15 July 98 - 21 July 98
Highlights within this period includes:
  • Matrox Mystique 16Mb AGP
  • Netscape Communicator v4.5 Preview Release 1
  • Final Fantasy VII
  • DirectX Plans
  • Magix Trouble?
  • New Canopus Drivers
  • SoundBlaster PCI128
  • Creative Broadens EAX Support
  • Pacific Internet Increases Bandwidth
  • Copy Protection DVD
  • PowerStrip 2.24
  • Diamond Stealth II G460 Review
  • Interview /w nVidia Developer Relations Manager
  • S-One Video Conferencing Kit Promotion
  • Toshiba Dynabook 3000
  • Intel Chipset Roadmap
  • Inside Merced
  • Quake II Vs Unreal
  • AMD K6-2 Rivals Deep Blue
  • PI's Games Gallery Reviews Terasound A3D PCI
  • Sanyo's 8X CD-R Drives
  • Freespace Review
  • Asus 40X EIDE CDROM Drive
  • Intel RoadMap
  • Diamond's New TNT Benchmark
  • Anand Reviews Matrox G200
  • PC Vendors Issues New Win98 Warnings!
  • Tom's 3D Evaluation
  • When will NT5 Ever Ship?!
  • Matrox Mystique G200 Reviews
  • AMD to use Copper Technology
  • Netscape Security Flaw
  • Latest Intel Roadmap
  • Why do Processors require Cooling?
  • Dawning of DirectX 6
21st July 1998 {Tuesday}
Dawning of DirectX 6  21st July 23:58 pm

From a small blurp at RivaZone, they had mentioned that DirectX 6 will be shipping some time this week. Then over at Microsoft, they estimated that we can expect a whopping 60 percent boost in 3D performance over DirectX 5 (now is that some kind of exaggeration? hmm...).

Well, DirectX 6 will be a set of feature rich API that will support many of the BIG BAD graphics cards better and it will also have native 3DNow! support. AMD K6-2 users will definitely want this as they will be the ones seeing the greatest amount of improvement in D3D over version 5.

For game developers, DirectX 6 could well be the turning point in the industry if it succeeds in ironing out the flaws in version 5. Popular proprietary APIs such as GLIDE may start to see their decline as developers will want to write to a single industry standard API that can run on most of the market's video hardware. The effort to support multiple APIs is a waste of resources and energy that can be better spent on further development.

Why do Processors require Cooling?  21st July 17:48 pm

Kim Thompson did an article on why your microprocessors require cooling.

The electrical resistance of a normal electrical conductor, such as a metal, will increase with temperature. This tends to produce a self-regulating effect; i.e. as the conductor gets hotter due to excess current, the associated resistance increase will help to curtail any further current rise (presuming a fixed voltage). This is what prevents the filament of a light-bulb from reaching its melting point. Now imagine what would happen if the opposite were true; that is, if the electrical resistance of a material was to actually fall in proportion to a temperature increase. In this case more current would flow as the temperature increased, which in turn would increase the temperature still further. Without adequate cooling this process would lead to 'thermal runaway' and the conductor would burn out. A semiconductor is just such a material.

Latest Intel Roadmap  21st July 17:44 pm

Intel will reduce the price of the 350 MHz drastically on September. By the time it implements an October 25 price drop, Intel will have three Pentium II chips left in its lineup, the 450MHz, 400MHz and 350MHz versions, with prices of $550, $370 and $210. While the roadmap continues to list 333MHz and 300MHz iterations of the Pentium II until October, their pricing matches that of the 350MHz, making the former two unviable. Pentium II 233MHz and 266MHz chips disappear from the lineup at the end of October.

The heavier-than-expected price drop on the Pentium II 350MHz was viewed as necessary to jump-start sales of the processor, the OEM said. The processor, which cost $510 after a June 7 price cut, will be lowered to $415 on July 26 before taking a dramatic cut to $290 on September 13.

The new Pentium II 450MHz will start at $656 when it ships in September, then drop to $550 at October's end.

On the Celeron front, the 333MHz version of the "basic PC" chip, code-named Mendocino, makes its debut in September at a $190 price. The chip, with 128KB of cache, drops to $175 at October's end.

