22 August 98 - 28 August 98
Highlights within this period includes:
  • What happened to PowerVRSG?
  • MSNBC on S-One
  • Microsoft SideWinder 3.02
  • New Celeron Processors on Monday
  • Norton SystemWorks
  • Anandtech's SoundBlaster Live! Review
  • AOpen AX59ProMobile Pentium II 300Mhz
  • Another Great BH6 Review
  • 3DAI's SoundBlaster Live! Review
  • Celeron 333a and Socket 470
  • Cast Your Votes!
  • Voodoo 2 Overclocking Guide
  • IA-64 Part II
  • Bug in Word 97
  • Singapore pass Y2K Test
  • Overclocking Your 3D Accelerator Part II
  • STB Velocity V4400 Review...
  • How Overclockable Is The PII 450Mhz?
  • Kenwood TrueX CD-ROM
  • UnrealSE with SBLive! Environment Setting
  • Tyan Thunder 100
  • Asus P2A
  • Number Nine's 32Mb Card
  • 3DSoundSurge's Live! Report
  • HP's New CD-RW
  • Celeron Mendocino
  • Diamond's Banshee
  • V550 Reviewed!
  • Diamond MX300!!!
  • Trespasser Preview
  • AMD K6-2 350Mhz
  • Bug In Microsoft Access
  • Integrated 3D Graphics
  • New Viper V330 Drivers
  • Secret Ops
  • Mendocino
  • Microsoft planned for Bug to Undermine Competitor?
  • Canopus Unveils TNT
  • Scorching Hot News About SBLive!
28th August 1998 {Friday}
Scorching Hot News About SBLive! 28th August 21:20 pm

The email from Frank just popped in and I just went "WOW! WOW! WOW! WOW!" and here it is, direct from 3DSoundSurge.

Creative has said that the EMU10K1 on the SBLive! has the power to decode AC-3 and they are working on it currently. What's the other great thing??!!!! We'll be able to use our present 4 speakers or purchase a 'proposed' break-out-box for the Digital DIN connector.

With nearly 1/2 of the EMU10K1's processing powess still unharnessed, Creative hints at bringing us 16 3D sound streams and even upping the 48kHz sampling rate!

Please sniff out the other damn hot bits from within this mail.

Hot from the UK launch of the SB Live! I've got some very interesting news for you all.  These questions were posed to all the right people, including Franco de Bonis (European brand manager for MM kits) and Jan Hauer (European brand manager for audio).  So here we go.

1) The UK official RRP is £149 inc VAT
2) The 'official' launch date is Sep 1st, but stock is VERY limited

Right, now onto the 3dss exclusives.   Dolby Digital/AC-3.  The Live! DOES have the power to decode AC-3 in the chip - Creative are working on it at the moment.  In this case, you can either use your four speakers OR buy the proposed 'break-out box' for the Digital DIN connector, that will give you a set of Analogue line out's that you can do with as you wish.  This break out box is PROPOSED.  For definite will be the Desktop Theatre system, which we all know about.  Desktop Theatre will do Dolby Prologic as well as AC-3.  No other surround options are being considered at this time, but Creative constantly stress the power of the 10K1.  Apparently, nearly 1/2 of the power is unharnessed.  Future driver updates (I am assured) WILL bring new functionality.  

8 3D sound streams.  Creative AGAIN say the Live! can handle 16 - it's just *they* don't see a need for 16 at the moment.   This is a point moot - but it's a case of public demand - future driver updates and all that jazz.  Public demand is all important.   \

With regards to the rumours of the Live! Pro that have been circulating, this was a planned product, to fit somewhere between the Live! and the EMU APS.  However, Creative did not see a market for it, and dropped it.  There is *another* version of the SB Live! in the works - a 'Value' version.   Creative have no plans to bring out a 'Gold' version of the card.  

The SP/DIF output is NOT locked to 48Khz in hardware, Jan Hauer assures me.  This can be changed.

The 'Volume Control' connector on the card is currently under consideration i.e. Creative have got bigger fish to fry at the moment.  

A 'Soundworks' version of the '4-point surround' is currently being played around with.  Franco de Bonis says the reason they went with PC Works for the 4-point was purely one of cost.  They even have an internal only 'Movieworks', with 4 big speakers, a nice centre channel and a whopping great sub.  This is currently an internal product only and is probably one of the many Live! internal prototypes that won't make it to the market.  Franco says it wouldn't be cheap.  

Right, those are my notes.  I've got the ear of a few people at Creative Europe now, and my Live! card should be here sometime in September.  Rest assured, 3DSS will keep on the case for future software upgrades for the Live!

Wow! It's really hot man! And I just can't stop smiling. AC-3 decoding? 16 3D Soundstreams? SoundWorks FourPointSurround? Greater than 48kHz sampling rates?

Canopus Unveils TNT 28th August 21:02 pm

AGN3D has got this interesting feed on the Canopus TNT card, officially known as the Canopus Spectra 2500. It'll come with 16Mb of RAM and will expect to retail at US$199. Here's some nice things AGN3D has said about this card:

From what I have heard it looks like the Canopus SPECTRA 2500 is going to be one of the most feature rich TNT cards on the market. And for a change they are going to ship the card at the same time as their competitors. With a competitive price, impressive feature list and the Canopus name, the SPECTRA 2500 is sure to be a winner!

As we've been accustomed to Canopus improving the nVidia reference design, we won't be disappointed with the Spectra this time either. It'll come with the reverse pass-through design similar to the Witch Doctor's, and a TV-Out connector. In addition to these, Canopus will pop in a chip fan (like the Pure3D II).

Microsoft Planned for Bug to Undermine Competitor? 28th August 20:50 pm

In the latest spate of anti-trust suits against the Redmond giant, some (new?) facts have surfaced. This info from NEWS.COM might proof to be an interesting read. (Full Article)

NEW YORK--In 1991, when a competitor threatened to break Microsoft's lock on desktop software, Microsoft engineers discussed an unusual counterattack: a software bug to be hidden inside an early version of Microsoft Windows, according to reports.

