21 January 1999 - Thursday

More 300A News 23:59 pm - Kan
OCP had a whole load of juice on the overclockibility of the new Celeron 300As that it's making me wet.

A while back there was talk about implementing a bus speed lock on processors by enabling a program inside the chip which sends a reset command to the motherboard.  They claimed that their main target wasn't hobbiest who overclock their own processors but those who sold processors or systems which contained overclocked processors.  Another solution which gained more favor was instead to have the processor send a code to the motherboard which would then determine by the code what the processor's designed speed was and display it when the computer first boots up.  I really didn't buy to much into it since I assumed Intel was interested in money primarily and didn't care too much for overclockers...

Skywell Magic TwinPower 22:15 pm - Kan
SharkyExtreme posted another new review on the Skywell Magic TwinPower Banshee card.

The 128bit 2D engine featured on the Banshee is actually very solid and the performance is more than acceptable, weather you're into 2D games running under DirectDraw at high resolutions, old DOS games, or in need of dedicated Windows 9x/NT performance, the TwinPower delivers. Visual quality in 2D modes compares nicely to its competitors only falling short to Matrox's G200 which still places first in visual quality and stability. As far as resolutions go on the 2D part, you're more than well-covered. 1600 x 1200 @ 32bit should keep most of you happy and unless you're doing very high-end 2D work it shouldn't disappoint you either. With the 250Mhz RAMDAC the TwinPower manages to keep refresh rates very high even at these resolutions, you'll find as we did that it's seldom the graphics board that sets the upper limit of refresh rates these days but more often so the monitors

Electronic ID chips 14:53 pm - Kan
Gosh, we sure have lots of rumours about all these things. Read from bxboards who read from ZDNN that Intel will electronically ID chips.

Intel Corp. will unveil plans to embed identification numbers in its PC processors on Thursday, said industry insiders and cryptographers familiar with the company's efforts.

Intel briefed the ACLU and others on the details of its new identification scheme in hopes of heading off any protest by privacy advocates about its new initiative.

The plan calls for Intel to put a machine-specific ID and a random number generator in every processor, said sources familiar with the plans.

Katmai-Optimized Apps 14:47 pm - Kan
Read from PCWorld that new Katmai-optimized applications will be out by next month. Hmm..how about a Katmai-optimized version of the RC5 client?

Software vendors next month will take the wraps off the first applications optimized for the Katmai New Instructions featured in Intel's forthcoming Pentium III processors, a senior Intel executive said here on Wednesday.

The software introduction will take place at a February 17 conference held in Santa Clara, California, prior to the official launch of Pentium III, said John Davies, Intel's vice president and general manager of the chip giant's Asia-Pacific operations.

The Katmai-optimized applications are designed to take advantage of the 70 new instructions featured in the Pentium III processors for speeding up 3D graphics, audio, video, and other functions.

New Creative Drivers 14:48 pm - Kan
Saw that there are new Creative drivers for the Webcam II, Graphics Blaster Exxtreme as well as the PC-DVD Encore.

This is the latest standalone upgrade package which contains the Encore navigator software & drivers.

This update:

  • Disables 'AutoPlay' feature of DVD Player (Winodws 98 WDM DVD) when Disc Detector is enabled
  • Fixes problem with DVD playback on Toshiba DVD RAM Drives.
  • DVD-RAM disc can now correctly detected as Data CD instead of Enhanced CD if 'AutoRun.Inf' exist.

Hardware Therapy 14:44 pm - Kan
HardGame had posted a new issue of the Hardware Therapy.

After quite enough "my Celeron 300A runs great at 450 MHz, Eat Me!!" posts, a few Internet detectives started nosing around, asking why in the world someone would mysteriously have 2 Celeron 300A's fail at the same time. It's common knowledge that Intel doesn't want you overclocking their chips, and AMD would also like to compete against the 300/333 MHz speeds rather than 450/500 MHz.

PlexWriter 4/12 CD Writer 14:39 pm - Kan
Saw that AGN Hardware had a new review on the Plextor PlexWriter 4/12 CD Writer. Anyway, have you read our Yamaha CD Writer reviews?

I tried to copy 2 program CDs and 1 audio CD and had mixed success. Microsoft's Office 97 professional backed up without a problem, producing an accurate copy of the original. NHL 99 from EA Sports stopped about half way through the burn and reported an error. I also tried to make a copy of a continually mixed music CD. While CD Copier transferred all of the tracks on the CD correctly, the program placed spaces between the songs whereas the original did not have spaces. Overall, CD Copier seems to be about average in copying CDs, but there do seem to be some hang-ups.

Celeron 366 Slot 1 Review 14:37 pm - Kan
Sharky had came out with the Celeron 366 Slot 1 review. Are the Slot 1 processors as overclockable as the good old 300A ?

550MHz sounds like a tremendous amount of horsepower, and frankly it is. The improvement in performance even over a stock Intel P2-450 CPU is amazing, much less the gap between the chip's out of the box 366MHz level of speed.

Thankfully, as we reported previously, neither the S370 nor the Slot-1 versions of the new Celeron 366 and 400 CPUs are FSB speed locked. The standard Intel fixed clock multiplier setting is present in the new chips, but the front side bus rate can be manipulated at will.

ABIT BX6 v2.0 14:32 pm - Kan
Firing Squad had done a review on the well known ABIT BX6 2.0. Wow,  the new BX6 2.0 will rock and simply replaces the old BH6!

The BX6 was the more advanced of the two boards, while the BH6 accepted some tradeoffs to provide a cheaper, 5-PCI solution for overclockers. The BX6 2.0 changes that and completely eliminates the need to choose between the original BX6 and the BH6. For one, the BX6 2.0 marks the return of 4 DIMM sockets, as well as supporting new 256MB DIMMS. This allows the new BX6 2.0 to accommodate a massive total of 1GB of system SDRAM. The BX6 2.0 also brings back the 6-chip data buffer of the original BX6, which is designed to address RAM stability issues while populating all four sockets. With 1-3 sockets filled, the buffers aren't needed, but once all four sockets are used, the buffers kick in and work to keep memory flow error-free.

