27 February 1999 - Saturday

Stepsister SLI Preview  16:20 pm - Kan
FiringSquad had an exclusive preview on the "Stepsister" technology from Metabyte. It allows SLI of *ANY* 3D Graphics chipset, ranging from the TNT2, Savage4 to the Voodoo3.

The setup Metabyte had for us was demonstrating proof of concept, or in less pretentious talk, "this thing is real and it exists now." The setup was a Pentium II 400 with two modified 3DFX Banshee cards, pimpin' the Stepsister technology. Before we got on with the demo, we had a few questions about the technology that our hosts were more than happy to answer.

3DMark 99 MAX  11:29 am - Kan
The new 3DMark 99 MAX version was announced. New features include support for Pentium III SSE instructions, DirectX 6.1 etc.

3DMark 99 MAX edition is a major update that includes following enhancements and new features:

- Cutting edge optimizations for AMD 3DNow! instructions
- Cutting edge optimizations for Intel Pentium III SIMD instructions
- Analysis tools for comparing different optimizations
- Bump mapping tests
- Comprehensive Batch Run feature
- Updated Game Content for faster accelerators
- Updated for Microsoft DirectX 6.1
- Hardware Upgrade Feature and Internet Interactivity

In addition to major features, MAX edition also includes numerous fixes and minor improvements.

The benchmark will be available for public download during March 1999 from www.3dmark.com.

Kenwood True 52X  10:06 am - Kan
Another review on the fastest CD-ROM drive by PlanetHardware.

The actual Zen Research technology is incredibly complicated, but the basics can be understood if you compare it to various items you might have used before. Think how a projector takes a smaller image, and uses light to project it to 2-3 times it's original size. Now think of this in terms of cd-rom's. Conventional cd-rom's use a single laser to read data from the bottom of the CD, whereas Zen Research's technology "projects" the beam into 7 beams using a beam splitter. The Zen drive reads from 7 independent lasers, allowing for more of the actual disc to be covered during a single rotation, and allowing for a constant disc speed and faster data transfer.

Microsoft Game Controllers  10:04 am - Kan
AGN Hardware also had an article on Microsoft's latest GamePad family of game controllers.

Microsoft's upcoming Zulu controller is a mix of an Orb controller and a standard gamepad. Scheduled for a fall 1999 release, the controller will be USB only, showing that Microsoft has finally realized the importance of USB devices. The Zulu is targeted as the perfect controller for first person shooter games, because of its rotating ball mechanism for 3D control.

K6-III 400/450 MHz  00:40 am - Kan
Review-Zone had a new review up on the K6-III 400 and 450 MHz processors.

One thing that AMD is certainly bragging about is the K6-III’s tri-level cache design. The phrase “tri-level cache” does not refer to a new, third cache being introduced by this CPU, but refers to the existing L2 cache of the motherboard. Since the CPU carries both L1 & L2 cache, the L2 cache fixed on your motherboard will be switched automatically to L3 cache. When this happens, your system will experience a performance increase ranging from 5% to 8%, depending on the size of the L2 cache on the motherboard. 

SMP with 300A & SL2W8 00:38 am - Kan
Andy managed to get a PPGA 300A with a P2-300 SL2W8 running under dual configuration. Boy, can I get one of these too?

The mix of both Celeron and Pentium II processors create some interersting results. At 100Mhz bus speed, the BIOS claims the system is a dual P2-450 system, whereas at 4.5 x 103 it becomes a Celeron 464 system! RC5 will identify either a dual Celeron or dual P2 system, depending on which execution thread starts first.

I've been asked how my RC5 keyrate holds up at 2 x 464 - after last nights site update, I ran RC5 for about 9hours up until now: The results? Over 100 keys cracked at a rate of 2.59M/Keys!

26 February 1999 - Friday

3Com Palm V Review 21:47 pm - Wilfred
It's the PDA frenzy season. Check out The Gadgeteer's review on the recently released Palm V! Wow! It looks damn damn sexy!

"As far as the overall speed of the Palm V, it seems to be quite a bit faster than my Palm III. I'd like to do some type of benchmark test but was not sure how to go about that. If anyone has any ideas, please let me know."
"The Palm V is a very sexy looking PDA with an excellent display and a nice rechargeable battery. But, should you buy it? At $449, you'd better think about a few things first. First of all, the Palm V can not be upgraded to add more memory."
"One word of caution.... if you don't want to upgrade to the Palm V, don't go to a store and look at, fondle or otherwise go near one. If you do, you will walk out of the store with it!"

Gadgets like the Palm does so much more than allowing you to be totally organised (digitally). It goes beyond taking memos, keeping appointments, remembering your contacts... if you're properly armed, you can use it to check your emails, read newsgroups and even surf the web!

Roller-Coaster Tycoon Preview 19:50 pm - Wilfred
FiringSquad fired a mail to us just over a minute back that they have a preview on Hasbro Interactive's RollerCoaster Tycoon.

You'll build your park from the ground up, and hire staff members, set prices, build and design rides, and arrange concession stands all around you park.

It sounds like a really unique idea but Bullfrog actually pioneered the amusement park simulation with "Theme Park." I was hopelessly addicted to Theme Park, because it had many of the same basic principles as Rollercoaster Tycoon. You had to micromanage almost every little detail of your park. If people became hungry, build more stands. Pricing for food and park admission were the source of your income, while your money was drained away on staff salaries, park expenses, etc. Rollercoaster Tycoon takes this premise to the next level, with even more features, micromanagement possibilities, and of course, better looking graphics!

Hmm... I haven't tried Theme Park myself, but after reading this preview, I won't mind getting my hands on one of these!

Microsoft Official Outlines Windows 2000 19:33 pm - Wilfred
CoolInfo has it that a MS official stressed the company's commitment to deliver the next Windows on a single code base that we have been waiting for. So I would assume no more 9x kernel?

