21 March 1999 - Sunday

Hardware One: NTI Backup NOW! 20:48 pm - Wilfred
Kan has penned for you a review on NewTech Infosystem's NTI Backup Now! software. This nifty new tool will empower those CDR/CDRW drive owners to easily do system backups and restorations.

Anyway, I'm glad that there are software like NTI Backup NOW! for use with the CDRW media. For home users, this form is so much more convenient than tape. The amount of data I back up has grown exponentially from 120 MB to 20 GB, and it would be a nightmare trying to manage 20 GB of data on several hundred diskettes, if I didn't have NTI Backup NOW!.

Aztech PCI-368 DSP 20:35 pm - Wilfred
Can't they give it a proper name?! Anyway, the guys at PlanetHardware posted a short review on this QSound Thunderbird 128 based sound card. Supporting both A3D and EAX, this card seems to have it all! Or does it?

On first glance, this board seems to have everything you could want in a sound board on it, except for the lack of digital or S/PDIF audio outputs that many new boards are now including. Some of the main features for the 368DSP include a 320-voice wavetable, 64 concurrent DirectSound audio steams, 128 concurrent normal audio streams, full legacy DOS support, Dolby Digital 5.1 support, along with quad-speaker output, you've got what it takes to be a top-notch soundboard.

Poll #5 Results 20:29 pm - Wilfred
As promised, the poll results are finally here! Well, we had a total of 1831 voters of which a great majority of 63% are using 17" monitors with their PCs. There's an odd 22 people who have > 21" screens. Projectors?

With this, we once again welcome you to take part in Poll #6: "Which peripherals will you buy next?" - Comments

Metabyte PGP Benchmarks 15:35 pm - Wilfred
3DConcept has posted some preliminary benchmarks of Metabyte's 'Parallel Graphics processing' technology in action. More popularly referred as "Driver-SLI", these early numbers showed between 33% to over 60% performance increase in stuff like Incoming, Quake II and 3DMark 99.

Personaly, I was very impressed by this "Driver-SLI" called PGP. We tried it 3 times and it worked fine 3 times. The company who can use this technology is going to have the joker. The market for card-core gamers is definitifly here, a lot of gamers are willing to install several Graphics-cards in their systems, just to get the fastest framerates on the world. Considering the fact that you can fill all the slots with PGP (Wicked3D has currently 4 cards running in the same system:), there is a great potential for performance and selling. What is interessting is that the really cool things are always developed by a small group of people. Wicked3D has only six 3D-Engeneers. - Comments

Wilfred Coughs #2 15:30 pm - Wilfred
A little over 12 hours since my last 'cough'. Well, I'd just finished 'spring cleaning' my PC. Yup, I tore open the casing and sticked my trusty Hitachi vacuum cleaner in, sucking the hell out of the cage. Whew!

Err... ok if you are waiting for the poll results, it'll be out tonight together with a new poll (hopefully!). Meanwhile, vote if you haven't and I'll also take this chance to encourage your participation in our forum.

PowerVR 250 Preview 15:23 pm - Wilfred
Beyond3D sent note of a cool preview they scored on the PowerVR 250. Well, other than tired of waiting for its arrival, the boys have some things to say about it:

PowerVR uses infinite planes technology, which is very different from 3Dfx's architecture. The main feature of 3Dfx is fillrate and raw (but not so clean) power. PowerVR's fillrate numbers are much lower, but the performance in the end is the same. Why is this? 3Dfx (also NVIDIA and Matrox's technology, but I will use 3Dfx as an example) renders every polygon on the screen, but PowerVR does not. It only renders what you can see. That's why I said 3Dfx is raw power, but not clean, efficient power. PowerVR uses a much more efficient process. The fillrate numbers of the PowerVR chip (200 - 500M pixels/sec) are the recalculated numbers when you compare it to traditional technology. If the PowerVR 250 chipset can deliver these kinds of fillrates, then they will be at or near the level of SLI or stepsister technology. SLI technology has no use with a PowerVR 250 card because there is no CPU available that can deliver the performance needed to get to 500Mpixels/sec. Maybe the Pentium III 600+ could, but I'll stay away from the really technical stuff and explanations.

Most of you will probably have learnt somewhere that the technology within the PowerVR 250 is great, but if it is not coming anytime soon. It might as well not. - Comments

IE5 First Impression 13:05 pm - Kan
Hot babes over at Tech-Junkie posted a first impression on the Internet Explorer 5 which was officially released 3 days ago.

The new Improved Searching in IE5 is actually quite nifty. Instead of browsing to your favourite search engine, IE5 can do it for you with less hassle. When you click that Search button in the toolbar, a 'frame' immediately appears on the left side of the page. By default it is set to use HotBot, but you can customize it to use other search engines such as Altavista and Infoseek.

Intel Pays Youth to Overclock 10:30 am - Kan
Our funny blurb Kyle just sent note on news that Intel pays youth to overclock their processors. Wow!

Now is Craig Barrett, President and Chief Operating Officer of the Intel Corporation, trying to pass along a message to today's youths that Overclocking is OK and will be rewarded?  Is this a sign that I might be in for a BIG cash bonus from Intel for the work I have done here at the HardOCP?    Does this make Overclocking mainstream and allow us to be proud of squeezing every last MHz out of our processors?  I dont know what the answers are...

PowerLeap PL-PII 10:27 am - Kan
CPU-Central posted a short preview on the PowerLeap PL-PII. This is actually a Slotket which support dual motherboards! Yes! That means you just need to buy 2 of these slotkets, throw in your Celerons and you have your instant dual processors system without any modifications needed.

PowerLeap will be releasing very soon probably the best Slotket ever - the PowerLeap PL-PII. Their adapter will support dual CPU motherboards without modification to the adatper. It will also allow hardware control of the core voltage, clock multiplier, and external bus speed (66/100) - an overclocker's dream

3DLabs Permedia3 10:24 am - Kan
Sharky had a lucky preview on the 3DLabs Permedia3. Check out the specifications of this chipset.

On the technology side, Permedia 3's Triple-Blend Texture Core, a one up on single pass multi-texturing and a fancy way of saying that 3Dlab's new part can perform two texture reads and three texture blend operations per clock cycle, calls for 250 megatexels per second, 32-bit color, 2084x2084x32-bit texture support, perspective correct per-pixel tri-linear mip-mapping, full DirectX 6 feature set, multiple effects per clock cycle, 32-bit linear Z-buffer, 24-bit and 16-bit non-linear Z-buffer (a sweet trick for allocating more precision in determining the Z depth of closer objects), full blend modes and alpha tests, full-scene line and edge anti-aliasing, emboss (the software cheat) and DOT3 (the real thing) bump mapping and 3D textures. And that's just for starters.

New Drivers and BIOS 10:13 am - Kan
Saw this from Betanews on the new Creative drivers and BIOS.

3D Blaster Banshee Windows 95/98 Driver and BIOS

  • Latest DirectX 6 compliant drivers (v1.09)
  • Latest BIOS Update (v1.03.2d)
  • GlideSwitcher Utility
  • BlasterControl

3D Blaster Voodoo2 Windows 95/98 Driver

  • Contains DirectX6 Enhancements (fully supports DirectX5 and DirectX6)
  • Solves problems with G-Police
  • Contains optimized drivers for Pentium chips
  • Contains optimized drivers for AMD 3DNOW chips

Graphics Blaster RIVA TNT BIOS

  • Upgrades the BIOS to the latest version (v2.0.4.6)
  • Allows your system to boot up successfully even if your monitor is not connected to the Graphics Blaster RIVA TNT.

Pentium III ID Editorial 01:10 am - Wilfred
WickedPC has posted an editorial about the Pentium III ID furore that arose recently. Check this out!

So, do you want your microprocessor talking about you behind your back? I sure don't, but that's too bad for me I guess. The trend toward user ID technologies built into microprocessors--designed to provide a numerical ID when, say, you make an electronic transaction on the Web--is catching on. Privacy groups are up in arms. Intel recently got into a sling with several privacy groups because of the Pentium III's unique processor identification numbers and random number generators, which are used to track and validate electronic commerce transactions. The numbers are meant to help identify the owner of a chip to a Web site when a transaction is to take place, or to locate stolen processors when a 'thief' fires up his hot pc to the web. The ID is a 64-bit number within the chip's wiring, designed to create a 96-bit unique serial number, accessible by software, to identify the user. In an attempt to keep privacy groups less violent than abortion groups, Intel also produced a software utility designed to let users erase their ID numbers, but that wasn't enough for some, including the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the American Civil Liberties Union. Responding to protests, Intel scaled back its effort and decided to make use of the IDs voluntary. The Pentium III will eventually ship with the feature disabled, enabling customers to turn it on if they want.

Wilfred Coughs #1 01:08 am - Wilfred
Good morning people! After Kan 'spitted' awhile back, my turn to cough. Well there he was yelling his head off at the way business is conducted these days. I am happy... just chucked away my dead Scanjet 5P and plugged in my Scanjet 4200C USB. Works like charm!

Games Developer Conference - Part 2 01:04 am - Wilfred
The FiringSquad posted a second parter of their coverage of GDC '99. This time round on Q3A, Dreamcast, Hercules' '99 lineup, and the Matrox G400. Here's a blurp on the G400's ability to do environment-mapped bump mapping in hardware.

