14 April 1999 - Wednesday
TNT2 Overclocking! 23:13 pm - Wilfred
That's right! TNT2. Our buddy Kyle has posted his initial Leadtek TNT2 O/C blurb with a couple of screenshots to prove the mutha's steel. Benchmarks will be delivered shortly, but sufficed to say he was damn impressed and the framerates "incredible".

Default settings for this card with 16Megs of SDRam to be clocked at 170MHz on the memory and 150MHz on the core. We used the OC feature to bring up the core to 160MHz and the mem up to 175MHz. In the few benchmarks I had time to run, the card performed flawlessly as well as hauled some major ass. The frame rate was incredible!!

I simply cannot wait for this card to get to market, I think Leadtek has a winner on their hands for sure. I will keep you peeps up to date as more of this progresses.  Let me leave you with one juicy titbit, we did see increases of OVER 20% in some of our performance numbers! WOoHOo!

Requiem Review 23:07 pm - Wilfred
The FiringSquad shot off a review on Requiem. Heh! You say no angel shoots nobody? Hiak! Think again - here's your chance. The multiplayer aspect is nothing to speak about but check this quality review out. The game has some really great storyline and many interesting "angelic" powers to kill enemies, not to mention the beautiful graphics. Here's a single interesting power:

Warp Time: This is, without a doubt, the most impressive effect in the game. If you've seen the movie The Matrix, you will recognize this power immediately. Warp time causes everyone around you to move at about one-third normal speed, while you are moving at normal speed. The effect lasts about three seconds. You can actually see bullets coming at you in slow motion, and dodge them! The only downside is that all your weapons and powers are still moving in normal (ie, slow motion) time. I used this power constantly. Watching enemies explode in slow motion is something to be savored.

Force Feedback 15:58 pm - Kan
There is actually a Force Feedback Wheel roundup over at AnandTech. Read how they compare the MS FF Wheel vs Wingman Force vs Act-Labs Force RS. As usual, read our Flashman's wacky comments on the Logitech Formula Force first. :)

As stated before, the SideWinder is a very compact unit, but Microsoft has taken steps to make sure that it fits the hands well. There are deep grooves on both sides of the wheel to accommodate the user's thumbs, and the short-throw paddle shifters on the back are placed exactly where your fingers sit. The six buttons on the wheel spokes are right within reach. It feels almost like a steering-wheel-shaped flight yoke, which makes it feel fast. This machine is also the only one with a button on the center of the wheel to toggle the Force effects on and off (the others use a toggle in the driver menus).

Tyan Thunderbolt 15:10 pm - Kan
TheTechs posted what they called "the best motherboard ever reviewed" on the Tyan Thunderbolt. Hey, this motherboard sure looks impressive with onboard U2W, 10/100 Mbps Ethernet, dual redundant power supply support etc. And yes, it comes with 6 PCI slots for the extreme power users.

Tyan is a big name in the motherboard industry. I have always enjoyed their motherboards for stability and reliability. The Thunderbolt motherboard is the sequel to the Thunder 100 motherboard. The Thunder 100 motherboard has a street price of about $450 right now and when it initially came out ran about $600. The Thunder 100 motherboard boasted many new on-board features that other motherboards did not have. It included features like on-board Ultra Wide SCSI and 10/100Mbps Ethernet.

Wilfred Coughs 13:22 pm - Wilfred
Check that box in our latest poll if you haven't. It is yet another poll on piracy but this time, we want you to think of a way to nail the source of the problem and the best way out!

Another thing you might have noticed - we upgraded the forum but some unforseen circumstances caused all the old msgs to go ka-boom! We'll need you to get the whole thing going again.

Couple of changes: The new UI is probably more attractive and friendlier to use. To encourage more postings, we've decided to do away with mandatory registration. This, we will monitor for a couple of weeks and decide if we shall stick with it. Free speech or not you guys will decide, but please refrain from obscenities or sucky things - just don't force our hands on it. All right? Go to it! Cheers!

Revolutionary Tech Pulsing With Promise 13:07 pm - Wilfred
Gosh! Another earthshaking technology unshackled. There's this bunch of guys whose startup, Time Domain, discovered the use of transmitting information wirelessly via pulses of radio energy fired between 10-40 million pulses per second. Here's the benefits:

  • It could open up capacity for radio communication. Today, there's a wireless traffic jam. Users of radio waves have to operate in their specific, government-granted slices of the increasingly crowded radio spectrum; otherwise, they'd interfere with one another. But it's unlikely the pulses would interfere with each other or with conventional radio waves, so the pulses would open up vast new radio real estate.
  • Pulse devices could operate on one-thousandth the power of devices that use radio waves, so a phone could be the size of a wristwatch.
  • The pulses in Time Domain's technology are read by timing the incoming pulses to 10 picoseconds - 10 trillionths of a second. Any pulse device could tell how long it takes for a signal to get to it, which makes it able to sense objects and measure their position more accurately than conventional radar. Radar could be a mass-market product for homes or cars.
  • The pulses are timed according to a complex code shared only by the sender and the intended receiver. The chance of anyone who doesn't have the code intercepting the signal is near zero. That means pulse communications should be the most secure way ever to transmit wirelessly - of major interest to the military.

Behind The Benchmarks 12:51 pm - Wilfred
Our techie friends at Ars-Technica have smacked up an article about benchmarks. If you ever had difficulty comprehending those figures, try downing this piece first!

Perhaps the most controversial, most often abused, and least-understood type of benchmarking is CPU benchmarking. CPU benchmarks come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but the SPEC CPU benchmarking suite is the most famous. People take SPEC benchmark results as holy writ. Other benchmark suites are popular, but impressive SPEC results are critical if a company is going to show how its CPU stacks up to the competition. But is SPEC, and other CPU benchmarks like it, really a good indicator of performance? What about GFLOPS and MIPS, the other two oft-quoted CPU ratings; how much do they tell us?

Voodoo 3 and TNT2 First Look 12:43 pm - Wilfred
Gamers Depot posted their first look at the V3 and TNT2 cards. Overall, the boys were duely impressed with the great image quality of the Voodoo3. Not to mention its tremendous speed in comparision to the TNT2. The most debated issue:

DUANE: The issue of image quality is one of the most debated topics concerning these two chips. We found the image quality on BOTH chips to be EXCELLENT, and trend setting. Gone from the Voodoo of the past are the distorted images or "banding" that occurred. I was pleasantly surprised by the Voodoo3 in both it's OpenGL, and D3D image quality. There are absolutely no complaints from me whatsoever. The TNT2 was, of course, top notch as well. It would take a VERY discerning eyeball to see the difference between the TNT2 and V3, even if you are running the TNT2 in 32bit color rendering mode. Check out our screen shots we posted of these two cards.

HEINRICH: We could not believe the quality of the V3's picture. I had expected the TnT2 to be head-and-shoulders ahead, with its 32MB of memory as opposed to the V3's 16MB, its ability to render 32-bit color where the V3 can only handle 16-bit, and most importantly the TnT2's ability to handle 2048x2048 textures while the V3 lags at 256x256. I was wrong. I've looked at screenshots at all resolutions. We compared these babies side-by-side. I've even looked at Sharky's posted grafts of V3 on top of TnT2. And I can't tell the difference.

Ball Circuits 12:36 pm - Wilfred
Ho Ho! Ball Semiconductor Inc has announced it successfully produced 5-micron NMOS inverter circuits on 1mm spheres of silicon. A feasible product would only need a cheap $100 million fab plant as compared to today's $1.5 billion plants.

To produce n-channel MOS inverter circuits on silicon balls, the company used a range of processes. These included: spherical single crystallization; spherical surface polishing; integrated circuit design on a sphere with mask data generation and fabrication; spherical lithography with alignment of balls; etching and probe-testing of transistors; spherical resist coating; high-temperature oxidation at 1,300 degrees C; and atmospheric chemical vapor deposition (CVD). Most of these processes are done inside hermetically sealed tubes as silicon balls travel at high speeds without touching the sides of the pipes or each other.

Ball managers figure the spherical semiconductor process can be set up in a plant that costs about $100 million vs. today's $1.5 billion wafer fabs.

3dfx Voodoo3 08:24 am - Kan
3DHardware also has a Voodoo3 2D/3D accelerator review.

Another ranted-over feature, or non-feature rather is the voodoo-series notorious 256x256 pixel texture size. This has become a big thing since people realised what hi-res textures could do with the release of the Savage3D and later on TNT2. People actually saw that high-resolution texture could be used in real games, with acceptable performace. 3dfx defend themselves with the fact that high-resolution textures are very resource-demanding and would stall the system beyond human refreshrates, but I must say this argument crumbles with what I’ve seen other cards do on relatively low-end computers. And besides, having the feature without necessarily using it wouldn’t hurt, but rather ensure that the card would last longer, right?

DVD Article 08:16 am - Kan
HardwareUpgrade posted an article explaining what exactly is DVD. Anyway, also check out our own article on how DVD works.

