14 February 1999 - Sunday

FTG: The New Living Room Appliance 13:11 pm - Wilfred
Ok, everyone missed him. Today, Flashman is back! He'd taken a glance into his crystal ball and here's what he saw of his future, YOUR future - The New Living Room Appliance.

Yeah, I've seen the future. Picture a little box, about 1.5' by 1' by 3" in size. There's no hard disk. There's a small computer inside to run Java and browser code, and to control the DVD, SVCD stuff ... You can watch TV, DVD, anything. You can overlay TV on DVD, DVD on TV, TV on browser, etc. etc.
It can connect to a phone line and you get VOD. Stick in a MP3 pirate disc and you listen to cheap and good music. Stream MP3 music off the net. Read email. Shit - what else do you want?

ASUS TNT vs ASUS Banshee 10:25 am - Kan
So, who is faster? TNT or Banshee? Riva Station posted a roundup on these 2 video cards. Here's the blurb:

There´s also a couple of 3D features missing in comparsion to actual 3D Chipsets (watch table below). Banshee supports only AGP 1x and does not support AGP features. The cards are not capable to use System Memory to swap textures.

But in contrast to Voodoo2, Banshee is not limited to fullscreen mode. Banshee can accelerate games and applications in window-mode.
As TNT, the Banshee is manufactured in 0.35 micron. So you need a higher voltage to run the chip and this results in more heat. The consequence is the use of a fan (ASUS/Diamond) or a hetasink at minimum (ELSA/Guillemot/STB/Creative).

Marvel G200-TV 10:22 am - Kan
Another video card review from NetExcite on the Matrox Marvel G200-TV card.

Just a note on the Marvel connector box. If you have the Marvel G200-TV, you should have a TV cable input while on the Marvel G200, there are no TV cable input. In this case, you would need a VCR for tuning channels if you want to watch TV on your PC. Also, you will find a Dolby Digital output on the box as well. In order for the Dolby Digital output to function, you must install the hardware DVD upgrade for the Marvel video card which is not available at the time of this review. Finally, you will find all those composite video/audio, s-video inputs and outputs. The look of the connector box is pretty cool too! Its nothing like those old gray box which bunch of composite connectors facing you or the Canopus VideoPORT 600 for Spectra which requires a free 5.25" drive bay.

Motherboard Roundup  10:18 am - Kan
OWB has a new motherboard comparison article up on the Abit BH6, AOpen AX6BC 2.1, AOpen AX63 and the MSI 6163.

This test is good enough to see how compatible the system is to old PC-66 SDRAM. On the ABIT BH6, when I have all 3 RAM modules all inserted e.g. 1 pc of PC-100 MIRA, 2 pcs of Hyundai PC-66 SDRAM, The BH6 detected the total memory incorrectly. It should show 131,072 KB. It showed 130,048 Kb and sometimes even worse, left with 96Mb left.

On the other 3 other boards, the total RAM detection is right. The only thing that isn't right is with the AOPEN AX6BC which suggests that my CAS 2 SDRAM should be CAS 3. I think this can be solved by doing a flash upgrade.

Abit BM6  05:39 am - Kan
AGN Hardware had another new review on the Abit BM6. The new PPGA version has a newer stepping and are even easier to overclock than the Slot 1 siblings.

The new PPGA seems to be quite stable for overclockers, giving the 300A speeds of 504MHz without even blinking an eye. I have some thoughts on this stability, that really make Slot 1 look like an outdated technology that Intel should have never used. If you look at a Slot 1 processor, it is quite large as is the slot you plug it into. This sheer size means that you have extremely long paths for data to travel across between the processor and the memory. The longer data paths leave the information more susceptible to interference from resistance along the way and internal noise. Socket methods on the other hand plug directly onto the board, shortening the distance that the data needs to travel and eliminating some of the stability problems that are caused by a slot based approach.

Elsa Erazor II TNT  05:22 am - Kan
Incidentally, Hardware Pros also had a review on the Elsa Erazor II. Catch what they said:

This card rocks!  ELSA has done a great job putting together a well rounded video card based on Nvidia's Riva TNT chip.   The optimized board design as well as the fan/heatsink combo are very welcome additions especially for squeezing out that extra bit of performance through overclocking.   The fan on this baby keeps the chip from getting too hot and causing system crashes even if you don't overclock. 

Elsa Erazor II TNT  05:21 am - Kan
ActiveWin had a new review coming out of the stove, the Elsa Erazor II TNT card.

ELSA has been a big name in the professional graphics market for quite awhile now. More recently, ELSA has also made a name for itself in the consumer graphics market. ELSA currently has two RIVA TNT boards in their lineup, the ERAZOR II, and the Synergy II. The ERAZOR II is designed for use in the consumer market, while the Synergy II includes custom drivers written by ELSA which make it better for Professional applications. The ERAZOR II is a unique TNT card. Unlike most of the cards on the market, it is not identical to NVIDIA's reference design. Instead, it is placed on a smaller board and includes SGRAM and a fan*.

Guillemot New Bundle  04:33 am - Kan
Guillemot sent us a press release on their new bundle when you purchase any Maxi Gamer Phoenix accelerator card with the Race Leader Force Feedback wheel, you will get the full version of Ubi Soft's Speed Busters.

Guillemot is pleased to announce that starting this month, all Maxi Gamer Phoenix accelerators and Race Leader Force Feedback steering wheels will be shipping with the full version of Ubi Soft's Speed Busters. "Guillemot is excited to be bundling such a hot new game", says Parth Shukla, Product Manager. "Since it's launch two months ago, Speed Busters has received rave reviews and we are happy to offer this great new game with our two hottest products".

3DSoundSurge  04:26 am - Kan
Our pals over at 3DSoundSurge had shifted to a new address. If you are interested in sound cards news, do drop them a visit!

