Tech Today w/ Ken May

Archive for July 26th, 2017

USB 3.2 doubles your connection speeds with the same port

Posted by kenmay on July - 26 - 2017

Your future computer or phone will be capable of stupidly fast transfer speeds. The USB 3.0 Promoter Group unveiled the USB 3.2 specification that effectively doubles the current USB 3.1 spec by adding an extra lane. As such, it will allow for two lanes of 5 Gbps for USB 3.0, yielding 10 Gbps, or two lanes of 10 Gbps for 20 Gbps with USB 3.1. As a bonus, the “superspeed” USB-C cable you’re currently using already has the capability for dual-lane operation built in. By way of example, the group says that a USB 3.2 host connected to a USB 3.2 storage device will be capable of 2GB/s transfer over a “superspeed” certified USB 3.1 cable. “When we introduced USB Type-C to the market, we intended to assure that USB Type-C cables and connectors certified for SuperSpeed USB or SuperSpeed USB 10 Gbps would, as produced, support higher performance USB as newer generations of USB 3.0 were developed, ” said USB 3.0 Promoter Group Chairman Brad Saunders. You should take those Thunderbolt-like numbers with a grain of salt, however. USB 3.0 or 3.1 devices (which confusingly use USB-C cables) rarely come close to their certified speeds. For instance, WIrecutter found that the fastest USB 3.0 flash drive, the Extreme CZ80, could read and write at 254 MB/s and 170 MB/s, tops — half of what USB 3.0 is capable of. (Some USB 3.1 superspeed SSD drives can saturate a USB 3.0 connection, however.) Still, flash storage is advancing rapidly, thanks to 64-layer and higher tech from Toshiba , Intel, Samsung and WD, and those kind of speeds are handy if you’re editing RAW or 4K video. The USB 3.0 Promoter Group (with Apple, HP, Intel, Microsoft and others as members) says that the 3.2 spec will be finalized by the end of 2017, so don’t expect to see any devices until then. In the meantime, we’ll hear more about it in September this year in North America during the USB Developer Days. Source: USB 3.0 Promoter Group

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According to Variety, AT&T’s pay-TV business has lost a record 351, 000 traditional video customers in the second quarter, with the internet-delivered DirecTV Now service failing to fully offset the losses. From the report: In Q2, historically a seasonally weak period for the pay-TV business, DirecTV’s U.S. satellite division lost 156, 000 customers sequentially, dropping to 20.86 million, compared with a gain of 342, 000 in the year-earlier quarter. AT&T’s U-verse lost 195, 000 subs in the quarter, which was actually an improvement over the 391, 000 it lost in Q2 of 2016. AT&T touted that it gained 152, 000 DirecTV Now customers in Q2, after adding just 72, 000 in the first quarter of 2017. Overall, it had signed up 491, 000 DirecTV Now subs as of the end of June, after the OTT service launched seven months ago. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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MAME devs are cracking open arcade chips to get around DRM

Posted by kenmay on July - 26 - 2017

Enlarge / A look inside the circuitry of a “decapped” arcade chip. (credit: Caps0ff ) The community behind the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator (MAME) has gone to great lengths to preserve thousands of arcade games run on hundreds of different chipsets through emulation over the years. That preservation effort has now grown to include the physical opening of DRM-protected chips in order to view the raw code written inside them—and it’s an effort that could use your crowdsourced help. While dumping the raw code from many arcade chips is a simple process, plenty of titles have remained undumped and unemulated because of digital-rights-management code that prevents the ROM files from being easily copied off of the base integrated circuit chips. For some of those protected chips, the decapping process can be used as a DRM workaround by literally removing the chip’s “cap” with nitric acid and acetone. With the underlying circuit paths exposed within the chip, there are a few potential ways to get at the raw code. For some chips, a bit of quick soldering to that exposed circuitry can allow for a dumped file that gets around any DRM further down the line. In the case of chips that use a non-rewritable Mask ROM , though, the decappers can actually look through a microscope (or high-resolution scan) to see the raw zeroes and ones that make up the otherwise protected ROM code. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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