PALM SPRINGS, CALIFORNIA -- Despite recent announcements from Microsoft that there will be another release of the client version of Windows, a Microsoft official said here Wednesday that the company has not deviated from its strategy of a single OS. "A single operating system code base is Microsoft's long-term direction with a single development target for drivers, hardware, and testing," said Carl Stork, platform product manager for Microsoft, during his keynote at the Intel Developer Conference here. That code base would be the foundation of the long-awaited Windows 2000, for which Stork laid out plans Wednesday.

Stork detailed for the more than 2,000 developers attending the conference the four versions of Windows 2000 that the company will begin shipping in 1999--adding one caveat to the promised ship date. "Our target is '99, but it depends on customer feedback," Stork said. The four versions of Windows 2000 include Windows 2000 Professional, which will be the primary desktop and mobile operating system and will include Plug and Play and power management using ACPI.

Savage 4: An Interview With S3 19:27 pm - Wilfred
FullOn3D has scored an interview with S3 regarding their upcoming Savage4 chip. Have a look!

Question: Savage 4 is supposed to be playing on the same field as TNT2, PVR250, Rage 128 GL, Permedia 3 and to a lesser degree, Voodoo 3. Where in this pecking order would you place your product and for what reasons? Who should be buying a Savage 4 board?

Answer:
We're better than all of them combined =) Seriously, it depends on what you're looking for and how much you want to spend. Take Voodoo3 for example, it will cost more than a Savage4 board, but it won't deliver features such as texture compression, AGP texturing, true 32-bit color, support for textures larger than 256x256, support for 32MB of memory, hardware DVD acceleration, etc. In pure frame rates, it may be faster in some benchmarks and a few "twitch" games, but does that make up for all its other shortcomings? We don't think so.

VE On Terminator Beast Supercharged 19:13 pm - Wilfred
Ok, the chaps are on the Beast Supercharged again which is without a doubt the best Savage3D card you can find now. Check VE's review!

One quick glance at the comarison benchmark and you’ll immediately see what an improvement the 20MHz jump in clock speed makes. At a ratio of approximately 1 MTex/s of fill rate for every MHz of speed, the SGRAM transforms Hercules’s board from a mediocre attempt to an industry-leading product when it comes to single-texture performance. With the Tennmax cooler, I was able to turn up the clock speed 8 more MHz - 3MHz past the S3-rated maximum for the Savage3D - without any display anomalies or stability problems (I could go higher, but image artifacts began to occur above 128MHz). Factor S3TC into the equation, and you have the makings of a real contender here.

However, when it comes to multitextured games like Quake2 (or Unreal), the Savage3D’s lack of dual texture pipelines really hinders its effectiveness, especially when the competition (Voodoo2, TNT or Rage 128) sport them. And similar to the TNT, 32-bit support comes at a cost. For the same framerate, you can take the extra colors or move up a notch on the resolution ladder. Personally, I think 1024x768x16 looks better than 800x600x32. I’d prefer to be able to use 32bit color, but right now, that isn’t an option.

Secret of High-Performance CPUs 19:00 pm - Wilfred
Ace's Hardware has a new article on the crop of high-performance CPUs - about how manufacturers obtain such high clock speeds and optimise them.

"Using better process technology is easier said than done. It cost truckloads of money to change the manufacturing process. It is a brute force approach. Isn't there a more subtle intelligent ways of things ? After all the Alpha engineers laugh at 500 MHz (.25), they attained 600 MHz with the older .35 process!"

"The Ultrasparc II (Brian's favorite) uses a 9 stage pipeline, but you should consider the fact that RISC CPUs do not need as much decoding work. Fetching and decoding alone takes 7 stages on the PII, but only 3 on the UltraSPARC. So in a way, the UltraSPARC is pipelined deeper than the PII (compare the two RISC cores)."
 
"The Alpha CPU has a 7-stage deep pipeline (10 for the FPU), but has also fewer problems with decoding the (simple RISC) instructions, compared to the PII. On top of that, the engineers of Alpha are masters in keeping each stage as simple as possible by making sure that each component does as much as it can in parallel."

Filtering & Mipmapping 18:56 pm - Wilfred
Yup! Filtering & Mipmapping - what do you know about it? Have a look at FullOn3D who has an article on this.

"Mip mapping is the idea that the size of a texture should approximate the size of the polygon on-screen in pixel-count to prevent certain artifacts or quality losses that are hard to avoid if the texture and polygon size diverge too much."

"Anisotropic filtering. This deals with the problem that the original aspect ratio of textures cannot be preserved for oddly shaped triangles they are supposed to be rendered to, which would result in unequal compression or stretching of the texture and hence texturing artifacts or quality loss."

Obsidian X-24 13:54 pm - Kan
That's a Obsidian X-24 review over at M Factor-1. Lots of pretty pics on this baby.

I did some benchmark tests using Timedemo 1 from Quake2 to compare the Obsidian2 X-24 and the Diamond Monster 3D II SLI. Both cards were overclocked to 95MHz using the slider control feature in their respective Display Properties window. The tests were done with sound and I used a variation of Kruzin's Config file settings for maximum visual quality for the G200. It also works well with Voodoo2 cards.

IBM Deskstar 14GXP 13:53 pm - Kan
Adrian just sent us note on his latest review on the IBM Deskstar 14GXP hard disk.

Spinning 33% faster than 5400rpm drives, this new generation of high-speed EIDE hard disks will provide a major boost in all aspects of hard disk operations. Increased spindle speed means higher platter-to-buffer throughput, a shorter seek time and lower latency. While most 5400rpm drives have seek times of 10.5-12ms and a latency of over 7ms, the new generation 7200rpm drives boast seek times of 9.5ms, latency of around 4ms and a high platter-to-buffer throughput of over 190Mbits/s.

SSE vs 3DNow! 11:00 am - Kan
Brotherhood of the CPU also did a comparison article between the Pentium III SSE vs AMD 3DNow! instructions. Check it out!

