29 Nov 98 - 30 Nov 98
Highlights within this period includes:
  • Metabyte Wicked3D
  • Matrox Unified BIOs 3.45
  • AMD Slow in Winstone 99
  • MSI 6119 Motherboard
  • New Version of LiteStep!
  • Dragon 4000 Gets Reviewed At Frontline!
  • Half-Life Gets Patched
  • AMD K7 Information & Speculation
  • FIFA '99 Review at Digital SportsPage
  • Celeron Overclocking Guide
  • AOL to Merge Netscape Into ICQ
  • Singapore GameCenter Launch
  • Analysing 3DMark99 Scores
  • TNT Scaling Chart
  • Pentium II @ 598Mhz
  • NT Denial of Service Attack
  • Mini PCI
  • Exclusive Diamond RIO Review!
  • StarOffice 5.0 for Windows 9x
  • Yamaha WaveForce 192 Digital
  • Hardware Monitor
30th November 1998 {Monday}
Hardware Monitor 23:51 pm

BetaNews had news on the new Hardware Monitor 2.0.23. Personally, I use this instead of Motherboard Monitor on my NT machine, and I use Motherboard Monitor on my 98 instead of Hardware Monitor. What a weirdo.

This program has been developed as a light-weight alternative for Intel LANDesk Client Manager. It takes much less memory and monitors only parameters that are collected by LM75, LM78, LM79, LM80 or Winbond 83781 chips installed on modern motherboards.

Kan @ Rantings 23:45 pm

Gosh, what a small country. You won something, and half the country knows about it! Come on, it's only a PalmPilot. You guys can celebrate with me when I win the 5 million Toto next time.

Yamaha WaveForce 192 Digital 23:43 pm

3DSoundForge posted a piece of news on the new Yamaha WaveForce 192 Digital which was recently released.

The most sophisticated member of the WaveForce family, the WaveForce 192 Digital is designed with the most demanding power gamer and the most dedicated audio enthusiast in mind. Featuring a digital output connector, an exceptionally refined digital to analog converter, positional 3D technology, PCI bus architecture, downloadable sounds, Yamaha's XG synthesizer and an exclusive physical modeling synthesizer, WaveForce 192 Digital further enhances the realm of PC sound beyond the known boundaries.

StarOffice 5.0 For Windows 9x FREE 19:20 pm

After being a sour grape for the past 20 minutes, this is what I saw downloadable from our Fun's File Exchange Server. This version of StarOffice 5.0 is completely free but fully functional office suite for Windows 9x. Grab the file and simply register with Star Division, you will be up and running in no time. <back to griping about the unfairness of life!>

Not Fair! Not Fair! Not Fair! Not Fair! Not Fair! 18:57 pm

Who leaked this?! Who leaked this?! After a visit at Fun, I was turning green with envy and feeling sour from head to toe after reading this bit posted about 'Ah Kan the Fool'... :P

If your name is Paul Ng ([email protected]) or Kan Tat Wee ([email protected]) YOU ARE THE LUCKY WINNERS OF THE TWO PALM PILOTs !!!
If you find the name Kan Tat Wee familiar, well, he is one of the hardworking editor at
Hardware ONE. Look like we can expect to see a review of Palm Pilot on their site soon :)

Pardon me for the following: Wah lau eh!!!! #@^&#$^ How come I never win any lucky draws like him!?!?!?. <sigh> Anyway, now we must all pressure him to write something about it huh? Ho! Ho!

Exclusive Diamond Rio Review! 18:52 pm

Not us... but WearableGear.com has thrown up their "world exclusive" review of Diamond's controversial RIO portable MP3 player. They've even got nice screenshots of the RIO MP3 software player in action. This part should be of concern to interested buyers:

The actual downloading of the MP3 files was relatively simple. My routine was to "zero out" or initialize the Rio then search my hard drive for MP3 files using the playlist editor. Once I developed and narrowed down a playlist, I then drag and dropped the MP3 files from the playlist into the internal memory window where downloading begins. The download process from PC to Rio is actually faster than I expected. I transferred 8 songs with about 30MB of memory in 3 minutes 22 seconds. If you try to transfer too much data the Rio will drop songs from the end of your list.

