22 June 98 - 28 June 98
Highlights within this period includes:
  • Piracy in Singapore
  • Bill Gates Richest Man Again
  • Banshee
  • What! More Banshee?
  • A3D Soundcard Review
  • Matrox G200
  • Intel Slashes Prices Again
  • Quake OpenGL vs 3D
  • Studio OpenGL
  • Leisure Suit Larry
  • Canopus WitchDoctor
  • Sony Playstation to go DVD
  • Matrox G100 Multi-Monitor Support
  • Even More Banshee Love
  • K6-2 Vs Celeron Vs MMX
  • Problems in Intel Xeon
  • Motohead Exclusive!
  • Bug in Word
  • Interview with Aureal
  • Multi-Processing Bugs in PII
  • Power3D2 from TechWorks
  • PowerStrip 2.23
  • WC Prophecy : Secret Ops
  • NSA Frees Secret Crypto Schemes
  • PowerVR Won Award
  • Fix for Intel Xeon
  • SoundBlaster Live!
  • Enter Recoil!
  • WinAmp with 3DNow!
  • Microstar 5169
  • What is SMART?
  • Matrox's New BIOs
  • SSL Flaw
  • Problems with TNT?
  • Singapore's Version of Deep Impact
  • Environmental Audio Anyone?
28th June 1998 {Sunday}..
Environmental Audio Anyone? 28th June 19:50 pm

We've seen many 3D sound standards adopted by different sound card makers. From the initial QSound then to 3D-Positional sounds, comes the latest jargon from Creative - Environmental Audio. A new sound standard to be adopted in Creative's latest SoundBlaster Live!

It promises to be everything a gamer has ever wanted to complete his 3D gaming experience. A sound so realistic it'll chill your spine each time you play your favourite 3D shooter. A revolutionary standard that Creative claims unrivalled. In their recent article, Creative explained in detail the need for more then 2 speakers to create a truely immersive experience for the user.

5-1surround.gif (3852 bytes) 5.1 Surround Sound System
Sound images appear outside the circle of speakers, delivering home-theater performance to your PC.
7-1surround.gif (5268 bytes) 7.1 Surround Sound System
Sound images appear outside the speakers and the environment is created, providing you with a totally immersive audio experience.

Current 3D PC audio solutions use simple techniques to attempt to recreate virtual audio locations. When stereo speakers are used, ITD and HRTFs are applied to the natural sounds to recreate 3D audio. While these methods work well in 'predictable' listening positions, the audio system cannot anticipate motion in the listener's head or position. With two speakers, when the listener moves, 3D audio illusion fails because assumptions are made based on where the listener is positioned. Recent studies indicate that half the population are compulsive 'head-turners'! For these people, two speakers will never provide a realistic 3D audio experience.

Go down to http://www.soundblaster.com/eaudio to grasp the detailed picture.

Singapore's Version of Deep Impact 28th June 14:45 pm

Sorry people, I'm feeling "bo-liao" (bored) again. Hey! If you're feeling real "bo-liao" too! Click on this link which will bring you to a hilarious page showing you the local version of Deep Impact. Have a good laugh before coming back to Hardware One. :)

Problems with TNT? 28th June 13:19 pm

Read an interesting article at 3D Over-Time on the Riva TNT. Apparently, the TNT isn't living up to the standard. On paper, it is supposed to be faster than the Voodoo2. However, current results during a "Direct3D Summer Camp", sponsored by Microsoft and nVidia, were disappointing.

nVidia is laying the blame on their drivers, claiming that they are "at ‘50%’ of their final form." That’s a nearly meaningless statement as far as I’m concerned: does it mean 50% done? 50% of final speed? I suspect that nVidia wants to imply the later without getting caught in an explicit claim. Either way, it’s pretty hard to swallow - aside from the fact that the TNT appears to be performing at more like 35% of it’s paper performance, drivers seldom (if ever) improve anywhere near that much (150-200%) over the last two months of a chip’s development cycle. Given the mysterious delay of the developer’s pre-release cards, and the general lack of benchmarks and sample boards, I find it more credible that the chip isn’t performing up to snuff and that they are scrambling to put the best spin on it they can.

27th June 1998 {Saturday}
SSL Flaw 27th June 11:05 am

Flaw in Secure Socket Layer? Read this:

A researcher at Lucent Technologies Inc.'s Bell Laboratories discovered a vulnerability in the SSL encryption commonly used in electronic commerce transactions.

