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Alleged details on Intel's Xe HP "Arctic Sound" leaked, may fail to live up to the hype
by Sayan Sen
Back at Architecture Day 2020, Intel outlined its roadmap (image above) for its Xe (Gen 12) graphics architecture. Among the several variants of the Xe is Xe HP, which will be used to build next-gen Intel server and data center GPUs. Today a report has surfaced (via igor'sLAB) which claims it has the alleged details of those upcoming server GPUs that Intel is designing.
It was first leaked in February 2020 (via Digital Trends) that going forward, Arctic Sound, as well as other such high-performance GPUs from Intel, will feature a tile-based design, a finding that was later confirmed by the company at its 2020 Architecture Day. Adding to that, we learn today from the new igorLAB's report that each such tile will pack up to 512 graphics execution units (EUs).
For now, at least, we have the alleged details on two such Arctic Sound SKUs, the first being the Arctic Sound 1T (where the 'T' presumably indicates a tile) and Arctic Sound 2T. The 1T allegedly is a single-slot card and has 384 EUs out of the 512 EUs functioning properly, while the dual-slot 2T variant has 480 EUs in each tile working properly. So the 2T has 960 functioning EUs in total.
Image via Digital Trends In December last year, Raja Koduri, the GPU chief at Intel, had announced that his company was already sampling Xe HP to its potential customers. As such, it's possible that the information igorLAB's received today has leaked out from such a source. In his tweet, Koduri had shown the image of a disassembled Xe HP graphics card alongside its forerunner, a Xe LP-based H3C XG310 quad-GPU.
Below is a table detailing the rumored specifications of Arctic Sound alongside 2020's H3C XG310:
H3C XG310 Arctic Sound 1T Arctic Sound 2T Execution Units (EUs) 4x 96 EUs 384 EUs 2x 480 EUs Micro-architecture Xe LP Xe HP Xe HP Memory 4x 8GB LPDDR4-4266 16GB HBM2E (2.8G) 2x 16GB HBM2E (2.8G) PCIe bus width PCIe 3.0 x16 PCIe 4.0 x16 PCIe 4.0 x16 TDP 150W 150W 300W Interestingly, while Intel had mentioned up to a four-tiled Xe HP behemoth, it seems there are only two tiled GPUs in the making so far. In its report, igor'sLAB speculates that Intel may have given up on the bigger designs as the current 2T Arctic Sound allegedly already is a 300W product. And for adding another couple of tiles, the TDP is estimated to reach close to 500W.
So ultimately Arctic Sound may prove to be not much of an upgrade over the current Xe LP-based H3C XG310 offering unless Xe HP gains enormously per TFLOP and per watt over what Xe LP already offers.
Update: Added an image showing Intel's Xe HP one-, two-, and four-tiled designs.
By Usama Jawad96
Microsoft Threat and Vulnerability Management now supports Linux
by Usama Jawad
Microsoft's Threat and Vulnerability Management (TVM) suite allows organizations to improve security configurations of their devices. It offers insights to discover threats, automatically prioritizes issues, and allows companies to remediate vulnerabilities seamlessly. Previously, these capabilities were only available on Windows and macOS, but Microsoft has now extended support to Linux as well.
Currently supported Linux operating systems include RHEL, CentOS, and Ubuntu. Support will be rolling out for Oracle Linux, SUSE, and Debian soon as well.
TVM capabilities can be directly managed from Microsoft Defender for Endpoint. Furthermore, its APIs can be called to get access to the underlying dataset which includes vulnerability assessments and software inventory, among other things. This also means that security partners can utilize these APIs to get access to this data and build their own custom solutions.
Microsoft went on to say that:
Apart from general availability of TVM for Linux, the secure configuration assessment component is now also in public preview for macOS and Linux. It was only available on Windows and Windows Server devices previously. You can find out more about it here.
In terms of next steps, Microsoft says that it plans to improve the interoperability of its TVM solution by partnering with other integration and solution providers. Additionally, support for TVM on Android and iOS is also expected "later this summer", although we don't have a firm release date as of yet.
Intel introduces new 11th-gen H-series processors with up to 8 cores and 5.0Ghz
by João Carrasqueira
Lining up with Nvidia's launch of new RTX-based laptops, Intel has formally introduced its new Core H-series processors today. As usual, these are 45W processors, and they're different from the H35 series Intel announced in January, though these can be configured down to 35W.