Swapfile Optimization  04:12 am - Kan
Adrian's Rojak pot had some new updated juice on optimizing the swapfile article. New updates include confirmation on whether constant rewriting of the same area of the hard disk reduces the MTBF of the hard disk or not. Also included is a tip on how to move the swapfile to the outer tracks of the hard disk without paying a cent for a commercial defragger.

A swapfile (or Virtual Memory) is important because often, the programs we use require more RAM than we have. Therefore, instead of returning an error message and refusing to run, the program can use the swapfile for the extra memory needed. This is because the swapfile acts as pseudo-RAM by using some of the hard disk space to store the data that would normally need to be stored in the RAM.

Final Voodoo3 Specs  03:38 am - Kan
Hai. Those Sharks sent us a note saying they had chomped up an article on the final Voodoo3 specs and product info.

Originally the Voodoo3 3000 was all set to be the Voodoo3 flagship for Q1 1999 (another Voodoo3 will be released in Q2). It was all set to have its 16MB of SGRAM bumped up to 183MHz but in a surprise turn-around 3Dfx has stated that the 3000's memory will now be locked at the initial 166MHz. It's not actually a 'lowering', as the original Voodoo3 3000's memory we saw at Comdex '98 was actually clocked at 166Mhz and seemed to work flawlessly. The great yields obtained at 166MHz are said to be the main reason for this. Thus, 3Dfx has decided to stick to the same clock speed and re-introduce the 3000 as the 'gaming enthusiasts' board.

Gigabyte GA-630 Banshee  03:33 am - Kan
HotHardwae sent us a note on their new review, the Gigabyte GA-630 Banshee card. The quality of the card seem to be better than most other cards and it comes with a onboard CPU fan for the Banshee chip.

In addition, as you may be aware, the Banshee chip set is an integrated 2D/3D solution. That also means no more eating up your precious PCI slots for that Voodoo board! I feel the greatest asset the Banshee has is its ability to run 2D, D3D, and Glide based games all on one board! 3Dfx set the standard with Glide and there is a lot of support and developement behind it. It is extremely convenient to have all video solutions on one card. No other chipset manufacturer can claim that. It is obvious why Gigabyte chose this chipset from a compatibility standpoint. Now the question is, how is the image quality and speed in these areas.

Kan @ Rantings  03:23 am - Kan
Guess what? It's Valentines day today. For those old dudes out there, remember to keep your Viagra ready. :)

13 February 1999 - Saturday

DVD-Audio Standard Adds AC-3  20:30 pm - Wilfred
CoolInfo has got this nice bit on the latest established DVD-Audio standard. Hear them out!

TOKYO — After more than three years of labor pains, the DVD Forum has announced the establishment of a format for DVD-Audio. The Forum's Steering Committee approved the format, dubbed Version 1.0, at its meeting earlier this month and will have the DVD-Audio Format book published shortly. DVD-Audio is the fifth DVD format to be put into place, following DVD-Video, DVD-ROM, DVD-RAM and DVD-R.

The final format includes one modification to the provisional Version 1.0 format announced in September: the addition of Dolby AC-3 encoding as the standard for video clips. The new DVD-Audio format supports sampling frequencies as high as 192 kHz and as low as 44.1 kHz, and uses 16-bit, 20-bit and 24-bit quantization bits. Version 1.0 can store 192-kHz, 24-bit, two-channel sound for 74 minutes on single-layered, single-sided disks. When standard linear PCM coding is used, 64 minutes of 192-kHz, 24-bit, two-channel sound can be stored in the single-sided, single-layer 12-cm disk.

No Copper for Intel Till 0.13 Micron  20:23 pm - Wilfred
The Register has it that Intel will not use copper interconnects for its processors until 0.13 micron process technology arrives, citing cost effectiveness as the main issue. (Full story)

There is no need for Intel to implement copper interconnects in its processors until 0.13 micron process technology arrives, a senior executive said today.

Pierre Mirjolet, architecture marketing manager at Intel EMEA, claimed that while copper does have a resistivity less than 40 per cent than aluminium, Intel's interconnect technology provided better performance than current copper interconnect.

"We have copper technology but from a volume production point of view, it doesn't make sense yet," he said. "We're not necessarily against new technology. For us, the new technology is not cost effective."

He admitted that if Intel moved to its own existing copper technology, it would have to invest in wholly new equipment. He claimed that copper processs equipment is still immature, and would mean higher costs and lower initial yields.

Total Annihilation: Kingdoms Preview  20:11 pm - Wilfred
Dennis sent word of their latest preview on TA: Kingdoms over at the FiringSquad. As usual, here's the snip:

All in all TAK is shaping up to be an amazing game, both in single player and multiplayer. The pure carnage that is the Total Annihilation signature will try to prove once again why it has earned its right amongst the best games of all time.

Nintendo To Sue  20:11 pm - Wilfred
Golly! I'm slow to this but hey! I think the decision left a bad taste in my mouth. Sure hurts to be damn smart! (Thanks to VE for this chunk!)

Nintendo sucks. Multi-Billionaire game company to sue two garage programmers for making a kick ass N64 emulator. Nintendo should be hiring these guys instead of suing them.

I'm wondering what case Nintendo has here, if Sony couldn't sue Connectix (who make the Virtual Game Station - PSX emulator), that will be used on the G-3 Mac's. Unless these guys illegally obtained code of specs from Nintendo to write the emulator, what did they do wrong?

It's a sad, sad day when you get sued for just making a handgun, and not actually committing a crime with it.

New WarpBench  20:08 pm - Wilfred
Noticed over at Voodoo Extreme that there's this new graphic benchmark available. Haven't got time to download it myself ($#@%!) so here, check it out yourself!

WarpBench is a program that I wrote for exploring real-world scenes using image-based rendering. The images that we are walking around in have been down-sampled by a factor of sixteen for this benchmark. The program renders each pixel of these ten images as two triangles in OpenGL. There are an average of 93000 triangles drawn per frame. That's a very large model compared to a typical Quake II database. The triangles are in triangle strips (64 tris long) and are stored in display lists (each with 32 strips). There are some textured triangles, but over 90000 of the triangles are not textured, but have color per vertex. Having lots of polygons and not much texture makes this app more similar in to a CAD program or 3D Studio Max than to the current line of 3D games.

