01 August 98 - 07 August 98
Highlights within this period includes:
  • SiN Virus
  • Socket 7 M/B Reviews
  • DirectX 6 SDK
  • DirectX 6 Beta Fix
  • IBM Won Deal
  • Intel StrongARM
  • HP Releases New Scanners
  • nVidia Won Patent Suits
  • IBM Pleaded Guilty
  • IBM Drive Fitness Test
  • Hardware One debuts on GGN
  • DirectX6 Core Here!!!
  • CPU Comparison Guide
  • ASUS CD-S400 40X IDE CDROM Drive Reviewed!
  • DirectX 6 Released!
  • Abit BH6 First Looks!
  • 3Dfx Banshee Previewed
  • IBM Makes Faster Processors
  • Thumbs Up for TNT
  • Another ABIT BH6 Review
  • nVidia's TNT PR
  • K6-2 Performance Guide
  • Diamond Announces Viper V550
  • Delay in 450NX Chipset
  • HyperSnap 3.20
  • Cyrix Jalapeno
  • Windows 98 "Enhancements" Soon
  • SBLive! Product Launch in Singapore!
7th August 1998 {Friday}
SBLive! Product Launch in Singapore!  7th August 19:24 pm

This is incredible. You want to know what the sound card industry's most awaited product launch was like? You've got to hear it straight from the horse's mouth (sorry Clarence!)! 6th August was the date. Creative Resource (International Business Park) was the place. SoundBlaster Live! was the baby!

I've can only reproduce a snippet here, please roll over to Clarence's article from here! It's a long but terribly wonderful read!!!! (Many thanks to Clarence for notifying me!) :

The bulk portion of the demonstration was focused on how well the SBLive! can enhance what you do. The SBLive! isn't limited to future applications. In the past, you had to wait eons after a launch of a hot new product (for example, the 3D graphics card) before applications begin to appear with support for the product.

This is what sets the SBLive! apart. It enhances what you have now, as well as give the software developers a very powerful sound platform, for them to develop even more realistic sound reproduction in future.

"Now" you ask? "But the software I have now doesn't support any form of 3D sound?"

That's where you're wrong! The card can take any input source, be it a movie on DVD, VHS or VCD, your voice, MIDI music, WAV audio and whatever you have, and put in in an environment. That's it, an environment. You can have the freedom to place an orchestra in a sewer pipe (with weird echo effects) or a real concert hall (with very nice reverbs).

And in future, you'll be seeing many more developers jumping onto the bandwagon to enhance the audio experience on the PC. Already more than 100 developers are interested to include support for Environmental Audio in their products. In fact, many developers have found it very easy to add surround code and information to their existing products using EAX, in a matter of a day or two!

I'm drooling at my keyboard as I typed these... sheesh. Am I going to have to junk my A3D card for this anytime soon?

I was the most impressed when a violinist came out, plugged his electric violin and played. It sounded normal and "dry", just like when you hear a violin being played beside you. But when they cranked up the Concert Hall effect I was TOTALLY knocked off my feet! Damn! The violin sounded so good, like it was played in a large concert hall with the revebration still ringing in my ears even after the last note ended. Very cool!

Windows 98 "Enhancements" Soon  7th August 19:07 pm

Sheesh! Are you excited? Yeah right! Windows 98 users will soon be able to enhance their only recently purchased OS with a couple of upgrades. Microsoft will be releasing an update on their Windows Update website on 18 August (or so claimed in their letter sent yesterday to beta users).

Here's what to expect in the update, the latest versions of the following:

  • Microsoft DirectX gaming technology.
  • Microsoft Media Player, with access to Windows Media Advanced Streaming Format, QuickTime, MIDI, RealAudio, and RealVideo content.
  • New Web fonts.
  • Microsoft Chat 2.5.
  • WebTV Guide, which supports the GemStar electronic programming guide.

It will no doubt also include patches to fix glitches that were discovered. Read NEWS.COM's full report.

Cyrix Jalapeno  7th August 18:53 pm

An exciting tit-bit on Cyrix's processor plan to beat Intel.

The company is planning to pop its next hot CPU core, code-named Jalapeno, just in time to catch Intel in mid-transition from the IA-32 to Merced.

