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In the Zone

Gamer’s delight: Intel’s Core i9-9900KS Special Edition CPU

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by Kevin Jacoby on 11/25/2019
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Folks, the PC ain’t dead. In fact, it’s gone and got itself a new job: hardcore gaming.

Intel just released the perfect gift for the gamer who has everything. The company’s new 9th gen Core i9-9900KS processor is a limited-edition, 8-core monster that will push up to 5.0GHz across all 8 cores. It’s the chip that keeps on giving.

Sitting pretty: The 9th Gen Intel Core i9-9900KS Special Edition processor

Someone at Intel is keeping tabs on the gaming world, and rightly so. Global shipments of gaming hardware shot up more than 16% in this year’s second quarter alone, according to IDC.

Assuming IDC’s vision is accurate, nearly 43 million gaming PCs will ship worldwide this year. And then, by 2023, the industry should ship more than 55 million gaming PCs.

The devil in the details

But back to the new Intel Core i9-9900KS. At first blush, your customers may suspect it’s just a slightly more expensive rehash of last year’s 9900K variant. After all, both processors sport 8 cores with Turbo Boost, overclocking via Intel Performance Maximizer, and the same 14nm silicon.

But gamers know something the rest of us tend to overlook: The difference between winning and losing is often found in the tiny difference between 116 and 126 frames per second (fps).

That 116 fps is where the older Core i9 9900K clocks in while playing “Middle Earth: Shadow of War” at 1080p. And the faster 126 fps is how the Core i9-9900KS performs — or should we say outperforms? — in the very same situation.

Now, with pride, honor and a bucket load of prize money on the line, which chip would you rather have in your mobo?

Drool-worthy specs

The details of Intel’s latest silicon, saber-toothed, big hairy monster are indeed a sight to behold. It all starts with a max Turbo frequency of 5.0 GHz across all 8 cores. Previous iterations delivered a lower clock speed, and on only 1 or 2 cores.

Even when it’s not boosting those turbos, the i9-9900KS still crunches 1s and 0s at terrifying speeds. That’s thanks to its 8 cores and 16 threads tirelessly churning at 4GHz each.

The 9900KS can also address up to 128GB of DDR4-2666 memory. That much RAM makes an awfully nice companion if you happen to find yourself in a foxhole during a “Total War: Warhammer 2” tournament.

And with up to 40 PCIe lanes, adding an array of high-falutin’ GPUs may be expensive, but it certainly isn’t difficult.

One other thing you’ll want to talk to your customers about is heat. At 127W TDP under normal conditions, the i9-9900KS kicks off some serious solar flares.

And when overclocking comes into the picture — a task for which the 9900KS is diabolically well suited — that number can push well past 155W, creating a sauna inside that little metal box that can get as hot as 189 degrees F. So do your customers a favor: Talk them into buying a matching CPU-cooler, too.

Home for the holidays

Intel has made it clear that the 9900KS is a limited-edition processor. Less clear is how limited.

So if your customers are interested in the fastest gun in the West, tell them to unholster that credit card now. Intel isn’t saying how many of these chips are available, but the company has been pretty clear about not making any more in 2020.

Intel Core i9-9900KS in box

9900KS: Retailing for about $530 — for now

The Core i9-9900KS is available now with a tray price of $519 and a U.S. retail price of around $530.

But don’t wait. As the limited-edition 9900KS becomes all the more limited, you can bet that price will rise like a 5GHz rocket.


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In the Zone

How Samsung + Project Athena = luxury laptops

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by Kevin Jacoby on 11/15/2019
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Mention Samsung, and most people will probably think of Android phones, flat-screen TVs and major appliances. After all, those are among the South Korean company’s top products.

But this technology giant would also like you — and your customers — to associate its name with the latest in high-end laptops. To get rolling, the company recently introduced two luxury laptops, the Galaxy Book Flex and Galaxy Book Ion.

To help build these high-end computing devices, Samsung took advantage of Intel’s Project Athena program. While this blog post is about Samsung’s new laptops, to understand the nature of the Galaxy Book platform, you first have to understand Athena.