A 300MHz version of the Celeron with 128KB of cache debuts in September at $150, then drops to $135 in October.

The cacheless 300MHz will drop from a current $155 to $110 on July 26, then to $105 through September and October, according to the roadmap. The 266MHz Celeron drops from $105 in June to $84 in July, and maintains that price through October's end, the document indicated.

Netscape Security Flaw  21st July 17:38 pm

According to TechWeb, a Java security flaw in Netscape's Internet browser may be just the reason users need to upgrade to the latest 4.5 version.

Last week, researchers at Princeton University's Secure Internet Programming Group found a security flaw that can be used to exploit 4x versions of Netscape's browser. But they told Netscape before the release of version 4.5, which went into beta on Thursday. The Princeton researchers later verified the flaw was fixed.

If an attacker was able to penetrate the browser's security, according to the group, he or she could essentially take over a user's computer using an applet, and could steal or delete files and cause other damage.

AMD to use Copper Technology  21st July 17:33 pm

AMD and Motorola are engaged in a technology exchange pact that will include Motorola sharing its copper process so AMD can develop faster microprocessors, using copper in the manufacturing process.

Motorola, in return, will gain access to AMD's flash memory products, to incorporate flash memory in its embedded processors, for faster embedded chips. Embedded processors are designed for specific functions, such as printing, and it is one area where Motorola's PowerPC chip has made big inroads.

Copper technology has been widely touted by many in the semiconductor industry as a future way to design faster chips.

Currently, processors are made up of aluminimum as the main electrical conducting property.

Matrox Mystique G200 Reviews  21st July 00:46 am

I noticed a couple of sites are reviewing this baby from powerhouse Matrox. Every one is an interesting read. As you might have already known, the G200 chipset is positioned as a low price, yet very high quality card with near-Voodoo2 class performance.

In my opinion (many others too!), the G200 is presently the ultimate 2D/3D combo with the MOST bang for the buck! (Now when will it ever come to my sunny island?). It will probably remain so for some time till perhaps when 3Dfx Banshee ships or the Savage3D arrives. The TNT will most likely not be able to compete in that price range even if it debuts with rock solid performance.

Here's some reviews I've linked to:

1. HardwareCentral's Review

2. CombatSim's Review

3. AnandTech's Review (Posted this on 19th July, it's here again)

When Will NT5 EVER Ship??!!  21st July 00:40 am

I'm really burning my precious beauty sleep to find you this. :)

An article titled "NT5: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back" from ZDNet, talks about the delays of NT5 from Microsoft (What's new? Luckily it wasn't named NT98) and it does seem like Microsoft may still push back the release date of NT5 further into 2nd or 3rd Qtr of 1999.

This is quoted from a beta user's feedback on NT5 Build 1835, pre-beta 2 code:

The increasing size of NT 5.0 is giving some beta testers installation nightmares. "There's over half a gig of code here, and it's very resource-intensive. On a pretty fast machine with all the bells and whistles, the CPU utilization was hovering at 75 percent until I unloaded quite a bit of stuff," said a Build 1835 beta tester who requested anonymity.

It does seem that there's still a long way to go before NT5's actual release date. Arrgghh!

Tom's 3D Evaluation  21st July 00:03 am

Tom's Hardware has added this big ass preview and evaluation on all the mighty 3D cards that are about to ship or just shipping. He's mentioned the PowerVRSG, Matrox G200, Riva TNT, 3Dfx Banshee and S3 Savage3D.

He's also done a comprehensive benchmark on 3 of the above cards and ran them against the present reigning champion - Voodoo2. Read it here!

20th July 1998 {Monday}
Whew! Finally got to do some updating??  20th July 23:45 pm

Ooops! I guess the day is going to pass without any updates? Yeah, let me explain. Both the editors are presently very very busy with things (home things, school things, work things, as well as computer things...). As you can see, SO MANY THINGS (Sheesh! I do have a habit of repeating myself)

And I'm in a highly excited mood this week, coz' there's quite a couple of things that has to be done - of which I can disclose one, that is I'm upgrading my old junky P166 at home for a BETTER and BADDER rig (does that sound humble enuf?).