"We are aiming Jalapeno at the 600-MHz Pentium-II performance level," said Cyrix vice president of engineering Mark Bluhm. "That will be much faster than any estimates we have seen of Merced speed on IA-32 code, and it should be competitive with Intel's IA-32 high end at the time."

The race is tough, Cyrix faces the seemingly insurmountable obstacle of toppling Intel. Even as fellow competitor and chip-maker, AMD, flashes a moment of ingenuity with their 3DNow! instructions, the advent of Intel's Katmai with KNI will no doubt solidify its strangle-hold.

While Cyrix has been working hard to produce first class chips that beat Intel's CPU even with lower clock rates, the market continues to hunger to higher Mhz rather than more efficient chip designs. Bigger and badder is what we ask for! Read the entire story here!

HyperSnap 3.20  7th August 14:44 pm

The latest version of HyperSnap 3.20 Pro can be downloaded from the Utilities section.

Delay in 450NX chipset  7th August 14:31 pm

Intel is delaying shipment of the next version of its 450NX Xeon chip set for servers until at least the beginning of 1999, company officials have confirmed.

The chip set, which can scale up to four processors on a server and can be configured with as much as 2MB of cache and 8GB of main memory, was originally expected by October.

Dell Computer Corp. and Compaq Computer Corp. last week began shipping servers with the 400MHz version of the 450NX, which can support between 512KB and 1MB of cache. Those servers had been delayed because of previously reported bugs in the chip set that Intel has since fixed.

Intel officials in Hillsboro, Ore., said no new bugs had been discovered in the 450NX but that they wanted more time to test the chip set in all possible configurations, to make sure there aren't any bugs still to be discovered.

"They want to make sure that the chip set can work with all the weird conditions that it can be exposed to," said Nathan Brookwood, an analyst at Dataquest Inc., in San Jose, Calif. "There are a ton of possible configurations, and they take forever to validate."

6th August 1998 {Thursday}
Diamond announces Viper 550  6th August 22:17 pm
Diamond Multimedia brings the ultimate in high-end graphics performance to your PC with the Viper V550 graphics accelerator. Unbelievable gaming in Turok at over 100 frames per second! Play Quake at an unbelievable 1600x1200! Experience full vibrant colors and breakneck graphics speed with 16MB memory! The Viper V550 provides double the performance in 3D WinbenchT 98 over previous RIVA products. Now available for preorder, with an estimated retail price of $199.95. Go to Diamond's V550 page!

K6-2 Performance Guide  6th August 22:14 pm

Tom's Hardware has released his K6-2 Performance Guide. It discusses the 66 vs 100Mhz bus speed, asynchronous memory, right clocking as well as overclocking issues.

Yes, from Tom's. The usual details and abundance of graphical charts for comparison. If you are considering to buy a new K6-2 to upgrade your system, this guide is definitely for you.

nVidia's TNT PR  6th August 21:53 pm

nVidia has boldly announced "nVidia's Riva TNT is the fastest 3D Processor in the World!" in their most recent press release. This came about after Computer Gaming World pitted the TNT against the Voodoo 2 in their in house tests.

SANTA CLARA, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Aug. 5, 1998--NVIDIA(R) Corporation announced today that its RIVA TNT (was rated) the highest performing 3D processor in the world, as measured by Computer Gaming World's 3D GameGauge performance index, an industry leading authority on PC gaming.

The RIVA TNT, which was tested at the offices of Computer Gaming World in San Francisco, achieved close to a 25% improvement in frame rates over the previous leading 3D graphics processor. This unprecedented score from the 3D GameGauge test was attained on an Intel Pentium II 400 MHz system owned by Computer Gaming World.

"We took a first look at RIVA TNT in our offices last week,'' said Dave Salvator, Technical Editor at Computer Gaming World, a Ziff-Davis publication. "This evaluation board and alpha software drivers outpaced a Voodoo2 board in all six tests in our 3D GameGauge methodology, and achieved the highest overall score of any 2D/3D chip we've seen to date. This fall, RIVA TNT is definitely one to watch''

"This first look from Computer Gaming World marks a significant milestone as we deliver on the promise of outstanding visual quality and unprecedented performance of the RIVA TNT architecture,'' said Jen-Hsun Huang, president and CEO at NVIDIA. "We will continue to invest in the RIVA TNT to deliver even higher performance in the future for both gaming and business.''