The new H-series processors are based on Intel's SuperFin 10nm process, and they include all the improvements of the Tiger Lake processors that are already available. This includes 20 PCIe 4.0 lanes for a total of up to 44 PCIe lanes (up to 24 PCIe 3.0 lanes), support for Thunderbolt 4 with 40Gbps transfer speeds, and Intel's Iris Xe Graphics with 32 execution units (EUs). There's also support for DDR4-3200 memory, H20 Intel Optane storage, Intel's Killer Wi-Fi 6E cards.
The lineup is headlined by the Intel Core i9-11980HK processor, which is unlocked for overclocking, and it features eight cores and 16 threads. It's also capable of boosting up to 5.0GHz not just on a single core, but on two of them. Its maximum all-core turbo is 4.5GHz. There's also a variant without overclocking support and with slightly lower clock speeds. You can also see that even the lower end of the lineup features at least six cores and 12 threads, and the integrated graphics run at similar speeds across the board.
Intel is touting the performance of its chips across the board, with the Core i9-11980HK beating AMD's Ryzen 9 5900HX across the board in a number of games, while also being a major improvement over the previous generation of Intel processors. Intel also pits its Core i5-11400H against AMD's Ryzen 9 5900HS showcasing comparable performance between its mid-range processor and the red team's higher-end product.
Gallery: Gaming performance on Intel 11th gen H-series
Over on the creative side, Intel promises up to a 22% improvement over the previous generation. Comparing the Intel Core i9-11980HK to the Ryzen 9 5900HX, Intel also claims up to 24% higher performance, specifically in image editing in Photoshop Elements. It also claims 18% better video editing performance in Adobe After Effects and a 19% improvement in Microsoft Office productivity workflow.
In addition to the mainstream Core processors, Intel also announced new vPro models, as well as the new Xeon W-11000 workstation processors aimed at professionals. These share a lot of the same technologies but support Intel's vPro platform, SIPP, and TXT.
Many laptops are already being announced today with these new processors, with Intel claiming there are over 80 designs with its 11th-generation H-series chips.
By News Staff
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Microsoft Weekly: Edge Beta for Linux, a new Segoe font, and games galore
by Florin Bodnarescu
A number of things happened in the last seven days, including the arrival of Edge Beta on Linux, the unveiling of a new Segoe font variant, and even a refresh of the Azure logo. You can find info about that, as well as much more below, in your Microsoft digest for the week of May 2 - 8.
Edge Beta for Linux
We should begin with a little info regarding Edge, as not much has happened with the browser this week.
For starters, build 92.0.878.0 made its way to the Dev Channel. While this would normally be pretty exciting, Microsoft says the build doesn’t change much, given that it came out just a few days after the previous build. The changes are so minor that the company didn’t even bother publishing its usual post about it.
Moving on to the stable version, namely version 90, folks may be experiencing problems with YouTube playback, namely crashing. This bug has been acknowledged by a Microsoft engineer, who suggested users disable hardware acceleration as a workaround. The same engineer confirmed that the company is working on a fix, but that the issue may be more significant than initially thought.
And since we’re taking a tour through the various Insider channels, it’s worth pointing out that over six months after the Dev channel availability of Edge for Linux, there is now a Beta variant for the open-source OS.
Lastly, Microsoft is now testing everse image search in the Bing sidebar. This does pretty much exactly what it sounds like it would, namely allows you to right-click on an image and search for it on Bing in the sidebar which appears on the right of the Edge browser. As per Reddit user Leopeva64-2 who stumbled upon this, the capability is available in Edge Dev, though we have not seen this on any of our test devices.
A new font
For Insiders in the Dev channel, Microsoft pushed out yet another preview build, 21376, which included the usual array of fixes and, rather interestingly a new Segoe font variant.
While Segoe UI itself has been used as a default system font going all the way back to Windows Vista, a number of variants have been revealed since, including Segoe Script, Segoe Pro, and what Microsoft used for its Modern design icons, Segoe MDL2 Assets.
The new font is called Segoe UI Variable and as the name implies, it’s meant to vary slightly depending on the use case. Segoe UI itself for example was originally designed to be optimal at 9pt sizes, while Segoe UI Variable tweaks the letter weight and tracking depending on the size.
For smaller text, the letters are more tightly tracked, have more weight and are more open, while at display size, text isn’t quite as tightly tracked and has amplified letter terminals. For those not familiar, tracking refers to the overall horizontal spacing between font characters. This is not to be confused with kerning, which refers to the proportional spacing between two individual letters, whereas tracking refers to, say, an entire word.