Ok, besides these... we're also "trying" to "renovate" Hardware One to serve you better. Hope you'll bare with us (Nah! Not do the Full Monty!?!?!).  ;)

Many thanks for visiting. We really need your support.

19th July 1998 {Sunday}
PC Vendors Issues New Win98 Warnings!  19th July 22:16 pm

Many PC Vendors are worrying about the potential problems that could result from Windows 98's Windows Update feature. Here's the snippet from ZDNet's article:

"Microsoft is under intense pressure not to put anything on the Windows 98 Web site," said an executive with one major OEM, who requested anonymity. "Different OEMs want different versions of drivers to load on their systems. Windows Update has the potential to totally hose users' machines because it doesn't capture enough information about a user's configuration to make sure it works properly."

Said another OEM official: "What happens when a driver gets downloaded that ends up breaking other stuff on a user's machine? Who will fix it? We won't. And Microsoft says it won't." The OEM official said his company has been warning Microsoft repeatedly against relying on this feature.

It does seem like a potentially great problem to me if the vendors cannot resolve the issue with Microsoft. For many users, it would be best that they take a cautious attitude when considering to run the updates. (Don't try it unless you have to and try it only if you are "quite" certain that nothing will go really wrong)

Anand Reviews Matrox G200  19th July 21:50 pm

AnandTech reviewed the Matrox Mystique G200. All the stuff about the EXCELLENT visual quality and EXCELLENT TV-out.... blah... I'm sure you all already know (else read Anand's full review). I'll show you his comparison graphs though:

g200-1.jpg (12169 bytes)

From the above numbers (which was the OpenGL performance on Quake 2), you'll notice that the G200 performance is somewhat disappointing. This is because Matrox has not yet release their OpenGL ICD, which is expected to perform to within 10fps of the TNT. The figures given here were ran on a slow D3D Wrapper that came with their card.

g200-2.jpg (10812 bytes)

g200-3.jpg (11844 bytes)

With a low price expected when it debuts in Singapore, we can look forward to this being one of the most cost effective cards with excellent graphics quality and the added bonus of a wonderful TV-Out (perhaps replacing the i740 as the card of choice)

Diamond's New TNT Benchmarks  19th July 21:19 pm

Cyrellis has posted the new figures of Diamond's pre-released TNT board. Even though the benchmark numbers were obtained from Diamond's in-house testing, they reassure the public that the finished product "will perform in an extremely powerful and capable manner" when it debuts.

Here's the figures:

The following figures were obtained on a Diamond system that had the following specs:

  • Intel P2-400 CPU
  • 64MB 10ns PC-100 SDRAM
  • Win98
  • DX6
  • "Newest" Diamond Drivers and Latest nVidia TnT Hardware Revision
P2-400 Results 7-7-98 Scores 7-17-98 scores
Turok Demo v1.03 (D3D 640x480x16) 81 fps 114 fps
Forsaken Biodome Demo (D3D 640x480x16) 146 fps 177 fps
ZD Winbench 98 1280 1430

Intel Roadmap  19th July 21:04 pm

Accordingly to CNet, Intel will release the 700 MHz Xeon in 1999. Desktop Pentium II will go up to 600 MHz and mobile processors will go up to 366 MHz.

Intel will introduce a 333-MHz Pentium II that integrates a super-fast 256 kilobyte cache memory chip. Code-named Dixon, the chip is slated to appear in the first half of the year, according to sources. Cache memory is critical for boosting a chip's performance.

Xeon: 700-MHz chips made under the 0.18 micron process.

Pentium II: 600-MHz chips by end of year. Katmai ("MMX 2") technology in Q1. Chips with 256K integrated cache memory will appear in the first half, before coming in the Celeron line.

Hardware support: Native support for USB (universal serial bus), DVD, and TV tuner add-in cards.

Celeron: 100-MHz bus in the first half. Technology will lag Pentium II to preserve segmentation. Far in future: integration with graphics chips a possibility.

Mobile: Celeron mobile chips in Q1, chips with integrated cache memory to follow.

Downtime  19th July 20:09 pm

Very sorry if you had been trying to access Hardware One for the past day. The whole Singapore broadband ATM network is undergoing upgrading and access will be intermittent till 4pm on 20th July.

