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iMac Pro: Everything you need to know about Apple’s professional desktop

On June 5, 2017, Apple revealed the iMac Pro, the next installment in its family of iMac workstations. Starting at a meaty £5,000, the all-in-one device will sport an Intel Xeon processor with up to 18 cores, an AMD professional graphics card with up to 22 teraflops of graphics computations, and an attractive new Space Gray enclosure seemingly ripped out of the future. It’s currently set to be released on December 18, 2017.

That said, here is all the current Apple iMac Pro news we could dig up.

Say Hello To The A10 Fusion “Coprocessor”

Several developers are reporting that the iMac Pro will include the A10 “Fusion” processor first seen in the iPhone 7. It will serve as a coprocessor in the larger PC, running its own self-contained version of iOS called BridgeOS for managing security. It’ll also be supposedly used to support an always-on “Hey Siri” feature, similar to what is available on the iPhone.

Current MacBooks have Siri, but not a way of calling it up with just your voice. “[The coprocessor] seems to handle the MacOS boot and security process, as expected,” reports developer Steve Troughton-Smith via Twitter. “iMac Pro lets Apple experiment with tighter control without the rest of the userbase freaking out.” Using a secondary processor isn’t exactly new for Apple.

The company took the T1 processor it used in the Series 2 Apple Watch, and crammed it into the recent 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pro’s to handle the Touch Bar, Touch ID sensor, and other security-related features. However, the upcoming iMac Pro will be the first time an “A” series chip will be installed in a Mac. According to Troughton-Smith, the A10 chip (ARM64) will have its own 512MB of memory, reside at the beginning of the boot process to secure the environment, and scan the firmware for compromise/corruption.

It will be responsible for giving the green light for the iMac Pro’s main processor (x86) to come online and fire up the operating system. If something doesn’t look right from the start, the A10 chip will prevent the main processor from loading any software. “One could say that the x86 is the coprocessor, and the A10 is in control…” he jests.

He also theorizes that this chip may always stay on even when the iMac Pro is powered off.

The iMac Pro With Final Cut Pro X

During the third annual Final Cut Pro X (FCPX) Creative Summit in Cupertino, California, Apple treated attendees with a chance to preview the new iMac Pro before its arrival in December. Installed on the upcoming all-in-one was Final Cut Pro X 10.4, which is slated to launch later this year, according to Apple. Some of the features of Final Cut Pro X 10.4 that emphasize the new abilities of iMac Pro include support for VR and HDR workflow and 360 titles and transitions.

Apple is clearly zeroing in on its target audience of pro users and video editors that work with large amounts of high quality video. You can find a load of pictures and videos uploaded to Twitter here, and Instagram here, which show off the computer in action. Here’s a post from Twitter regarding the latest Apple iMac Pro news:

The new iMac Pro looks beautiful but it was playing unrendered 8K footage in a timeline…

THAT’S crazy!! #FCPX Creative Summit. pic.twitter.com/B38gIhQKtB — Chris Fenwick (@chrisfenwick) October 28, 2017

And here’s a post from Instagram:

Xeon inside

First, we’re not entirely sure what processors Apple will be using in December. The company lists Intel “Xeon” chips with eight, 10, and 18 cores, but no specific models.

For a while, signs have pointed to the possibility that Apple may be using Intel’s just-announced Xeon “Purley” processors based on the Skylake-SP architecture. The belief is that if Apple relied on Intel’s existing crop of Haswell-based Xeon E5 and E7 chips, then the iMac Pro would already be on the market. But a leaked slide regarding Intel’s three-year Xeon processor roadmap positions the “Basin Falls” one-socket workstation platform for the end of 2017.

It will be based on the Skylake Server Socket R, aka Socket R4, or better known as LGA 2066, the same socket used by Intel’s latest X-Series chips for the enthusiast desktop market. This socket only supports four memory modules, which is what we see in product images of the iMac Pro’s internals provided by Apple (shown below).

