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Sep 7, 2011

AMD to Prolong the Life of the AM3+ Socket - Report

AMD seems interested in prolonging the life of the recently launched AM3+ socket, as the latest reports to come to light suggest the Sunnyvale-based company will retain this socket for their second generation of desktop CPUs based on the Bulldozer architecture.

The first pieces of information to make their appearance in June of this year suggested that these chips would be using a new socket which goes by the name of FMX.

However, it now seems like these CPUs will actually plug into the same AM3+ socket as the upcoming FX-Series processors, as two separate reports on 4Gamers and Xbit Labs seem to agree on this point.

What the two sources don't seem to conform on is the names of the features of these processors, as one source says AMD's next-generation Bulldozer platform will be called Corona, while the other says this was canceled in favor of a new platform that goes by the name of Volan.

The first AM3+ motherboards were officially announced during the Computex 2011 fair and are part of the Scorpio platform, which also includes the AMD FX-Series desktop processors.

The socket is a slightly improved version the the much more popular AM3, which was launched in February of 2009, and introduces a series of new features.

One of the most important is the ability to deliver up to 145A of current to the CPU, compared to 110A for AM3, a change that should increase the overclocking potential of motherboards using it as well as eliminate any power shortages that could appear when more energy hungry processors are being used.

In addition, the AM3+ socket also comes with a series of revised electrical specifications, such as support for a different VID, a more advanced load-line design that minimizes vDroop by monitoring the electrical loads placed on the CPU, and lower electrical noise.

Update for Windows 7 SP1, Vista SP2, XP SP3 Revokes All DigiNotar Root Certificates

Microsoft reacted extremely rapidly to protect users of Internet Explorer against attacks leveraging fraudulent DigiNotar root certificates, and is now providing an update for all supported versions of Windows designed to revoke the trust of all DigiNotar root certificates. 

Customers running Windows are advised to deploy KB 2607712 as fast as possible, and ensure that DigiNotar certificates are moved to the Microsoft Untrusted Certificate Store. 

KB 2607712 is available for Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1), Windows Vista SP2, Windows XP SP3, but also their server equivalents, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2003 – links at the bottom of this article. 

“Based on our investigation, we’ve deemed all DigiNotar certificates to be untrustworthy and have moved them to the Untrusted Certificate Store. Additionally, we have extended our support with this update so all customers using Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, and all Windows supported third-party applications are protected,” revealed Dave Forstrom, director, Trustworthy Computing. 

Initially, the software giant had been able to protect only IE users running Windows 7 or Windows Vista, but protection has now been extended to all customers running supported releases of Windows client and Server platforms. 

Here is a list with the DigiNotar root certificates which have been revoked: DigiNotar Root CA, DigiNotar Root CA G2, DigiNotar PKIoverheid CA Overheid, DigiNotar PKIoverheid CA Organisatie – G2 and DigiNotar PKIoverheid CA Overheid en Bedrijven. 

Fraudulent DigiNotar certificates have already been abused by attackers in the wild. Windows users should deploy the update provided by Microsoft to ensure that they’re safe against spoofed content, phishing attacks, and man-in-the-middle attacks.

“Microsoft recognizes that this issue is an industry problem, and has been actively collaborating with certificate authorities, governments, and software vendors to help protect its mutual customers. Microsoft continues to investigate this issue,” Forstrom added.

Download links below:

LRO Snaps Detailed Photos of Lunar Landing Sites

Officials at the American space agencies have just released several new high-resolution photos of a number of Apollo landing sites. The batch of images was made available yesterday, September 6, and many of them show the disposition of equipment that was left behind on the Moon. 

The datasets were collected by the NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), which has been studying Earth's natural satellite for a couple of years now. This is not the first time that the spacecraft has imaged lunar landing sites, but the new photos are the most detailed to date. 

Instruments aboard the LRO are so precise that they can even snap images of tracks left behind as NASA astronauts were traveling on the lunar surface aboard their rovers. Given the atmospheric conditions on the Moon, the tracks will still remain visible for many years. 

In order to zoom in close to the three landing sites, LRO mission controllers decided to use the orbiter's narrow-angle camera. This is the same instrument that is widely used to study craters or openings in the lunar surface, such as for example those that lead to caves.

“The images look very spectacular, as you can see for yourself,” LRO Camera principal investigator Mark Robinson said in a briefing yesterday. He holds an appointment as a research scientist at the Arizona State University (ASU), in Tempe. 

He also pointed out the differences between the tracks left behind by astronauts and those produced by their rovers. Small-scale details about the vehicles can also be observed with a little bit of effort. 

You “can actually see, if you squint really hard – can begin to resolve the seats and the left wheels that are slightly turned to the left,” the expert said of the lunar rover at the Apollo 17 landing site. The footprints left behind by Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt can be distinguished as well.

The other two sites that were imaged are those of Apollo 12 and Apollo 14. The images were collected in a bid to gain a better understanding of how these missions went, as well as on the impacts they had on the lunar environment. 

“From a science standpoint, [the images] are important for two reasons. They tell us something about the photometric properties of the Moon – why are they darker?” Robinson explained yesterday.

“Scientists are working to investigate that question. In a more practical sense, it allows us to find the exact spot where samples were collected,” he added. “I've looked around, and all I really see are the spots where the flag was planted,” the investigator explained, as quoted by Space

These images come just two days ahead of a planned September 8 launch, which will see the GRAIL mission taking off for the Moon. The purpose of the twin spacecraft will be to analyze the satellite's interior, in order to determine its structure and how it evolved.

AMD Cancels Next-Generation CPUs (Komodo and Corona)

The new CEO from Advanced Micro Devices did say he was aiming for a more aggressive approach, and it looks like that approach may include essential modifications to the CPU roadmap.

Those users keeping track of happenings on the IT industry will invariably invest some attention into the CPU segment.

In the case of AMD (Advanced Micro Devices), the company has been known to be working on a certain set of next-generation CPUs that would succeed, in 2012, this year's FX Zambezi units.

Leaks and reports had mentioned 8 to 10 Bulldozer cores (Piledriver) and the Fusion Controller Hub which, among other things, brought a built-in PCI Express 3.0 controller to the equation.

They were going to be the foundation of the Corona platform, complete with a new form factor.

For those that need an elaboration, integrating PCI Express in a microprocessor leads to faster CPU-GPU data exchanges, essential in high-end desktops and workstations. Putting PCI Express 3.0 was a clear sign of high prowess.

Now, however, a new report has appeared, one that states that all plans for Komodo and Corona releases have been scrapped.

The new roadmap contains, instead, the Vishera microprocessors and the Volan/Scorpius platform, which are less progressive.

Little is actually known about them, except for the number of maximum possible cores (eight Piledriver instead of ten) and the lack of PCI Express 3.0 integration.

A dual-channel DDR3 memory controller will be included, as will compatibility with AM3+ infrastructure (with AMD 990FX core-logic sets), but the lack of the above feature hints at possible struggles ahead on the high-end segment.

The third quarter of 2012 is the implied time of arrival for the Vishera/Scorpius (Volan is the code-name, but sources named it Scorpius Refresh). This can mean anything between July and early September.

AMD recently got a new CEO, so his new business plan might have had something to do with this. Then again, cancellations like this don't usually come because of business decisions, so technical problems with Komodo are more likely to have caused all this.

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