18th July 1998 {Saturday}
Asus 40X EIDE CDROM Drive  18th July 20:35 pm

Asus has announced the launch of their 40X CDROM Drive on the 16th of July and guess what? You can already find many shops at Sim Lim Square selling it at about S$125. This new drive will continue to ride on the success of the Asus 34X that won the hearts of many.

The main features:

  • Highest Speed CDROM drive available today: 40x
  • Maximum data transfer rate: 2800 ~ 6000 Kb/Sec.
  • Disc access time: 75ms
  • Highest spindle motor rotation speed: 8900 rpm
  • Compatible with all CD formats
  • Supports for Ultra DMA/33 mode for a safer and speedier access
  • Audio play/skip control buttons for easy control
  • Supports PnP & high speed Digital Audio Data Extraction
  • Panel play function and high speed CD-Audio playback
  • Within DDS (Double Dynamic Suspension System) design for excellent anti-vibration
  • Compliant with MPC level 2 & 3
  • Supporting speed auto-switching function

We'll wait for the first reviews to appear before we pass judgement on it. Meanwhile, you can read Asus' Official Announcement right here.

Freespace Review  18th July 11:49 am

Combat Simulations has just posted their review on Descent : Freespace. Maurice Fritzgerald tells of his experience with the gameplay, eye candy, storyline as well as multiplayer capabilities.

"Seeing that you are in space you should be treated to the beauties of the universe and Freespace does just that. From beautifully rendered asteroids to softly glowing nebulae, this one scores high in the looks department. The ships themselves are things of beauty as well, with faint engine glow and missile trails (although I still love Prophecy’s the best) plowing right into the side of an enemy ship, you’ll feel you are there. The hollywood style explosions add the finishing touches with nice rippling shockwaves, something that I feel is a must to be a believable explosion."  

"For some really great action this one delivers. Overall it's a VERY fun game, it looks nice and play is very smooth. But with no depth to the story or feeling of urgency you may feel like you are playing a very sweet looking arcade title, that falls just short of being a really engrossing sim. With a lack of storyline this one will rely heavily on mutliplayer for longevity, and if the multiplayer aspects cannot be fixed this one may well find itself selling itself short."

Sanyo's 8X CD-R drives  18th July 00:43 am

Sanyo developed a two-chip solution which the company is planning to sell as an off-the-shelf product. Expect to see 24R/8W drives in the market soon. HP is going to launch their HP 8200, which features a 24R and 8W capabilities.

The chip set consists of a so-called "write-strategy" LSI that compensates waveform in writing to guarantee compatibility and a CD-R/RW signal-processing LSI that processes signals at 8x in writing and 24x in reading.

In writable disk drives, things like pickup, the disk and writing speed cause distorted waveform. The write-strategy LSI adjusts the waveform to a CD's proper EFM (eight-to-18 modulation) signal form.

"Every factor of a drive such as pickup, disk and writing speed has a large influence on writing procedure," said Toru Akiyama, senior manager of Sanyo's Mos-LSI Division. "Thus far, CD-R drive manufacturers had to develop an ASIC by themselves for write-strategy control."

17th July 1998 {Friday}
PI's Games Gallery Reviews Terasound A3D PCI  17th July 23:54 pm

This is a great local product that has been getting rave reviews from many local sites. Now PI's Games Gallery delivers their verdict on Intresource's Terasound A3D PCI sound card.

"Terasound A3D Sound Card is produced right here in Singapore and is using the Aureal Vortex AU8820 Chipset. This soundcard really packs a punch and at its good retail price makes it a compulsory peripheral along with that 3D graphics card you already have. A3D technology uses psychoacoustic modeling to produce virtual surround sources and of course its advance cues and filters include Head Related Transfer Functions (HRTFs), Doppler effects, 3D directional positioning, and distance modeling.

The card supports GM/XG/TG300B, DirectSound and DirecSound 3D. It also has 128 enhanced software voices, 64 wavetable voices (samples at 16-bit, 48KHz), 4MB wavetable samples, 676 Melody Voices, 42 SFX Voices, 21 Drum/ SFX Kits and 16 Multi-timbral parts."

