21 November 1999 - Sunday

Hardware-One: Aztech RivaTNT2 32T
- Wilfred
Now that Hardware-One has already taken two GeForce cards apart for scrutiny, and no higher end to go (for now?), Aztech sent a piece of their new TNT2-based graphics card for testing. There is no cause for excitement really, but methinks it'll still appeal to budget users while packing a decent punch. Have a read!

The card is well constructed and does not look like a generic noname. Drivers support is top-notched as would all reference boards. So such is the pity, because going by the 6 month product cycle of companies, this card delivers dated performance. There is nothing wrong with this card at all. In fact, had the card been released at a much earlier date, it could have seen some demand.

Leadtek WinFast GeForce Vs Asus V6600 23:55 pm - Wilfred
The battle of 2 GeForces is raging at Dan's Data. Ok, no doubt the countdown to DDR day has started, but now it is still the SDR GeForces that rule the world. So between the Asus and the Leadtek, which would you choose? Let Dan help you decide!

Of the two, I prefer the Leadtek board. It's significantly cheaper, and it comes with TV out and DVD player software. If you just want a board to use with a DVD-ROM drive for movies, you needn't get a GeForce; there are lots of cheaper cards that can do the job just as well. But it's a nice addition to an already great card. The Leadtek software bundle is otherwise not very exciting, but aside from the nifty demos and a couple of pretty old games the ASUS bundle has nothing going for it, either.

Vortex2 SQ3500 23:31 pm - Wilfred
3D Wars posted a review on Aureal's Vortex2 SQ3500 card. Well, this card will be trying to win the hearts of many, with it being especially targeted at the SBLive! camp. Check this snippet:

One of the more interesting features of this new sound card will be the fact that it has a Vortex2 chip on it and has the ability to upgrade the card by adding Turbo DSP modules (made by Motorola). This will produce a more efficient use of A3D in the end. Aside from that, this will be the first sound card to have full support for A3D along side of all of the other major APIs. There will also be a new geometry-based reverb effect in the processor as well. This is a great feature to have for any gamer. Next on the list is the Dolby Digital Hardware Decoding. For those DVD on your PC lovers out there, this option is a very nice touch. It will add that extra bit of realism that you may here in movie theatres. Coming over to the software end, we have quite a bit of newer features to the SQ3500. For starters, the Aureal drivers will allow users to rather customize the way they want to hear sounds (a bit like making your own 'environment' with a SB Live).

Athlon + GeForce Dillema 23:28 pm - Wilfred
If you have been following some of the newsgroups, you would have known that coupling the GeForce and the Athlon posts some incompatibility problems. To what extent is the problem? Well, Wy Mun has had nightmarish nights trying to establish the cause of it while doing his review on an Athlon system. We heard the issues, but today 3DChips posted a blurb and you will want to catch this before making a mismatch.

It appears that the GeForce card is susceptible to AGP line noise interference (not a problem so far on Intel-based machines). The Athlon systems seem especially prone to this due to the complexity of the chip and motherboard design.

There is a hardware fix for this, which basically entails replacing a capacitor on one of the strobe signal pins of the motherboard, or the addition of two capacitors on the GeForce card itself. This will not be done on the GeForce card, however, due to the fact that it will violate the AGP 2.0 spec, and therefore not allow the card to run at AGP 4x should you later upgrade.

Smallest Transistor 23:15 pm - Wilfred
So what's after copper interconnects? Well, smaller transistors? So great, silicon can indeed still go smaller and faster. Check out BBC News' article on this new breakthrough.

The 50-nanometer transistor - roughly 2,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair - is known as a "vertical" transistor because all of its components are built on top of a silicon wafer. Another key difference is that a conventional transistor has only one "gate," which switches current on and off. The vertical transistor, however, resembles a rectangular block with a "gate" on two sides. This means that the vertical transistor could nearly double the processing speeds of some silicon chips.

Wilfred Coughs 23:10 pm - Wilfred
Whoa! A long day out. Forgive us, went on a hot date with Kan-the-hunk to discuss some plans. What do we have to report? Nah, nothing to divulge yet. Something good I suppose? :)

ACT Labs GS Gun System 08:58 am - Kan
Guys, check out Glide Underground review on the ACT Labs GS Gun System. The gun system is easy and fun to use and definitely brings gaming experience to a new level. Here's an excerpt:

The GS Gun System consists of four parts--two lightweight guns, the base, and a little round joystick type thing (although only two devices can be plugged up at once, which usually means the joystick-device, and one gun). The devices plug into the back of the base, which is then plugged into both a traditional gameport, and also into the videocard (the monitor attaches to the GS). The entire set takes on a nice futuristic appearance (unlike that NES gun), making a nice looking peice of hardware for your desktop. All the parts easily fit into the silver base, with the two guns inside rubber holes, and the handheld joystick sliding into a grip at the back.

Transcend TS-AWE1 08:54 am - Kan
Another new review popped out from 3DHardware.net - Transcend TS-AWE1 i810 Slot-1 motherboard.

As for the audio, Transcend chose to go with a "Yamaha 3D PCI Sound Chip", which, as far as I could tell was a Sigmatel STAC9721. This is a full-featured audio codec, with a comprehensive multi-source mixer that can be routed to the two 18-bit DACs for standard audio output, as well as to the True-Line-Level-Outputs with independent volume controls. Two 18-bit ADCs provide high-quality PCM stereo record capability, and can be directed back to the PC via the AC-Link, or mixed along with standard music playback.

Freeway Athlon Motherboard 08:12 am - Kan
Freak! reviewed the Freeway FW-K7VM Athlon motherboard which looks surprisingly similar to the ASUS K7M board. And yes, this board comes in a eye-catching red PCB.

There are a handful of first generation boards out there and I've read reviews about nearly all of them trying to decide which one to get. This board sports some of the best specs out there and is curiously similar to the "unofficial" ASUS K7M that's being sold.  The board continues Freeway's tradition of abandoning the ISA slot and features 1 AMR / 1 AGP / 5 PCI / 0 ISA.  Frankly, I'm not sad to see ISA go and I can't wait till we get rid of all legacy devices.  The AMI BIOS that supports an obscene amount of different FSB settings up to 150MHz (assuming your memory and CPU can make it). The box says that you need at least a 200W power supply to use the board but most people including AMD are recommending a 300W power supply.

Comdex Report 07:53 am - Kan
Boy, more Comdex madness as ReviewFinder also posted their thoughts and what they felt on Comdex:

Spanning 3 huge halls, Comdex is wall-to-wall bright lights, music, and showmanship. Many companies have figured out that one of the best ways to bring computer geeks (who are still mostly men) into their booths is by stocking up on booth-babes. I've never seen so many short short skirts and skin-tight shirts as at this show. The other sure-fire way to block the isles was with song-and-dance shows (such as the Device Girls, a Spice Girls clone), and magicians. Free giveaways also did the trick. I can't believe how long some of the lineups were just to get a free T-shirt. I carted home plenty of free goodies, as you can see here.

TheTechZone also posted their report on Comdex. Lots of pics splashed in the report, here's a whiff:

Comdex without a party is like a first date without a kiss. It just isn't right. I have to tip my hat to Gene Burns from the Maximum PC Network for putting on what has to be the best party at Comdex. Held at the Hard Rock cafe, it had everything. Food, drinks and of course, babes!

Nomad 64MB MP3 Player 07:50 am - Kan
Digital-Clips reviewed the Nomad MP3 Player which comes with 64MB of memory. The thing I like about Nomad is the FM/AM radio receiver, which is really sweet if you are sick of listening to your MP3s. :)

At first glance, the Nomad seems devoid of many of the Rio’s handicaps. For starters, our test machine was loaded with a beefy 64MB memory, half of which resided on a flash card. This is double of the Rio’s wimpy 32MB, offering just over an hour’s worth of CD-quality stereo music at 128kbit/sec (more if you cut down on the bit/rate).

 What really struck us was its incredible compactness. It’s about the size of a deck of cards, give or take some, and fits comfortably in your palm. Slid it into its soft leather case and it slips discretely into pant or shirt pockets. And it’s a true featherweight. At 64g without batteries, you can carry this midget around and forget it’s in your pocket. You’ve gotta hold it to believe it 

Nocturne Review 07:43 am - Kan
Exxtreme3D reviewed Terminal Reality's last game, Nocturne. Yep, it's the game where you shoot mummies around.

Nocturne goes on the premise of working with a character that no one actually knows much about. He moves like a shadow through the darkest pits of hell. He is known only as Stranger. This is a difficult task to accomplish successfully, but Spookhouse didn’t only accomplish it, they excelled and did something no other game has ever done before;They created a really dark, silent main character, while still giving him a deeply disturbing personality.

3DCool Super Slot Fan 07:39 am - Kan
3AG dropped us a line on their review on 3DCool's Super Slot Fan. I've one blowing in my casing and I must say it's pretty effective (ta-da, that's my review on this fan). Anyway, here's some juice from their review:

Enter the Super Duper Slot Fan. What 3DCOOL has created is, in essence, an exhaust fan that takes 60 seconds to install. This little guy fits in one of your card slots and just starts pulling the hot air from your case. No matter what fans you have internally, they will be limited by the ambient case temperature. Slap in a Super Duper Slot Fan, and suddenly the ambient case temp falls. The result is a seriously lower temperature.

20 November 1999 - Saturday

3Dfx Voodoo4/Voodoo5 Comdex Preview
21:59 pm - Kan
De gurus over at AnandTech written a preview on the upcoming 3Dfx's Voodoo4/Voodoo5 chipsets. Yup, 3Dfx's new VSA-100 architecture sure sounds impressive!

The chip is an AGP 4X part, with support for AGP 2X, AGP 1X and PCI operating modes. In spite of this the VSA-100 does not support AGP texturing. 3dfx still feels that AGP texturing is not truly beneficial and thus there is no reason to pursue support for it with their products. The chip itself is composed of 14 million transistors, a little more than half the count of the GeForce, and is manufactured on an enhanced 0.25-micron, 6-layer metal process. The "enhanced" 0.25-micron process just means that it takes advantage of shorter gate lengths, which allow for faster switching thus allowing for higher frequencies and greater yields at those frequencies. According to 3dfx, the 0.18-micron process is not a mature one and thus they felt that they would achieve higher yields on a more mature 0.25-micron process. For reference purposes, the only true 0.18-micron graphics chip available is the mobile Savage MX from S3, with the Savage 2000 being a hybrid 0.18/0.22-micron solution.

