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The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 is the next-generation halo card from Team Green, and it's going to be a monster. The Nvidia GeForce RTX 3090 is now confirmed as the next halo graphics card from Team Green, thanks to Micron's inadvertent posting of memory details (the PDF is now removed). With that piece of knowledge, we've dissected the rest of what we expect to find in the RTX 3090. Nvidia has a countdown to the 21st anniversary of its first GPU, the GeForce 256, slated for September 1. The battle for the best graphics cards and top of the GPU hierarchy is about to get heated. We've talked about the Nvidia Ampere and RTX 30-series as a whole elsewhere, so this discussion is focused purely on the GeForce RTX 3090. Let's dig into the details of what we know about the GeForce RTX 3090, including the expected GPU and memory specifications, release date, price, features, and more. First, the GeForce RTX 3090 branding is the first 90-series suffix we've seen since the GTX 690 back in 2012. That was a dual-GPU variant of the GTX 680, but based on the Micron documentation, RTX 3090 will still be a single GPU. Spoiler: multi-GPU support in games is practically dead, at least on life support. Why bring back the 90 brandings? Simple: It opens the door for a new tier of performance and pricing. That's not good news for our wallets. We discussed the Micron inadvertent posting of details and more in a recent Tom's Hardware show, which you can view below. Let's dig into the details. The Micron posting gives us one extremely concrete set of data. Unless Nvidia changes something between now and the unveiling, the GeForce RTX 3090 will have 12GB of GDDR6X memory clocked at somewhere between 19-21 Gbps per pin. Let's be clear: It's 21Gbps. Nvidia's GTX 1080 Ti was the first 11GB GPU, and it was a surprise. Nvidia had multiple references to build off: Turning the dial to 11, 11GB, 11Gbps clocks. The same applies to 21Gbps. This is the 21st anniversary of the GeForce 256, the "world's first GPU" according to Nvidia, who coined the GPU acronym for the occasion. There's also a 21-day countdown going on right now. Add that to the specs from Micron and 21Gbps is effectively confirmed. If I'm wrong, I'll eat my GPU hat. This is a big deal, as it's the first time a GPU will have over 1TBps of memory bandwidth while using something other than HBM2 memory. (AMD's Radeon VII has 1TBps as well, via 16GB of HBM2.) We don't have exact details on how much companies pay for HBM2 vs. GDDR6X, but there's a big premium with HBM2 — you need a silicon interposer, plus the memory itself costs more. To put this in perspective, the RTX 2080 Ti 'only' has 616GBps, so this is effectively a 64% boost in the memory performance. That leads into the rest of the GPU specs, but let's first point out that the RTX 2080 Ti has 27% more memory bandwidth than the GTX 1080 Ti. It also has 20% more theoretical computational performance (TFLOPS), and architectural updates mean it makes better use of those resources. In short, GPU TFLOPS is often scaled similarly to bandwidth. As we've already pointed out, the move to 21Gbps GDDR6X increased raw memory bandwidth by 64% relative to the RTX 2080 Ti. That means we also expect the RTX 3090 to deliver around 50-75% more computational performance. Do you know what would make for a nice target? 21 TFLOPS. Yeah, baby! How it gets it isn't critical, but there are a few options. We know from the Nvidia A100 that Ampere can reach massive sizes on TSCM's 7nm process. It's an 826mm square package, which is relatively close to the maximum reticle size — you can't make a chip physically larger than the reticle. The GA100 at the heart of the A100 also supports FP64 (64-bit floating-point) computation, which is necessary for the target market of scientific research. GeForce cards don't need FP64 and typically only have 1/32 the performance in FP64 vs. FP32 instead of the 1/2 performance found in the bigger GP100, GV100, and GA100 chips. Option one is that Nvidia strips out all the FP64 functionality, adds ray tracing RT cores in its place, and still ends up with a big chip that has up to 128 SMs. This is more or less what happened with the Pascal generation: GP100 used HBM2, GP102 used GDDR5/GDDR5X, but both had a maximum configuration of 3840 FP32 CUDA cores. Some of these would end up disabled to improve yields via binning, but if Nvidia goes with 118 SMs and 7,552 CUDA cores, then clock the chip at 1.4GHz (boost), it would have a theoretical performance of 21.1 TFLOPS.  Oh, and it uses 50W more power. Learn more about this powerhouse GPU card by visiting OUR FORUM.