In a September 30, 1991, message about the plan that referred to members of his team in the shorthand of electronic mail, David Cole, head of Windows development, told another executive that "aaronr had some pretty wild ideas after three or so beers--earleh has some too." If the bug detected a rival's program, he further wrote, it would "put competitors on a treadmill" and "should surely crash at some point shortly later."

Cole also warned that the existence of the bug had to be kept secret, The Wall Street Journal reported today.

Cool huh? I am wondering if I can insert a bug to crash my sister's mIRC chat and ICQ... so she can't hog my PC and I can play Unreal? Hmmm... let's hear what Microsoft has to say:

Microsoft concedes the authenticity of Cole's email, but its lawyers deny Caldera's antitrust allegation and have asked that the lawsuit be dismissed, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Mendocino 28th August 20:15 pm

CPUMadness has put up an article on the Intel Celeron A, Mendocino. They've attempted to evaluate the reasons for the phenomenal performance coming from this low budget chip. (Read the Full Review)

The Mendocino (Celeron A) managed to perform on par with the Pentium II (a few tenths Win98 Business Winmarks slower for Celeron A's at spec'ed speed) than an equivalent Pentium II. As a matter of fact, when running a Celeron A at 100mhz bus, it performed FASTER than an equivalent Pentium II. I won't even mention that the Celeron A Tom's Hardware tested managed to overclock to 4.5x100 = 450mhz!!

With this kind of performance at such low price, its value is unparalleled!

Secret Ops 28th August 01:24 am

This is what you have been waiting for. Wing Commander Secret Operations is finally out. This game weighs over 118 MB and you will wish you have a cable or ADSL connection to get this game.

56 pulse-pounding single player missions, divided into several downloadable episodes. Exciting new in-flight cockpit comms will keep the story alive as you fight through each mission.

Those Singapore high bandwith users can get a copy at Fun.

New Viper V330 Drivers 28th August 00:14 am

These are the links to the latest Riva 128 drivers for the Diamond Viper V330 card. You still can't find them off Diamond's website, but it's there on the FTP already. So here goes:

Just downloaded it myself and haven't had the time to try it out yet. Can somebody tell me what it does?

27th August 1998 {Thursday}

Integrated 3D Graphics 27th August 18:42 pm

Integrating 3-D graphics engines into Pentium II-class core logic chips is rapidly becoming a trend, promising to further lower costs of entry-level PCs.

Silicon Integrated Systems (SIS), a Hsinchu, Taiwan-based core logic supplier, is on its way to becoming the first vendor to ship the devices. The company on Tuesday announced that it will start sampling the SiS620 next month, with volume production scheduled to start in October.

Via Technologies earlier this month became the first vendor to officially announce a similar chip set, but said that it expects to start mass production of the MVP4 late this year.

Market leader Intel, meanwhile, has promised to introduce its first core logic chip set featuring integrated 3-D graphics next year. Code named Whitney, the chip set is expected to ship in next year's first half.

SIS said that the SiS620, which supports system bus speeds as fast as 100 MHz, will also feature a proprietary architecture called Super AGPTM that allows for data transfer rates of 800MBps using a dual 64-bit data path.

Bug in Microsoft Access 27th August 18:35 pm

A flaw in three versions of Microsoft's Access database causes changes on an Access database record to be saved on another, and can leave users unaware that their records have been corrupted, the software maker confirmed Tuesday.

The bug strikes when, in a long form with dozens of records, a user deletes a record set that appears early on in the list, then makes changes to a subsequent record and saves that change. The flaw occurs when users view Access via its Form View, then use the "Combo Box" feature to edit the second record.

Essentially, under those conditions, Access does not recognize that the first record was deleted, so the rest of the data is corrupted.

Microsoft testers confirmed the bug in Access 97, Access 95, and Access 2.0. On Tuesday, Microsoft said it could not replicate the bug in the two older versions, but the company confirmed them on Wednesday.

AMD K6-2 350 MHz 27th August 18:32 pm

Advanced Micro Devices will ratchet the speed of its K6-2 microprocessors up another notch today with a version running at 350 MHz, a company representative said on Wednesday.

AMD will position the chip as a viable competitor to Intel's Pentium II processors in the market for performance desktop PCs, spokesman Scott Allen said.

The chip includes AMD's graphics-enhancing 3DNow technology, which will make the K6-2 an attractive processor for users running 3-D applications including video games, said Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst at Dataquest, in San Jose, Calif.

The chip also includes a 100-MHz front-side bus -- a performance-boosting feature that increases the speed at which the processor communicates with the rest of the system -- up from the 66-MHz front-side bus in AMD's 333-MHz chip. The increased bus speed alone should improve overall system performance about 15 percent over the 333-MHz version.

26th August 1998 {Wednesday}
Trespasser Preview 26th August 22:07 pm

OGR has posted the Part 2 of their Trespasser Preview (I haven't read the first part... but reading Part 2 already made me want to get this game!). Trespasser promises to be a unique game and a visual gem. It is an action game packed with beautifully rendered graphics, brilliant real world physics, and challenging puzzles.

This all sounds great to me because I think every game looks damn good these days and what the industry needs are some fresh ideas to spice things up a little. Trespasser seems to have it all. Take a look at a cut from an amazed author:

tressa.jpg (8517 bytes) trespb.jpg (8514 bytes)
trespc.jpg (8872 bytes) trespd.jpg (8662 bytes)
Figures illustrating his example.

Speaking of physics, I must share with you a "moment" I witnessed. Before I share that moment, let me explain exactly what a "moment" is. It's that rare time in a game when something happens that is so special, so unplanned, that it leaves you sitting in front of the monitor either speechless with joy or shouting some overused exclamation like, "Now THAT was rad!"...

... Case in point: I walking up to a construction area where a crane and a few trailers are sitting on bricks around a cleared area. I move into one of the trailers and start snooping around when suddenly the trailer starts leaning to one side. Before I know it, the trailer is rolling over, sending all interior objects flying. When I finally make it outside the trailer I'm greeted by a rather irate T-Rex that is gazing at me as if I just morphed into a cartoon chicken leg. I do what any reasonable individual would do in a situation such as this, i.e., run. The T-Rex tosses trailers to the side as if they're made out of balsa wood., creating a visual reality that just leaves you stunned, especially with the trailer continuing to roll and lumber down a steep hill while a T-Rex screams come from behind.