There are two types of DVD: DVD-Video and DVD-ROM, which can be respectively compared to the audio CD and the CD-ROM. DVD-Video can contain a whole film with digital audio and it can be played by a dedicated player which can be connected to the TV or to a DVD reader for PC. The DVD-ROM contains data, so it is used specifically for computer; the physical support or file system is similar for both type. The file system is different from the traditional CDFS used on CD-ROMs and it is called UDF. The DVD can be of different capacities. As we know, a traditional CD-ROM can contain up to 650 MB of data, or 74 minutes of audio.

AMD reveals more K7 08:13 am - Kan
Over at The Register, there's an article on which AMD posted a presentation which shows more details of the future K7.

The full presentation, made by Fred Weber, from AMD's computation division, is available as a Powerpoint file here. In the slides, Weber says that the K7 is 500MHz now, and will be 1GHz next year, and will support 1394 and agp4x. Front side bus speeds will eventually go to 400MHz, giving throughputs of 3.2Gb/s. Rambus will allow throughput on memory of 1.6Gb/s.

Modem Tweaking 08:12 am - Kan
Ever wanted to optimize those MTU settings for your modem? Tweak3D has some advice on this issue.

"Transmission Failure" - the blinking words cause your jaw to drop to the floor. You hastily click on the retry button, but to no avail. "You have been disconnected by remote host" - grr...what should you do now? It's time to tweak your modem. The following procedures will increase the speed and stability of your modem. Largely rewritten and improved for your viewing pleasure, you are in for a treat.

Tom's Blurb 08:10 am - Kan
Updated Tom's Blurb over at TomsHardware.

The whole world is talking about Voodoo3 now, which is available in the shops for a few days already. This puts 3Dfx in a good position against NVIDIA, who will ship their first TNT2-boards some 2-4 weeks later than 3Dfx. Whilst everyone is talking about those new 3D chips now, the competitors are catching up though. Matrox' upcoming G400 MAX chip is offering no less than 333 Mtexel/s fill rate, a 360 MHz RAMDAC along with their hardware bump mapping, so that this chip may be a serious competitor to the above two. At the same time the other Canadian 3D-chip maker ATI introduced their Rage128 Pro chip, which is also coming closer to Voodoo3 and TNT2 than we would have expected.

Matrox G200 SE 08:06 am - Kan
There's a official Matrox press release over at SystemLogic on the bundling of the Millennium G200 SE with the ViewSonic P817 XtremeMonitor. Does US$2049 sound cheap?

"The Matrox Millennium G200 SE's functionality and quality boosts the P817 XtremeMonitor to perform at its maximum capability," says Mitchel Furman, Senior Product Manager, Display Technologies, Matrox Graphics. "With ultra-crisp graphics and fast 2D and 3D performance, the P817 XtremeMonitor and Matrox Millennium G200 SE combination displays over 3 million pixels, providing an unprecedented level of graphic realism. Matrox continues its commitment to providing the high-end, high resolution user with the cutting edge technology that keeps them one step ahead."

G400 08:01 am - Kan
Just to point out that the babes over at Singularity has an article on the G400 - What does it offer to the already crowded 3D arena.

Matrox's G400 Max builds uopn the dual 128-bit pipelines of the G400, which the company announced at the Game Developers' Conference last month. Matrox's claim to fame, besides the ability to process 2D graphics, is that it can render images in different formats.
The Matrox has preserved its "DualHead" display processor, allowing images to be displayed on separate screens.
13 April 1999 - Tuesday
UMAX Astra 1220U 20:23 pm - Kan
Scanner review over at FiringSquad. Oh yes, when's our HP 4200C USB scanner review coming up? :)

One of the first things that I liked about this scanner was the fact that it was a flatbed scanner and not one of those types that you feed the document through the scanner, like those fax-scanner-copier-printer-message center-phone-blender combos. Granted, flatbeds take more room, but they are easier to use, and give you the option of scanning part of a bigger document, or scanning pieces of a big document and using software to patch them together (which I've actually done). A document-feeder scanner will not let you do this.

Shogo Review 19:53 pm - Kan
3DsoundSurge sent note on their latest Shogo review. Here's the whole slap:

Mikael Hagen has done an in-depth review of Shogo, a Japanese anime inspired first person shooter,  using the latest patch for the game. Of course he pays particular attention to sound, testing it using 5 different soundcards!

The Sound Blaster Live, Diamond Monster Sound MX300, Yamaha WaveForce (or Yamaha 724 chip), Monster Sound (original) and a card using the Trident 4DWave-DX chip are all put through their paces. If own one of those cards and wonder how well Shogo will work with it or if you own Shogo and wonder what 3D sound card will be your best choice for playing it then this will be the review for you. Of course, there's more to the review of the game than soundcards. This complete review gives an overview of the story then looks at the graphics, multiplayer and gameplay before getting into the sound.  Aside from testing the five sound cards, the review looks at the sound effects, ambient sounds, 3D sound, EAX implementation and music. The review also offers tons of screen shots of this luscious looking title.

Gigabyte BX2000 17:06 pm - Kan
Another new motherboard over at Anand is the Gigabyte BX2000 Slot-1 motherboard.

The BX2000 features a full set of 4 DIMM slots, the maximum the Intel 440BX chipset allows.  Gigabyte did not outfit the BX2000 with an external data-buffer, however as AnandTech's internal testing has revealed, the Data Buffer did not seem to improve the stability of ABIT's BX6 while running with 4 installed SDRAM DIMMs.  Plus, the short trace lengths between the 443BX North Bridge controller and the DIMM slots would indicate a rare chance that even in the most "mission critical" of memory applications the BX2000 would fail.    Unfortunately, in AnandTech's 256MB memory module compatibility testing, the BX2000 failed to boot with even a single 256MB module, just something you may want to keep in mind.

Corsair Micron PC133 17:04 pm - Kan
Apparently Anand updated his last month SDRAM comparsion guide with the Corsair Micron PC133 SDRAM.

In order to isolate the memory modules as the only realistic causes of any fluctuation in stability, choosing the proper test bed was a bit of an ordeal, luckily AnandTech was aided in lab by the wonderful folks over at Kryotech who supplied AnandTech with a room temperature cooling system a week before the first stability tests were to commence. At the heart of AnandTech's SDRAM stability test bed was a Pentium II 333, capable of being reliably overclocked to 416MHz, running at room temperature with the aid of Kryotech's Renegade ATX-PE Room Temperature Cooler.

The AMD K7 13:41 pm - Wilfred
CGO has got an article about the upcoming CPU wonder from AMD. Now if it lives up to its promises, the competition will really have to sit up and listen - and listen good too.

It looks at a glance like AMD is all set to take the performance lead away from Intel in a commanding way when the K7 is released. Best of all, games are some of the applications that should benefit most from the changes the K7 brings. There are several caveats, though. AMD has had trouble delivering product on time in the past, and in high enough quantities to satisfy demand. It's also not known what price K7 chips will sell for, but AMD will not be trying to undercut the price of Pentium III chips of the same MHz rating as they have done with the K6 line. Without a price advantage, will OEMs choose AMD over the Intel juggernaut? AMD also must rely on third-party manufacturers to build the motherboards for the K7—will they have the features and price users want?

The Secrets of High Performance CPUs 13:33 pm - Wilfred
Part 3, Part 3, Part 3. Here it comes, I'm not sure if their hosts can handle it but Ace's Hardware just got 'Slashdotted'. Whoppee and here's our puny link to contribute to this phenomenon.

The K6, with its short 6 stage pipeline, has fewer problems with branch predictions as they cost only 4 clockcycles. Combine this with a higher, 95% (90% for the PII), prediction rate and you've got another reason why the K6-3 is stronger in business applications than the PII. A branch misprediction on the new deeply pipelined K7 will cost more than the 4 clockcycles, however. Do you now understand why Intel and AMD have implemented branch prediction with prediction rates of 90% and 95%? It is a critical feature that makes sure that a deeply pipelined, superscalar CPU does not waste clock cycles!

Card Cooloer Review At New Site 13:26 pm - Wilfred
Guys, there's a new site out there called FPS3D. They'd sent a mail about their birth and a fresh review on the innovative Card Cooler.

This is simply the best cooler I have ever used! Not only did it drop my processor down 20 degrees, but it wasn't even pointing at it! And it is positioned to improve overall case circulation, so all hardware takes on a benefit. This is one of those "I can't see how I lived without it" items. The strangest thing is the price. You just simply can't find a better cooler for the price

New Message Board 10:12 am - Kan
We have finally upgraded our software used in our Q&A forum. You guys will definitely like it better than the previous version. However, you need to re-register again. Also, all previous postings were gone. So, let's start the ball rolling again!

Ultra ATA/66 08:05 am - Kan
PCVelocity whipped (ouch!) up another article on Ultra ATA/66 - The SCSI Killer? They used the Promise Ultra ATA/66 to do the testings.

One interesting feature that some may find very useful, though, is that you can run 4 IDE drives on the Promise controller as well as 4 MORE IDE devices on the onboard IDE controller. I didn't have 8 drives to plug in, but different combinations of the two hard drives and two CD-ROMs I had lying around worked just fine. One caveat was that if I put a drive that wasn't Ultra ATA/66 capable alongside a drive that was not both on the special 66MB cable, neither would run in the faster mode (they would both run at Ultra/33).

