08 July 98 - 14 July 98
Highlights within this period includes:
  • Motherboard Monitor
  • Delay in Service Pack
  • Multi-Monitor Support
  • Compaq readies FingerPrint ID Security
  • Mystery of the 100 Mhz FSB
  • Played Railroad Tycoon?
  • Caesar III
  • BCM QS440BX
  • Am I Dreaming?
  • MotoRacer 2
  • Your Next PCI Soundcard from QSound?
  • Microsoft to issue Office 97 fix.
  • World Cup Virus
  • Rise mP6
  • Alpha TNT Performance
  • Let's Get Savage One More Time!
  • Matrox G200
  • POSTmodem Diagnostics Card
  • S3D Part II
  • Another TNT Scrutiny
  • SimCity 3000
  • DRAM Performance
  • Microsoft's Woes?
  • 200 Million Pixels/s Vs 90 Million Pixels/s?
  • Anand's Diamond PCI Sound Round-Up
  • Interview: Savage3D
  • Latest Virus Update
  • Inside Windows 98
  • New Microsoft SideWinder Drivers
  • WinTune 98
  • Multi-Monitor Support
  • Terasound A3D PCI Drivers
  • Obsidian 2 X-24 Review
  • PCI 64 Vs AGP
  • Team Apache
  • Gross Inaccuracies
  • Cyrellis Attempts to Clear TNT Confusion
14th July 1998 {Tuesday}
Cyrellis Attempts to Clear TNT Confusion  14th July 21:43 pm

With regards to Cyrellis' TNT benchmarks posted 11 July 1998, there's been some updates to clarify matters. Concerned with the sudden surge of nVidia bashing that sparked off after Diamond went on some sort of "World Tour" to show off a pre-mature RivaTNT board, the guys at Cyrellis are attempting to clear the confusion that resulted from benchmarks all over. Here's a summary:

  • The tests performed by Cyrellis3D and most likely all the other sites that tested the card previous to the Cyrellis visit, were completed with the performance hindering VSYNCH=ON.
  • The Core speed of the Diamond Viper TnT board itself was running at only 70MHz. Expected debut speed is 140MHz+ (possibly as high as 166MHz if stability can be achieved in time).
  • The SDRAM clock speed of the Diamond Viper TnT board was set to 100MHz. Expected debut speed is 125MHz.

You can even read nVidia's official statement regarding the above matter, right here. That does give us some hope in the TNT doesn't it? Meanwhile, we'll await for more updates and hope that the final silicon will prove everyone wrong! :)  (Read the detailed article)

Gross Inaccuracies  14th July 21:14 pm

I was indeed saddened today after receiving a user's complaint letter... sigh. Nope, not about us. But a complaint against the reviews done on the Life! section page 4, dated 14 July, of The Straits Times. Sad that the quality of our local reviews has reached such a deplorable state.

Though, we do not claim to do any fantastic reviews ourselves... <ahem> :) , but we believe that whatever is reported has to be accurate to the best of our knowledge.

What was published today was either inaccurate or biased... and the worst part, the reviewer persistently went out of his way to tell (hint to?) people to get the video card he's using - a Creative Voodoo2 12mb. Another funny part, he continually sang praises of his Hewlett Packard 333mhz PII PC with 64Mb RAM, and suggested that no one should play ANY of the games he reviewed on ANYthing with a lower spec. Doesn't that exclude more than half the PC users out there?

The Reviews by Francis Chin (available online)

To understand what I mean, please follow the links above or turn to today's Life! page 4, 14 July and read the full complaint I received.

My final thoughts. A valid complain. What do you think?

Team Apache  14th July 10:43 am

Combat Simulations has posted their review on Team Apache. For all you heli simulation fans out there seaching for a not so complex game (e.g. Longbow 2) but still wants tremendous fun in gunning tanks to smithereens will most certainly want to give TA a try.

Screenshot 1 Screenshot 2

Here's what Combat Sims has to say finally:

Action gamers interested in getting their feet wet in sims may want to play the campaign with most of the realism options off at first to make the transition as simple as possible. Team Apache's focus on simple avionics and fun gameplay makes it a very unintimidating sim as long as you can handle the relatively dull transits (in Latvia) and keep your distance from enemy ground fire.

