DRM is good, blocking hardware bad

kaby-lake

There’s no denying that DRM is good and needed. But how did it become Microsoft’s and Intel’s cashing playground?

Digital rights management (DRM) is a generic term for technologies that control one’s access to content. After years of hard fight, it looks like the pirate side has won. They have the content and they have the ways to share it. Something needs to be done so that the content creators get their bread to the table and it looks like Microsoft and Intel (AMD) have it figured out.

They have decided that there will be a hardware and software wall between us, the viewers and the content. For example Netflix 4K. To watch 4K videos from Netflix, you need Windows 10, Edge browser and a Kaby Lake 7th generation Intel CPU. Absolutely ridiculous.

They claim that it’s because of the H.265 10-bit decoder built into the Kaby Lake processors. Skylake only has 8-bit decoder which hasn’t got the performance. That’s horse s**t. Why did the Skylake have it then, if it can’t be used?

My PC runs games at 4K 60fps. I have a 4K display and a GTX 1080 that has the H.265 10-decoder, why isn’t that compatible? I’ll tell you why.

Money.

The monopoly companies like Intel and Microsoft are just cashing in without thinking about the future. Peeing into the customer’s morning cereal is never a good thing.

Intel even changed the chipset from Skylake to Kaby Lake to force customers to buy the new Z270 motherboards and that way, a new Windows 10 licence from Microsoft. Luckily, most of the Z170 boards can be updated to support Kaby Lake.

That still leaves the cost of the CPU. The Kaby Lake chips have better thermal solution than Skylake and because of that, they can clock higher. That’s the difference. Why would anyone with an Ivy Bridge or newer upgrade? The performance gains are minimal and the retail value of the old one has collapsed.

Why didn’t Intel just draw the line between Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge? They say it’s the hardware decoder. Why is there the software wall with Windows 10 and Edge then? Why don’t just ask the Windows OS to check if you have an Ivy Bridge or newer? Why can’t you just check with the Windows that the user is not running any recording software and just freaking show the content?

The Microsoft’s and Intel’s answer is hardware. It’s a hardware decoder that can decode the encoded stream so that the content can’t be captured. And how does this prevent the pirates from capturing the content from the video cable? And why is the Edge browser needed then?

Money is the real answer.

Taking a commonly known issue and turning it into a short term profit, that’s what Microsoft and Intel are doing here.

Don’t forget that the same restrictions apply to the UHD Blu-ray. The disks that the new version of XBOX One can run with an ancient AMD CPU. It’s not a hardware problem, it a problem with selfishness.

Microsoft to cut all updates for Skylake systems not running Windows 10

windows10

Microsoft really wants users to upgrade to Windows 10. Threatens by cutting security updates.

Microsoft has been doing lots of different things to get users to upgrade to Windows 10. Although the new OS still has its weaknesses, Microsoft is ready to cut its support for older versions to get more Windows 10 users.

Even the Windows Vista still gets the most important updates but now Microsoft has said that computers running Windows 7 or 8 on Skylake architecture might not get any updates after July 17, 2017.

After July 2017, the most critical Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 security updates will be addressed for these configurations, and will be released if the update does not risk the reliability or compatibility of the Windows 7/8.1 platform on other devices

In their statement Microsoft leaves an opportunity to release the important security updates but at the same time doesn’t promise anything. Microsoft can appeal to reliability and compatibility to leave such systems without updates.

The support for Windows 7 on older systems will continue until January 14, 2020 and Windows 8.1 will get updates until January 10, 2023.

Source: Microsoft

Razer Blade Stealth, a gaming ultrabook

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Razer has introduced a new gaming ultrabook with support for external GPU. CES 2016 is on and we are following.

The Razer Blade Stealth is an ultra-thin laptop with 12.5″ touchscreen and Skylake CPU. The display comes in two variants, 1440p QHD and 2160p 4K. The QHD display supports 70% of Adobe RGB standard as the 4K one supports full 100%.