Matrox's Environment Mapped Bump Mapping uses an environment map (duh) which contains information on texture attributes (specularity, reflection, etc.), and a bump map texture with texel height data to to create a more realistic bump effect that also allows for some interesting texture effects. Any kind of bump mapping will still show flat polygons in profile, but examples of environment-mapped bump mapping are indeed impressive. One of their demos showed a scanned scene with a pond with rippling waves - a very convincing effect that uses a total of four triangles in the scene.

20 March 1999 - Saturday

Leadtek WinFast 5300MA 16:53 pm - Kan
HotHardware posted a review on the Leadtek WinFast 5300MA Socket7 motherboard.

Let's talk about the target audience for this board first. If you are a cost conscious user on a limited budget, this board is in your league. As the specs say, it has on board 2D/3D AGP video (no AGP slot is available) and on board 3D enhanced audio. As a result you won't need to lay out the cash for a sound card and 2D video card. If you are in need of 3D gaming, you'll want to buy a PCI 3D card and a Voodoo 2 paired up with this board makes for a superb low cost gaming rig. Here's the kicker, this board will retail for around $99! Yup, that's a Video Card, Sound Card and motherboard for the price of just a low cost motherboard! We set our machine up as follows.

Kan Spits 16:46 pm - Kan
Funny how shops do business nowadays. Today I went to this particular shop in Sim Lim Square to buy 2 HP CD-RWs. They told me it cost $25 per disc. Funny. I just saw the 4th storey branch selling at $19 each.

Sales assistant: "Sorry sir, I cannot sell it at $19 each, they cost $25."

Kan: "But your branch downstairs sells it for $19".

Sales assistant: "Go downstairs and buy then, it cost $25 here."

Kan: "GREAT! Same shop, but different prices."

Anyway, a poor guy before me bought 10 of those!! WOW! I think he will kill himself if he read this. Comments? Voice them over at our Q&A Forum.

ATI Rage Fury 16:43 pm - Kan
TheSanctum did a review on the ATI Rage Fury. This card comes with hardware DVD and 32MB of onboard video RAM. If this card is to come out 3-6 months earlier, it will beat everybody ass!

2D performance and quality under Windows was speedy. Helping the fact the Fury ships with 32MB of video-RAM makes a difference. We didn't come across major visual problems in 2D. Most lockups occurred under 3D pixel pushing. We are also in the process of testing the Fury even more under SuSE's Linux 6.0 release. This release of Linux contains support for the fury, along with the G200.

3D Card RoundUp 10:57 am - Wilfred
GameSpot has written a brand new 3D card roundup, and they put to pace several cards based on the TNT, Banshee, Rage128 and Number Nine's Ticket-to-Ride.

In this roundup, the overall winner is the ATI Rage Fury. And the budget choice of this roundup is the Magic TNT. Before we added the ATI Rage Fury to this roundup, the winner was the Magic TNT. It's still a good card, but the ATI Rage Fury's excellent RAM and speed make it the clear winner this month. - Comments

AMD K7 07:39 am - Kan
PCParadox also whipped up a lengthy article describing the technology used in K7. Anyway, ask yourself. Do yuu truely understand what superscalar means? Pipelining? Fully asociative? :)

I can safely say that this is one of the most important parts of a K7 system. When the K7 comes out, top of the line Intel processors will be putting along at the old 100 Mhz bus speed, and at most the 133 MHz buses. The system bus, is how the processor talks to all the other components on your motherboard. The system bus is like a straw, the larger the straw is, the more you can get through it. Thus, more Mhz = more thoroughput, and of course, more thoroughput = more speed., and in turn more speed = happy gamer. ;) - Comments

P-III Serial Detection 07:35 am - Kan
Caught this off from my favourite site Coolinfo. So interesting to note that the P-III stuff is detected as a "virus" now...

Symantec Corporation today announced it now provides detection and elimination for the Pentium III processor serial number exploit released last week by Zero-Knowledge Systems. Devised by the Symantec AntiVirus Research Center, the detection and elimination is currently available with the regular weekly virus definitions on the Symantec web site. Symantec customers can download the new definition set using LiveUpdate. - Comments

Redline Review 07:30 am - Kan
Thresh fired up another review on Redline. This game is cool! Damn, need to take time off from work to enjoy the game...

The weapons and objects in the game give some beautiful colored lighting effects that can really show off what your video card is capable of. The designers were not shy in their use of the color palette when it comes to your weapon effects and lighting. There are also a variety of nice touches included in the game. - Comments

Midiland 4030 Speaker System 07:27 am - Kan
ExtremeHardware posted a review on the Midiland 4030 Speaker System. The look cute, but they sure are EXPENSIVE !

In gameplay, the S2/Midiland 4030 speakers perform equally well. In Quake II, the thumping sound of rocket explosions can be heard as well as the clear firing of the chaingun. The sound quality is so good that I almost jumped in my seat when someone surprised me with a chaingun. The in-game performance of the 4030 speakers overall, is rather good, although in some games there isn’t much noticeable difference. One game that is greatly enhanced with the 4030 speakers is The Need for Speed III. Already playing with a Voodoo II and a force feedback driving wheel, the 4030s seem to be the final link in creating the ultimate NFS3 gaming experience.
- Comments

Celeron Cooler Shootout 07:25 am - Kan
Sharky posted another new article, this time on ways to cool your Celeron CPUs.

The heatsinks on both sides of the Celery Whopper Sandwich are adequate for their intended purpose, but smaller in depth than some of the larger Celeron heatsinks which are available. Unfortunately, when placing the Celery Whopper Sandwich along with the CPU into mainboard's Slot-1 connector, the Whopper's rear mounted heatsink most often hits the larger electrolytic capacitors on the majority of mainboards currently on the market. - Comments

Hitachi SuperScan 753 07:22 am - Kan
Tech-Review whipped up a monitor review too, on the Hitachi SuperScan 753. Another check out our Viewsonic P810 21" monitor review too. Can't find the link? *Hint* You need to click on one of the thumbprint on top.

As mentioned in 'first impressions', the image quality is quite good. Running Windows at 1600x1200 at 85Hz is easier on the eyes than normal, but I still prefer to run at 1024x768 resolution.

The first time I fired up GL Quakeworld, for a little clan arena action, I noticed how clean and clear the game looked. It's like someone took windex to the game, with it looking much more realistic compared to my old 17" Sony. The .22 dot pitch really does provide a much clearer picture. - Comments

Another Kryotech Renegade Review 07:20 am - Kan
Looks like Overclockers also had a KryoTech review up. Actually, why bother to get a KryoTech in the first place?

This is a flat metal plate that is attached to the refrigerator in the case's bottom so that the coolant is circulated through this metal plate and kept at room temperature - sort of like the coils you may see in the freezer compartment of your refrigerator. The plate has 8 holes in it - these are used to attach the plate to a Pentium II or Celeron. Now, I used Celerons because they are so popular as overclockers. - Comments

Kryotech Renegade Review 07:18 am - Kan
Saw it over at HardwareCentral that they had put up a review on the Kryotech Renegade ATX review.

The Renegade will generally cool your CPU down to room temperature allowing for a far better solution than a standard fan/heatsink combo. This mainly allows for more stability in overclocking, and generally not a big increase in the overclockability as we have found out. The general misconception is that as your cpu gets cooler, it runs faster. While this is true of all CMOS devices, the temperature must drop by a significant ratio of it's temperature in Kelvin. - Comments

Interview 07:10 am - Kan
Nice dudes over at Bxboards did a interview with George Alfs from Intel, asking them questions about the Processor Serial Number features.

Is it true that the Processor Serial Number is included on other CPU's than the Pentium III?

There was a glitch with some prototype mobile module Pentium II's and Celerons that included PSN prototype circuitry, but otherwise no. There is certain manufacturers data on all CPU's, as there has been since the 486, but that is not accessible by any normal software programs.  - Comments

19 March 1999 - Friday

The PlayStation 2 Unveiled To Developers 23:40 pm - Wilfred
Sony unveiled their incredible machine to developers in the US today. Read all about the specs and why this console will probably win the battle hands down!

One demo in particular wowed the audience: a spouting fireworks fountain that Harrison claimed was being rendered at 600 frames per second, but displayed at 60fps with a motion blur. Harrison then froze the fireworks display and rotated the sparkling image, provoking a few gasps. Another surprise was a reflecting fountain that showed off the perspective-correct texturing capabilities of the system. Although simple in nature, the demo showed clearly that the sides of buildings--reflected in a multitiered fountain--were aligned correctly without distortion. - Comments

Super 7 To Slot A: A Match For AGP Video? 23:27 pm - Wilfred
Ace's Hardware has a new article discussing the AGP performance on Super7 boards. In addition, they'd managed to dig from AMD about the future of AGP on the Slot A platform.

Yes, what about Slot A? The K7 600 promises to behave like a PIII-750 or better, but if it you can not pair it with a high performance videocard with 3DNow! support, the excellent FPU qualities won't materialize in more frames per second. 