PCI 64 vs AGP  14th July 09:41 am

CPUMadness writes about PCI 64, what it is for? And why the PCI 64 may be necessary even though there is AGP. Here's a snippet of the article:

"Consider, for example, the new Fiber Channel hard drives. The peak data rate of Fiber Channel is 80MB/sec. PCI32 bandwidth is 132MB/sec. A single hard drive can almost saturate the PCI 32 bus!! What if someone wants to connect 2 hard drives to the Fiber Channel PCI SCSI controller? They will be limiting the performance of the drives. This is where PCI 64 comes in."

"PCI 64 running at 33mhz is far slower than AGP for graphics; however, PCI64 running at 66mhz (Sun and Digital systems run the PCI64 at 66mhz) achieves the same bandwidth as AGP 2x, as Brain Hook over at VE's Askbrain column pionted out before I could get to it. Damn you bastard ! (JK) PCI 64, though it doesn't have AGPs texture benefits, the CPU can read and write to PCI64 cards at 533MB/sec (it can only write to AGP that fast, i.e. AGP sends back information at 132MB/sec) This, again, makes PCI64 a better 'generic' slot, not a specialized solution like AGP."

Obsidian 2 X-24 Review  14th July 09:32 am

AGN3D.COM reviews the monster of 3D graphics cards, the Quantum Obsidian 2 X-24. Don't have much of a chance to see this technological wonder lying around in Singapore, but here's your chance! A short list of its features:

  • Two PixelFX2 processors
  • Four TexelFX2 processors
  • 24MB of 100MHz video memory
  • S-Video & composite TV-Out connectors
  • Full Length PCI card

A full review awaits your reading right here. Find out about its painless installation procedure, benchmark performance, and even Quantum's aftersales support.

Terasound A3D PCI Drivers  14th July 00:39 am

Intresource has not forgotten to support their latest A3D line of sound cards. The newest drivers released yesterday were based on Aureal's recently updated Vortex AU8820 driver version 4.05.1140.

You can find the updated drivers by clicking here.

13th July 1998 {Monday}
Multi-Monitor Support  13th July 19:15 pm

CoolComputing did part 2 of the multi-monitor support under Windows 98. Apparently, the more monitors you hook-up, the slower the display will be. Here's a table :

WinTune 98  13th July 19:08 pm

WinMag released the new version of WinTune 98. New in this version is support for Direct3D and OpenGL testing. You can download the file from here. Alternatively, you can run the benchmarks online using your browser at here.

New Microsoft Sidewinder drivers  13th July 18:38 pm

Microsoft released the new Sindewinder v3.0 drivers. You can get this file from our Utilities section.

SideWinder Game Device Software 3.0 works with the following SideWinder game controllers:

  • Microsoft SideWinder Force Feedback Pro
  • Microsoft SideWinder Precision Pro
  • Microsoft SideWinder game pad
  • Microsoft SideWinder 3D Pro

Inside Windows 98  13th July 18:24 pm

PC Mag Online will be taking us in a technical tour into the core improvements in Uncle Bill's Windows 98 operating system. The article will show us the many evolutionary enhancements that helped make Win98 more stable and a little prettier than before.

Hop over to learn more about how Win98 is better than Win95... and there's even a comparison about the architectural differences between Win98 and NT. An informative read!

Increase in Bandwidth  13th July 17:29 pm

This is to inform you guys that you can download at extremely fast speed from Hardware One now. You should be getting at least 100 KB/s now with a cable/ADSL modem.

Latest Virus Update  13th July 05:16 am

A disaster struck as a deadly trojan corrupts Brazil for France 98, causing it to crash unexpectedly on 13th July 1998. The funny part about the trojan is that Brazil for France 98 will crash 3 times repeatedly, and the third time, catastrophic failure will take place within the software itself.

Fightening it may sound, but it seemed like the operating system France 98 was left unscathed and even emerged to prove that it is the best and most reliable operating system in the world. For now, that is. Programmers rejoice "We are the champions! We are the champions!".

Computer scientists of Brazil are left dumbfounded and but they will be given 4 years to decipher the workings of this virus and hopefully find a cure for it.

12th July 1998 {Sunday}
Interview: Savage3D  12th July 20:33 pm

Looks like S3's Savage3D is stealing a lot of thunder from the TNT and even from mature products like the Voodoo2 recently. HardwareCentral has completed an interview with S3 Incorporated's Vice President of Architecture & Software John Brothers, and I've here a snippet of the interesting parts:

Hardware Central: What resolutions will be supported in 2D/3D and with which ram configurations?