Device Manager is an important tool on Windows 10 and it allows you to view installed hardware and their updates. Windows 10’s Device Manager allows users to install an updated driver by scanning Microsoft servers. Searching for an updated driver may work if the device or driver is old and outdated, and when a new update has been published on Microsoft’s legacy driver library. As we reported on Sunday, Windows 10 has removed the internet-based method of updating device drivers for those running the May 2020 Update with all patches installed. This change was made quietly last month and Microsoft has now revealed the real reason behind this move. Starting with Windows 10 KB4566782 (Build 19041.450), Microsoft says it is restoring the optional updates option in the Settings app for more users. When optional updates are detected for your device by Windows Update, they will be displayed on a new page called ‘Optional updates’. Microsoft noted that this change means that you no longer need to launch the classic Device Manager to get updated drivers from Microsoft. If you want to search for the most recent driver online, Microsoft is recommending users to use the Windows Update instead. Device Manager will also inform users that better drivers are available on Windows Update or at the manufacturer’s website, but it won’t let you download the drivers. When you’re experiencing issues with a particular device, installing optional drivers may help, according to Microsoft. As always, Windows Update will continue to check for driver updates and automatically keep your drivers updated. “We look forward to your feedback on this enhancement to the update experience, and to bringing you continued improvements that improve your experience with Windows 10 overall,” Microsoft noted. It’s also worth noting that the drivers on Windows Update or Microsoft’s driver library are often outdated. The download page of the manufacturer’s site is where you should head for updates if you want the latest drivers. Follow this and more on OUR FORUM.

A billion or more Android devices are vulnerable to hacks that can turn them into spying tools by exploiting more than 400 vulnerabilities in Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chip, researchers reported this week. The vulnerabilities can be exploited when a target downloads a video or other content that’s rendered by the chip. Targets can also be attacked by installing malicious apps that require no permissions at all. From there, attackers can monitor locations and listen to nearby audio in real-time and exfiltrate photos and videos. Exploits also make it possible to render the phone completely unresponsive. Infections can be hidden from the operating system in a way that makes disinfecting difficult. Snapdragon is what’s known as a system on a chip that provides a host of components, such as a CPU and a graphics processor. One of the functions, known as digital signal processing, or DSP, tackles a variety of tasks, including charging abilities and video, audio, augmented reality, and other multimedia functions. Phone makers can also use DSPs to run dedicated apps that enable custom features. “While DSP chips provide a relatively economical solution that allows mobile phones to provide end-users with more functionality and enable innovative features—they do come with a cost,” researchers from security firm Check Point wrote in a brief report of the vulnerabilities they discovered. “These chips introduce new attack surfaces and weak points to these mobile devices. DSP chips are much more vulnerable to risks as they are being managed as ‘Black Boxes’ since it can be very complex for anyone other than their manufacturer to review their design, functionality or code.” Qualcomm has released a fix for the flaws, but so far it hasn’t been incorporated into the Android OS or any Android device that uses Snapdragon, Check Point said. When I asked when Google might add the Qualcomm patches, a company spokesman said to check with Qualcomm. The chipmaker didn’t respond to an email asking. In a statement, Qualcomm officials said: “Regarding the Qualcomm Compute DSP vulnerability disclosed by Check Point, we worked diligently to validate the issue and make appropriate mitigations available to OEMs. We have no evidence it is currently being exploited. We encourage end-users to update their devices as patches become available and to only install applications from trusted locations such as the Google Play Store.” Check Point said that Snapdragon is included in about 40 percent of phones worldwide. With an estimated 3 billion Android devices, that amounts to more than a billion phones. In the US market, Snapdragons are embedded in around 90 percent of devices. More details are posted on OUR FORUM.

Google Play Music has been given the death sentence by Google, and today the company has announced a bit more detail about how its execution will be carried out. The main message from today's blog post is "back up your music now," as Google says it will wipe out all Google Music collections in December 2020. We've known for a while that the shutdown would be sometime in 2020, but for most regions, Google has now narrowed it down to "October." At the time of the streaming shutdown, the app will have been showing shutdown messages for about five months. If a user has somehow missed all of those, two months with no streaming at all will hopefully be enough to get them to research what happened to Google Music. Saving your music collection from deletion is not difficult; just go to music.youtube.com/transfer and click a few buttons to start the YouTube Music transfer process. The process is actually painless, and your Google Music account will continue to work even after the transfer. If you decide you don't want to use YouTube Music, you'll still have access to a ton of download options later, without the looming threat of the Google Music deletion. A copy of your files isn't hard to get, either. The Google Music Manager is a Windows and Mac application that can upload music or download your entire music collection with a few clicks, but as Google said, it will stop working soon. The other option is Google Takeout, which will wrap your entire music collection in a zip file and send you a download link. The processing for this can take hours. Whichever option you choose, make sure you do something before December because, after that, there will be no way to recover your music. Google Play Music has been around since 2011 and let users upload thousands of songs to the Internet, for free, for streaming playback on most other devices. It's been the primary way to play music on the Google Home smart speakers, and it offered music purchases, monthly streaming radio, and podcasts. Google Music has been neglected for years, though, and like the company often does, Google decided to make a second, competing for music streaming service instead of maintaining the first service. That second service is YouTube Music, which is now Google's favored music app. The merger between the two was originally announced in 2018, and now it's finally happening. YouTube Music places an emphasis on music videos, as you can guess from the name, and the app has a more modern design. YouTube Music awkwardly blends together your entire 15-year YouTube activity history with your music collection, tossing any "liked" videos and subscriptions that have been algorithmically been flagged as "music" into your collection, and mixing together your YouTube playlists and Google Music playlists. There is no way to stop this. YouTube Music seems designed to drive up Google's subscription numbers and really only seems useful for people who want to pay the monthly streaming license fee. The app does away with music purchases and won't even let you stream your own music to your Google Home speakers without paying the monthly fee. It's a big downgrade from Google Music, which offered more functionality to people who purchased music. In 2018, Google told Google Music users "nothing will change" regarding YouTube Music's uploaded music functionality, but now that the feature is actually here, that's... not true. For more turn to OUR FORUM.