Ace's hardware: Is the fact that slot A has a 200 mhz EV-6 bus beneficial for AGP-performance? 

Kevin Wagner: Actually, the 200 MHz bus supported on Slot A systems is independent of AGP performance. The EV6 bus should definitely be a benefit to various sub-systems, rather than specifically being a benefit to AGP performance. It's difficult to make a direct correlation between the front side bus and AGP performance. The front side bus affects the overall performance of the system. - Comments

Windows 98 SE To Hit Stores?! 23:17 pm - Wilfred
Thanks to Byron of ActiveWin for his pointer to this article at CNet. Bill Gates announced at the launch of Internet Explorer 5 that a repackaged Windows 98, with its first service pack and IE5, will be sold in retail for US$89.

As previously reported, Microsoft will bundle the operating system with Internet Explorer 5 and a collection of bug fixes and application updates known as a service pack under the Windows 98, Second Edition, name.

Windows 98 SE was announced this morning by Microsoft chairman Bill Gates at the launch of Internet Explorer 5. "This is not a major upgrade like Windows 98 was," Gates said at the launch, which took place at the company's Redmond, Washington, headquarters. "It's not a dramatic change."

The next version of Windows 98 will be available this fall for $89, the same price as the first version of the operating system, Gates said. The Windows 98 service pack was targeted for release in the first quarter, so a fall release would be a significant delay. It is unclear whether Microsoft will release the service pack individually before Windows 98 SE hits stores.

I can hear many protests already... post them here - Comments

Hercules Dynamite TNT2 23:08 pm - Wilfred
The dudes at HotHardware sent note of an early press release of the Hercules Dynamte TNT2 card. Check what they caught hold of!

FREMONT, CA - March 18th, 1999 - Hercules Computer Technology, Inc., a leader in high-performance 3D graphics accelerators, today announced the Hercules Dynamite TNT/2TM, its highest performing AGP 2X/4X capable 32MB 2D/3D graphics and DVD accelerator based on NVIDIA® Corpora-tion's new RIVA TNT2TM graphics processor. Hercules' superior High-Performance/Wide-BandwidthTM board design and powerful software sup-port assures outstanding performance and stability. The Hercules Dynamite TNT/2TMsets a new "triple 32" standard for 3D performance and 3D quality by combining (1) 32-bit true color rendering, (2) 32-bit Z/Stencil buffer and (3) 32 MB on-board memory for an industry leading features set.

Hercules enhances the features set of the Hercules Dynamite TNT/2TM with (1) a hardware accelerated software DVD player for >30f/s, (2) high quality TV-out, (3) direct Digital Flat Panel support, (4) advanced PowerDriveTM Win9x/Win NT drivers to deliver outstanding 2D/3D performance, (5) easy plug-&-play AUTORUN installation from CD-ROM, (6) Hercules TouchTM and Hercules Utilities ™ desktop management utilities, and (7) Hercules Entertainment Center 2000TM multimedia utilities.

To further add value and flexibility, Hercules' award winning Hercules TouchTM desktop management utilities have been upgraded with Hercules' proprietary Hercules MoniTune TM utility for customized monitor definition to maximize refresh rates out of individual monitors. The Hercules Dynamite TNT/2TM meets all mainstream requirements, in-cluding Pentium III and K6-2/K6-3 3DNow! optimizations and Microsoft's PC99 and DirectX 6 initiatives. First shipments of Hercules Dynamite TNT/2TM will start in early May 1999 and are primarily targeted at the innovative and highly performance con-scious system integration market.

K7 Preview 18:40 pm - Kan
PCVelocity posted a preview on the coming AMD K7 processor. You know, forget about the P-III, this is the chip to look out for.

First off, let's clarify things. The K7 is a true seventh-generation x86 processor in every sense of the word. AMD didn't just throw on some cache or add multimedia instructions when they designed the K7; they built it from the ground up. Intel's recent sixth-generation offerings (the Pentium II, Pentium II Xeon, Celeron, and Pentium III) are all based on the venerable Pentium Pro. Intel's next-generation chip (code-named Foster) appears to be even stronger than the K7. Boasting a new feature called a trace cache Foster will remove a step in the processing pipeline. In addition, Fosters' system bus boasts a throughput of 3.2 gigabytes/second, twice that of the K7's 1.6GB/sec. However, AMD's K7 is scheduled to ship in June of this year, while Foster won't see the light of day until 2000 or 2001. As a result, every power-hungry computer user has the K7 #1 on his wish list of goodies.

Office 97 Privacy Patch 18:36 pm - Kan
Read it from Betanews that Microsoft had posted a patch to remove the ID numbers which are automatically added to all Office documents. Ain't this bad? Anyway, read what Microsoft had to say:

The Registration Wizard - which was designed with user privacy in mind - allows customers to send hardware configuration information optionally to Microsoft to help speed their time on the phone during a product support call. The Registration Wizard allows customers to review all information that is sent to Microsoft, as well as giving them the option not to send hardware configuration information. Microsoft does not use this hardware information for any marketing or user tracking purposes.

Dual Celeron 18:32 pm - Kan
Our dear Anand posted the Dual Celerons review. Anyway, be sure to read our exclusive Dual Celerons review as well!

Intel originally chose to disable multiprocessor support on the Celeron line of processors as an attempt to more distinctly separate their processor brands. If the Pentium II was supposed to be the high-end flagship, and the low-end Celeron solution was allowed to run in dual processor workstations, customers would begin to wonder why they were spending a premium on the dual processor Pentium II systems when the Celeron could do the same thing. Most AnandTech readers already know that the Celeron 300A, when overclocked to 450MHz, offered, at the time of its discovery, unparalleled performance for the price. However, for a graphics artist, software developer, or engineer, even a single Celeron running at 450MHz would be considered slow in comparison to a beefy dual processor system that most professionals of that sort are used to. Luckily for Intel, the Celeron was kept away from the graphics artists, software developers, and engineers who reluctantly shelled out the extra cash for dual processor Pentium II systems.

FreeStyle Pro 07:34 am - Kan
Gamewire did a review on the Microsoft Sidewinder Freestyle Pro. Anyway, if you haven't read it, check out Flashman's first edition on the Freestyle Pro.

I really enjoyed using this gamepad. It performed way better then its siblings but not as much as I expected. Nine buttons, a select button (Lets you double up on buttons which acts like a 2nd button on a calculator), and a throttle adds up to one killer combination but what this pad is really missing is an analog D-Pad. There are other pads on the market with more buttons and an analog D-Pad but a lot of those buttons are unnecessary any ways.

18 March 1999 - Thursday

Palm IIIx And Palm V  21:45 pm - Wilfred
PalmPower has delivered an in-depth review of the Palm IIIx And Palm V devices. Beauty and the Beast. Why can't we have the best of both worlds now? Don't tell me they have something else for us soon?

If you use your Palm device intensively, have large databases or receive lots of email, or want the security of expanding your Palm's capabilities, I recommend the Palm IIIx. If you're new to the Palm world and don't anticipate the need for lots of memory, you want to impress your Palm device-toting peers, or simply admire the sleek design, choose the Palm V. Either way, you can't go wrong.

Apple Mac OS X Server Launched  21:03 pm - Wilfred
Apple has launched their much anticipated and hyped Mac OS X Server. The new server operating system touts the combined strength of UNIX with with simplicity of Macintosh. Judging from what I read at Ars-Technica, it looks like good stuff!

CUPERTINO, Calif., March 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Apple Computer, Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) today announced the availability of Mac OS X Server, the Company's new server operating system, which combines the proven strength of UNIX with the simplicity of Macintosh. Customers can order Mac OS X Server from Apple Authorized Resellers and The Apple Store (www.apple.com) for U.S. $499 -- with an unlimited client license. Mac OS X Server, when coupled with a new Macintosh Server G3, is the fastest platform for running Apache for under U.S. $5,000 -- outperforming Linux, Solaris and Windows NT Server.*

"Our customers are excited about Mac OS X Server, Apple's first modern server operating system," said Steve Jobs, Apple's interim CEO. "Mac OS X Server is an incredibly powerful Web server and by introducing it at an aggressive price of $499, we're putting power into the hands of millions of Macintosh customers in education and business."

Mac OS X Server is built on a modern, high-performance and reliable operating system foundation and includes powerful services designed for Apple's Internet development, design and publishing, and education customers. As well as being the fastest Apache Web server platform for under $5,000, Mac OS X Server is also faster than Windows NT Server in high bandwidth file throughput tests.

Joynet Gameport Hub Again   20:59 pm - Wilfred
Oh yes again. Our buds over at Extreme Hardware also did a review on this multi-controller hub. This is pretty in-depth, so catch it too!

All of these controllers functioned as expected while hooked up to the Gameport Hub, and I even went so far as to test them in different combinations. After booting with the 4 controllers attached, a simple press of a button, and if necessary, a setup in the Control Panel, was all that was needed to be up and running. Note that I've included the MS Force Feedback Wheel in the list, a controller that can give the best gameports headaches. This is due to its reliance on MIDI signals, and I'm happy to report that the Joynet Gameport Hub ran it without a hitch.

Merced Dead? Says Sun Exec   20:54 pm - Wilfred
The Register has an interesting snip of what a senior Sun executive had to say about Intel's Merced. Dead? Hmm...