John: We have a 250MHz RAMDAC and can display up to 1600x1200x32. We can do 3D at 1600x1200x16 with 16-bit Z, but that support is not yet in the D3D driver. To the pundits out there, yes, even though the memory #'s don't add up, we can do it and we'll show it later. Unfortunately, while most monitors out there say they do 1600x1200, they actually do a terrible job at that resolution. So, we don't expect many people to want to use anything above 1280x1024 unless they've shelled out $3000 for a top of the line monitor.

Wow! 1600x1200x32 with only 8mb? I know you are very excited already... Some other very juicy stuff they've discussed: (Full Story Now!)

  • What in the world is S3 Texture Compression (S3TC) and what it does!
  • How everyone will benefit from S3TC in S3 & non-S3 based cards using DirectX6
  • Why the image quality in the Savage3D seems even better than the Voodoo2.
  • Support for AMD K6-2 3DNow! instructions.
  • 2D performance of the S3D

Server Downtime Reminder  12th July 20:05 pm

This is just a reminder that Hardware One will be down tomorrow morning from 7am to 9am due equipment upgrading on our host's servers (Yah who cares rite? Who'll be talking computers after the World Cup?!).

Anyway, we want apologise for any inconvenience caused. Do come around later!

Anand's Diamond PCI Sound Round-Up  12th July 14:27 pm

3D, 3D... why everything also 3D?!?! Now even sound cards must support 3D...

Well, AnandTech has delivered a review on Diamond's PCI sound card stable. The Diamond Monster Sound MX200 featuring the A3D chipset, the Monster Sound M80 (a slightly toned down version of MX200) and the Diamond Sonic Impact S70.

200 Million Pixels/s Vs 90 Million Pixels/s?  12th July 14:06 pm

When we discuss the performance of a 3D accelerator, we often like to talk about its fill-rate. Many times, we've seen that muscular fill-rates does not directly translate into lightning fast frame rates.

In the past, Tom's Hardware has done numerous reviews on the performance of 3D cards on various processors and have found out that fill-rates do not mean everything. Performance hiccups are sometimes due to the card being CPU limited and sometimes due to poorly optimised drivers.

From the heading, many of you would be guessing that we're comparing the TNT vs the Voodoo2. You're right. Cyrellis has given us another insight into the numerous reasons why the TNT is not YET living up to its hype. (Full story)

Looking at Anandtech's benchmarks of the RIVA TNT at 1024x768 in demo1 and massive, we will notice that the performance of the TNT decreased 2 fps when moving to massive, while the performance of the Voodoo2 SLI 3Fingers ran at 1024x768 decreased ~12fps. This is a perfect example of how the TNT really does have the potential nVidia claims. The Voodoo2 falls a significant amount of FPS, showing that it is indeed being fill-rate limited as soon as the jump from demo to massive is being made. TNT, on the other hand, seems virtually unaffected. The slight difference in fps when switching from demo1 to massive (with the TNT) shows that the RIVA TNT is not being fill-rate limited, but being limited by some exterior resource, i.e. latencies, caused, most likely by poor drivers.

11th July 1998 {Saturday}
Microsoft's Woes?  11th July 14:54 pm

The title I've given may not seem quite relevant, so what woes can the Bill Gates' Redmond firm face?

It seems like many vendors are unhappy with Microsoft's direction for 3D graphics - to push polygon-based PC graphics from high-end simulation systems to low-end consumer gear via its DirectX APIs. Here's part of the news:

Bucking the Microsoft master plan in the consumer space, at least two videogame-console vendors are breaking ranks to establish a foothold in non-polygon-based 3-D graphics technologies that they say will empower title developers to push game realism to new levels.

"Graphics-chip vendors in Silicon Valley today are all doing the same thing; [they're] obsessed with the polygon race," said Ken Kutaragi, executive vice president and co-chief operating officer at Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (Tokyo), developer of the popular Playstation console. "Their R&D goals are so near-sighted that they are only paying attention to gradual changes in graphics technologies that can be developed in lockstep with the short-term PC product-development cycle."

Sony Computer Entertainment and startup VM Labs independently claim that the graphics technologies used in their next-generation videogame platforms will go far beyond the polygon-based 3-D graphics technologies pursued by the PC industry today.

Sony's Kutaragi said that a Sony Computer Entertainment engineering team based in Tokyo is working on a whole new generation of real-time image-rendering technologies, from silicon to platform algorithms to software titles, for the next Playstation. "Today's videogame computer graphics look like computer graphics," he said. "Our goal is a filmlike graphics quality that won't make viewers conscious of or annoyed [by the fact] that they are indeed looking at computer graphics."