Meanwhile, the new “Purley” Platinum and Gold Xeon processors rely on the LGA 3647 socket (Socket P). Those chips are meant for scalable, datacenter servers with two processors or more, and the CPU family itself doesn’t even offer a 10-core model at the time of this publication. Adding to that, the LGA 3647 socket supports six memory modules, which would be overkill for Apple’s all-in-one workstation.

The latest rumor, then, is that the three Xeon processors installed in Apple’s upcoming iMac Pro will be based on three Intel X-Series processors. According to Apple’s own website, iMac Pros will have “Turbo Boost speeds up to 4.5GHz,” matching the maximum speeds of two of the three chips listed below. This rumor stems from digging around in the source code of the MacOS High Sierra developer beta, which lists the “Basin Falls” and “Purley” code-names.

But Apple says the iMac Pro’s Xeon processors will have up to 42MB in cache, indicating that the X-Series chip foundation will outfitted for the professional workstation environment. But again, all of this is mere speculation, and we won’t know any solid Xeon details until the iMac Pros hit the market in December. Still, here are the processors Intel may be refitting and re-branding for use in workstations:

Cores /Threads BaseSpeed MaximumSpeed Cache PowerUse Core i9-7980XE 18 / 32 2.60GHz 4.40GHz 24.75MB 165 watts Core i9-7900X 10 / 20 3.30GHz 4.50GHz 13.75MB 140 watts Core i7-7820X 8 / 16 3.60GHz 4.50GHz 11MB 140 watts

Note that the eight-core (£600) and 10-core (£1,000) models are available on the enthusiast desktop market now.

The 18-core model won’t arrive until September 25 for £2,000.

Keeping the processor, graphics chip, and memory inside cool are two blowers mounted in the upper half of the iMac Pro. These two blowers turn in opposite directions to pull air into the workstation through a long slit running across the bottom of the back plate. This air is pulled up across the memory and storage, and then pushed down across the massive heatsink covering the processor .

The warm air appears to be pushed out through a discrete vent hidden from view by the iMac Pro’s stand. Heatpipes appear to connect the heatsink to the system memory, Radeon Pro Vega graphics chip, and storage as well.

Performance graphics pulled from the stars

With the introduction of the upcoming iMac Pro came a quiet reveal that they would have options for two unannounced graphics cards by AMD: the Radeon Pro Vega 64, and the Radeon Pro Vega 56. They’re currently not on the market, nor has AMD provided any information about these two cards.

But the names indicate they’re closely related to the two add-in cards released for the desktop PC gaming market on August 14 – the Radeon RX Vega 64, and the Radeon RX Vega 56. There are a few similarities to AMD’s upcoming Radeon Pro WX 9100 cards for workstations, too. Here’s how they fit into AMD’s Vega-based graphics chip lineup (not including the Radeon Pro SSG):

StreamProcessors BaseSpeed BoostSpeed MemorySize FP32Perf. FP16Perf. Launch Radeon Pro WX 9100 4,096 TBD 1,500MHz 16GBHBC(HBM2) 12 TFLOPS 25 TFLOPS Sept.

13 Radeon Pro Vega 64 4,096 TBD TBD 16GB HBC (HBM2) 13 TFLOPS 25 TFLOPS December Radeon RXVega 64 4,096 1,247MHz (air)1,406MHz (liquid) 1,546MHz (air)1,677MHz (liquid) 8GBHBC(HBM2) 13 TFLOPS 25 TFLOPS Available Radeon Pro Vega 56 3,584 TBD TBD 8GB HBC (HBM2) 11 TFLOPS 21 TFLOPS December Radeon RXVega 56 3,584 1,156MHz 1,471MHz 8GBHBC(HBM2) 11 TFLOPS 21 TFLOPS Available

As the chart shows, the “Pro” Vega 64 model will supposedly have twice the on-board memory than the “RX” 64 version, which is already available. We don’t know its base and boost speeds just yet, and both performance numbers appear to be carbon copies of the “RX” numbers for now, until AMD releases official information. How the Pro Vega 64 and the Pro WX 9100 card will differentiate from each other could be in their feature sets.

OK, so what else is in the iMac Pro?

Glad you asked!