Creative GeForce Supercharged! 21:54 pm - Kan
iXBT-Hardware just had an interesting article where they managed to cool the CL GeForce (by throwing the whole system into a fridge!) and have it running stably at 150/210Mhz. Here's the link:

In extreme conditions (chipset frequency increase made 25%, memory - 27%) the card performed 18% faster at 1280x1024, which was also less than we had expected. Why did it happen like that? We think that it is again the system CPU that slows down the whole thing (note: there were no games supporting T&L among those considered).

And what about 32-bit color? Theoretically, the CPU should be powerful enough here and the only thing that may set certain limits is the graphics card and its potential. In normal conditions (chipset frequency increase made 16%, memory - 20%) at 1280x1024 we got a 24% performance gain (at 1024x768 - 12%). Well, now we start to like the situation: it really looks as if such overclocking was worth it.

Wingman Extreme Digital 3D Joystick 21:49 pm - Kan
Our pals over at FiringSquad took a look at Logitech's latest offering - the Wingman Extreme Digital 3D Joystick (darn, what a long name). Anyway, here's the juice:

Among the newest entries to the Wingman line of gaming controllers is the "Wingman Extreme Digital 3D Joystick" (which will be referred to as the ED3D for the rest of the review). The feature set and price of the ED3D places it right into the mid-range of joysticks. This means that this kind of joystick is going to appeal to the broadest spectrum of gamers. It's not fancy enough to satisfy the super hardcore flight sim player, but at the same time it's got enough features to play most action games like Descent 3, Freespace, Mechwarrior 3, etc. It's also a lot more feature packed and sturdy than a bargain stick.

21" Monitors Roundup 21:44 pm - Kan
GamePC dropped us a line on their 21" monitors (woohoos!) roundup. Included in the roundup are models like the Mitsubishi 2020u, Sony GDM 500PS, CornerStone and Viewsonic. Here's an excerpt:

For a long, long while, there has been no huge technological changes to the basic CRT format that is the technology behind the monitor. Sure, as time goes on, they've gotten better dot pitches, supported higher resolutions, and generally looked better overall. Now all of the sudden, monitor makers are seeing a trend moving towards LCD flat-panel monitors becoming standard on desktops, replacing their bulky rounded monitors, which may have been a wake up call to some companies. Now, within the last few months, we're seeing fantastic new large screen CRT monitors, with new features that really make you think twice about writing off the CRT monitor as old technology.

Anyway, the guys also finished their report on what happened on the 3rd day of Comdex. Some of the topics include the 3Dfx 's new VSA100 architecture as well as the ABIT CE6/CB6 motherboards.

If you are in the Comdex madness, check out what CPUReview had to say about Comdex 99.

ABIT BE6-II 21:39 pm - Kan
News is kinda slow today. Anyway, AGN Hardware fired off with a review on the ABIT BE6-II Slot-1 motherboard. Yup, this one comes with the new Soft Menu III which allows 1 Mhz FSB increment up to a maximum of 200 Mhz.

Soft Menu III is rather impressive in capability, but with the BE6-II that capability is severely limited. You see Soft Menu III allows for up to 200MHz for the FSB, a speed that sounds great but it is also impossible. The reason for the lack of higher FSB settings is the fact that the BX chipset only allows for 2/3 for the AGP speed. I don't know about you, but 200MHz with 2/3 for the AGP sounds like a killer for my GeForce. This will change with Intel's next APG 4X supporting i820 and i840 chipsets, so at that time I think that Soft Menu III will be impressive.

Music Clip 21:07 pm - Sniper
This is one hot product from Sony.  About the size of a large pen, this baby can play 2 hrs of mp3s!!!  Go check out its website


MS Bows Out Of Instant Messaging War
13:07 pm - Wilfred
According to this report at The Register, Microsoft decided to stop its scuffle with AOL, and trying to make their user databases 'compatible' (whatever you wanna call that...), and risk exposing users to security risks. Blah...

Microsoft has decided to stop its scrap with AOL about messaging services, claiming that to continue would pose a serious security risk for its users. The security claim was made by Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft director of internet marketing, who said that AOL was using a "very serious security bug" to stop MSN users trying to send messages to AOL Instant Messenger users.

Mehdi's point is that AOL's ability to identify MSN users constitutes a security bug. The two companies have been engaged in an arms race over instant messaging since Microsoft introduced its own service with AOL interoperability. This has been an an-off feature as AOL's programmers introduced mechanisms to block MSN users, then Microsoft's programmers worked to get around AOL's routines, and so on.

3DMark 2000 Pics 12:58 pm - Wilfred
No, it's not FutureMark anymore. MadOnion released some exclusive pics of their next benchmarking software, 3DMark 2000. Looks really sweet, so perhaps our next benchmarking stint won't be so BORING.

Voodoo 3 3000 PCI 12:49 pm - Wilfred
There is a review on the Voodoo 3 3000 PCI edition over at Sharky Extreme. Well, if you don't have an AGP slot, methinks your PC is probably too slow to keep up with the Voodoo 3 anyway. So what the point of this card? A spoilt AGP slot? It's cheaper? WRONG, if you intend to multi-monitor, this can be a good option... coupled with a GeForce on the AGP, you'll get the best of both worlds perhaps?

Overall, the Voodoo3 3000 PCI's performance was pleasingly good in OpenGL and pretty good in D3D as well. It made an excellent showing against the GA660 Plus. The surprising thing was that the Voodoo3 3000 PCI hardly fell behind the V3 AGP. While the Voodoo3 3000 PCI was almost always slightly slower, even the largest performance gaps between the two cards was small. So despite all the wonderful bandwidth of AGP, at least with the Voodoo3, it hardly makes a difference to performance. It should be noted that the V3 AGP does not support AGP texturing, but instead uses 3dfx's own proprietary main memory texturing methods.

19 November 1999 - Friday

Multitalented All-In-One Boards
21:22 pm - Wilfred
Tom's Hardware just put up a massive review of the seemingly popular 'all-in-one' boards from every vendor they have access to (that's virtually everyone!). So in this roundup, you'll find the ATI All-In-Wonder 128, Matrox's Marvel G400TV, Elsa's Erazor III Video, Asus' V3800 Ultra Deluxe, and the Voodoo3 3500TV.

No single board stood out as the absolute leader in this test! However, the 16 MB version of ATI's All in Wonder 128 is in first position. It offers space-saving MPEG recordings at maximum television resolution. A particularly positive aspect of the board is its low price at only 200 dollars. The Philips TV tuner delivers pictures in very good quality. However, two things stopped the board from obtaining the recommendation of the test team. Firstly, you need a powerful CPU (at least a Pentium III 550) in order to record space-saving MPEG 2 videos at full TV resolution in real-time.

V4/V5 And Quantum3D Aalchemy Preview 21:11 pm - Wilfred
SystemLogic's mail just arrived to say they've a preview of 3dfx's next money spinner. Just hear what the ultra-hardcore, Aachemy card, will have to offer to professional uses (simulations/trainings):

The Quantum3D AAlchemy line is for very high end professional implementations such as 3D simulations and training. With support from 8 to 32 VSA-100 processors, it provides much more graphics power than us normal folk can afford.

Now these are specs! With this kind of power, it should be able to render some very detailed simulations. The $40,000 price tag makes it unreachable for most people but it doesn't hurt to dream. I can't even imagine what kind of software would be making use of this card.

Diamond Viper II - Savage 2000 21:06 pm - Wilfred
Many are concerned about the recent announcements on S3's stance on T&L support. There's more confusion than ever... sigh. Savage Daily posted a detailed 7-page review on the card of interest. Don't miss it for the details.

It's hard to rate this card considering that T&L may or may not be enabled anytime soon. Like I said, it's unforgivable when the box clearly states that it has hardware T&L, but then comes back and says it will be enabled in future drivers. The Viper II's benchmark scores weren't too different from the Stealth III's, mainly because it needs a fast processor in tow to deliver its full performance potential. Still, the stability of the drivers compared to the Stealth III, it's overclockability, and the inclusion of a complete ICD that doesn't rely on a minigl for Quake-engine games is a difinite plus even on my system. If S3 keeps its promise and delivers drivers that enable its T&L hardware, this card would most definitely be the card to beat. But, with no T&L so far, I'd advise you to wait until S3 releases drivers with hardware T&L. Even without it, it should provide owners of fast processors with extremely good performance for the money.

Intellimouse Explorer Review 20:53 pm - Wilfred
Still deciding if you'll part with the money? Tech-Review has a review on the rodent if you don't trust us enuf? =) I'll put my money once my trusty Intellimouse 2.0 goes kaput. I support this para fully:

Thoughts on the comfort and design of the Explorer differ from user to user. We found the Explorer to be fairly large and wide in size compared to other mice currently on the market. Its very light plastic construction may feel "cheap" to some users. One interesting phenomenon resulted from excessive gaming use. The Explorer actually tends to make your heat physically sweat at times due to the heat produced the optical sensor. The majority of us here at tech-review.com agreed that the Intellimouse Pro has a better overall feel than the Explorer because of its larger arch and side grip. The Explorer does have an arched shape, but fails to provide the same sort of comforting fit that the Intellimouse Pro provides. When we questioned others for their opinion, they more frequently than not preferred the design and comfort provided by the Explorer.

S3 Savage 2000 (Diamond Viper II) 14:23 pm - Kan
De gurus over at AnandTech fired off their thoughts on the new Diamond Viper II graphics card based on the S3 Savage 2000. Looks like the Savage 2000 will be a real stealer if the price is right. Here's an excerpt:

Because at least the transistors of the chip are based on the 0.18-micron design, it is very likely that the Savage 2000 will be a pretty good overclocker. The Diamond Viper II, the first Savage 2000 based video card, ships without a fan because of this. Adding a fan would probably allow for a fairly successful overclock on the Savage 2000 chip itself. Don’t expect anything like a 125MHz to a 200MHz overclock, but reaching at least 150MHz shouldn’t be a difficult task to accomplish.