Shake Test Verdict: Here's some caution, buyers should read before taking the plunge. I think you can buy a cheap roll of tape to solve this minor flaw:

I turned the Rio on, slipped it in my back pocket and took off toward the beach bouncing up and down vigorously for the "Shake Test". One of the main attractions of the Rio is it's ability to play skip-free during exercise, so I was hoping it would not disappoint. I probably looked like an idiot bouncing up and down, but I can report that the Rio did not skip or lose power a single time during my personal thirty-minute marathon. Although the Rio survived my brief shaking test, I did find that it is far too easy to accidentally bump the battery cover off, which causes the battery to spring out and therefore turn off the player. Diamond should definitely make the battery cover more rugged and have a locking mechanism because "skip-free" doesn't mean much if the battery pops out of the player.

Mini PCI 16:44 pm

Yup, they will be out next year, but only for notebooks computers.

The growing popularity of thinner and lighter notebooks that maintain full desktop capability is putting the mobile PC industry on the fast track to incorporate alternatives to bulky PC Card technology.

The PCI Special Interest Group (PCI SIG) plans to release a Mini PCI specification for review and also plans to publish Version 1.0 in the first quarter of 1999.

In the second quarter of 1999, Acer, IBM, and NEC will incorporate the Mini PCI specification into their notebooks, according to sources familiar with the effort.

Mini PCI will eliminate the need for traditional LAN and modem PC Cards, thus cutting in half the space required for two stacked PC Cards.

Because the PC Card cardbus is a subset of PCI, it does not have the equivalent throughput of the full PCI bus. The miniversion of PCI will have the same throughput as a desktop, according to PCI Special Interest Group members.

NT Denial of Service Attack 16:40 pm

Problem: The Windows NT Spooler Service is vulnerable to random data being sent to it via the named pipe SPOOLSS. When this occurs, the Spooler Service claims all available CPU resources.

A remote client can connect to the Local Security Authority over a named pipe and pass an incorrect buffer size (fragment length), causing an access violation in the Local Security Authority SubSystem (lsass.exe). After this occurs, users cannot log on locally and the tools that rely on LSA/LSARPC do not function.

The NT Spooler Service vulnerability -- known as spooleak -- takes advantage of a well-documented memory leak in the NT print spooler, which processes print jobs sent by clients to print queues on the server. By connecting to the spooler via a named pipe and sending random data, one can induce the memory leak and cause the spooler (spoolss.exe) to set the CPU on the server at 100 percent.

For the full article, read here.

Pentium II @ 598 Mhz 10:05 am

The folks over at Hardware Extreme posted more information on the Pentium II with unknown stepping. They managed to post at 598 Mhz.

To our suprise this processor made it to 558MHz (4.5 X 124) first then later successfully booted at 598MHz (4.5 X 133). Windows 98 ran but it was very very buggy and lots of crashes occoured. We suspect the RAM to be the blamed piece of hardware because the maximum bus the ram was designed to run was at 125MHz. It is American Megatrand's CAS2 8ns 125MHz RAM.

Area Tested Value
CPU Integer 1687.2343 MIPS
CPU Floating Point 743.213 MFLOPS
Video(2D) 62.42179 MPixels/s
Direct3D 115.0242 MPixels/s
OpenGL 91.99594 MPixels/s

TNT Scaling Chart 09:57 am

Got from 3dNews.net on the TNT scaling chart. Apparently, the limits of the card will be reach around 350 Mhz to 400 Mhz.

The limits of a TNT card will be reached with a CPU between 350MHz to 400Mhz. After that you wonīt see a increase anymore because the TNT canīt handle the higher amount of data that comes from the CPU.

Analyzing 3DMark99 Scores 09:57 am

Dimension3D posted a note on why the Pentium II processors are faster than the AMD k6-2 processors.

As you may know, 3D Mark 99 is not supporting the 3DNow! command set as of this time, so the CPU based comparision between a K6-2 and Pentium 2 at the same core speed will leave the AMD chip lacking since it is using a low latency FPU that is good for single FPU operations thrown into lots of integer code, while the P2 is utilizing a pipelined FPU that is great when a large amount of sequential floating point operations are required. When in heavy demand, the P2 keeps crunching numbers while the K6-2 is doing one calculation at a time, lagging behind.