Intel's Pentium III is a very powerful CPU, which is based on the Pentium II Deschutes core, with a few modifications, and the addition of 70 new multimedia instructions, called SSE (formely known as KNI). These SIMD (Single Instruction Multiple Data) instructions work about the same way that AMD's 3DNow! does. Unlike the almost useless MMX instructions, the SSE instructions can be used at the same time as the FPU, which enhances the chip's multimedia (especially 3D-rendering) power. The addition of these instructions to the CPU is a very clever way of quickly, and dramatically, increasing the CPU's multimedia performance without doing major modifications to the CPU.

Wester Digital Enterprise 10:55 am - Kan
StorageReview did a review on one of those mammoth drivers, the 18.3 GB U2W-SCSI hard drive.

This newest Enterprise drive continues the tradition set by its predecessor when it comes to heat and noise. There is no noticeable whine. Seek noise is quite tolerable when compared to other 7200rpm SCSI drives. Outside of a drive cooler, the drive runs only moderately warm to the touch. Granted, our testbed case is spacious, but it's quite possible to run the WD drive without a cooler. Now that's a true rarity when it comes to 7200rpm disks!

CPU Temperature Measurement Gadget 10:51 am - Kan
If you are interested in building your own thermal diode measurement circuit, Overclockers has an article on it teaching you how to do it. Pretty technical stuff.

Now the circuit: You can use the diode thermometer sample circuit from the PDF but with one important modification: The B14B/B15 have input protection clamping diodes to max. 1.5V which prohibit using COMMON (floating at 2.5V) of the 7107 as a Voltage Reference and using the sample circuit.

COMMON must not be connected to the cathode, but only to REF LO. Therefore we need an external reference. Burr's REF2OO would be ideal but I didn't have one handy so I used a 78L05. With a 22K resistor from the 78L05 output to the anode (B14) and the cathode (B15) connected ground we will have the input voltage of the anode which is connected to IN LO.

Storm Platinum Review 10:49 am - Kan
AGN Hardware did a review on the Storm Platinum sound card.

Storm Platinum uses Aureal’s revolutionary Vortex 2 processor to provide the most potent hardware acceleration available. On-board support for 96 DirectSound streams at full 18-bit 48Khz resolution, translates into massive processing power capable of tearing through complex audio algorithms without missing a beat. Dedicated hardware engines rapidly facilitate sample rate conversion, digital mixing, and PCI streaming. With Storm Platinum you’ll always have plenty of power to burn and sound quality that is simply amazing.

PDA ShootOut 00:37 am - Wilfred
Ars-Technica has put up a really nice PDA shootout namely between  the Palm III and the Cassiopeia E-11. Amidst their cool but flawed designs, Caesar thinks the E-11 edged the venerable Palm III by a little.

In fact, it would be foolish to try to argue that.  But I'm not gonna cop out and not name a winner.  I really appreciated the Palm III’s speed and ease of use, but when it comes down to it, I like the Cassiopeia E-11 just a bit better.  Both Gonzo and Ator own Palm III's, and they would disagree with my estimations on several points, so let me say this: screen size, resolution and real estate win the day for me.

25 February 1999 - Thursday

Dual Celeron And Pentium II 23:58 pm - Wilfred
Here's another one, though a bit late here. Check out FiringSquad's article on the Dual Celeron processors vs the Pentium II.

The idea of running two Celeron processors in parallel is not a new one. When it was first released, the Celeron was based on the same Deschutes core as the existing Pentium II CPUs, which could be run in multiprocessor mode without any problems. In essence, it was easier for Intel to add or remove external circuitry to disable SMP rather than remove the ability from the processor core itself. And that's just what they did.

Even with the on-die cache of the Mendicino core processors, it still wasn't worth the effort to completely reengineer the CPU to take out dual capability. Knowing this, it was just a matter of time before people figured out "fix" multiprocessing on the Celeron. Unfortunately, Intel did make it a difficult task to modify the SEPP design, and the number of power users willing to physically drill and solder their CPUs is understandably small.

Avault On The Pentium III 23:49 pm - Wilfred
The Adrenaline Vault has put up a review on the Pentium III processor. Have a glance at the snippet:

... the Pentium III architecture is a Pentium II core with modifications for the new SSE instructions. Same caching, same front-side bus. Initially similar clock speeds. If you don't run software that exploits SSE, you're running the equivalent of a Pentium II. You may have seen other reviews of the Pentium III on the net released before Intel launched the Pentium III chip and released before Intel lifted non-disclosure agreements. Many of those reviews say that the Pentium III technology is comparable to Intel's release of the MMX-enabled Pentium, and conclude that the chip is no big deal.

Before you buy into what they said, consider that those pre-release reviewers were not under NDA with Intel, and did not have SSE-enabled software. We're going to show you here that they completely missed out, sacrificing accuracy and responsible reporting to be first. Far from the yawner they report, the Pentium III is a hot chip with new functionality that will change the games you play.

Here's why the Pentium III will be a winner for gamers and why MMX only had limited impact. The 3D shooters like Quake required a Pentium or later for decent performance because the calculations of what's where in the game all use floating point values.

3DSoundSurge Set Up Petition 23:43 pm - Wilfred
Mark of 3DSoundSurge sent a note that they've set up an petition to iD Software to appeal for 3D Audio support in Quake III: Arena. So come join this coordinated door banging kindly put up here.

The most recent information that we have available indicates that Quake III: Arena will not support 3D Audio.

Rather than prompting everyone to email the Quake III team (which would definitely irritate them) we thought it would be more effective if we coordinated a petition to forward to ID Software once we get enough names.

USB 2.0 18:27 pm - Kan
EETimes had an on the new Intel's USB 2.0 standard. The new standard could run faster than 200 Mbps. Wow!

The new version of USB should be available as a version 1.0 draft at the September Intel Developers Forum, and will appear in PCs in the middle of next year, Gelsinger said. It will sport data-transfer rates between 120 and 240 Mbits/second, he said, although one source said it is already running even faster in lab tests and could ultimately roll out at speeds of up to 300 Mbits/s.