Another blurp:

"...In May, VM Labs announced its processor as part of its Project X platform, which aims to position DVD players as videogame consoles. The processor lets game developers experiment with a variety of advanced 3-D algorithms, such as Voxel rendering, real-time ray tracing, procedural textures and parametric modeling, Miller noted...."

"...Ray tracing, meanwhile, is a non-polygon method that renders a scene by computing each pixel in the scene in turn. The technique is designed to use a fast CPU. Again, however, the lack of existing commercial demand has prohibited its penetration of the PC platform thus far.

Trevett said he considers procedural texturing "an interesting technique that could fit quite well into existing hardware." Here, a graphics chip essentially would compute texture values rather than access them from memory, saving bandwidth. But a lack of APIs to drive that functionality has kept the approach from finding support among PC developers..."

DRAM Performance  11th July 14:36 pm

Tom's Hardware has posted detailed information on a few upcoming RAM types that'll soon be competing to get onto your motherboards. In his "DRAM Performance: Latency Vs. Bandwidth", he discusses how memory latency (access time) and memory bandwidth impacts system performance.

As a rule of thumb for today’s desktop PC, faster latency will almost always deliver a performance benefit. Increasing peak burst bandwidth sometimes offers a performance benefit, but not in every case, and not usually as much.

It gets very technical, but it's worth your time.

SimCity 3000  11th July 13:50 pm

Maxis is busy readying their much vaunted title - SimCity 3000. It's a game for little boys & girls, working males and females, as well as the old and aged (I'm into this crappy mood again. Sigh.)

Yap, GameCenter.COM has put up a "Designer's Journal" about this game and taking a look inside, I saw some wonderful screenshots of the soon-to-come classic (paradoxical?).

I was pleased to learn that Maxis will continue to remain focused on the ease of game play while making the game visually appealing. It will not add unnecessary features that'll make the game overly complex and destroy the fun factor. SimCity 3000 will be gorgeous. (Roll over to the SimCity 3000 homepage for even more facinating screenshots and stories!)

Another TNT Scrutiny  11th July 13:21 pm

The guys at Cyrellis got lucky again. :)

Diamond dropped by their house too and they've used the nicest things (to date), to describe the pre-released version of the Diamond TNT board. Cyrellis is also the only place that ran 2D benchmark on the 2D/3D card (ok, so it's not our greatest concern if this card's 2D is up to par. Heck!)...

Well, from their numbers, the TNT still has a very long way to go if it does want to become a true Voodoo2 killer. But it's 2D benchmark is quite impressive beating the Millenium 2 by a substantial margin.

I'm still hopeful that nVidia will show us some miracle when the board finally ships. However, with the shipping price of the TNT estimated to be at US$250 (for the top of the line 16mb version) and the Savage3D who is offering performance that's out-of-this-world and costing only an estimated US$159 for their highest-end 8mb version, the choice is not difficult.

S3D Part II  11th July 13:14 pm

S3 has released new Savage3D drivers to Cyrellis. Re-running all their benchmarks again, the already incredible performance of the alpha S3D is pushed up to new heights. They saw yesterday's only trailling Quake II Time-demo 1 benchmark rise from 39.7fps to 60.4fps, nibbling at Voodoo2's tail.

The second article is right here.

POSTmortem Diagnostics Card  11th July 10:47 am

Here is an interesting piece of hardware from SysOpt. This card is ideal for technicians who want to diagnose a motherboard which cannot POST.

So, here is the ideal item for people repairing motherboards and building their own systems. The POST board plugs into any slot and displays diagnostics codes on its own alpha-numeric display when the motherboard is powered up. If a fatal error in the motherboard's Power On Self Test is detected, the motherboard will hang at that point until hell freezes over. The last POST code displayed before the system board hangs points to the part of the circuit that is bad. So look up the code in the 68 page manual that comes with this POST board and bingo there is your answer as to why the system does not boot. All you have to do is correct the jumper setting, replace the bad memory chip etc.