The flaw, which has been exposed only in a laboratory setting, would allow a hacker to capture encrypted data in a session between a browser and server.

"The good news here is that you still have to be pretty smart to break it," said Julie Ferguson, chief technology officer of ClearCommerce Corp., in Austin, Texas.

For more information, read here.

Matrox's new BIOS  27th June 10:58 am

Matrox released a new unified BIOS, version 3.42. You can download this BIOS from our Drivers section.

What is SMART?  27th June 10:47 am

*Ahem* Lesson time. What is SMART ? Genius?

Nah. SMART stands for Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Report Technology (SMART). This technology is implemented in newer IDE hard disks that allow hard disks to monitor their own operation and predict most drive failures before they really occur.

Software that contains SMART sensors work together with SMART drives to alert you to conditions that could signal a major drive failure that is about to occur.

Now, the first drive with SMART technology came out as early as 1994 by Western Digital. Surprised?

MicroStar 5169  27th June 10:39 am

Anand did a review on the MicroStar 5169 motherboard. This Socket 7 motherboard is running on the Acer Lab's ALi Aladdin V Chipset. It features a 100 MHz Front Side Bus, 4 PCI, 1 AGP as well as 3 ISA.

Microstar, known for their outstanding performance in the Motherboard Industry couldn't resist the temptation of a challenge when constructing their "ideal" Super7 motherboard. The MS-5169 was announced well before the release of the K6-2, and it was released prior to the chip as well. While the rest of the market waited patiently for AOpen, ABIT, and Shuttle to step forward with their ultimate, knock-out, Super7 solutions Microstar simply aimed to attain success from moving back to basics.

WinAmp with 3DNow!  27th June 10:34 am

According to HardwareCentral, WinAmp will support AMD K6-2 3DNow! instructions in the future. The new WinAmp will also be optimized for MMX, Pentium Pro, and will also feature a 486 mode.

The benchmarks were run using a program called PBench. We ran the program on all the supported modes of the new WinAmp drivers, even ones which would obviously not perform as well as others. The 3DNow drivers are certainly an improvement over the previous WinAmp drivers, as we can see about a 30% decrease in cpu utilization. This does not mean it utilizes 30% less CPU, but only that 14% CPU utilization is about 30% less then 20% CPU utilization. To repeat our benchmarks, download PBench and follow the instructions. Run 4 times, and drop the lowest and highest, and average the remaining 2 scores.

According to the Lead WinAmp Programmer, The new WinAmp drivers will be on public beta in a few days.

26th June 1998 {Friday}
Enter Recoil!  26th June 23:55 pm

All fans of first person shooters will have more to shoot for even if they've toasted everyone else in Unreal or Quake II. Virgin's Recoil is slated to release in the next couple of months. And from the ravings at OGR, as well as some of the screenshots available, it has the potential of becoming another hit in this crazily contested segment of PC games market. Here's the candy, but watch out... the demo should be available very soon.

Sound Blaster LIVE!  26th June 22:49 pm

In case you are not aware of, Creative launches the Sound Blaster LIVE!

Now, this card features the 7.1 sound system everybody is talking about. It also has the new Environmental Audio system that promises to deliver PC sounds that are so life-like, you can almost "see" them.

Environmental Audio is a new system developed by Creative that recreates real-world, interactive audio experiences for the PC user, in games, music, and other audio applications. Unlike surround sound and 3D positional audio technologies, Environmental Audio models an environment in real-time, taking into account the size of the room, acoustic properties, reverberation and many other effects that create a real-world experience. The result is an astoundingly life-like reproduction of audio. So real that by the sound alone, you won't be able to distinguish a presentation from the actual live performance itself!

If you wish to know more information about the Sound Blaster LIVE!, Hardware One brings you the review.

Fix for Intel Xeon  26th June 10:26 am

Intel had announced a test fix for the Intel Xeon processor.

"We have identified that there is an erratum," an Intel spokesman said. The company has also identified a fix for the problem, and said they are in the process of validating the workaround with OEMs.

To sidestep the problem will require an update to the microcode in the CPU, the Intel spokesman explained. "That's one of the ways you can fix errata," he noted.

Once the fix is validated, four-way Pentium II Xeon servers can be delivered, the Intel representative said. "Server systems will be delayed by a few weeks," he said.