What Athena is — and isn’t

Intel’s Project Athena Innovation Program is nothing less than a drive to completely reconceptualize the modern laptop.

More concretely, Athena comprises a set of standards and a platform for emerging Intel technologies. Intel also plans to operate Project Athena Open Labs in Shanghai, Taipei and Folsom, California, to enable and optimize innovative PC components.

Project Athena is also a R&D partnership. Its membership is limited to only those computer manufacturers both moneyed enough to play in the big leagues and masochistic enough to hang out on the bleeding edge.

Project Athena: Intel’s bold partnership with premier partners

What Athena is not is static. On the contrary, its very nature is amorphous — zigging with the demands of users, zagging with the emergence of new manufacturing processes such as the latest 10th gen Intel Core processors.

Best laptop in the galaxy?

A quick glance at the new Galaxy Books tells you that Samsung’s sure got style. The shimmering blue edge of Galaxy Book Ion is the perfect amount of color-pop, expertly accenting its ultralight magnesium body.

Samsung Galaxy Book Ion

Samsung Galaxy Book Ion: all dressed up in ultralight magnesium

And Galaxy Book Flex 2-in-1? Well, the folks at Samsung just went totally blue — Royal Blue to be exact.

It’s a color that looks awfully compelling when anodized onto a thin yet strong aluminum skin.

Samsung Galaxy Book Flex

Samsung Galaxy Book Flex: a next-gen 2-in-1 convertible

But is the Galaxy Book Flex’s killer style matched with a suitable degree of substance?

In a word: yes.

Which brings us back to Project Athena. Its guidelines leave no question as to the technological merits of any laptop that carries this official certification.

Samsung’s new mobile workstations pack a lot of technical prowess. Not the least of which is the world’s first 13.3-in. and 15.6-in. QLED display on a laptop.

Both models also boast WiFi 6 (Gig+) and Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, optional discreet graphics, NVMe SSD storage, and up to 16GB of DDR4 memory.

But all that pales in comparison to the introduction of Intel’s new Ice Lake processors. If you’re looking for a compelling sales pitch, start out by telling your customers about 10nm silicon, hot-rod onboard graphics, and a metric ton of AI just beneath that cool, blue skin.

Intel Inside, only thinner

The super-geeks at Intel have been chasing their 10nm dreams for quite a while. Starting this holiday season, your customers will see that dream become reality.

The skinnier silicon translates to more speed and less heat. But that’s just the tip of the ice lake.

This new dual- and quad-core Core processor lineup also signals Intel’s renewed focus on graphics. It features up to 1 teraflop of GPU engine compute to help with video stylization, analytics and real-time video resolution upscaling.

Higher ASPs are good for you

Where laptop average selling prices (ASPs) are concerned, there’s always a race to the bottom. But this time, Samsung won’t be taking part.

Instead, Samsung’s new laptops should be pricey. While there’s no word yet on an official price or release date, the specs point to a starting price of around $1,200 or $1,300. Fully-loaded, the sticker could even reach beyond $2,400.

No, that ain’t cheap. But it could turn out to be the perfect laptop for your executive customers, as well as those interested in high-performance graphics and number-crunching. And the perfect laptop for your bottom line!

Looking for a luxury laptop? Check out the latest Samsung Galaxy devices.


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In the Zone

Windows 10X: way more than just another mobile OS

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by Kevin Jacoby on 10/22/2019
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Have your customers heard about Windows 10X? Do they think it’s just another mobile operating system? Oh, it’s way more than that.

Win10X is the harbinger of a change so fundamental, it will redefine the Windows OS forever.

Earlier this month, Microsoft threw itself a little party to introduce several shiny new Surface devices. Some are available for pre-order now, while others are “coming soon.”

Included in this lineup of cool gear was a brand-new form factor, the Surface Neo, which should be available for next year’s holiday season. Neo features two separate 9-inch screens, making it a brand-new way to interface with a mobile device.

Microsoft Surface Neo

Microsoft’s new Surface Neo: two 9-inch screens

Since Neo is so different, it also needs a different kind of OS, one that takes into account the device’s novel form factor and helps users make the most of it. That’s where Windows 10X comes in.