Matrox G200  11th July 09:43 am

Matrox G200 is already shipping! In case you still do not know, these are the specifications of the card :

  • Advanced 3D rendering and set up engine accelerates Direct3D and OpenGL applications with full 3D image effects.
  • Support for 16 MB of memory and new Vibrant Color Quality feature ensures superior image quality and rendering precision for CAD, game development and much more.
  • Runs applications in 16.7M photo-realistic colors faster than the competition can with only 65K colors.
  • Supports true 24-bit color at resolutions up to 1920 x 1200, bringing photo-realism to documents with incredible detail.
  • Includes five free software titles: Picture Publisher, Simply 3D, Netscape Communicator, PointCast Client, Imagination Software
10th July 1998 {Friday}
Let's Get Savage one more time!  10th July 22:17 pm

People with weak hearts should not read on. It really seems like S3 has the golden chip to set it back on track and crush some competiton. To quote from Cyrellis:

"...[Savage3D] promises the whole world for almost nothing."

S3TC or S3 Texture Compression is really a piece of god-send technology to the graphics world. The potential seem immense even at this early stage. S3TC support will be included in DirectX 6.

S3D - Front View S3D - Back View

Armed with a limitation of 8mb of RAM, the Savage3D is a very mean performer. The alpha board has already shattered the speed records! To quote again...

It really is the best 2D/3D accelerator we've ever tested, at a price that even a Celeron owner could swing.

I won't show you Cyrellis' benchmark numbers here, but you really have to go take a look.

Server Downtime  10th July 22:00 pm

Gosh! I just learnt this from our host. Hmm... there's nothing much I can do about it. Please be informed that there will be 2 scheduled downtimes (well at least it's scheduled this time :P ) next week:

  • 13 July 1998 - 7am to 9am (equipment upgrading)
  • 19 July 1998 - 9am to 5pm (Building power maintenance)

3D Hardware Overview  10th July 21:23 pm

Combat Simulations has posted this article that covers the 3D development and various upcoming chipsets. They've also thrown in a couple of fantastic screenshots to juice up the page. A good read definitely!

The video scene is extremely volatile, however, since its on the cutting edge of the gaming hardware market, which in turn drives the software market. Some new horses and some old ones are about to run a new race. An old player, Matrox, is about to step back into the field with the MGA G200 chip. An also-ran, S3, is similarly set to launch a hot new chip. Good old Number Nine, almost invisible in the 3d gaming hardware market, has just announced their Revolution IV. And nVidia, who have done extremely well with their Riva128 chipset, are at the gate and chomping at the bit with their second generation TNT chip.

Alpha TNT Performance  10th July 20:31 pm

Whoa! Every where I visited today, Diamond Multimedia seemed to have dropped by their house to demo a pre-released RivaTNT board. Hmm... maybe I should move into a house with a chimney?

Part I : At GameCenter.COM - What did they say about the performance of the demo board? Well, It seems like either TNT is not ready for prime time yet or we've allowed the hype to get the better of us. Here's some numbers GameCenter.COM has cooked up based on an AGP RivaTNT board with 16Mb SDRAM (note that this board differs from nVidia's reference design)

On our 400-MHz Pentium II test system with 128MB of system memory and 512K of cache, Viper ran Incoming with a 640 by 480 resolution and 16-bit color at 80.06 frames per second--well below the 92.28fps we witnessed on the Savage3D. It was also slightly below the 83.65fps produced by a 12MB 3D-only Voodoo 2-based Monster3D II.

Turok running at 800 by 600 produced only 53.8fps, compared with 71.9fps on Savage3D and 61.3fps on the Monster3D II. Running the Forsaken Biodome demo at 800 by 600, however, the Viper's 98.45fps beat out the Voodoo 2's 91.14fps, but fell short of Savage3D's 107.07fps.

Voodoo 2 still appears to reign supreme on Quake II, however. At 640 by 480 the Viper produced 57.8fps, edging out Savage3D at 55.6fps, but nowhere near the 86.5fps for the Monster3D II. Viper ran 800 by 600 at 52.3fps, much better than Savage3D's 39.9fps, but trailing the Monster3D II's 59.5fps. At 1,024 by 768 Viper posted a very playable 35.5fps, compared with Savage3D's 26.6fps and 70.1fps in a two-board SLI Voodoo 2 configuration. At the extreme resolution of 1,600 by 1,200, the Viper managed a barely playable 14.2fps.

Aaww... I hear many disappointed cries and hideous laughters from Voodoo2 owners rolling over in their sits. Yap.. the above sound a tat too disappointing for a supposed Voodoo2 killer, nevertheless we'll leave the final judgement when the actual board arrives. Here's a little good news:

Diamond's product manager Isaac Yang stressed that we can look forward to both an increase in clock speed and optimizations in software before the board's release in the August/September time frame. He estimates the version we tested to be running perhaps at only three-quarters the speed of the shipping product.