ATI Rage Fury MAXX 13:44 pm - Wilfred
iXBT's mail just popped in telling me to check out this preview they've written on ATI's Rage Fury MAXX. It's an innovation no doubt, but will it see success? Have a look:

Well, we can state that ATI was again late for the give-away show. Only if ATI develops a highly aggressive pricing policy, RAGE FURY MAXX will get a chance to occupy a certain market sector at least till the amount of games optimized for hardware T&L reaches the critical point and the geometric coprocessor becomes a must. According to the most pessimistic forecasts it may happen by the end of the year 2000, and as to the most optimistic ones, - by the middle of the year 2000. This info actually seems rather credible because the mentioned forecasts were made by game developers, who should have enough evidence to prove their point.

x86 CPU Chart Updated 13:42 pm - Wilfred
My pen pal at CoolComputing informed me that his x86 CPU Chart has just seen another update. Go check it out for what's in store in the coming millennium.

State Of The Celerons 13:39 pm - Wilfred
Extreme Hardware posted a blurb on the current state of Celerons, which being the most popular overclocking candidates and more. I think you will want to take a look, the Celerons have saved many a lot of money. =)

... it’s not hard to see why the Celeron 400 is the overclocking Celeron of choice right now. Using a motherboard capable of 90-99 MHz bus speeds, the C400 should easily hit one of the >90 MHz bus speeds and you still have a shot at hitting the incredible 600 MHz mark. Moving up to the C433, the overclock gets a bit more risky, especially since the initial 90 MHz setting results in a high 585 MHz speed. If you’re lucky enough to nab one capable of 585 MHz, then moving up from a 90 MHz bus may yield some serious increases (many MBs offer 1 MHz increments). The C466’s overclocking options are even more limited, especially the 630 MHz speed at a 90 MHz bus. With this evidence in hand, the Celeron I’d recommend for overclocking would be the C400, and the absolute highest I’d go would be the C433.

WinBench 2000 Benchmark Summary 11:39 am - Wilfred
Mike Chambers of nV News pointed us to ZDNet's benchmark summary of the current crop of video cards using the recently released WinBench 2000. Whoa, check out how much the GeForce puts behind the competition.

The Register Rings! 11:31 am - Wilfred
Two short blurbs at The Register I thought you'll like to read about. First about this new "Reviews-On-Demand" website called IT Network that promises to review ANYTHING you want within 2 weeks. Oh boy! The skepticism is there, but no harm trying them out huh? But don't just forsake us mm'kay! The second news is about AMD finally getting down to trademark the Athlon and Magic Packet names. So ah, you crazy fools... no Athlon keychains!

First
If you want "in-depth analysis of today's IT issues, or a review of cutting-edge hardware or software", all you have to do is email editor Craig Hinton, and the IT Network team will "endeavour to have your Product Spotlight or Business Solution on IT Network.com within two weeks".

This is either very ambitious or very stupid. Give it a twirl and see if it can deliver promise to supply content-on-demand.

Second
The trademark AMD, according to the application, covers key rings, key ring tags, pocket knives, computer mouse pads, wrist rests, water bottles, clocks, radios, watches, pens, pencils, letter openers, calculators, water bottles, letter openers, paperweights, memo clips, name badge lanyards, and briefcases.

No Hardware T&L In Savage 2000 11:27 am - Wilfred
Duh?! What a disappointment! The words "Viper II Defanged" couldn't have been more appropriate when I came across this news at Maximum PC. I don't understand the rationale behind this. Somebody tell me... or read this:

S3 confirmed today that the Savage 2000-based Viper II will not support hardware transform and lighting. The new card, which is slated to ship this Friday, will instead do T&L through software.

Although S3 attributed this feature drop to the current lack of hardware T&L support in games, they did not address the poor performance issues that have plagued their hardware T&L engine since day one. Interestingly enough the hardware support is still in the chip itself and will make its appearance later in a limited edition Viper II board that will be clocked significantly higher.

Sennheiser HD 600 Headphones 11:18 am - Wilfred
The brand is selling at Sim Lim Square for those of you residing here in Singapore. Anyhows, Sharky Extreme has a review on this pair of standard setting headphones from Sennheiser.

Sennheiser has long been recognized as the standard for quality in the headphone industry, and rightfully so. Their studio quality headphones are known for delivering crystal clear sound, superb frequency response, and maximum comfort. For any avid audio enthusiast looking to expand their audio experience, the HD 600s are definitely an investment worth thinking about.

Some Updates 06:12 am - Kan
Spotted the new BP6 BIOS NJ over at BP6.COM. This one comes with the official version (v1.21) of the HPT366 controller.

Also, Philipp from NT Compatible told us that Windows RC3 Build 2183 is available for official beta testers from ntbeta.microsoft.com.

The Speed of the Computer Industry 06:11 am - Kan
ActiveWin written an article called The Speed of the Computer Industry. Do you find the computer industry too fast pacing? Well, at least I do. I've only been away for a couple of days and I'm lost about the state of development. Gee....

In the computer retail market that I work in it is quite scary when you have customers coming up to you to buy their first PC and you tell them that the PC they are about to buy will probably be out of date by the time they pay for it in about a years time. Now this isn't always true mainly for the fact it is down to what the PC is going to be used for. If the customer is just going to be using their PC for word processing then they won't really care that much the speed it will run at in a years time. But the bulk of people that are buying it will most probably be having games on that PC and want their PC to last as long it can. 

Tekram DC-390U2W SCSI Controller 06:05 am - Kan
Active-Hardware sent note on their latest review on the Tekram DC-390U2W SCSI Controller. Good and expensive stuffs, here's some juice:

The DC-390U2W is a PCI card based around the Symbios Logic SYM53C895 chipset, which controls both the 68-pin Ultra-2 SCSI channel, and its 50-pin Ultra Wide SCSI sibling. The DC-390U2W allows 15 SCSI devices to be chained together. Onboard, there is a 1MB flash-BIOS that can also be reset and updated at need.

The DC-390U2W supports the "LVD" (Low Differential Voltage) standard for noise reduction, increased performance, and the use of longer cables. The DC-390U2W is also supplied with an Ultra 2 SCSI cable, an Ultra Wide SCSI cable, an Ultra-2 SCSI terminator, an internal to external Ultra-2 SCSI connector, a user's manual, and diskettes containing the necessary device drivers.

ASUS V6600 06:04 am - Kan
We have another review of the ASUS V6600 GeForce graphics card review over at PC Gunk

The GeForce is here, and with a good reason. Nvidia saved time for the GeForce by just doing a little in the move from the TNT to the TNT-2. They just raised core clock and improved the core just a bit. Clock for clock, though, the TNT-2 is faster than the TNT. It also has double the amount of RAM on-board. If we stick with the GeForce from now, I think that we should be able to manage through the year 2000 with good framerates. There is only one thing which should be considered, IF games do not support T&L and don't have a high polygon count, then the GeForce will not be enough for gamers through the year 2000.

SystemLogic Rant 06:02 am - Kan
David from SystemLogic dropped us a line on their new section called SystemLogic Rant where they will touch on some of the interesting topics around the net community. Here's what in store:

At the moment, Windows 98 is the default operating system for retail PCs. I don't feel that's fair to the other operating systems out there (Linux, BeOS, etc.) which are just as good if not better than Windows. Granted Windows is probably the most user friendly OS out there, that doesn't mean that the other OSes shouldn't at least be available. With user friendly distributions of Linux popping up everywhere, Linux is starting to move into the mainstream. This antitrust trial may just be what the competition needs to catch up. It also means more variety out there, not only in operating systems but other types of software which Microsoft is dominant in. 

Solider of Fortune 06:01 am - Kan
Our pals over at FiringSquad whipped up a preview on Solider of Fortune. The game looks pretty interesting and should be fun to frag in! 

As we mentioned earlier, SoF uses a highly modified version of the Quake 2 engine. At first glance, the models are very reminiscent of your old favorites. However, seeing the game in motion and taking a closer look, you'll realize how hard Raven worked on the engine. This is definitely not a Quake 2 rehash!

18 November 1999 - Thursday


Sharky's Private Eye
23:13 pm - Wilfred
A couple of things caught the attention of Sharky's Private Eye. Some of which like Microsoft's X-Box, nVidia's plans to make PCI version of the GeForce, ATI's 'Rage 6' chip, and 3dfx's VSA-100 graphic processors. Now is that enough to tickle your interest?

A 'Rage 6 derivative' could be exactly what the doctor (or in this case Uncle Billy) ordered. We hear it'll have an on-board geometry co-processor with a full transformation and lighting engine capable of some 45 million textured triangles per second (60 million transform-only) and even support things like vertex blending as the GeForce 256 currently does (could be an important element for the next generation of 3D character-driven sports games). As with their Rage Fury MAXX, the Rage 6 chip is reported to have all the HDTV and hardware motion compensation features as well as their exceptional work on DVD support.

Wilfred Coughs 22:56 pm - Wilfred
Whoa! A long long day out today. Pampered myself by getting a set of the DTT2500 Digital as well as Creative's Surround Station (the overhead speaker stands that appeared on yesterday's Computer Times).

Seems like The Surround Station is only available in Singapore, featuring retractable overhead speaker stands, which should appeal to those of you without suitable room configurations for your rear speakers. Now you can set up your multi-speaker kit just like Creative is doing at their Funan showroom. For those of you not from Singapore, I may get some pics for you guys once Yingzong is done with the digital camera on other 'projects'. =)

Oh well, I was really impressed with what came in the box of the DTT2500, attention to detail was amazing. I was quite knocked off looking at the numerous bunch of cables of various lengths, a quadzillion number of different connectors, stands, stickers, mounting screws, adhesive tapes... so much... but the manual made it understandable. Nonetheless, you'll need quite a bit of time to set up the entire system, and to mount the speakers onto the Surround Station (which was surprisingly sturdy!). Rant.. rant.. rant.. =)

Age Of Wonders Game Review 19:00 pm - Yingzong
3D Rage has done a review on the turned-based strategy game, Age Of Wonders. It's a fantasy wargame comparable to the likes of Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri and 3DO's Heroes of Might and Magic. The guys don't think that it's such a cool game and have given it the nay-say. Here's a take :

Age of Wonders is a huge disappointment in my opinion. I expected an extemely fun experience that let you traverse through a fantasy storyline of swords and sorcery, but instead you get a game that bores the hell out of you and doesn't offer enough options to justify the purchase of a genre that practically demands a myriad of options and features to keep the player interested and occupied. The graphics and interface are horribly dated, and the gameplay suffers from a variety of design flaws that have been discussed on previous pages. I wouldn't advise anybody to spend $50 on this game, and if you would like a good turn based strategy game go pick up a copy of Alpha Centauri.