At those speeds, USB 2.0 could not only become a much more competitive interface for digital cameras, but might appear in some external hard disk drives as well, according to one source. It will also give a boost to USB as an interface for high-end color printers.

MPEG Revolution 18:20 pm - Kan
C|Net Singapore had an article on the MPEG revolution, including the new MPEG 7 standard.

MPEG-7 will focus primarily on standardizing descriptors, description schemes and description definition language to suit audio-visual data. To describe text data associated with the audio-visual data, MPEG-7 will adopt existing text description methodologies and provide interfaces as required.

K7 on 400 MHz FSB? 18:16 pm - Kan
Boy. Read from PlanetHardware who read from ugeek that the K7 will be able to read up to 400 MHz on the EV-6 Alpha Bus.

AMD has high hopes for the K7, claiming that it will be the fastest chip available in floating point and integer operations when it is released. That's quite a statement when you are competing with Xeons and Alphas. In addition, the K7 will feature 3D instructions with a 128-bit pipeline, backwards compatible with the 3DNow! instructions, but faster, to give KNI a run for the money.

AMD has stated that the K7 will feature chipsets that support SMP or Symmetric Multi-Processing. The K7 will be the first non-Intel x86 chip to be able to use more than one processor in a system. This will be significant in the workstation and server market, especially if AMD can deliver the performance it is promising. Supposedly, the K6 is capable as well, but we will never see a SMP chipset available for it.

New CL Drivers 18:09 pm - Kan
New drivers from Creative includes the 3D Blaster Banshee as well as the Video Blaster WebCam Control.

Latest Bios update (v1.03.2d) for users of 3D Blaster Banshee in Windows 98

This driver corrects the problem of intermittent screen distortions and frequent system lockups for users running Windows 98.

G400? 17:37 pm - Kan
Sharky posted a short news on the upcoming G400 chipset by Matrox.

Sources close to Matrox Graphics have revealed that their next generation processor, called the G400, will be previewed for the first time at CeBit '99 in Hanover, Germany (March 18th). Initial release dates of cards based off of the chipset are for Q2 of 1999. No more details are available at this time.

Shuttle HOT-681Z 17:36 pm - Kan
Another motherboard review from AnandTech on the Shuttle HOT-681Z i440ZX Socket 370 motherboard.

The HOT-681Z follows the traditional Shuttle mold. This time, Shuttle has taken the HOT-681 and substituted the i440ZX chipset for the i440BX. One DIMM slot was removed from the original HOT-681 (the solder pads on the PCB from the removed slot are still visible) thanks to the i440ZX's ability to address only four rows of memory. This leaves a total of two DIMM slots, exactly the number of double sided DIMM's the i440ZX chipset could support. Note that the HOT-681 is shown at right, not the HOT-681Z, and hence the 3 DIMM slots in the picture.

Diamond Stealth Savage4 12:38 pm - Kan
Those lucky gals over at Sharky had a preview on the Diamond Stealth Savage4 video card.

The detail is stunning, we've never seen such a dramatic visual representation of an image or texture map. The nice part is that thanks to the texture compression technology, the Savage4 doesn't bog down or show visual signs of slowness while rendering images like these.

New Microsoft Gaming Devices 12:38 pm - Kan
Activewin sent note on thier new article on Microsoft new gaming devices. Hey! Take a look at the picture of the new SideWinder Gamepad Pro.

The SideWinder Gamepad Pro is a high-end PC game controller, the natural progression from the award-winning SideWinder Gamepad, released in 1996. The SideWinder Gamepad Pro sets a new standard of evolution in proportional and digital d-pad functionality, along with superior ergonomic design and supreme programmability.

Gamers control their on-screen personas and/or vehicles by using the buttons and control pads positioned conveniently on the gamepad. Pass, accelerate, shoot, steer, run, aim, drop, hit, throw, jump-all the action in today's games come to life with this immersive new device.

Fifa99 Singapore League 12:29 pm - Kan
The Fifa99 Singapore League is accepting applications now. If you are a crazy Fifa99 fan, join the league and enjoy!

On a site note, my ISP DNS server seem to be facing problems. Sheehs.

Hardware One: Activision's Asteroids 00:13 am - Wilfred
It's really rare that Hardware One put forth 2 reviews ON A SINGLE DAY! So yes... it is finally here! Check out KH's notalgic experience with an old hit. Now re-introducing Activision's Asteroids!

"Activision heard you, and it revamped the classic Asteroids by sprucing up the graphics tremendously, adding a throbbing, sound track and effects, and adding a storyline to go with the revised graphics."

Alive! MX300 Initial Impression 00:11 am - Wilfred
Our good friend at Alive! has written his first impressions of the Diamond MX300. Hear him out!

Digital Audio
Digital audio is very clean but fidelity is noticeablely lower than Live's if you bothered to listen carefully ( yah yah..some might say I listen to what I wanna hear ) . The difference in acoustic richess and fidelity is further emphasized if you use the digital CD connector on the Live! and activate some awesome environmental audio DSP effects. No amount of tweaking the 10 band EQ with the MX300 can make up for this difference.

A3D 2.0 "Room" demo
This is the only demo that I find is really useful. Outstanding postional audio in headphone mode, including z-axis. In 4 speaker mode however, z-axis is no longer that outstanding but it's still there. Occlusion effects are demonstrated when helicopter hide behind wall. The sound becomes obviously muffled.

WavetracingDemos
This downloadable demo from the Net showcase the workings of reflections and occlusions. Neat but they didn't blow me away. I didn't really scream "[email protected]#$% amazing" as others on the Net do.  What I notice however is that the source reflection seems to "pick" their own path to the listener. And the sound is modeled like a ray ( of light ) that bound off walls like a mirror. But when combined with the visual, they seem to make sense. However I still doubt the accuracy of the geometrical model and I seriously doubt it emcompasses every sound theories known . 