"Harlan McGhan, architecture marketing manager at Sun Microelectronics in California, said: "Everybody's agreed that Merced is already a failure. I'm not expecting very much from Merced and it's a lot more expensive than its x.86 chips." "

"He said: "We continue to expect that it will ship before the end of the year. Merced is two years behind this schedule. We're projecting that it will ship with an initial frequency of 600MHz. If it were shipping right now, it would be the fasted thing out there."

He said even Intel's erstwhile partner Hewlett Packard (HP) has lost faith in Merced and the IA-64 architecture. "MIPS," he said, "has just said there's a lot more headroom in the R6000 architecture. HP is now saying they'll have an 8900 five years from now. What does that tell you about their confidence in the IA-64?""

Intel Multi-resolution Mesh Technology  20:08 pm - Wilfred
GameCenter reported that Intel has delivered its multi-resolution mesh (MRM) software technology to a 3D Tool and 3 leading game developers. Read about this exciting tech:

The technology makes it easier for developers to create 3D content that is authored once, and automatically maximizes graphics performance and resolution to the available processing power on end users' PCs.

AlphaDactyl Joynet Gameport Hub 19:39 pm - Wilfred
Over at GameSpot, they've also thrown up a review on the Joynet Gameport Hub which will allow you to connect up to 4 game controllers and use them simultaneously in supported software.

The Joynet is a simple box with four gameport connectors (labeled alpha, beta, gamma and delta). All the ports can work with just about any gameport-enabled controller. I attached a Thrustmaster Attack Throttle (with attached joystick), a CH F16 Combatstick and a Microsoft Sidewinder Freestyle Pro to three of the ports. It was easy to switch to different devices by pressing buttons on the Joynet box. However, the Windows 98 game controller control panel didn't let me have more than one active controller at a time. Every port on the Joynet supports the crucial MIDI pin, needed for several different digital game controllers. Hooking up multiple analog controllers in DOS mode fared better. I was able to get a Gravis Gamepad Pro and the F16 Combatstick working simultaneously, though I lost the throttle axis on the Combatstick. Still, for certain games, having this capability is pretty neat.

Logitech Mouse For PC Gamers! 19:30 pm - Wilfred
Fans of first person shooters have reason to rejoice! Logitech has announced their Logitech WingMan Gaming Mouse which is specifically designed to meet the requirements of a competitive gamer with its extremely fast report rate. Ho ho!

Mice are the most frequently used of all computer game controllers. Many game genres, such as real-time strategy and role-playing, require a mouse to be used almost constantly. Others, such as first-person shooters, can be played with joysticks, but most players find a mouse-plus-keyboard configuration to be more effective. In games such as this, mice are typically used for aiming and firing, and thus have a direct impact on gamer performance. Nevertheless, until now the specialized needs of gamers have not been directly addressed by mouse manufacturers.

The 3-button WingMan Gaming Mouse was designed to meet the needs of competitive gamers and features an extremely fast report rate. The higher the report rate, the more often and accurately the mouse sends its position and button status to the host computer. When used with its integrated USB interface, the mouse reports more than 120 times per second. When connected via the included PS/2 adapter, the user can select report rates as high as 200 times per second with the included Logitech® MouseWare® software. This is up to five times faster than standard PS/2 and serial interface mice. The result is immediate on-screen response that allows gamers to aim more quickly and precisely and shoot faster.

Belkin Labs USB Direct Connect 19:25 pm - Wilfred
WickedPC has kicked up a short review on the Belkin Labs USB Direct Connect, a USB networking device which may just be the right alternative for easy home networking.

Get with the network. If what you really need is simple, low-cost, two-computer networking, you might be better off with a non-Ethernet solution. If you are looking to connect multiple computers and don't want to deal with the hassle of network cards, the Direct Connect is the fastest, easiest way to set up a network in your home or small office. It is a low cost "direct networking" solution that offers Ethernet-like networking between computers that could be just the ticket in a small-office environment as well as the head to head LAN game.

Terminus Preview 19:19 pm - Wilfred
This is another promising space-sim game in the likes of Privateer. Check out CRUS's preview of this game and some of the fantabulous screenshots! | screenshot 1 | screenshot 2 | screenshot 3 |

Diamond HomeFree Wireless 19:14 pm - Wilfred
You have read our simple 'Networking for Everyone" article, but decided that having to run cables is too much of a hassle - or just plain uncool. Sure, FiringSquad has done a nice review on the Diamond HomeFree kit. It's not as fast, but at least there's no wires!

You turn over the box, and glance at the features. No cables needed. Support for Windows95/98. Reliable and secure. File and printer sharing. Up to 16 computers. Hey, there's even Internet sharing and multiplayer gaming! Wow, Diamond's Homefree Wireless Network system looks like the perfect networking product, or is it?

Internet Explorer 5 12:56 pm - Kan
Yup, Microsoft released IE5 today and the files are beginning to be mirrored world-wide. Singapore users, you can get a local copy from Tucows now.

Matrox G400 Preview 09:58 am - Kan
HardwareCentral also posted a preview on the coming Matrox G400.

The G400 was built from the ground up to be used with AGP4x. Matrox claims that because of this, it will make optimal use out of the AGP bus, using AGP reads AND writes, side band signalling, and AGP pipelining. The G400 has a dual 128bit internal data bus, allowing for dual command pipelining, meaning that it can read/write 128 bits of data every clock cycle.

AMD K6-III 400 09:54 am - Kan
LostCircuits whipped up a review on the AMD K6-III 400 MHz processor.

Let's take a look at the technical specifications of the latest AMD CPU that features an internal 256KB L2 write-back cache operating at full clockspeed of the AMD-K6-III processor and complementing the 64KB L1 cache. Moreover, the internal cache design is multiported, thus enabling simultaneous 64-bit reads and writes to both the L1 cache and the L2 cache. The L2 cache is 4 way set associative meaning that 4 data lines are operating according to needs whereas the remaining lines are fixed to certain memory addresses. This way, a compromise between optimal coverage and flexibility is achieved resulting in enhanced data management and efficiency.

Hardware One: Viewsonic P810 21" Monitor 00:45 pm - Wilfred
Yes, we have here a review on the Viewsonic P810 Professional Series 21" monitor. Feast your eyes upon this high-end offering.

"Colour reproduction is fantastic with bright, lively colours that bring your apps to life. Digital pictures look fantastic with realistic colours and proper contrast. Text is amazingly sharp at 1280x1024 (large fonts) even though I'm using a pass-through cable from my Voodoo2s."

With the prices of 17" falling within grasp, the crop of 21" now form the typical high-end screens to own! - Comments

VMWare Virtual Machine Monitor for Linux/NT 00:38 pm - Wilfred
Whoa! You have to read this from the chumps at Ars-Technica! They've an article about VMWare, a form of emulator that will run in a host OS such as Linux/NT, enabling you to run all kinds of guest OSes! Check this screenshot!

Their impression of the early beta was highly positive after getting Win95 to work within Red Hat Linux 5.2... stuffs like MS Word, Plug-&-Play and even Networking worked! - Comments

Game Developers' Conference 00:18 pm - Wilfred
FiringSquad has thrown up a fantastic coverage of the GDC at San Jose. It's a hefty chunk of what they saw and thought of them. Lots of snips here, first about Permedia 3:

The biggest feature of the Permedia 3 architecture is what 3Dlabs calls "Virtual Texturing." This novel approach is best described as a cache for textures. Simply, textures are split into 4k chunks, and only the visible sections of each texture are rendered and kept in local memory. This helps in both mipmapping and texture obstruction - the card will only call memory as its needed.

3Dlabs claims that Virtual Textures not only serves to greatly speed up scenes with large textures, it also keeps minimum framerates high, and stuttering/chopping down. A traditional video card will stall when it hits is texture memory limit - it must load a new texture into memory before it can perform any other fuction relating to it.

Using Vitrual Textures, the texture read is interleaved - only the bits that are needed are loaded, and between such loads other functions such as lighting and triangle setup can be performed (both of which are handled on-chip). 3Dlabs' marketing slides show anywhere from a 3 times to 683 times improvement over S3's S3TC texture compression routine. We don't have to tell you to take those numbers with a grain of salt (at least until we get one to test ourselves).

Did you read that? A claimed 3-683 times improvement over S3TC? Woohoo! Well, next to catch my attention are some Creative audio news you and I would love to hear!

"... the optical digital I/O card we reported on back during Comdex has also been approved for sale, and will be available from Creative's web site. This card will attach to either SBLive or SBLive Value, and can be daisy-chained along with the standard SBLive daughter card. The Optical Digital I/O card will include S/PDIF Tosslink in/out connectors, and can function as a transcoder between the coax and optical jacks - in through optical, out from coax.

The digital I/O card also features AC-3 passthrough - for the first time you can have one connection going from your sound card to your receiver for both stereo and Dolby Digital sound. If that's not enough, once both daughtercards are installed, all four S/PDIF outputs can be used simultaneously, and are independently addressed.

Before I forget, Creative is also revamping the drivers for SBLive, for even less CPU utilization, and get this: HRTFs on all four speakers. It seems Creative's learned the benefits of supporting head-related-transfer-functions to aid in sound positioning, and they'll be the only ones doing it on all outputs."