MSI 3D AGPhantom TNT2 Card Review 18:55 pm - Yingzong
A graphics card by reputed mainboard producer MSI? Yup... MSI has jumped into the 3D video card bandwagon and has produced a TNT2 card called the 3D AGPhantom. Hardware Unlimited has done a short review on it and has given it the thumbs up.

The AGPhantom is an very good all around card. It has excellent 2D and 3D performance and very good visual quality. Also, the fact that the card can be easily overclocked is a definite plus. The downsides of the card are the short manual and the small software bundle. But the upsides of this card definitely outwiegh the downsides and I recommend it as both a gaming video card as well as a multi-purpose video card.

ZDNet Has Portal in Singapore 18:45 pm - Yingzong
ZDNet has sent us word about their new Asian portal in Singapore. It's appropriately titled ZDNetAsia : The Internet and Technology Hub of Asia. You might want to check this out.

China May Include Cyber-Warfare Into Military 11:20 am - Wilfred
The Washington Times is sounding the alert that China may set up a Net Force as a fourth branch to its armed services. Whoa, this is not Tom Clancy writing... but well, I'm not surprised that China will want to do that close the gap with the U.S. as a economic and military giant.

"It is essential to have an all-conquering offensive technology and to develop software and technology for Net offensives so as to be able to launch attacks and countermeasures on the Net, including information-paralyzing software, information-blocking software, and information-deception software," the newspaper stated.

"Some of these are like bombs, they are electronic bombs which saturate the enemy's cyberspace," the article stated. "Some are like paintings, they are electronic scrawls which appear and disappear on the enemy's pages in chaotic fashion. Some are like phantoms and electronic flying saucers which come and go on the Net and disrupt the enemy's systems, and it is also possible to develop masquerade technology to steal the Internet command power."

Guillemot Maxi Gamer Cougar 11:11 am - Wilfred
Here's another Guillemot card reviewed today. HardwareCentral took the low-end TNT2 M64-based card for a spin. This card is MOST definitely not for serious gamers, but it'll do very fine to power your Windows and some RTS games.

In today’s market there are low-priced cards that aren’t as limiting "feature-wise", such as the Savage 4, the ATI Rage Fury and cards based on the TNT2 M64. The TNT2 M64 is a chip identical to the popular TNT 2 chip, but with only a 64-bit memory bus as opposed to the 128-bits of the TNT 2. This review is on Guillemot's TNT2 Maxi-Gamer Cougar, a TNT2 m64-based card with 32 MB of video memory.

Microsoft IE 5.01 08:55 am - Sniper
I'm not really a fan of Microsoft but I guess it's my job to report this piece of news.  Go grab it here.  Hmm... will there be more bugs to come?

0.18-Micron K6
08:49 am - Sniper
This might be old news but anyway this is what AMD introduced at the Comdex.

As little as a month ago, AMD representatives had not
officially committed to the "K6-2+," a chip that integrates
128 kilobytes of Level 2 cache onto the die. Now they
have, and AMD plans to produce the chip in the first
quarter of 2000 for value-class PCs. At the same time,
AMD plans to release the "K6-III+," which has 256
Kbytes of on-chip cache. The K6-III+ and the K6-2+
will have what AMD calls "enhanced mobile features" to
differentiate them from the older products. 

Kan Yawns 05:20 am - Kan
Okay, just to let you guys know I'm still kicking (barely). Will be back full-time this weekend though. Just to let you know we have some exciting stuffs waiting to dish out to you guys, so stay tune! :)

SiN Tweak Guide 05:16 am - Kan
If you play SiN, then check out 3DSpotlight's tweak guide on how to optimize the gameplay

First of, get the patches for Sin, the latest version is 1.10. These will fix the various problems that had plagued Sin since initial release. You can download the patches, 1.01, to 1.10 from Ritualistic. You should also get the Redemption bot as well.

Second, get the latest drivers for your video card, 3dfx users will need the latest minigl release also to allow for higher resolutions in the game.

As mentioned further down below these tweaks can be used for Sin, Wages of Sin and SinCTF, although it has been most thoroughly tested in the original game itself.  

HP 8210i CDRW 05:15 am - Kan
Looking for a CD-RW? Check out Scott's Hardware review on the HP 8210i 4424 CDRW drive.

The HP CD-Writer Plus 8210i drive itself is packaged securely within the box, and the included accessories are packed in egg-carton type material. One of the first things I noticed when pulling everything out of the box was the users manual, this is a very big and through manual and will answer many of the questions you have about your new drive, and CD recording in general. This is a big plus in my opinion, as I feel too many questions are left for you to find answers to on your own, either by searching the manufactures web site, or fruitlessly searching the meager help files included with most installation software.

Quake 1.09 Results on GeForce SDR 05:13 am - Kan
nv News dropped us a line on some benchmark results on the latest version of Quake 1.09 on the GeForce SDR graphics card. Here's some scope:

Even the phrase "high frame rates" is a point that's been endlessly debated.  Suffice it to say that it means different things to different players.  While 40 frames per second is acceptable performance for some, 60, 80, or even 100fps is a requirement for others.  "Different strokes, for different folks."

Guillemot 3D Prophet GeForce SDR 03:06 am - Wilfred
I thought Guillemot renamed their graphics division Hercules already? Hmmm.... well, anyhows... GamePC seem to be the first to score an official review on the 3D Prophet GeForce SDR. They've managed to clock it to a cool 150/200Mhz. WOW!

On to core and memory overclocking, which was quite successful with Guillemot's Xentor card. We can gladly say, the tradition goes on with the Prophet. In our Pentium III 600B testbed, we were able to up the speeds from 120/166 core/memory to a nicer 145/190, without any extra cooling! During each clock speed 5 MHz markup, we ran a Quake3 Demo loop and 3DMark 99 Max to ensure reliability. At 150/195, the card simply gave up, than we decided to give it a little wakeup call by slapping our good friend The Card Cooler on it. With the extra cooling, we were able to clock it up to 150/200 core/memory, at completely stable levels. After 150/205, the card gave us visual artifacts and crashed quite often. Still, a 30 MHz clock speed jump is nothing to scoff at, it even raised our Quake3 HQ benchmarks up a nice 13 FPS. Of course, every board is different and your results may vary.

Asus V6600 Review At Dan's Data 01:52 am - Wilfred
Dan's Data reviewed the Asus V6600 card too and hear what they have to say about the GeForce card. We have a gaudy icon above too, I'm sure you didn't miss it?

If you've got a decent 3D card at the moment (a TNT or TNT2, or a Voodoo 3, for instance) and you're considering upgrading, I recommend you hold off until the games catch up with the hardware. If you've got a graphics card with lousy-to-no 3D capability, though, a GeForce bought today will not fall far behind the pack for quite a while. It's not the greatest of bargains, but neither is it ludicrously expensive.

Other, slightly cheaper GeForce cards will be along very shortly - LeadTek's WinFast GeForce board should sell for a little less than the ASUS card, and have TV out as well. But if you're looking to spend a lot less on a new 3D card, you'll either have to wait a while or settle for a nice little TNT2 or similar older card. Which, as the Quake 3 results above show, may be only half the price but sure isn't only half the speed.

Comdex Report #2 01:33 am - Wilfred
FiringSquad has got their part 2 of the Comdex report ready. Damn, we can only content with reading about the fun they're having in the U.S. =) The boys shot off some questions to nVidia to see if the company sees the V4/V5 as a threat...

We asked Derek about his opinion of 3dfx's new multi-chip solution, and he responded that 3dfx's having to resort to a multi-chip solution shows the difference between the quality of the design teams of both companies. If a company only has a handful of good engineers, it'll be easier for them to have a multi-chip solution than actually designing a new single chip architecture.

That sounded like a clear challenge to us. We'll have to wait and see how 3dfx's next-gen "formerly known as Rampage" card performs against Nvidia's NV20. Speaking of the NV20, we asked Derek about Nvidia's next generation product. While Nvidia will have a higher clocked GeForce chip for the spring product cycle, they are still hard at work on their new graphics chip. With ATI's Rage Fury MAXX and 3dfx's new Voodoo5, a few have speculated that Nvidia might also be working on a multi-chip solution for their next generation.

What's next?
We asked Derek about the possibility of Nvidia's next-gen being a multi-chip design, and he immediately responded that it would be a whole new architecture: no multiple chips here.

i820 RoundUp At GameSpot 01:26 am - Wilfred
The GameSpot put together a roundup of 733 Mhz Coppermine CPUs on i820 boards, RDRAM and more fanciful stuffs to see how the Athlon stood against them.

The results turned out to be more interesting than I thought. The much-maligned RDRAM seemed to make a big difference in the synthetic CPU tests, which leaves me scratching my head. There's a near-universal belief that the WinBench CPUMark test is heavily cache dependent, but the VC820 showed a substantial improvement over the CC820 running the same CPU. Interestingly, the FPUMark scores were nearly a wash.

The 3D WinBench processor tests showed that the 733 was about 10 percent faster than the Athlon. Note that 3D WinBench 99 uses the DirectX 6.0 3D pipeline (not DX7). That means Intel's SSE instruction set was used for Coppermine, and 3DNOW! was used with the Athlon 700. The differences seem faster than the mere clock rate difference at first.

But then look at the scores for the 733MHz CPU in the CC820 and Trinity motherboards. Those scores are much closer to the slower-clocked Athlon. Once again, it seems that PC800 RDRAM has had an impact on the performance of the Coppermine CPU. AGP wasn't a factor here, since the 3D WinBench CPU tests use a null driver and never write out to the frame buffer.

Linksys USB Network Adapter 01:19 am - Wilfred
SystemLogic did a review on Linksys' USB Network Adapter that will connect to any 10/100 Mbits LAN. Yingzong did a review on a similar product from SmartNIC, so compare the two and see if they drew the same conclusions for this kind of products?

Linksys is really keeping up with changing technology by providing a USB networking device that you can practically take everywhere you go. Unfortunately, while the product is one of the best of its kind, its performance is limited by externalities. If you have your mind set on USB, I would recommend the Linksys USB Ethernet adapter in a flash. If you can handle a PCI Ethernet card, I would go with the PCI.