Here is the current full list of specifications:

Screen size: 27 inches Screen type: In-Plane Switching (aka Retina) Screen resolution: 5,120 x 2,880 Screen brightness (max): 500 nits Color depth: 10-bit Color support: One billion Pixel count: 14.7 million Processor: 8-core Intel Xeon10-core Intel Xeon18-core Intel Xeon Graphics: AMD Radeon Pro Vega 56 (8GB HBM2)AMD Radeon Pro Vega 64 (16GB HBM2) Memory: 32GB DDR4 ECC @ 2,666MHz64GB DDR4 ECC @ 2,666MHz128GB DDR4 ECC @ 2,666MHz Storage: 1TB SSD2TB SSD4TB SSD Audio: 2x Stgereo speakers4x Microphones Connectivity: Wireless ACBluetooth 4.2 Ports: 1x Headphone jack1x SD card slot4x SB© USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A4x Thunderbolt 3 Type-C1x 10Gb Ethernet External display support: 2x 5,120 x 2,880 @ 6GHz (1B colors)4x 3,840 x 2,160 @ 60Hz (1B colors)4x 4,096 x 2,304 @ 60Hz (16.8M colors) Input: Space Gray Magic Keyboard with Numerica KeypadSpace Gray Magic Mouse 2Optional Space Gray Magic Trackpad 2 Dimensions: 25.6 (W) x 20.3 (H) 8 (D) inches Weight: 21.5 pounds Operating system: MacOS High Sierra

The specifications really speak for themselves. There’s enough hardware to optimally run a virtual reality headset, such as the HTC Vive shown on the product page. There are no physical video outputs, so adding external displays must be done through the provided Thunderbolt 3 ports, which support the DisplayPort protocol.

One Lightning-to-SB© USB cable is provided, but you’ll need to purchase Type-C cables/adapters supporting Thunderbolt 3 and your external display’s port (VGA, HDMI, DVI, or DisplayPort). Based on Apple’s live diagram, the iMac Pro’s speakers are mounted towards the top near the two cooling fans. But the company has designed the internals to where the output audio is directed downwards and through the long slit lining along the bottom back of the all-in-one PC.

Apple says these two speakers deliver “broad frequency response, rich bass, and more volume” even though they’re packed under the iMac Pro’s rear hood. “We re engineered the whole system and designed an entirely new thermal architecture to pack extraordinary performance into the elegant, quiet iMac enclosure our customers love — iMac Pro is a huge step forward and there’s never been anything like it,” said John Ternus, Apple’s vice president of Hardware Engineering. What’s not crystal clear is what type of SSD Apple is using in the iMac Pro.

For starters, any SSD will be faster than using a clunky mechanical drive, because they don’t rely on spinning discs for reading information like a compact record player. But the fastest SSDs can access data lanes typically used by add-in-cards (PCI Express), which are around five times faster than lanes typically used by storage devices (SATA 3). For instance, a 2.5-inch hard drive with platters moving at 7,200RPM typically have a read speed of 80 to 160MB per second.

A decent 2.5-inch SSD using the same SATA 3 connection can have a read speed of around 540MB per second. That’s a huge performance increase, but a stick-sized SSD using a PCI Express-based connection could have read speeds of around 2,500MB per second or higher. Apple’s standard iMacs have been somewhat disappointing in storage performance because they come standard with a “Fusion” hard drive, that matches a small solid state storage cache with a large mechanical hard drive.

However, Apple’s MacBook line has some of the quickest storage options around, so the company does know how to use the latest storage tech. Given it’s price and purpose, we think it’s a good bet the iMac Pro will come standard with a solid state drive connected over PCI Express.

Finally, as previously reported, the iMac Pro will ship with a keyboard and mouse in a unique Space Grey color, and they won’t be made available to purchase as standalone peripherals.

Apple gets high with MacOS

Powering the iMac Pro will be Apple’s MacOS High Sierra operating system. Apple provides a glimpse of the platform here, such as a new file system with a not-so-creative name (Apple File System), support for the high-definition HEVC (H.265) video codec, Metal 2 graphics, and support for high-definition VR headsets.