All that were seen at GDC look very exciting for us all! - Comments

17 March 1999 - Wednesday

Wilfred Coughs 21:22 pm - Wilfred
Noticed that there has been minimal activity at the Q&A Forum after our server move. I understand that the compulsory registration is yucky for some, but this feature will ensure more responsible use of the forum. So yes, make the fullest use of our forum right now!

How To Build Your Own Thermistor 20:57 pm - Wilfred
My bud Andy sent along a note of his article on how to build a thermistor to measure component temperatures on Abit BX6-2, ZM6 and other mobos equipped with the Winbond W83782D chip and thermistor header.

Through having the ability to properly measure temperatures within your system and its components, a thermistor can help you determine areas (CPU, hard drives, video card) which may need additional cooling to achieve complete stabilization and possibly even higher performance in some cases.

CeBIT Highlight: MegaCar 20:08 pm - Wilfred
Check this pic! If you're thinking "Car of my dreams!!" already, wait till you see what's inside this babelicious new S-Class megaCar! Tom's Hardware writes about this extremely connected vehicle.

"This car is based on the new Mercedes S500, but its engine is increased to 5.8 liter, thus providing 400 bhp. The Brabus 5.8 has no speed limitation and reaches a high speed of 170 mph, it has a modified suspension, special interior, four television/video screens, a S-VHS video recorder, DVD-player and many more things. The price of the base car makes 'Megacar' unfortunately already unaffordable to 99.999% of the people."

"The other system is a high-end PC. This PC is based on a Mitac book-size PC, equipped with a BX-motherboard, a Pentium III 500, 256 MB of memory, a sound card that connects to the car's Bose sound system, a FastEthernet card, a IBM 18 GB 2.5" very shock resistant notebook hard drive, a Floppy and CDRom, a FireWire card and a NumberNine Revolution IV that connects digitally to a SGI 17.3" flat panel, which folds down from the car roof. The keyboard used is a wireless keyboard with built-in touchpad."

That's not all. What about the 16 GSM modules used in parallel to give you 153Kbit/s? I'm all giddy. Now is it the strong EM radiations or what?

The Secret of Linux 19:44 pm - Wilfred
Slashdot pointed to this article at CNN.COM in which the author writes about the hype surrounding Linux, some truths, some uncertainties and some misconceptions. A good read!

Linux isn't even free — not for corporate IT shops, anyhow. Add up the costs of installation, testing, support, training and the political infighting that comes with any new technology in an IT shop, and your total cost of running Linux is about the same as NT, Unix or anything else. The "free" sticker price is a tiny fraction of that cost.

No wonder big vendors — IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Compaq, Sun, SAP — are lined up for Linux. It sounds radical, hip and free. In practice, it's still just software. IT customers will kick the tires, run it through evaluations and try it on pilot projects just as we would with any other product.

ThrustMaster Flight System 13:34 pm - Wilfred
Vince sent word yesterday that Extreme Hardware has done a review on the ThrustMaster Flight System which consisted the Top Gun joystick, the digital Attack Throttle, and the Elite Rudder Pedals. Any aspiring pilots should check this out!

For the budding flight sim enthusiast or an expert air warrior on a budget, the Thrustmaster Flight System is an excellent way to add high end flight sim controls to a desktop gaming rig at a price that won’t break the bank. Those who are more interested in space combat and arcade-style flying games would be better advised to check out a multi-purpose programmable joystick instead.

Solving Heat Problems 12:39 pm - Wilfred
Wow! If you are usually able to use your PC to make morning toast, you should turn to Dan's Data who has a step-by-step instruction guide to built this:

Unfortunately, most little cases suck. Especially for a high powered computer. They're generally badly made, with lots of sharp pressed metal and poor rigidity. Their weedy power supplies can be upgraded, but they often don't have enough drive bays for a powerful system. And, more importantly, they've got lousy cooling. A computer with an overclocked Celeron,a   pile of drives and a steaming 3D video card in it runs hot, and needs a heck of a lot more cooling than the poor little power supply fan in a cable-packed mini-tower case can supply.

EAX 3.0 Announced! 12:26 pm - Wilfred
It's NOT a typo! Creative has said that EAX 2.0 will be out shortly... and they siezed the chance to announce EAX 3.0! Wow... read what I caught at Alive!

Phase 1: Providing a Sense of Environment with EAX 1.0. EAX builds on DirectSound 3D's positional audio capabilities with property set extensions. EAX 1.0 was designed to provide developers with the ability to create a convincing sense of environment in entertainment titles and a realistic sense of distance between the player and audio events. EAX 1.0 provides a variety of environments with different characteristics of reflections and reverberation, different room types and/or room size. The API also allows for customizing late reverberation parameters (decay time, damping, level) and automatic level management according to distance. EAX 1.0 provides for enhancement of distance cues on a per source basis. Many developers have been using this API to add interactive audio environments to 3D games.

Phase 2: Building on the Environment with EAX 2.0. EAX 2.0 builds on the ability of EAX 1.0 to create a more compelling and realistic environment with tools that allow simulating the audio effect of partitions between environments and obstacles within environments. These features include occlusion and obstruction and can be applied on each individual audio source. In addition, EAX 2.0 provides adjustable reflections with a more complete reverb interface, a tunable air absorption model and an improved source directivity model. Creative will be providing a driver update supporting the features of this new standard through its Live!Ware program.

Phase 3: Adding More Realism, More Flexibility with EAX 3.0 Features. EAX 3.0 builds on EAX 2.0 with powerful, easy to use sound design tools. EAX 3.0 introduces new levels of realism to interactive audio applications. The new tools include the ability to use and tune localized reflection clusters or isolated individual reflections, to continuously "morph'' between environments, and to further improve distance rendering and naturalness with Creative's proprietary statistical reverberation model. These features allow the developer to create dynamic reverberant environments with superior, more robust distance cues and enhanced control over each audio event in the virtual sound scene. Creative plans to debut the EAX 3.0 SDK at its annual developer's conference, Creativity, taking place on May 17 and 18 in Universal City, CA.

LinkSys USB Network Adapter 12:17 pm - Wilfred
AGNHardware has done a review on the Linksys USB Network Adapter. If you're thinking of networking some machines and shudder at the thought of opening them all up, check this out!

"... you need device with which to connect to the network, an NIC or Ethernet adapter, and some sort of Hub or Switch which will pass the information from one machine to another.  Traditionally one would install a PCI or ISA NIC into their machine and plug in an RJ45 cable that was coming from the Hub.  This of course meant that you would have to open the machine and get your hands dirty a little to get everything working. With the wonderful world of USB exploding onto the PC and MAC scene, it was only a matter of time until USB would also offer a way to network devices and machines. After all the serial connection, albeit slow, was a popular way to network machines for quite some time.  The time for USB is now.   And as USB networking is starting gain some foot hold on the overall networking market, Linksys has a nifty little device that helps to bridge the gap between Ethernet and USB"

Windows 98 Second Edition. Huh? 12:12 pm - Wilfred
Err... I thought this was 'called off' already? The Register has an article that said Microsoft might be releasing a second edition of its Windows 98 OS in Q2 this year (instead of a service pack).

Unhappily, Microsoft seems to have rejected The Register's suggestion that Windows Millennium Edition would be a suitable product name, and is working with Windows 98 Second Edition instead. But the sudden transformation of a service pack into a new version of the operating system confirms our suspicions that Microsoft is planning a quick and dirty revenue generator with added bells and whistles, and more Redmond-generated standards to pull users closer into the Microsoft Web.

Second Edition will for example include Internet Explorer 5.0, and it will undoubtedly fix the ID number 'feature' whose discovery caused a privacy storm earlier this month. How Microsoft will fix that is of course the $64k question, but it won't exactly be surprising if it turns out that Second Edition nevertheless tightens up the online registration process further.

Ok, time for street protests and demonstrations! Completely absurd!

Matrox Marvel G200-TV 12:07 pm - Wilfred
Our pals at ReviewZone have been hard at work. Shortly after their last post, their latest review on the Matrox Marvel G200-TV is ready for your perusal.

The TV tuner comes with some useful features such as the PC-VCR Remote utility, with various myriad options to be juggled. The software bundle is quite good, too, with three CDs full of drivers and utilities, such as the VDOPhone trial version, the Zoran SoftDVD player and the Avid Cinema image editing software. Fairly up-to-date drivers considering when the card debuted, though that’s no excuse for the lack of an OpenGL ICD. The external breakout box is an innovative and extremely convenient feature, with all connections located on the this box instead of on the card. On the downside, the Marvel G200-TV is rather weak in 3D performance considering the performance offered by up-to-date graphics cards. That, coupled with the $299 price tag, is something of a deterrent to most users.

Western Digital HDD Rocks! 11:58 am - Wilfred
Over at Storage Review, they've taken a look at Western Digital's newcomer Expert AC418000 harddisk drive. What about it? Don't blink! ATA-66, 7200rpm, 18Gb (4.6Gb per platter), 1" high, 2Mb buffer, 8.5ms seek time, performance leading, quiet and cool running!!!