TennMax Stealth V3 Fighter Cooler 01:14 am - Wilfred
ReviewNews sent note about their review on the Stealth V3 Fighter Cooler from TennMax. Those of you with V3 cards may want to sit up and check if your card is too hot to the touch, then consider if forking out these extra bucks is worth it.

Now some might think that benchmarking by home users is nothing more than a bunch of ego gratifying garbage. In fact, the opposite is true. For the most part, benchmarking has been misused my manufacturers that have rigged thier machines, components, what-have-you, in order to appear to be higher in quality and better in performance. By home benchmarking, all we do is take the power back. We test and compare, and see where our machines stand and fall. In this way, we can even make more informed and smarter upgrade decisions having seen the results for ourselves -- and not relying on what the marketing weenies want to tell us.

17 November 1999 - Wednesday


D-Link DFE-910 Network Kit Review
18:45 pm - Yingzong
The Tech Report has done a review on the D-Link DFE-910 all-in-one solution networking kit. I personally own the predecessor to the DFE-910, the DFE-905, and I find it an excellent performer. I strongly recommend either of these products by D-Link as a home networking solution. Here's what the guys say :

OK, so now that I've talked about all the various parts of the kit, I should probably give you my personal impressions of using the product. Essentially, everything worked just as advertised. I installed the cards into the computers, booted them up and let the drivers load, plugged them into the switch, and that was that. Aside from a one-time problem with the switch "locking up" and needing to be powered down and powered back up, I have encountered no problems with the hardware. It's difficult to say what caused the lockup, but it's hardly unheard of with networking hardware in general. Personally I've had much more expensive switches at my workplace lock up more often than this one did.

Believe me, I tried to look for problems with the product. I looked for bad documentation, flaky cheap hardware, and all the other nasty things that I really thought would be in any switched Fast Ethernet kit selling for just over a hundred bucks. There just weren't many bad things to find. Aside from a rather loud fan, I found the whole kit to be top notch. In fact, I'm gonna give it the Ferris Bueuller treatment: "It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up."

MS SideWinder Dual Strike Controller Review 18:30 pm - Yingzong
Fragging is a popular past time these days and MS's Dual Strike might just be the ticket for you guys uncomfortable with the keyboard and mouse. Extreme Hardware has done a review on this novel controller and finds that the keyboard/mouse champion combination still rules. Check it out :

Like the Panther XL and SpaceOrb 360 before it, the Dual Strike has a very long learning curve, especially if you’re already an experienced keyboard/mouse player. If anyone tells you that you can become acclimated to the Dual Strike in an hour, don’t believe them. It took me somewhere between 15-20 hours of serious gameplay to get to the point where the Dual Strike felt comfortable, and I could just load up a new game and jump right in. The first feeling you’ll experience with the Dual Strike is one of disorientation, followed by short bouts of irritation, then finally a grudging acceptance as you become more and more proficient.

The Microsoft Sidewinder Dual Strike shows signs of a definite Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde syndrome. In some cases, it’s a very functional, comfortable and enjoyable controller, but in others it just can’t seem to cut the mustard. Over a period of time, I got quite good using the Dual Strike with single-player games, but no matter how hard I practiced, it did not have the control or speed needed to compete in the ultra-competitive online gaming world. The Dual Strike is by no means a poor FPS game controller and does compare favorably to the Panther XL and SpaceOrb 360, but like all others before, it does fail to unseat the current keyboard/mouse champion.

Quantum Fireball Ict Review 18:20 pm - Yingzong
StorageReview has done an article on the Quantum Fireball Ict (QM326000LCT-A). This offering by Quantum is a low-cost, entry-level solution. It is an ATA/66 drive which runs at 5400rpm and packs an 8.7GB storage capacity. Here's a quick take :

The lct operates quietly, perhaps just a bit louder than the DiamondMax VL20. Perhaps this can be attributed to the larger (yet faster) actuator found in the lct. It spreads its data over three platters as opposed to Maxtor's two disks. Heat, as one may expect, isn't an issue.

Overall, the Fireball lct holds its own quite well when compared to the DiamondMax VL20. A decent showing when one consideres that the lct is really a competitor to the yet-to-be-reviewed-yet-older DiamondMax VL17. The 10.2 gig/platter lct10 is more proper competition. We hope to get our hands on both the VL17 and the lct10 shortly. Again, however, we should point out that value drives such as these are more likely to be used in especially cost-conscious situations (the 4.3 gig lct, for example, is projected to have a street price of less than $100), not in power-using StorageReview.com-reader rigs. Even if you prefer the quiet and cool operation of a 5400rpm drive, non-value offerings from Maxtor and Western Digital would fit the bill better.

Double Speed IEEE 1394 08:10 am - Wilfred
Whoa, the silicon for double-speed 800Mbps IEEE 1394 can be expected in volumes come Q1 2000. Lacking now is support for it and perhaps being a little 'overspec-ed'?

The speed hike is the result of the already announced 1394b spec., launched in the face of Intel's Universal Serial Bus 2.0, which is now promised to reach 400Mbps and up mid-2000. USB 2.0 isn't expected to appear in product form until late next year, so if the 1394 TA's schedule is met, 800Mbps 1394 devices should be out well in advance of the Intel-sponsored solution.

The 1394 TA's chairman, James Snider, was typically bullish, claiming that 90 per cent of all camcorders to be released in Japan next year will support 1394. Fine, but so far only three PC vendors are backing the technology: Sony, Fujitsu and its inventor, Apple. Snider also cited upcoming 1394-based printers from Epson, scanners from Umax and mass storage products from Fujitsu. Again, that's hardly a massive vote of support from the PC peripherals industry.

While 800Mbps is a significant step forward in throughput, only digital video applications are ever likely to benefit, which is the one 'flaw' with 1394 -- it's too highly specced for almost all PC-centric applications. A 1394 printer is as daft an idea as a SCSI-based one -- printers a limited by the speed of the print engine, not the speed of data moving from host PC to peripheral.

NT4 SP6 Breaks Lotus Notes 08:05 am - Wilfred
Um, no I'm sure they didn't do it on purpose? Check this newsflash at ZDNet concerning a recently discovered flaw with the latest service pack for NT4.

A potentially very serious bug in Windows NT Service Pack 6, which is actually meant to repair existing problems with the operating system, was uncovered Monday.

The flaw means that users will be denied access to Lotus Notes on NT unless they have been granted administrative access to the entire network. This opens up a potentially disastrous scenario in which network administrators could be forced to grant users root access to a network, enabling them to use important databases and email facilities. This could mean grave security breaches or errors in network configuration.

How To Benchmark That System 07:58 am - Wilfred
Maximum3D has put together a guide teaching you how to carry out benchmarks on that new system you purchased. Here's a blurb to justify home benchmarking and why you may want to do that.

Now some might think that benchmarking by home users is nothing more than a bunch of ego gratifying garbage. In fact, the opposite is true. For the most part, benchmarking has been misused my manufacturers that have rigged thier machines, components, what-have-you, in order to appear to be higher in quality and better in performance. By home benchmarking, all we do is take the power back. We test and compare, and see where our machines stand and fall. In this way, we can even make more informed and smarter upgrade decisions having seen the results for ourselves -- and not relying on what the marketing weenies want to tell us.

16 November 1999 - Tuesday


Comprehensive 1st Look At The Voodoo 4 & 5
23:40 pm - Wilfred
This one is JUST IN. FiringSquad dropped us a note about their first hand coverage at Comdex, scoring a comprehensive first look into 3dfx's recently announced Voodoo 4 and 5. Though I must say I'm thoroughly impressed with the performance specifications and the possibilities opened with killer fill-rates, is this an overkill (or perhaps I'm saying this too early in the game)? Check this out and decide for yourself... some of you might even bypass the Voodoo 4 for the 5.

The essence of VSA-100 is the ability to run anywhere from one to 32 VSA processors in "SLI" parallel. A VSA-100 card can have 1, 2, 4 ,8, 16, or 32 chips on-board (or spanning multiple boards). In addition, each chip can address up to 64MB of local on-board memory. For example, a dual-chip 64MB VSA board has 32 MB of RAM dedicated to each chip, whereas a single-chip board with the same amount of RAM has the entire 64 MB (the limit of the chip) to itself. Scaling up, a 32-chip solution can have a maximum of 2GB of RAM.

The consumer roadmap for VSA-100 spans the entire life of the product, and ranges from one to four processors. This yields anywhere from 33Mpixels/sec to 1.47 Gtexels/sec, ranges from 16-128MB of RAM, and will be available for anywhere from $179 up to $599.

Hold it! I think this deserves a mention as well... Ohmigawd! The Voodoo 5 6000, while delivering up to 1.47 Gigapixels/s at 183Mhz by harnessing a total of 4 VSA-100 processors (and 128Mb RAM total to accompany it), will require another power source (externally for the 6000, but another internal source for the 5000 and 5500 model).

Canon S10 Review 23:35 pm - Wilfred
Yes, those of you looking for a really compact digital camera that delivers the punch, check out Canon's latest PowerShot S10! Encased in a sexy silver body, the 2.1 MegaPixel mini will fit nicely into pockets and yet deliver stunning pictures. Digital Photography Review has a full writeup on it. It's "Highly Recommended".

The Canon S10 certainly sets new ground, and I'm sure it's sent a few manufacturers racing back to the drawing board (as I'm sure the 950 did when it was released). The S10 is just so good on so many grounds it goes high on my favourite digicams list. With the addition of USB, CF Type II, Super-Fine JPEG, its small size and value for money, if you can live with the limited zoom ability then the S10 is one camera that ANYONE considering buying a digicam should have somewhere in their list.. (somewhere near the top).

Altec-Lansing ACS-54 PowerPlay Plus 23:27 pm - Wilfred
Right! Just the right review to read after my PCWorks went bust! 3DSoundSurge thrown together a review on Altec-Lansing's ACS-54 system. It's an all black, four speaker setup. Looks neat!