PowerVR won Award  26th June 10:20 am

You might not believe it. But VideoLogic and NEC announced that their PowerVR won a "Best Technology 1998" award presented by Generation 4 France.

"We nominated PowerVR Second Generation due to its cross platform approach for the console, PC and arcade markets and its impressive features at a superior performance level," said Stephane Kaufmann, PC Fun.

25th June 1998 {Thursday}.
NSA Frees Secret Crypto Schemes  25th June 18:00 pm

In a move that reflects a shift toward the US government adopting off-the-shelf security products, the nation's most secretive spy agency has declassified two formerly secret algorithms used to scramble government and military communications. Tuesday's action also closes the book on a five-year-old federal government effort to build a secret eavesdropping "backdoor" into phones and other consumer devices.

The United States National Security Agency has released both the Key Exchange algorithm and the Skipjack algorithm to computer security companies that are interested in developing off-the-shelf products that will work with existing federal communications systems.

The Skipjack algorithm is at the heart of the notorious Clipper eavesdropping chip. The idea behind that technology -- which has been soundly thrashed by privacy activists since it was first announced in April 1993 -- was that communications on Clipper-enabled devices would be accessible to law enforcement agencies needing wiretaps for the alleged purpose of investigating crimes.

"It is the last step in the scuttling of the Clipper project," said David Sobel, staff counsel of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

WC Prophecy : Secret Ops  25th June 17:47 pm

Want to know more about Wing Commander Prophecy: Secret Ops? Gamespot did an interview with Origin General Manager, Neil Young for additional information on this game.

The idea behind Wing Commander: Secret Ops, Young told us, is simple: Special Ops was developed after much brainstorming at Origin. The question was how to follow up on the success of Wing Commander: Prophecy. Secret Ops was decided upon for two primary reasons. The first was based on philanthropy - sort of. "We wanted to do something for the user's support for the Wing Commander products," said Young. "And we wanted to give something back [to the gamer]."

The game will be available for free to anyone with a link to the Web beginning on August 24. The game engine must be downloaded first (and the user registered). Then, in weekly installments, players can download a packet of new missions that continue the game's storyline. This will go on for about eight weeks.

PowerStrip 2.23  25th June 17:38 pm

PowerStrip 2.23 is available from our Utilities section.

Power3D2 from TechWorks  25th June 10:21 am

Another company had released a Voodoo2 based board, the Power3D2 from TechWorks.

Shipping in July, 1998, the Power3D2 provides full-screen, high resolution, full motion frame rate using only the fastest components to achieve optimum performance. New features over the current Power3D graphics card include full triangle setup with backface culling, increased internal and memory clock speed, bump trapping, plus much more. The Power3D2 works with any 2D graphics controller, using a video pass through connector to allow the two devices to share a monitor. This configuration has proven to be a very simple upgrade for customers.

Multi-Processing Bugs in Pentium II  25th June 10:14 am

Bugs aren't new to Intel. Amidst reports of a bug involving its upcoming Xeon microprocessor, an examination of Intel's technical data shows the company's Pentium II microprocessor is no stranger to glitches when used in multiprocessing systems.

That conclusion comes as Intel declined to comment on reports of a bug involving Xeon -- its new Pentium II-class CPU -- and its companion 450NX multiprocessing core-logic chip set.

However, Intel's technical documentation shows current-generation Pentium IIs are plagued by a variety of problems that surface during unusual operating conditions. (Xeon is essentially a Pentium II with larger caches and a faster processor bus.) Some of the more interesting bugs, or errata, show up in multiprocessing configurations

A case in point is Intel's so-called erratum 16: "System may hang due to internal protocol violation." As outlined in company technical documents, the bug rears its head when "a snoopable transaction is issued on the bus and the cache line being accessed is in the modified state."

In such situations, the CPU attempts to send an updated copy of the cache line to the system bus. Sometimes, this transfer is never completed. In such cases, a "data-busy" signal gets issued, but never gets reset. As a result, the system hangs up indefinitely.

Interview with Aureal  25th June 10:05 am

RivaRave did an interview with Toni Schneider, VP of Aureal Semiconductor. Coming up is the new Vortex 2 chip (AU8830) with features up to 16 speakers as well as Wave Tracing technology. Below are some of the juicy parts :

Vortex 2 is a high-end, next generation product. It pushes the limits of PCI audio to the next level, and it's the only PC audio chip ever that has been totally optimized for gaming and Internet audio. Other high-end audio chips typically have tons of MIDI music features that are great if you are a musician who composes and records songs, but are totally useless if you are a gamer. Vortex 2 has great MIDI, but it really blows everything else to shreds when it comes to gaming features: Things like A3D 2.0, DirectSound, DirectMusic, DirectSound3D and VRML. That's what it's built to do.