WD is shipping drives with IBM technology involved, the first being the Expert AC418000. The AC418000 is revolutionary for Western Digital in several ways. First, of course, is the aforementioned incorporation of IBM's technology. Secondly, the drive is the first four-platter unit from WD. In the past, WD's flagship drive in each model would feature 3 rather than 4 platters. Combined with a rather sluggish time-to-market, there were several periods of time where WD's drive sizes were embarrassingly low (most notably after Maxtor released an 11.5 GB drive, a full 80% larger than WD's largest for more than two months). In a fashionable turnaround, however, WD was the first to ship a "second-generation" drive to the market. It is, actually, WD's first 7200rpm ATA product. WD (for one reason or another) missed shipping a drive in the first salvo of 7200rpm units. The Expert's hefty 4.6 gigs per platter, however, throw it right in the thick of things with the upcoming second-generation units from its competitors. Thus, this new drive packs 18 gigs of storage in it's 1" profile. Originally, I recall WD listing an 8.5 millisecond seek time in the product press release. The shipping unit, however, is toned down slightly to a 9.0 ms spec. The drive features a truly enormous 2 megs of buffer. A three-year warranty protects the disk.

ATI Rage Fury 128 11:49 am - Wilfred
Ben Evans of WickedPC sent note of their latest review on the ATI Rage Fury 128. If you can't wait any longer for a graphics card, then this card is the absolutely the fastest 2D/3D accelerator your money can buy today!

The ATI RAGE Fury 128 32MB accelerator card is the fastest graphics card now on the market, according to a report released by Mercury Research Inc., of Scottsdale, AZ. With a 3DWinBench 99 score of 743 Winmarks, the RAGE Fury is the first graphics accelerator to break the 700 barrier, considered almost unattainable when the benchmark was first introduced last November. RAGE Fury's benchmark score was about 10 percent higher than the closest competing chip, which scored only 669 Winmarks, and 70 per cent higher than the third-place score of 431 Winmarks.

How To Rip Open Your PII 11:42 am - Wilfred
The guy, who's "so hard, he makes pornstars look limp", posted a bit to help you nuts crack that hard shell on the Pentium II. It's on the front page, your can't miss it.

We got tons of folks asking, "How the hell did you get that coffin off the PII you ripped open?"   Well, I made sure to take lots of pictures along the way.   So with that laid out, I will take a moment to show YOU FREAKS out there how you can tear up your own stuff in the privacy of your own home.

Matrox G400 Preview 06:52 am - Kan
GA-Source did a preview on the coming Matrox G400. Basically, we are caught in the vicious cycle of upgrading our peripherals again. This is evil!

The G400 ups the ante, using two independent 128-bit busses... one bus to communicate on the inbound data, and one bus dedicated to the outbound data. In theory, the G400 can simultaneously exchange data on both ends of the data-stream, doubling the amount of throughput.

Promise FastTrack 06:38 am - Kan
Anand posted his lengthy review on the Promise FastTrack IDE RAID Controller. Personally, I think this rocks, even though I have always been a SCSI advocate.

RAID, generally speaking, is a technology that allows two independent disks, or two separate hard drives to function as a single drive equal in size to the capacity of the smallest drive in the collection of drives (array) multiplied by the number of drives. What this means is that if you were to have a RAID setup of 4 drives, 3 of which happened to be 10GB drives and one which was a 1GB drive, the total capacity of the RAID system would be 4GB, or the size of the smallest drive in the array multiplied by the number of drives in the array (1GB x 4 drives = 4GB). The purpose of RAID can be either to improve performance, increase reliability, or both.

Overclocking 06:25 am - Kan
3DNow.net posted part 1 of the overclocking article. If you still do not know how to overclock, take a look.

The Die Size also affects how far a chip can be overclocked. Tipically a smaller die will overclock better than a larger one, simply due to the fact that it is smaller, and thus dissapates less heat. The CMOS process influences the die size, and the smaller the Micron, the smaller (and hence colder) the die. Right now the .25 Micron CPUs are most common and are much better overclockers than the older .35 micron CPUs. CPUs manufactured in the .25 Micron process are also lower voltage then the .35 Micron ones.

Gruntz Contest 06:23 am - Kan
Looks like PCVelocity is giving out 7 copies of MonoLith's puzzle game, Gruntz. Check out the details here.

Final Fantasy VIII Original SoundTrack 06:18 am - Kan
Tech-Junkie's sushi chef just whipped up another article, this time on Final Fantasy VIII Original Soundtrack. Catch what they want to say about it.

Since the beginning of time, comparisons have been made between the musical pieces of the previous seven Final Fantasies (and associated products). A comparison here is inevitable as well. However, I will be basing most of my comparisons between this OST and the FFVII OST, since both are composed in a relatively close period of time and utilize the same Playstation hardware. Come on, 8-bit synth just doesn't sound as good as 32-bit Wavetable, no matter what the hell you say.

Anyway, there's also a motherboard shot of the Playstation2. Wow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nikkei News in Japan released a picture of the Sony Playstation 2 PCB. Visible are the Emotion Engine and the Graphics Synthesizer. You can't really see much under those big heatsinks, but hey! It's a Sony!
16 March 1999 - Tuesday

Hardware One: Networking for Everyone 22:56 pm - Wilfred
Check out Keith's "Networking for Everyone" Article. He'll show you in steps how to set up a networking kit such as the Compex 10Mbits Network starter kit (SOHO).

Why network? With the explosion of the Internet and the crash fall of hardware prices, many of us will have separate machines for working and surfing. For some, every member of the family would have his own personal computer.

However many will not want to buy printers and other unnecessary peripherals for each and every computer in the house. Here's where the usefulness of the home LAN (Local Area Network) is best shown. A printer connected to a computer can be shared equally amongst other computers, files too can also be transferred from computer to computer easily. Another latent function of the LAN is that it lets you to play real-time multiplayer games!

Secrets of P2B: FSB and VCore Tweaking 22:40 pm - Wilfred
Check out this page if you're a proud owner of a Asus P2B rev 1.10 board. For once, if you are slightly more adventurous... dare to perform minor soldering and reconstruction work on your precious mobo, you'll be rewarded with this!

Besides the ability to tweak FSB speeds and multiplier settings via the BIOS setup, you will also learn how to get voltage selection to work via jumpers! Cool right? What are you waiting for!?! (Article)

HP PhotoSmart C30 21:24 pm - Kan
PlanetHardware did a HP PhotoSmart C30 digital camera review.

The camera itself is small and attractive, sporting a shiny silver surface around the many buttons around its layout. The unit is very easy to hold and keep steady, and even includes a small rubber gripper area on the front of the camera, which I found personally to be a great asset to hold the camera still. The back of the camera contains the useful 1.8 inch LCD display screen, along with all of the control buttons.

Enlight ATX Mini-Mid Tower 21:22 pm - Kan
The Techs did a review on the Enlight ATX Mini-Mid Tower casing. Well, it's a bit small for my taste though... I prefer those fridge-like casings. :)

When I got the case open I was in for a pleasant surprise as I found out, that indeed like the outside of the case, the inside was also well designed. The case had very good ventilation, my Celeron300A didn't overheat when overclocked to 450mhz. The case had plenty of roomfor all the components the average computer user would want plus even a little extra room for people like me. There was plenty of room to install additional fans, no hassle for you overclockers out there. There is room for two internal hard drives and a cd-rom drive.

Kenwood 52X 21:19 pm - Kan
World's fastest CD-ROM drive reviewed by SharkyExtreme. By the way, check out Sharky's new look.

Well put a dress on me and call me Sally, the Kenwood 52x actually delivers on its impressive performance claims. In fact, in Ziff-Davis' CD-WinBench99 test, the 52x actually outperformed Kenwood's own performance estimate concerning the inner track transfer rate of the drive, beating the original figure by 200kbps

Interrogation Interview With nVidia's Vivoli 19:51 pm - Wilfred
MaximumPC has this very interesting interview with nVidia's Vivoli 'bout the TNT2. Read it even if you got to skip your daily papers!

Maximum PC: That's a pretty pat answer. Do you really view Rendition and S3 as your competition?
Vivoli: In some respects. Certainly not as much as we did perhaps a year ago. The companies I respect the most are 3Dfx and ATI.

Maximum PC: Why ATI?
Vivoli: ATI's not great at any one thing; they're just good at a lot of things. And for the lower end of the market, they have a good recipe. They're very cost-conscious and they build cost-effective parts.

Maximum PC: How about 3Dfx?
Vivoli: For the most part, 3Dfx builds good products. They have a good feature set, and they have some smart architects there, but they've made some big mistakes in the last few products they've come out with. Voodoo3 felt like a desperate product announcement and it's missing some key features.

Maximum PC: Such as?
Vivoli: 32-bit rendering, 24-bit Z-buffer and stencil buffering to name a few.

Maximum PC: Anything else?
Vivoli: Yea, they announced it earlier than they had to because they probably realized Banshee wasn't going to be the premiere product for the mainstream they hoped it would be. And given that, they didn't have anything to lose by announcing a new product that wasn't shipping yet. Further, I'm surprised that they chose the name "Voodoo" for their product. I always thought Voodoo meant "state-of-the-art, best/most feature-filled product". If Voodoo3 is the most feature-filled state-of-the-art product 3Dfx has, it bodes well for us.