The first official review of the RIVA TNT reference board and other 3D GameGauge reviews can be viewed on Computer Gaming World's website at http://www.computergaming.com.

5th August 1998 {Wednesday}
Another ABIT BH6 Review  5th August 20:18 pm

Before we know it, Anand surprises with his review on the newly arrived Abit BH6 motherboard (Yes! That exciting performer with 5 PCI slots!). It's a really thorough review, a trademark of Anand's. Read about his success with the 124mhz FSB (Overclockers rejoice!):

In the tests AnandTech ran, both stability and performance when using the 124MHz FSB were great enough to make the 124MHz a more viable and intelligent overclocking option in comparison to the 133MHz FSB.   Provided your SDRAM will work at the 112MHz FSB, chances are it will work at the 124MHz (no guarantees though, you get what you pay for with SDRAM), and most AGP cards won't have too much trouble coping with the increased clock frequency.   The Millennium G200 used in the performance tests didn't hiccup once while the 124MHz FSB was used, however it wouldn't work at all when using the 133MHz FSB in 3D applications.

Thumbs Up for TNT  5th August 19:30 pm

Gamespot has posted their preview on the TNT board today and rated it favourably even against the Voodoo 2. I've creamed the exciting stuff below for you. (Or would you rather read the full story?):

CGW looked at the TNT running on pretty solid beta drivers, and we were very impressed with what we saw. We stacked up a 16MB SGRAM TNT board against a shipping 12MB Voodoo2 board, Diamond's Monster3D II. Looking at the 3D GameGauge results table below, you see that TNT outpaced Voodoo2 on six of six tests and finished well ahead in the overall score. This is no small feat, but the crew at nVidia isn't content to beat one Voodoo2 board; it wants to beat two. After some driver tuning, the company might actually pull it off. As for image quality, gone was any of the polygon cracking that showed up in the original RIVA 128, and overall quality was very sharp, with good filtering and no visible dithering. RIVA TNT will ship with an OpenGL ICD ready to rumble out of the box, so Quake II and titles using its engine should zing on TNT as well.

Some dazzling numbers vs the Voodoo 2:

nVidia RIVA TNT (DX6) vs. Diamond Monster3D II (DX6)

F22 ADF: 45.3 / 44.4
Forsaken: 139 / 101.1
Incoming: 79.8 / 59.2
Turok: 77.3 / 55.4
Quake: 77.9 / 72.3
Quake II: 61.4 / 58.7
GameGauge Score: 480.7 / 391.1

Testing system: Dell PII 400, Intel 440BX, 64 MB SDRAM, and EIDE storage components. Test resolution: 800x600x16.

IBM makes Faster Processors  5th August 07:04 am

IBM, seeking to speed up computers and let mobile phone batteries last longer, announced today it has perfected a way of making microprocessor chips that can boost their performance by more than a third.

The computer giant, based in Somers, N.Y., said today the process allows it to make chips with a special insulation layer between each transistor and the chips' silicon base, reducing electrical interference that saps energy and performance.

While other companies also have been working on the so-called "silicon-on-insulator" technology, IBM said it would be the first to commercially introduce it.

Using the new technology, a computer microprocessor designed to run at 400 megahertz could run at more than 500 MHz.

IBM also said the new chips would use one-third less electricity than today's microprocessors, extending battery life for portable devices such as cellular phones and hand-held computers.

4th August 1998 {Tuesday}
3Dfx Banshee Previewed  4th August 23:42 pm

GameCenter.COM has previewed 3Dfx's upcoming Banshee 2D/3D combo and posted some shocking benchmark numbers.

Here's a short blurp on the card:
Voodoo Banshee integrates a complete 2D engine, including VGA compatibility and Windows acceleration at resolutions up to 1,920 by 1,440 in true-color mode (24- or 32-bit), with Voodoo 2's 3D core; that is, a Voodoo 2 with only one texture processing unit. The 3D-only Voodoo 2 is available only in a configuration with two texture units, enabling single-pass multitexturing in games like Quake II. By integrating only one texture processor into Banshee, 3Dfx hopes to differentiate the more expensive Voodoo 2 as the performance leader.