Here are a few bits of info on Vortex 2: the chip has more than twice the processing power of the current Vortex chip, it runs at full 48kHz sample rate with up to 20 bit internal data resolution, it has a dedicated hardware HRTF engine for full A3D 2.0 processing, it also has an A3D output processing engine with custom modes for headphone, 2 speaker or 4 speaker output (it'll actually support up to 16 speakers if needed, but we think that's going a little far). Several sound cards will be based on Vortex 2, some of them are rumored to feature over 300 streams of audio acceleration...

Bug in Word  25th June 09:58 am

Just read at ZDNet that there is a printing bug in Microsoft Word 95 and Word 97 that could cause the computer to crash when users try to drag a document to the printer icon.

Microsoft Corp. today made an effort to clear up recent reports concerning a bug that can cause Microsoft Word to crash when users try to print by dragging the file to the printer icon.

When printing with this method, none of the changes made to the file are saved or can be printed.

Microsoft officials in Redmond, Wash., acknowledged the problem and said DDE (Dynamic Data Exchange) commands mistakenly instruct Word to close documents without saving changes. Officials said the problem affects Word 95 Version 6.0 and Word 97. 

24th June 1998 {Wednesday}
Motorhead Exclusive!  24th June 21:20 pm

Ahem. Here's an exclusive on the most impressive motor racing game on the horizon. After all the hype I've heard about this eye candy filled game, I thought it was only right that I tried it out myself. Hmm... so I went on to grab the whopping 10mb 3Dfx demo of the game. And whhoooosh... I was gravely disappointed. Ah! No, it wasn't bad... it was too short... it was too beautiful!!!

I tested it on a terribly underpowered 166mhz classic Pentium armed with a 3Dfx card. However, it was a real surprise when I saw how fluid and quick the game runs (reminds me of Dephine's MotoRacer). If you're thinking about which game to buy next... this is it! Detailed texture mapping, colored lighting, fogging, lens flare and everything else you can imagine!

Above are some screenshots I captured using HyperSnap Pro (quality is reduced). Hmm... Think of this game as the "Forsaken" in the arcade racing genre. To see it for yourself, download the 3Dfx demo from Hardware One!

Quantum3D X-24 Lockups  24th June 12:25 pm

Here's a news I got from VE about some Quantum3D X-24 that exhibit random lockups during game plays.

On behalf of Quantum3D, I would like to take a moment to address recent concerns regarding the Obsidian2 and product shipments. Let me apologize to anyone who has experienced any frustration or inconvenience. We are doing our best to respond to posts, emails and phone calls in a timely fashion. Customer satisfaction is a priority to Quantum3D. However, we wanted to make sure we understood the problem fully and identify the resolution before we posted any information.

LOCKUPS ======== Shortly after we began shipping Obsidian2, we began seeing posts on this newsgroup about lockups. We took these posts very seriously and contacted the customers reporting these problems. In addition, our engineering and test departments immediately began investigating the reported problems. During our investigation we began to see lockups in random boards. Our concern was it may be due to a hardware problem. We did not want to ship products that potentially had this problem, so we put shipments on hold until the issue was resolved.

We identified a manufacturing problem in a random number of boards. We have made the necessary corrections with our manufacturing facility so this problem will not occur again (our lead engineers on the project are out of the country, on site supervising the changes). All boards currently in inventory are being corrected as well. So for those of you that have not received your Obsidian2, when you do, it will not have this problem. We are expediting the changes right now and currently we believe that we will be able to begin shipping orders again on June 26th.

For those of you that already have the Obsidian2... MOST OBSIDIAN2 X-24s DO NOT HAVE THE MANUFACTURING PROBLEM. If your board is operating reliably, great... happy gaming! But if you are experiencing lockups at 95 MHz clock speed or below, we would like to RMA your board. I'm sorry for the inconvenience, but we want to make sure that your Obsidian2 is operating reliably. To obtain an RMA number, email [email protected] with the following information:

Your name Your phone number Your email address Your address (this is where we will ship the Obsidian2 back to) Your Obsidian2 base board serial number (located on the upper right corner) Your Obsidian2 daughter card serial number (located on the upper right corner)

We will email you instructions on the procedure for returning your RMA board. Quantum3D will pay for 2nd day FedEx shipping for you to return your board. When we receive your board, it will take approximately fours days to repair it. We will then return your board to you FedEx 2nd day. We apologies that you will not have the Obsidian2 for a time which is why we will pay for all shipping costs.