Sanford Russell, director of product management at Nvidia, expressed no lack of confidence in TNT's success. Referring to our preliminary benchmark results, "Let them [Nvidia's competitors] think that's where I am," he taunted. "We just got the final silicon back and we're really psyched. It's just ramp it up from here."

Russell also pointed out that the next-generation Viper we tested featured SDRAM memory rather than the faster (and much more expensive) SGRAM used in the Savage3D test board. On the RIVA TNT, which supports either SDRAM or SGRAM, Nvidia is "seeing 20 to 25 percent performance deltas from SGRAM to SDRAM at higher resolutions," Russell explained.

Part II : At AnandTech - He does sound a lot less negative, we all respect his say rite? So let me go straight into it:

"The current status of the Riva TNT chipset is that it is being manufactured using a 0.35 die size, with future scalability allowing for a die shrink down to 0.25 micron."

"In spite of the claims that the Riva TNT will be the Voodoo2-killer of 1998, provided the benchmarks can be improved and provided the product hits the shelves quickly the Riva TNT can very well become an excellent Voodoo2 alternative boasting outstanding 3D performance with 2D capabilities built right into the chipset, eliminating the need for a Dual Voodoo2 setup.  Not only will a single Riva TNT cost less than a Dual Voodoo2 + 2D card setup, it is physically shorter, will fit in virtually any motherboard with an AGP slot, and the card supports much higher resolutions than even a pair of Voodoo2's can handle.

The Riva TNT has a promising future, there is much doubt present as to whether or not it will really be the death of the Voodoo2 (an unlikely event), a more accurate comparison would probably be of the TNT to the upcoming Matrox G200 series and the 3Dfx Banshee.  For now, the Voodoo2 has carved its own niche in our hearts as well as our wallets, if you are willing to hold out a few months longer then the TNT should be well worth the wait.  Just don't expect mind blowing benchmark scores from an alternative that should have never been dubbed, the Voodoo2 killer."

Final thoughts. The route to the hill top of being the ultimate 2D/3D solution remains treacherous. Who will finally topple the present king, the Voodoo2 remains to be seen. When the RivaTNT, Matrox G200, PowerVRSG and the Savage3D are all released, it will spell the ultimate deathmatch for 3D graphics cards.

Rise mP6  10th July 11:31 am

The BrotherHood of the CPU did a exclusive review on the Rise mP6 processor. This chip was redesigned from scratch with one thing in mind - low power consumption, this means high overclocking potential. This chip is more ideal for laptop as it only consumes 1/3 of the power of a P55C-200 chip.

World Cup Virus  10th July 02:37 am

According to ZDNet, a World Cup virus threatens to wreak havoc on July 12.

The Madrid-based antivirus firm said the virus, W97M/WorldCup98, consists of two macros, dubbed WorldCup98 and Pronostic. Panda said that 40% of the time, the virus adds a message to a user's AUTOEXEC.BAT start-up file along with two lines containing the FORMAT command, which were designed to execute automatically. In 27% of the cases where the virus is found, Panda said, it affects the C:\DOS, C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND directories and the IO.SYS and MS.DOS.SYS files in the C:\ directory. In the remaining 33% of the cases, the current text in use is modified and printed. 

9th July 1998 {Thursday}
Microsoft to issue Office 97 fix  9th July 23:36 pm

Patches for Office 97, SR-1... now SR-2, value for money eh? Microsoft continues to touch up on the flaws in their office suite released in 97. This patch will be released in late July or early August this year.

Hmm... I know you are not surprised. Even with Win98 SP1's impending release, we can be assured that more bandages will be issued. (TechWeb's Article)

The release, which will be available as a free download from Microsoft's website, will include an auto-recalculation patch for Microsoft Excel, and a Microsoft PowerPoint file that correctly formats dates for users saving presentations. The release will not include any new features.

Your Next PCI Soundcard from QSound?  9th July 23:17 pm

Looks like veteran 3D sound "architect", QSound, is joining the fray to produce PCI audio controllers. I think I've said this before but I'll say it again (coz' I feel cheated :P ); I still own one of those classic AWE32 that supported QSound.

Damn. But I was truly very madly impressed with the AWE32 when I heard it for the first time. Creative previewed it at a IBM OS/2 usergroup meeting one late night. We were sitting in this small lecture room when they played a couple of MIDI files (optimised for QSound playback).