"Fortunately with A3D you are not required to waste good money for quad pre-amp amplifiers to get surround sound like some of us unwisely did in the past. Now you can achieve good 3D surround sounds effortlessly with the Terasound A3D card and a pair of half decent speakers. This card is ideal for those "siao" gamers and also for those that that wanted to experience a truly interactive 3D audio."

AMD K6-2 Rivals Deep Blue?  17th July 22:24 pm

No, it's not a performance benchmark of the two. We can't be comparing cherries and durians can we? Ah.. remember last year's memorable chess match between Kasparov and IBM's Deep Blue - the epitome of battle between man and machine.

This year, we see a scaled down version pitting Rebel, a Kryotech cooled AMD K6-2 450mhz vs Vishy Anand (the world's second best). Well, since I'm not sure of Anand's specs, I can only give you Rebel's :P

  • A KryoTech Cool K6-2 450 (based on a 450MHz KryoCooled AMD-K6-2 processor) supplied by Kryotech
  • 128 Mb EDO Ram
  • 512 Kb second level cache
  • Expected NPS (nodes per second) about 200,000 - 250,000

This bit, I ripped off from BootNet:

A KryoTech Cool PC is the hardware of choice, using a 333MHz version of AMD's processor thermally accelerated to run at 450MHz. Using built-in vapor-phase refrigeration, the chip is supercooled down to minus 40 degrees Celcius enabling the higher clock rates.

Chess fans can head over to their website here.

Quake II Vs Unreal  17th July 22:09 pm

GameCenter.COM has really cooked up this really interesting comparison between the 2 most popular first-person shooters. Yes, which is the real ULTIMATE shoot'em all game? Ha, it is a very sensitive issue to many avid Quakers (??) and Unrealites (Duh????).

Yap, both games are pitted against each other in terms of graphics, gameplay, sound effects, artificial intelligence, weapon arsenal, storyline and multiplayer capabilities. Read it!

Inside Merced  17th July 14:46 pm

CNN talked about the Intel Merced, which is due to be out somewhere in mid 2000.

Pluck a hair from your head. Imagine slicing it lengthwise into 555 strands. Each would be 0.18 microns thick, the same thickness as a wire destined for Intel Corp.'s new Merced chip.

In fact, they aren't even called wires - traces is the term, and you need an electron beam to arrange them in the specific, and so far secret, layout that will become a Merced microprocessor.

Intel Chipset Road Map  17th July 14:41 pm

Intel had revised it's chipset roadmap and had inserted a new chipset, the 440ZX as an option for low-cost PCs. The 440ZX -- a temporary name, is designed to be a low-cost version of the 440BX, and will succeed the 440EX that are currently used by Celerons.

The 440ZX will use a 66-MHz system bus, leading customers to believe a second, 100-MHz version will be added at a later date, or will replace the 66-MHz version in production. Customers speculated the new chip set could be used with a MicroATX motherboard, using the new socket version of Intel's forthcoming Mendocino Celeron processor.

16th July 1998 {Thursday}
Toshiba Dynabook 3000  16th July 22:36 pm

The new Toshiba Dynabook 3000 has arrived.

With dimensions of 10.1 x 7.8 x .77 inches (257 x 199 x 19.8 mm), the Dynabook has a smaller footprint than a piece of standard 8.5 x 11 inch paper, and is appreciably thinner than the Vaio 505 or Mebius. The Dynabook weighs 2.62 lb (1.19 kg).

Despite this, the Dynabook's screen is the same size as that of the Vaio 505; the Dynabook also has a wider key-pitch than any of its competitors.

Features are as follows :

  • Pentium 233 MMX, 64 MB RAM, 2 GB hard disk.
  • USB and IrDA
  • Neomagic 128XD 2mb embedded VRAM
  • Built-in speaker; speaker and mic jacks
  • Erase head pointer device
  • 2 PCMCIA slots

S-One's Video Conferencing Kit Promotion  16th July 22:01 pm

Here's another hot deal for S-One users out there, S-One is having this promotion on Intresource's Alaris QuickVideo DVC1 video conferencing kit. It is available for only $79 to all S-One users. Read about the promotion here. Or place you orders this way if you are an S-One user...