From the numbers below, we can clearly see that the Banshee is no loser in 3D gaming, with the exception of Quake II which is able to utilise the second TMU found on the Voodoo 2.

Performance Chart (in fps)

  Voodoo Banshee
Monster 3D II
(PCI; Voodoo 2)
Monster 3D II
(PCI; Voodoo 2)
640 by 480
81.73 78.65 82.27
640 by 480
176.53 147.81 202.03
800 by 600
126.54 94.91 173.74
Turok (Glide)
640 by 480
115.4 95.2 159.7
Turok (Direct3D)
640 by 480
96.6 91.5 116.4
Turok (Direct3D)
800 by 600
71.1 62.9 104.4
Quake II
640 by 480
57.7 86.5 95.6
Quake II
800 by 600
38.8 61.5 91.3
Quake II
1,024 by 768
24.7 N/A 73.5

Just as Banshee performs like a Voodoo 2 card, its image quality is also like that of a Voodoo 2. Games look great, but overall there is a slight overfiltered look to things. It is worth noting, however, that because almost all 3D game development over the past year has been done on Voodoo cards, games running with Voodoo Banshee are likely to look just as the developer intended.

Abit BH6 First Looks  4th August 20:46 pm

Andy Drake has scored with another first hand review on the Abit BH6 motherboard. While this is a preliminary test which he posted, it has lots of delicious details on this brand new mobo. As what we would associate Abit with, you'll find a painless, jumperless mobo coupled with Abit's highly popular SoftMenu II CPU configuration utility.

The BH6 features 5 PCI (1 shared) and 2 ISA (you heard right! 5 PCI!!!!! Wah!) slots. Aside from supporting all the basic bus speeds of 66 / 68 / 75 / 83 / 100 / 103 / 112 / 133, it supports an unofficial speed of 124. This may be helpful in overclocking. (Read last Friday's post).

Another interesting thing I noted was that the BH6 consistently outperformed the BX6 in most tests. Read it here.

DirectX 6 released!  4th August 19:48 pm

What do you know? DirectX 6 is available directly from Hardware One. No, this is not the core version, but the whole thing. Apparently, Microsoft has not updated their page at www.microsoft.com/directx (no link to the download). To download from Microsoft directly, this is the URL.

One point to note that this update is for Win95 users only.Win98 users need to use the 'Windows Update' in order to patch on top of DirectX 5.

3rd August 1998 {Monday}
ASUS CD-S400 40X IDE CDROM Drive Reviewed!  3rd August 20:03 pm

Hardware One gives you the exclusive review on the ASUS CD-S400 40X IDE CDROM drive. Find out how this hot baby edged out its award winning sibling - the ASUS CD-S340.

We've got everything down at our Exclusive Reviews! section. Read it.

CPU Comparison Guide  3rd August 18:57 pm

Still don't know which CPU to get? Yap, with Intel's recent price cut... it only brings more competition with AMD and Cyrix's chips. So since all the prices are so attractive, what will you get? That hot gaming K6-2 or Pentium II? Or maybe a Cyrix M-II?

Anand coughed out this fairly comprehensive guide and even some fancifully detailed graphs that will clearly show you which chips are for you. Check this out.

2nd August 1998 {Sunday}
Hardware One debuts on GGN  2nd August 10:57 am

GotGames Network (GGN) is a new US based games network to host some 45 new sites. We are proud to announce that Hardware One will operate a mirror site on their network as of today.

Visitors from US can now visit us at http://hardwareone.gotgames.com! We thank everyone of you for your continued support.

DirectX6 Core HERE!!!!  2nd August 09:50 am

Yes! You've been waiting for this. You've been searching high and low for this. It's not the beta, it got rid of my nagging expiry dialog. I've got it up and running personally, thanks to the guys at System Information Website for the file. Grab dx6core.exe!

1st August 1998 {Saturday}
IBM Drive Fitness Test  1st August 23:22 pm

Here's another piece of news on IBM.  IBM announced a new technology called Drive Fitness Test (DFT) that lets users easily and quickly test the health of their IBM desktop PC and notebook hard disk drives.