Even though the sound only came from a small pair of Yamaha speakers, EVERYONE was AWEd. Never have we heard 3D sounds before... I knew I had to grab mine when it comes out.

Today, we're not talking about QSound's software algorithm but QSound's chipsets here. QSound is an established and popular standard in professional music recording and will probably remain so. Now, with A3D already gaining popularity in PC games, whether QSound can successfully break the strangle-hold remains to be seen, or rather HEARD.

Here's the QSound's excerpt found in 3DSoundSurge:

QSound Labs, Inc. announced a couple of days ago that ForteMedia has joined the ranks of Q3D licensees Avance, EcTiVA, ESS, LG/AdMOSS, Trident, and VLSI to deliver next generation PCI audio controllers (chips), the new wave of high performance chips for optimal PC sound quality.

Featuring Q3D(TM) Interactive technology, these new PCI chips are designed to outperform the older ISA-based architecture, which demanded more resources and offered limited audio performance. Unlike the ISA, the PCI-based controllers provide a higher bandwidth to process multiple audio streams concurrently while leaving plenty of CPU resources for the 3D positional audio algorithms that intensify the gaming experience.  Though ISA cards are still in existence, many, if not most, of the latest soundcards run on the faster, more efficient PCI bus. 

"The shift to PCI-based architecture is expected to be more dramatic in the second half of 1998 as OEMs adopt Microsoft's PC 98 specifications that call for new PCs to stop using ISA for audio by January of 1999," said David Gallagher, president of QSound Labs. "The adoption of Q3D by these PCI semiconductor companies coupled with strong game developer support- through the release of our free software developer kit, QMDX(TM) ensures that QSound will become the standard for positional 3D in this new generation PCI audio category."

MotoRacer 2  9th July 21:43 pm

If you were a true arcade racing fan, you should have played Delphine's MotoRacer already. Well, the game was one fine example of a very successful game that relied on sheer replayability and fun factors. Not many people had very high expectations of that game when it was released.

It had pretty low system requirements (used directX 3), and it plays very fluidly on any mediocre system. A low low system requirement wasn't a indication of  the beautiful scenery and fast graphics performance.

Delphine will be releasing MotoRacer 2 sometime this October and thank goodness! They seem to remain equally focused on getting a great game to run on normal people's normal systems (duh?). From Next Generation's preview, it was said to run perfectly well on a mere P-200mhz system. Besides the usual goo-goo, the new game will feature a track editor for you to customise your personal favourite race course.

What's exciting then if everything is almost the same? Well, to answer that, we should first take a look at 2 screenshots.

Screenshot 1  | Screenshot 2

I'll quote from here...

It all looks good – crisp, sharp, inviting -- especially in 800x600 or higher – or 1024x768 if you’re lucky enough to be running Voodoo2 SLI. Of course, for those with slower machines, you can still bump the resolution down to 640x480.

The most important aspect of the first game, high frame rates and a convincing sense of speed, are in full force in MR2. Even on the 200 MHz Pentium we played the alpha version on, the game was consistently fast. The game’s speed is so good, if players change their view to first-person, the turns and jumps will churn your stomach – just like the first Moto Racer.

So far, MR2 appears to have retained the first title’s speed and graphic splendor. But the real depth of the new game may come in an entirely new feature: the track and championship editors. The track editor is just what it sounds like, with players able to build their own places for racing mayhem, while the championship editor will allow gamers to build their own circuit of tracks to test their racing prowess.

Am I Dreaming?  9th July 16:51 pm

Wow. My Sun Enterprise 450 finally arrived at my house today.

It comes with four 366 MHz processors, 1 GB of RAM as well as 9 x Cheetah 9LP (9.1 gig) I'm probably going to use over 1400 MHz just to run Netscape. Can't think of anything else to do with this baby now, can you?

This thing is so heavy that you need four person to carry it (no joke!). Hey! At least I tried to help the Sun people to carry the 21" monitor to my table.

Now, please don't drool and dirty your keyboard cause I have it and you don't. :)

I should perhaps shift Hardware One (which is currently running on a Pentium 200 MHz) into this new machine. I had been assured that it can handle over 30,000 hits/minute compared to the measly 900 hits/minute (or even much lesser) of the Pentium.

The point is, Hardware One don't get 30,000 hits/minute. No, not even in a month, two months or even a year?

