Samsung’s got a new 10nm octa-core chip with gigabit LTE for flagship phones

Mobile World Congress is just around the corner, which means news about new mobile processors and modems is flying fast and thick. The latest announcement is from Samsung, which today unveiled its latest flagship Exynos chip for high-end smartphones. The Exynos 9 8895 combines eight CPU cores with an ARM Mali-G71 GPU and a Samsung-designed gigabit LTE modem. The chip is manufactured on Samsung’s new 10nm process, which according to Samsung allows for performance increases up to 27 percent while using up to 40 percent less power compared to its 14nm process.

The CPU uses four “big” cores and four “little” ones; the small cores are based on ARM’s tried-and-true Cortex A53 CPU architecture, the go-to choice for low-power 64-bit cores. The large cores are based on Samsung’s “second-generation custom CPU core,” called the Samsung M2. Samsung has said very little about it, aside from the fact that it’s a 64-bit ARMv8 core and that it was “designed from scratch.”

As for the GPU, ARM detailed the Mali-G71 last year, and it’s a major update. It uses ARM’s new “Bifrost” GPU architecture, which fully supports the Vulkan graphics API as well as OpenGL ES and OpenCL. The existing “Midgard” architecture used in the last few generations of ARM GPUs already did that, so what’s more significant is its support for HSA, which allows the CPU and GPU to access the same data in system memory at the same time. This eliminates quite a bit of overhead, since that data won’t need to be shuffled back and forth between separate “pools” of memory used by the CPU and GPU.

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No key, no login: G Suite admins can now make FIDO security keys mandatory

Today, Google announced a new G Suite feature that allows admins to lock down accounts so they can only be accessed by users with a physical USB security key. The FIDO U2F Security Keys have been supported on G Suite and regular Google accounts since 2011, but now new security controls allow admins to make the keys mandatory for anyone who tries to log in.

Universal 2nd Factor (U2F)—initially developed by Google and Yubico—is a standard from the FIDO Alliance that allows a physical device to work as a second factor of authentication. After entering your username and password, you’ll have to connect your device to your physical authentication key. The keys can support USB, NFC, and/or Bluetooth, allowing them to connect to desktops, laptops, and smartphones. Many services support U2F, like Dropbox, GitHub, Salesforce, Dashlane, and others. The Chrome and Opera browsers support U2F, along with Android and Windows smartphones. Modern iOS devices don’t work with the standard, but Google appears to have some kind of workaround.

It’s a good idea to enable 2FA on any service that supports it. Usually after your username and password you’ll get texted or e-mailed a six-digit code to type in, but the security keys are easier and more secure than punching in a rolling code. While anyone in the world could theoretically guess your password and get your code, once you get your key set up, someone would have to physically have the key to access your account.

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Chrome betas get Touch Bar support that isn’t as good as Safari’s

Andrew Cunningham

Good news for people who like running bleeding-edge software on brand-new, expensive hardware: Google has added rudimentary support for the MacBook Pro Touch Bar to the latest release of Chrome’s Canary channel, the earliest and least-stable way for consumers and developers to try out new Chrome features.

Based on what Apple is doing in the Touch Bar with Safari, Google could definitely push the envelope a little more. Chrome adds a handful of static buttons to the Touch Bar that duplicate the onscreen Back, Forward, Refresh, New Tab, and Favorite buttons, along with a larger button that moves the cursor to the address bar for easy typing and searching; as best as we can tell from digging in the settings, there’s no way to customize the Touch Bar to hide or change individual buttons. Safari also adds some buttons to the Touch Bar, but it also changes dynamically to show you bookmarks and lets you switch between your open tabs with a series of tiny preview windows.

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Google’s latest space-themed Doodle is exceptionally clever

On Wednesday, a team of astronomers revealed the discovery of a planetary system less than 40 light years away containing seven Earth-sized planets. The system’s star is an ultracool dwarf, TRAPPIST-1, which is nothing to write home about—but astronomers gradually realized that the system has a plethora of planets, and three of them could support water oceans on their surface.

Google, as it often does, commemorated the discovery with a Doodle:

Google Doodles have been around nearly as long as the search engine itself, with the first one commemorating Burning Man back in 1998:

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Marathon runner’s tracked data exposes phony time, cover-up attempt

Hot tip: If you’re going to cheat while running a marathon, don’t wear a fitness tracking band.