DFT can reduce this unnecessary inconvenience of returning a healthy drive. It can be invoked even if the PC's system software is not working properly.

Here's how DFT works: When a customer suspects a system problem may be related to the hard drive -- for example, if the computer's operating system does not boot properly -- the user calls the system manufacturer's technical support telephone hotline for assistance.

Before DFT, the limited diagnostics that could be performed over the phone frequently and often falsely identified the hard drive as the culprit.

With DFT, the support person over the telephone can guide the customer to easily check on the health of the hard drive. With DFT this can take less than two minutes.

The user will see one of four possible messages on the computer screen when using DFT. Under normal circumstances, the fourth message is the one that users will see:

  1. The hard drive is defective.
  2. The hard drive will fail.
  3. The hard drive is damaged by shock.
  4. The hard drive is not defective.

IBM Pleaded Guilty  1st August 20:02 pm

Another piece of gossip news. A subsidiary of IBM Corp. pleaded guilty today to 17 federal charges that it shipped computers to a Russian nuclear weapons laboratory. The company agreed to pay $8.5 million in fines.

IBM East Europe/Asia Ltd., the Russian subsidiary of IBM, admitted in U.S. District Court in Washington that it sold and exported $1.5 million worth of computers in late 1996 and early 1997 to Arzamas-16, which federal prosecutors described as a nuclear weapons lab.

Federal officials said the company knew the computers would be used "directly or indirectly" in research, design and testing of nuclear explosives.

The Commerce Department had previously denied the company's request to approve the sale, citing U.S. policies to stem the spread of nuclear weapons.

nVidia won Patent Suits  1st August 19:58 pm

nVidia company has been the target of two patent-infringement lawsuits. Silicon Graphics (SGI) and S3 Inc. (SIII) both sued, charging that the design of Nvidia's Riva family of processors infringes upon their own patents on 3D processor design. Today a preliminary injunction in the S3 case was thrown out.

A US District Court judge denied S3's motion for a preliminary injunction to stop Nvidia's shipment of its RIVA 128 3D processor. The judge said S3 failed to prove that the chip infringed on S3's patent. S3 had made the motion as part of its filing against Nvidia in May.

In a pending case, SGI alleges that Nvidia infringed on patents covering SGI's high-speed 3D texture mapping. Nvidia denies that charge, too, suggesting that SGI's action was motivated by the fact that 10 former SGI employees defected to Nvidia.

The S3 patents in question are part of a group of 3D technology patents that S3 acquired from Cirrus Logic for US$40 million in February.

HP Releases new Scanners  1st August 19:50 pm

HP will roll out three additions to its ScanJet line of scanners.

The HP ScanJet 4100C, 6200C and 6250C for the small-office/home-office market are equipped with USB (Universal Serial Bus) connectivity and HP's Intelligent Scanning Technology.

The ScanJet 4100C for home users is priced at US$199. It is slated to ship this fall. The ScanJet 6200C and 6250C for small businesses ship with USB and SCSI ports and a 35mm slide adapter. They can be networked using HP's PrecisionScan LAN software. The 6250C includes a 25-page automatic document feeder.

Intel StrongARM  1st August 19:47 pm

Intel Corporation outlined its plans to use products based on the low-power, high-performance StrongARM microprocessor architecture to extend its market segmentation strategy. The StrongARM product line was recently acquired by Intel from Digital Equipment Corporation.

"We view StrongARM as an integral part of our strategy to grow our business in new and emerging market segments," said Ron Smith, vice president and general manager of Intel’s Computing Enhancement Group. "The StrongARM architecture is a complementary extension to our existing microprocessor product lines."

Intel will focus the StrongARM product line into markets that benefit significantly from the combination of low power and high performance. Key segments include PC companions, smart mobile phones, and mobile point-of-sale devices, as well as digital TV set top products and Web-enabled desktop screen phones. The StrongARM product line will also target embedded control segments such as soft modem banks, high-performance storage and RAID, adapter cards, and switches and routers.