Hardware One: DreamCast - A Review 00:08 am - Wilfred
Hot blooded Boon Kiat just lost control and bought himself a Sega Dreamcast. As expected, he lost himself in it. But he picked himself out of it soon enuf to bring you his 'review' on the console!

"The original Dreamcast gamepad feels like a step backwards to me, having gotten so used to the Saturn’s excellent gamepads."

"The Windows CE platform could be a double-edged sword. It allows most developers to port their games easily to the Dreamcast, but it might also be a resource hog, which fails to give games that extra edge."

24 February 1999 - Wednesday

AMD K6-III and Pentium III 23:23 pm - Kan
Tom posted a whole suite of benchmark results in his latest article comparing the AMD K6-III and Pentium III.

K6-3 adds a 256 kB on-die L2-cache to the CXT-core. This should result in a significant performance increase, because it removes one of the most important speed killers of Socket 7-systems, the on-board L2-cache that’s only running at bus clock speed, thus at either only 66 or on Super7-boards at 100 MHz. Intel’s Pentium Pro was the first CPU that had a L2-cache running at core clock and thus this L2-cache was getting faster with a faster processor core.

SSE vs 3DNow! 20:20 pm - Kan
AnandTech posted another article on the differences between the SSE vs 3DNow! instructions.

One of the most notable differences between SSE and 3DNow is the addition of 8 new 128bit "vector" registers. Unlike 3DNow's SIMD implementation which uses the 8 existing FP/MMX 64bit registers, SSE will have its own dedicated set of registers in order to minimize mode switching and maximize parallelism between FP, MMX, and SIMD instructions. Applications which make extensive use MMX and SIMD will benefit from the new registers.

Dual Celerons vs Pentium II 18:31 pm - Kan
My girl over at FiringSquad just did a review on the Dual Celerons vs the Pentium II. The new Socket 370 Celerons are so easy to modify that it will be a pity not to get them running under a dual configuration.

The twist is that all of the modifications that need to be made can now be done on these converter cards (informally called "slockets") rather than the CPU itself. This should save you the trouble and worry of tampering with an $80-$150 piece of equipment. What's more is that many manufacturers, such as MSI, have built in some of the dual-processor modifications straight into the product, requiring little modification.

Optimizing the Riva TNT 13:42 pm - Kan
Adrian sent us a note on their new article on optimizng the Riva TNT and teaches you how to configure those BIOS settings.

The RIVA TNT is currently the world's fastest 2D/3D gaming graphics processor. Boasting an official fillrate of 180MPixels/s and a 36 billion operations/s pixel engine, the RIVA TNT is supposed to be able to take up to 6 million triangles and spit them out in vivid colour at very high framerates. Many RIVA TNT users were ecstatic with the huge increase in performance and visual quality. Games no longer jerked like a bucking bronco and textures no longer looked like they have had a bad case of the rash.

Voodoo3 13:40 pm - Kan
The pretty gals over at Bluenews also did a preview on the Voodoo3. Hey! since the Voodoo3 is so fast, can it run RC5/DES ? :)

The Voodoo 3 is an 8.2 million transistor .25 micron process single chip solution. Two models of the Voodoo3 were initially announced at Comdex, a 125 MHz version, and a 183 MHz model. The plan subsequently changed, and the Voodoo3 will now come to market with three initial varieties, the 2000, 3000, and 3500, running at 143, 166 and 183 MHz, respectively. The Voodoo3 is an all-in-one accelerator, offering a 2D core based on that in the Voodoo Banshee, and 3D based on the Voodoo/Voodoo2 chipset, offering the raw horsepower of SLI mode (which typically requires two Voodoo2s) in a single AGP or PCI card. There are no plans to create any sort of "Voodoo3 SLI" using more than one card in a system.

Pentium III 13:38 pm - Kan
Anand also contributed to a Pentium III review. When will all these stop? Pentium X ?

Imagine a Pentium II, except outfitted with 64KB of L1 cache, operating at clock speeds derived by the 133MHz Front Side Bus (FSB), and combined with the release of a killer chipset that would boast AGP 4X acceleration as well as the introduction of Rambus DRAM. The processor you're imagining is what the majority of the market envisioned the Pentium III's release as being, and as you can probably conclude by now, the vision we all shared of the Pentium III was a bit on the fantasy side.

Logitech Formula Force 13:32 pm - Kan
New review from PlanetHardware on the Logitech Formula Force wheel. Talking about wheels, I just realised my Fiamm horn in my car wasn't working when I needed it. Hmm...

The pedals are a pretty low-profile design - they fit nicely under a desk, and you can leave them there, because they don't take up much space. They actually work pretty well as a footrest even. This makes setup a lot easier, all I have to do any time I want to use my wheel is plug one wire into the wheel itself, and screw the wheel onto the desk. The wheel is equipped with built-on clamps that work with just about any thickness of desk. They are, however, a little large if you have a short desk or you're tall, or just like your seat up high. If your seat isn't adjusted in some cases, your knees hit against them when using the pedals

Waveforce 192 Digital 13:30 pm - Kan
Another new article from GA-Source on the Waveforce 192 Digital soundcard which uses the Sensaura technology to implement DirectSound 3D.

One of this card's features that shows its Yamaha heritage, beyond the MIDI quality, is its optical digital output. It appears that digital out is becoming a standard in high-end sound cards, as most of the last batch have had some form of digital output. So far, Yamaha is the only one to support optical digital out. Why is this important? Not all home Dolby Digital receivers have coaxial digital input (the choice used on other sound cards); some only have the optical input. Optical digital is also absolutely free from any outside interference. Why is digital output important at all? If you use your computer for musical work, you can run the digital out to a digital tape recorder or minidisk recorder and have no analog stages in the recording.

Gaming under NT4 13:27 pm - Kan
Freak! also had a new article on Gaming Under NT4. Seems like running Unreal under NT is faster than under Win98.