Shuttle HOT 683 BX Socket 370 14:23 pm - Kan
Anand had a new review on the Shuttle HOT 683 BX Socket 370 motherboard.

At its release, the Socket-370 already had 4 chipset solutions ready and waiting for motherboard manufacturers to gobble them up.    Although it would definitely be pointless for a manufacturer to release both ZX and LX solutions, luckily they are pin compatible.  Modifying a LX Socket-370 motherboard design for use with the ZX chipset isn't too big of an ordeal, a security option most manufacturers are willing to take just in case they ever happen to run out of their supply of overstocked LX chipset parts.  And as you might be able to expect, leave it to Shuttle to take their standard, "one-of-each," approach to motherboard manufacturing and release LX, BX, and Apollo Pro+ based Socket-370 solutions

Pacific Internet 07:16 am - Kan
Just caught this off Pacific Internet.

We hereby assure all our subscribers that we will match Singnet's new savings plans, assuming that our new plans are approved by TAS.

We also recognise that the move, whilst more or less revenue neutral to SingTel, will result in an additional cost of operation to PI of "up to" S$40m over the next two years.

Many of our subscribers have written in asking us for details of how we are matching and when. All we can say is that we WILL match and do better - but all this takes time to organise. Please bear with us - we won't take this challenge lying down!

21 January 1999 - Thursday

Intel Stop 300A Slot 1 Production 21:43 pm - Kan
Ars-Technica posted an article that Intel is going to discontinue the Slot 1 version of the Celeron 300A. This is indeed bad news! Luckily I already got myself a 300A...

Demand for the boxed Intel Celeron processor 300A MHz is shifting to faster Intel Celeron processors. Consequently, distributor inventory and Intel's shipments into the channel for boxed Intel Celeron processors 300A MHz will decline as their volumes are replaced by higher speed Intel Celeron processors 333 MHz and above. We encourage you to begin to migrate your 300A MHz Intel Celeron processor based PC product offerings to the higher performing Intel Celeron processors mentioned above.

Intel has announced the product discontinuance of boxed Intel Celeron processors 300 and 266 MHz . We recommend that customers convert their Intel Celeron processor based PC offerings to higher performing Intel Celeron processors now.

DES III Contest Closed 07:05 am - Kan
The cool sum of $10,000 for cracking the DES III was won!

At 07:15 am PST (14:15 UTC), just about the time when we all started getting worried about the 24-hour waypoint, the solution to DES-III arrived. The winning key, 92 2C 68 C4 7A EA DF F2, revealed the plaintext message: The unknown message is: See you in Rome (second AES conference, March 22-23, 1999 The winning key was found by EFF's Deep Crack hardware, and submitted to the distributed.net servers immediately. RSA confirmation of the success followed shortly thereafter.

DES III Contest 00:15 am - Kan
45 more minutes to go before the first 24 hours is up. For your info, we had already scanned thru 24.20% of the keyspace and the current keyrate is a whopping 250 GKeys/s.

For up to date statistics, you can go to

19 January 1999 - Tuesday

Hardware Therapy 22:01 pm - Wilfred
Hardgame has posted the first installment of the latest edition of Hardware Therapy with a little Christmas cheer and some talking about Tom's brush with the ATI Rage128 Fury.

When Tom's heat numbers were published, ATI did not dispute them in the least and even went back to the chip drawing board in an attempt to improve the chip. If Tom was purposely trying to drag ATI through the mud, don't you think they would attempt to counter his allegations? In ATI's Rage 128 press release, they mention Tom's findings, but make no claim that they were incorrectly gathered or that the chip was indeed cooler than reported.

"It's interesting to note that ATI has officially concurred with Tom's temperature measurements, so it looks like of all the "reviews" done to date only his actually bothered with an accurate temperature measurement. Wonder what else the other so-called "reviews" also got wrong?" - Jonathan Harker

On the topic of other reviews, he does have a case. Where were the heat issues (80-100 degrees is HOT for a video card) in the other reviews at other hardware sites? It scares me that Tom was the only one to stand up and be counted, while others might have glossed over a real issue with the chip. Hardware reviewers should be very careful in being too friendly to companies, and in this case, Tom did readers (and consumers everywhere) a real service by blowing the horn on the Rage 128

Gigabyte GA-630 Banshee 21:56 pm - Wilfred
Hardgame's Vince popped me a note that they've put up a review on Gigabyte's GA-630 Banshee card (Yes, the sexy blue one!). Read about the fantastic benchmark scores for this card:

When benchmarking the Gigabyte GA-630, I expected the performance to be respectable, since it is powered by the Voodoo Banshee, but I didn’t expect top-notch performance. However, I was completely wrong. The Gigabyte GA-630 is one of the fastest 3D cards that I have seen. In fact, it is currently the fastest Direct3D card that I have tested to date.

ATI Rage Fury 128 Review 16:16 pm - Wilfred
The chumps over at HardwareCentral has put up a review on ATI's Rage Fury 128 card. Want to know if this is the card you've been waiting for?

There is no question that ATI's newest chip is quite a good with performance slighty better than TNT based cards. The fact that the Rage 128 doesn't take a performance hit when using 32-bit color is also an added bonus. In terms of features, the Rage 128 is also better with much sharper 2D images at high resolutions and also hardware DVD decoding. Unfortunately, the Rage 128 is fairly CPU dependent which is not great news for K6 users. In addition, the 16-bit rendering quality is still somewhat lacking, but with the 32-bit performance of the chip, there is really no reason to use 16-bit rendering.

Internet Explorer 5 Beta Build 1313.1 16:10 pm - Wilfred
Caught this over at BetaNews.Com that Microsoft has made available for download this latest beta build of IE5. Download it here!