The satellites deliver clear clean highs and midrange in for gaming CDs and MP3 playback. The subwoofer delivers solid "non-boomy" bass with good performance at reasonable loud volume, but, as mentioned above, if you crank up the volume to max the subwoofer will be lacking. As you can see from the score above the ACS54 are by no means the loudest speakers we have tested so if you want a set of speakers that will damage your eardrums or replace your stereo system look elsewhere. Don’t mistake that for me saying they are quiet, as they are not when you sit next to the computer. The ACS54 can certainly crank out good volume but the systems performs better in terms of quality than loudness. The quality is not top notch either and while I would say they offer good quality for music it's not excellent, clearly behind the DigiTheatre and the ProMedia.

Grand Unified Theory By 2050 23:20 pm - Wilfred
Inquisitive mankind will be able to come up with a unified theory for physics come 2050, says Scientific American. The pursuit to understand the science of things around us never ceased, but what's grander than summing the big picture together? The immense task could be achieved in another 50 years.

Einstein devoted the last 30 years of his life to an unsuccessful search for a "unified field theory," which would unite general relativity, his own theory of space-time and gravitation, with Maxwell's theory of electromagnetism. Progress toward unification has been made more recently, but in a different direction. Our current theory of elementary particles and forces, known as the Standard Model of particle physics, has achieved a unification of electromagnetism with the weak interactions, the forces responsible for the change of neutrons and protons into each other in radioactive processes and in the stars. The Standard Model also gives a separate but similar description of the strong interactions, the forces that hold quarks together inside protons and neutrons and hold protons and neutrons together inside atomic nuclei.

Quantum3D AAlchemy GigaPixel Card 23:13 pm - Wilfred
You've heard 3dfx's new war plans, now their foremost knight will be Quantum3D. The company famous for spit shining already high-end products will be debuting the first Gigapixel 3D card. Wow, so does fill-rate still dominate? Check out the complete press release.

SAN JOSE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 15, 1999-- Quantum3D(TM) Inc., the leader in PC-based interactive 3D visual computing systems, today unveiled detailed specifications for AAlchemy(TM) -- the Company's new family of advanced realtime 3D graphics subsystems that exploits the revolutionary scalability of the newly announced 3dfx® VSA-100(TM) graphics chip technology.

AAlchemy can be configured to deliver sustained fill rate performance with full-scene, sub-pixel anti-aliasing that scales from 140 Megapixels-per-second to more than 1 Gigapixel-per-second per channel.

Seamless Scalability
AAlchemy is a uniquely scalable graphics subsystem family for Quantum3D's Heavy Metal(TM) line of PC-based image generators. Each AAlchemy graphics subsystem or channel consists of one, two or four modules or boards, equipped with four or eight chips and their associated memory compliment of either 32MB or 64MB per chip.

White House And Microsoft's Anti-Trust Woes 23:02 pm - Wilfred
So how are they related? I haven't a clue myself, but CNet is reporting that presidential candidate, Al Gore, commented that the White House will be involved in Microsoft's settlement talks with the Justice Department, after his visit to Microsoft's campus. I'm puzzled.

"The values that are inherent in the antitrust laws are ones that are sound in my opinion," Gore, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, said. "If dominance in one area is used to prevent competition in another area, that is wrong," he added.

He also told a press conference after the visit that neither he nor President Bill Clinton had anything to do with the Justice Department's pursuit of Microsoft. "These are not political decisions," he said of the Justice Department's efforts.

But he added that he expected that the White House would get involved in any settlement talks between the company and the Justice Department when antitrust remedies get discussed.

Wow thing 23:05 pm - David
System Logic has done a review on the Wow thing :-), impressive name eh? It's basically an "audio enhancement device" to make your music sound nicer.

Millions of people listen to music on their computers, ranging from the kid who downloads all the mp3s he can to the businessman who listens to his CD’s on the computer at work. Most people are content with the sound quality that the computer speakers and sound cards produce but others demand every ounce of response and bass from their systems as they can. This is where the WOW Thing from SRS Labratories, a name synonymous with audio technology, comes in. The WOW Thing is basically an audio enhancement device that changes the structure of audio signals so it sounds better. 

The secret of the WOW Thing is “WOW”. WOW is the audio enhancement technology the device is based on. It was created by using several companies’ patented technologies. How it works is complicated, “it uses psycho-acoustic techniques to process ambient details and increase the width, depth and height of any stereo image in any pair of stereo speakers or headphones” that means it uses special technologies to add depth and response to audio. It also features TruBass, a patented process by SRS that produces deep bass from either headphones or speakers without requiring additional power to the speakers or large cabinets.... or a subwoofer.

Monthly Hardware News Overview 21:18 pm - David
Our pals over at iXBT Hardware has written an article on the monthly hardware news scene, here's some juice: 

It would be more correct to refer AMD K8, aka Sledge Hammer, to High-End PC processors, because it hardly differs from its contemporaries. Unlike Intel, for instance, which made up its mind to radically change the architecture and create a new Itanium, AMD just added 64bits to its Athlon, but in fact it remained a 32-bit processor. Frankly speaking, this move seems to be a bit more logical than that made by Intel, because x86 processors are most likely to dominate the PC mass market and in the server market IA-64 will become just one of the existing platforms, not more. And as for x86 programs, Sledge Hammer is expected to handle them much faster than Itanium because this regime is still secondary for it. Intel already burnt its fingers having forecast the coming of DR DRAM empire, and it is not going to tempt fate once again with IA-64. It seems safer to continue IA-32 family for years and years…

Coppermine's On 370s? 21:01 pm - David
HardOCP has thought of a way to make the new FC-PPGAs P3 work on the Socket 370 boards. Wow, sounds cool :-)

We think it might be possible to convert an existing PPGA Socket370 motherboard to Run FC-PPGAs with the addition of a “pull up line” from location X4, to AH4.  Without this pull up line the CPU would just hang in reset, just like if you held your figure on the reset button.  (You know the way you have to a lot with Windows98!!  J) 

We think the best way to make this pull up line is to run it on the backside of the motherboard.  Simply solder a 30-gauge silver core size wire from pin X4 to pin AH4. The Pictures below show a pin out definition for all of the Pins on the PPGA Celerons, and the FC-PPGA Pentium III. You will notice that the Coppermine PIII, in fact uses many of the pins labeled as “reserved” on the Celeron and that most of the pins are the same between the two processor architectures.

MSI MS-6167 Slot-A Athlon Mobo Review 15:35 pm - Yingzong
Another Athlon mainboard review, this time, by the guys at Sharky Extreme. The board in question is the MSI 6167. MSI is one of the original six AMD partners that is committed to produce a first generation Athlon mainboard. So how does the MSI 6167 fare? Check it out :

Much like the 440BX, i810, and other AMD-750 chipset based mainboards we've tested, the MS-6167 delivered almost identical performance to the newest version of AMD's own Athlon reference mainboard. As the second generation mainboards debut for the Athlon we'll likely see more options concerning the speed manipulation and control of the EV6 bus as well as the Athlon's L2 cache speed and timing level. This will create differences that the user will appreciate as they seek to maximize performance. For now the first generation Athlon boards have all been split by only a hair's width in terms of speed differences, less than one percent for the most part.

With stiff competition from the strong ASUS K7M, as well as the threat of newer more feature-oriented Athlon mainboards arriving early next year, the MS-6167 may wind up getting lost in the shuffle. That would be a shame really, as the 6167 proved itself to be every bit the equal of the other Athlon mainboards we've tested in terms of performance and stability, as well as offering a good price point. MSI should be proud of the last minute clean up work that went into the MS-6167's engineering, as it has clearly delivered the desired effect AMD was looking for in terms of a solid Athlon platform. We look forward to MSI's future high-end desktop platforms, including their VIA KX133-powered Athlon board as well as their upcoming i820 Pentium III platform.

Gigabyte GA-71X Slot-A Athlon Mobo Review 15:15 pm - Yingzong
Anandtech has reviewed the Gigabyte GA-7IX, a Slot-A Athlon motherboard. This board follows AMD's pre-configured Fester motherboard very closely. One of the differences appears to be Gigabyte's use of a 5/2/1 slot configuration instead of AMD's 4/3/1 setup. Here's a small take :

So far, overclocked FSB speeds are virtually non-existent on Athlon motherboards and the GA-7IX is not the first to break the mold and only offers a 100 MHz setting. As such, any overclocking will have to be performed by modifying the actual Athlon CPU in order to enable multiplier selection. See AnandTech's Athlon Buyer's Guide Part 2: Overclocking article. In Part 1: Motherboards, the Gigabyte GA-7IX performed admirably in both standard and overclocked stability tests, falling only behind the Asus K7M. However, we have yet to see an Athlon motherboard with stability that matches that of the best i440BX boards, such as the AOpen AX6BC Pro Gold or Tyan Thunderbolt.

Gigabyte has taken the standard Award 4.51PG BIOS and put it on the GA-7IX with virtually no modifications. Thus, tweaking the BIOS to squeeze out every last bit of performance is simply not possible with this board. Power management consists of pretty much the standard stuff these days. Wake on LAN and wake on modem ring headers are available to allow the system to power on in the presence of network activity or incoming call. The BIOS can be set to turn on the system at a specific time. The CPU fan can be shut off when the system suspends to quiet things down a bit. Full ACPI support is included for additional power management options under an ACPI compliant OS, such as Windows 98 or 2000.

Unlike other Gigabyte boards that AnandTech has tested, the GA-7IX features very little to distinguish it from the other solutions out there. However, this is fairly characteristic of the first wave of Athlon motherboards that are mostly based on AMD's reference design. However, the GA-7IX is a fairly solid board that features a basic BIOS implementation and no overclocking options. However, for non-tweakers, the GA-7IX will serve you well as we found no major issues in our testing.

New Articles Down At osOpinion 14:45 pm - Yingzong
osOpinion has given us 5 more articles today. One of them is titled, "The Microsoft Monopoly: You're ALL wrong: A challenge to our software industry pipe-dream." This article is about lending credibility on Judge Jackson's findings on the recent MS Vs DOJ case.

Let's say I'm Dell Computer. I buy millions of copies of Windows from Microsoft at $95/ea (this is the normal OEM price, and ignores the volume discount that Dell surely gets). Let's say that in this example, as in the previous one, that Microsoft decides their profit margin just isn't large enough, and doubles the price to $190/ea. Worst case scenario, I let that extra cost get eaten out of my profit margins, which is probably not feasible considering the slim state of PC margins. Perhaps I simply pass the cost on directly to my customers, at a flat increase of $95 per machine.