If you're a big fan of any game that uses the Quake, Quake II, or Unreal 3D engines then you're in luck and will be able to run many games. Also, if you're into DirectX 3 compatible real-time strategy games then NT will also work with many titles. You'll definitely want to do some research on the title that you'll want to play before you go out and buy it. It will usually make some reference on the box or web site whether or not it will run under Windows NT.

S3 Savage 4 13:25 pm - Kan
3DSpotlight sent us a note on their exclusive interview with Paul Crossley from S3 about the Savage4.

While S3 has made several improvements to its 2D architecture with Savage4, it's features such as AGP 4X, S3TC, 32MB memory, digital flat panel support and hardware accelerated DVD, not 2D acceleration, that makes this product a winner.

As evidenced by Sharky Extreme and AGN3D's recent positive review of the new Hercules SuperCharger Beast, all of Savage3D's initial software and compatibility issues have since been resolved. Building on what we learned with Savage3D, Savage4 will be a super clean product from the start.

Metabyte TNT SLI 13:19 pm - Kan
This is just too hot. Sharky had a preview of the Metabyte TNT SLI. Woah woah woah. TNT2 will also feature SLI feature, just like the Voodoo2. So, will you still get your Voodoo3?

Metabyte's engineers have been working on an undercover technology that allows not only nVidia chipsets to be SLI'ed in tandem, but virtually any future chipset from any vendor that hits the market.

The internal code name for the Metabyte project is "Wicked3D Stepsister" (don't ask us, no one we talked to remembers where this name originated from) and it heralds a new dawn as far as linked high-powered video options go. Our Metabyte sources answered "Yes, yes, and yes" when asked if it was possible for the Wicked3D Stepsister program to be adapted to work with the S3 Savage 4, 3Dfx Voodoo3, TNT2, or another brand new chip architecture. Although it's unlikely in Metabyte's mind that they'll do a Savage4 or Voodoo3-based SLI product, the TNT2 is a whole different enchilada. Later in this article we'll break the news on two possible TNT2 SLI solutions, but for now let's look at the Step Sister technology itself.

23 February 1999 - Tuesday

Sennheiser HD 580 Headphones 23:45 pm - Wilfred
I already stumbled trying to read the brand name. Ahh... whatever, FiringSquad has done a review on this pair of Sennheiser Headphones - supposedly one of the most high-end and the audiophile's dreamed earpieces. It's prohibitingly expensive at US$360 a pair. What's the cost you said?!!!

... if you've ever done a little research into audio equipment, you will find that true audiophiles turn their noses up at mass market brands like Sony or Aiwa. Basically, if you can find it in a Circuit City or some department store, it's not audiophile quality. True audio snobs turn to brands like Parasound, Bang & Olufsen, Carver, and Harman Kardon for their hardware. There are also some 'tweener brands that regular schmucks like you and I have heard of - Denon for example. So what name keeps coming up among audiophiles who are looking for headphones? Sennheiser.

Tom Previews Voodoo3 23:14 pm - Wilfred
Rush over now! Tom (who recently became a controversial reviewer) has completed a big big preview of 3Dfx's Voodoo3. Have to check this out!

I guess you want to know now if I would recommend Voodoo3. As a matter of fact I do. However, I don’t recommend the purchase of Voodoo3 because it’s really satisfying my expectations, I recommend it because there’s currently nothing better out there. I would also like to criticize 3Dfx’s ambitious claims Voodoo3 would run games at no less than 60 fps at 1280x1024. Have a look at my benchmarks and check if Voodoo3 was anywhere near 60 fps at resolution of even less than 1024x768.

3Com Ships Palm V, Palm IIIx 23:03 pm - Wilfred
Yup! This page over at The Register tells you this exciting piece of news.. the best just got better!

The Palm IIIx is the essentially a Palm III with and extra 2MB of memory (for a total of 4MB) of memory and a new internal expansion port which appears to be just the III's internal RAM slot... ...The device also features an enhanced LCD that offers better image contrast than its predecessor.

The Palm V contains the same screen, but features the much anticipated slimline, case, all done out in brushed aluminium. The reduced thickness is down to the Palm V's built-in Lithium Ion battery, which is recharged via the device's cradle, but it comes at the cost of memory: just 2MB in total.

How Creative Will Enhance Drivers? 22:52 pm - Wilfred
3DSoundSurge posted a blurb by Creative who shall continue to dazzle users with exciting driver enhancements (answers to our prayers?).

Creative's Blurb
Creative does take your feedback seriously.  We are presently working on our largest update project yet: Live!Ware 2.0.  Many of the things you have asked for, like a simpler way of setting up speakers and effects, better 3D positional audio, synchronization of Environmental Audio settings to games and task oriented wizards are coming.  We'll continue to improve on the product, striving to make it the best it can be.

Voodoo 3 Review at Voodoo Extreme! 22:41 pm - Wilfred
Can't be more appropriate to have Voodoo Extreme review 3Dfx's V3. A must read for any gamers on the lookout for a new card. Surely you'll consider a 3Dfx card?

With the Voodoo 3, higher resolutions at very high frame-rates becomes a reality. However, even with blazing frame-rates, not every one will want to jump on the Voodoo 3 bandwagon just yet.   Lacking 32-bit external rendering, the Voodoo 3 will create its own niche of users that are willing to sacrifice some visual quality for "balls to the wall" frame-rates.

New Banshee Drivers 22:37 pm - Wilfred
More stuffs to download tonight for Banshee users! 3Dfx has made available new release-candidate drivers for download. Here's the goods for both Win95 and Win98:

Voodoo Banshee Reference Drivers - AGP/PCI Boards - Windows 95 Release Candidate 1 - Version: 1.02.01
Voodoo Banshee Reference Drivers for AGP/PCI based boards running under Windows 95

Voodoo Banshee Reference Drivers - AGP/PCI Boards - Windows 98 Release Candidate 1 - Version: 1.02.01
Voodoo Banshee Reference Drivers for AGP/PCI based boards running under Windows 98

Terminator Beast SuperCharged Review 22:35 pm - Wilfred
5-Dimensions has done a review on the Hercules Terminator Beast Supercharged, Savage3D-based card. Turn your attention here!