TNT2 & Vooodoo3 08:02 am - Kan
The Sharks has chomped up an article on comparing the benchmarks between the TNT2 & Voodoo3.

Our personal experience with the two parts was that the pre-production Ultra TNT2 we received from Diamond ran cool and stable at XXXMHz, (higher than the NVIDIA spec) and we were told that the clock would most likely go higher still. But we went through three faulty pre-production Voodoo3 3500s (see 3dfx explanation here) before getting a stable 183MHz board that now runs like a "Hot Rod" (it is overclockable to 220MHz!). Therefore, we grilled Mr. Burke (Brian Burke, PR Manager at STB Systems, Inc) further about the Voodoo3 3500's 183MHz yields and such:

Optiquest V115 07:59 am - Kan
AGN Hardware reviewed one of those dream monitors, the Optiquest V115 21".

The unit advertises a 20.0" viewable screen, which we confirmed to be an accurate measurement.  The monitor boasts a .26 dot pitch, which provides clean, clear and crisp images.  As with most monitors in this Round-Up, the Optiquest V115 has a maximum refresh rate of over 165Hz.

At 1600x1200, the monitor's highest resolution, the unit can refresh at a rate of 76Hz.  This may be a little slow for the tastes of some, even Optiquest recommends the use of 1280x1024 for the best possible image from the display.

Dotty Spotty - Issue 3 02:06 am - Wilfred
Digital Darkroom posted Issue 3 of their printer special, Dotty Spotty. This time, David got really really close to the ink drops. 30X as close as your naked eyes will bring you, how's that?

In this issue, you can see for yourself, and probably for the very first time, the actual dots placed onto paper by the various popular inkjet printers in use today.  This will let you see exactly what people are talking about when they compare dot sizes between competing printers, and let you guage the quality of inkjet prints on a more objective basis.

X-Wing Alliance 01:58 am - Wilfred
FullOn3D has done a review on LucasArts' X-Wing Alliance. Oh dear, another game for me to buy! Will they stop burning my pockets?!

It's really great to come across a game where they do just about everything right, and even when you do experience a small glitch, the game is so well done that the little glitches don't take away from the overall experience. This is how I feel about Alliance. Sure, some of the missions in the campaign are very difficult. Sure, the graphics don't sport the latest in 3D pyrotechnics, and there are a few controls to master. But if you enjoy playing games in the Star Wars universe, you can't go wrong with Alliance. I know I'll be keeping this game on my harddrive for quite awhile.

ATI-All-In-Wonder 128 01:40 am - Wilfred
Yes, AnandTech "Review Factory" has churned out a review on the show stealer card ATI-All-In-Wonder 128. Can you say, 2D/3D accelerator, TV-Out for big screen gaming, TV-Tuner (WebTV via Win98), digital video recording with real-time software compression?

No other graphics card comes close to matching ALL-IN-WONDER 128's advanced video capabilities. ALL-IN-WONDER 128's Digital VCR, featuring real-time powerful software video compression lets you use your PC to record your favorite TV shows without filling your entire hard-drive. The Digital VCR uses the ATI VCR 2.0 codec to empower your Pentium II™ processor to compress video on-the-fly, as you're viewing it. This allows you to capture up to 9 times more video than ever before, using the same amount of disk space!

Whoa! Go read this man! If only this card was a TNT2 card with all these features, I'll grab one for sure! Imagine S-Video input onto desktop background from TV or DVD/LD/VCD, and instant playback and recording of TV shows? Damn cool!

12 April 1999 - Monday
K6-III 400 MHz 21:53 pm - Kan
Our bud over at iXBT scored another review on the K6-III 400 MHz processor. The specifications look impressive, but how does it pit against the Pentium II? Check it out.

We see that L2 cache of K6-III works much faster than that of Celeron. However, this small victory is as usual overshadowed by AMD's low performance in system memory tests, which is partially due to Socket7 chipsets manufacturers. But if we take into account that transferring exceedingly big amounts of data (over 256KB) is a rather rare occasion, it becomes clear that this disadvantage doesn't influence the general processor speed that much, and AMD really hoped for it when installing an additional high-speed L2 cache into its processor.

CRX50A 18:52 pm - Kan
My girl sent me this Sony CRX50A CDR picture. Damn, it sure looks sexy. Comes with a 1 MB buffer and it weighs only 195g, looks more like a discman to me.

EverQuest vs Ultima Online 18:38 pm - Kan
For those fans of Ultima Online, PCVelocity sent note on their latest article comparing EverQuest vs Ultima Online.

This article will mainly discuss how EverQuest differs from Ultima Online. If you haven't played Ultima Online or just started, then you will probably have a few problems following me. However, this article may still answer your questions. The bottom line is that we have two games with great ideas for role-playing. Although they are like apples and oranges, both games do need to be compared. Since both games are in-depth RPGs, and require a steady flow of funds, you really need to choose one or the other.

Tyan S1856 15:57 pm - Kan
Tyan Tomahawk BX Socket370 motherboard reviewed over at AnandTech.

The BX based S1856 boasts many of the features Tyan's line of single Slot-1 BX motherboards boast, including the now commonplace 5/2/1 (PCI/ISA/AGP) expansion slot configuration.  Due to Tyan's trademark bending of the front panel interface pins (the pins that control the HDD lights, etc...) towards the front of the case, all of the expansion slots are capable of accepting full length cards. This is something that is unfortunately overlooked by many motherboard manufacturers, and many users for that matter. Although a considerable amount of today's PCI peripherals are only 1/2 length, you never know when you may run into something that requires a little extra clearance. The Matrox Marvel G200 and the ATI All in Wonder 128 are two AGP cards that require full length slots, needs that are met by the Tyan S1856.

Logitech MouseMan 15:55 pm - Kan
Something new over at AGN Hardware again is the Logitech Mouseman Wheel. Oh yes, will this USB mouse works under Linux? :)

The MouseMan Wheel is Logitech's second foray into the USB market. Based on the success of their USB Wheel Mouse, the MouseMan Wheel is based on what used to be called the MouseMan+. With 3 fully programmable buttons and a wheel, the new USB MouseMan Wheel is Logitech's one-up on the Microsoft Intellimouse. Logitech has placed one of those buttons right under the thumb, which I thought was very cool indeed.

Dreamcode 15:52 pm - Kan
DreamCode BX motherboard review over at AGN Hardware. This is a motherboard with only 3 PCI/1 ISA slots, but it does come with a 16 MB Riva TNT as well as a Yamaha Sensaura 3D PCI 724/740 audio chip built-in.

If you think of the integrated components as expansion cards, the board is very much like any other BX based main board. The board includes built in AGP graphics and PCI audio, so the fact that the board only has 3 free PCI slots and 1 ISA slot should not be that disconcerting. It has a standard compliment of other components: support for 768MB of RAM across 3 DIMM slots, support for up to a Pentium III 500 and FSB speeds as high as 133.

Dreamcast VGA Box Review 13:54 pm - Wilfred
Today, the VGA Box gets reviewed by Boon Kiat. Check out what da-man has to say about this S$100 way to work your Dreamcast console with ya whoop ass 21" monitor!

"The TV, on the other hand, filters the image due to the imprecise nature of the circuitry, and the overall effect is, at least in my opinion, more pleasing to the eye than sharp jagged images."

"So what are the visuals like in House of the Dead 2 with this nifty device? In a word: Arcade Perfect. OK, so that’s two words."

22-Bit Colour Article Follow Up Part 2 13:47 pm - Wilfred
Krisoff posted part 2 of his follow up article on the Voodoo3 '22-bit' colour after VE's posting of two highly similar quality images from TNT2 as well as Voodoo3. Seems like the image capture programs play a huge role in these representations... check this out!

As you know screen capture programs capture the digital data inside the frame buffer. This data is 16 bits and not at all equal to what Voodoo3 (and 2 and 1 ) show on the screen. The problem with the screen capture is that the selective upsampling filter is missing since that filter is located behind the frame buffer. This missing post filter is essential to show the true image quality from the Voodoo boards. 

PDA Shootout & PalmModem 13:40 pm - Wilfred
Ars-Technica updated their earlier PDA shootout after they laid hands on the beefier Palm IIIx. Ator also wrote a mini-review on the Palm Modem... Don't miss them!

Optimising Games For Pentium III 13:27 pm - Wilfred
Gamasutra posted a nice article which talked about how the PIII worked and how games can be optimised to take advantage of it.

This spring, Pentium III processor-based systems began shipping. The chip was designed with today’s floating-point-intensive multimedia, Internet, and 3D applications in mind, but of course gamers won’t buy the processor to marvel at its new registers and instructions. Consumers just want to play better games on their new systems. To make the most of your game on Pentium III processor based systems, you have to know how to optimize you game for the new processor, and that in turn requires that you understand the processor's architecture.

Intel Found Multiprocessor Bug 13:21 pm - Wilfred
According to this report at EBNews, Intel discovered a bug running in multiprocessor systems under Microsoft's upcoming Windows 2000. Read more about it:

The error is tied to the PIIX4E south bridge of Intel's 450NX core logic chipset. Microsoft has begun notifying OEMs that in multiprocessor systems using the 450NX platform the commands to put the microprocessors in a low-power "sleep mode" may produce errors. At this time, Microsoft does not know whether a software workaround is possible, according to Microsoft's support documentation.