The specifications of the kit:

  • External parallel port plug-in installation
  • Video Capture up to 30fps. Single frame capture too
  • Fast f1.9, 3.5mm lens with 48 degree of view
  • Variable focus; 4 inches to infinity
  • Auto Brightess and Hue Controls
  • Software controls under B & W levels
  • Video resolutions of 320x240, 240x180, 160x120

Interview /w nVidia Developer Relations Manager  16th July 20:09 pm

Cyrellis has posted their interview with Jay Stocki, nVidia's Developer Relations Manager, that took place on Monday. They talked about the TNT and it's recent poor showing when Diamond took a early pre-mature version for their testing. Some tit-bits for you:

Cyrellis 3D: After looking at the benchmarks that Cyrellis recorded for the early Viper TnT card, how do you estimate those will compare to the final release TnT-based products at launch?

Jay Stocki: The scores you recorded were way low. It's possible that the actual hardware version of the Viper TnT that's out on the current Diamond press tour is an earlier version of nVidia's most current reference card, which is a generation and a half further along in development. The drivers that nVidia is developing for the TnT are changing everyday. Even week-old drivers are obsolete, since our software team is working their fingers to the bone coding for 24hours/7 days a week.

(after they've conversed about the TNT going from .35 to .25 die-size)...

Cyrellis 3D: At that time then, will the nVidia reference design for the new .25 die-size TnT-based cards be switched to faster SDRAM and SGRAM as DRAM vendors increase speeds up to and beyond 166MHz?

Jay Stocki: Yes. During the spring of 1999, there could definitely be a faster-rated, TnT "ZX" version, or something like that, that includes a higher supported core speed, a .25 micron die-size, and faster on board ram. We haven't made any concrete decisions yet about how it will be handled, so this is pure speculation. Again though, it's up to the various TnT manufacturers to decide how they configure the boards using the TnT chip itself. Core speeds, and SDRAM/SGRAM speeds could fluctuate between vendors, even on the .35 micron launch cards, as certain vendors may decide to utilize a higher quality level of components that allow stability to be achieved at higher speeds.

Diamond Stealth II G460 Review   16th July 19:55 pm

Anand has completed his testing of Diamond's newest Stealth series based on the Intel I740 chipset. Though Diamond made an admirable effort to make this a quality card coupled with first class drivers, it seems like its debut is a little too late. With mediocre performance, the low price and quality graphics still does not excite now that the Matrox G200 cards are shipping.

Nevertheless, roll over to Anand's to see how this card stacks up.

Powerstrip 2.24   16th July 19:41 pm

Yes, EntechTaiwan has updated their nifty video display utility again to version 2.24 this time. Grab it at our Utilities section right away.

Copy Protection DVD   16th July 19:33 pm

IBM and NEC today announced they are working together to establish the first copyright protection standard for DVD (digital versatile disc), the high-capacity medium that's beginning to replace the CD.

The two plan to integrate their respective "watermark" technologies and present a standard to the Copyright Protection Technical Working Group, the companies said in a prepared statement. Digital watermarks, hidden between pixels so as to remain all but invisible to the eye, provide copyright information and work with play control technology to enable (or block) playback or copying.

DVD discs are the size of CDs but have nearly six times the storage capacity. They are widely expected to be the next medium for viewing movies at home.

Unfortunately, at the moment they are also fairly easy to pirate, said Jim Porter, editor of DiskTrend magazine. DVD piracy occurs predominantly in Asian and South American countries where copyright laws are not strictly enforced, he said.

"The smart computer type can copy anything," Porter noted. "Presumably, [with watermarks] they could start catching these things."

The goal of the joint effort, the two companies said, is the production of new DVD players that will be able to authenticate watermarked DVD discs.

Pacific Internet increases Bandwidth   16th July 19:24 pm

Pacific Internet announced that it will be setting up new high speed links between Singapore, Hong Kong and the Philippines.

The links would be through E1 lines with a speed of two Megabits pers second, chief executive officer Nicholas Lee told a news conference.

Lee said Pacific Internet, which now has 150,000 subscribers, was tripling its Singapore-U.S. bandwidth to 64 Megabits per sec. It was adding a 45 Megabits per second link (T3) via a dedicated satellite transponder expected to go online on Septermber 1.  The bandwidth from the T3 link could be used up in a year and Pacific Internet would have to put in another link between Singapore and the United States, which could be either via satellite or a submarine link.