Thanks to Hercules, the Savage3D has finally lived up to its statistics on paper. Increased performance with SGRAM and a higher clockspeed had been part of S3's plans all along, and I wonder if things would have been different if this was the first product we saw instead of the original Beast.

On the other hand, there are still a few flaws, that aren't really Hercules' fault. 8MB is clearly not going to be enough to be able to play most upcoming games at resolutions like 1024x768. If you're forced to use 640x480 or anything lower, you will have to suffer at the hands of the void and cluster 16-bit rendering. And turning off Vsync still won't be an option, it seems that problem will never be fixed. But these are just little things that probably wont bother you until it's time to upgrade.

Huge AMD K6-3 Presentation 22:31 pm - Wilfred
If you are keen on finding out more on the K6-3, then there's a gigantic 29-page presentation on AMD's new baby at GA Source.

Using Multi-Monitors With Windows 98 22:23 pm - Wilfred
Instead of you people mailing Kan one after another asking how this could be done, check out GameCenter's article on getting this to work!

The allure is undeniable. You have a free PCI slot, an abandoned video card, and an old monitor; if only you could put them to work to create an expanded desktop. Mac users have known that pleasure for years, but finally, with the arrival of Windows 98, multimonitor support has trickled down to the Wintel masses. Unfortunately, getting multimonitor support to work correctly isn't an easy process.

ICQ99a Beta v2.13 Build 1700   22:20 pm - Wilfred
Yup! Everybody's favourite buddy list software sees another new build today. Grab the file here!

Soyo SY-6VZA VIA Mobo 22:18 pm - Wilfred
Kyle dropped me a mail that his latest review on the Soyo SY-6VZA Socket-370 mobo is up. Have a look here:

SOYO has been a bud and of great support to the HardOCP, but I gotta tell it like it is.  This mobo is NOT a buy for an overclocker!   The VIA chipset has proved to be unstable with OEM Socket 370 Celerons at FSB speeds higher than 83Mhz.  The board was stable at 374MHz with the 300A, but that is not what we have come to expect out of the 300A. 

Now dont get me wrong!   The board did exactly what it was designed to do and delivers some great value doing it.  Built-in sound card that sounds awesome!  Built-in joystick port that worked fine also.   If you are looking at building a low-cost system and find yourself in the market for a Celeron 400 that you want to run at 450 ( which I am doing on the SY-6VZA as I type this) this may be the board for you! 

New Vortex 2 Drivers 22:06 pm - Wilfred
Ok, thanks to the chumps at Voodoo Extreme we have here the links to the latest reference Vortex 2 Drivers:

COMPLETE
ftp://ftp.a3d.com/pub/Public/Drivers/Vortex/w9x2015eng_full.zip
Download the latest Vortex 2 drivers
(Version 4.06.2015 - 7.7MB zipfile - 02/22/99)

UPDATE
ftp://ftp.a3d.com/pub/Public/Drivers/Vortex/w9x2015eng_updt.zip
Download the latest Vortex 2 drivers
(Version 4.06.2015 - 2.3MB zipfile - 02/22/99)

Gainward CARDExpert TNT 01:48 am - Kan
FullOn3D had another new review on the Gainward CARDEXpert TNT card.

The drivers are nothing different than the reference versions from NVidia. This has the drawback that there is no possibility for Gainward to influence their quality or to add their own little tricks and the advantage that immediately after release of a new version you can grab those off NVidia's site and use them, which I did for the "Detonator" ones.

To make up some for that, Gainward is packing on the CD what they call Expertool which resides in the tray and gives immediate access to resolution, refresh and color depth control as well as memory speed tweaking, zoom and DirectX version info. Good enough for most users and since it is free, let it be our guest.

PowerColor GameBoard 01:46 am - Kan
3DSpotLight sent us a note on the new Powercolor GAMEBOARD. These are actually a Intel BX motherboard with built in Yamaha YMF724 3D positional chipset. They also feature either a onboard 3Dfx Banshee or nVidia Riva TNT.

More than the high performance from INTEL® 440BX, YAMAHA Audio and powerful 3D chip such as RIVA TNT, PowerColor presents two important service tools within GAMEBOARD product. First is "Power Installer", a very best easy method to install 3 different chipsets in one time. This tool can make auto-detection and scan what parts you need to build. It will help user install correct drivers step-by-step. No more easier install tool can be found today. Secondary is a Web-Update tool. Once user think about update latest driver, just click the Web-Update button in PowerColor CD-ROM. This tool will automatically check if there is any newer driver available, download and install it. The most convenient way to update and maintain your system.

Kenwood 52X CD-ROM 01:41 am - Kan
AGNHardware did the review on the Kenwood 52X CD-ROM drive. Oh well, I rather get a DVD drive nowadays.

The 52X Multibeam is based on the same technology as the 40X Multibeam, which splits the beam that reads the data from the CD into 7 beams. This technology has many benefits, including its low rotation speed. Most of today's CD-ROMs spin at approximately 10,000RPM, which explains why your computer sounds like it is going to implode when it is spinning up. The 52X Multibeam spins between 1840-4800 RPM and is the quietest CD-ROM drive I have ever heard. This low rotation speed also decreases spin-up time when you either insert a CD-ROM or click on it in Windows

Another Abit ZM6 01:36 am - Kan
SysOpt also did a review on the Abit ZM6 motherboard.

Very good stability, great compatibility. Excellent layout for what should be a low-cost board; the 1/5/2 layout is still my favorite. Abit did well to add an extra DIMM slot and PCI slot even though not they aren't fullly supported by the chipset. It's great to see that they have a full list of monitoring functions including system temperature, fan speeds, voltages, and even the CPU temperature. The ZX chipset shouldn't detract for most users, but should be welcomed because of good stability, compatibility, and should lower motherboard costs.