Many thanks to our customers. We really appreciate your support and the help you have provided in identifying this problem.

Problems in Intel Xeon  24th June 12:13 pm

Apparently, there are some problems with the design of the four-way Pentium II Xeon processor, which Intel is unable to solve.

The problem, or erratum, may be in the CPU package itself, according to industry sources. It might also be in the 450NX core-logic chip set, which is at the heart of four-processor systems.

OEMs were beginning to test their four-way designs when they found a problem that causes systems to reboot seemingly at random, said Kelly Henry, senior analyst at International Data Corp., in Framingham, Mass. As a result, systems scheduled for shipment soon after the chips' introduction could be delayed.

The problem does not affect one- or two-way designs built around the 440GX workstation core-logic chip, which will also be introduced Monday, said Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst at Dataquest, in San Jose, Calif. And it does not impact single-processor Pentium II or Celeron PCs.

"It's only a server issue," Brookwood said.

23th June 1998 {Tuesday}
K6-2 Vs Celeron Vs MMX  23th June 20:55 pm

Here's Michael Lim's (AMD) post on Hardware Talk regarding performance gains that can be expected when moving up to a K6-2 CPU. How gamers can harness this new form of refined power through the use of 3DNow! technology. An interesting read!

"In terms of performance, a 300Mhz K6-2 has a theoretical FPU performance of 1.2GFLOPS versus 0.3GFLOPS in a 300Mhz Pentium II (4x the performance). In practice, however, you rarely (if ever) meet theoretical performance... and this is true of the K6 as well as the Pentium II. The reason is that application code is made up of more than just pure floating point operations.

However, an application that is coded to take advantage of 3DNow! could see up to a 100% or more performance improvement over using standard x87 code. AMD has a benchmark called MaruBench which calculates the force of gravitational attraction between 500 object floating around in 3D space. Each of these objects was textured and lit.

The formula used was f=G(M1+M2/R^2). This formula stresses addition, multiplication and division to figure out the force acting between two objects. However, each object actually has 499 other objects acting on it. What this all boils down to is that approximately 130,000 pairwise calculations must be made using this formula for each display frame prior to the calculations required to actually draw the objects. The results? The K6-2/300 was running just over 2x the speed of the Pentium II 300... 28 fps vs. 12.2 fps.

If 3DNow is not directly coded into an application but uses a supporting API such as DirectX 6.0, OpenGL or Glide, the performance improvement is not nearly as phenomenal and it varies depending on the application. However, increases in the neighborhood of 30%-50% is not uncommon. For example, the OpenGL Quake II miniport that AMD optimized using 3DNow! Bumped up the framerate of Quake2 from 47fps on a K6-300 to 77fps on a K6-2/300 at 640x480 with a Voodoo2 card, again beating out a Pentium II 300 by a frame or two."

Even More Banshee Love  23th June 20:45 pm

Pul-leeassee lah... why am I talking 'bout it again? Actually, it's quite ironical. Really. Banshee seems to have stirred up mixed feelings among many people. Below are 2 articles written from different perspective. The first is from AnandTech (full blah):

"This is definitely not a competitor to nVidia's upcoming Riva TNT...if nVidia manages to pull off what they have been boasting with the TNT, then we should see 3Dfx drop their role as the leading 3D performer in 1998.   The Banshee is NOT a Voodoo2 replacement, let me make that clear first.   With a texture fill rate about 56% of that of a Voodoo2, the Banshee's lack of a second Texelfx processor is what provides this nice touch of degraded performance.   Of course, the fill rate on the Voodoo2 is about 10% lower than that of the Banshee, but with a Banshee you don't have the option of doubling that fill rate by adding on a second card as the Banshee won't support Scan Line Interleave Mode (SLI)."