Moral of the story is, help us recommend more people to this site, and we will do our best to entertain you guys. :)

BCM QS440BX  9th July 16:39 pm

Ever heard of BCM motherboards? HardWire did a review on this BX motherboard. It features a 5 PCI/2 ISA/1 AGP configuration. One of the things I don't like is that the available bus setting (66 /100 MHz) as well as the CPU voltage (1.5v - 3.5v) are auto-detected.

8th July 1998 {Wednesday}
Caesar III  8th July 21:45 pm

I'm about to mention another sequel to a another great game. Sierra's Caesar series is yet another classic that has captured the hearts of many gamers (always drawing the best from Civilisation and SimCity).

It is games like this that appeals to all ages and entertains for hours. GameSpot scored another with this latest preview. Hot! I'll just show you 2 screenshots, you'll have to drop by GameSpot for the real stuff. (Gosh! Too many great games are rolling out... don't you just hate it!???)

Played RailRoad Tycoon?  8th July 21:13 pm

I'm sure we'd sorely missed Sid Mier's runaway hit - RailRoad Tycoon. Now the grand sequel RailRoad Tycoon II will be coming soon. Bought over from Microprose, RTII is developed by PopTop Software, a small gaming firm set up by Phil Steinmeyer, designer of Heroes of Might & Magic I & II. (GameCenter's SneakPeek!)

For those young gamers who don't know what this age old favourite is about, read this:

"Not unlike the original, Railroad Tycoon II furnishes the player with a vast, open-ended game of real-time strategy based on warfare by finance. Your weapons are trains--vast transportation networks spanning the 19th and 20th centuries, and the continents of North and South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. To amass your fortune, move passengers and goods, such as mail and bulk items, via railway to locations where they're in demand. Better yet, create chains of supply and demand, linking related industries together by rail. For instance, connect coal mines, steel mills, and, finally, armament factories, and pocket your fee as your trains arrive."

The new game will feature numerous enhancements notably a new proprietary S3D engine that'll display 16-bit 3D maps at up to 1024 x 768 resolution, with a polygon count of 500,000. (Some screenshot teasers from GameCenter.COM...)

"Using HO-scale trains and building models, the Poptop team has created some very realistic artwork for Railroad Tycoon II. We can't show you the train animations, so you'll have to take our word for it: they're very good."

Mystery of the 100 MHz FSB  8th July 12:45 pm

CPUMadness did an article on the 100 MHz FSB, whether is there a great improvement over the 66 MHz bus or not.

You heard it from Tom, Anand, and just about every hardware reviewer on the planet, 100mhz FSB does not really benefit the Pentium II. Is this really true? If it is, then why did Intel even bother? The answer to this question is yes and no. CPU Madness will give you the reasons...

Compaq readies Fingerprint ID security  8th July 12:05 pm

Compaq plans to ship in August the $99 Fingerprint Identification Technology.

Developed by Compaq and Identicator Technology Corp., the Fingerprint Identification Technology enables a PC to identify and authenticate a user by his or her fingerprints.

The Fingerprint Reader, which uses Indenticator's DFR-200 reader technology, can be mounted on the desktop and connects to the parallel port and either the mouse or keyboard port via a power pass-through cable.

Multi-Monitor Support  8th July 11:56 am

CoolComputing did a interesting review on the Multi-Monitor support under Windows 98, which I was going to do, but did not have enough time for it (cool excuse huh?).  :)

They connected 2 PCI and 1 AGP video card to a Pentium-II 300 MHz machine.

If you can read this message, Windows has successfully initialized this display adapter.   To use this adapter as part of your Windows desktop, open the display option in the Control Panel and adjust the settings on the Settings tab.

Delay in Service Pack  8th July 11:50 am

Earlier last week, Microsoft was pushing to finish the beta of Service Pack 1 for Windows 98. However, late last week, Microsoft officials had a change of heart and decided to separate out the multimedia elements from the bug fixes that will ultimately comprise Service Pack 1.

But the official Service Pack 1 for Windows 98 now is slated to go to beta in August, rather than this month, and be commercially available in September, according to sources close to the company. "This delay will give Microsoft time to incorporate the various and growing number of Windows 98 bug fixes from product support," said a developer close to the company, who requested anonymity.

MotherBoard Monitor  8th July 11:40 am

The latest version of MotherBoard Monitor, 3.4r, is available at the utilities section.

[Beam me to the latest news archive!]

Copyright 1998 Hardware One
Last updated 27 September 1998 23:45