He said a data centre in United States, also expected to be ready in September, would enable it to control the connectivity to the United States.

Pacific Internet is working on additional links to Europe and other parts of Asia. It has existing high-speed links to Japan through ABONE, Asia's largest Internet backbone network.

Creative Broadens EAX Support   16th July 00:11 am

Another of Avault's news, Creative has announced that they will broaden the support of their upcoming Environmental Audio Extensions into their entire line of PCI solutions.

Creative Technology Ltd., the world's leading provider of multimedia products for the PC, today announced that the company plans to release new drivers supporting its Environmental Audio Extensions (EAX.) These new drivers will provide support for games that use the EAX API in all of Creative's retail PCI audio solutions and will also provide EAX support for solutions from Creative's subsidiary, Ensoniq.

The Environmental Audio Extensions API allows developers to add a new level of excitement to their games with real-world interactive audio environments. Available this Fall, from Creative's Web site and in Creative's Ensoniq PCI products, upgraded drivers supporting EAX are designed to allow existing PCI audio card customers to experience Environmental Audio Effects in interactive 3D games optimized for EAX. Creative's highly-anticipated Sound Blaster Live! will support EAX when it ships this Summer.

The Environmental Audio Extensions API is an open API designed to work in conjunction with Microsoft DirectSound 3D. When available this Fall, the EAX upgrade will open up an installed-base of over six million audio solutions worldwide capable of running games designed with EAX. All EAX-based games and applications software will be optimized to run on Windows 95, Windows 98 (and eventually Windows NT 5.0), and will be best experienced with the powerful audio accelerator, the EMU10K1, which is incorporated in Creative's upcoming Sound Blaster Live! audio solutions.

The EAX upgrade will be made available from Creative's award-winning Web site, The Creative Zone at http://www.soundblaster.com, this Fall. It will be available for Sound Blaster PCI64, Creative Ensoniq Audio PCI and Sound Blaster PCI128.

SoundBlaster PCI128   16th July 00:02 am

I noticed over at Adrenaline Vault a new posting. Creative introduces a 4 channel audio system - the SoundBlaster PCI128 together with the Cambridge SoundWorks(R) PCWorks FourPointSurround speakers. Tell you the exciting parts:

"Targeted at providing PC consumers with a superior audio and 3D gaming experience, the Sound Blaster PCI128 & PCWorks FourPointSurround system will ship immediately at a highly attractive estimated street price of US$149."

Wah! A very important part:

"Creative plans to extend support for its Environmental Audio Extensions (EAX) to the new Sound Blaster PCI128 in the FALL of '98. This host-based upgrade will allow existing and new customers to experience titles that support EAX on the Sound Blaster PCI128. All EAX-based games and applications software originally developed to run best on the new Sound Blaster Live! audio card can also soon be experienced by the Sound Blaster PCI128 user. Sound Blaster Live!, Creative's premiere PCI audio card and the first card created to support Environmental Audio, is due out this summer."

15th July 1998 {Wednesday}
New Canopus Drivers!   15th July 21:30 pm

Canopus has released new drivers for the Total3D 128V (version 1.30.05) as well as their Pure3D cards (version 1.60.05). Download them from our Video Drivers section.

Magix Trouble?   15th July 21:06 pm

UNITE! Users of Magix! Here's Jovi Lee's online posting of his letter of complaint to Computer Times published 1st July 98. Read the un-edited version as well as the letter of apology from SingTel right here.

Fellow ADSL users in Singapore, it's heartening to know there's somebody who's willing to speak up. Perhaps, many of us should not suffer in silence anymore? :)

DirectX Plans  15th July 20:56 pm

Ahem. Yes, Microsoft has revealed some plans they have with DirectX. They were in the process of firming up the feature list in DirectX 7.0 and it is at the same time working on DirectX 8.0 even though DirectX 6 has yet been released to us (Release Candidate 1 was posted last week)

One exciting bit I read in InfoWorld's article was this:

The Microsoft executive also suggested that ISVs test their products under Windows NT. "It's probably going to be a while" before there is a large demand from end-users but, again, writing to NT will avoid compatibility problems.