IBM won Deal  1st August 19:41 pm

IBM's Global Services division won $9.5 million in outsourcing contracts to provide eight Singapore public-sector organizations with information systems support and administration.

The contracts were awarded under a National Computer Board (NCB) project, the Enterprise ProActive Support Environment (EASE). The plan, launched earlier this year, aims to streamline public-sector computing.

The eight organizations -- which include the ministries of Education and Communication and the Singapore Broadcasting Authority -- have a total of 5,200 users. Under the contracts, IBM will provide help desk services, performance and fault management, asset management, automated software distribution and professional support services. Singapore's public sector is the country's largest spender on information technology products and services. Among its projects is a plan to put computers in all schools.

DirectX6 Beta fix  1st August 13:20 pm

This was taken from AGN3D - For those of you running the beta version of DX6, you may notice an annoying little nag screen saying that your version has expired. Here is a temporary fix for it:

You should have already had your first "DirectDraw beta has Expired" dialogue by now. Microsoft obviously knew that they were on schedule and set all beta builds of DirectX6 to expire on 7/30/98 at midnight (or earlier in some cases).

This dialogue popup comes whenever you try to access a program that uses DirectX, such as games and applications. A simple fix for this is to set your date back a day or two by double clicking the time in the taskbar. Now DirectX doesn't think its time to expire and allows you to continue uninterrupted. Remember to correct the date after you install the final!

DirectX6 SDK  1st August 13:15 pm

The DirectX6 SDK is finally out from Microsoft. While for end users out there, you need to wait till next week or so.

After months of hard work, the wait is nearly over! This morning, Team Direct signed off on the latest version of the DirectX software development kit -- DirectX 6.0. With dozens of new features (single-pass multitexturing, bump mapping, texture compression, stencil buffers, and much, much more), performance improvements (in Direct3D, DirectDraw and DirectSound), and enhancements to overall stability, we think you're going to love what you find.

It's going to take a few days for DirectX 6 to go through our distribution channel and become available. And before you ask -- no, we can't send just you a copy of the code. We're still waiting for it to make its way here. Keep checking this Web page: we promise we'll let you know as soon as it's arrived. In the meantime, you can order the DirectX 6.0 SDK on CD-ROM. We'll send you a disk as soon as they're in stock.

Socket 7 Motherboards review  1st August 07:03 am

Tom's did an exclusive roundup on 11 Socket 7 motherboards.

At the moment the only two officially 100 MHz capable chipsets are the ALi Aladdin V and VIA's Apollo MVP3. To ensure a stable 100 MHz operation, 5 ns 2nd level cache chips are required which still are more expensive than the 6 or 7 ns types. Therefore some manufacturers use selected 6 ns chips. But be careful: The system won't have any tolerances in case you plan to overclock it!

SiN virus  1st August 07:01 am

There have been numerous reports a virus has been infecting users who have downloaded a demo version of Activision's upcoming game SiN. However, it appears the virus wasn't hatched at Activision or Ritual Studios, and instead sprang to life from other sources.

The virus in question--CIH--infects 32-bit Windows 95/NT executables (files with an .EXE extension) and can erase or corrupt the ROM BIOS of the computer. Once it resides in resident memory, W95.CIH then infects new files when they are opened (run or copied). Some variants of the virus activate on April 26th or June 26th, while other variants will activate on the 26th of every month. It will also attempt to modify or corrupt certain types of Flash BIOS.

The SiN demoes saddled with the virus have all been reported as being downloaded from "non-official" sites. Activision has tested their main site and primary demo sites and have found no infected files. Still, there are a couple of theories as to how this particular demo was infected. It's possible someone operating a mirror site downloaded the Sin demo, unzipped it, infected it, zipped it back up again and put it back on the site, but at press time, no mirror sites have discovered the virus. A more probable explanation is that the affected users were infected by other Internet downloaded material but attributed the virus to SiN, the most recent file downloaded.

In any case, Activision is making a concerted effort to notify all mirror sites and is telling them to pull the demo and check it for the virus. Best bet? Use caution when downloading the SiN demo from any sites other than the Activision and Ritual sites.

[Beam me to the latest news archive!]

Copyright 1998 Hardware One
Last updated 28 September 1998 00:06