You can grab WarpBench right here (4.01Mb).

Out of Space & Luck  19:59 pm - Wilfred
Sheesh. In these connected times, you won't understand how much it suck when your connection goes bad. Man! And I had been taking my Magix connection for granted! I just had to flip the switch, wait a couple of seconds and there - 512K access right?! NOT! (Anand seem to be suffering from an ADSL outtage over at his side of the world too... duh?!)

To make things worse, our US host ran out of disk space and we are unable to update anything properly over there till they sorted things out. Sigh... Right, we have 3 new articles/reviews for ya people after a long while and I shall have them up ONCE the problems are solved.

Official Voodoo3 Press Release  06:32 am - Kan
The official press release is finally out. Ouch. They are expensive as usual.

SAN JOSE, Calif., - February 12, 1999 - 3Dfx InteractiveŽ Inc. (NASDAQ: TDFX) today debuted Voodoo3™ 2000, Voodoo3 3000 and Voodoo3 3500, the first graphics board products to carry the highly acclaimed VoodooŽ brand name, through in-store and online pre-sale programs. Based on 3Dfx Interactive's hotly anticipated Voodoo3 family of advanced graphics chips, the new boards are expected to deliver the world's fastest 3D and 2D performance, and provide support for ultra high-resolution displays. In the near future, 3Dfx plans to announce the anticipated date for retail availability of its Voodoo3 products.

Xitel Storm Platinum  06:30 am - Kan
Sharky (they serve delicious shark's fin soup) had a Xitel Storm Platinum sound card review based on the Vortex 2 chipset.

Xitel might not be a name as well known as Diamond or Creative to John Doe, but for those that have sampled the goods it's a name not easily forgotten. Back in 98 whilst playing the role as hardware reviewer at AVault I stumbled upon Xitel's original Storm VX board based on the first incarnation of the Vortex chipset and I've been faithful ever since. (and don't think I haven't had my share of audio boards, the Monster Sound, MX200, Sonic Storm and various CreativeLabs boards have all taken a turn in my humble gaming rig as well as a few Taiwanese Vortex 1 boards).

IWill XA100 Plus  06:26 am - Kan
HPC done a IWill XA100 Plus Super 7 motherboard review.  Here's some juice:

The IWill XA100 was a simple, solid design that performed well. The XA100 Plus builds upon that design by adding additional voltage settings and additional bus speeds. Like the XA100, the XA100 Plus comes with one AGP, four PCI, and three ISA slots. The XA100 Plus is currently selling for about US$110. The XA100 Plus has official support for the K6-2 CTX core and the upcoming K6-3, as well as legacy socket 7 CPUs. If you are in the market solid performer with insanely good overclocking results, the XA100 Plus deserves a serious look.

Effect of Bus Speed on Performance  06:23 am - Kan
Andy had written another article on the imapct of bus speed on performance.

As you can see from the trend-line marked in blue, the increase in performance is linear to the bus speed. Looking at some basic statistics for a moment, an analysis of the results gave us an R Square value of 0.9957 - showing only a small amount of variance which is expected from Winstone99. So the benchmarks are accurate - lets have a look into the future!

AlphaServer DS20  06:20 am - Kan
Do you have any spare cash to lend? The new Digital aka Compaq AlphaServer DS20 is a dual processor server running on 21264s 500 MHz processors.

The Compaq AlphaServer DS20 shows a strikingly powerful capability for numerical calculations in scientific/technical research. We’re creating a large parallel computer system with more than 64 Compaq AlphaServer DS20 systems in RIKEN and its performance easily exceeds that of existing parallel computers with more than 1,000 nodes.

HOT-661V  06:18 am - Kan
The house of Pain over at AnandTech had a new review on the Shuttle HOT-661V Apollo Pro Plus Slot 1 motherboard.

Shuttle follows the ATX specification virtually to the letter with the 661V, giving it an excellent layout. The board a standard ATX format, but is extremely short - just a bit longer than an ISA slot. Following what has become a Shuttle tradition, the 661V features a 4/3/1 (PCI/ISA/AGP) slot configuration. With the the ever increasing popularity of PCI sound cards and modems, not to mention other PCI devices, this is a somewhat old fashioned and limiting configuration. Fortunately, there are four DIMM slots support up to 1GB of SDRAM to more than adequately cover the system memory department.

12 February 1999 - Friday

Sharky's Best of 1998  22:37 pm - Kan
Another updated release of Sharky's 1998 Hardware Awards. Well, I want no awards, except for a bowl of shark's fin soup!

But the cream of 1998's CPU crop was without a doubt the Intel Celeron 300A. Sporting 128Kb of full speed on-die L2 cache, the 300A served as a warning to AMD and the general public that the Celeron was a "handicapped" or "castrated" CPU no longer. Its benchmark speeds easily matched a true-blue Intel Pentium 2-300's for a price that was more than 30% lower. And as far as the Celeron 300A's overclocking ability was concerned, well, does the word "legendary" mean anything to you? We doubt that there will ever be a CPU that can be so dramatically overclocked while maintaining its life span and system stability. Overclocked Celeron 300As made it easily to 450MHz with the right cooling and system setup, which allowed them to match the performance of Intel's desktop flagship, the P2-450.

Monitor Specifications  22:33 pm - Kan
Avault had an article on all the juice about monitor and their specifications. Ever wanted to know what exactly is dot pitch? Read on!

As with televisions, computer monitor size is measured on the diagonal. Where things get misleading is that the measurement includes the hidden part of the tube recessed behind the bezel on the front of the monitor. The drawing on the right shows what happens. The orange area is the visible part of the tube; the dashed line under the blue bezel area is the outer edge of the picture tube.

New G200s  21:08 pm - Kan
Read from Matroxusers that Matrox announced two new products based on the G200 chipset, the G200 LE as well as the G200 SD. Both cards are based on the newer 0.25 micron process as well as faster 250 MHz RAMDACs.