Diamond MX300!!!!!! 26th August 21:18 pm

You may be wondering what's the exclamation about?!! Well, the observant you would probably have noticed the streak of Diamond products that I've mentioned today (nope! I wasn't paid ok?!!). Hmm... sheer coincidence?

Let's get back to the MX300. The press release is too long for reproduction, but the important snips are here. It's a deafening roar of might.

"...Diamond’s PCI-based Monster Sound MX300 is the first retail audio card powered by Aureal’s highly-regarded Vortex 2 audio processor with A3D 2.0 interactive positional 3D sound technology. Diamond’s new audio accelerator takes full advantage of the rich 3D audio environments embedded in the latest PC entertainment titles, including audio reflections, occlusions, reverb and doppler shifts. With full acceleration for software developed to Microsoft’s DirectX 5/6 application program interface (API), Diamond’s new sound card supports up to 96 simultaneous DirectSound audio streams and as many as 16 streams for positional 3D audio supported in hardware providing improved overall gaming performance.

Diamond’s Monster Sound MX300 provides full Dolby Digital support, professional-quality

320-voice wavetable synthesis and audio playback through headphones, two or four speakers; enabling PC gamers to enhance their gaming or DVD experience with a theater-style speaker setup. In addition, Diamond’s new sound card is compatible with games developed using DirectSound, DirectSound 3D and derivatives as well as Sound Blaster“ Pro compatibility for PC titles that require real-mode DOS support."

"Diamond's Monster Sound MX300 is the first branded audio accelerator to feature both Dolby Digital (AC-3) support and soft-DVD acceleration, bringing PC consumers a full entertainment package in one integrated audio sub-system. Dolby Digital support allows computer users to enjoy DVD titles with audio playback virtualizing a 5.1 home theater speaker set-up with two or four speakers. Computer users will also be able to immerse themselves in PC games when playing titles supporting A3D and DirectSound 3D positional audio.

The Monster Sound MX300 features Diamond’s own MX-LINK upgrade, allowing PC consumers to easily extend their audio experience with additional speakers as well as digital input and output, such as S/PDIF."

"The A3D 2.0 algorithm supported by the Monster Sound MX300 enables PC games to come alive with multi-dimensional sound cues and environmental effects from above, below, behind, in front or from either side of the gamer. Specialized Aureal Wavetracing‘ 3D capability renders audio streams to the exact acoustics of a room or environment in real-time, so an enemy’s gun blast inside an enclosed room sounds different than a shot fired from two rooms away or in an open battle field. In addition, sound waves sound like they actually reflect off the walls or environmental surfaces in each game scene, whether it’s comprised of wood, glass, carpet or even under water, the way they would sound in real-life. The result is a more realistic 3D audio environment."

Yap. Even when compared to Creative's Live! card, the specs are really really really awesome.

V550 Reviewed 26th August 21:03 pm

FastGraphics has reviewed the Diamond Viper V550 and came out with a head to head comparison to the MGA G200, S3's Savage3D and the Voodoo 2. I'll save the trouble of elaborating because we already know that the TNT rocks, the TNT has fantastic image quality, etc etc... take a look at the snippet: (Read their Review!)

Almost all Riva TNT cards will sell for about $ 200, as will this one. Considering that you get the fastest 2D/3D card available with 16 Meg of Ram, this is very good value for money. Also, people with non-AGP systems are able to upgrade to a next generation card, since this card will also be available in PCI version. Looking at the competition we see that the Hercules Terminator Beast will retail for about $ 119, while the MGA G200 cards ship for about $ 149.... So this card is a bit more expensive, but also quite a bit faster than the other two, and it has more RAM.... Personally I think that this is the ultimate upgrade if you do not yet have a Voodoo II... If you already have a Voodoo II and you're looking for even better FPS's, buy yourself a second Voodoo II, since SLI still rules. For now, nVidia holds the crown when it comes to pure 3D speed from a single board, so for now it's not an add-on board that in the lead.

Diamond's Banshee 26th August 19:56 pm

Sharky Extreme has done this exclusive sneek preview on Diamond's Banshee. Though Sharky's were restricted by a NDA, they still managed to give us a pretty cool picture of what to expect of the Banshee.

Keeping in mind that this a a pre-production board with beta drivers, and the Banshee was armed with 16Mb of XXXXX RAM (under NDA) running at default clock speed, we would expect performance to be somewhat fine tuned. Diamond has revealed that the memory could be reliably overclocked, so we'll wait and see here...

Having only 1 TMU (instead of having 2 like the Voodoo2), the Banshee is somewhat slower than a single Voodoo 2 board at playing Quake II. What is admirable was that the pre-production Banshee ran the Quake II Timedemos at about 28 fps using 1024 X 768 (something a single V2 could never dream of).

As for D3D games, Sharky has found that his Banshee was still a tat slower then a single V2 at 640 X 480 resolution. However, the Banshee catches up and beats the V2 at 800 X 600... and finally leaves it in the dust at 1024 X 768. (Sharky has expressed some concerns that his benchmark result was very different from Tom's Hardware, in which Tom's Banshee trashed even a SLI Voodoo2 setup!!)

My say: For gamers who can't play first person shooters like Quake II or Unreal because you will get migraine and puke for nights after a shooting streak, the Banshee would probably be able to satisfy your every other gaming needs.

Look at it this way, the Banshee comes with 16Mb of video memory, has great 2D and exceptional 3D (in most situations); also, other than D3D support (which is quite a standard issue these days), support for GLIDE would mean that you won't be missing out all the games that has been/or will be written for this API. Another added bonus is that the Banshee will be aimed at the sub US$100 market segment and thus will be very affordable.

So what do we have here? A winner for the masses!

Celeron Mendocino 26th August 07:07 am

TomsHardware had done an article on the latest Celeron based on the Mendocino core.