"These specifications may change when 3Dfx puts the Banshee under a shrinking process which will take the die down to a 0.25 micron fabrication process from 0.35.  For now, the Banshee isn't for the hardcore gamer (with deep pocket$) however if you're short on PCI slots then the Banshee may be exactly what you're looking for.  If things go the way I believe they will, then you may find yourself kicking yourself in the rear for not waiting for a Riva TNT board in a couple of months." 

Here's the second blurb from GameSpot... sounding a lot more excited. It tells us many of the Banshee's redeeming qualities though (full story):

"But the Banshee isn't going to be the flagship for the company - the Voodoo2 will remain the high-end board for now. But the new Banshee will pit 3Dfx against other graphics card makers that have dominated the 2D market for years. The fact that the Banshee will run over 250 games 3D enhanced for Voodoo Graphics and the Voodoo2, gamers who don't currently have one of the company's previous products are sure to be tempted by this offering."

"Enhancements gamers should be impressed by include DVD support, add-on support, and a video in/out port. Out of the box, users get DVD decoding with help from the CPU, and for those looking for better DVD output, 3Dfx will be offering a DVD decoder daughtercard."

"If you're into performance based on numbers, the Banshee scored a 500 on Computer Gaming World's GameGauge, only beaten by a Voodoo2 in an SLI configuration. The closest competitor, the Riva 128ZX, scored a 281. More traditional benchmarks reveal that the board scores a 827 with 3D WinBench 98 under DirectX 5.0 (640x480x16bbp on a Pentium II 400) and screamed up to an 1150 under DirectX 6.0 (640x480x16bbp on a Pentium II 400)."

Matrox G100 Multi-Monitor Support  23th June 18:02 pm

This is cool. In case you are not aware of, Windows 98 support Multi-Monitor (up to 9 monitors). Which means, for example, you can open Netscape on your left monitor and Internet Explorer on the right monitor. :)

By moving your mouse from the left to the right, you can switch between programs seamlessly. The problem is, you need two graphics cards if you want dual monitor support. If you want four, you need four graphics cards, which means 4 PCI slots as well. Now, Matrox came out the new Matrox Productiva G100 which support Multi-Monitor support in a single PCI card.

The new Matrox Productiva G100 Multi-Monitor Series claims to deliver high performance acceleration and multi-monitor support for demanding financial business and CAD users. Matrox allows users to custom configure their multi-monitor display solution with two or four Matrox MGA-G100 graphics controllers and a TV Tuner -- all on one PCI graphics board. Additional upgrade options also allow users to add video input and editing capabilities, hardware DVD playback as well as the option for flat panel display or out to TV functionality. The Matrox Productiva G100 Multi-Monitor Series will ship in Q3 '98. Price is still being determined.

Now, Matrox slashes the prices for the m3D even further today.

Matrox announced today the new pricing for the Matrox m3D. At the new price of only $39.99 (ESP) the Matrox m3D is what Natrox calls "an ideal PCI 3D upgrade for gamers seeking a fast and affordable gaming solution." Based on the NEC PowerVR PCX2 processor, the Matrox m3D combines high-speed game play with support for resolutions of up to 1024 x 768.

Sony Playstation to go DVD  23th June 18:02 pm

Just read at NextGen that the new Sony Playstation 2 may support DVD format.

Sony Computer Entertainment President Teruhisa Tokunaka told BusinessWeek magazine last week that the highly anticipated PlayStation 2 may arrive as a DVD-based console.

It's been widely believed in the videogame industry that Sony has been at work on its PlayStation 2 for some time, and many believe it's already completed, including Next Generation Online. But Sony has kept its next generation console cards close to its chest and continues to dodge any questions surrounding the mystical hardware.

In the June 15 issue of BusinessWeek, Ken Kutaragi explained that Sony is, in fact, working on a next generation machine to combat Sega's well-backed 'dream' console, Dreamcast. Tokunaka added an even more significant tidbit. Tokunaka said that DVD is a possibility for the PlayStation 2 (contrary to previous statements made internally about the project).

Canopus WitchDoctor  23th June 17:55 pm

Canopus T3D128D WitchDoctor is available.

The Witch Doctor is a 4MB nVidiaRIVA128 AGP card with a patent applied for "reverse pass-through" from a 3Dfx board to the main RIVA board. This provides better screen quality for your high-res desktop while allowing you to play 3Dfx games on the same screen. All other Voodoo2 boards force you to pass your high-res desktop graphics through the 3Dfx board before reaching the screen. This adds additional filters to the signal and can degrade image quality at high resolutions.