Montreal, Canada, February 11, 1999 - Matrox Graphics Inc. is proud to announce two new additions to the Matrox MGA-G200 Series of graphics accelerators: Matrox Millennium G200 LE and Matrox Millennium G200 SD 16MB. The introduction of these new graphic solutions offers greater flexibility to system integrators, PC assemblers and end users.

Designed to deliver superior price/performance in 2D, 3D and video applications, the Matrox Millennium G200 LE is a new low cost, non-memory upgradeable, non-multimedia upgradeable graphics card available exclusively to system integrators and PC assemblers in Q1 99.

Celeron Overclocking Guide  20:42 pm - Kan
The Techs updated their Celeron Overclocking Guide as well. This time, they teaches you how to o/c your Celeron 366 as well as 400 MHz processors.

The cooling was quite simple for this machine, just a dual heatsink/fan (FAB24 from Global Win) and 1 interior case fan (blowing out) in a standard mid-tower case. I was able to boot at all up to 456Mhz with no problems running Windows98 for 24 hours, along with some CD-R copies. Then the problem came at 550Mhz, I was able to post but it froze at the second screen. So I figured that I could up the core voltage to 2.1v or then 2.2v, unfortunately both did not work.

Kenwood True 52X  20:40 pm - Kan
The Techs posted their latest review on the Kenwood True 52X CD-ROM drive. This drive is fast! But do you need so fast?

"The Multiple Beam approach to illuminating and detecting multiple tracks uses a diffracted laser beam in conjunction with a multiple beam detector array. A conventional laser diode is sent through a diffraction grating which splits the beam into seven discrete beams, spaced evenly to illuminate seven tracks. The seven beams pass through a beam splitting mirror to the objective lens and onto the surface of the disc. Focus and tracking are accomplished with the central beam. Three beams on either side of the center are readable by a detector array as long as the center is on track and in focus.

Microsoft Trial Update  11:21 am - Wilfred
Yeah, I know you are NOT interested in more of these draggy trials. They stink! But things took an interesting turn when a Microsoft witness *finally* conceded that they feared losing the browser war if consumers had a choice.

Microsoft witness Cameron Myhrvold conceded a major point Wednesday. Myhrvold, who's Internet customer unit vice president, told the court the software company feared consumers with choice would pick Netscape's Web browser over Microsoft's Internet Explorer. "We were nowhere," he told government attorney David Boies. "We were the Johnny-come-lately to the Internet." Myhrvold's testimony contradicts previous Microsoft witnesses who maintained consumers would choose IE because of its technical features.

Now, I didn't think it was TOO difficult to admit this. Come on! Nobody will believe you if you said otherwise!

Counterfeit Asus P2B Mobos  11:18 am - Wilfred
Dear! Ars-Technica brought this sham to my attention that Asus had found counterfeit P2B mobos in the US market. Better be warned of these frauds! Check out this page for more information!

AMD's 3DNow! Conference Call  11:15 am - Wilfred
JC's PC sent word of an article they posted about AMD's 3DNow! conference call rambling much about 3DNow! and Intel's SSE. Check this out!

One other thing that the AMD folks said that was better in 3DNow! than in SSE was number of instructions. As you recall, 3DNow! uses 21 instructions while SSE has over 70. The major reasons why SSE has so many instructions is:

  • It emulates the x87 unit, so it copies most of the regular x87 instructions.
  • There are data moving and other kinds of instructions used by MMX that 3DNow! can utilize. SSE much make all new instructions to this effect because it works on a seperate register set in a different processor mode.

So, basically, the net effect of SSE having more instructions than 3DNow! is that SSE may be a lot harder to learn. Keith (or Drew, I forget), referring to developers, made the comment "they can memorize our 21 instructions and code with it quickly".

Network Maintenance  10:59 am - Wilfred
Hardware One Singapore will be unavailable to most users from 4-6pm on 13 Feb 99 (Saturday). This is due to some scheduled maintenance work done by S-One. Of course, you can always find us at www.hardware-one.com.

GameSpot Blurps Savage4  10:52 am - Wilfred
Saw this tasty bit of Savage4 lovin' at GameSpot this morning. Gotta wait for the real thing if you are still hungering for more.

Today at Milia, we had a chance to take a look at the performance of a near-final board, running a series of demos including a heavily modified version of Unreal. As the screenshots indicate, the results are most impressive. The huge texture maps (up to 2,000x2,000 pixels) enabled by S3TC give the gaming environment a level of detail that we've simply never seen before, and the various lighting, fog, and reflection effects are mesmerizing. Frame rates were crisp, despite the fact that the test card was running at only 100MHz (the final chip will run at 143MHz). The demo even included some DirectX 7.0 features, including animated texture maps with more than 200 frames of animation. Translucent animated texture maps were also displayed.

ADSL Refuses To Sync  10:34 am - Wilfred
Yup, dammit! The whole of last night till now the black box won't sync and I'm here crawling along with my 28.8kbps. =(

Cambridge Soundworks Microworks  08:56 am - Kan
Blow me away! Tech-review had done the Cambridge Soundworks Microworks review. They sure look nice and sound good.

Feature wise, the Microworks does not have the most complete set, but let me tell you, it doesn't matter because these speakers really sound great. You can use them with your computer, television, or stereo system to pump out excellent sound.

The volume control module you see above in the little picture might seem a bit strange at first, but works well.

AOpen AX6BC (Rev. 2.10)  08:53 am - Kan
bxboards had done a review on the AOpen AX6BC Rev. 2.10 motherboard. The new features include supporting up to 152 MHz as well as a 8.0x multipler.