A new expression

You can tell the marketing lunatics are running the tech asylum when Microsoft starts using phrases like “a new expression of our OS.” This purple prose might seem laughable, but it’s actually the perfect way to describe Windows 10X.

That’s because Win10X is more than just a new operating system. It’s actually a new way to interact with Windows 10.

Windows 10X screenshot

Windows 10X prototype screen shot

For example, the OS itself needs to assume that the user may want to view a presentation on one screen while taking notes on the other. Or maybe update a spreadsheet in real time while also video-chatting with their Chinese counterpart.

But let’s be honest: Half the time one screen will be used for work while the other screen shows Minecraft, Facebook or goofy cat videos. The device may have changed, but we humans are still the same.

Here comes Windows Core?

Windows 10X can be an expression of Windows 10 only if the latter is re-conceptualized into a modular system. Win10 will need to think with its core and present with its, um, expressions. And that’s exactly where Microsoft is headed.

As Tom Warren, a tech writer at The Verge, has discovered, 2020 will likely be the year of the new Microsoft Core OS (WCOS). Windows 10X could be one of many expressions designed specifically for the hardware on which it runs. Beneath it will be a common Core OS whose job is to provide the OS functionality we’ve come to rely on.

Expression proliferation?

Once Microsoft has the Core OS set up, it’s just a matter of time before the company completely overdoes the expression thing. Having just announced no fewer than five new Surface products — plus a new OS — Microsoft will inevitably spend no small amount of R&D money inventing fabulous new toys to play with. You can bet each one will have its own Windows 10 expression.

For now, though, Microsoft is making a smart move: It’s endowing Surface Neo’s little sibling, Surface Duo, with Android powers. The smaller, dual-8-inch-screen Surface Duo, which is also due out around Holiday 2020, should make it easy to find the perfect app for whatever your customers are doing. Android development is fast, powerful and never-ending. Can’t argue with that!

But where does that leave Surface Neo? Well, Microsoft can’t give away the farm to Google, so the Neo will be a Windows device through-and-through. It should also have some helpful features, such as a 32-bit emulator to help widen the field of potential apps, and a smartphone-style launcher.

Hey, no more Tiles! That’s gotta be good news, right?


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In the Zone

Upgrade gaming PCs with ray tracing, sexy screens

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by Kevin Jacoby on 10/17/2019
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What would we do without gamers? If it weren’t for their insatiable desire for more power and better graphics, the PC market might just wither and turn to dust.

While the business-PC market struggles to find its footing, market watcher IDC reports double-digit growth for gaming PCs and monitors. The numbers are hard to ignore: Shipments of PCs for gaming in this year’s second quarter totaled 10.4 million units worldwide, a year-on-year (YoY) quarterly increase of nearly 17%. That’s real growth.

You don’t have to stop at the water’s edge, either. For the EMEA market (Europe, Middle East, and Africa), IDC is expecting a 1.5% YoY increase for this full year, then consistent growth through 2023.

But don’t worry: You don’t have to talk your customers into a brand new gaming rig. Right now, it’s all about the strategic upgrade.

Your gaming customers may already have a 9th Gen Intel Core i9 processor screaming like a banshee inside that slick metal box. But when you tell them about this season’s must-have upgrades – ray tracing and fast, curvy screens – they’ll be salivating like Pavlov’s puppies.

Ray tracing: ready for prime time

If you’ve been to the movies lately, you’ve probably seen ray tracing. It’s the technology that adds photo-realism to computer-generated imagery (CGI). Now it’s also enhancing gaming PCs.

Ray tracing mimics the physical world by simulating the reflection, refraction or absorption of light by a physical object. This lends a remarkable reality to virtual objects; it also creates a more immersive gaming experience. Picture the glint of sunlight in a sword as the heavens churn above a battlefield, the reflection of an attacker’s helmet in the iris of his unsuspecting pray. This kind of unparalleled immersion sets ray tracing-compatible games apart from the banal RPGs of yesteryear

Ray tracing isn’t exactly new. It’s been around for nearly a decade. But due to the technology’s highly resource-intensive nature, ray tracing has been reserved for pre-rendered scenes. Until now, that is.