A New York food writer found this out the hard way on Tuesday after she was busted for an elaborate run-faking scheme, in which she attempted to use doctored data to back up an illegitimate finish time. In an apologetic Instagram post that was eventually deleted, 24-year-old runner Jane Seo admitted to cutting the course at the Fort Lauderdale A1A Half Marathon.

An independent marathon-running investigator (yes, that’s a thing) named Derek Murphy posted his elaborate analysis of Seo’s scheme, and the findings revolved almost entirely around data derived from Seo’s Garmin 235 fitness tracker. Suspicions over her second-place finish in the half marathon began after very limited data about her podium-placing run was posted to the Strava fitness-tracking service. The data only listed a distance and completion time, as opposed to more granular statistics. (This followed the release of Seo’s official completion times, which showed her running remarkably faster in the half marathon’s later stages.)

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Zotac Zbox EN1080 review: Console-sized 4K PC gaming—and it’s expensive

Specs at a glance: Zotac Zbox EN1080 (barebones)
CPU Intel Core i7-6700
GPU Nvidia GTX 1080
Networking Dual gigabit LAN, 802.11ac/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0
Ports Microphone, headphone, 4x USB 3.0, 1x USB 3.1 Type-C, 1x USB 3.1 Type-A
RAM 2 x DDR4-1866/2133 SODIMM Slots (up to 32GB)
Storage 1x 2.5-inch SATA 6.0 Gbps HDD/SSD bay, 1x M.2 PCIe x4 slot (22/42,22/60,22/80)
Price £2000/$2000
Size 225mm x 203mm x 128mm

Last year Zotac released its tiny, gaming-ready Zbox EN1060 mini-PC. Featuring an Intel Core i5-6400T processor and Nvidia GTX 1060 graphics card, the EN1060 is more than fast enough for high settings 1080p gaming at 60FPS or more. But for those that demand more frames, more resolution, and more powerful hardware inside a console-sized chassis—particularly as Sony raised the game somewhat with the PlayStation 4 Pro—Zotac has another option.

Enter the Zotac Zbox Magnus EN1080, a ventilated black cube that packs a fully watercooled Skylake Intel Core i7-6700 processor (note the lack of the unlocked “K” designation) and Nvidia GTX 1080 inside a case just 225mm wide and 203mm deep. Such powerful hardware means the EN1080 is capable of playing games at a native 4K resolution with near maximum settings at over 60FPS. Even better, thanks to the clever watercooling setup inside, it does so while remaining quieter than any console or desktop PC with a standard cooling setup. It’s seriously impressive stuff.

Naturally, there’s a price to pay for such a setup—and it’s not cheap. A barebones EN1080—where you supply your own storage, memory, and operating system—costs around £2,000/$2,000. A more conventional desktop system with the same components plus storage, RAM, OS, and a decent all-on-one liquid cooler comes in at under £1500.

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CPU competition at last: AMD Ryzen brings 8 cores from just $329

SAN FRANCISCO—Oasis’ smash hit “Wonderwall” was playing as the throng of journalists assembled in the ballroom of a Grand Hyatt hotel in San Francisco at AMD’s Ryzen Tech Day. I don’t know why the song was picked—normally these events prefer something a little more current and upbeat—but it sure seemed apt. As CEO Lisa Su and others were preparing to speak, one of the Gallagher brothers (who knows which one) drearily droned the question, “You’re gonna be the one that saves me?”

AMD is a company that needs saving. Although there have been occasional high spots, such as the design wins for both the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One, the last few years have been heavy going for the chip designer. Its main products—desktop and server processors—haven’t been very good at all, forcing it to sell only to the very lowest of the low-end customers. Intel has handily dominated the performance-oriented desktop processor market for the last decade, after AMD’s Bulldozer family brought widespread disappointment.

But in 2015, Su made clear that the company needed high-performance, high-end parts, and those parts are very nearly here.

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Galaxy S8 gets pictured with display on; new button design leaks, too

Ice Universe

Although the Galaxy S8 won’t be at Mobile World Congress, it’s expected to have an unveiling sometime in March. But that hasn’t stopped the leaks from coming. Today, we have yet another drip of info about Samsung’s upcoming flagship.

After showing off pictures with the screen off, Twitter user “Ice Universe” has some convincing pictures of the device with the screen on. They give us a great idea of just how slim the bezels are, and we can see the rounded display corners, just like the Xiaomi Mi Mix and the upcoming LG G6.

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