Kan Yawns 08:40 am - Kan
You know, I almost fell off my chair when I read at my favourite site Hardware One that one of the editors want to get himself a Force Feedback wheel.

"Now I'm very tempted to buy one of those FF wheels to further enhance the racing experience. Ok, you can start sending your donations to me."

Are you joking me babe? What about your real-life $600 Momo wheel? Maybe you can take it out and put it into my puny '74 Toyota? Anyway, talking about updates. My girls forbid me to touch the PC until I touch them first (Wow! Where?!). That figures why I will MIA in the next few weeks. :)

LucasArts X-Wing Alliance 08:38 am - Kan
PCVelocity posted a review on the X-Wing Alliance. Like what they said, this looks like a kickass game.

Apart from the tour of duty there are other ways to stick it to the Emperor as well. Hop into the simulator and quickly design any type of mission you want to play. The simulator amounts to a really user friendly mission editor. A complaint I do have is that there weren't many pre-made missions in the simulator. You can, however, fly tour-of-duty missions again, but this time using any craft and load-out of your choosing.

Chipset Guide 08:33 am - Kan
Didn't mean to post any articles today. But just in case you girls miss me, there is a chipset guide over at CRUS.

450GX / KX
This is the first Pentium Pro chipset from Intel. The Pentium Pro is aimed for the users with a huge amount of money and actually not for the normal. The chipset comes in two versions: the GX and KX. The GX is the server version of the chipset, with support of 4GB of 4-way interleaved memory and up to 4 processors. This chipset also supports 2 separate PCI buses. The KX is mainly meant for workstations but it can also be used for a server as well. It supports 1GB of 2-way interleaved memory and 2 processors. Due to the high price, these chipsets aren't much used in PC's.

 

11 April 1999 - Sunday
Where Do You Want To Go Tomorrow? 23:36 pm - Wilfred
Hiak hiak! This is funny. Microsoft is going round demanding that a German Linux site linux.de take down the satirical slogan "Where Do You Want To Go Tomorrow?". Absurdity.

Microsoft has demanded that German Linux site linux.de remove the slogan "Where do you want to go tomorrow?" from its front page. Site owner Christian Huettermann has complied so far by replacing it with a strike-through version, but as this particular slogan is widely used in the Linux world, the move may herald a Microsoft crack-down on Linux operations.

Do you know something? Hardware-One used to use that slogan a while back... no it wasn't Microsoft who forced it down. =P

TNT2 And V3 In Kingpin 23:30 pm - Wilfred
VE posted two high resolution shots of the two cards running Kingpin. For my untrained eyes, the V3 '22-bit' output looked indistinguishable from TNT2's 32-bit image. I can't tell for nuts... so if that's the best use of 32-bit colour, I might just grab a V3 for the awesome framerates as well as compatibility with my collection of Glide games. Hmm...

Memory Guide 2 23:24 pm - Wilfred
Sharky Extreme posted part 2 of their memory guide. This time the topic of discussion is, Memory Performance. Check this out!

Memory bandwidth may be a major consideration for system performance because the processor can theoretically handle the total amount of data equal to the clock speed times the bus width. This means that a 233MHz processor with a 64-bit memory bus has the ability to handle 1.8GB/Sec of data under ideal conditions, but a 66MHz system bus limits the bandwidth to 533MB/Sec.

Poll 8 Results 23:19 pm - Wilfred
Been lazing all day till moments back I got this poll image up. So there you are, the general population of people popping down to Hardware-One's alleys.

Let's give a cheer to the 10 housewives who came onboard. Hip hip hooray! The rest of you students, webmasters, professionals and jobless people... we look forward to your continued support.

PowerVR250 23:13 pm - Wilfred
Kert has got a new article on the PowerVR250. As usual, the same technical style. The impression this card gives is probably that of superb efficiency in its processing. Of course, the best don't always win. Can't miss this writeup yah?

Despite a single pipeline, PowerVR 250's performance should rival dual textured accelerators, especially in games with a depth complexity equal to or greater than two. Because less cycles are used up in Z-buffer clears, it is also expected to have a high fillrate efficiency. While polygon based accelerators have progressed to a 128-bit memory interface, PowerVR 250's low memory bandwidth architecture allows it to retain a 64-bit interface.

PII To PIII Heatsink Conversion 23:08 m - Wilfred
Interestingly, Blitz3D has an article telling you how you can get a regular PII heatsink to work on a PIII chip. Drilling? Err... no thanks!

VapoChill 560 22:58 pm - Wilfred
A kind reader pointed me to this review on a uniquely cooled Asetek system clocked to 560Mhz. Happen to like the sight of a compressor within your casing and hoses running all over the shop?

"... there is no doubt that at the moment, this system is the fastest you can get for ‘Windows" use. If you also want to use it for games, I can guarantee that there is nothing better than the ‘Vapochill 560+. At a later time, games using SSE (the new instructions in P3), and faster versions of ‘Pentium III’ will come to run faster but it will be a while before that happens."

Wilfred Coughs 14:53 pm - Wilfred
You won't believe it. Just restarted playing my multiplayer NFS3 for the past few nights. I'd been racing my fingers off with a friend till wee hours in the morning, chasing and getting chased. Wow! Yeah ADSL is fast man - smooth is the word. Now I'm very tempted to buy one of those FF wheels to further enhance the racing experience. Ok, you can start sending your donations to me.

Heretic 2: EP, A3D 2.0 & Acoustic Modelling 14:47 pm - Wilfred
That's a long and confusing headline to start with. Ee Siang of Alive! has a new article which discussed what he thought of the A3D2 effects in Heretic2:EP, compared to its original sound model as well as EAX in other games. Are the differences dramatic?

I'm not trying to trash A3D 2.0 here. Hell, it sure sounds much better than the default sound . All I'm trying to do is to bring people's expectation down to earth. Wavetracing SEEMS to be the right way to do acoustic modelling cause we're so used to raytracing producing gorgeous graphics but the result tells us that sound is really another different beast altogether. There're so much going on between a source, the listener and the surrounding that wavetracing could not handle everything at once. In short, it fails to give you a convincing perception of the environment.

To conclude, I will say it again, some people expect that wavetracing will really model and reflect the actual acoustic environment in real life but I say, kid yourself not. Reproducing an acoustic environment that is indistingushable in real life and the PC is really like a sort of Holy Grail and current technologies (A3D, EAX, Sensaura etc) still got a long way from reaching there

New Poll Question 09:13 am - Kan
Yup, you read it. Time to start clicking on your favourite options. Can you really eradicate piracy? What's your stance? Be in our poll!

Soyo SY-D6IBA2 09:04 am - Kan
NetExcite posted a review on the Soyo SY-D6IBA2 dual processor motherboard. Yes, this is the board I will get for my dual processors when I have the money! =)

The Soyo D6IBA2 utilizes Intel's 440BX chipset along with Adaptec's AIC-7890 & AIC-3860 SCSI chipset for its on-board SCSI functions. It has a total of three SCSI ports on-board, which includes 50-pin Ultra SCSI , 68-pin Ultra Wide SCSI and lastly, a 68-pin Ultra2 SCSI. The Ultra2 SCSI port supports Low Voltage Differental devices. Obviously, it has dual CPU support which will take either a Celeron or Pentium II or III CPU. At this time, you might know that you can modify a Socket 370 to Slot 1 riser card along with a Socket 370 CPU for forced dual CPU support.

Super7 3D Video Accelerator Comparison 08:59 am - Kan
Anand boy finished his 3D Video Accelerator Comparison article.

Installing an AGP accelerator on a Super7 motherboard is a bit more complicated than doing so on a Socket-370 or a Slot-1 motherboard based on an Intel chipset. This is simply because you have to take into account the configuration and setup of the drivers that enable a feature of the AGP specification known as the Graphics Address Remapping Table, or GART for short. The importance of GART support to a true AGP accelerator is this, if you happen to have an incredibly large texture that cannot fit within your graphics card’s local memory, the AGP bus can allow for it to be transferred quickly for storage and later retrieval to and from system memory.

Asus P2B BIOS Patch 08:57 am - Kan
Our bud over at iXBT emailed a note that Asus's got a new BIOS patch for the P2B board. This patch will enable a softmenu feature similar to Abit's infamous BIOS setup. Wow!

ASUS P2B mainboard owners have now every reason to triumph since it is their victory day today! From now on they no longer need to get into their PC and to reset the jumpers in order to change FSB frequency and CPU clock multiplier. The thing is that these mainboards turned out to have SoftMenu - a part of BIOS Setup available, for example on ABIT mainboards, which allows to achieve the same effect - to change FSB frequency and CPU clock multiplier - by pressing a couple of buttons. However, this fantastic feature is blocked on ASUS mainboards. But one of our friends managed to develop a cool BIOS patch enabling this feature. You can download it from here and try it yourselves. Another pleasant surprise is that this patch seems likely to work on some other ASUS motherboards. By the way, did you know that the same thing could be done with a soldering iron if you follow the instructions of a Mr. H. Oda!? But now it is not worth your attention any more so don't waste your precious time and see the soft now! Good luck!