However, the most likely case, where my mark-ups are calculated as a percentage instead of an absolute dollar value, more than that $95 gets passed on to the consumer, perhaps 120% of $95 = $114 per computer. But again, the important thing here is not the prices, but the (LACK OF) choice. I simply can't go to another vendor to get Windows. Notice that I did NOT say that I cannot go to another vendor for an "Intel PC operating system". The reason for this is that, for all reasonable intents and purposes, only Windows will run most commodity software.

There's another one titled, "The New Face of Instant Messaging". This piece is about Jabber, a completely open source, cross platform IM standard which, as an example, allows users with Mirabilis' ICQ and AOL's IM client to work together.

Using XML, the Jabber team has designed a "transport" system that allows communication between any IM platform. A Mirabilis ICQ transport can be attached to the server to instantly allow Jabber clients to communicate with any ICQ user. In the near future, household appliance transports can easily be written as well. To ease the transition process between older, proprietary systems, Jabber administrators can easily create transports to allow seamless connectivity to any communication protocol. Transports allow the Jabber system to be flexible and highly ubiquitous.

Jabber is also set apart from other systems in its complete reliance on the server as opposed to the client. New transports for communicating to new systems can be added to the server on the fly without concern for updating the clients. All of the client information, including the list of contacts (known as Rosters in Jabber), is stored securely on the server. This allows for a user to open a client anywhere with the same Roster and personal information.

Comdex Day 1 Report by GamePC 14:25 pm - Yingzong
GamePC has given us their first day's report on the 20th COMDEX being held in Las Vegas, Nevada. They've got some news about the upcoming cards by 3dfx and a couple of others as well. Check it out :

Throughout his presentation, Sellers stressed the importance of fill rate. Citing that Q3 at 1600x1200x32 would require about 1.2 gigapixels per second of throughput to maintain 60 frames per second. He also agreed that hardware T&L (transformation and lighting - found on upcoming S3 and the current NVIDIA GeForce chip) is the way of the future. Sellers stated, "3dfx will have HW T&L when it matters in the market." The T-buffer features were alse presented again. Full screen spacial and temporal anti-aliasing (getting rid of the jaggies and motion blur) along with soft shadowing and field of depth effects are designed to make 3D graphics more like the cinematic effects we've come to expect from the like of ILM. Unfortunately, no new pictures were available of these effects. The FSAA effects of the T-buffer will be fully supported out of the box. No software optimizations will be needed.

3dfx did have some demos on hand (Quake III and Unreal Tournament were a couple of the titles). Unfortunately, these were on the Quantum3D test beds with T-buffer emulation. The effects were okay, but a lot of artifacting occurred. This also leads me to believe that 3dfx does not have any silicon, yet. So the February release date for this product, may stil be very much up in the air. I will have a chance on Wednesday to sit down with 3dfx reps for a more personal in-depth look at their upcoming products.

ABit BP6 Mobo Review by 3D-Unlimited 14:15 pm - Yingzong
The ABit BP6 is the first dual socket 370 board that has been released to the average user. If a SMP system is your ticket to a cheap well performing web server or a kick-ass pixel crushing gaming box, you might want to read this short review by 3D-Unlimited.

In the BP6 we are looking at an extremely overclockable feature-laden board for an excellent price. It’s not everyday that a deal as good as this comes along. The features simply speak for themselves, Ultra ATA/66, support for dual Celerons, temperature monitoring, tons of bus speeds, and Soft Menu II. I plainly don’t think that you can buy a better Celeron board, even if you are only planning to use one processor in it. That is yet another great feature of this board; you can upgrade to 2 Celeron processors in the future for more power.

On the issue of stability this board is very stable, overclocked or not. If you have $130 and are in the market for a Celeron Motherboard, seriously consider the BP6.

Age Of Kings Tourney Game Registration 14:00 pm - Yingzong
Singapore: Microsoft, Compaq and 3Com will be jointly organising a LAN gaming event this Friday. The game to be played will be Microsoft's latest RTS hit, Age of Empires 2 : Age Of Kings. The registration ends tomorrow, so for those of you who missed the initial announcements, catch it here! There are attractive prizes to be won, so don't miss out on it! Here is the news in brief :

"Age of Kings" Competition
Where: The Atrium, Funan The IT Mall
When :* Fri, Nov 19: Heats 1 - 4 , * Sat, Nov 20: Heats 5 - 8, * Sun, Nov 19: Semi-finals 1 & 2, Grand Finals

Competition details
* Maximum of 64 participants * 8 rounds of heats (8 players per heat ) with top 2 players from each heat qualifying for the semi-finals * 2 semi-finals (16 players), with top 4 players from each semi-final qualifying for the finals * 1 grand final (8 players)

Prizes
* 1st Prize: Compaq PC, Microsoft Office 2000 Premium, Flight Simulator 2000 Professional Edition, Microsoft Sidewinder Dual-Strike, Microsoft IntelliMouse Solid State, One years' SingNet subscription, 3Com 10/100 LAN, 3Com 56K modem PC card (over SS$3,600 worth in prizes)

* 2nd Prize: Microsoft Natural Keyboard Pro, Microsoft Sidewinder,Precision Pro, Microsoft Flight Simulator 2000 Standard Edition, Microsoft Football 2000. Microsoft NBA Drive 2000, Nine months' SingNet subscription, 3Com Global GSM PC card (over SS$600 worth in prizes)

* 3rd Prize: Microsoft Natural Keyboard Pro, Microsoft Sidewinder Game,Pad Pro, Microsoft Football 2000. Microsoft NBA Drive 2000, Microsoft Pandora's Box, Three months' SingNet subscription, 3Com Cellular modem PC card (approx. SS$600 worth in prizes)

* 4th - 8th Prize: Three months' SingNet subscription, Microsoft jacket (approx S$50 worth in prizes), Registration Details

* Interested participants can register, with immediate effect, via email to [email protected]

Transmeta 12:15 am - Sniper
ITS FINALLY UP!!!  No more " This web page is not here yet! ...but it is Y2K compliant. ... "  Check it out.


Sony & Palm Team On Handhelds
09:05 am - Sniper
I guess the Palm just gets better and better everyday.  Check out this article on the collaboration between Sony and Palm

Sony and Palm will work together on a new version of the Palm operating system that enables Palm-based devices to take advantage of Sony's Memory Stick technology, as well as other unnamed Sony technologies. 

Memory Stick is essentially a portable, re-recordable storage media that can save digital photos, data, music
or other information. What makes the technology different from other portable storage devices is size: A single purple stick, which can store 8 to 64 megabytes of information, measures around 1.5 inches long and is about as thick as a piece of gum. 

VSA (Voodoo Scalable Architecture) 100 08:47 am - Sniper
Drooling over the new Voodoo chips?  You might want to check out these websites for more info at The Register and 3dfx Gamers

3dfx's next generation boards 

Voodoo 4 4500 
PCI, AGP bus support, one VSA-100, 32MB VRAM, two pixels per clock cycle, 333-367 million pixels per second (MPps), US price $179. 

Voodoo 5 5000 
PCI bus support, two VSA-100s, 64MB VRAM, four pixels per clock cycle, 667-733MPps, US price $229. 

Voodoo 5 5500 
AGP bus support, two VSA-100s, 64MB VRAM, four pixels per clock cycle, 667-733MPps, US price $299. 

Voodoo 5 6000 
AGP bus support, four VSA-100s, 128MB VRAM, eight pixels per clock cycle, 1.33-1.47 billion pixels per second (GPps), US price $599.

Tekram P6Pro-A+ 06:12 am - Kan
Active Hardware reviewed the Tekram P6Pro-A+ Slot-1 motherboard based on the VIA Apollo Pro 133 chipset. It comes with 1 AGP, 5 PCI, and 2 ISA slots as well as 3 DIMM slots. 

Additional features included with the Tekram P6Pro-A+ motherboard, include: Wake on LAN, an SB-Link connector, Wake on Modem Ring, PS/2 keyboard and mouse connectors, USB connectors, RX/TX connectors for infrared, wake up from the keyboard or mouse, and Power Failure Recovery. Hardware monitoring of fan speed, CPU temperature, and environmental temperatures are also provided as standard features. This motherboard supports the PC99 standard.

Matrox Marvel G400-TV 06:10 am - Kan
Our pals over at 3DHardware.net released their thoughts on the Matrox Marvel G400-TV graphics card. This bad boy comes with hardware MJPEG compression, TV editing and dual head support. 

The Marvel G400-TV box is designed very similarily to the Marvel G200-TV box and every other G200/G400 product boxes. The box includes everything that the original Marvel had, i.e two sets of 6' RCA cables, the blue BreakOutBox, the "Quick Installation Sheet", a thick manual, and several CDs.

Those that have used, or are using, a Marvel G200 have probably heard of "the Swiss army knife of video cards". This is because the Marvel G200-TV was considered one of the most versatile solutions of its kind out on the market at that time. The Marvel G400-TV is no different and offers composite (RCA) Input/Output, S-Video Input/Output, and Coaxial for TV/Cable input.

Linux CD Recording 06:06 am - Kan
CDR Software Review whipped off a 10 pages article on CD Recording under Linux. Pretty interesting, here's an excerpt:

Apart from Xcdroast and CDR Toaster, there are some other programs you can install with minimal fuss.

Blade Encoder is one of them. Actually, Blade is one of the few cases where the RPM version can be installed without problems with unsatisfied dependencies (remember that we didn't chose a widely used distribution). Though Blade is a command driven mp3 encoder, you will not find it too tough to use it.

Mitsubishi 2020u 21" Monitor 06:03 am - Kan
Finally a worthy brethren against the Sony 21" F500 montior. GamePC dropped us a line on their review on the Mitsubishi 2020u 21" monitor and yup, it's using a totally flat CRT.

To say the least, the screen picture on the 2020u is nothing short of beautiful, rivaling the near-perfect image quality of Sony Trinitron-based monitors. Since it is a "tron"-based tube, there are the two classic gray lines 1/3 and 2/3 down the monitor (if you've seen a Sony Trinitron monitor, you know what I'm talking about). These are just incredibly faint lines that you won't notice 90% of the time, and doesn't detract from the overall quality of the monitor. At 1280x1024, the monitor was absolutely perfect, picture wise, and at 1600x1200, the picture was almost as good, but very faint ghosting was starting to appear. Of course, in gaming you won't notice the difference, but for graphics work and word processing and what not, there's a possibility you'll notice.