The new Celeron is indeed a whole lot different to its predecessor. The Celeron 300 A and the Celeron 333 comes now with an internal on-die 2nd level cache of 128 kB, which is even running at CPU clock frequency and thus faster than the 2nd level cache of a Pentium II running at only half the CPU clock frequency. This accelerates the new Celerons to a speed that’s virtually identical to the speed of Pentium II CPUs at the same clock speed

Office applications, 3D games and even 3D rendering programs do hardly make any difference between 512 kB 2nd level cache running at half the CPU clock or 128 kB 2nd level cache running at CPU clock. There may be some software that takes particular advantage of the larger L2 cache of the Pentium II but at the same time there may be software that takes advantage of the faster L2 cache of the new Celerons.

HP's New CD-RW 26th August 07:03 am

Hewlett-Packard today announced a new line of rewritable CD (CD-RW) drives, capable of reading and recording data twice as fast as previous models.

The new line highlights the advances in recordable CD technology since last September, when HP introduced its first 'multi-read' CD-RW drive. The drives announced today are much faster, can format discs in minutes instead of hours, and are hundreds of dollars less in price.

The new multi-read HP CD-Writer Plus 8100 series reads and records CD-R discs, which are write-once, and CD-RW discs, which can record and erase data up to 1000 times. The 8100 series writes to CD-R discs at 4x speeds and reads at 24x, roughly twice as fast as the previous HP CD-Writer Plus, the 7200 series. The new drive reads CD-RW discs at 8x and writes to them at 2x speeds.

In the past, it took an hour to 75 minutes to format a CD," said the HP spokesperson. "HP fast format allows for formatting in around 5 minutes, which no other drive can do. It's big news for CD-RW technology." 

25th August 1998 {Tuesday}
3DSoundSurge's Live! Report 25th August 21:27 pm

3DSoundSurge has just ran their review on the SoundBlaster Live! product. They've given it their highest score ever of 9.5/10 for it is the best card they've EVER reviewed, winning their site's "Surge of Approval" award.

Interestingly and most appropriately (to me), they've done the review from mostly a hardcore gamer's perspective. I'll have to admit that there's very little to hate about this card, but many people's consideration would be the Vortex 2 cards that'll debut at around October.

We detract a little here... According to Aureal's specifications, Vortex 2 cards will be able to support 16 simultaneous hardware sound streams, while the Live! now only supports 8. Also, the Vortex 2 will feature a whopping 320 voice engine (64 hardware and 256 software voices) as opposed to Live!'s 256 voices (64 hardware and 192 software voices).

Judging from reports all over, Vortex 2 cards, at a lower price point, will be a serious force to be reckoned with. They will have support for DirectSound, DirectSound3D, A3D 2.0. (Possibly even EAX, since EAX is an open standard??).

Coming back to the review, even though we have already seen the Live! awesomely displaying it's quality in both gaming and professional music work, it is once again said that Creative has not yet fully realised the potential of the EMU10K1 DSP chip and will be actively adding better capabilities to make use of the 1000 MIPS of crunching  horsepower! Speculation was that Creative could add Dolby AC3 decoding and pass-through onboard. (Read Cast Your Votes! posted 23rd Aug)

Take a look at this snip!

A big selling point for some will be the inclusion of a digital i/o extension card. The S/PDIF connectivity will enable users to connect a S/PDIF-compatible device such as a DAT player for high-end playback, recording and production as well as the digital output of CD-Audio (if available) via the S/PDIF input (CD Digital In) on the Live!. The MIDI interface on the extension card uses a MIDI DIN connector which can be connected to any regular MIDI cable, so that musicians need not use custom MIDI adapter cables to connect their MIDI compatible devices.

A feature that sounds really interesting to me (I love speakers) is a Digital DIN connector is provided for future connection of up to eight digital speakers!  This is a futures though, so for now I have to stick to my four speaker set-up.

Those of you who'll not be opting for a four speaker setup (Room constraints? The speakers now come bundled! A no brainer! No excuse for now!), you'll be better off with an regular A3D card for the moment:

Speakers are an issue with performance on the Live.  I feel that the two speaker offerings from the competition using the A3D algorithms are more effective at creating the illusion of 'sound from behind' than the Sound Blaster Live!.  This is not surprising, since Creative has been consistently dissing the effectiveness of 2 speaker surround.  (Don't mistake me here, the 4 speaker surround is, in my opinion, more effective than two speaker surround, but if you don't want to add rear speakers to your system then I would recommend checking out the existing A3D cards or cards to be based on the Vortex 2 chip expected later this fall).

My say: I had just replaced my A3D card with the SBLive! so I have a pretty good idea about its performance. I would definitely agree that the A3D card is right on top emulating 3D sounds from a legacy 2 speaker system. It is a damn fine card already and without a doubt the Vortex 2 cards will start another round of heated battle. But for now.... nothing beats a 4 speaker setup of the SoundBlaster Live! (Read 3DSoundSurge's Full Review!)

Number Nine's 32MB card 25th August 07:06 am

Number Nine Visual Technology announced a 32MB (megabyte) version of its Revolution(R) IV graphics accelerator -- the industry's first mainstream 32MB graphics card, available for the unbelievable price of only $219.

The 32MB Revolution IV is based on Number Nine's recently announced fourth-generation, 128-bit graphics chip, Ticket To Ride(TM) IV. The graphics card dedicates 32MB of high-speed graphics memory to the acceleration of demanding 3D, 2D and Video applications, including today's most popular 3D games.

Number Nine also jointly announced with S.A.G. Electronics, Inc. and Quantex that the 32MB Revolution IV will be a standard component in their Windows NT workstations and in various high-end Windows '98 systems designed for business users, media creators and publishing systems. In addition, Quantex will use the 32MB Revolution IV boards in its SB line of high-end systems that are targeted for their corporate users.

Asus P5A 25th August 07:02 am

In another motherboard review, TomsHardware reviewed the new Asus P5A Super Socket 7 motherboard based on the ALi chipset.

I was surprised to see that this board is the fastest in Business Winstone 98, even faster than the DFI motherboard with its 1 MB cache. But strangely it was the slowest in Quake II, clearly slower than the all other competitors. Besides, first the textures did not appear correctly with the Direct3D games Incoming and Forsaken – after reinstalling the ALi AGP drivers it worked fine. Asus reacted quickly: After one week we got an updated BIOS which enables more PCI and AGP performance. Thanks to those optimizations Asus has the crown not only among slot 1 boards but now also offers one of the very best socket 7 mainboards.