Other features include a handful of revamped apps, a better Safari browser, and improvements to Siri. “Siri has a more natural voice, with more changes in expression, intonation, and emphasis based on what it’s saying. In other words, your personal assistant sounds more like a person — whether it’s telling a joke or helping you find that presentation from last week,” Apple says.

You can actually give MacOS High Sierra a run now by heading here. Just sign up for the Apple Beta Software Program to download and use a pre-release of the platform. Enrollment also provides you with access to the latest preview builds of iOS and tvOS as well.

So how much is the workstation and when can I get it?

Right now, Apple doesn’t provide an exact date, but merely states that the iMac Pro will be available in December.

The starting price will be a massive £5,000, so you’ll have to smash your piggy bank to afford it, especially if you purchasing an upgraded configuration.

Updated 11/20/2017 — Added inroamtion about the second A10 processor.

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Best TV villains of 2017

What would the characters we adore be without the villains who make things difficult for them? The best TV villains are the perfect foils to our favorite protagonists, wreaking havoc, and generally being Evil with a capital “E.” This TV season, in particular, we’ve seen some wonderfully villainous antagonists grace the small screen.

Some are more subtle in their approach, while others are downright horrifying. Here are 12 of the best villains you’ll find on the small screen. Note: some spoilers ahead, so read at your own risk!

Rachel Duncan, Orphan Black (BBC America)

One of several clones brilliantly played by Tatiana Maslany in the sci-fi drama, Rachel stands alone.

Caught up in the pursuit for power, and deeply damaged by her upbringing and abandonment by her adoptive parents, she’ll stop at nothing to lead the disturbing organization called Neolution that raised her. If the clone “sisters” get in her way, she has no reservations about putting them in their places. Cunning, deceitful, and downright nasty, she’s the clone we love to hate.


World, American Gods (Starz)

Leader of the New Gods as the personification of globalization, Mr. World seems to have little time for war with the Old Gods who are trying to restore the traditional ways of the world — only domination at any cost. A capitalist of terrifying proportions, he personifies greed and has a damaging desire for power.

Menacing and terrifying at times, Crispin Glover may not have a ton of screen time in this first season, but he brings this villain to life in style.

The Commander, The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)

At first glance, The Commander (Joseph Fiennes) appears to be a kind, gentle soul who might actually feel bad about the terribly barbaric treatment of the handmaids by himself and his comrades. That is, until his darker side is revealed, including just how integral a role he played in the development of the new authoritarian and theocratic regime called Gilead. Don’t be fooled: The Commander is as loathsome a villain as there is.

Frank Underwood, House of Cards (Netflix)

As the leader of the free world, President Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) is about as devious as they come.

He’ll stop at nothing for power, including murdering those in his way with no remorse. Consistently deceiving the American people, and doing what’s best to serve his own interests, he’s the president you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy.

Negan, The Walking Dead (AMC)

No list of villains would be complete without Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) who leads his group of Saviors with terrifying charm and wit. And of course, his beloved barbed-wire bat Lucille, which he’ll use at the drop of a hat.

From beating lead characters to a shockingly bloody pulp, to shoving them into a blazing furnace, he simply dusts off his leather jacket and keeps on walking. Psychopath, anyone?

Officer Piscatella, Orange is the New Black (Netflix)

The team of prison guards at Litchfield has always had its taste of truly awful officers, including George “Pornstache” Mendez (Pablo Schreiber), who frequently provided drugs to the inmates in exchange for sexual favors. But none come close to Desi Piscatella (Brad William Henke), the strapping monster of a man who brought forth a wrath that completely broke the inmates’ spirit and turned the prison on its head.

Cold-hearted, he’s not against abusing, degrading, and even torturing inmates.

Vince Lonigan, Sneaky Pete (Amazon)

Walter White is Bryan Cranston’s most famous villainous role. But the actor plays a different kind of villain in this series – an ex-cop who runs an underground illegal gambling den in New York. There’s no question he’s the boss.

And despite his calm demeanor, he will not be crossed. With the help of his loyal associates, Vince is the main antagonist, working to take down Pete (Giovani Ribisi) in the first season of this series.