Abit ZM6 01:35 am - Kan
HardwareCentral also took a look at the new Abit ZM6 based on the Intel ZX chipset.

Intel's ZX chipset is essentially a scaled down version of the BX chipset. In terms of cost of implementation, the ZX and BX chipsets probably vary very little. The ZX chipset was most likely created to segment the low-end and high-end market. From a practical standpoint of an average user, the differences between the ZX and BX chipset are virtually negligible. The only differences between the two chipsets are, the amount of memory they can address and the number of bus-mastered PCI slots that are supported.

Networking your Cable Modem 01:33 am - Kan
The Techs had a short article on how to do networking with your cable modem.

As far as a hub is concerned any 10Base-T hub will do.I would not recommend going with 100Base-TX unless you expect a lot of trafficinside your LAN. It really isn't worth the extra money since your cable modemat most only downloads at most 5 Mbps. (Mine only does 1.544) Category 5UTP (Unshielded Twisted Pair) wire is the building block of your network.Take a look at the cable connected to your modem and you will notice thatit has a bigger connector than your phone cord does. That is an RJ-45 connectorthat you are looking at. RJ-45s have 8 wires compared to the RJ-11 that yourphone cord has with only 4 wires.

RC5 Stats 01:30 am - Kan
Just for your info, preliminary stats for RC5 is available at http://tally.distributed.net/rc5-64/

22 February 1999 - Monday

Microsoft Kicked Off IE5 Countdown 23:47 pm - Wilfred
ActiveWin pooped us a note that Microsoft has kicked off the countdown to Internet Explorer 5 launch with a "reserver your copy early" offer. Here's the juice:

Microsoft Corp. today kicked off the countdown to the launch of Microsoft® Internet Explorer 5 by offering customers the opportunity to preorder Internet Explorer 5 through the Reserve Your Copy Early program. Starting today, customers can preorder Internet Explorer 5 to avoid the anticipated download demand and ensure they will be among the first to receive the next version of Microsoft browser software on CD-ROM. Internet Explorer 5, scheduled to be available on the Web worldwide starting March 18, 1999, is the browser that saves users time by simplifying and automating common Web tasks.

ATI Rage Fury - Part 2 21:42 pm - Wilfred
Sharky Extreme posted part 2 of their ATI Rage Fury review. Yes, if you are into the latest video cards, check out the Rage Fury.

In the face of the S3 Savage4, Voodoo3-2000, and nVidia TNT2, all of which run at a baseline core speed of 143MHz, the Rage Fury will struggle to fend off the performance oriented wolves very soon. (Btw, that's exclusive information on the TNT2's new baseline speed, don't tell anyone we told ya ok?)

But where the Rage Fury's performance level does assert itself is against the currently available competition. In our benchmarks the Fury turned in numbers that beat the high scores we've recorded for the TNT, the Voodoo2, the Savage3D as well as the Banshee and G200. The Fury does this while also adding the high resolutions and color depth support that 32MB of on-card dram gives.

Abit ZM6 & Socket-370 Roundup 21:34 pm - Wilfred
Andy mailed to say that he's got a new ZM6 review and a Socket-370 roundup. Better check out BXBoards!

An excellent board, featuring all the support for overclockers we have come to expect from Abit. The health monitoing and extra bus speeds means that this board offers the Celeron overclocker even more scope for a bit of tweaking then the now legendary BH6. The board is a stable as hell at 4.5 x 112, and at that speed it runs a Pentium III close in the speed stakes. Not bad for a board and CPU that comes to under $150 if you shop around :)

This boards looks almost identically to the BM6, which is also an excellent Socket 370 board. And it performs almost identically, although 105 and 110Mhz bus speed do not seem quite so stable. The Socket370 is designed as a low cost solution and the ZM6 is a low cost (around 80-90 US dollars), yet high quality board. The PPGA is also a low cost solution.

Wilfred Coughs And Nose Runs 21:23 pm - Wilfred
Although feeling damn sick now, the great consolation is that my ADSL is BACK! Yes... after a damn long and dreadful troubleshooting. I won't rant too much, I have to do some serious html-ing tonite.

Trident Blade 3D 15:41 pm - Kan
Noticed another new review at AnandTech, the Trident Blade 3D. Whoa! I still remember my good old Trident 256KB video card for my 386!

What is the Blade 3D? The Blade 3D core is an attempt at a reasonably priced, OpenGL/Direct3D AGP 2X solution (AGP - can't leave home without it) that offers DVD acceleration for the sub-$1000 PC market, without providing those who purchase the chipset at a loss of performance. The goal of the Blade 3D, just as virtually any other product that enters this section of the market, is to provide the low-end market with a high-end performer. Unfortunately, with the history of Trident backing them up, the Blade 3D seemed to be doomed from the start. Trident has never had too much success in developing quality products that offered a low-cost and high performance at the same time, the Blade 3D's name is reminiscent of Trident's earlier failures, the Blaze 3D which did very little than provide the ugliest picture of 3D acceleration that $20 could buy.

Boston Acoustics 15:37 pm - Kan
3DsoundSurge just posted a review on a set of rather high end speakers, the Boston Acoustics Media Theater. The speakers look kinda cute though. :)

Frequency response is listed as 25Hz-50kHz.   My testing, using a HIFI Surround test CD graciously provided to me by Boston Acoustics, shows that the there is excellent low frequency response right down to 45 Hz! At 40 Hz its much quieter, but you can still really feel it. At 35 Hz the sound is really quiet but I still feel the bass.  At  30 Hz  the sound is barely audible (and no feeling) and 25 Hz and below the bass does not get lower but the sound is very distorted.

DNS Transfer 06:34 am - Kan
Yesh! Looks like they are finally kicking in.

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