Matrox Announces G400 19:17 pm - Wilfred
Here's some official press stuff about the G400 chip from Matrox. There's too much goodies mentioned and JUST POP OVER (will ya?!) for the whole picture. A long tasty snip for you, nevertheless.

Users in the most demanding business and home computing environments will benefit from the powerful, well-balanced acceleration of the industry’s only 256-bit DualBus architecture implementing support for AGP 4X and AGP 2X. In addition to a 128-bit interface to memory and support for a maximum of 32MB of synchronous memory, the Matrox G400 uses a new 3D Rendering Array Processor to deliver up to three times the real-life performance of previous generations.

Also unique to the Matrox G400 is Vibrant Color Quality2 rendering (VCQ2), an architecture designed to preserve vibrant color quality for cutting edge multi-textured software applications. Fully DirectX6 and OpenGL compliant, the Matrox G400 is an extremely powerful 3D rendering engine supporting advanced 3D features including single cycle multi-texturing, Environment Mapped Bump Mapping, anisotropic filtering and stencil buffering. The Matrox G400 takes graphics acceleration to new levels with unique new features such as DualHead Display, an integrated RAMDAC of up to 300Mhz utilizing Matrox’s UltraSharp DAC technology and the fastest 2D performance in the industry.

Empeg MP3 Player For Car In Late March 19:06 pm - Wilfred
Caught this at CoolInfo, that the Empeg MP3 player for cars will ship in late march this year. The removable unit will store some 35 hours of audio downloaded from your PC!!! That's almost equivalent to a 35 disc changer! Whoa!

Empeg has started production on Empeg Car, according to the company's Web site. Empeg Car, which runs on the Linux operating system, is powered by a 200-MHz StrongARM processor.

The removable stereo unit includes an FM radio receiver, and 2.1GB capacity to store up to 35 hours of music. Users download MP3 files from the PC to the stereo unit via the USB or serial port. Empeg will begin shipping in late March. The Empeg Car Player with display, car mount, remote control, cables, and Windows-based software to download music titles will start at $999 for the 2.1GB version. The company is offering larger capacity models and other display colors.

Bad Conclusions from Premature Data 19:00 pm - Wilfred
Joe at Dimension3D posted his comments on the recent hype and raves about several upcoming chipsets - specifically the TNT2, and even more specifically about what Tom Pabst said. Here's a cut on (hee!) the few parts he concurred with DrTom:

"The most interesting story is hidden behind 3Dfx's acquisition of STB though. 3Dfx has pissed off a lot of 3D-card makers after buying STB and logically not supplying any other 3D-card maker with their chips anymore. Companies like Diamond and Creative.... "

Ah...see, Tom is all too aware that former partners of 3dfx (Diamond and Creative) are now direct competitors.  Oddly, he didn't see anything fishy about Diamond giving him a "optimistically" spec'd card for testing right in time for the Voodoo3 product launch...even though Diamond hasn't officially announced the product yet.

Conspiracy? Call it Marketing. For benchmarks to be coming out for a product that has not yet been announced means only one thing: an attempt to stifle the launch of a competitor's product. It's the oldest trick in the book. 

Intel Celeron 433Mhz 12:39 pm - Wilfred
Our friends at the FiringSquad delivered another burst with their Celeron 433Mhz review. It's not too bad a chip, afterall it made it to 488Mhz after o/c.

As the latest scion to the Celeron heir, the 433 itself is a mixed bag. It's performance is exactly where you would imagine it to be, slightly ahead of the 400. It's price is also attractive, not an incredible deal for a Celeron, but definitely a steal for a 400+Mhz CPU. If you're looking for cutting edge material, such as SSE or 500+ Mhz however, you're going to have to suffer the bloated price tags that come with higher-end processors.

nVidia TNT2 Press Release 12:30 pm - Wilfred
Yah, more press releases. This is the official one from nVidia about their TNT2 chip, here's the juice:

Targeting the mainstream performance PC market, RIVA TNT2-based boards will feature a 300MHz RAMDAC and 32MB of RAM and will support resolutions beyond HDTV and as high as 2048x1536x32bpp at 85hz. The RIVA TNT2 architecture is NVIDIA's fourth-generation, integrated, 128-bit 3D processor. The RIVA TNT2's 32MB frame buffer, 32-bit color pipeline and 32-bit Z-buffer delivers unsurpassed quality and performance.

The TwiN Texel Architecture with per-pixel mip-mapping precision combined with the TNT2's unprecedented fill rate of 350 million pixels-per-second, which is twice the nearest competitor. The RIVA TNT2 also has the ability to render up to 10 million triangles per second, allows developers to write standards based applications with stunning visual effects.

The RIVA TNT2 is the fastest 128-bit accelerator with Digital Flat Panel support, AGP 4X and AGP 2X support. The RIVA TNT2 meets all the requirements of the mainstream PC graphics market and Microsoft's PC98, PC99 and all DirectX 6.0 initiatives. In addition to DirectX support, the RIVA TNT provides full support for an OpenGL(TM) ICD (Installable Client Driver) for Windows 95 and Windows NT. Delivering the industry's fastest Direct3D(TM) acceleration, leadership VGA, Directdraw and Video performance allows the RIVA TNT2 to power a growing range of 3D applications, including the hottest 3D games and full screen DVD playback.

Soyo SY-D6IBA2 Review 12:24 pm - Wilfred
BxBoards has a review on the Soyo SY-D6IBA2 motherboard; giving more prominence to this highly successful quality mobo maker. Take a look at this high-end dual CPUs monster!

Where this board scores highly is in its reliability, stability and compatibility. Boards always are expected to perform beyond the call of duty in our tests, and this one passed with flying colours. What it lacks in facilities for the overclocker (I would like to see a jumper on the board for explicit 66/100Mhz operation in future revisions) it makes up for in reliability. As this product, this will more likely find itself in a server box rather than a hobbyist or tweakers rig. If you have some SCSI, you need 80megs of bandwidth then this board is worthy serious consideration.

Diamond Viper 770 & Stealth III S540 12:18 pm - Wilfred
Diamond Multimedia issued two press releases today on their latest cards in the lineup. The 32Mb Viper 770 will retail at under US$230 while the 16Mb Stealth III S540 will hit the shelves under US$110.

WinFast 320 II Preview 06:30 am - Kan
The guys over at HotHardware managed to get a short preview on the Leadtek's TNT2 based WinFast 320 II.

Today we got a chance to get a sneak preview of Leadtek's entry into their next generation TNT2 based AGP Graphics Card. The WinFast S320II is a well designed card with either 16 or 32 MB of SDRAM. Notice in the larger image, that you see 7ns. Hundai SDRAM. Also Leadtek builds this quality board with a Lasagna type cooler on the Video Processor, much like the one from TennMax. Leadtek promised Hot Hardware one of these cards around the end of the month! Stay tuned for details and a complete review!

3Dfx Cool T-Rex 06:28 am - Kan
WickedPC also did a review on the 3Dfx Cool T-Rex Slot1 cooler.

First, the good stuff. The T-Rex is huge. As they state on the companies website, it is overkill, and you will never need a cooling solution this massive. What gets me is not only the sheer size of this mammoth cooling solution, but the quality of what its ingredients are. The heatsink is 2.25" wide, and over 1.25" tall. Counting the fans on the top of the heatsink, the cooling system will be a total of 1.75" tall. Its length is standard to a Pentium II CPU. Compared to Intel's retail cooling fans or heatsinks, this has 200% more fans, and 50% more heatsink power depending on what Intel retail fan/heatsink combo you look at. The three fans mounted all across the CPU are 2" square. Three fans usually is a power connector nightmare, however they are daisy chained perfectly to not require any additional power cables.

LCD Monitors 06:27 am - Kan
WickedPC had written an article on what LCD monitors are all about. Check it out!

Images start off as digital data, calculated by the PC's processor and graphics accelerator, and then are stored in video accelerator buffer memory on the graphics card. On a typical graphics card, this data is run through a DAC or digital-to-analog converter, which changes the digital I/O (on/off) bits of information into a series of analog waves. These waves are then transmitted to the monitor through a set of five wires that are connected to the monitor, one each for red, green, and blue, plus horizontal and vertical synchronization signals. This analog wave information is particularly well suited to CRT operation, as the wave forms can be used to modify the monitor's electron gun beams as they play across the inside surface of the monitor, increasing and decreasing the intensity of the beam to create brighter or dimmer pixels.

Abit ZM6 06:24 am - Kan
This is a new review done by CRUS on the Abit ZM6.

Now Abit has removed the BX chipset in favor of the cheaper ZX chipset but the huge amount of busspeeds still remains, thus making the ZM6 board a great board for someone with a very low budget and who’s still looking into overclocking.

Lately the famous Slot1 Celeron 300A has been harder and hared to find, but the Socket370 PPGA Celeron300A is still fairly easy to get, this gives you another reason to consider the Socket370 platform if you want to get a cheap but fast system.

TNT2/Savage4 06:23 am - Kan
CRUS sent note that they had updated their TNT2 as well as Savage4 previews with shots of the cards as well as other screen shots. If you haven't read it yet, check it out.