Earlier tonight, testers were informed that a new release of Internet Explorer 5.0 was available for download. This build, 1313.1 (5.00.2013.1301), comes right on the heels of the latest Windows 98 OSR Beta release. One notable new addition in this release is Hotmail access dirctly from Outlook Express. Outlook Express allows you to easily setup a new Hotmail account and will allow you to access your mail without having to visit the website. This will be a great feature for those new to the internet, who need to receive e-mail. New in Internet Explorer is the addition of FTP icons in the 'Favorites' menu. Microsoft also reminded testers of the junk mail problem they noted on their website this weekend. With the junk mail filter turned on in Outlook Express, it will sometimes filter out online greeting cards and other imporant pieces of mail.

This release will be a very imporant mark in Internet Explorer 5.0 testing. Microsoft hopes to finish up the beta shortly, which means the next release to testers will most likely be a Release Candidate of the final. This isn't to say testing is over, as there may be as many as four or five release candidates depending on how well the first couple fare. We will keep you updated on the status of the beta and possible release dates as the final approaches.

MidiLand Forzando Speakers Review  16:04 pm - Wilfred
Ed also sent word about his MidiLand Forzando speakers review over at CoolInfo. Here's a snippet:

The Forzando Plus features a 3-way speaker system with full-range capabilities. Two satellite speakers, each is comprised of a tweeter and a midrange driver. The 5" subwoofer gives a substantial amount of bass. With an output power of 35 watts, the listener can enjoy powerful music all the time. A separate bass volume control lets the user adjust to his/her personal desire. The music can be greatly enhanced with the 3-D surround sound effect. This can be accomplished by pushing on the 3-D button whenever you want the sound to feel as if it was alive. The appearance of the Forzando Plus also has something to be talked about. The slick and stylish design makes this system very attractive. Each piece is designed with a black cloth grill on the front and MidiLand's eye-catching logo. The subwoofer is enclosed by a sturdy wood cabinet therefore providing a deeper bass response. Included is also an easy to follow instruction mult-lingual user\rquote s manual.

Alpha 21364, The Next Iteration 15:57 pm - Wilfred
Brian Neal of Ace's Hardware mailed me that he's posted a writeup on the fourth generation Alpha 21364 chip. Roll over to the article now!

The fourth generation Alpha processor is slated to contain 1.5 MB of 6-way set associative L2 cache. In very simplistic terms, more is better (6-way, as opposed to 4 or 2-way). This added cache should boost performance to even higher levels, but it is also important for other reasons. For one, the integrated cache running at full clock speed will greatly increase Alpha's clock-for-clock scalability and longevity over the long term. Second, even though the new integrated features will increase die size and cost more, additions such as the onboard memory controller should cut costs in other areas, such as mainboards and chipsets (as is the case with Sun's UltraSPARC IIi).

Water Cooling Your Socket 7 CPU  15:55 pm - Wilfred
Now that the writeup is completed, I'll direct you to this incredible water cooling "project" documented at our bud's Overclockers' Workbench

Hardware-One Sega Dreamcast Review 01:20 am - Wilfred
Head over to GameZone right away and check out Hardware-One's very own "mini" review on Sega Dreamcast. Check it out first, an in-depth look should be forthcoming!

The Dreamcast. Never mind the Japanese way of giving funny English names, although by now its already become all to familiar to every avid gamer. With a Hitachi SH-4 RISC processor, a PowerVRNG graphic chip and Yamaha sound system, even the Saturn had to take its final bow.

Diamond Viper V550 Driver Comparison 01:16 am - Wilfred
Viper 550 owners out there, you will want to take a look at this driver comparison review at Viper3D.

After reading about the speed increase some people were having when using the Hercules drivers with their V550's, I decided that I would give them a try myself.  Obviously, quite a few other people had the same idea as me - it took me over an hour to get the drivers downloaded.  Anyways, onto the tests.

Close Combat 3 Media Alert 01:12 am - Wilfred
Received this media alert from Microsoft that Close Combat 3 will be hitting the shelves on our shores soon. Read this:

Microsoft today announced that Close Combat III: The Russian Front, the highly anticipated new title in the award-winning Close Combat series, has started to appear on store shelves in the United States. It is scheduled for release in Singapore at the end of this month.

A free, downloadable trial version of the game is currently available on the official Close Combat III site located at: http://www.microsoft.com/games/closecombat/

Close Combat III puts players in command of a "fire brigade" of soldiers on the Eastern Front, spanning the 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union through the gates of Moscow, the factory complex of Stalingrad, and to the 1945 fall of Berlin. CC3 features real-time, historically accurate warfare at the squad level along with psychological elements for maximum authenticity. Playing either the Soviet or German side, gamers are challenged to out-think and out-fight their opponent while keeping their troops alive. They start as low ranking commanders and manage unit upgrade and maintenance as they attempt to advance in rank and acquire more troops and equipment.
To read Designer Notes from Atomic Games (the game's developer), listen to sounds of game weaponry, view screenshots, or get additional information, visit: http://www.microsoft.com/games/closecombat/

Close Combat III is available in Singapore for around S$54.90.

Glaze3D. Remember It? 01:07 am - Wilfred
In case you've let the BitBoys slip your mind when considering the upcoming chipsets in 1999, here's an interview at 3DConcept to wake you up:

3DC: Today, CPU is the most limiting factor as it does not deliver enough triangles. Does your Geometry Unit help to avoid this? You claim 3M Triangles/Second. What do you think about the competition which already claims 6-8M?

Geometry unit will definitely help this. Our 3MTri/s is a number for the base design. So, we can add the perfomance in multiples of 3Mtri/s. The final figure depends on the common CPU speed and the competitors
the time Glaze3D will come out.

3DC: Voo3oo claims 366MPix/s already for Q2. You once planned to come to market in Q2 too. So good news, you top 3Dfx in case of speed, or not?