On the subject of change, we should touch on the fact that Microsoft is set to fully remove Flash from Windows 10 in July. While support for Flash was dropped by Adobe on December 31, 2020, and Microsoft released a manual update to remove it back in October of the same year, it was, as the name implies, not necessarily mandatory. Starting in July, the Redmond giant is set to push out the update to Windows 10 v1809 and above, automagically removing the media plugin.
To that end, the firm is also removing any update blocks for versions 2004 and 20H2 (May 2020 Update, October 2020 Update), allowing folks to freely upgrade to these supported variants. We’re on the verge of a new feature update anyway, so it’s not much of a surprise that Microsoft wants folks on the latest Windows 10 version, if possible.
Last but not least, to the dismay of perhaps three people, Windows 10X is allegedly delayed indefinitely, as Microsoft focuses on Windows 10 proper.
Since its original unveil at the end of 2019 with the dual-screen Surface Neo and Duo, the former device was delayed out of its Holiday 2020 release window, and Windows 10X was repurposed for single-screen devices - in stark contrast to its initial 'dual-screen devices first' approach. For now, it seems that the Redmond firm is putting 10X on the backburner, focusing its resources on the expected Sun Valley UI refresh coming to Windows 10 later this year.
In a rather surprising announcement, Microsoft decided to take the wraps off a sizeable selection of titles now supporting FPS Boost. More than quadrupling the number of supported games from 23 to 97, the latest additions include Dying Light, a number of LEGO games, ReCore, and more, with supported framerates from 60 to 120FPS.
There are good news on the Game Pass front as well, with FIFA 21, Red Dead Online, Psychonauts, Outlast 2 and many others either already available or joining the subscription very soon. Additionally, folks in the U.S. also get four months of Spotify Premium with Game Pass Ultimate, though this is available for new users only.
On the revenue share front, Microsoft dropped its cut from 30% to 12% on PC, and was planning to do the same on console, but it will no longer do so. An interesting tidbit about the company’s strategy relates to exactly why it lowered its split. As per the court documents filed in January, this is done “in exchange for the grant of streaming rights to Microsoft.”, in other words, xCloud. It’s not exactly clear whether the proposal was far enough along to even be discussed with console publishers, but for the time being, the revenue split on Xbox remains 30/70.
If you don’t think that’s such a great deal, maybe some of the Deals with Gold will pique your interest, like the discounts for Borderlands 3, Control, PAYDAY 2: Crimewave Edition, and others.
However, if you have no desire to buy more games and already own the latest iteration of Flight Simulator or the spin-off title Minecraft Dungeons, it’s worth checking for updates, as both first-party games have received a number of enhancements and fixes.
The latest monthly Office Insider build on the Mac has added the ‘Share to Teams’ capability in Outlook, and more. Microsoft has announced its automation tool for security testing AI systems, dubbed Counterfit. Live transcriptions will soon be added for unscheduled and channel meetings in Teams. Microsoft has announced Reading Progress for Teams for education. Whiteboard now has improved Teams integration, support for rich content like images and stickers, and more. The Redmond giant has detailed more education features coming through August. Excel on the web now supports Power BI-connected PivotTables. Microsoft has delivered oxygen, ventilators, and more to support India’s COVID-19 response. New customization options are now available for Reply-all Storm Protection in Microsoft 365. Microsoft customers in the EU will be able to store all their data in the region by 2022. The Redmond firm has warned of a widespread gift card scam targeting organizations. Logging off
We end the week with a refreshed Azure logo, an interesting Defender bug, and some Surface firmware updates.
Starting with Azure, Microsoft has decided that the logo for its cloud service needed a bit of a Fluent Design facelift, and as such unveiled a brand-new icon. Ditching the angular shape of the old logo, this one is much more reminiscent of say, the Visual Studio icon, though in some cases, it may remind folks of the Adobe or Autodesk logos.
On the flip side, what wasn’t needed was a rather weird Microsoft Defender bug, which ended up creating “thousands” of files in users' boot drives. Some folks saw small files less than 2KB in size, while other users reported multiple GBs of storage being eaten up. A fix is already rolling out, and if you’re on Microsoft Defender engine version 1.1.18100.5, you’ll be bumped up to 1.1.18100.6 following this update.
Finally, for owners of the Surface Pro 4, Studio, Laptop 1,2, and 4, Microsoft has released a slew of firmware updates meant to bring stability and security enhancements.
Missed any of the previous columns? Be sure to have a look right here.
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