The AX6BC sports possibly the greenest motherboard I have seen from the AOpen badge heatsink sitting atop the BX chipset, to the colour of the PCB itself. Like most modern boards ISA expansion is spurned somewhat in favour of PCI, so we see the ever more common 5 PCI / 3 ISA combination. The 3 DIMM's are capable of taking 256 megabytes of registered DIMMs allowing for a healthy 768 of RAM. Quite what anyone will do with that amount is quite another matter, although seeing 4 DIMM slots is even nicer, and allows "baby stepping" in RAM upgrades - add 64 megs now, and 64 megs later down the road.

ATI Xpert 128 AGP Review Part 2  08:51 am - Kan
Freak! had finished part 2 of the ATI Xpert 128 AGP review. Wow. The ATI actually perform faster under 32bit color depth compare to 16bit. Interesting...

The 2D performance is pretty amazing. ATI has always been solid in this area and the benchmarks speak for themselves. I was very surprised with the 32 bit score since it completely blew away the 16 bit score. I ran this benchmark nearly 10 times for each bit depth and with 2 fresh Windows 98 reinstalls to make sure there was nothing wrong with my results.

Search for the Ideal PC  08:48 am - Kan
Review-Zone had a new article The Search for The Ideal PC. Search? I don't need to search...I already have the ideal PC. :)

Every day, we receive scores of email asking us for advice on what PC components to buy. This brought to our attention the fact that many end users deeply concerned with the innards of their machines are deprived of accurate information. All too often, people are forced to muddle through on the basis of information provided in hyped-up advertising campaigns. Oh, the information is out there, but so is a lot of misinformation. They don’t call it the Net of a Thousand Lies for nothing…

Memory Guide  08:32 am - Kan
CRUS sent us a note about a new review on called Memory Guide. Here's the load:

The memory is a small Silicontray that is placed in a black capsule. To make the memory easier to handle so are there several of these capsules placed on small circuit boards. There are several types of circuit boards but in the most common one today is called Dimm which stands for Dual Inline Memory Module. If we go back a few years there was one type of cards that were called Simm, Single Inline Memory Module.

11 February 1999 - Thursday

Unix Security Alert  22:15 am - Kan
wu-ftpd and proftpd are affected by buffer overflows problems which can be used to gain root access. Full article is available from here.

Any server running the latest version of ProFTPD (1.2.0pre1) or the latest version of Wuarchive ftpd (2.4.2-academ[BETA-18]). wu-ftpd is installed and enabled by default on most Linux variants such as RedHat and Slackware Linux. ProFTPD is new software recently adopted by many major internet companies for its improved performance and reliability

Rage 128 Fastest in 3D  22:09 am - Kan
According to an article from The Register, Mercury Research has released the latest benchmark results and the data shows that ATI's Rage 128 is the fastest under Winbench 99.

Using the Winbench 99 test suite running on a 450MHz Pentium II-based system, the Rage 128 was, with a score 743, the number one 3D performer, closely followed by the Riva TNT at 669. 3Dfx's Voodoo 2-based Banshee ranked third, with 431 points. S3's Savage3D scored 424 and Matrox's G200 rated 332.

However, despite its relatively poor 3D performance, the G200 was the joint number one 2D acceleration technology, with a benchmark of 186 -- 3Dfx's Banshee also scored 186. At number three, the Riva TNT scored 177, closely followed by the Rage 127, with 175. The Savage3D and 3DLabs' Permedia II ranked fifth and sixth, respectively, with scores of 157 and 151.

Saitek R4 Force Wheel  22:06 am - Kan
Vrooom! AGN Hardware tested out the Saitek R4 Force feedback wheel. It sure looks fun!

The R4 Force Wheel follows Microsoft's suit and sticks with a gameport interface.   While this may be an initial turnoff about the wheel, it really is able to provide accurate control.  This is partly because of the licensee agreement with Microsoft and partly to do with ratio Digital control that Saitek has added to the wheel.  The end result is a wheel that responds as fast as a similar USB device, but avoids heavy CPU usage when using the gameport.

VIA MVP4 Preview  22:04 am - Kan
Anand had a new preview article about the VIA MVP4 chipset. Here's the juice:

At first sight, the MVP4 can be a relatively frightening product, simply because the thought of having an AGP accelerator integrated into the North Bridge of a chipset is quite limiting. This is completely true, meaning that the MVP4 will not be a high end solution for those users looking to achieve the best possible performance out of their systems with no consideration for cost. The MVP4 will, however, be a solution that is both cost effective, and a good performer for the cost

Soyo SY-6VZA S370  06:25 am - Kan
Sharky's latest review is the Soyo SY-6VZA S370 motherboard. Sorry, but I hate Socket 7 as well as Socket 370 motherboards. :)

The various FSB speeds that the SY-6VZA supports are intended more for future Celeron CPUs, as most current PPGA Celeron CPUs can't handle bus speeds above 83MHz due to their increasingly higher clock multipliers. Intel does plan on moving the Celeron to a 100MHz FSB speed with the arrival of the 500MHz version of the chip sometime in late Summer/99. The SY-6VZA is ready for that jump a little early, as it supports a clock multiplier rating of up to 6.5x along with an FSB speed maximum of 133MHz.

PlexWriter 8/20 CD-RW  06:21 am - Kan
HardwareCentral had a new review on the PlexWriter 8/20 CD-RW. Wow, 8X write? It's a MUST BUY!

The 8/20 is a tray loading drive with an impressive 4MB buffer. This large buffer helps to reduce any potential errors due to data not arriving to the drive fast enough. It has a Fast SCSI-2 interface capable of 10MB/sec. The 8x drive can write data at 1.2MB/sec and has a 170ms access time. It has a maximum read speed of 20x, or 3MB/sec. A small fan is built in to the rear of the drive to help keep the drive cool while operating.

Asus V3400 TNT  06:18 am - Kan
OptimumPC sent note on their latest review, the Asus V3400 TNT Video In/Out card.

So what's my take on this TNT card? Quite frankly it beats the other TNT boards I've tested in performance and in features. When it comes to performance differences between TNT cards, the margin between any of them is small. What sets this board apart and ahead of the pack in my opinion is it's excellent overclockability. I don't know quite how they do it but ASUS has put together a high quality board here. What they've learned in manufacturing motherboards has obviously carried over to graphics boards.