It seems that a lot of people have been misled by switching from MPix to MTex figures. Now that nVidia, 3Dfx and some others have dual rendering pipeline, thus gettin two textures for free per pixel. They have
started to talk about MTex instead of MPix because the number is twice bigger. If you look closely 3Dfx info about V3 it has performance of 366Mtex/s, which is equal to 183Mpix/s. Now the same figures for Glaze3D are 400Mpix/s and 800Mtex/s !

SimCity 3000 Review 00:56 am - Wilfred
3DFiles posted a review on Maxis SimCity 3000, a game I can't stop posting about. =)

I suppose the nicest thing about SimCity 3000 is that your game is never really over. There are always new problems that come up, and new deals to make with neighbors. Your advisors will surely keep you in gear of the city happenings, as well as offer valuable advice. Their interface is clean and effective, and doesn't overcrowd the screen. If you were a fan of SimCity 2000, you'll like this.

A Gamer's Guide to DirectSound3D 00:51 am - Wilfred
Received this note from 3DSoundSurge's Mark that he's posted a guide for those who still don't have a clue to what DS3D does and how it differs from A3D.

Microsoft provides DirectSound3D (DS3D from now on) as one of the components in the DirectX family, just like the more famous D3D which is used for 3D graphics. One thing that DS3D allows that D3D doesn't, is extensions such as Creative's EAX. The lack of extensions is one major reason why some developers prefer OpenGL over D3D.

DS3D is basically a bunch of commands (API) that help game developers define where the sound should be placed in the 3D space and how loud it should be. The location where each sound should be placed is then passed on to your DS3D capable soundcard which uses some clever algorithms to place the sound in 3D space.

RivaTNT Rally 00:42 am - Wilfred
Armin Hartinger of PCTechware.com mailed me about this detailed roundup and analysis of 7 RivaTNT cards.

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 their serious flaws which leave them interesting to only a certain flavour of customers. 

Being not the fastest or the most beautiful, but certainly being a solution with an excellent price-performance ratio, TNT-cards sell great and several manufacturers are producing TNT-based products. This includes companies who already built cards based on the predecessor of the RivaTNT, the Riva128.


18 January 1999 - Monday

DES III Contest 13:20 pm - Kan
The DES III contest will start in about 11 hours time. Client build 432 had been released and is available from here. Build 432 improved the DES speed by an additional 4%. Do get it now!

If you do not know what the DES contest is about, go to http://www.distributed.net/des to take a look.

Video Overclocking 07:58 am - Kan
HardwareUpgrade posted benchmarks on overclocking various cards like G200, Banshee and TNT.  

To overclock the new Interactive 3Dfx we rely on Powerstrip; we’ll try to understand how an increase in frequency can influence the performance and above all the frequency rate that can be achieved.

The big problem here is the heat produced both by the processor and the memory (even with standard frequency). There’s then the problem of memory speed, which can undo even the most effective cooling device.

Celery Report #3 07:57 am - Kan
AnandTech posted Issue #3 of the Celery Report.

As I noted last week, and as is reported all over the web, the BH6 is very picky about it's memory diet. RAM that works perfectly on any other board can poop on the BH6. Well, as it turns out, the same can hold true within the BH6 family. From board-to-board RAM sensitivity can vary.

Many times this week I had boards that just wouldn't stabilize with a particular stick. I'd switch sticks, of the same flavor, and all would be well. Then, moving on to the next combo, I'd try the previously failed memory module and it would work perfectly!

IBM Ultrastar 18ZX 07:51 am - Kan
Storagereview reviewed the 10,000 rpm IBM Ultrastar 18ZX hard disk. Looks like the IBM Ultrastar is as loud as any other 10,000 rpm drives. :(

As one would expect, the Ultrastar 18ZX ran warm to the touch even when running in our testbed's PC Power & Cooling Bay-Cool. Active cooling is a must for this drive. The 18ZX's noise was also par for the course: Seeks churned away with the best of them, every bit as loud as previous generation models. Notably, however, we found the high-pitch whine of bearings a little less pronounced with the 18ZX than other 10k rpm units.

Installing the Motherboard 07:46 am - Kan
AGNHardware posted an article teaching you how to install the motherboard onto the casing.

Motherboard installation seems to put fear onto the faces of many a computer newbie, even though it is one of the easier upgrades to do. The first thing you need to do before installing a motherboard, is to make sure that the case is unplugged from the wall. There is nothing more discouraging then frying your new motherboard because you forgot to unplug your case. You also need to make sure that you are not carrying any extra static electricity around, so ground yourself out by touching the metal of the case before you touch the motherboard. I have never personally ruined a board after hundreds of installations, but I have heard it can happen.

17 January 1999 - Sunday

Creative Banshee Review 14:56 pm - Wilfred
Looks like Creative's Banshee card roughed it out of Frontline's latest tests. Here's a snippet of what's installed:

There is no way that the Banshee can do AGP texturing, only 2X AGP capable cards have this capability. But fear not, as both side-banding and pipeling are supported. No doubt the AGP version may have 16MB of SGRAMs, but all in all, its still a "PCI" riding on a AGP 66Mhz highway. Video playback is pretty smooth and silky, and by far the best video playback I have seen. With the 128bit core for 2D applications, it does give life to those who play "flat plane" 2D games. If the idea of overclocking is in the mind, keep in mind that the Banshee is already on the burning zone with the default clockspeed. The ABit BH6 Bios temperture showed 34°C, after installation and operating for 2 hours... it rises to 40°C! There're still hope for da overclocking urge, but will require lots of seriously cooling. Personally, I would choose reliability over speed any day.

My! Yes! Reliability over speed any day! To side track a little, check out Hardware-One's very own review on the CL Banshee as well as the TennMax Coolers used later for the hot performer.