All that’s changed with the NVIDIA Quadro RTX series, which can handle ray tracing in real time. This is a real game changer — pun intended.


NVIDIA Quadro RTX: first GPU to offer real-time ray tracing

This kind of game-changing doesn’t come cheap, however. Your customers will need to shell out up to $5,500 for a Quadro RTX 8000. But if they do, they’ll feast their eyes on virtual scenery like never before.

Fast, curvy displays

When did monitors start being sexy? They used to be boring squares of glass. But these days, sweeping curves and super-fast refresh rates are all the rage — and rightly so.

Ask an eSports pro, and they’ll tell you that a display with a 120Hz refresh rate gives them a real edge over any competitor stuck with the standard 60Hz. So what do you think they’ll say when you show them a laptop screen that refreshes at 300Hz? Nothing. They’ll be speechless.

If your customers feel the need for visual speed, give them a peak at the new ROG Strix Scar III. The current production model refreshes at 240Hz, which is still impressive, to say the least. 

ROG Strix Scar III

ROG Strix Scar III: 300Hz coming soon

At this year’s big IFA show in Berlin, ROG gave the world a peek at the upcoming versions. They’ll sport 15- and 17-inch panels that refresh at the full 300Hz.

Of course, a display doesn’t have to be that fast to be that good. Customers looking for a gorgeous, immersive experience are finding their way into the latest generation of large-format, curved displays.

For example, consider the Acer Predator X34. It puts viewers in another world with 3440 x1440 pixels, 21:9 aspect ratio, and a respectable refresh rate of 120Hz. And the price? Around $800 — more than you’d spend on a spreadsheet-viewer, but a lot less than some of the crazy glass out there right now.

As games become more sophisticated and gamers become more competitive, opportunities abound for channel partners to increase revenue. Are you ready to play the game and win? On your marks, get set…


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In the Zone

Windows 10 adds touchscreen convenience to desktop flexibility

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by Kevin Jacoby on 09/18/2019
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Microsoft recently released the latest beta of Windows 10. If you have customers using 2-in-1 devices including the Surface Pro and other popular convertibles, this version of the OS has some valuable updates for them.

The Aug. 29 beta, formally known as Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 18970 (Version 20H1), may not represent a quantum leap in modern OS design. But it does point to some much-needed improvements. Your customers should be very pleased to welcome this new addition onto their personal computers.

Desktop UI in tablet mode — finally

A lot of mobile Windows users are going to be happy about this update. If your customers are annoyed every time they see those colored tiles pop up by default when they switch to tablet-mode, tell them help is on the way.

Version 20H1 is the beginning of a brand-new tablet experience for power users. They’ll get the convenience of a touchscreen with the flexibility of a desktop OS.

Now, when you pop off or fold away the keyboard on your 2-in-1, there’s a new desktop interface for serious work. Sure, you can get back to the big colored tiles any time. It’s just that now you have options.

Windows 10 version 20H1

Windows 10 Version 20H1: subtle changes make all the difference

By design, the desktop OS in tablet mode is nearly identical to the one you’ll see when using the convertible as a standard laptop. But it does have a few subtle changes, and they make all the difference. Two stand apart from the rest:

> A noticeable restructuring of user-interface (UI) elements. For instance, users will find that items in the dock are easier to use because they’re spaced further apart. It’s easy to pinpoint a tiny icon when you’re wielding a high-resolution laser mouse. But when fingers come into play, a little more space helps prevent frustrating mistakes.

> A new virtual-keyboard icon. To save space, the on-screen keyboard is tucked away. But when it’s data-entry time, a quick click brings up the keyboard. When you’re done, another quick click and the keyboard is hidden.

One refreshing refresh

MacOS users have for years known the glory of the cloud-based OS refresh. We’ll side-step the question of why it took Microsoft so long to implement something so obviously helpful, and just go right to celebrating its arrival.

Now you can finally tell your customers to put away that dust-covered USB thumb drive containing a crusty old version of some bygone Windows ISO. That was the old way of doing things. The new way is far, far better.

