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Why Intel’s 7th-generation Kaby Lake processors matter

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Every year around September, Intel releases a new set of processors that are significantly improved over the previous generation. This year’s Kaby Lake marks the seventh generation since Intel began the Core series of CPUs, and it’s going to make your next computer a lot faster.

Without even having to explain anything, the one absolute about the newer generation is the noticeable performance improvement in both real-world usage and benchmarks. You can also expect lighter power drain, which has been the case since mobile devices began becoming the center of internet consumption. As for Kaby Lake, it’s considered an overhauled successor to 2015’s Skylake. This year’s product carries over the same 14nm microarchitecture of Skylake, meaning the physical design remains the same, but the feature set is a step above.

What Intel strongly emphasized in their announcement is how Kaby Lake processors are specifically geared towards 4K Ultra HD and 360-degree videos, as well as Virtual Reality to an extent. This is the first time Intel processors are natively able to support 4K content, so you’re not obliged to purchase a dedicated video card for Ultra HD videos anymore. On top of that, the company claims much improved battery life over older units, but that’s something we hear every year, and we’ll find out for sure once we have actual retail units in our hands.

The gaming side of things has been given a boost, too. While it may not sound impressive, Kaby Lake is capable of outputting games such as Overwatch at 30 frames per second on Medium settings with a 1080p resolution. This can be done on a thin notebook without any discrete graphics card, so casual gamers will have access to a larger database of recent games.

An interesting thing to note is the absence of the Core m7 and m5 series, which were introduced just last year as top-end CPUs for laptops and tablets. Intel decided to release only revamps of the Core i7, i5, i3, and m3 models this year, while Core m7 and m5 will now be part of the Core i7 and i5 families, respectively. This is simply in line with Intel’s yearly restructuring of lineups, so there’s no need to worry about a lack of choices.

So, let’s set aside the features to ask the most important question: How exactly are consumers affected by this release? In order to be properly future-proofed, it’s advisable to always choose Kaby Lake when shopping for a new laptop or building a desktop PC. The benefits over older processors won’t be clear at first, since previous generations are actually still good enough by today’s standards, but as new types of content are produced, it’s best to own the latest technology.

To ensure you’re buying the right one, watch out for the number seven after the hyphen in the number sequence of the model name. For example, the Intel Core i7-7500U, Core i5-7200U, and Core m3-7Y30, are all 7th-generation variants. It goes without saying that the Core i7-6500U was released last year.

Intel claims that computers sporting Kaby Lake will begin shipping in early September, with a lot more arriving by the time the holiday season trickles in.

Source: Intel

Computers

Microsoft’s new patches may be harming your PC

The Meltdown and Spectre patches are duds!

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The Meltdown drama continues. Days after researchers confirmed the existence of the Meltdown and Spectre flaws, big firms like Microsoft and Apple started issuing patches against the bug. Microsoft’s fixes, however, might be doing more harm than good.

Microsoft’s series of patches have been causing issues among those who installed it already. Users are reporting that the patches have caused their PCs to run slower than usual.

Surprisingly, Microsoft themselves have confirmed the reports. A wide range of devices are indeed slowing down because of the patches. The firm has also listed down the affected PCs, as described below.

First, PCs that run Windows 10 on newer processors like Skylake and Kaby Lake show “single-digit” but hardly noticeable slowdowns. Meanwhile, PCs that run Windows 10 on fourth generation or earlier chips will suffer from noticeable slowdown. Finally, those that run Windows 8 or 7 on older chips will be most hit by the performance issues.

The chaos doesn’t even stop there. Some users have even reported that their PCs have stopped booting entirely. In an open thread on Microsoft’s support forums, a user suffering from a bricked PC has been joined by a torrent of users who are suffering from the same issue.

As with the performance issues, Microsoft has issued a statement regarding the unbootable state. This time, they have pinpointed that AMD processors are to blame for the issue, citing a lack of documentation on AMD’s part.

Microsoft has since halted distribution of the erring security patch to AMD processors. Their support team is working to resolve the issue among those already affected by the issue. Meanwhile, Microsoft and AMD developers are working to put out a more stable fix for the Spectre flaw.

Despite the lack of workable fixes for the issue, Microsoft is assuring its users that harmful exploits have not been discovered out in the wild. Not yet, that is.

SEE ALSO: Newly discovered bugs leave two decades of devices vulnerable

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Computers

All Apple devices are at risk of Meltdown, Apple says

Patch your devices now!

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“Macs never get viruses.” It’s an adage that Apple fans often use to defend their beloved devices against PC users. With the Meltdown and Spectre reveals, that may soon change.

As we reported earlier, researchers recently uncovered hardware flaws that left affected devices open to hidden attacks that leaked sensitive info. Meltdown and Spectre affect nearly every device working today.

Tech firms, including Apple, are rushing to release their own patches to ease consumer fears. Apple users have been waiting with bated breath for a statement, especially since the company usually lives in its own world outside of the PC.

Now, Apple has finally released a statement for the issue. And it’s a resounding yes: Apple devices are affected.

Not surprisingly, every single Apple device, from the small iPhone to the towering iMac, are vulnerable to Meltdown and Spectre attacks. The firm remains one of the biggest chip makers in the tech world.

Despite the flaw, Apple says that there is nothing to fear; they haven’t discovered any exploits that take advantage of the two flaws.

Even then, the firm has already released patches for Meltdown in its latest OS updates — iOS11.2 and macOS 10.13.2. The updates have been available for download even before the reveals for Meltdown and Spectre.

Meanwhile, Apple shares in the difficulty of patching the Spectre flaw. The flaw itself is hard to exploit, but equally as hard to patch. Other companies are still developing their patches to the bug. Likewise, Apple is also only promising an update through Safari in the coming days to ease the risk.

Further, Apple says that the Apple Watch is safe from Meltdown and Spectre attacks.

SEE ALSO: Newly discovered bugs leave two decades of devices vulnerable

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CES 2018

Lenovo outs ultra-thin 4K ThinkVision monitors

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Aside from new business laptops, Lenovo also introduced a couple of desktop monitors which are designed to bring new visual technology to offices.

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