Dark Vengeance Review! 14:37 pm - Wilfred
Ee Siang of Alive! popped a mail to inform us that his review on Reality Bytes' Dark Vengeance is out of the oven! As you'd suspected, we must zoom into the audio portion of the game for that's what Alive! is about:

"The main reason is because I felt that sometimes, especially in the amidst of a battle, the positional audio did not alert me INSTINCTIVELY enough for me to react. I have to stop and concentrate to really discern enemy from the rear or side. I'm not sure whether this is due to the weakness of the DS3D API , the rendering engine of the Live!  or the implementation but I sure can do with some improvements in positional audio in future titles. I'm also a tad disappointed not to be able to hear my Ice-Blades echo coolly as they ricochets off the walls like the razor discs does in Unreal. Other weapons sounds great though."

"The in-game soundtrack of DV is a disappointment however. I personally find it uninspiring and instead of trying to raise the atmosphere of the game, I found that it actually lowers it. My solution? Simple, I simply turn it off and let EAX provide the atmosphere instead ! Having said that, I think It would have been nice if a interactive sound track like the one in Shogo is implemented instead."

Digital Camera Comparison Engine 14:31 pm - Wilfred
Just saw over at Frontline this note that Phil Askey came up with this fantastic Digital Camera Comparison Engine that allows you to compare every gritty details you wished to know about different cameras. With over 30 cameras in its growing database, you will be able to use the criteria-based engine to find that choiced camera.

Y2K And Nukes - As Real As It Gets! 14:22 pm - Wilfred
Written two days ago is this article on CNN Interactive which I just spotted at CoolComputing, it reports that the Y2K is pushing US and Russia (finally?) to work on a working center for their nukes.

(IDG) -- The Pentagon plans to dispatch a team to Russia next week to work on a "shared early-warning center" designed to preclude any accidental launch of missiles brought on by a Year 2000 bug in nuclear command and control systems.

The joint U.S./Russian early-warning center, announced by President Clinton last September, will allow the nations to pool their resources and expertise to detect missile launches by emergent nuclear states. But John Hamre, deputy secretary of Defense, said concerns about the possibility of Year 2000 bugs in nuclear command and control systems "brought a new sense of urgency'' to the establishment of the center.

Apple Treading On Fiery Wire 14:17 pm - Wilfred
According to this article on EE Times, Apple has sparked the fury of many PC makers when they made known their intention to charge royalties of US$1 per port using the 1394-interface (FireWire).

Apple Computer Inc. is seeking royalties of $1 per port from chip and system makers using the 1394 interface, which was born at Apple as Firewire. The move has sparked high-profile protests, including a call from a senior Intel vice president to Steven Jobs, interim chief executive officer at Apple.

A source familiar with the move decried the royalties as excessive. Under the plan, a three-port physical layer 1394 chip that sells for less than $5 would incur an Apple royalty of $3. "You can't have Apple make more money from a 1394 chip than the semiconductor maker does," said the source, who asked not to be named. "Eventually Apple will have to realize this is just not going to happen."

SimCity 3000 Sneak Peek 12:09 pm - Wilfred
It's coming! But before that you will want to read what GameCenter has to say about this coming jewel in their latest sneak peek!

SimCity 3000 features five levels of zoom, allowing you to inspect your city in ways never before possible. At its closest view, you can clearly see every convenience store, fleabag motel, heap of trash, fountain, school bus, and smokestack. Even your little Sims will be plainly visible as they walk to work or run for cover when you hit the emergency siren. And speaking of disasters...tornadoes, fires, earthquakes, and UFO invasions will take on a whole new meaning when you see them decimate your home up close.

Each building is truly different and easily recognizable. Players accustomed to those heavily pixelated landscapes of old are in for a big surprise. Now, a jail is truly a jail, a hospital a hospital, a school a school, a police department a police department. In addition to your basic service buildings, you can also expect an amazing diversity of other special structures--ballparks, zoos, museums, playgrounds, and pristine college campuses. In one instance, a makeshift flag with a peace sign even appeared on the college clock tower!

Baldur's Gate Review 11:50 am - Wilfred
Thresh's Firing Squad sent word about the review they've posted on Baldur's Gate. Here's the URL to goodness:

Despite our nitpicky issues with "graphical cleanliness" and clunky multiplayer, Baldur's Gate simply shines. We were not able to obtain a review copy for this game so I just went out and bought it, somewhat reluctantly because I didn't know what to expect. Well after everything's been said and done, I don't regret any of the money I spent on Baldur's Gate because if nothing else, it's a game that delivers real value for your dollar.

Home Printers & Its Price Issue 11:44 am - Wilfred
Came to my attention that Kok Leong started a new column "Dotty Spotty" on his own specialised Digital Darkroom website. In its first issue, David Chien discusses about the price issue of printers.

If you look at the price of inkjet consumables over time, you'll realize that ten years ago, you could buy an HP PaintJet cartridge for $35-45, yet unlike similar trends in the computer industry (of 50% decline a year or even following other consumables like diskettes), inkjet cartridges have remained at $20-30.

Ahh! But you suggest that it is costly to make one.  Nope.  The liquid ink is cheap and can be made by the thousands of gallons easily -- if it was costly, think how expensive magazines and newspapers would cost.  The cartridge itself then?  Nope.  Plastic is one of the cheapest containers available, and for those cartridges with built-in inkjet heads, metal punched with laser beams is a very simple, cheap manufacturing technology.

In fact, inkjet manufacturers make 100% or more profit on each cartridge, and they encourage people to print in color projects that use lots of ink.  E.G. HP offering handouts of 'ideas' and things you can do with color inkjet printers -- buttons, cards, etc.

DirectX 6.1 11:07 am - Kan
Read from 3DNews.net that DirectX 6.1 is out and available for download from here.

Labtec APX-4620 11:04 am - Kan
Looking for a pair of speakers? AGN Hardware reviewed the Labtec APX-4620 speakers. Oh well, I will get myself a pair when I get myself a soundcard...

Last year Labtec's top of the line speakers were the LCS 2612, a great sounding set of speakers that lacked any of the power that we have came to expect in higher end speakers. With a wattage of only 4 watts for the satellites and 12 for the subwoofer, there was nothing for you to really go crazy about. They did introduce some innovative features like an adjustable speaker mount for your monitor and a subwoofer that sat beside your monitor, but innovation could not make up for lack of power.

