29 Sept 98 - 30 Sept 98
Highlights within this period includes:
  • New USB Modems
  • Diamond Viper V550 Review
  • PC Makers Adopting Ultra ATA/66
  • Waterfall Pro
  • K6-2 and Win95 Mismatch Cured
  • New Live! Direct3D Sound
  • Quantum3D Raven
  • Overclocking the Banshee and Savage3D
  • Mini TNT Shoot-out!
  • Populous 3 Screenshots
30th September 1998 {Wednesday}
Populous 3 Screenshots 30th September 21:36 pm

Oh yes, one of my favourite franchise (some years ago) is coming back (very soon!!) with a new sequel. Supporting 3D hardware acceleration, the game will feature a revolutionary curved horizon and perspective with fluid movement. The latter allows players to go back and forth between ground level view and cosmic view of the whole world.

Here's 2, check out the remaining ultra cool screenshots at GaGames!

Mini TNT Shoot-out! 30th September 21:23 pm

Our friend at Cybertech-Online has put up a little performance comparison of 3 TNT based cards. Pitting the Viper V550 vs Spectra 2500 vs Velocity 4400, we see marginal differences in the benchmark scores.

Test System:
Pentium II 450
Diamond Viper V550 Canopus Spectra
STB Velocity
3D Winbench 98 (800x600x16) 1672 1461 1632
Quake II  60.6 60.9 60.7
Turok 76.9 79.51 79.28
Incoming 78.64 81.0 79.22
Forsaken 139.48 141.22 139.37

Somewhat strangely, even though the Spectra did pretty well in the real gaming tests, edging out the 2 other competitors narrowly, it came in a distant 3rd for 3D WinBench 98. Can somebody tell me why??? Or do you even care about 3D WinBench?!

Overclocking the Banshee & Savage3D 30th September 20:20 pm

Overclocking?! Yeah! I knew all of you would be interested. FastGraphics posted an interesting article on overclocking the Banshee and the Savage3D. They've included some very nice pictures of huge heatsinks and benchmark results of overclocked cards.

The Hercules Beast based on the S3D chip showed some fantastic improvement with overclocking.

Speed: (MHz) 100 105 110 115 119 121 123
Fill Rate 56.72 59.17 62.17 65.20 67.82 68.96 70.40
Polygon thrpt 1666 1666 1666 1666 1666 1666 1666
Insert thrpt 9.01 9.46 9.94 10.43 10.94 11.09 11.41
Incoming (fps) 73.73 79.64 83.01 86.21 89.18 89.92 90.35

Presently, they've only completed benchmarking the S3D and we should be expecting the results of the Banshee pretty soon. Stay tuned!

Quantum3D Raven 30th September 20:06 pm

Sharky Extreme has completed their review on Quantum3D's Banshee based board - Raven. The company, renowned for creating extremist gamer's cards, has chosen to stick with 3Dfx's reference design. While this dosed the high hopes of some gamers, Quantum has probably made a correct decision on not aiming for the niche market with this new product.

But in sum, Quantum3D's Raven is the most competitively priced Voodoo Banshee product on the market. I know it seems rather strange for any Quantum3D product to be dirt-cheap but it is. And with the stonking games bundle, I'd stick my neck at far enough to say that if you're going to opt for a Voodoo Banshee product, then the Raven, from Quantum 3D, is the Voodoo Banshee of choice.

I'm eagerly awaiting this rare comodity to hit town (my sunny town!)... gotta check it out myself!

New Live! Direct3D Sound 30th September 07:46 am

Saw this over at 3DSoundForge. Creative had just released the SB Live! 32 3DStreams patch to increase the existing 8 3DStreams to 32 3DStreams.

Download the latest beta driver that increases hardware acceleration support of the Sound Blaster Live! and Sound Blaster Live! from the existing 8 to 32 DirectSound3D streams. Users can now enjoy the hottest 3D games with the unprecedented support of 32 hardware accelerated DS3D streams that can be positioned simultaneously in 3D space.

K6-2 & Win95 Mismatch Cured 30th September 07:43 am

A relatively obscure, but annoying, glitch has been discovered when the fastest versions of the K6-2 processor from Advanced Micro Devices is used in conjunction with Windows 95, but the company and Microsoft have taken steps to eradicate it.

The flaw occurs when Windows 95 is run on 350-MHz K6-2 processors, according to AMD. Essentially, when a user attempts to boot up, the computer replies that a "Windows Protection" error has occurred and that the computer must be rebooted. Typically, the flaw does not repeat itself on the reboot.

The flaw only manifests itself intermittently and comes as a result of a mismatch between processor frequency and the software timing loop. The problem is not an inherent flaw to the processor.

In fact, the problem resides in Windows 95, according to Microsoft engineers, although it manifests itself only on certain processors. A similar problem was discovered with the 333-MHz Pentium II, but the problem was discovered and cured before the release of the chip. The incompatibility with the K6-2 was not discovered until recently.

"Basically, the speed of the processor was too fast," said a spokesperson at AMD.

The flaw does not appear on computers running Windows 98 or Windows NT, the spokesperson added. Major domestic computer vendors are bundling their AMD systems with Windows 98.

29th September 1998 {Tuesday}
Waterfall Pro 29th September 21:27  pm

The Brotherhood of The CPU has written this awe-fully interesting review on the new Waterfall Pro - a software CPU cooler.