FourPointSurround 08:54 am - Kan
Creative Labs FourPointSurround reviewed over at 3DHardware.net. No, I actually prefer our Creative Labs 5.1 Theater sound system. :)

The FourPointSurround is a small speaker system. The 4 satellites are 2.75" and very of compact design. If only judging by size, this system wouldn't perform much but as always, I was to be surprised. At low soundlevels, the satellite speakers produced clean highs and midrange sounds. The subwoofer, despite its small size, was able to pump out some reasonable bass, although nothing groundshaking. At moderate listening levels, the satellites performed equally well, but now you could feel that the subwoofer was having a hard time. Sometimes the subwoofer doesn't go as low as you'd want, and not giving the thumps you'd like to hear.

Couple of URL Change Announcements 08:52 am - Kan
These are important stuff. Two of nice affiliates have "moved". In addition, PC Asylum now brings you a spiffy new Singapore pricelist section. Here's the URLs to find our favourite sites:

SystemLogic - http://www.systemlogic.net
PC Asylum -
http://www.pcasylum.com

Actima 6X DVD-ROM 08:46 am - Kan
Actima 6X DVD-ROM reviewed over at AGN Hardware. Huh? Problems with BH6? Hmmm...

I have to admit that the drive was not working perfectly, I was having trouble getting it to work on Abit’s BM6 motherboard. Moving it over to my BX6 2.0 based system solved those problems though, showing that it is Abit’s fault and not Actima’s. The problems that I had with the drive on the board are the same ones that people have been reporting with the Pioneer drive that I reviewed a few months ago. The problem is higher than intended CPU usage when playing CD Audio and other CPU usage problems with normal playback. When I moved the drive to the BX6 2.0 motherboard, I experience no problems at all with the CPU usage. This proved to be true with the Pioneer drive also, because leaving it on the BX6 2.0 motherboard fixed all of the problems that people have been complaining about. Abit, I think it is time for a bios upgrade for the BM6 and BH6.

QuakeCity Revamped 08:44 am - Kan
Just thought you'll want to take a look - QuakeCity has revamped their webpage. So, for those Quakers, what are you waiting for?

 

10 April 1999 - Saturday
Voodoo3 3000 13:59 pm - Kan
Hot kids over at HotHardware sent note on their latest review on the Voodoo3. Nope, I will still stick to my TNT. :)

The Voodoo3 is manufactured on a .25 micron, five layer metal process. Today Semiconductor Fabs like TSMC and UMC are beginning to characterize product in .18 micron processes. It won't be long before we are all drooling for Voodoo4! Reducing chip die geometries means that vendors like 3dfx can fit more and higher complexity functions into the same small package that sits in chip form on your video card. Older versions of 3dfx product were manufactured on .35 micron technology. By going to .25 3dfx made the tiny traces or "routes" in the Voodoo3 much smaller which meant they had more room in the die to add features or digital logic. It also meant that the clock speeds would go up significantly!

Last Day of Poll 09:31 am - Wilfred
Yuppers! Today is your last opportunity to participate before we update with a new poll. So housewife or not, working or jobless... we ask you to move the radio button and click that mouse! =)

22-Bit Colour: Follow Up 09:21 am - Wilfred
This is good stuff from Kristof of Beyond3D. Remember his previous article on 3Dfx's claims to 22-bit colour? He's done some research on this matter and has some insights to share:

First of all, I must admit that when I started this line of articles I was very skeptical. 22-bit color from only 16-bit input? It just doesn't sound very plausible. But while researching information, it became more and more obvious that it isn't so impossible, as I thought at first. In this follow-up article I will introduce an improved filtering technique that will stop the bleeding of colors in situations where it isn't appropriate. After that, I will give a short mathematical hint about why 3dfx might claim 22-bits (and not 21 or 23). Finally, I will add some more small comments based on the various emails that I have received concerning this subject.

ATI Rage Magnum 09:14 am - Wilfred
WickedPC posted a review on the ATI Rage Magnum. Here's some nice words for the card's 2D performance with 3D Studio Max.

As you know, the card supports resolutions of up to 1920x1200 at 76Hz with 32bpp. That's spectacular for any CAD designer, or someone who digs around in Photoshop a lot. Typically on most video cards, the highest resolution will kill you performance wise, and this was not the case with the Rage 128. Although as resolutions go higher performance will dip, it didn't dip so low that it was dysfunctional. Rendering tests with 3D Studio Max proved faster than other video cards we've tested, and the performance difference was quite noticeable.

Large Blurb On A3D 2.0 & Obstruction 08:59 am - Wilfred
It's best you check out the headlines at 3DSoundSurge for they have a large blurb from Aureal's Skip Mcllvaine regarding Creative's claims in their upcoming Liveware 2.0. The battle rages one... and here's a short snip:

The statement above is more a game of semantics - creating more confusion - than a clarification of the functionality of either's technology.  We currently support static and dynamic geometry effects and do so automatically via the application's existing geometry database.   To claim that we do not support something that has been in public release for several months is disturbing.  Creative themselves are only now addressing the need to provide controls to manually simulate obstruction.  We have supported it all along and in what we believe to be a more usable and powerful way.

Caesar III Review 08:46 am - Wilfred
IGamer.net sent word of their review on Caesar III. This is one superb game for any of you patient enough to learn its complexities.

Caesar III's scores high in Entertainment.   Like the old days with Sim City, Caesar will keep you coming back for more.   When you beat a scenerio you even have the option of governing for another 2-5 yerars.  Caesar III is not for everyone though.  It will take quite a few hours to get used to the complex economic systems, but its rewarding.  Caesar III is one of the best strategy games out there now and I would recomend it to any fan of the genre.

Monthly Hardware News 06:35 am - Kan
Our bud over at iXBT just finished their Monthly Hardware News Overview. They touched on the CPUs, memory, mainboards as well as video. Interesting read.

Then it was found that all processors built with 0.25 micron technology with the only exception of Pentium MMX have this CPU ID. And this was a beautiful conclusion to the set of March discoveries. To finish with IDs it should be mentioned that in March Intel launched the first program for the integrated ID. Frankly speaking, there is already another first program for CPU ID - a turning-off utility - but we won't take it into account if you don't mind. So, as most analysts have predicted even before the processor launching, it was aimed at preventing CPU remarking. In other words it allows everyone to find out the initial clock frequency of the CPU right after it's left the plant.

Elite P6BXT-A+ 06:33 am - Kan
This new board from Elite is pretty popular nowadays. It features the dual Socket370/Slot1 option and has an Elite PCI audio CMI8338 integrated sound chip. Check out what Review-Zone has to say:

On the other hand, considering the boards dual Slot 1/Socket 370 interface, it’s fairly evident that something’s gotta give -and the fifth PCI slot was the victim. The fourth PCI slot and the first ISA slot are shared slots, which means you can use either one of them but not both at once, because both slots correspond to the same expansion card opening in the system case.

Logitech Gaming Mouse 06:30 am - Kan
CalBear from FiringSquad emailed us on their new review, the Logitech Gaming Mouse. Design wise, I think it looks ugly. :)

However, if you look at the mouse and all the circumstances objectively, it would be wrong to criticize Logitech just on that basis. The old Mouseman 95 shape was a popular design, and many had clamored for its return after they were discontinued. They're also very durable. Mine is more than 3 years old and is still going strong. The contoured buttons feel good to rest your fingers on, while the large triangular shape is great for people with big hands like myself. Other mice tend to feel small and flimsy if you have large hands but the Wingman Gaming mouse (AKA Mouseman 95) has a good solid feel.

 

9 April 1999 - Friday

Diamond Monster Fusion 23:26 pm - Wilfred
Vince of ExtremeHardware sent note of his review on the Banshee based Diamond Monster Fusion. Take a look!

The Diamond Monster Fusion is one of the few Banshee cards that doesn't just offer up a cookie cutter version of the 3dfx reference design. With an onboard cooling fan and high grade SGRAM, the Fusion is definitely a top of the line Banshee card. The only question is if it's worth the added cost for these extras and slightly increased speed, especially with the release of the Voodoo3. Then again, if you're after a high quality, name brand Banshee card, you really can't do better than the Monster Fusion.

K7 not Delayed 18:12 pm - Kan
Noticed over at gay site VE that K7 may not be delayed. Ok, ok I'm gay too alright? Here's the news:

Apparently that bit that I pulled from The Register yesterday, which mentioned that the K7 might be delayed, was incorrect. Check out this nibblet that I received from AMD's Drew Prairie:

You are dead-on with this one. The cautionary statement has, and will continue to be, included in nearly all of our press releases that deal with future looking statements. We are still on track to deliver initial volume production of the K7 in June. The release should not be read as an indication of any delay.  If there were a delay in the availability schedule, we wouldn't bury it at the end of a press release.  K7 is the future...

A Brief History of Clock 18:03 pm - Kan
ArsTechnica posted some answers on how overclocking of Intel CPUs are explored as well as the history of processors.