KryoTech  Cool K6-2 500 11:02 am - Kan
PlanetHardware managed to get their hands on the KyroTech K6-2 500. I wonder who will buy it...

One of the largest problems in the computer processor industry has always been heat production, it's just natural law that the faster a processor clock speed is, the more heat it will generate in return (also known as Moore's Law). Until now, the most effective way to get rid of this excess heat has been to forced-air cool it using cooling fan or cooling fan/heatsink combinations. People have recently gotten more creative and hooked their computers up to water tanks and experimented with forced liquid cooling, but KryoTech has thought of an incredible new idea of cooling the CPU, with the use of a basic refrigeration unit.

AOpen AX6BC Slot-1 BX 10:57 am - Kan
AnandTech posted another motherboard review, the AOpen AX6BC SLot-1 BX. The motherboard also support FSB settings like 117MHz, 129MHz, 138MHz, 143MHz, 148MHz and 153 MHz. Interesting huh?

The prominent green heatsink on the 440BX chipset proudly bares the AOpen logo as it blends in with the green of the 11 large, and 4 mid-sized Sanyo tantalum capacitors.  The capacitors are concentrated primarily around the slot-1 interface, although they are also dispersed in the area between the CPU slot and the chipset, and between the chipset and DRAM banks.    AOpen's extreme attention to detail from an engineer's perspective is well worth it as the stability of the board (which you will learn later) is top notch, and brings the AX6BC to a point above and beyond that of the competition, even that of the award winning BH6.

Sugar Cube? 10:54 am - Kan
HardwareCentral had an article on what they called A Hundred Billion Billion Bytes -- In a Sugar Cube.

If the computer hardware revolution is to continue at its current pace, in a decade or so we'll have to move beyond lithography to some new post lithographic manufacturing technology. Making patterns on a resist and spraying chemicals around simply can't arrange atoms with the ultimate precision that should be feasible. More precise methods will be needed. Ultimately, each logic element will be made from just a few atoms. Designs for computer gates with less than 1,000 atoms have already been proposed -- but each atom in such a small device has to be in exactly the right place. To economically build and interconnect trillions upon trillions of such small and precise devices in a complex three dimensional pattern we'll need a manufacturing technology well beyond today's lithography: we'll need nanotechnology.

16 January 1999 - Saturday

IDT Winchip 2-3D 22:26 pm - Kan
AnandTech posted the review of the Winchip 2-3D processor. This chip runs at 225 Mhz and supports AMD's 3DNow! instructions.

The Winchip 2-3D is a Socket-7 processor, and by saying that you immediately know that it doesn't require a Super7 motherboard to run at its maximum potential, this is a good, old fashioned, Socket-7 processor. The processor is specified for operation in one of two voltage ranges, 3.52v (3.45v - 3.6v), or 3.3v (3.135v - 3.6v), this is just to make sure that regardless of what type of Socket-7 motherboard you have, the Winchip 2 will work in it. In spite of the greater than normal voltage requirements of the chip, the Winchip 2 runs extremely cool. The 0.25 micron chip runs quite cool, consuming less than 16 Watts of power at 266MHz (most processors consume in excess of twice that number, therefore running at a much higher temperature) and occupying a total die area of 58 mm2.

Celeron 400 MHz @ 600 MHz 17:19 pm - Kan
Looks like the gals over at AGN Hardware had a great time clocking the Celeron 400 MHz to 600 MHz.

The Celeron 400 (Slot I) could be the next overclocker’s processor of choice. With the right cooling this processor will out-perform even Intel's un-released Pentium III processor. Abit's BH6 motherboard seems to be the overclocker's dream, thanks in part to its Softmenu II, allowing you to remain jumper free. The board also allows you to tweak the CPU voltage, a necesity for sucessfully overclocking the Celeron.

DES-TEST-2 17:13 pm - Kan
Here's what happened during the DES-TEST-2.

Our DES-TEST-2 was a successful failure, in that we didn't find the key within the 56 hour time frame, but we were able to fully test the functionality of the clients and proxies. It turns out that the key was assigned a few hours before the contest closed, but wasn't returned in time for a "win." A sincere thanks to everyone who had their client participate in the contest. Now, the big topic. DES Challenge III. DES-III begins at 09:00:00PST/ 17:00:00UTC on 99-01-18 which is just next Monday.. We have 56 hours to find the key. While this may sound difficult, since we didn't find it in our second test, keep in mind that there are lots of other elements that will allow us to speed up between now and then. One of the major factors is EFF's Deep Crack. It's now official, this custom made DES cracking machine will be checking keys for distributed.net at the rate of 88Gkey/s.

Managing Boot Partitions 17:05 pm - Kan
Ars-Technica Damage Labs had another new article on managing your partitions with multiple OSes.

According to the aforementioned dual-boot site, DOS (and 95/98 in this case) is very picky about its boot partition. It wants it to be a primary partition, it wants it to start within the first 1024 cylinders of the drive, and it wants it to start in the first 2 gigs of the drive. Based on your situation, compromises are going to need to be made. The biggest one for you is that the size of your NTFS partition is going to need to come down by 600 megs or more to satisfy requirement 3. Requirement 2 should be OK, but I can't be sure since I don't know how many cylinders your drive has in LBA mode. But the following formula should give you an idea of where cylinder 1024 falls from a megabyte standpoint: (A*1024)/B=C where A is the total size of your hard drive in megabytes, B is the total number of cylinders for your drive in LBA mode and C is the location in megabytes where cylinder 1024 falls. As long as the beginning of your new DOS partition falls within the first C megabytes of the drive, you should be OK.

Antec KS-188 17:03 pm - Kan
Ars-Technica posted a review on the Antec KS-188 casing.