"Test your titles on NT," Kenworthy said.

This is something I (personally) have been waiting for. Then I can chuck Win9X aside once and for all, and use NT (4 or 5) as the operating system of choice in running both business applications as well as GAMES!!!

Final Fantasy VII  15th July 20:42 pm

Well, forget yesterday's reviews. Today, GameCenter.COM has posted a better one for all of you. Final Fantasy fans will probably not need this great review to convince you of anything, but for those of you still contemplating if you wanna shell out the money, read this! (Four of Five Star Rating from them)

"If I had to sum it up in only three words, I would use: amazing, bizarre, and huge."

"Unlike many other RPGs, FFVII lets players name their characters. However, FFVII has much stronger elements of plot and action than most Ultima-type games. It doesn't have to be finished in a strictly linear fashion, but the story is far more scripted than the average RPG. Expect long periods of character interaction and storytelling. Although I find this annoying in many nonadventure games, I found it refreshing, even welcome, in FFVII. The story unfolds with a style and skill that rivals many novels--Japanese translation and all; the plot was engaging and kept me on the edge of my ergonomic workstation saddle."

"If FFVII works with your video card, you're in for a treat. This is a game that can be played for months and still remain fresh."

"There are more than enough weapons, spells, and monsters to keep traditional PC RPG fans happy, plus action elements to shake things up."

"You've got to play it to appreciate the work that went into this masterpiece."

Netscape Communicator v4.5 Preview Release 1  15th July 20:37 pm

Netscape Communcation Corp has made available Communicator v4.5 PR1. The preview release will expire sometime in 15 Oct 98 but it'll give customers a good feel of some of the new features that'll probably be included in the actual version. (Before trying it, you should definitely take a look at the release notes)

Listed are what's new in v4.5 PR1:

  • Smart Browsing
  • 3-Pane Integrated Mail / News Interface
  • Roaming Access
  • Pinpoint Addressing and Scalable Address Book
  • Greatly improved IMAP mail performance, network efficiency, and interoperability.
  • Palm Pilot address book, calendar and mail synchronization
  • New Calendar with simplified UI
  • Mail and address import from text, Outlook Express and Eudora
  • Binary patching  on Windows 95 and Windows NT
  • SmartUpdate uninstall
  • Netscape Quality Feedback System for bug reporting

Matrox Mystique G200 16Mb AGP  15th July 20:12 pm

This must be the review many of you have been waiting for (Kan?). Well, Cyrellis has posted a review + benchmark of Matrox's "re-entry" card.

This card is geared mainly for gamers and Cyrellis speaks about the excellent TV-Out, drivers and documentation as well as the good game bundle which all points to the high quality finish we've come to expect from Matrox.

Here's what the card features:

  • 128 bit DualBus Graphics Chip
  • 32-bpp "True Color" support for both 2D and 3D applications
  • Options for up to 16MB of SDRAM or SGRAM depending upon the implementation of the chip
  • 100 million pixels per second fill rate
  • .25 micron die-size enabling high core speed and low cost
  • Single clock cycle rendering of Bi-linear Filtering
  • Full hardware accelerated DVD and MPEG 1 and 2 playback

Some cool things they've said about the Matrox:

Performance in general was good on the 3D games, and very good on the 2D benchmarks. As you've probably heard from several of the publications that went to E3, including Cyrellis, the visual quality of the Mystique is fantastic. Color saturation is perfect, the vividness of each color displayed clearly stands out, and the additional capability to use all this visual acuity to pound out a 32bpp color depth in a 3D application (Incoming in this case) is astounding. We're still undecided when it comes to estimating if the visual splendor of 32bpp justifies the massive performance hit from the next step down, witch is 16bpp-dithered. One thing is for certain, out of all the next generation cards we've previewed, the MGA-G200 powered Mystique wins the award for best visual quality.

What about value for money $$$ ???

In fact, in that price range the Mystique is the current speed record holder, and visual quality award winner. We can't think of another 2D/3D card that offers as much power, performance, usability, and high-resolution options at anywhere near those aforementioned prices.

[Beam me to the latest news archive!]

Copyright 1998 Hardware One
Last updated 27 September 1998 23:36