Widespread overclocking in techie circles brought CPU manufacturing quality into the limelight. Processors are mass-produced in sheets or wafers. Due to the nature of the manufacturing process, some processors are of inherently higher quality than others. Quality varies from wafer to wafer and within indivudual wafers. (This next bit is somewhat speculation, but I believe it's correct.) As part of the post-manufacture testing procedure, a processor is tested at a low speed (in the case of the classic Pentium, this might be 90MHz). If the processor performs well at this speed, it is tried at 100MHz. If it passes there, it is tried at another step up (in our example, perhaps 120MHz).

Joystick Operation 17:03 pm - Kan
Avault posted an article on Joystick Operation in their Hardware Game. Sounds technical.

Instead of this slow timing process, it's possible to build a digital joystick. If you look at the pattern on the right, you'll notice that (top to bottom) each successive layer has twice the number of white/black pairs. If we setup a detector for each layer, letting white be a one and black a zero, we'll get a unique binary code for each of the 16 resolvable positions in the drawing. We can add more layers to get finer resolution, and can lay the drawing out in a circle to get an endless encoder wheel.

Home PC Link Kit 14:15 pm - Kan
Something new again over at AGN Hardware. The Home PC Link Kit consists of 2 PCI cards which allows you to link 2 PCs at home and support speed of up to 1 Mbps.

Best Data’s Home PC Link offers a solution to the above problem, by using your existing phone wiring to transfer data at up to 1Mbs between multiple computers. The Home PC Link includes two PCI interface cards (Based on the home PNA standard), one with a 56k modem and one without. The kit also includes a full version of the popular Wingate proxy software so that you can share the Internet between multiple computers. This allows you to use a single Internet account between two computers. By eliminating the need for external wires, the Home PC Link makes it easier to set up a home network for gaming or just sharing information.

HSDRAM Review 14:01 pm - Kan
Sharky scored a review on the EMS PC-133+ HSDRAM. HSDRAM stands for "High Speed Synchronous Dynamic Random Access Memory", and they are very fast - absolutely ideal for overclocking.

HSDRAM was conceptualized and developed by a very technology-savvy company known as Enhanced Memory Systems. By taking new techniques and applying them to proven methods, Enhanced Memory Systems (EMH for short) has created a desktop PC compatible SDRAM format that's capable of sustaining speeds that are much higher than the current PC-100 SDRAM we're all used to does.

Boston Acoustics BA635 13:58 pm - Kan
Tech-Review sent note on their latest speakers review, the Boston Acoustics BA635. This pair of speakers looks cute!

The tiny satellites were vibrant and reproduced high range sound quite well. They are somewhat lacking in the midrange area, but nonetheless sound pretty good. For as small as they are, the BA635s perform well. The guitar solo from Hotel California was clear and alive, but like its big brother the MediaTheater, lacked the crispness and cleanness that we have come to love.

LiveWare 2.0 Announced! 10:37 am - Wilfred
Over a short span of few hours, Alive! was updated with a couple of new links. Catching my attention was this LiveWare 2.0 announcement pointer to MaximumPC.

Creative Labs told Maximum PC that they have completely replaced the 3D algorithms, significantly lowered CPU utilization (specifically in regards to 3D spatialization) and have changed and improved their reverb algorithms.

Also upgraded is EAX (environmental audio effects) to version 2.0 and full compliance with the Interactive 3D Level 2 (I3DL2) specification, which is an environmental audio extension of DirectSound 3D. The I3DL2 won't be built into DirectX until version 8.0 though.

EAX 2.0 not only improves and advances existing 3D spatialization, it also enhances four-way speaker playback and improves playback of EAX 1.0 games, Creative officials said. EAX 2.0 also includes support for occlusion (sounds being muffled behind a wall) and obstruction (sounds being blocked by objects).

I'm looking forward to grabbing this update as soon as it is made available at Creative's website end of this month. =)

Cambridge SoundWorks FPS2000 10:26 am - Wilfred
Drool. Drool. Gamers Depot posted a review on the FPS2000 speakers. And if you are still wondering what the FPS2000 is all about, it is a new spank ass digital, SoundWorks version of the FourPointSurround speakers.

It's hard to conceive just how good we got it now when it comes to sound for your PC.  Creative labs was one of the early pioneers in this area, and it shows that they are serious about staying ahead of the pack by producing cutting edge technology.  This is not to say that there aren't other companies out there who aren't on the cutting edge.  However, who else do you know that not only has one of the best sound cards on the market, but also has the best 4-speaker solution to fit perfectly with it?  It's not hard to believe that unless Diamond combines efforts with some kind of quality speaker maker, that Creative could have the upper hand in this area for some time to come.

Whether they turn you on will depend on your taste, as they are all dressed sexily in black. So time for a spray paint job on my PC to match these speakers yah? Besides, SBLive-ers can now put the digital DIN to good use. Pure digital entertainment?

Sony Building Digital Walkman 10:19 am - Wilfred
Sony hinted at their upcoming strategy and how the industry will evolve after the compact disc. Showing the 'Memory Stick' media, he hinted that their new digital walkman, or Netman, will utilise this new storage type. Check out CNN.com's article as well as Hardware One's first look at the Memory Stick.

Sony's Idei kicked off an announcement of the company's Super Audio CD with a few words on the evolution of the compact disc. As he closed his remarks, Idei pulled from his suit pocket what looked like a stick of purple chewing gum.

"For the network era of compressed and downloaded audio, we have another media - it's called the Memory Stick," he said holding the stick up to the light. "With this, we want to introduce a kind of Walkman, or what you might call a Netman," he said.

Microsoft Reveals More Win98 SE Features 09:58 am - Wilfred
We all know by now the next consumer version of Windows WILL be based on the 9x code. Sheesh. Ok, here's what Microsoft will be exploring to include in this coming Second Edition.

Rather than develop a consumer version using the Windows 2000 (formerly called Windows NT 5.0) code, as previously announced, the next version of Windows will rely on the existing Windows 98 infrastructure, Ballmer said. The decision to stick with Windows 98 was related to ease of use, said Microsoft executives. Popular consumer products, such as graphics cards and game peripherals, live in a fast-moving market, and it would be too difficult to guarantee compatibility with Windows 2000 code, they said.

Instead, Redmond, Wash. based Microsoft initially will use development time to explore ways to make Windows a faster, more reliable, natural experience for users. Microsoft is focusing on improving how Windows 98 handles failures which sometimes result in rebooting, said Kim Akers, product manager at the developer. "We are looking at how Windows can help [consumers] correct those problems," she said.

'Melissa' Suspect Trial: New Twist 09:52 am - Wilfred
Oh if you aren't already tired of reading more 'Melissa' headlines, then do proceed reading this. CoolInfo snipped a bit of the story as the alleged virus creator David L.Smith appears in court. A new twist surfaced as investigators continue to probe further:

"... even as he appeared in court Thursday, questions were being raised as to whether he is the actual author of the virus. Jonathan James, an 18-year-old virus analyst from Sweden who's been helping the FBI with its Melissa investigation, claims to have identified a second suspect who he believes was involved in the creation of Melissa. James won't say much about this other suspect, but he will say that the second suspect is a male virus writer living somewhere in Europe -- and that he has already told the FBI exactly where to find that suspect.

James also says that this virus writer speaks German, or some language that's derived from German. Parts of the Melissa source code include words that appear to come from a Germanic language. "I studied his source code and compared it to the Melissa virus source code, and I can see several similarities that are quite striking, and this thing with the German or German-related variables," James said. Does that mean Smith did not write Melissa? James says he doesn't know. According to James, it looks like Smith was involved in "posting" the virus, but that he may not be the actual author."

SCSI Takes On USB On High End 09:41 am - Wilfred
Our friend sent along a pointer to this article at TechWeb. The SCSI Trade Association released their technology roadmap at WinHEC. It detailed the direction and challenges in which the new SCSI generations will take on against the coming USB 2.0 and IEEE 1394 standards.

The trade association has charted a road map to Ultra5 SCSI by 2003, scaling up bandwidth to 640 MBps. The road map was released as newer technologies threaten to infringe upon SCSI's traditional domain: high-end PCs, workstations, and servers. At the low end of the market, SCSI faces challenges from the second-generation version of the USB. At Intel's Developer Forum in March and again at WinHEC, Intel executives said they intend that USB 2.0 will replace SCSI in PCs.

3dfx Pulls Off Wrappers 09:01 am - Kan
Wrappers are software utilities that allow other video accelerator cards to map onto the Glide 3D graphics API. 3dfx are starting to pull sites that distribute or link wrappers files. Take a look at The Register article.

The company claims that wrappers developed using its own Glide software development kit (SDK) cannot be distributed without its permission since that violates its intellectual property rights. And since the wrappers allow games that normally require Glide and 3dfx's Voodoo technology for acceleration to be played with, say, cards based on nVidia's Riva TNT, 3dfx refuses to give its permission.

And recently 3dfx's lawyers, San Francisco-based Crosby, Heafey, Roach & May, began emailing owners of sites offering wrapper downloads to remove the utilities and other Glide-related files -- or else.