The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) today has published guidance on how to expose as little location information as possible while using mobile and IoT devices, social media, and mobile apps. As the agency explains, protecting your geolocation data can be the difference between being tracked wherever you go or knowing that your location can't be used to monitor your movements and daily routine. "Location data can be extremely valuable and must be protected," the NSA explains [PDF]. "It can reveal details about the number of users in a location, user and supply movements, daily routines (user and organizational), and can expose otherwise unknown associations between users and locations." However, as the NSA adds, "[w]hile the guidance in this document may be useful to a wide range of users, it is intended primarily for NSS/DoD system users." Devices like smartphones and tablets use a combination of methods to determine a user's location including Global Positioning System (GPS) and wireless signals such as wireless Wi-Fi, cellular, and Bluetooth. Disabling these radios can drastically reduce the exposed location data by blocking devices from sharing real-time geolocation information with cellular providers or rogue bases stations when powered on or during use. This can also prevent threat actors from determining your device's location with the help of wireless sniffers which calculate it based on signal strength. However, even if disabled, when some device radios are re-enabled they may still transmit saved location information. IoT devices also add to the location data exposure risks since they can store location information about other devices in their range, info that can later be exposed when accessed and viewed by unauthorized third-parties. Using apps with permissions to use your location also increases the risk of exposing your geolocation data, just as photos with embedded location data shared on social media. "Apps, even when installed using the approved app store, may collect, aggregate, and transmit information that exposes a user’s location," the NSA adds. Depending on the risk level of exposing their location that users are comfortable with, the NSA shared a number of measures that should lower the risk of exposing one's location while using mobile devices and apps. However, "[p]erhaps the most important thing to remember is that disabling location services on a mobile device does not turn off GPS, and does not significantly reduce the risk of location exposure," the NSA explains. "Disabling location services only limits access to GPS and location data by apps. It does not prevent the operating system from using location data or communicating that data to the network." The NSA says that those who want to prevent location data collection from their devices can take these mitigation measures to limit their exposure For more complete details visit OUR FORUM.

Fine-tune your browser settings to keep trackers off your trail. Privacy is now a priority among browser makers, but they may not go as far as you want in fighting pervasive ad industry trackers on the web. Here's a look at how you can crank up your privacy settings to outsmart that online tracking. Problems like Facebook's Cambridge Analytica scandal have elevated privacy protection on Silicon Valley's priority list by showing how companies compile reams of data on you as you traverse the internet. Their goal? To build a richly detailed user profile on you so that you can become the target of more accurate, clickable, and thus profitable advertisements. Apple and Google are in a war for the web, with Google pushing aggressively for an interactive web to rival native apps and Apple moving more slowly in part out of concern those new features will worsen security and be annoying for users. Privacy adds another dimension to the competition and to your browser decision. Apple has made privacy a top priority in all its products, including Safari. For startup Brave, privacy is a core goal, and Mozilla and Microsoft have begun touting privacy as a way to differentiate their browsers from Google's Chrome. It's later to the game, but Chrome engineers have begun building a "privacy sandbox" despite Google's reliance on ad revenue. For all of the browsers listed here, you can give yourself a privacy boost by changing the default search engine. For instance, try DuckDuckGo. Although its search results may not be as useful or deep as Google's, DuckDuckGo is a longtime favorite among the privacy-minded for its refusal to track user searches. Other universal options that boost privacy include disabling your browser's location tracking and search engine autocomplete features, turning off password autofill, and regularly deleting your browsing history. If you want to take your privacy to the next level, consider trying one of the virtual private networks CNET has reviewed which work with all browsers. In the meantime, though, here are some simple settings you can change in your current browser to help keep a good portion of advertising trackers off your trail. For complete details visit OUR FORUM.