Matrox G200  06:12 am - Kan
CRUS posted the Matrox Millenium G200 review. Nah, I prefer a TNT now.

Most of you want a graphic card that performs well in 2D and in the same time has great 3D performance. Most cards only perform really well in either 2D or 3D so a while ago the only way to get both great 2D and 3D performance was to get 2 different cards. But the Millenium G200 from Matrox is different from most cards as it is supposed to handle both 3D and 2D well according to Matrox. So I decided to take a look at the card and see if this is true or not.

Abit BM6  02:38 am - Kan
Adrian's Rojak Pot had another new review, the Abit BM6 Socket 370 motherboard.

Now that the L2 cache has been placed on the CPU die of the Celeron, there's no longer a need for the PCB. In fact, the entire Celeron line (right from the first cacheless versions), has never really needed the Slot 1 PCB. So, Intel is going to package the new Celeron models as PPGA (Plastic Pin Grid Array) processors, just like the Pentium MMX. However, with 370 pins, the new PPGA Celerons won't be pin and electrically compatible with the old Socket 7. They require a new socket - the Socket 370.

10 February 1999 - Wednesday

Fifa 99 Review  20:58 pm - Kan
CRUS sent note on a new review FIFA 99. This soccer game simply rocks!

The commentary has improved and the commentator now actually says the stuff that is happening in time and not 3 seconds later like in the earlier versions. The commentator also says the right word at the right time and I haven’t noticed that he has said the wrong thing in these weeks I have been playing the game. Still you will probably get a little annoyed, as it is the same 10 lines that he is saying over and over again.

ATI Xpert128 Fury Rev A22  20:38 pm - Wilfred
FastGraphics has done a second review on the Rage 128 card from ATI. This time round, they got hold of a later revision that's got some circuitry corrected and runs cooler.

The chip revision on the Fury board is a A21, and ATI has recently sent me an Expert 128 board, also featuring the Rage 128 GL chipset. This board has the newer A22 revision of the chipset which doesn't add anything to the performance, but which has a revised power circuit which causes it to get less hot.

ActiveWin On TNT Detonator Drivers 20:29 pm - Wilfred
ActiveWin too has written on these great drivers which nVidia finally delivered. They sound impressed.

These new drivers seem to offer a considerable increase in most situations. These drivers do especially well in the CPU intensive Crusher demo, this would seem to indicate that the new drivers have less overhead, which would free up the CPU to send more information to the video card. These new drivers seem to provide, on average, about a 10 to 25% increase over the drivers that shipped with the Velocity 4400.

Brian's Guide to Networking 20:18 pm - Wilfred
Brian of Ace's Hardware has delivered his guide to networking. Those who wants to learn this trade, check it out:

Networking has traditionally been reserved for the office, but there has very recently been a big push to move it into the home. Home LANs are starting to make a great deal of sense, as home computing resources are growing every day. A number of companies are touting a new concept, "Home Networking," (i.e. home appliance interconnection). This, however, is far from the same kind of networking one may see in the office. Standardized ethernet (10/100baseT, TCP/IP, etc.) is the ideal, and most general purpose solution for tying together computer resources. Additionally, industry standard ethernet components are becoming quite inexpensive.

Supercharged Beast Examined Again 20:14 pm - Wilfred
HotHardware has also written their share on Hercules Terminator Beast Supercharged. If you have been thinking thrice whether to get a Savage3D-based card, read this:

This is a very interesting and unique feature to the Savage 3D chip set. The folks at S3 have design a compression algorithm that allows transfer of textures over the AGP bus in 1/4 to 1/6 the size of their original state. This allows game developers to compress their artwork into a smaller footprint with no image quality loss whatsoever and thus using less local texture memory (or on board RAM) to store textures for processing. In addition, S3 claims the larger amounts of data can be transferred over the AGP bus and decompressed on the fly for faster frame rates and higher quality graphics as a result. I really think S3 has a great technology here. By the way, that little company that make the O.S.... Who are they? Umm, oh yeah, Microsoft has licensed the product as their standard for texture compression in Direct X 6.0 and moving forward. Can you say "serious critical mass"?

Real Action at HardOCP 20:03 pm - Wilfred
HardOCP sent word about some serious action they got into with two Socket370 Celerons as well as a video rumble between a Banshee and a TNT card.

I next clamped on the Socket 370 Celeron 300.   This CPU is a SL36A, Week 51, Malay.  I immediately went to the 100MHz Front Side Bus at default voltage.  Bingo-Bango, No problemo.  She up and ran at 450 without missing a beat.  I ran a couple of quick 3D Marks to check for stablility and ran a few games.  The Socket 370 Celeron 300 (jeez, that is a lot to say) was right at home at 450Mhz.

Now was the time to whip out some of that fancy ABIT bios action.  I shut it down and rebooted at the 105MHz FSB.   I won't keep ya in suspence, it did 473MHz at default voltage with no problem.   I have run the 300 on the ABIT BM6 for a couple days solid without any errors or problems at all.  The system was as solid as a rock. 

TNT Drivers with KNI optimizations  07:28 am - Kan
By now, you should heard of the new nVidia TNT drivers codenamed Detonator released for the entire product line of video cards. The new drivers promises up to 30% increase in performance under DirectX 6.0 and OpenGL applications.

Anyway, the gals over at FiringSquad whipped up an article on how fast the new drivers will perform with a Pentium III.

The "big deal" about Detonator is that they provide a number of optimizations which yield significantly performance gains the current Nvidia reference drivers. In addition, it's also implied that they support the Pentium III's KNI instruction set, something that would mean increased performance across the board for Pentium III processors. In short, it would give a lot of us a palpable reason to move to P3 once it's released.

MX300 07:26 am - Kan
PCPowerhouse sent note on their latest review on the Diamond MX300 soundcard.