Powerleap PL-PII 433 08:58 am - Kan
Anand posted a review on the Powerleap PL. From the looks of it, this babe looks more overclockable and it comes with a Celeron 433 MHz PPGA version.

In realization of this situation, Powerleap included a voltage regulator on the PL-PII’s PCB, allowing for the manual adjustment of the processor’s core voltage from 1.8v up to 3.5v in 0.1v increments (0.05v increments from 1.80v to 2.10v). This same feature can be found on ASUS’ own Socket-370 to Slot-1 adapter, so it isn’t completely unique to Powerleap. Regardless of who thought of it first, the bottom line is that with Powerleap’s adapter, you are no longer limited to ABIT motherboards if you want the most control over how high you overclock your Celeron based system.

Change FSB 08:03 am - Kan
HardOCP had sent note on a piece of staggering news when a Japanese overclocker translated the article on how to change the FSB ranging from 50 Mhz to 200 Mhz on almost any motherboard. Hmm.. I don't understand the translated English version either.

Voodoo3 Press Release 08:00 am - Kan
What those 3Dfxers are waiting for, the Voodoo3. Here's the press release of its worldwide availability.

SAN JOSE, Calif.. – April 7, 1999 – 3dfx Interactive® Inc. (NASDAQ: TDFX) today announced the worldwide availability of its new Voodoo3™ 2000 and 3000 boards, the first graphics boards to carry the highly acclaimed 3dfx® brand name. The Voodoo3 boards will be available this month in 9,000 stores worldwide, with up to 15,000 stores expected to carry 3dfx brand products later this year. The new Voodoo3 2000 and 3000 deliver industry-leading 3D and 2D performance, while the Voodoo3 3000 ships with a selection of hot 3D titles: an optimized version of Interplay’s Descent 3™: Sol Ascent™, a free upgrade coupon for the much-anticipated Unreal Tournament from GT Interactive and Epic Games, the complete version of Unreal, and Electronic Arts’ driving genre smash Need for Speed III specially optimized for 3dfx.

MSI 6163 07:55 am - Kan
Motherboard review on the MSI 6163 over at Lost Circuits.

Not only is the board itself heavier and substantially sturdier than the average but also, it does have features. Starting with the obvious, there is the 5 / 2 / 1 (PCI / ISA / AGP) layout, redundant to mention that all slots can be occupied with full length cards except for maybe the first ISA slot where an extra long card might run into the board connector jumper block (JFP). The same holds for the fifth PCI slot. A very nice feature are the folding CPU brackets which make the removal of the mounting mechanism an ordeal of the past. The board we received was furthermore equipped with the on-board Creative ES 1373 sound chip (SB Audio PC 64V), obvious from the bulky sound / joystick connector directly adjacent to the ATX port connector.

Antec KS180 07:53 am - Kan
AGN Hardware did a Antec KS180 full tower review. This tower stands over 2 feet tall and have 6 drive bays. It's huge!

The case has room for 7 expansion cards and comes with pre-fabricated cut-outs for serial, USB, and parallel connections.  There is also a removable panel to help make a good fit for more popular main board designs.  There is a row of slots cut into the back panel for cooling.  While I thought this was a very good idea (and still do =), I would have liked to have seen more ventilation toward the top of the case. 

Another StarSiege Review 00:10 am - Wilfred
The FiringSquad also has a review on Dynamix's StarSiege. Much like I enjoyed the game, the reviewer found it scoring in terms of gameplay but it too has its flaws.

By no means is Starsiege a bad game. I enjoyed going through the single player levels and learning more about the story as I went along. Toying around with vehicle configurations is a joy in and of itself for Type A personalities like me. However, it's difficult to overlook the blasé dueling mechanisms, and their extreme dependence on weapon loadout. It seems to me that just a couple of weeks in a mass beta test might have ironed out some of the weapon issues, and possibly the aiming accuracy issues with some of the weapons. Unfortunately we don't grade by "coulda, woulda, shoulda" and as it stands, Starsiege is a better than average game with some flaws.

 

8 April 1999 - Thursday
Final Fantasy VIII: The Legend Continues 19:30 pm - Wilfred
Yeah! For the past days, I had been very caught up with downloading FF8 animated sequences from the high-speed Fun server. You must watch one to believe the quality of the animation.

In a massive feature article in their console section, GameCenter has both the game and their upcoming film in scrutiny. Film?! They are promising better animation than the game... wow!

GC: The Final Fantasy movie appears to go way beyond normal animation. It's just shy of live action. What have been some of the challenges in essentially creating a new medium for movies? Previous animated films have shied away from using human characters, because it's been cost-prohibitive to do the level of animation that is necessary. Square is breaking new ground, which must create lots of complications.

JA: There are a lot of complications, yes. Sometimes I ask myself if it wouldn't be easier just to shoot it as live-action. Of course, it would cost a lot more money. I think we're trying to set new standards and [establish] a new genre of feature films. I don't think we're trying to compete with live-action films. Our goal is not to make it so photo-realistic that it looks like live-action. Our animation is superb, and for the first 10 or 15 minutes, I'm sure that we're going to impress a wide range of audiences just because of the visuals. But at the end of the day, it's really the storytelling that has to be there for the audience to really enjoy and appreciate a good movie.

ComputerNerd's POW!er 2U Dude! System 19:09 pm - Wilfred
BxBoards has a review on the first commericially available dual Celeron rig from ComputerNerds. Andy's tests on the 300A chips clocked at 504Mhz each, showed it performed very close to a dual PIII-500Mhz setup. Consider the S$2000 price difference!

The POW!er 2U Dude! Computer is an excellent performer on a number of levels. It is very fast and under all three operating systems LINUX, Windows NT-4 and Windows 98 the system was super-stable. Accordingly, this box should be attractive across the spectrum of high-end hardware buyers. With the exception of shutting down every now and then to swap the Celeron's out for the P-III's and other hardware trickery, I've had this system running 80% of the time, with the Celeron's at 504mhz full-time, for over three weeks without system failure. I've executed all these benchmarks (and then some) and flashed to a newer system BIOS (which added support for the P-III's as well as additional memory timing settings). When I wasn't busy using the system, Prime 95 and RC5 were running for hours on end. I added numerous updated drivers and files, rebooted between the three OS's many, many times, uploaded, downloaded, copied and deleted multiple files and this system never locked up or crashed without being user or setup related

Voodoo 3 Overclocking 18:57 pm - Wilfred
SharkyExtreme posted an article on the yield issues revolving the 183Mhz Voodoo 3 3500 cards. Amid receiving some bad alpha boards initially, they got hold of a rare gem which they managed to take to an orgasmic 220Mhz clock speed. Some words from 3Dfx...

We are confident that we will ship that part, the yields are what we expect. No question. We have not stated when it will be, but expect an announcement soon. It is absolutely very important for 3dfx to be as forthcoming as we can on future products with out misleading the public or giving away any competitive advantage. Our loyalists are used to 3dfx delivering on our promises and tend to hold us to a higher standard. We have been very up front that the Voodoo3 3500 is a high frequency bin, that yields are not going to be 100%, and it will be available in smaller quantities than the 2000 and 3000.

Is Code Free Speech? 18:21 pm - Wilfred
Here's one interesting discussion piece for your General Paper classes. Hannibal at Ars-Technica posted his blurb on free speech, export of strong encryption and open source code. Don't miss this!

Speech acts and their meaning are defined not only with reference to the individual, but with reference to a cultural context. Something doesn't count as speech if it makes sense only to the speaker. But machine code, you'll likely point out, makes sense to anyone trained to read it. And since it makes sense not only to the writer of the code, but to whoever reads the code, it is therefore a form of speech. But is it really?

Let's consider the case of a watch. If someone were to make an old-fashioned Swiss watch with gears and such, and give it to me under the assumption that I'm going to take it apart and learn to make Swiss watches, is the watch a form of speech? Before you answer, consider also the following case. Someone makes a Swiss watch and drops it in the park. I pick it up, bring it home, and take it apart. Once I get it apart, I figure out how to make Swiss watches. Was the second watch a form of speech?

Altec Lansing ADA-305 18:10 pm - Wilfred
Ben sent word of his review on these USB speakers over at WickedPC. If there's one reason why USB speakers haven't taken off, you gotta at least read this:

You can use these speakers with or without a sound card, however I would strongly recommend sticking with a sound card since USB audio can not provide the high functionality of A3D/EAX sound.

StarSiege Review at PC.IGN 10:27 am - Wilfred
PC.IGN has got a review of Dynamix's StarSiege. If you are into mech games, this may be one title worth checking.

Starsiege is a pretty damn good game and it's certainly hella fun, but things could be better. It will be a few months before we can see how Starsiege rates against the other mech games, but for now Dynamix has proven that they can offer a genuinely fun robotic combat experience, both as a single player game as well as in the muliplayer arena.

nVidia Chip To Do T&L 09:42 am - Wilfred
Check this press release at Blue's News. nVidia has announced that they will be the first company to deliver integrated transform and lighting processing in a single chip to the mainstream in 1999.

Transform and lighting are two of the major steps in the 3D graphics pipeline. Due to their mathematically intensive and highly repetitive nature they are ideally suited to dedicate, application-specific hardware like NVIDIA’s graphics processors.