The CPU is Intel i7-6500U in both models as is the 8GB of RAM but storage size options depend on the display. The QHD model can be configured with 128 or 256GB PCIe SSD and the 4K model has 256 or 512GB options.

One big feature is the external GPU support. The Razer Core GPU box supports cards of up to 310mm in length and 375W in power consumption. It’s connected to the Blade Stealth with a Thunderbolt 3 cable.

Prices for the Blade Stealth start at $999 for the QHD 128GB model and $1399 for the 4K 256GB model. Pricing and availability for the Razer Core is unknown.

Source: Razer

HP brings OLED to laptops

spectre-x360

HP has updated their convertible laptops with new displays. CES 2016 is on and we are following.

HP’s Spectre x360 convertible laptops got new displays at CES 2016. The 13.3″ model gets a 1440p OLED option and the 15.6″ version now has an optional 4K display with standard LCD technology.

While the 13.3″ model only gets a new display, the larger one gets a USB Type-C connector, Bang & Olufsen speakers and option for a more powerful Iris graphics.

Finally the OLED technology is making its way to laptops. First smartphones, second TV’s and now laptops and even mice as Steelseries just launched a gaming mouse with an OLED display. It’s good to see progress.

Source: HP

Microsoft releases Surface Pro 4 and a Surface laptop

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Microsoft has updated the Surface lineup. The new Surface Pro 4 now has a laptop brother, Surface Book.

Surface Pro 4 is a significant update. The Pro 3 was still running on oldish 4th generation Intel chips and the new Pro 4 uses the much more power efficient 6th generation Skylake processors. The display is slightly larger than previously at 12.3″ and has 5 million pixels. The tablet now has a fingerprint scanner and support for Microsoft Hello face recognition. The pen now has 1024 pressure states and an eraser. The keyboard is better with the better spaced keys. Prices start at $899 and shipping starts on 26 October.

surface-book

Maybe the more interesting Surface is the new Surface Book. It is a direct MacBook Pro competitor with slim magnesium body, great display and lots of horsepower. The Book is a convertible laptop which means that the display is removable and can be used as tablet. It uses a clever hinge design that allows the display to be removable but the laptop still feels like a laptop and not flimsy or unstable like some other convertibles. The Verge has a great article about the hinge.

The Surface Books has some serious hardware inside. The 6th generation Intel chips and NVIDIA GTX graphics cards makes it two times faster than the same size MacBook Pro. The display measures at 13.5″ and has 6 million pixels. The keyboard is backlit and hides the graphics card which is not available in tablet mode. The Surface Book ships on 26 October and prices start at $1499.

NVIDIA releases the full desktop 980 for laptops

geforce-gtx-980-for-laptops.

As expected, NVIDIA has released the full desktop grade GeForce GTX 980 for laptops. Unlike rumored, the graphics card is called just GTX 980, not 990M.

The GTX 980 shares the same specifications with the desktop version, 2048 CUDA cores, 1064MHz base clock and 4GB of GDDR5 at 1750MHz. The card will be available in the most expensive gaming laptops and even in SLI. NVIDIA is now driving the overclocking to the laptops as the card is completely unlocked like a desktop one.

Source: NVIDIA

Samsung introduces the 950 PRO SSD

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Samsung has announced the 950 PRO, a high speed M.2 SSD. At the start there is two storage options, 256 and 512GB.

The new drives use the M.2 connection and attached to a PCI-E 3.0 x4 slot, they can reach the speeds of up to 2,500MB/s read and 1,500MB/s write. The 950 PRO is based on the second generation MLC V-NAND technology and it has 32 layers of 128Gb chips.

The drives will be available in October for $200 for the 256GB version and $350 for the 512GB model. A 1TB version will come later this year but it’ll use even more advanced 48-layer design and the new 3rd generation chips.

Source: Samsung