The KS-188 is a full-tower case with five 5.25" external bays, one 3.5" external bay and seven (yes, that's right, seven!) 3.5" internal bays. Dimensions are 24.4" high, 7.8" wide and 16.6" deep. It's available with either a 250W or 300W power supply. Antec manufactures their own line of power supplies, which they claim are "more energy efficient, run 40% cooler, and are 80% quieter than standard versions." While I can't vouch for their energy efficiency, I will say that the power supply fan is so quiet I can barely tell it's on. This case is actually part of Antec's value line, but I found its features more attractive than their premium tower case. You can check out the both lines at http://www.antec-inc.com.

New Abit BIOS 17:00 pm - Kan
Read from BXBoards that the new Abit BH6 HN BIOS is available. Hibernate function is suppose to be working finally and I noticed some interesting new settings like 366, 400, 433 MHz as well as a 500 MHz setting.

SBLive! Vs MX300 ShootOut! 14:06 pm - Wilfred
Everybody expected this showdown to appear on GameCenter, so here you have it! Here's their recommendations:

Both the Monster Sound MX300 and the Sound Blaster Live Value provide state-of-the-art 3D audio experiences, and we wouldn't hesitate to recommend either one. If you play games using headphones, however, we'd steer you toward the MX300, which offers some extraordinary headphone effects. Those with four-speaker setups might want to consider the Live. For the vast majority of gamers who use two speakers, this contest is something of a toss-up.

The Live's better performance in CPU utilization makes it a good choice for users with slower PCs. The Live is also a much more mature product than the MX300. Because the card has been out on the market for several months, Creative has had a lot of time to improve its drivers and performance. Creative has also garnered a lot of support for EAX. The MX300's newness means you should expect some driver glitches and limited support for A3D 2.0--at least for now.

Hot New Abit BH6 FAQ 14:03 pm - Wilfred
Our buddy Kyle has mailed me about a hot new FAQ on the Abit BH6 which he'd just put up on his Overclocker's Comparison Page. Here's a snippet:

What is a SlotketŪ? How can I use it? How can I get one? How much are they?

Our engineer team has worked long and hard to figure a simple solution for the end-user confronted with different architectures and CPUs. The Slotket is a card that inserts into the Slot 1 of a Slot 1 motherboard. It allows you to use the newer Socket 370 CPUs from Intel even though you don't have the 370 socket on your Slot1 motherboard.  The Slotket uses the same high quality engineering that you would expect from the makers of some of the most famous motherboards in the world. With this winning combination from ABIT you can purchase among Slot 1 Pentium CPU's, Slot 1 Celeron CPU's and PPGA Celeron CPU's. Now you can buy an ABIT motherboard with confidence knowing that you can definitely use the widest variety of CPU's on the market! The SlotketŪ now ships with the LX6, but you can also buy them separately check with your vendor for availability.

Windows 2000.55 14:00 pm - Wilfred
Sigh. What do you gather from the title? Nope? Check out ZDNet's article on the somewhat expected news.

Beta 3 of the long-awaited operating system is now not expected to reach testers until April, Microsoft officials have confirmed. And Microsoft itself, in a tacit acknowledgment that Windows 2000 won't be a first-half 1999 product, told resellers this week it is extending its Windows NT Server 4.0 upgrade promotion through June 30.

Are you reading this? Sigh...

Command & Conquer 2: Tiberium Sun 13:57 pm - Wilfred
GameSpot has thrown up a little preview on C&C 2: Tiberium Sun. Check out what they have to say here:

TS promises another interesting wrinkle in the way it handles civilians. Civilians and mutants no longer just stand around. They tend to form militias. You won't be able to control civilians, but you will be able to protect or destroy them. Protecting them has certain advantages - you may get additional intelligence or support from them via pop-up conversation windows, movies, and sidebars.

Commando units are now totally mercenary, recruited by finding resources and artifacts they want. Having no allegiance, they'll work for whoever finds what they want first. They're quite interesting, however, because they can steal enemy vehicles or become a Trojan horse and infiltrate an enemy base.

Spies are new units that can steal information. They enter facilities invisibly and gain advantages depending on the structure they infiltrate: A spy inside a communications center will see what the opponent sees; one who manages to sneak into a weapons plant may be able to steal secret plans.

Just hope they don't complicate the gameplay unnecessarily and lose its former magic. People have waited long and their expectations are high...

Wilfred Coughs 13:47 pm - Wilfred
I just love short breaks... though my abstinence in updating the site yesterday wasn't becoz I was off pimping =) Indeed, it is a pleasure when you return and find lots of goodies waiting to be read. Lots of articles and reviews all over...

Hardware Extreme Reopens & P-III Review 13:47 pm - Wilfred
After some trouble with its former host, Hardware Extreme has resurfaced! Terry has relaunched the site with a slightly refreshed look and a short new review on Intel's Pentium III processor!

"... here you have the OLGA - Organic Land Grid Array processor core. The L2 cache chips are marked as "SEC" which means that they are made by Samsung Electronics Corporation and are rated at -4 or 4ns. A quick run of Winbench 99 revealed that the chip only had 512K of L2 cache (well, it was mentioned on the cartridge anyway) and 32K of L1 cache."

Monster Sound MX300 Review 13:37 pm - Wilfred
Singularity has whipped up a review on the Diamond Monster Sound MX300 card, giving it a "4.5 Spirals" rating. Here's the concluding words:

The only things keeping this card from a perfect 5.0 score is the relative difficulty in installation, slow implementation of A3D 2.0 and the high CPU utilization. Yes. I may be expecting too much but they are factors to be taken into consideration if you take a look at how much support EAX has gathered in only a short time. I do realize however that A3D 2.0 is harder to implement than EAX and that might turn some developers away but it is a superior standard.

Pentium III 500Mhz Preview 13:33 pm - Wilfred
Dennis sent a mail about their latest preview of the Pentium III 500Mhz over at the Thresh's Firing Squad.