Now, when Windows starts to get squirrelly from months of abuse and that ill-advised app-of-the-week installation, your customers can now bring the operating system back to perfect working order quickly and easily.

No need to worry about all that user-generated data, either. It stays where it was — unless, that is, you choose “Remove Everything.” Anything short of that scorched-earth policy will leave their documents and cat videos where they are, while replacing whatever OS is currently installed with a fresh copy.

Coming soon?

There’s no word on an official release date yet. But the new features are being presented in Preview Build 18970 (20H1), which is available to any beta user in the Insider Program. So the widespread arrival of the new features should be just over the horizon.

If you get a jump on things now, later you can lend a hand to your customers when the official versions arrive. So today’s a good time to download the beta. Good luck!


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In the Zone

Are the latest Chromebooks ready for business?

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by Kevin Jacoby on 09/09/2019
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Chromebooks for schoolkids is a great idea. An affordable dorm-room-ready alternative to expensive MacBooks and ultrabooks — what’s not to love?

But Chromebooks for business? That’s another matter entirely. In the business world, the stakes are high, the apps are resource-intensive, and failure is not an option.

So are these lightweight devices tough enough? The short answer is yes.

There’s an app for that

To understand why, a little history will help. Getting to this point took some time.

The first Chromebook was introduced by Google back in 2011. The public’s reaction? Somewhere between “Hmm, that might be interesting… for kids” and a silent yawn.

The trouble was the apps — or the lack thereof. While Chromebook hardware was certainly affordable, there was very little you could do with it. You could browse the web, and you use early versions of Google Docs and Sheets. But not much else.

But then Chromebooks got access to the Google Play Store and its millions of apps. Everything changed. All of a sudden, you could do almost anything on a Chromebook — online or off.

Microsoft sealed the deal in 2017, when it launched a native Android version of Office 365. That’s when the world learned that Chromebooks meant business.

How about hardware?

In the meantime, many PC vendors have announced Chromebooks of their own. While the latest of these devices may not be as slick and shiny as a MacBook Pro, they’re anything but boring.

Google’s own Pixelbook, for one, sets the high-water mark in terms of design, performance and price. Priced just shy of $1,000, the Pixelbook is actually more expensive than some “regular” entry-level laptops.

But Google was smart enough to take a few cues from Apple’s MacBook and Microsoft’s Surface Laptop. Like those devices, the Pixelbook has sexy curves, thoughtful ergonomics and power to spare. It feels — and is — worth the extra bucks.

Google Pixelbook

Google’s high-end Pixelbook: great design, multiple options

The Pixelbook’s 10.3-mm unibody design makes for an excellent shape shifter, smartly bending itself into a laptop or tablet. The optional Pen rivals Apple’s vaunted Pencil in terms of functionality and ease of use. And of course the Pixelbook tethers seamlessly with any Android-powered phone.

Acer draws an ace

But what if your customers are looking for a more cost-effective solution? In that case, they’ll be pleased to know that just about every major manufacturer now has a license to build its own Chromebook variations.

Competition is fierce, too. Which means big savings for your customers.

Acer, for example, just announced 4 new Chrome-powered laptops. These include the super-portable 11.6-inch M14 and 15.6-inch M15 Chromebooks, which feature bright, high-resolution screens; gigabit Wi-Fi; USB 3.1 connectivity; and a battery life of up to 12.5 hours.

Acer M14 Chromebook

Acer’s M14 Chromebook: powerful solution, low price

The starting price to get into one of Acer’s Google-machines? How about $249? By anyone’s standards, that’s pretty cheap.

The channel: going for bulk

At first, the Chromebooks’ relatively low average sale price (ASP) might seem like a gut punch to your bottom line. But take the 10,000-foot view, and things look different. Today’s Chromebooks can be solid, reliable and cost-effective business machines. That gives you an equally solid and reliable argument for creating Chrome-based business solutions.

How about setting up an SMB or enterprise business with a full complement of Chromebooks, Android mobile devices and Wi-Fi-enabled peripherals? That could turn out to be a deal far greater than the sum of its parts.

If your customers want a fast, lightweight business-computing solution designed to scale indefinitely, it’s time to take another look at Chromebooks. With new models from well-known vendors, a wide range of price points, and some cool features, what’s not to love?