Tyan Thunder 100 25th August 06:52 am

Anand just reviewed the Tyan Thunder 100 motherboard. This is the only motherboard I've seen with 6 PCI slots. It comes built in with onboard SCSI, LAN as well as sound card.

The AMI WinBIOS, classic of most Tyan Pentium II motherboards, makes its entrance once again with the Thunder 100 allowing for a wide variety of settings to be controlled and manipulated.  Like the newer Supermicro BX and GX motherboards, the Thunder 100 allows for the manual selection of your CPU's FSB from within the BIOS' Chipset Setup window.  While the 2.5x - 5.0x clock multipliers (the Thunder 100 DLUAN does support the Pentium II - 450) are selected via the easy to reach jumpers on the motherboard, the FSB speed can be selected from a list provided for in the BIOS.  The list includes the standard 66/100MHz settings as well as the overclocked, 68/75/83/103/112MHz FSB settings for those that are interested in pushing the limits. 

UnrealSE with SBLive! Environment Setting 25th August 00:53 am

3DSoundSurge has from their own discovery pointed out that SoundBlaster Live! users to should set their Environmental tab to "No Effects" before Unreal will play with all the bells and whistles available to the card. We often forget our settings and leave it at (e.g.) "Normal Multispeaker".

I noticed something when playing around with the Live! over the past few days. I had been noticing inconsistent effects when playing the UnrealSE. My discovery (and maybe obvious to everyone but me) is that is that if your Environmental settings are in anything other than "no effects" you are not getting the fantastic dynamic environmental audio extensions coded into the UnrealSE (and Unreal with the 209 patch to a lesser extent). I would guess that alot of users have left the setting on something like "Game 3D-Quake 2" or "Normal Mulit-Speaker". You default should be "no effects". Make the change, crank up the volume and give it a whirl.

After making the appropriate changes, what you should observe is the increase depth of 3D audio effects that sound more dynamic and real.

24th August 1998 {Monday}
Kenwood TrueX CD-ROM 24th August 20:04 pm

All right, it's here. Kenwood latest 40X "TrueX" CD-ROM was reviewed by StorageReview. Performance was impressive, beating any CD-ROM drives available in the market.

The first company to incorporate TrueX technology into a product is a relative unknown in the CD-ROM industry: Kenwood Corporation. They've delivered their UCR004010 CD-ROM drive, packaged and marketed by Hi-Val, Inc. This ATA CD-ROM also features a rather hefty 2 megabyte data buffer (all the parallel data has to be stored somewhere before being serialized, I guess) and a quoted random access time of 90 milliseconds or less. The drive features a standard 4-pin CD Audio out in addition to a two-pin SPDIF digital out, for connection to newer sound cards such as the SoundBlaster Live. This unit features "40x40" speed according to Hi-Val, meaning that the drive will sustain 40x (6MB/sec) throughput no matter what part of the disc the unit is reading. The drive is thus a CLV design.

How Overclockable Is The PII 450Mhz? 24th August 19:28 pm

Power hungry gamers can now look forward to purchasing the latest in the line of Intel Pentium II processors - 450Mhz. But who would be satisfied with plain vanilla performance when some tweaking will produce tremendous results?

For the ultimate overclocker, ABIT's BH6 is a must have. Armed with it, the guys Cyrellis had demonstrated that by using ABIT's SEL66/100# option, they were even able to bring a PII-350Mhz to 450Mhz reliably (4.5 X 100, or 448Mhz with 4 X 112Mhz, or 434Mhz with 3.5 X 124Mhz).

So does it make sense to purchase a PII-450Mhz? Using the same rig, they popped in the latest chip and attempted to repeat another phenomenal feat. These was what they got:

  • 4.5 x 103 = 464MHz
  • 4.5 x 112 = 504MHz
  • 4.5 x 124 = 558MHz (BH6 Only) Failed
  • 4.5 x 133 = 599MHz Failed

It was a real pity that Intel has "improved" their "clock locking capability" to a state that it was even immuned to ABIT's settings. No matter what they tried, the PII-450 was stubbornly locked with the 4.5X multiplier.

Nevertheless, 504Mhz must be impressive enough for many. And people who MUST ABSOLUTELY own the fastest will want the PII-450Mhz. (Read Cyrellis' Article)

STB Velocity V4400 Review... 24th August 19:09 pm

Another spiffy article on the STB Velocity V4400 (pre-production). AGN3D has completed their own write-up on their hands on preview of the card. Though the pre-production board was plagued with buggy beta drivers, Jeremy was able to get it up finally (nah, this is not a Viagra joke!) :P

He wasn't a tat disappointed with the performance or rendering quality of the TNT board.

When I could get the card to work, to say that I was impressed would be an understatement. The 3D image quality was on par with the likes of Matrox’s G200. The colors were very vibrant, a trait that the powerful Voodoo2 does not seem to share.

Q: "Isn't the 24bpp output of the TNT inferior to the Matrox's 32bpp??"

A: Technically yes. Visually, the difference may not be really noticeable. And from AGN3D's tests, it may not even be worth it. (See quotes)

Matrox has been making a big push on 32bit external redering, something that the TNT is not capable of doing. What the TNT can do is render internally at 32bpp and output at 24bpp, which is still better than the 16bpp output of competing products such as the Banshee and Voodoo2. In 32bpp mode Incoming looked exactly the same on the TNT and the G200, so obviously the external reduction to 24bpp was not hurting the TNT at all. What the TNT did show us was that NVIDA has figured out a way to lower the performance overhead of using 32bpp mode in games. When running Incoming in 32bpp mode, the G200 was choking with up to a 40% loss in frame rate. The TNT on the other hand scoffed the competition and performed almost identically in both 32bpp and 16pp, that is with the exception of the 1024x768 resolution.

Incoming Performance

Resolution Voodoo2 V4400 V4400 Mystique
  16-bpp 16-bpp 32-bpp 16-bpp 32-bpp
640x480 66.17 73 70.55 68.97 46.68
800x600 60.94 73.61 51.49 50.77 35.36
1024x768   53.64 27.2 32.29 21.98

Take a look at the complete review!