Reportedly, this fine piece of software is so successful in achieving its aim of making the CPU run at a lower temperature that it even aids overclocking! It uses something it calls CPU Throttling...

What I'm talking about here is Waterfall Pro's CPU Throttling feature. The idea is very simple: you select a maximum CPU load percentage and Waterfall Pro prevents the CPU from going beyond that value. If a CPU only goes up to 80% of its maximum CPU load, the 20% remaining will be put into suspend mode and won't generate any heat. Depending on your case, this can be the crucial difference between a tolerable temperature and overheating.

I guess the most common question would be about the impact that CPU Throttling will have on the CPU's performance. Well, basically, it does have an impact, but sometimes the overclocking itself may compensate for it. A good example would be the case of an old K6 233Mhz that wouldn't run reliably at anything beyond 233Mhz. Even in a Super 7 motherboard, this K6 would still have to run at 66x3.5. At 250Mhz, either 83x3 or 100x2.5, it would crash after a few minutes. With Waterfall Pro and the CPU Throttling set to 80%, we were able to push this chip to 100x2.5 and it ran without a single problem. Even though the CPU is only running at 80% of its potential, it's still much faster than the 66x3.5 setting. Needless to say, the K6 owner was extremely pleased with Waterfall Pro.

I'm now trying it out myself, haven't got a thing to report yet. You can download your copy from here.

PC Makers Adopting Ultra ATA/66 29th September 20:44  pm

EETimes posted news about this new spec which we may soon see flooding our desktops in the coming year.

Most major PC makers have decided to put 1394 on the shelf for a while and use the next generation of the venerable ATA interface in future-generation systems. The Ultra ATA/66 interface provides the speed needed for next-generation disk drives, which will give the committees grappling with 1394 time to complete a specification that is fast enough to support disk drives in the next decade.

Mighty interesting I think. We'll soon need to buy new devices to run with this faster standard! Does this usually happen?!?! Arrgghh!

The main costs for Ultra ATA/66 are in the cable and connectors. The driving technology for the faster interface is an 80-wire cable. It doubles the number of wires to provide enough grounding to eliminate crosstalk at the high frequency. Connectors then have to double the number of contacts.

Ultra ATA/66 products should begin appearing next year. The faster data rates will be needed to keep up with the rapid speed increases of hard-disk drives.

"The internal data rate of disk drives is growing at about 40 percent per year, so they will overrun today's version of ATA around the year 2000," Wilkins said. "The lift to 66 Mbytes/second gives us the headroom to continue increasing performance and capacity beyond 2001."

Diamond Viper V550 Review 29th September 20:12 pm

Hardgame has came up with a really marvellous review of the Viper V550. One of the best I've seen with lots of benchmarks and charts that demonstrated the TNT power possessed by the card.

One longtime failure of 3Dfx with the Voodoo I and II is their lack of high resolution support. This is an area where NVIDIA really cleans up. Quake II performance is plenty fast at 1024x768, with somewhat playable frame rates at 1280x960.

They've even gone an extra mile to discuss Glide's future, the TNT's compatibility issues and visual quality.

It seems that everyone wants to know if the RIVA TNT is a "Voodoo II Killer". But if the truth be known, there never will be a Voodoo II killer (at least not until next year or the next 3Dfx product). Reason being: 3Dfx's Glide API. Creating Glide was one of the smartest moves that 3Dfx could have made. Early on, all good 3D games were associated with Glide. 3Dfx had already created the fastest board on the market and other boards had a substantial disadvantage, not being able to offer speed or API. Now, even the blistering fast speed of a Voodoo II is becoming less and less unique with S3, NVIDIA, and SEGA gunning for 3Dfx. However, none of 3Dfx's competitors have Glide, and several great games still only support Glide. As much as 3Dfx would like to think so, Glide does not have the brightest future. With Direct X 6.0 being able to do most if not all that Glide can do, many game publishers are opting towards OpenGL or Direct3D support instead of Glide. Even if Glide remains better than other available APIs, game developers would probably be more interested in supporting Direct3D (because of its widespread support) or at least supporting both Glide and Direct3D. My prediction is that with future revisions of OpenGL and Direct X, Glide will slowly be phased out of 3D games.

New USB Modems 29th September 02:58 am

Later this year, Efficient Networks will roll out SpeedStream 4000 series, a new line of Digital Subscriber Line modems that will connect to a PC using the Universal Serial Bus. For more information, you can read here.

The new modems aim to simplify installation. Typically, DSL modems connect to PCs through an Ethernet cable, which means a user must install an Ethernet adapter card into a PC to use a DSL service. Because the installation of an Ethernet adapter card is beyond the technical level of expertise of many users, service providers have had to send a technician out to get the user up and running.

Efficient Networks, like many other remote-access equipment vendors, sees the use of the USB as a way to eliminate the visit by the technician. The idea being that USB devices, even DSL modems, are as easy to install as a new printer or any other peripheral. The user simply plugs the modem into the existing USB port on a PC and loads some driver software.

Efficient Networks, expects USB to be widely available. Last year, 100 percent of PCs shipped had a USB port. And it is estimated there will be 100 million USB-equipped PCs in operation by the end of this year.

Maintenance Completed 29th September 01:13 am

Pleased to announce that the maintenance carried out in both our sites were completed.

Anyway, today is a very special date...nah, I won't tell you more. :)

[Beam me to the latest news archive!]

Copyright 1998 Hardware One
Last updated 03 October 1998 16:53