The most significant improvement over the original RivaTNT chip is the increase of the clockspeed to 125Mhz (there are lots of speculations of even higher speeds such as 143Mhz or 166Mhz, however Creative couldn’t say anything about this yet) which brings the TNT2’s 3D performance up to that of the original TNT specs.

Further improvements includes a full 32Mb’s of onboard SDRAM wich according to Creative is going to become a de-facto standard during 1999, and they are probably right if you consider the increased amounts of textures we are going to see this year.

15 March 1999 - Monday

Netscape Navigator 5 22:22 pm - Wilfred
ZDNet has an article on Netscape's upcoming Navigator 5 and it's new Gecko layout engine. Looks pretty interesting...

Gessner gave a preview showing of Gecko's features earlier this week at a meeting of the Silicon Valley WebGuild in Santa Clara, Calif. He said Gecko will make Navigator 5 more flexible in its handling of Web data while maintaining a "tiny footprint."

With Gecko, "we are way ahead of the game with CSS," or cascading style sheets, Gessner said."We have a great CSS1, a great XML story, and soon, a great CSS2 story." Other features in the layout engine include support for Document Object Model, a mechanism for manipulating documents via C++ or JavaScript; a high-speed compositing and rendering engine; and support for XUL, a user-interface language.

Live! and MX300 Review 21:10 pm - Wilfred
The champs at Review Zone delivered so many reviews today, yes and here's the Live! and MX300 cards which they put their hands on. Here's a cut on the Live!

Creative is definitely back on top of the charts with the Sound Blaster Live! This new-generation PCI sound card has a lot of potential for the future, thanks to its advanced features and upcoming enhancements. The processing power from the EMU10K1 DSP alone takes this card to new levels of performance. After experiencing gameplay in Environmental Audio-optimized games, few will be happy to settle for anything less in the future. The Sound Blaster Live! creates a truly interactive and immersive gaming experience and sets the standard for sound card technology.

Yup, and also a really good writeup on the MX300 too! Here's a snip on it:

Diamond Multimedia have designed and manufactured the Monster Sound MX300 with the gamer in mind. This sound card offers all the required features for a modern-day gamer.  With the Vortex 2 processor, the card has been introduced to A3D 2.0, which is a marvelous API for 3D sound effects. And since the card also supports Creative’s Environmental Audio, it would seem the Monster MX 300 is a complete package. Considering the features and performance of the Monster MX200, this new version is a radical improvement. The options of adding a wavetable synthesizer and daughtercard to complete Dolby Digital support, this sound card can clearly take a user past 1999. 

But the Monster MX300 wouldn’t suit musicians or audio professionals, because its sound quality is, even by a small margin, inferior to that of Creative’s Sound Blaster Live! What’s more, at the moment this card doesn’t offer as much processing power as the Sound Blaster Live! So for professionals, the Monster MX300 wouldn’t be a very good choice.

N64.IGN's Scoop On Future Nintendo System 20:52 pm - Wilfred
N64.IGN has a fresh new scoop on Nintendo's secret console that's in development. Quite a good read... but judging from the announcements from both Sony and Nintendo, the PlayStation may just win the competition once again.

The original design specs for the N2000 -- a 128-bit system -- called for a 400Mhz port and dual chip design, much like the Nintendo 64. Unlike its predecessor, the new console will of course not feature a MIPS processor in favor of "proprietary technology" developed by ArtX. While the new technology will no doubt be impressive, this also pretty much rules out built-in backwards compatibility as seen in Sony's upcoming PlayStation 2.

No information is available on the unit's clock speed or graphics engine, but design papers written up in early 1998 still estimated the raw polygon output numbers of 20 million polygons per second. According to industry sources, these numbers may even quadruple before the system's release, bringing the Nintendo platform into the realm of Sony's next generation.

Abit BX6 2.0 Review 20:43 pm - Wilfred
Review Zone has a nice long review on the Abit BX6 2.0 motherboard. Yup, take a look at one of the most popular overclocker's board.

I really appreciate the 117MHz FSB setting and the CPU temperature-monitoring feature. Considering its new features, this is a better board than the BH6. More importantly, I managed to hold the Pentium III 500 steady at 620MHz. I don’t know if you guys will have the same success as I did, but the system only crashed twice during a 24-hour Quake II marathon, and I am certainly satisfied with this new setting. (Record-setters, that’s us) But when you think about the real deal, you definitely need not throw away your BH6 for this board. (Unless, of course, you have something like an Asus P2B or Diamond C400, in which case feel free to throw them away.)

Voodoo3 Preview 17:56 pm - Kan
SystemLogic posted a Voodoo3 preview article. Check out the benchmarks. Personally, I will go for the TNT2....

Another drawback that has been made, is the way that Voodoo3's only use about half of the AGP ports potential. The benefits that AGP offers are the doubling of bus speeds(66MHz for AGP opposed to 33MHz for PCI) and the possibility of using system RAM to render additional textures. 3Dfx feels that using system RAM to render textures is too slow, so the Voodoo3 uses fast local RAM on the card itself.

Cooling the Cache 17:54 pm - Kan
HotHardware had an article on "cooling your cache". Check out all the dangerous stunts performed on the poor P2-333 processor.

I know it is hard to see because the rig is almost totally covered in fans! What you are seeing is another set of Dual 5000 RPM Fans blowing air down through the plate and CPU Module Board! This delivers a sweet, cool breeze to the SRAM chips as well as the standard plate cooling effect of the main Heatsink and Fan combo! It also does blow air over the CPU chip.

JoyNet Game Port Hub Review 17:52 pm - Kan
There's a gameport hub review over at Gamewire. Wow, this thing support up to 4 gamepads.

This hub does it all I didn't have one problem with it from force feedback to tilt back to pedals to a standard DOS controllers. This is really suprising because usually when you make something have to travel further or go through unneeded things it causes problems. That has been the major faults of other game port hubs. A lot of them had problems especially with force feedback. On the go switching was as easy as pressing a button. When using the same brand of controllers I had not one problem. But with all good things this thing had its problems. When switching to a different brand of controllers, you had to go into control panel to set them up again. That is still easier then reaching in the back of the computer straining your back, cutting yourself, knocking out a few wires, etc

FPS 2000 Digital Speakers 17:42 pm - Kan
AGN Hardware did a review on the Cambridge FPS 2000 Digital Speakers. Forget about your 4-Pt, get this one!

The subwoofer contains the amplifiers for the satellites and sub as well as a 5 ¼ " side firing bass driver for realistic bass output. As with the satellites, the subwoofer is constructed in a manner that allows it to get the maximum output from the 25 watts (RMS) power that is provided to it. The end result is a very crisp and realistic sounding subwoofer with 105 decibels of sound output. Although not as loud as the 50 watt Midiland S2 4100 subwoofer (110 decibels), the FPS 2000’s subwoofer seemed to put out a cleaner sound.

Motorhead 17:39 pm - Kan
3DsoundSurge had a review on the game Motorhead. This arcade style racer has a lot to offer gamers including true colour graphics, force feed back support and best of all support for all the major 3D audio API's.

Do you remember when the first Voodoo cards came onto the market and we were wowed by the likes of Whiplash Racing and Pod? Well Motorhead is in the same vein as those early titles. Well from Digital Illusions, a small but talented group from Sweden who are backed by Gremlin we get Motorhead which is an arcade-style racer with unrealistic physics and no way to fine tune your car beyond speed, grip and acceleration. No simulation here! But if frantically steering a car traveling through eight graphically luscious fictional tracks at break neck speeds with excellent audio effects whizzing all around is your idea of fun then this is your game.

Headphones trashed out 17:37 pm - Kan
There is a headphones and earphones toe-to-toe (err..head-to-head actually) review over at Singularity.

Every gamer knows that sound and music plays a role in every game played. Be it to enhance the realism and mood or to give them a competitive edge, sound has to be there. Sure, speakers and hifi systems may sound great, especially high-end home entertainment audio systems with professional speakers, amps and subwoofers. However, speakers including Creative's range of multi-speaker systems have now always given the best actuation of 3D positions. Also, what about late night gaming without waking up your entire neighbourhood?

Rise MP6 PR266 17:34 pm - Kan
UpgradeCenter posted a review on the Rise mP6 PR266 processor. It's the first super-scalar, super-pipelined, Pentium MMX compatible processor with a fully pipelined floating point unit.

Gaming and 3D graphics can be very floating point intensive and this is where the Rise mP6 seems to really shine.  To my great surprise, the Rise was every bit as strong as the AMD K6-2 in gaming (without any 3DNow! tweaks enabled).  Since the mP6 doesn't have 3DNow! support, I wanted to remove the effect of 3DNow! out of the equation.   I am disappointed that Rise has forgone 3DNow!, because it can and does make a significant difference when properly applied.   Rise seems to be leaning toward supporting Intel's SSI/KNI instructions in an upcoming product meant for the Socket 370 form factor.  I used a combination of Final Reality and a couple different Quake timedemos.  All the gaming marks point to the Rise mP6 as being very equivalent to the AMD K6-2 (when not utilizing 3DNow! optimizations).

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