Overclocking Your 3D Accelerator Part II 24th August 18:57 pm

You might have noticed that sequels are getting popular these days (yesterday's IA-64 Part II??). Ok, David of CoolComputing has put up a mini-sequel to his 3D Accelerator Overclocking article, adding the i740, the G100 and G200 into the line up.

From his tests, he has observed excellent stability and suitability for overclocking on the i740 and the G200 cards. Not the same can be said of the G100 though.

Here's the full sequel... or you might want to take a look at the first bit.

Singapore pass Y2K tests 24th August 07:09 am

The Stock Exchange of Singapore passed a critical test on Sunday to prepare its trading system for the start of the new millennium and the dreaded Y2K bug.

A mock session lasting several hours Sunday morning involved setting the dates in all trading computers to January 3, 2000, which will be the exchange's first day of operation in the next millennium.

The trial, which used closing data from the last day of trading on Friday, was "successfully completed," according to a statement from the exchange. Trades were keyed in as if the market were actually in session.

The simulation involved 33 member firms of the stock exchange, authorized trading centers, approved foreign brokers, participants of the bond quotation system, and other subscribers of the exchange's broadcast services.

Experts fear that the new millennium will wreak havoc in computer systems worldwide, because they have been programmed to interpret years by their last two digits and are likely to mistake 2000 for 1900.

Bug in Word 97 24th August 07:05 am

A Microsoft Word 97 bug is causing problems for Windows 98 users.

The bug occurs in Word 97 running on a Windows 98 computer and involves the popular "AutoCorrect" feature. If a user attempts to save a document anytime after inserting a word or phrase into the text by double clicking on it from the "AutoText" tab in the AutoCorrect dialogue box, Word 97 will crash, and users will lose all unsaved data.

Microsoft posted information about the bug to its Web site on June 22, just three days before the official release of Windows 98, but has not yet posted a fix, according to Matthew Price, group product manager for Office.

Because Word will only shut down when a word or phrase is inserted through double-clicking, Price says the work-around is simple: click on the selected text once, and then click the 'Insert' button. "There's a work around: You just don't double click," he said.

23rd August 1998 {Sunday}
IA-64 Part II 23rd August 22:45 pm

A second part of a detailed technology write-up on the IA-64 can be found at Computers R Us. It's a pretty technical piece of work. Very informative!

Hmm... I don't recall having posted the part I of this article, so you'd better take a look at the 1st part before proceeding to part II.

Branches occur with great frequency in common software code sequences. The unique ability of the IA-64 architecture to schedule loads before branches significantly increases the number of loads that can be speculated relative to traditional architectures. On average, over half of all loads can be executed speculatively resulting in significant performance improvement for today's software.

IA-64 architecture innovations enable greater parallelism than traditional architectures. In order to realize the performance improvements of this greater parallelism, the processor must provide massive hardware resources. IA-64 processors include 128 general-purpose integer registers, 128 floating-point registers, 64 predicate registers, and many execution units to ensure enough hardware resources for today's demanding software. The IA-64 architecture is also inherently scalable allowing for straightforward expansion of the number of hardware execution units and increased parallel execution in new IA-64 processor implementations. This is only limited by available silicon technology and provides maximum headroom for future scalability.

The IA-64 architecture's features were designed to bring new capability and levels of performance to server and workstation applications. Today, Intel is leading many industry initiatives to increase system bandwidth and provide balanced platform performance to complement the processing power of the IA-64 processor family. IA-64 architecture processors, the first of which will be Intel's Merced processor, will not only enable industry-leading performance, they will offer headroom for future performance gains, while maintaining full binary compatibility in hardware with IA-32 software.

(blah, blah, blah.... Here's the entire article)

Voodoo 2 Overclocking Guide! 23rd August 22:17 pm

DanTech has the above put up on his site. It is a comprehensive guide that shows you the limit of doing it.

Overclocking a voodoo2 doesn't seem like a smart idea. The voodoo2 is already so fast that you would think overclocking wouldn't matter. However, some games such as Unreal and SiN still have a hard time hitting an optimal frame rate. It's time to overclock!

Included in his guide are the benchmark results that he obtained by clocking the V2  from 90Mhz all the way to 109Mhz! He has also repeated the same tests on several slower machines to demonstrate the futility in overclocking the V2 on them.

Cast Your Votes! 23rd August 21:33 pm

Creative has said that if customer response is good, they will consider adding Dolby AC3 decoding, AC3 throughput, and Dolby Surround as well as other possible features to their SoundBlaster Live! card.

Seeking Sounds has kindly put up a page for people to vote for these features, and he'll consolidate the polls and contact Creative. All owners of SoundBlaster Live must come forward to vote on these. If you are not presently an owner of the SBLive, and would want these features available before you'll consider buying, you can vote too!

(I want to VOTE! I want to VOTE! I want to VOTE! I want to VOTE!)

Celeron 333a and Socket 470 23rd August 18:46 pm

Overclocker has updated his article with new information about the Mendocino today! Hey, you want to know the speculation about its performance???? Not as overclockable as the Celeron 266Mhz or 300Mhz? This is the column to read man!

Early speculations of Celeron 333a is that it is not as overclockable as compared to it's brothers Celeron 266 and 300. Design specs indicates that it is more like a Pentium Pro. But Celeron 333a (Mendocino) has a different cache from the Pentium Pro. Although the Pentium Pro has full-speed cache, it resides in an external ceramic package, limiting its overclockability. the Celeron 333a (Mendocino) has an on-die L2 cache which can run at max speed at 333Mhz; full CPU Speed. So, the L2 is more like a L1.

Comparing to a PII-333 which has a L2 of 512K and a L1 of 32K, Celeron 333a would have something like a L2 of 128K and a L1 of 32K. Since L2 and L1 seems to be the same in Celeron 333a, the probable expectation is that the Celeron 333a might be faster than a PII-333.

Some early evaluators have tried turning off L2 cache. Testing indicates overclocking cannot go further whether L2 cache is disabled or enabled. This could prove that the Celeron 333a's L2 cache isn't the limiting factor in its overclocking.