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In the Zone

How Intel’s AMT can save your customers time & money

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by Kevin Jacoby on 08/22/2019
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Intel has been making smart and savvy updates to its Active Management Technology (AMT) for years. If your SMB and enterprise customers took your sage advice to spring for Intel Core vPro processors, then their maintenance and security profiles are getting better all the time.

AMT enables a technician to power on a PC — even when it’s turned off! — install new software, run diagnostics, wipe the hard drive, and update security features.

This kind of functionality opens new IT possibilities. For instance, your customer could switch to a more cost-effective centralized IT solution that can remotely service any PC no matter where it is in the world.

If you still have some customers using standard processors, now might be a good time to bring up vPro again. Especially if they feel they’re spending too much on tech support and maintenance.

Saving time = saving $$

According to Intel, AMT can reduce the cost of a PC repair from $187 to $60, a savings of $127. That figure might sound too good to be true. But consider how much time and money your customers can save by solving most issues remotely, or, better yet, by preventing common issues altogether.

Consider these numbers from a Forrester Consulting study commissioned by Intel:

> Annual reduction of 7,680 security support hours with Intel vPro platform-based devices, resulting in $1.2 million in risk- adjusted savings over 3 years

> 832 hours saved with automatic remote patch deployment through Intel Active Management Technology, resulting in risk-adjusted cost savings of $81,000 over 3 years

> 28,160 hours saved in improved employee efficiency with the Intel vPro platform through better device security and management, resulting in cost savings of $1.3 million over 3 years

Lowering the TCO

PCs are the gifs that keep on costing. After paying the initial price for the computer itself, owners then need to keep paying for integration, upkeep, support and maintenance throughout the PC’s usable life.

Your customer likely knows this concept is referred to as total cost of ownership (TCO). But do they also know that tech support and maintenance count for 80% of a PC’s TCO?

It’s true. Over time, aging components slow down even the fastest computers. Also, constantly installing and uninstalling applications inevitably presents software conflicts. Not to mention the endless flow of data that leaves the system open to attack from phishing schemes and malicious software.

All those things can be dealt with by a good IT department, of course. The question is, how much will it cost? If your customers can take advantage of AMT, the answer is: less than usual.

AMT’s remote-management features give your customers the ability to keep tabs on all their local and remote PCs. When the system detects, say, an out-of-date OS or a suspected security risk, technicians can deal with it immediately. They don’t even have to get out of their chairs.

What’s more, consistent, low-cost remote maintenance significantly reduces field failure rates by preventing issues before they occur. How’s that for lower TCO?

Channeling revenue

Here’s one more statistic from Intel—this one you’ll like: More than $100 billion.

That’s the predicted partner services and solutions opportunity for shifting customers to a modern desktop over three years. (That’s according to Forrester Consulting.)

Helping your customers upgrade to vPro-enabled PCs make sense for their bottom lines. It makes sense for yours, too!


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In the Zone

New Intel hardware security helps foil hackers and malware

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by Kevin Jacoby on 08/15/2019
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Are your customers concerned about cybersecurity? They should be. A disconcerting collection of stats recently published by Intel paints an ugly picture of the current digital landscape:

> 87% of CIOs believe their security controls fail to protect their business

> 50% of critical corporate data, on average, resides on unprotected desktops and laptops

> 81% of breaches started with stolen or weak credentials

> 90% of incidents result from exploits in software

But the news isn’t all bad. Intel’s 9th generation vPro processors feature the latest Intel Hardware Shield, a hardware-to-software security set designed to combat virtual evil-doers.

One of the most compelling features of Hardware Shield is its ability to significantly reduce the attack surface of the BIOS by locking down its dedicated memory.

If your customer thinks a malicious app is bad, ask them to picture a digital bug that nests in their PC’s firmware below the operating system. Down in the BIOS, a virus can take control of the whole system without being detected by OS-level virus scanners. That’s the worst kind of bad news.

Intel’s security technology also includes hardware monitoring that extends from the BIOS all the way up to the Win10 operating system. Combined with advanced threat detection and hardware-based memory encryption, Intel Hardware Shield can provide a true end-to-end security solution.