So you were one of the smart ones. You purchased one of the original Monster Sound cards (or one of the other first generation A3D based sound cards), and although it has been a faithful card, it's starting to show its age. Then Diamond released the MX200, and you drooled over all the glorious reviews of this newer sound card. Wait a minute, this card uses the same drivers as my original Monster Sound card, so how much better can it be? Besides it's still using the same old 3D sound technology (A3D) that my current sound card is using.

Leadtek Winfast S320 07:24 am - Kan
AGN Hardware posted another new review, the Leadtek Winfast S320 video card based on the TNT chipset.

With all of the rushing around to post the most up-to-date gaming benchmarks, hardware reviewers often loose sight of the intended purpose of the hardware they review.   When was the last time you read a review of a TNT board that pointed out that the board was great for professional 3D design as well as playing half-Life?

Gainward CARDEXpert TNT 07:21 am - Kan
Prices of TNT cards are dropping to dirt cheap level. Ars-Technica had another wonderful review, this time on the Gainward CARDExpert TNT.

As you can tell from the pictures above, the CARDEXpert TNT doesn't include a TV out port, which I don't miss since my monitor is nearly as large as my TV, anyhow.  (And you try moving an SC-750A downstairs to the living room every time you want to play Mario on UltraHLE.  Sheesh.)  The RAM chips you see in the picture are each 2MB SDRAM chips, for a total of 16MB of SDRAM on the card.  Note also that the BIOS chip is socketed, which could save you from having to throw out the card if you got a power blip while flashing the card's BIOS.  Most of this stuff is standard fare for a TNT card, but it's good to see Gainward didn't cut any important corners.

9 February 1999 - Tuesday

Socket 370 Roundup 04:57 am - Kan
Bxboards had the new Socket 370 roundup ready. The boards reviewed were from Abit, Epox, Soyo as well as Freetech.

The board is based around Intels LX chipset, which is making something of a revival since the introduction of the socketed Celeron. The LX chipset is Intels chipset of choice on which to base PCGA boards. The cynical could argue this builds in overclock prevention by default - the LX chipset does not support 100Mhz - but as the 366 is less than co-operative at 100Mhz, the real reason is probably cost :)

Voodoo3? 04:52 am - Kan
3dhardware.net finished on a new article called Voodoo3, Something for me?

The Voodoo 3 will, as announced, come in two versions, the Voodoo3 2000 (V3 2k) and the Voodoo3 3000 (V3 3k). There will also be PCI versions of both, the fillrate will be the same as the AGP versions but triangle rate will be lower due to the slower bus. It will support PCI 66 and will function on a Macintosh.

Merlin G740 04:47 am - Kan
CRUS had a review on the Abit Merlin G740 video card based on the i740 chipset.

And infact the intention was never to break any speed records, and it doesn't, but this isn't really important when it comes to a chip that has a retail price of less than $40 (board equipped with 8Mb SDRAM). But what the Intel i740 does offer is stable, well-supported and fully acceptable 3D support both through Microsofts API D3D and through a full OpenGL ICD, and it does it good.

One of the main reasons for this is very good drivers, infact, because of the drivers the i740 is one of the current top performers in tests done by ID Software in their upcoming release Quake 3 Arena.

SimCity 3000 Review 04:41 am - Kan
FiringSquad sent note on their latest game review, SimCity 3000. Hop in to take a look at their review.

Your job in SimCity is to be mayor of a small town, and to try and grow it into a huge metropolis. You start out with just a patch of land (small, medium, large, or IMMENSE); the land has varying elevations, bodies of water, and trees. Of course since this is a game, you don't really have to deal with annoying things like city councils and such, to get your decisions done. You're pretty much a dictator, and as dictator, anything you say gets done.

Card Cooler 04:38 am - Kan
PlanetHardware had a new review on the Card Cooler specifically to cool your graphics cards etc.

The idea behind the Card Cooler is actually very simple, just attach two standard 12 volt case fans together to custom metal holders, and that's that! The way the Card Cooler is made, it's meant to cool multiple boards at once, not just one hot graphics board. Some graphics cooling units made you remove current heatsinks or fans to attach a larger cooling device, therefor voiding the warranty on that particular graphics board, which of course the Card Cooler does not, since the Card Cooler doesn't make contact with the board itself.

ATI Xpert 128 AGP 04:32 am - Kan
Freak! sent note on their latest review on the ATI Xpert 128 AGP card. Talking about video cards, I finally managed to remove the heatsink on my CL Banshee. Sweat!

Looking at the XPERT 128's specifications, they are very similar to the Riva TNT. Both have 16MB of onboard memory, comparable 2D and 3D potential, and a functional and shipping OpenGL ICD (Matrox take notice!). One thing that does stand out though is that the Rage128 has provisions for hardware decoding of MPEG-2/DVD. This is an important feature in my opinion, and will probably be in all of the next generation video chipsets. Having this funtionality eliminates the need for a DVD decoder card and frees up another expansion slot. Moreover, with hardware decoding, there is less of a strain on the CPU and leaves it more time to be able to handle other applications.

8 February 1999 - Monday

App Incompatibilities Dog Win2000 Beta 20:34 pm - Wilfred
Thanks to this link at our affiliate ActiveWin, I saw that PCWeek has this to report about the development of Windows 2000.

Incompatibility with existing applications is emerging as the latest problem to plague Microsoft Corp.'s development of Windows 2000.

Only about 60 percent of Windows NT applications can run on the current Windows 2000 beta, sources close to Microsoft said. While that number is up from a figure that hovered around 40 percent when Microsoft (MSFT) shipped Beta 3 Release Candidate 0 last month, it still falls below the company's target goals, sources said.

Aztech PCI 368DSP  20:25 pm - Wilfred
Kert has completed his technical analysis of the Aztech PCI 368DSP card (based on the Thunderbird 128 chip jointly developed by QSound and VLSI). There's not only Aureal and Creative in the playing field!