Looking straight at the CPU geometry speed, we see that the P2/333 (5x66 Mhz) is about 45% ahead of the K6-2/350 (3.5x100 MHz), while the P2/450 (4.5x100 MHz) nearly goes twice as fast. This happens without generating any video output from the results and thereby stresses the CPU/FPU, Cache and memory combo (which is important for our subsequent thoughts). The most interesting question is, does this also translate into a 45%/96% advantage across the board of real-world applications? Well we can't really tell, but we can make an approximation by looking at the two most relevant scores in the test regarding that question, the Game1 and Game2 scores representing a racing game and a first person shooter, both run off the engine that powers the benchmark and take the whole system to task.

Singapore Gamecenter Launch 00:50 am

CNET Singapore is launching Singapore Gamecenter and would like to share this joyful moment with all of you out there! To officiate the launch, we will be showcasing the local game site during the Microsoft Bonanza event on Dec. 4 to 6, alongside solutions from three other companies--Microsoft, SingNet and Creative Technologies.

At our launch, we will be hosting a Website Treasure Hunt whereby participants can stand a chance to win exclusive CNET t-shirts and caps. To take part in this contest, simply solve a puzzle which we'd be putting up at our site between Dec. 4 to 6 and send the answer to us via email. As for those who'd dropping by our booth, we'd also be giving away a Singapore Gamecenter 1999 calendar designed to commemorate the event.

And we're not the only one giving away freebies. Microsoft, SingNet and Creative Technologies will also be there to demonstrate their products and will have their own goodies to giveaway. At the same time, they are organizing an Internet Gaming Tournament and prizes include Blaster PC, Force Feedback Pro, free SingNet subscription and more. Go to the
SingNet Website to sign up for the tournament.

AOL To Merge Netscape Into ICQ 00:47 am

Nadda nadda. Not a new news. BUT I JUST SAW IT OK??!! Ok, forgive me but I'd noticed this on Arc-Technica who's in turn seen this article on eXcite NEWs that American Online will want to merge Netscape with ICQ to create "a kind of browser-ICQ-home page uber-portal for Internet users":

And as people turn increasingly to the Internet for programming and services, ICQ could steal center stage even from Windows software, weakening Microsoft's dominance of the computer industry.

This dovetails with AOL's plan to be everywhere consumers use the Internet, a strategy the company calls AOL Anywhere.

In ICQ's focus on people-to-people communication, America Online executives see striking comparisons to the development of its core AOL service, which at heart was a forum for online chatting and other types of interaction.

Building browser features into ICQ gives the software some of the same qualities of AOL's online service, which offers a variety of mail, news and chat services all in one program.

Idea huh? But do I like everything integrated? Hmm... it just reminds of those motherboards with useless integrated video and sound abilities, those multi-function telephony/sound cards... all a bunch of bull. Let's hope they can make something work out of it.

Celeron Overclocking Guide 00:38 am

In case you haven't understood how to overclock your Celeron A, you'd better take a look at this comprehensive 13 page guide written by the guys at Sharky Extreme (I can't remember, isn't this the article Craig wrote for C|Net? Somebody know?)

Regarding voltage, in the 440BX mainboards there is only one vendor that allows the manipulation of a P2's voltage. The Abit BX6 and BH6 are those mainboards, and if you don't have one of them, then you won't be able to manipulate your voltage. If you do possess one of the two boards, then you'll want to adjust the voltage in the Soft Menu II BIOS upward from the stock level. A stock Celeron requires 2.0v to operate at its rated MHz level. When a user ups the MHz level request, the CPU sometimes needs to draw more power to achieve that new setting. The user must then modify the mainboard's voltage for the CPU upward to give the extra juice that's needed.

So you'll probably want to get the BH6. It's one logical choice to go with your Celeron A. It's not even expensive! Coupling a BH6 and the 300A the bundle is only selling at S$388 at SL Square!