Dr. Hap, The OA (Netflix)

Convincing himself that his actions, which include kidnapping and drugging innocent people, are all for the good of science, he’s a truly cruel human being, and the scariest type of villain: One who doesn’t really think he is one.

Hopefully we’ll get to dig deeper into the motivations of Dr. Hunter Aloysius Percy (Jason Isaacs) once this mysterious series returns for a second season.

Hector Salamanca, Better Call Saul (AMC)

In Breaking Bad, Hector (Mark Margolis) is a disabled former drug lord, confined to a wheelchair and unable to move or speak. Better Call Saul provides a glimpse into the drug kingpin he once was – threatening, subtly intimidating, fiercely protective of the organization, and willing to stop at nothing to maintain control.

Eli Pope/Rowan, Scandal (ABC)

As protagonist Olivia’s (Kerry Washington) father and commanding officer for a clandestine CIA division called B-613, Eli (Joe Morton), also called Rowan, is about as heartless and ruthless as they come. Murder, torture, and carefully crafted manipulation are par for the course, and necessary evils to “get things done.” Is there any other way to live?

Every move he makes is calculated and without remorse. And while Eli shows slight glimmers of hope and love for his daughter, his life of tremendous power and secrecy has broken him beyond repair, and made him the worst kind of villain.

Aunt Lydia, The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)

For those who’ve been following the show, it’s no surprise The Handmaid’s Tale has not one, but two top-tier villains. You’d think in a society that treats women as property, those of the female persuasion would stand united.

But not in the case of the fierce and wincingly pious Aunt Lydia (Ann Dowd), who’s sole job is to indoctrinate the handmaids, keeping them in check by any means necessary.

She’s not shy with a taser, and she’s willing to literally take an eye out or worse, all under the apocalyptic guise of doing god’s will.

Lenny Busker, Legion (FX)

An ostensible friend of Legion lead character David Haller (Dan Stevens), Aubrey Plaza takes a dark turn as Lenny, who takes on several forms of a powerful mutant named Amahl Farouk/Shadow King that feeds on a hatred for humanity. Parks and Rec fans who have championed Plaza in her budding post-sitcom career will be blown away by her performance here, which is sure to open doors far beyond her somewhat standard indie-tough-girl roles.

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Octinion’s strawberry-picking bot is quick, nimble, and ready to replace humans

With everything from self-driving tractors to robots being able to monitor crops, it’s no secret that agriculture is currently in the middle of a high-tech revolution. Well, robots just added another farmyard job they can do better than us puny humans: Picking strawberries. The robot in question is designed and built by Belgian engineering company Octinion.

Using some smart machine vision algorithms and a 3D-printed hand, it’s able to work out when a particular strawberry is ripe for plucking, and then pick it off the forb (yep, we hadn’t heard that word either!) without causing any damage. “We have developed a fully autonomous strawberry picking robot,” CEO Tom Coen told Digital Trends. “It’s able to navigate autonomously with centimeter precision. Thanks to local beacons, no structural changes to a greenhouse are necessary.

Using our own 3D vision system, the robot can perfectly detect and localize ripe strawberries. Our patented soft touch gripper then picks strawberries without bruising, just like a human picker.”

While robots have been getting way better at the kind of fine-grain movements required to pick strawberries, Coen said the team still faced challenges developing their bot. One of the big ones was the risk of bruising the fruit, which they eventually solved using a “soft touch gripper that spreads the pressure evenly over the surface of the strawberry.”

Another challenge was figuring out whether the strawberries were ripe, which was achieved by training a dedicated AI system for the task, and also picking the strawberry without any of the attached greenery. This last challenge required turning the strawberry at an angle of 90 degrees, which required the creation of an entirely new robotic arm different to others on the market. “The robot currently picks at a speed of one strawberry every five seconds, which is close to a human picker,” Coen said.

But while humans may be able to beat the robot in terms of speed, the robot has the edge when it comes to not damaging the fruit, as well as being just as keen to pick at night (and on weekends and holidays) as during the day. “Most importantly, the robot picking cost is now competitive to the human picking cost,” Coen continued.