Unbreakable ID

Human error is often at the root of our computer problems. Such is the case when it comes to security. If you leave the door open, even the world’s sturdiest bank vault can be breached.

In this scenario, the computer is the bank vault, and the user credentials are the door’s lock. Bottom line: Your customers need a lock they can rely on.

Intel Authenticate technology places a premium on multifactor authentication. Your customers can lock their data up tight so it can only be opened with biometrics, nearby Bluetooth-enabled devices, and geo-location rules.

A hacker might be able to crack your customer’s password — especially if it’s the user’s birthday! But it’s an order of magnitude more difficult to fake fingerprints, retina scans and nearfield mobile communication.

The channel upside

Gallons of virtual ink have been spilled extolling the virtues of an office-wide PC refresh. To date, the supporting arguments have mainly focused on the forthcoming death of Windows 7, the time and money saved by increasing efficiency, and the proliferation of mobile workforces.

To be sure, those reasons are valid. But your customers may find the risk of security breaches an even more compelling reason to upgrade.

To wit: The cost of responding to a cyberattack has risen 52% in just the last year, reaching an average of $1.1 million, according to a recent report from Radware.

For this reason, persuading your customers to upgrade their gear could be an act of mercy. Sure, they’ll have to give the corporate credit card a hefty workout. But when they come out on the other side, they’ll enjoy the peace of mind that comes from having the most effective data-security system available.

That’s a win/win/win for you, your customers — and your customer’s customers. After all, it’s their data, too!


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In the Zone

7 PC things you still can’t do with a smartphone

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by Kevin Jacoby on 07/16/2019
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With smartphones now so powerful, do we still need PCs?

That question dates back to at least Dec. 2014. That’s when Business Insider published an article, “Your Phone is More Powerful than the Computer in the Spaceship NASA Launched this Week.”

The writer, Matt Rosoff, was making a point about NASA’s flight computers, which are designed mainly for reliability. But he also suggested what's still a good question:

Given how powerful our mobile phones have become, do we still need PCs? And if so, why?

The short answer is: Yes, we still need PCs.

Why? To answer, here are 7 tasks that demand a traditional laptop or desktop PC:


You know the kind. In Excel, they’re called “workbooks.” That's a benign-sounding moniker for a data array responsible for more hair loss than male pattern baldness.

No, these spreadsheets don’t need that much power. But they do need about a football field’s worth of screen real estate. All so you can cross-reference your quarterly earnings with the market-analysis formula you spent hours concocting the night before.


No matter how powerful the computer in your palm, no one is about to use a smartphone to render a scene for “Toy Story 4.”

Toy Story 4

'And that's why we weren't rendered on a phone'

Professional render engines are made up of supercomputers that chug for hours on end — just to produce a few seconds of animation.

So even if you were masochistic enough to draw each frame on a Samsung Galaxy, getting Wile E. Coyote anywhere near the Road Runner would take your phone years.


“I just wrote a book on my cellphone, and boy, are my thumbs tired!”

Also, I now need reading glasses. I have carpal tunnel syndrome. And I accidentally texted Chapter 3 to my mother-in-law. ‘Nuff said.


Like the man said, “Never bring a knife to a gun fight.”

Gaming PCs are among the most insanely tricked-out machines available today. If you want to play in the big time, you need the kind of gear that can win.

Candy Crush Saga

Beyond this point is too far

How crazy would it be to do hardcore gaming with a mobile phone? About as crazy as lugging an HP Pavilion desktop onto the subway to play Candy Crush Saga between stops.


Yes, Apple makes a version of GarageBand for iOS. But it gives you only enough facility to lay down a few tracks, add a canned drum beat, and listen the next day to see if you still like the melody.

But when it comes to professional audio production, mobile can’t cut it. Even small home studios now feature a full-size PC or well-equipped laptop.

Home recording studio

Home studio - smartphone not included

Why? Because recording 8 to 16 simultaneous tracks with effects plug-ins and virtual instruments requires multi-threaded processing. That would make your iPhone go up in flames.