29th November 1998 {Sunday}
FIFA '99 Review at Digital SportsPage 17:41 pm

Digital Sportspage has thrown up a review on personal favourite game (nah! not Half-Life!) - FIFA '99. Another huge chunk! (Couldn't resist it!!) It's good! It's good!

The gameplay in FIFA 99 is as good as its presentation! FIFA 99 has multiple speed settings, and at its lowest speed, the game feels like real soccer. Anything faster starts to feel like pinball. But other than speed, there are a few significant additions. Chest trapping is now controllable. Users can trap a ball to their feet or trap it to their side to begin travelling in that direction. Controllable chest trapping makes the game more fluid, because you can begin your run with the trap instead of having to wait for the trap animation to finish.

Animations are now "interruptible" - before you had to wait for an animation to finish before beginning a new move. Now, you can start a new move in the middle of the previous move. This creates tighter, more fluid control over motion.

Another gameplay addition is "bounding logic". Here, players simply try their best to keep the ball in-bounds when near a touch line instead of knocking it out. This eliminates running out of bounds when chasing a loose ball.

There are plenty of special moves in FIFA 99, including spins, side steps, fakes, dives, nutmeg step-overs, double step-overs, and rainbows. These moves are executed much faster than previous FIFAs. However, there is still a little lag with some moves, and some involve strange button combinations that are difficult to access mid-game. Also included is the ability to send a through pass. To get past defenders at the Professional and World Class levels, you must use these moves. Simply dribbling through a defender (especially near the goal) does not happen. One has to either pass around the defense or use these moves to break through.

I had thought it wouldn't be easy for EA to come up with a title substantially better than FIFA '98 or World Cup '98... but they've done it. The gameplay seemed so much more fluid, camera angles and movement all seemed to have enhanced the experience so much more. The AI was better (and so, more difficult!), graphics was prettier, and commentary is more varied. There's more! A real winner. (Read the stuff)

AMD K7 Information & Speculation 17:07 pm

It's Anand again! He's posted an article so titled writing about AMD's upcoming K7 processor. Here's a deliciously large chunk I'd ripped off from Anand, gotta know this if you're planning for your PC upgrade next year! (Full Article)

Looking at the specifications of the AMD K7, you can probably tell that it is going to pack quite a punch when it makes its way out of the fab. plants and into our systems. The AMD K7 will be made on a 0.25 micron process (0.25 micron = the size of the connections on the silicon wafer) initially, the current state of the art. This process should allow the K7 to run cool enough to reach speeds of 500mhz, but once the K7 reaches higher speeds, such as 700mhz, the 0.25 micron process might not be efficient enough to warrant stability. The 128K L1 cache is one of the more intriguing features of the AMD K7. Current state of the art processors have 64K L1 (The K6(-2) and 6x86MX are examples). L1 cache is where the most frequently used data is stored on the chip. L1 cache has extremely fast access times and is the most efficient place to retrieve data from. (More on cache in bandwidth discussion) Basically, more L1 cache speeds up software significantly, especially highly repetitive software, such as Microsoft Word and spread sheet software. (these programs do the same thing over, and over, and over). AMD, however, doesn't think 128K L1 cache is enough. They plan on using Digital's Alpha EV6 bus to transfer data from RAM to the CPU. The EV6 bus allows for RAM to CPU transfers of up to 200+mhz! (FrontSideBus) yielding a bandwidth of 2.6GB (Gigabytes) / sec.

Another cool feature of the K7 is the fully pipelined FPU, which, according to AMD is supposed to peak at two instructions per clock. If this is true, the K7 will significantly outperform Intel equivalents in FPU intensive applications. 3DNow will of course be implemented, to add to the gaming horse power of the AMD K7.

Looks like Intel will have to speed up their processor releases to deliver more, earlier and cheaper to neutralise this threat. Hopefully, we consumers can all smile at the end of the day!