So, how fast were we able to push the P3? Try 620Mhz. At a 5.0x multiplier and 124Mhz bus clock speed, I was really surprised to see the processor POST, only to crash immediately afterwards. Increasing the voltage to 2.10v, and then 2.20v, the same happened. Thinking this was more of a strain on our CAS-3 RAM than the CPU itself, I removed one of the two 64MB PC100 DIMMs, and tried again. This time, the system booted!

While it wasn't exceptionally stable at that frequency (anyone want to send us some 7ns DIMMs?), our processor was able to eke out a few tests before crashing. I thought about pushing the processor even further, but decided against it for now. I did manage to get a couple of benchmarks to give you an idea of what a 600+ Mhz CPU can offer.

It was apparent that the CPU or the RAM couldn't take a 124Mhz FSB, so I lowered it to 5.0 x 112Mhz, at 2.0v -- the system posted and booted without a hitch. The 560Mhz is a very respectable overclock for a top-of-the-line CPU. The P3 remained completely stable at 560, and we've included benchmark scores at this speed on the ABIT motherboard.

Metabyte Wicked3D Vengeance 13:26 pm - Wilfred
After a short hiatus, Hardgame is back with a review on the Metabyte Wicked3D Vengeance.

Metabyte has not made any noticeable changes in the Voodoo Banshee hardware design. The card measures approximately 16.5 centimeters (6.5 inches) long and has a standard 0.5cm heatsink. As many Voodoo II overclockers have quickly learned, 3Dfx chips can get very hot, especially at high clock frequencies. It would have been nice if Metabyte included a larger heatsink and/or a heatsink and fan combination, since the Vengeance does get very hot. Unfortunately, the current cooling is not effective enough. The Vengeance actually needs to be clocked down to a 100mhz core frequency (from its default setting of 105mhz) and a memory clock of 110mhz (from its default setting of 115mhz), to run stably. Without these changes, random lockups would occur anywhere from 5-15 minutes after beginning gameplay or benchmarking. Even with the underclocking, the Banshee chip was too hot to touch after normal Windows 2D use and especially after a heavy 3D gaming session. One thing to note is that the stability of the Vengeance could improve slightly for users with a very well cooled case. The test machine’s heat level is average or slightly above average. However, no other cards tested have run into heat problems as the Vengeance did.

15 January 1999 - Friday

Benchmark Your Gaming Machine 08:00 am - Kan
That's what Ace's Hardware posted. If you ever wanted to know "How to do benchmarking using Quake2?", you can take a look over there.

VSYNC confuses a lot of people. Some think that it will improve their gaming experience by giving them higher frame rates. If you disable VSYNC you will get higher frame rates, but lousy game play! So use it only for benchmarking.

if VSYNC is enabled, your video card will always synchronize the frames it draws with the refresh rate of your monitor. That way, you get a crispy and sharp image. The video card will produce a frame rate of maximum 75 fps if your monitors refresh rate is 75 hz. 

10 GB Monsters 07:55 am - Kan
There is a 10 GB monsters roundup over at NetExcite comparing the Matrox and IBM drives.

As the technology advances, programs tends to get more complicated. This will result in programs requiring more hard drive space in order to accommodate the growth. IBM has a reputation of creating the most advanced drives in the market with its constant changing technology and Maxtor creates highly reliable drives. In this corner, we have the Maxtor DiamondPlus 10 GB drive. It spins at 7200 RPMs and has an average access time of 9 ms. It comes with a 512 KB cache and provides UDMA support.

IStorm 10,000 rpm Drive Cooler 07:50 am - Kan
TheTechs did a review on the IStorm 10,000 rpm drive cooler. The bad thing about this drive cooler is that it's too expensive! :(

The IStorm fits in the front most part of a 5.25-inch disk bay, allowing for two more drives to fit in the same slot. Most hard drive coolers are based around a module that holds 2-3 small ball-bearing fans that do not do much. What the Istorm does is use a rotating cylinder with multiple blades evenly spaced apart. The blades are curved so as they go around towards the disk drive they propel the air forward and as they come back around they gather the air.

Replacing Your Retail Celeron Fan 07:45 am - Kan
AGN Hardware posted an article teaching you how to remove the retail Celeron heatsink + fan. I tried it and I think it's pretty easy once you_did_it before.

Before you start yanking things off the back of your processor delicate PCB, it is best to try to figure out how you are going to do it. Make sure that you are going to be free of distractions so that you do not accidentally scrape an etching off the PCB, leaving the processor unworking.

MX300 Review 07:42 am - Kan
Read from our good old CoolInfo that The Sanctum had a review of the Diamond Monster MX300.

Aureal announced A3D version 2.0 and people listened. Diamond quick to announce it Had plans to support A3D 2.0 and people listened too. When the Creative SBLive was Released people already matched it toe to toe on an unreleased MX300 board. The Low point for the SBLive was price. Almost $200us. The MX300 was already reported To be around $99us when it would be released.

VMM32.VXD: Missing/Unable to Load 07:01 am - Kan
I finally found out the problem was due to the UMAX scanner I had. I had this problem last time and it re-occurs again when I installed the scanner drivers to use it for the TennMax review. If you have the same problem as me, take a look at Microsoft Support Base.

Graphics Blaster TNT  06:53 am - Kan
OGR posted a review on the Creative Graphics Blaster RivaTNT. RivaTNT cards had dropped a lot since their initial launch. If you are using a old 2D card and do not have a 3D accelerator card, it's time to upgrade!

We've all heard about the TNT's capabilities by now. It does single-pass multitexturing, 32-bit color, has an 8-bit stencil buffer, etc. We've also heard about how it outperforms a single Voodoo2 in most Direct3D games. The Graphics Blaster RIVA TNT is no different from other TNT cards in these respects. It's very quick, offers excellent image quality, has pretty solid Direct3D and OpenGL drivers, and won't leave gaping holes in your wallet. Our benchmarks have shown that Creative's card falls in line with other manufacturer's TNT cards, swaying at most one or two frames per second in either direction—simple driver revisions and margin of error could easily account for that.

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