Next up, the robot will expand its skills to also cover sorting the fruit in both size and quality, picking conditionally depending on strawberry characteristics, predicting harvests and precision farming, and packaging the strawberries up ready for shipping.

“Our robots will be picking strawberries for pilot partners in 2018,” he said. “We expect that we will have about 100 robots in greenhouses worldwide in 2019.”

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AT&T-Time Warner in jeopardy as DoJ seeks to block deal

AT&T’s deal to buy Time Warner is in jeopardy.

Roberto Machado Noa/Getty

It looks like “Game of Thrones” and the “Justice League” may not be heading to AT&T after all. The Department of Justice will sue to block AT&T’s pending acquisition of Time Warner, the company behind movie studio Warner Bros, HBO and TV stations under Turner Broadcasting, which includes CNN, according to Bloomberg.

The Justice Department is able to block the deal, citing anti-trust concerns over AT&T accumulating too much power. But industry observers and some on Wall Street suspect President Donald Trump of influencing the move due to his distaste for CNN, which he has routinely called “fake news.” Earlier reports said the agency had asked AT&T to divest CNN, or potentially all of Turner Broadcasting, to complete the deal. The move is a blow to AT&T’s quest to transform itself from into an entertainment powerhouse, not only creating your favorite shows, but delivering them to you through your phone or home television.

The company acquired the largest satellite TV provider in DirecTV two years ago, and was looking to get into the Hollywood game with Time Warner. A dead deal could mean AT&T has to explore other potential acquisitions at a time when other entertainment and telecom companies are looking at their own combinations. It’s also a bit of history repeating itself: The Justice Department had also sued to block its acquisition of T-Mobile, terminating that deal.

But AT&T argues that the T-Mobile deal was different because it was trying to buy a competitor. Time Warner, it believes, isn’t in the same business, so there would be no overlap. “Today’s DoJ lawsuit is a radical and inexplicable departure from decades of antitrust precedent,” AT&T General Counsel David McAtee said in a statement. “We see no legitimate reason for our merger to be treated differently.”

Typically, the Justice Department stepping in would sound the death knell for a deal. But AT&T plans to fight this in court. “We are confident that the Court will reject the government’s claims and permit this merger under longstanding legal precedent,” McAtee said.

But critics argued the deal would give AT&T too much power, since much of the entertainment produced would go to competitors like Verizon and the cable providers. “While reports of political pressures regarding this deal are concerning, the fact remains that there are serious, legitimate reasons this merger should be blocked,” said Jonathan Schwantes, senior policy counsel for Consumers Union. “We are pleased the DOJ is moving forward with this suit in order to protect consumer interests.” AT&T and Time Warner plan to hold a conference call at 2:30 p.m.

PT to discuss the state of the merger.

The Justice Department wasn’t immediately available to comment on the report.

This story is developing.

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If your Pixel 2 phone buzzes, a fix is coming in 'weeks'

Back in October, Pixel 2 owners reported strange noises emanating from their phones, including clicking noises like a ticking clock and high-pitched sounds. Google acknowledged the problem affecting some devices, and promised a fix. Looks like it’s coming sooner rather than later.

A Google community manager identified as Orrin shared on Google’s Pixel user community forum that an update is very much in the works. He wrote:

We’re rolling out a software update in the coming weeks which eliminates a faint buzzing sound on some Pixel 2 devices when the phone is placed to your ear during a phone call.

“Coming weeks” is still completely nebulous, but it does suggest a time frame of December or January. The audio issues are part of a string of bad press befalling the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL.

Phone owners also complained of blue shift, which makes the screen appear blue when you’re looking at it from certain angles, and screen burn-in, a condition that makes “afterimages” permanently visible on the screen, even after you’ve moved on to view something else. This affected two of CNET’s Pixel 2 phones. Google has so far been able to address some of the flaws with software updates, but it’s too soon to say if the dogpile of bad press has dampened buyers’ enthusiasm for the “pure” Android devices, especially as Black Friday deals roll in.

Via Phonescoop

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