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Category: Technical

Plundervolt

Plundervolt

Computer security is hard – even when there is hardware dedicated for the purpose.

Overclocking has been an interesting field for computer design and providing really interesting knobs to tune performance. This is done by pushing a CPU, memory, and other components past their normal voltage and frequency limits by adding cooling solutions or exploiting engineering headroom limits.

Undervolting is the opposite. It lowers power and/or frequency. This can be used constructively to save power on your laptop if it isn’t doing anything. But if you starve it enough, you end up with memory corruption and crashes. When done in certain ways, you can cause faults and corruption without crashing the CPU – leaking secrets.

Plundervolt is one such exploit. Give it a watch.

PS5 architecture

PS5 architecture

Some interesting tidbits here – but those of us familiar with the technology actually see that they’re borrowing a good bit of their core tech from current PC technology. It’s worth watching this video, then watching the one at the bottom of this posting to cut through the marketing spin and understanding.

  • Storage (5:05)
    • 825GB of SSD storage that runs at 5.5GB/s on a 12 channel PCIe 4.0 interface.
    • Dedicated Rad Game Tools Kraken decompressor hardware for optimized loading.
    • Dedicated DMA controller and memory mapper to offload the copying of resources directly to memory
    • Coherency hardware to prevent GPU data flushes.
    • All this happens invisibly to the developer. You simply point to where you want a resource to be loaded and the loading engine hardware does all the work for you.
    • Allowing external hard drives and 3rd party SSD’s
  • GPU (23:50)
    • AMD RDNA 2 based GPU running up to 2.23GHz. 36 compute units. 10.28 Teraflops. 16GB of DDR6 memory running at a bandwidth of 448GB/s.
    • Xbox Series X = AMD RDNA 2 – 52 CU’s at 1.825GHz
    • Likely 36 RDNA 2 EU’s (CU’s)
    • Geometry engine – sounds almost identical to mesh/geometry shader pipelines that have existed for some time.
    • Ray Tracing – basically the same as what will be available on PC
    • They prioritize higher frequency than more CU’s since higher frequency . Therefore, their GPU will run continuously in boost mode setting a specific power level and let frequency go up and down.
    • Instead of basing performance on CPU temp or ambient temp – which leads to uneven performance in varying temperature environments – they use CPU and GPU power to shift compute back and forth between CPU and GPU. See AMD SmartShift. Overall power stays constant but can shift back and forth between CPU/GPU via variable frequencies.
    • The most fascinating part is that workloads go through a ‘model SOC’ that defines and sets the realtime power and performance characteristics – producing the exact same clock timings on every PS5. This performance is VERY reproducible and hence games should perform the same on any PS5 whether its running in a fridge or in the desert. This system relies upon the special cooling solution for the platform.
  • CPU
    • AMD Zen 2 CPU capped at 3.5 Ghz – 8 physical cores/16 threads
    • XBox Series X = Zen 2 CPU at 3.8GHz – 8 physical cores with SMT
  • Audio
    • Want to use the 3D audio lessons they learned with Playstation VR for ALL devices – from mono, stereo, headsets, sound bars, to full 5.x and 7.x surround systems.
    • Unique HRTF to process and give 3D locality information to the audio playback = Tempest 3D Audiotech engine. Engine can even handle moving sources.
    • Will provide 5 different HRTF’s but are considering the possibility of taking pictures/video of your ears to model your HRTF.
  • Backwards Compatibility (23:70)
    • Expecting most of the top 100 PS3 titles to work on PS4

Here’s another excellent video that does a better job cutting through the hype and pointing to the underlying technology they’re likely utilizing.

Rotary dial smart phone

Rotary dial smart phone

Justine is a woman after my own heart. There is a growing body of evidence that our world of non-stop social media is actually detrimental to your mental health – and especially the mental health of young people. Studies are increasingly showing strong correlations to the amount of time spent on social media and problems such as poor self esteem, depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders.

But before you call us luddites, know that she develops instrumentation for cosmology and astrophysics at a national lab on the east coast. I develop software at a Fortune 50 company.

I wanted to make my own phone because I was sick of other options. I don’t like smart phones. I don’t like texting. I wanted something that would be a function phone that would be entirely mine and as tactile as possible while having better reception.

I don’t like modern smartphones because they facilitate this culture of hyper connectivity as well as being super finicky. It cannot text – and that’s by design.

Justine

CRT instruments

CRT instruments

Japanese electro-punk group Electronicos Fantasticos is known for making music with unusual instruments. In this clip, musician Ei Wada shows off an electronic guitar known as the “CRTelecaster” that uses feedback created from the screen of an old CRT television set to produce sounds.

Here’s a concert they made with an electric fan harp, CRT-TV Drums, air conditioner harp, and other strange creations.

Find out more on their website:

https://www.electronicosfantasticos.com

Beating splosh-kaboom minigame in Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker

Beating splosh-kaboom minigame in Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker

It took them about 10 years to build this speed running tool, but here it is. How it helps you win is even more fascinating than the minigame itself. Random number generators on consoles are notoriously simple and have been exploited for some time – but this takes it to a whole new level.

It’s a beautiful example of how a computer scientist would break down and solve a problem. It’s also a perfect example of why cryptographically secure random number generators are essential to computer security.

I think I might use this question in future interviews…

Unreal engine 5

Unreal engine 5

Simply astounding – really looking forward to reading how they did this.

What if we flipped things on their head and had more triangles than pixels on the screen? How would that engine work…

Giant LED Wave

Giant LED Wave

The Gangnam-gu area in Seoul is the Korean version of Times Square and it’s the country’s first outdoor advertisement zone. Mega-size LED screen displays have been installed on the walls of large buildings which create an electronic display for 18 hours a day.

One of the best known buildings is the COEX artium, also known as the mecca of K-pop. Featuring an electronic display measuring 80 meters in width and 23 meters in height, this massive screen wraps the building and is currently showcasing the korean wave designed by District.