It is primarily intended for OEMs and system integrators who want to offer a Maximum game PC with a Canopus Pure3DII LX card. The WitchDoctor allows the P3DLX to be connected internally so there is no loop-through cable at the back of the PC and The WitchDoctor has TV-out for both the desktop and the P3D II LX. We will even be offering a "blank bracket" on the Pure3D II LX for OEMs who do not want to confuse their customers with two VGA connectors on the back of the PC as is the case with all other Voodoo2 board implementations

Leisure Suit Larry  23th June 17:43 pm

To all Leisure Suit Larry fans (I sure am!), Leisure Suit Larry's Casino had been released.

"With Leisure Suit Larry's Casino, Larry Laffer, the brainchild of Al Lowe, stars in his ninth game title, the previous eight having sold a combined total of over three million copies. This time, Leisure Suit Larry steps out of the world of adventure games and deep into the land of gambling. The first gambling simulation with an attitude, Leisure Suit Larry's Casino is also the first with full, free-forever Internet support and an on-line economy that provides you with ways to spend your winnings and places to earn back your losses." They also noted, "Available to armchair gamblers on PC CD-ROM in June 1998, a visit to Leisure Suit Larry's Casino will be available for the package rate of $39.95. Unlimited on-line play will be free via Won.net www.won.net . For more information, visit the on-line brochure at www.sierra.com/lslcasino. "

Quake OpenGL vs 3D Studio OpenGL  23th June 11:34 am

CPUMadness did an interesting article on the differences between the Quake OpenGL and 3D Studio OpenGL.

Many people believe that Quake2 is OpenGL, and that Quake2 is a great OpenGL benchmark. The problem with this is that professionals who do 3D modelling in apps like 3D Studio Max and Lightwave will be gravely dissappointed if they choose a card by it's Quake2 performance. Gamers, on the other hand, will be greatly dissapointed if they buy a $2000 professional OpenGL accelerator thinking it will give them Voodoo2 SLI x 100 performance. The fact is that professional OpenGL accelerators and gaming accelerators are vastly different.

Intel Slash Prices again  23th June 11:25 am

Intel will be slashing down on the processor prices again, according to ZDNet.

Intel is targeting other segments for price cuts as well. For portables, the mobile version of Intel's 266MHz Pentium Processor with MMX Technology will drop from $350 to $160 in September; the 233MHz Pentium II will drop from about $390 to $205, sources said.

In the higher-end "performance desktop" market segment, Intel will cut prices on the 350MHz Pentium II four times over the next several months, dropping from its initial $621 to about $210 by October, sources said. At that time, the 333MHz Pentium II will also cost about $210, which means it will be phased out shortly thereafter.

The 400MHz Pentium II, which today costs about $720, will drop to $375 in October after price cuts in midsummer and September, sources said.

So, it will be a good idea to upgrade your old Pentium to the new Pentium II at the end of the year.

Matrox G200  23th June 01:03 am

The Matrox G200 is on production now. Expect it to hit stores somewhere in July. Expect the prices to be in the S$200 range for the 8 MB version. But knowing Singapore, the price may be much higher than that.

There is a Special Edition Millennium G200 which features a whopping 350 MHz RAMDAC (compare to 250 MHz for the normal version).

Matrox is running a Technology Demo of the Millennium G200 SE and a new high resolution monitor from ViewSonic in ViewSonic's booth at PC Expo. The Millennium G200 SE will be a Special Edition product for new high resolution monitors such as those from ViewSonic. It will be designed to work with new ultra high resolution monitors to deliver unbelievably high resolutions and refresh rates. Stock brokers, financial analysts and other users requiring large desktop real estate demand the ultra high resolutions and refresh rates offered by the Matrox Millennium G200 SE and ViewSonic's new ultra-high resolution monitors.

22th June 1998 {Monday}
A3D Soundcard Review  22th June 23:47 pm

PC Magazine Online has in their latest issue the review of 3 PCI soundcards based on Aureal's A3D chip. The Diamond Monster Sound MX200, the Shark Predator 3D and the Turtle Beach Montego A3DXtream are pitted side by side for comparison.

diamond_150.gif (7290 bytes) The Best Card: MX200. "We found that this board produced the best playback, starting with the MIDI playback file, which felt especially rich compared with those of the other boards. But while the MIDI playback was engaging, it didn't hold a candle to how Battlezone sounded with a set of stereo speakers arrayed behind us. This is what we think surround sound should sound like. We actually turned our heads more than once as an explosion ripped or as a tank screamed by."