Are we going to see a cost effective replacement for the PII-333Mhz? Wow! Then AMD and Cyrix has really got something to worry about! This is really getting interesting!

3DAI's SoundBlaster Live! Review 23rd August 17:24 pm

Our sister site, 3D Audio Immersion, on GotGames Network has written a review on the SoundBlaster Live! Here's a snippet for your enjoyment:(Read the Complete Review!)

Stupendous board, I love it. I would actually pay the 199 for this card. I like the midi features and the digital ports, and because I paid 199 for the original Monster Sound ;). EAX is really nice, adds to the overall effect of the 3d sound. If you are looking for a flexible card that is great for gamers as well as musicians, look no further.

I couldn't agree more! After I'd played Unreal with my 4 speaker setup (1 SoundWorks and 1 PCWorks), I was converted. "SB Live! SB Live! SB Live!"....

Another Great BH6 Review 23rd August 16:41pm

Sorry people, I don't believe I had missed this! I had overlooked Cyrellis' review on the ABIT BH6 mobo. (You can read our very own BH6 Review at our "Exclusive Reviews" section)

Cyrellis discusses the ability of the BH6 to overcome the clock locks on Intel PII CPUs, as well as a myriad of new features found on this fantastic new offering from ABIT (namely 124Mhz bus speed support, 133/4, 5 PCI slots instead of 4...)

So much said, aside from Cyrellis calling it the "Overclocker's Extravaganza", I think you'll only have to read their concluding statements to be convinced that this is surely the board to look out for... (Read the Full Review)

In conclusion, the BH6 is an incredibly powerful piece of hardware, capable of growing with the user's needs well into the next year. Never has there been a product that has catered so perfectly to the desires of the overclocker, it reminds us of the car-mag reviews written about the Acura NSX street car. Just as the NSX can turn even a poor driver into a virtual Mario Andretti because of its stability and forgiveness, the Abit BH6 turns even the amateur overclocker into a true professional with just a single reading of its fantastic owner's manual.

We applaud Abit's efforts, and we look forward to their future innovations

Mobile Pentium II - 300Mhz 23rd August 15:35 pm

According to CoolInfo, Intel Corp will be releasing their mobile Pentium II 300Mhz next month in a rapid succession to push out faster chips. However, sources are expecting the industry to slow down this pace with the next successor (mobile PII 333) to be released around March next year.

Parallel to newer processor releases, price cuts will be expected as well. Their say:

Shortly after the 300MHz Pentium II is released next month, Intel will cut prices on existing chips. Its 266MHz Pentium Processor with MMX Technology, for example, will be reduced from $241 to $159, while the 233MHz Pentium II will go from $262 to $209, sources said. The price cuts will allow OEMs to launch new Pentium II systems at prices of about $1,500.

AOpen AX59Pro 23rd August 15:11pm

ultimatePC has just posted their review on AOpen's Super7 mobo based on the VIA MVP3 chipset (Rev CE). Other features include 512Kb/1Mb cache, 4 PCI, 1 AGP, 2 ISA slots, Hardware Monitoring and Bus speeds from 60Mhz to 112Mhz.

Judging from ultimatePC's review, the AOpen is a solidly built board of a high standard. They had commended it's excellent documentation and software utilities.

Though this mobo has a support for 112Mhz, they had been unable to overclock his K6-2 300Mhz using the 112Mhz setting. The author could not get the machine to POST even when he was using a Samsung CAS 3 64Mb DIMM and had tried tweaking voltage settings from 2.2V-2.3V then to 2.4V. Also, he faced a (common?) problem that seemed to bug many MVP3 boards that is getting the Matrox G200 cards to work on the mobo. (There is a workaround posted on MURC that may help though)

22nd August 1998 {Saturday}
Anandtech's SoundBlaster Live! Review 22nd August 14:22 pm

Yes, it is here all right. I'm sure everyone was expecting Anand to come out with his very own spiffy review of the SoundBlaster Live! card. And it looks like we'll not be disappointed (with his review or the card!).

Anand's say about the EMU10K1 DSP found on the SBLive:

The EMU10K1 DSP which is at the heart of the SB Live! is by far the most powerful DSP available on the market.  How powerful is the most powerful?  Where as the "powerful" Guillemot Home Studio Pro has an on-board DSP capable of processing 50 million instructions per second (MIPS), and where as the Sound Blaster AWE64's DSP is capable of around 36 MIPS, the EMU10K1 can process around 1,000 MIPS using its 2 million transistors.  Using a more complex processor for sound than we used to use in computers just a few years ago, Creative made it clear that the SB Live! would be the absolute best card on the market.  The first method to achieving that status would be to make sure that all audio calculations were taken care of in the sound hardware and not unloaded onto your CPU, the EMU10K1 definitely accomplishes this with style.  The processor does all sound processing at 32-bits and can produce 48kHz sound using Creative's own 8-point interpolation system.  Much like Matrox G200 which performs all internal graphics calculations at a higher accuracy then dithers the final result to the requested output depth instantly improving image quality, the EMU10K1 applies the same principle to sound production resulting in instantly improved sound quality, no driver support necessary.

Now are you impressed? Perhaps not, raw processing power may not always translate into a more immersive 3D sound experience. But wait! Read on... Anand talks about future expandibility!

This daughtercard (included) extends the SB Live!'s speaker support to a full 8 speaker configuration which Creative will make available at a later date.  One thing that you're going to have to get used to with the SB Live! is its future expandability, its expansion features remain unparalleled by any other card in its price range to date.

If 4 speakers produced mind blowing sounds, what do you think about 8? Oh man! Wait again! Here's something for people who likes to fiddle with MIDI stuff:

For you MIDI fans out there, the SB Live!'s 256-voice MIDI synthesis capabilities should satisfy even the greatest of PC music enthusiasts.  In spite of the fact that most users that will be considering the Live! won't really take into consideration MIDI support, the support is there for those who desire/need it.  

"What about the new API Creative has created for this new card?" you ask. Anand addresses your concerns too:

EAX is an open API that has been provided in conjunction with Microsoft (now with MS you can't go wrong ;)...) as a set of extensions to the DirectSound3D API.  According to software developers the implementation of EAX into their programs isn't a difficult task at all, a definite plus for the market as software support is something that seems to be lacking in almost every single case where a "revolutionary" new technology is released.... 

