. This tool will let you grab any of the consumer editions of the OS, both 32- and 64-bit versions, and it will create an ISO for burning to optical disk or a bootable USB flash drive.
Here's hoping it works. I'm making a USB key right now. I'd hate to find out soon that something happened.
|Nvidia recalls Shield Tablet due to battery fire risk||37|
|Friday Night Shortbread||54|
|Mozilla CEO protests Win10's default application setup process||109|
|Deals of the week: Samsung's 850 EVO 1TB for $310 and more||51|
|Report: new Google Glass is a clip-on model for businesses||10|
|14 million have upgraded to Windows 10 in its first 24 hours||83|
|EVGA X99 Micro 2 mobo offers USB-C in a microATX package||12|
|The Tech Report Podcast is live on Twitch||6|
|Wake-from-sleep vulnerability leaves UEFIs open to attack||48|