Half-Life Gets Patched 17:04 pm

Yeah! Fans of Half-Life, get this patch for your favourite shooter of the moment. Now what's to be fixed are these:

  1. Disabled the music track check in CD Authentication. One problem that some people faced was that they have CD-ROM drives that either can't play the music tracks or they have disabled CD audio on that device. We've disabled the portion of the CD authentication that checked for the music tracks since it was tripping up legitimate customers. Of course they still won't hear the music until they get their CD audio fixed, but they would have that with any game that uses CD music.
  2. Adjusted the default configuration for multiplayer to be more appropriate for people with lower speed modems or with high ping/bad packet loss.
    The default rate for LAN games is now set to 9999. Previously the LAN rate was being set to the be the same as the Internet rate.
  3. Removed the WON authentication attempts for LAN games. LAN games are limited to a single Class B address range.
  4. Fixed an uninstall issue that may affect custom locations.
  5. Fixed an A3D underwater sound bug.

Download the patch here from PlanetQuake. Now!

Dragon 4000 Gets Reviewed at Frontline! 16:59 pm

Our friends at Frontline has completed their thrash test on the Gainward Dragon 4000 - which is a Banshee board. Like we mentioned before, the card is not a reference design, so hear what the Bark has to say about this accelerator:

Looking at the board design, the Dragon is armed with 16MB’s of SDRAM. All eight RAM chips are located on the front side of the board. The heatsink must be the weirdest looking one I’ve ever seen on a graphics card! Metallic green, the fins form a semi-circle that resembles the heatsinks on audio power amplifiers.

New Version of LiteStep 16:55 pm

There is a new version of LiteStep online. ActiveWin sent word about the latest v0.24.4 of this nifty utility. These are the new things to expect:

  • Better, more stable popups
  • Enhanced VWM
  • Skinnable Taskbar
  • Pseudo Transparency for wharf modules.

Download LiteStep v. 0.24.4 now!

MSI 6119 Motherboard 16:03 pm

SharkyExtreme released another new review on the MSI 6119 BX motherboard.

The first thing that's always noticed when doing a mainboard review is the board's physical size. Mainboards tend to vary greatly in their dimensions, even among those that utilize the same core logic chipset. The MS-6119 is a relative joy to behold due to its small size, particularly its length. As seen in the picture of the board, the distance between the beginning of the first ISA peripheral slot and the leading edge of the board's surface is roughly one inch. That makes the 6119 one of the smallest boards we've seen recently, which is a boon to installers as well as troubleshooters alike.

AMD Slow in Winstone 99 16:00 pm

Anand posted a note explaining why the K6-2 is a slow performer under Winstone 99 compare to Pentium II processors.

With the recent review of the K6-2 400, much controversy has been brought to the attention of AnandTech as well as readers all over the hardware world as to what makes the K6-2 such a poor performer in comparison to the Pentium II, especially in in Ziff Davis' most recently released benchmarking utility, Winstone 99. While it is often easier to say that the benchmark in question, in this case Winstone 99, is biased towards Intel processors, there is a much more accurate explanation for why.

Matrox Unified Bios 3.45 02:03 am

Caught this off MURC. Matrox released the new unified Bios v3.45. What's new include:

  • Fix a hang problem with some audio cards when setting a VESA mode
  • Removal of EGA parameter tables
  • Fix memory detection problem.
  • G100 Based boards - changed the value of the AGP request depth to avoid potential problems on some systems.   
  • All TVO Bios contain new structure to support Maven 2.0

Changes to Progbios:

  • Progbios will now detect the TV-out setting and save them when updating to a newer version of the bios.

Changes to MGAMON:

  • Properly detect bios versions containing characters (ie TVO bios)

The file is available for download from our Video Drivers section or by clicking here.

MetaByte Wicked3D 00:02 am

3DHardware.net posted a review on the MetaByte Wicked3D Vengenance. This card is based on the Banshee chipset and offers the following features:

  • Higher resolutions than any other Voodoo Banshee card
  • Unmatched 2D and stunning 3D acceleration
  • Full frame rate DVD video acceleration
  • Driver and performance optimization from the industry leader
  • Exclusive stereoscopic eyewear support for over 100 games
  • Full support for 3Dfx Glide, Direct3D and OpenGL Game

[Beam me to the latest news archive!]

Copyright Đ 1998 Hardware One
Last updated 01 December 1998 20:31