Many small and midsize businesses require server functionality in the office, but not enough to warrant a full-scale server installation. That’s why Microsoft offers a standalone version of its Windows Server software.

Windows Server 2019

Bet your phone can't do this

In the interest of saving a few nickels, SMBs can install Windows Server 2019 on a desktop, pop in a few extra drives and some RAM, and, viola!, instant server. Try that with a Huawei running Android!


Standard code — such as HTML, PHP and JavaScript — is made up of basic plain text. It’s not the slightest bit resource-intensive, and you can compose it on any basic text editor. But that doesn’t mean you’d want to code a website or design a new app on your phone.
Professional coders often use multiple screens. That way, they can spread out and look at the 10,000-foot view of The Matrix they've created.
Coders also often have a development environment on the same PC. It lets them bounce back and forth between their code base and live application. 

While today’s smartphones nearly qualify as supercomputers, they’re still not good at everything. And for those jobs, we have PCs.

Someday we'll all have a Star Trek-esque ship’s computer to do the heavy digital lifting. Until then, it looks like we'll need to keep our traditional PCs around.

Rejoice — it’s good for sales!


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In the Zone

Overclocking PCs? Intel makes it simpler

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by Kevin Jacoby on 07/09/2019
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If you have customers who want to overclock their 9th Gen Intel Core unlocked processors, the Intel Performance Maximizer (IPM) can help.

No, your customers don’t actually need IPM to overclock their PCs. But assuming they have one of the supported Intel processors, IPM will alleviate the need for exhaustive research, testing and rebooting.

The IPM software will perform tests, determine the optimum overclocking speed, and set it so they can forget it. That’s welcome news for those who prefer getting down to business over tinkering under the hood.

Overclocking 101

If your customer asks for an explanation of overclocking, try starting with an auto analogy: Overclocking a processor is similar to adding a nitrous oxide system (NOS) to a racing car.

NOS is an aftermarket modification that forces a car's engine to run faster than the manufacturer intended. It can help a driver win races, earn prize money and get famous.

However, NOS can also cause a car’s engine to overheat and fail. In which case, no winning, no prize money, and certainly no fame.

Digital hot-rodding has similar pros and cons. On the one hand, eSports competitors and 3D animators alike will happily take all the performance gains they can get. Overclocking lets you adjust the power, voltage, core, memory settings and other key systems values for maximum performance.

For the gamer, the 200MHz bump provided by overclocking could make the difference between thrilling victory and ignominious defeat. For the animator, it can save time and money.

On the other hand, as any pimply-faced, teenage eSports champ can tell you, heat is the enemy. Pushing an overclocked system to the edge of its performance envelope can produce enough heat to damage vital components.

Drives, memory modules and processors are all designed to work in hot environments. But only up to a point. Pushing them out on the edge long enough to win a Fortnite tournament can destroy the computer altogether.

That creates an additional requirement for all overclockers. They must have the right cooling system. As a cost-effective method for protecting overclocked systems, Intel recommends liquid cooling.

The IPM fine print

So far, Intel’s new overclocking tool works only with the latest processors and chipsets. Intel will no doubt increase compatibility as time goes on. But as of today, your customers should know what IPM requires:

> One of the three unlocked 9th Gen Intel Core processors: i5-9600K, i7 9700K or top-of-the-line i9-9900K. (In Intel SKU-speak, the final “K” means “unlocked.”)

> One Z-series motherboard set to UEFI boot mode and updated to the latest firmware.

> Microsoft Windows 10 x64 Edition version RS5 or later.

> At least 8 GB of memory.

> At least 16 GB of free hard drive space.

Let’s just say it’s a work in progress.

Not for everyone

If your customers are into business apps and standard personal computing, you can advise them to skip overclocking altogether. The risk of increased wear and tear, data loss or system failure isn’t worth the reward of a few extra processor cycles.

But if your customers want to stride the virtual realm as a colossus, pwning all who dare to stand in their way, overclocking can give them the edge.

And Intel Performance Maximizer can make it easy. Well, easier. 

Get overclocked:

> Learn more about overclocking with the Intel Performance Maximizer

> Download the Intel Performance Maximizer



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