"The developers and end-users have spoken, they’re tired of poor-quality artificial intelligence, blocky characters, limited environments and other unnatural looking scenes," said David Kirk, chief technologist at NVIDIA. "This new graphics capability is the first step towards an interactive Toy Story or Jurassic Park."

600Mhz SupaChilled Benchmarks 09:34 am - Wilfred
If you checked out those crazy boys' 600Mhz SupaChill 300a rig before, check HardOCP again today. They brought you their benchmarks at the insane speed!

Needless to say, the SupaChilled 600 MHz kicks some serious butt, and is the fastest CPU we've had to play with until sofar. Also we could not get it to show its real muscle due to the fact that we were unable to get hold of a VooDoo3 or a TNT2.

Citrix & Sony Talks PlayStation License 09:28 am - Wilfred
A news report at The Register has it that Sony is negotiating with Citrix to bring its technology to the Playstation 2. With it, you might soon find your favourite Windows apps running on the console with printing and other capabilities via FireWire and USB devices.

Sources said that Citrix is in talks to licence its technology to Sony for the Playstation platform.  If the talks succeed, it could mean that you will be able to run your favourite Window apps on the Playstation and even do print and operations on Playstation II because it will have USB and FireWire connectivity. Citrix software has a very small footprint and it would be possible to connect to a virtual NT server on the Internet.

MS Announced Another Win9x In 2000! 09:22 am - Wilfred
This is NOT a rumour. CNet has a report that Microsoft's president, Steve Balmer, in his WinHEC keynote made the above annoucement.

While Ballmer called the OS a "new version" of Windows 98, a Windows product manager placed it in a "new generation" category.

"Don't think of it as a new version of Windows 98," said Mike Nichols, a Windows product manager. The upcoming OS will be based on the same code, but will contain a number of new features, he said.

Ironically, it was a year ago, at the WinHEC conference, when chief executive Bill Gates announced that Windows 98 would be the last DOS-based operating system, with subsequent versions based on NT.

Though not surprised, I think people are getting impatient already! Consumers are waiting for the convergence which Microsoft promised years ago. With this annoucement, it might be safe to assume that W2k is not ready for end-users at all.

Early Performance Findings On K7 Rig 09:03 am - Wilfred
Sharky Extreme posted in their Weekly CPU Prices some bits on AMD's K7 processor. Early impressions of the K7 500Mhz didn't impress many, when it performed only at PIII-500Mhz level.

First, the K7 eval unit's 500MHz CPU has its L2 cache speed set to 1/3rd of the core speed of 500MHz. Second, the L2 cache amount on the K7 eval machines is only 512KB. Finally, the front side system bus is communicating with the SDRAM in the PCs at only 100MHz.

It's important to remember that AMD has until July (the K7's true launch date) to iron out the hardware differences in the alpha K7 rigs that have been sent out versus what their PR department has promised the K7 CPU will offer. That being said, Sharky Extreme has talked to certain qualified individuals regarding these early K7 machines who strongly feel that the inferior form that the alpha K7 rigs are currently in don't bode well for the CPU's launch later this year.

As far as performance is concerned on the alpha K7 PCs, results there are underwhelming to most who have tinkered with them. We kept hearing a single comment regarding a summation of the alpha K7's current performance level:

"The FPU is clearly stronger than the K6-2 or K6-3's, it's about equal in performance to the Intel P3-500's FPU. The integer functionality of the K7 500 is also about equivalent to the P3-500 as well, in general the two CPUs are very close at this point in benchmarks."

High Definition TV for PCs 08:55 am - Wilfred
nVidia and Teralogic announced a partnership in which the Teralogic Janus high-definition DTVPC decoder chip will be used in future nVidia card designs.

At the 1999 Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) today, NVIDIA(TM) Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA - news) announced support for TeraLogic's Janus chip, the industry's first single-chip high-definition DTVPC decoder. In combination with the Janus chip, NVIDIA is able to provide true high definition capabilities in their digital TV offerings. By leveraging each others technical expertise, the two companies have developed a reference design that provides premium image quality for both HDTV and 3D/2D graphics for the mainstream PC market.

3D Graphics Scorecard 08:55 am - Wilfred
GameCenter has got a scorecard of what they think of the coming 3D chips. In their roundup, you'll find the Rage128, Savage4, V3, TNT2, Permedia3, G400 and PowerVR250.

We've put together this scorecard to help you keep track of the latest developments in 3D graphics--which chips are coming out, how they compare to each other, and what to expect in the future. These aren't product reviews; most of the chips we're looking at aren't available yet in product form. Instead, it's an overview of the current landscape, with detailed reviews to come as final products based on these chips are released.

Wilfred Coughs 08:39 am - Wilfred
Back! For those of you who wrote in... thanks for your concern. Seems ok now, got a new HDD, reinstalled everything all over. If nothing falls apart by this evening, I should expect some stable performance for a few good weeks!

New Yamaha CDRW 06:33 am - Kan
Read this from AGN Hardware on the new Yamaha 6X Record and 4X RW drive. Are you kidding me? I just bought my 4X CDRW!

The new Yamaha CRW6416S is the world's first and only 6X recorder with 4X rewritability. For recording at 6X, the drives use current, widely available, low cost CDR media. The 4X rewriting speed is executed using 4X compatible CD-RW media. The new drive is expected to be available in production quantities in June 1999.

Three of Yamaha's partners will share the booth with the company. They are: Extreme Technologies, Inc., Drive Image, and CeQuadrat, Inc. The partners will demonstrate software and multiple duplication products. CeQuadrat will show WinOnCD, advanced CD-authoring software for all CD formats, and just!audio, PC Magazine's Editors' Choice winner for creating audio CDs. Extreme Technologies brings Super Duper CD-R & CD-RW duplicator, which can copy virtually all CD-ROM formats and connects to any Mac or PC computer with a SCSI interface. Drive Image brings software for high-speed backup to CD-R and CD-RW media.

Kenwood CL-701 06:30 am - Kan
AnandTech reviewed the Kenwood CL-701 speakers.

With that in mind, it seems reasonable that Kenwood's foray into the multimedia speaker market would produce a product with similar advantages - quality good enough for most people at a reasonable price. Currently, two computer speaker sets are available from Kenwood - the CL-701 and CL-501. The CL-701 is a three piece speaker set consisting of a subwoofer and two satellites. The CL-501 features essentially the same set of satellites without a subwoofer

Xitel Storm 06:12 am - Kan
It's reviewed by our bud over at iXBT Hardware. The Xitel Storm is based on the Aureal Vortex2 chipset.

What does this digital optical port serve for? Let us quote Aureal because no one else can give you a better answer: "For true audiophiles Toslink optical S/PDIF output port provides perfect distortion-free connection to latest digital devices such as Dolby Digital receivers, DAT players, CDR recorders and MiniDisk players." If you have anything from the above mentioned list than this soundcard is exactly what you need, and if you don't then it doesn't actually matter which soundcard to purchase.

PlexWriter 8/20 05:53 am - Kan
Another dream gadget reviewed by TheTechs. The PlexWriter 8/20 is capable of writing at 8X and have a 20X read capability.

The Plexwriter boasts the fastest CD-R speeds in the consumer market to date. With a capability of writing at 8x, it takes about 7-8 minutes for a complete CD. It also has 20x Max. read capability. This means that it will act fine as the single CD-Rom for most people... so you don't have to purchase another CD-Rom unit. Here is a picture of the Plexwriter:

By the way, have you read our reviews on the Yamaha 4416S vs the Yamaha 4416E?

Shark Multimedia 05:48 am - Kan
SystemLogic finished the review on the Shark Multimedia Leopard Pocket USB 56k modem. This modem looks small, just like a cellular phone housed in those iMacs transparent green casing.

The size is really something to catch the eyes of the business traveler.  No road warrior wants to carry around a big box just so they can connect to the internet, with the Leopard pocket it fits right in the palm of your hand. Also since the modem is USB and does not need its own plug, it uses much less power. This is essential for saving notebook battery space. The modem uses only 40mA (milliamps) when it is being used, and 0.5mA when it is in sleep mode.  Also the weight helps a lot too, since it is so light, it will not add much weight to any kind of carrying case holding all your labtop accessories.   Putting two and two together, this modem was designed for notebook users, but it works fine in a PC, that is the great thing about it.

Kingpin - Life of Crime Interview 05:21 am - Kan
Our bud over at 3DSpotlight sent note on their interview with Ryan Feltrin on the upcoming Quake 2 engine game, Kingpin.

Q: Unreal experience was cool the first 3-4 levels but then all scripted sequences were gone and we went back to the classic, a bit boring FPS, but Half Life changed that, do you think, Kingpin will have as many scripted sequencies as Half-Life? Should we expect that kind of interactivety?

A: The thing with Kingpin, is the only "scripted" sequences are the cut-scenes. These don't take much at all to do. The most work goes into creating the personality of each character, recording the voices, keying in the responses to that characters, and how they interact with the player/other characters. There is no doubt areas of the game will "feel" like the classic shooter, but that will be because you're deep in enemy territory. These situations will be few and far between.

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