While DSP368 boasts 32 hardware 3D streams without performance loss at high sampling rates, 3D positioning is not nearly as distinct as Aureal's algorithms. Although audio purists may frown at the lower SNR of the second audio codec, the overall sound quality of the DSP368 is on par with SBLive! and MX300.

PC Makers: Linux Not For Desktop Yet  20:13 pm - Wilfred
In a recent PCWeek article, several major PC Makers have expressed that while they plan to bundle and support Linux on the server side, it'll be a couple more months before it's suitable for the masses' desktop.

Indeed, representatives from Dell Computer Corp. (Nasdaq:DELL)and Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE:HWP), both of which recently promised Linux bundling and support on the server, say no deals for putting Linux on PCs are imminent at this time.

The problems, they say, are the lack of customer demand for the Linux desktops, the dearth of desktop apps for the open-source operating system and a less-friendly user interface. Those hurdles have translated into slower growth for the Linux desktop, which commands 2.2 percent of the market compared with 17 percent for the Linux server, according to International Data Corp. research.

"As an OS, Linux is much more viable in the server market. Our customer feedback has not placed it as a priority for the desktop," said one HP official.

New Word Virus Discovered  20:00 pm - Wilfred
CoolInfo posted this bit from CNet that a new Word macro virus was discovered. Fortunately, the virus was described as mild and will not cause your PC a catastrophic failure.

The Energy Department has found a new macro virus that infects Microsoft Word, and while the virus is relatively mild, most current antivirus tools can't yet detect it. The virus, called W97M.Footprint, overwrites the footers--standard text that word processors can print at the bottom of each page to identify the source of the document--of all open documents, DOE's Computer Incident Advisory Capability group said this week. If your computer is affected, the virus will delete an open document's existing footers as well as any macros attached to the document.

Asus AGP-V3400 TNT  19:23 pm - Wilfred
Adrian's Rojak Pot has put up a new review on the Asus AGP-V3400 TNT card. Nice read about all its pros and cons.

ASUS uses the MIRA 8ns SDRAM shown below to populate the board. They ran at 125MHz reliably with and without Fast Timing enabled. I then ran them at 130MHz. They ran without much problems in 2D but failed several 3D benchmark tests so 125MHz is about the highest the MIRA 8ns SDRAM will go reliably.

Considering that this is only 8ns SDRAM, the ability to run at 125MHz is quite amazing. Even the Creative Labs Graphics Blaster RIVA TNT which uses 7ns Samsung SDRAM can only run at 125MHz (memory) and not any higher, even though the Samsung G7 SDRAM is rated at a maximum of 143MHz.

Interview With AMD: The Road Ahead  19:18 pm - Wilfred
Brian dropped me a mail that over at Ace's Hardware, they've thrown up an interview with Drew Prairie of AMD.

Ace's hardware :   Is it true that AMD will implement some sort of non-defeatable multiplier clock lock? 

Drew Prairie (AMD): Where did you hear that?  Right now, we have no plans to lock the multiplier clock on any of our CPUs. 

OHC: Why is the K7 L2 now running with 1/3 divider, even as a sample? Is AMD having problems with stability? [What speed will the "final" K7 L2 run at?] 

Bob_AMD:  The reason will be obvious once the K7 ships. It will not be a dissappointment to anyone, I promise. :o)   Things are going very smoothly, and you should not expect to see instabilities in a shipping K7 motherboard. Obviously we are hard at work on our prototypes to make sure we are able to deliver our 200MHz throughput boards with no stability problems.   The K7 bus rate will debut at 200MHz, and I don't believe that there will be slower BUS rates for it. 

TNTs Roundup  07:53 am - Kan
PCTechware posted 8 TNT cards roundup on Socket 7 motherboards.

Graphics cards based on the nVidia RivaTNT chipset are at the moment the best 2D/3D cards out there. While in terms of speed, nothing yet beats the Voodoo2 SLI and in terms of picture and rendering quality the Matrox G200, both solutions have serious flaws which leave them interesting to only a certain flavour of customers. 

Pioneer 6X DVD-ROM  07:48 am - Kan
Damn, I know I should have gotten this drive. Anyway, AGN Hardware posted a review on the Pioneer 6X DVD-ROM.

Because the drive uses a slotless design, Pioneer had to come up with a different method of keeping dust out of the drive. They accomplished this by using a shield in the front of the drive that cleans the disk as you insert it, and keeps dust from flying into the drive. This also keeps the drive from scratching your disks. I played around and inserted a DVD-ROM about 25 times in a row, and the drive did not scratch the disk at all. It even removed a fingerprint smudge from the disk that was there when I first put it in the drive.

Celery Report #6  07:42 am - Kan
Part 6 is ready and available here. In this issue, AnandTech goes on talking about Cooking your Celery. Hmm...

I test each CPU under initial identical conditions prior to "burning in" my combos. I do an initial test run using the same Abit BH6, same RAM (single stick 64MB Micron, CAS3) and the same video card, a Trident 975, 4MB AGP. For those who are interested, this is a very fast 2D card that consistently scores better than 5 in Final Reality. Not very good in 3D, but for a business system, it’s a screaming bargain. I use an old 270MB Quantum hard drive (actually have 3 set up identically, so I can burn multiple combos at once). I use an old hard drive because I assume that these setups will be going in to a variety of situations with a variety of drives and that if it’ll work with this clunker, it’ll probably work anywhere.

AOpen AX63 Apollo Pro Plus  07:38 am - Kan
Anand posted the AOpen AX63 Apollo Pro Plus Slot 1 motherboard. This motherboard is based on the VIA Apollo Pro chipset instead of the popular Intel BX chipset.

The layout of the rest of the AX63 is perfectly identical to that of the AX6BC, the majority of the empty space on the mainboard is taken up by capacitors that are strategically placed around components that are critical to stable operation of the motherboard.  A unique absence from the AX63, and all Apollo Pro Plus boards for that matter, is the green heatsink that made its way to the 440BX counterparts.  Other than that difference, there is no way you could tell the AX63 apart from the BX based AX6BC other than looking at the printed model number on the board.

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