What! More Banshee?!  22th June 20:51 pm

Everyone is talking about it, but what is it? What's new? What has it got to offer? Hmm... how can anyone ignore something coming from 3Dfx who's literally responsible for the explosion in 3D gaming? Here's the official specifications I got from Cyrellis:

  • 128-bit 2D acceleration engine
  • Specific Pentium 2 CPU optimization
  • Hardware Mpeg1 and 2 encoder support
  • 100MHz pixel and memory clock speed
  • 4,8,or 16MB SGRAM or SDRAM on board memory options
  • TV-Out Support (dependant upon card manufacturer implementation)
  • Both PCI and AGP options (AGP 1x only at this time)
  • 230/250MHz 2D RAMDAC Controller
  • .35 micron chip die size

Well this time round, it looks as if 3Dfx is more interested in competing in the OEM market against the current crop of 2D/3D combo cards like the i740 and Riva128 cards. While they will succeed in beating the hell out of the present generation of 3D cards, Banshee will find it difficult to hold on with so many exhilarating cards looming in the horizon. A teeny bit disappointing (in my opinion...). Here's what TechWeb said in their news article:

"...With the Banshee, 3Dfx claims that it has custom-designed a true 128-bit 2D engine, outperforming even traditional 2D leader Matrox Graphics Inc.

The chip features a 16-bit floating-point Z-buffer, as well as interfaces to SGRAM and SDRAM. Full scene-edge anti-aliasing, environmental fog, bump mapping, and environment mapping are included..."

"...The Banshee's peak fill rate is 100 megapixels per second-identical to that of the Voodoo 2 chipset. But by sacrificing one of its texturing blocks in creating a single-chip design, the Banshee's fill rate for bilinear filtered texels has dropped from 180 to 100 megapixels per second

In addition, the Banshee requires two cycles to perform operations such as multitexturing and level-of-detail MIP mapping, while the Voodoo 2 requires just one. Like the Voodoo 2, the Banshee is designed specifically for the out-of-order instructions used by Intel's Pentium II microprocessor..."

For those of you scouting for a good 2D/3D combo, you may want to consider a card based on the Banshee chip. You'll be guaranteed the kind of quality you'll expect from 3Dfx and thousands of games that has already been written for the Voodoo.

However, if you've got the cash to spare, you may want to spend it on a Voodoo 2 add-on card or wait a little longer for a hot new card based on the RIVA TNT, the PowerVRSG or the Matrox G200 chip.

Banshee  22th June 10:37 am

3Dfx will unveil the new Banshee chip today. The Voodoo Banshee is a 2D/3D chipset. This card is more ideal for people who do not have additional PCI slots for an additional Voodoo2 card.

3Dfx said PCs equipped with its Voodoo Banshee chip will be able to run more than 250 games developed for its Voodoo2 and Voodoo Graphics technologies. Banshee is about 15 percent to 17 percent faster than the current fastest 2D, 3D chip, 3Dfx said.

Bill Gates Richest Man Again  22th June 10:32 am

Bill Gates broke the 50 Billion-dollar barrier, making him the world's richest man again.

For the fourth year in a row, Gates, founder of the software giant of Redmond, Washington, topped the list as the world's richest man, and also as the world's top among the working rich, according to the magazine's July 6 edition.

As of last summer, Gates had doubled his net worth, in 12 months, to $36.4 billion. He added $15 billion in the latest 12 months for a total worth of $51 billion.

Piracy in Singapore  22th June 01:05 am

CNet (Singapore) had posted an interesting article on piracy of computer softwares and VCDs in Singapore. Here are some of the interesting parts :

Wong Kok Beng, 33, did not even complete primary school. But he earns S$7,000 a month, drives around in a BMW 318I provided by his boss and carries a state-of-the-art StarTac 90 handphone--one of the most expensive on the market.

His boss is said to be one of the biggest--if not the biggest--software pirate in Singapore. His wares--both computer software and VCDs--supply most of the shops in Singapore's illegal software hub, Sim Lim Square. His daily turnover can get as high as S$5,000 from computer software and VCDs. Of this, more than 30 percent is pure profit.

[Beam me to the previous news archive!]

Copyright 1998 Hardware One
Last updated 27 September 1998 23:43