... Creative has much confidence in the potential of their Environmental Audio Extensions, with the ease of implementation at a very attainable level there is no reason to expect EAX to be a failure of any sorts.

"Enough! Enough! I don't wanna know the technicalities!" you yell. Then Anand talks about the gaming experience...

Playing EAX enhanced games and even using the Environmental Audio effects during normal audio playback was an entirely new experience with the FourPointSurroundTM speakers, the Special edition of Unreal that shipped with the card brought new meaning to the term "audio immersion" as every last shell from the rifle really sounded like it counted. 

So now we've heard all about how wonderful the card is, etc etc... You are still not convinced, I see. Roll over to Anand's review and check out more on what he has to say about the software bundle, the speakers...

Norton SystemWorks 22nd August 07:16 am

Symantec will announce on Monday an integrated antivirus and systems utility suite encompassing its Norton line of utilities applications, the first such package for the Windows operating systems, including Windows 98, according to the company.

Norton SystemWorks will include the latest version of Norton Utilities, which detects and repairs system problems. The package contains: Norton AntiVirus, which monitors PCs for viruses and provides Web-based virus protection in the form of downloadable updates, Notron CrashGuard, Uninstall Deluxe, and six months of Norton Web services.

"This is one integrated suite of utilities to protect your machine and solve problems, and recover from disasters," said Tom Powledge, senior product manager for Symantec. "What differentiates this from a marketing bundle is that this is complete versions of all the categories. We see this suite as the way the utility category is going."

If you ask me, it sounds the same as Norton Utilities 3.0 - except that it support Windows 98 officially.

In another issue, A patch is on the way for a bug in Norton Utilities.

The bug involves the Windows 98 fast shut-down feature, which may shut the system down before Norton's System Doctor feature has time to close, resulting in system freezes. Symantec said today that a patch will be available on the company's Live Update site on Monday.

"It's unfortunate that it has gotten this kind of visibility," said Enrique Salem, vice president of security for Symantec, who said that Norton testers did not encounter the glitch on the systems that were tested. "It's become a bigger issue than it is, but it is an issue that needs to be fixed."

New Celeron Processors on Monday 22nd August 07:03 am

Intel introduce a new 300MHz Celeron processor, called the 300A, and a 333MHz Celeron, both of which have 128KB of integrated Level 2 cache. In addition, Intel will unveil the new 300 MHz Pentium II mobile processor for laptops.

Oh yes, Intel will slash processor prices again at the end of this month.

Microsoft SideWinder 3.02 22nd August 05:28 am

For those people using Micrsoft Joysticks like the Sidewinder, Force Feedback Pro, the drivers are out at here.

MSNBC On S-One 22nd August 00:24 am

Those of you on the the S-One newsgroup would have probably known, but thanks to "Lord Daemon" for notifying everyone. MSNBC has written this fairly intriguing article about our Singapore's broadband network. Intriguing because it was so interesting, intriguing because IT CONCERNS US, OUR NETWORK, OUR COUNTRY... (did I sound a tat too patriotic?)

The network has wired an impressive 90 percent of Singapore’s households with the capacity to link into shopping, government services and, potentially, a wide array of video and neat broadband applications. By 2000, the government says, the entire population of 3 million will be upgraded. But so far, there are a mere 10,000 registered users, many of them test users with free access.

The problem? There’s just not much there.

“Their focus started with infrastructure, but focus on content was an afterthought,” says a manager at one multinational company that originally backed the project. “So they have great infrastructure — probably the best in the world — but no content.”

It’s a chicken-and-egg problem now. Without content, viewers won’t come. Without viewers, content providers won’t come. And on top of that, an economic crisis is making advertisers and consumers reluctant to take chances with their money.

Well, the article is not devoid of facts, in fact it does help us analyse the cause of the slow adoptation of the high speed network, but one cannot help but to wonder why the author must (like many others) portray Singapore like it is under some dictatorship whereby the government terrorises its population with harsh policies??? I'm appalled at his statements:

The Singapore government is nothing if not big-picture — and many would add Big Brother. Its unique socialist-fascist approach has lifted the country from an impoverished, malaria-ridden backwater to one of Asia’s most sophisticated and wealthy countries in just a few decades. Heavy-handed dictates have forced racial harmony, popularized education, wiped out most tropical disease and stamped out littering, spitting and other social evils. The will of the leadership is not to be underestimated.

Perhaps one can only appreciate something when he has seen it for himself, and I wouldn't complain too much about our standard of living, quality of life, low crime rates.... the list goes on. How about attributing some of the achievements to the hard work of the people and the sound policies of the government?

(I wouldn't have bothered really, but I do believe that their country has got some serious housekeeping to do themselves. What about increasing violence in their youths? What about their White House scandals? Oops! :P )

What Happened To PowerVRSG? 22nd August 00:07 am

Sharky Extreme has posted a long commentary/analysis on the disappearance of a once popularly hyped chipset from NEC/ Videologic.

It was meant to be THE CHIP and compete with the RivaTNT, Banshee, and the Savage3D. But somehow up till this stage, we haven't seen even a pre-production board from NEC/Videologic. All of their competitors have already engaged in some heated performance war involving their alpha/beta boards.

According to Sharky's, it seems like the NEC/Videologic and SEGA deal has a part in this episode, here's some commentary:

Meanwhile, it looks as though Sega are taking on the might of the PC's gaming superiority and dominance and simply issuing a challenge. But should the PC 3D accelerator industry respond early next year, then Sega's 'loss' (3Dfx) might turn out to be the PC owner's gain. For example, the next in the long line of the Voodoo Banshee family should surface and it would be safe to assume that it 'might' harbor two TMUs. And by that stage the PVRSG just might not cut it anymore being up against a whole host of next-gen 2D/3D chipsets and as a result have no place on a real gamer's home PC. By then the PVRSG's 120 million pixels per second fill rate will possibly look rather ordinary, thus begging the question of whether or not the likes of Creative and Diamond will go ahead and squabble over chipset allocations.

[Beam me to the latest news archive!]

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