New Abit boards 02:17 am - David
Saw something interesting over at HardOCP, that ABIT is coming up with some new boards based on the i820, cool!:  

"These are considered ABIT's premier boards based on the Intel 820 chipset. “These have been a long time in coming, but I think it will be worth the wait, the Intel 820 chipset is just fantastic”, assured ABIT's PR Manager Jeremy Smith. For the upcoming Intel 820 chipset, ABIT will introduce the CH6, and CX6. “We realize there will be different needs for 820 based products because of the RAM issue, so we are offering 2 solutions, one with 2 RIMMs the CX6, and one with 3 DIMMs the CH6”, explains ABIT's Smith."

Voodoo 4 And Voodoo 5 02:16 am - David
Today must be Voodoo day, more V4 and V5 goodness over at The Tech Report:

The Voodoo4 and Voodoo5 lines will be differentiated by the number of chips used. Voodoo4 boards will have only one chip, and "will deliver between 333 and 367 megatexels/megapixels per second fill rates and are expected to be priced at $179.99."

The Voodoo5 monsters, on the other hand, will "feature multi-chip implementations of the VSA-100 architecture including both dual-chip and quad-chip configurations." V5 boards will not be priced at 179 bucks; the multi-chip setup will be rather expensive. A two-chip version will be around $300, and a four chip behemoth will heat your computer room and "will deliver between 1.33 and 1.47 gigatexels/gigapixels per second fill rate" for the low, low price of about 600 smackers.

AGP Stuff 02:16 am - David
Here's an article about AGP sidebanding vs AGP overclocking over at Adrian's Rojak Pot, here's a whiff:

Each mode offers a unique feature set and level of AGP performance. Frame Mode offers baseline performance using the PCI protocol. Pipelining Mode offers higher performance, and Sideband Addressing Mode offers the highest level of performance.

  • CPU-GC Frame Mode — The AGP 1.0 specification allows only one master for AGP Pipelining and Sideband Addressing. Since this master is the graphics controller, only Frame Mode is available for moving data directly from the CPU to the graphics controller.
  • GC-MMF AGP Frame Mode — This mode uses the PCI protocol to provide baseline performance for main memory reads and writes from the graphics controller. The higher bus frequency allows data transfers at 264 MB/s, or twice the throughput of shared 33-MHz PCI.
  • GC-MMP AGP Pipelining Mode — AGP Pipelining offers higher performance by using the PIPE# signal of the AGP protocol to create multiple outstanding transactions, eliminating the bandwidth degradation due to round-trip time to main memory. Pipelined transfers are not coherent with the CPU's cache, so reads or writes are not delayed while the CPU caches are snooped to see if they contain the most recent copies of data being read or written. In a system with high APG traffic, non-coherent transfers avoid heavily loading the system bus and allow data to be transferred more quickly to or from the graphics controller.
  • GC-MMS Sideband Addressing Mode — This mode offers the highest level of AGP performance. In addition to allowing multiple outstanding transactions and non-coherent access to main memory, Sideband Addressing introduces a separate address/command bus, the Sideband Address Port (SBA). Because the SBA and data buses are not multiplexed, the graphic controller can use the SBA to make data requests without interrupting the data bus.

Pipelining and Sideband Addressing each offer two data rates—1X (66 MHz, 264 MB/s) and 2X (133 MHz, 528 MB/s). AGP Frame Mode can use only the 1X rate. At the cost of more high-speed board signals, the 2X rate almost doubles available bandwidth.

David Smiles 02:15 am - David
Dammit, I just love Microsoft, especially after Windows crashed after enabling DMA for my Sony DVD-ROM, that's why I'm still awake :-(. On a side note, any good DVD software to recommend? 

Microsoft DualStrike Controller 00:16 am - Wilfred
Whew, it's not another header starting with "A". Well, Kickass Gaming Network posted short review on the Microsoft DualStrike controller. It is short, but instead of just throwing praises at it, it does sum up pretty well the thoughts of using this latest fraggin' gadget.  Seasoned Quakers need not apply.

To tell you the truth, this controller actually turned out to be better than I expected it to be. I thought that I wouldn't even be able to play first person shooters with my favorite settings, but I was wrong. This baby can pull off almost everything that my mouse and keyboard can. We're talking inverted mouselook, strafing, and functions such as shooting, crouching, jumping and weapon switching in the palms of my hands. After putting it to the test, I figured out that when it comes to turning around for more than 180º with reasonable sensitivity settings, this controller doesn't even come close to beating my Logitech Mouseman. So performance-wise, not being able to turn around for 180º+ is pretty much the only downside of using the Dual Strike as your weapon in action-packed first person shooters. That might not seem like a big deal now, but when you're in the middle of a big online battle, you will easily beat someone who can't turn around quickly enough to fire back at you.

ACT Labs Gun System Review 00:11 am - Wilfred
3D Wars has got a review on ACT Labs innovative and cool looking gun system for PC gaming. Well, well, well, doesn't the gun pods remind you of the petrol kiosks? =)

If I said this Gun System is the best thing you can get for 90 dollars, I would be lying. However, this Gun System has vast potential in becoming the best buy there is. Right now, the only thing (yes, the only thing) holding this gun back from being the best peripheral buy for 90 bucks is the game support. Is that something that we should hold against ACT Labs? I don't think so. It just takes time for all of the developers out there to recognize this product and start making games that support. ACT Labs has a list of eleven games that in the works to be supported by the GS and will be available 'soon.'

ATI Rage Fury Pro 00:07 am - Wilfred
Not exactly the most exciting of cards to review, but the chums at iXBT Hardware took it for a different spin. Check out the S3TC tests they conducted on the card, which now supports S3's texture compression method. Thorough stuffs once again..

Here we have to mention that theoretically, any graphics chipset not necessarily designed by S3 can decompress compressed textures and use them in DirectX 7.0. However, in this case it is not the chipset that carries out texture decompression but the CPU, which is actually mentioned in S3TC specification.

So, it turns out that if you want to run this demo level on the graphics cards based on ATI RAGE 128 PRO as well as on NVIDIA Riva TNT2, your success will depend on the system memory available, CPU power and … and your actions. If you move very slowly, the system will have enough time to decompress the textures and to superpose them, but any quick or sharp movement may cause memory overloading and emergency closing of the application.

Aureal Announces Vortex2 SQ3500 Turbo 00:05 am - Wilfred
Saw over at Anand's, Aureal's announcement of a new card for the first quarter of 2000. Seems like they are making it a programmable and upgradable DSP... These are some of the new features it'll sport:

The SQ3500 is based on the award-winning Aureal Vortex2 audio processor, but adds a powerful and upgradeable DSP to enable support for Aureal's new A3D 3.0, geometry-based reverberation effects, Dolby Digital decoding, and more.

The Vortex2 SQ3500 Turbo will retail for $199.95 and will come bundled with an impressive array of applications and games, including the new Aureal Vortex Player and complete versions of the latest games that take advantage of the card's capabilities.

AOpen AX63 Mobo 00:02 am - Wilfred
SystemLogic just put together a review on the Apollo 133 chipset-based AX63 mobo from AOpen. Owners of PC133 SDRAMs may like a better place than the aging BX, so does it live up? Read!

Although there are much better motherboards out there, AOpen's AX63 offers decent performance at an affordable price. I don't really see anything special with this motherboard. What brings this motherboard down are the little things that AOpen neglected to include. The not so great memory performance is also a problem. If you are a hardcore overclocker, you probably wouldn't want this motherboard when there are numerous ones out there that can do the job much better.

15 November 1999 - Monday


Sony Music Clip
22:49 pm - Sniper
Crazy about MP3s? Check out this player from Sony.  I won't say much, you just gotta read it yourself.

The Music Clip is about the size, shape and heft of a fountain pen. It comes in a silver or black case with built-in headphones. Music files are stored on flash memory inside the clip. The system does not take advantage of Sony's Memory stick technology, representatives said. 

3dfx VSA-100 V4 And V5 19:59 pm - Wilfred
WOW! When I saw these words splashed on VE, I was blinded for a minute. I shall keep the rant short, do yourself a favour and read this. Sweet? SUPER SWEEET!

3dfx Interactive® Inc. (NASDAQ: TDFX) today announced the first implementation of its new Voodoo Scalable Architecture technology. The initial advanced processor, the VSA-100™, is a highly scalable design that supports the integration of one to 32 chips per system, using proprietary programmable scan-line interleaving (SLI) techniques, to deliver ultimate fill rates and high visual reality through breakthrough digital cinematic effects. Additionally, the VSA-100 architecture substantially improves the overall 3D rendering quality by incorporating advanced full-scene anti-aliasing technology, available for the first time at real-time frame rates and consumer prices.

The Company also announced the Voodoo4™ and Voodoo5™ board products based on the VSA-100 processor. Voodoo4 and Voodoo5 are expected to ship in March, 2000.

At the heart of the VSA-100 is a new advanced 3D engine which enables extremely high fill rates. Sustaining high fill rate is critical to deliver real-time frame rates at high resolution, with significant depth complexity, digital effects and the highest visual quality. For the consumer market, products based on the VSA-100 deliver from 333 megatexels/megapixels per second up to 1.47 gigatexels/gigapixels per second fill rates using 16-128 MB of video memory and one to four processors per board. In the professional market, Quantum3D will manufacturer systems that will utilize eight to thirty-two VSA-100 processors and 128 MB to two gigabytes of video memory to attain fill rates greater than three gigatexels/gigapixels per second in their Aalchemy product line.

The VSA-100, composed of over 14 million transistors, is fabricated in an enhanced .25 micron, 6-layer metal semiconductor process. The architecture incorporates industry standard 3D features including 32-bit RGBA rendering, 24-bit depth-buffer (Z and W), 8-bit stencil rendering, DXTC and FXT1 texture compression support, 32-bit textures, 2048x2048 texture size support, and advanced texture and color combine capabilities. Additional support is provided for both AGP 4x and PCI, DVD hardware assist, and the world’s most powerful 128-bit 2D engine. All VSA-100-based products include support for all major APIs including DirectX®, OpenGL® and GLIDE® providing the highest possible software compatibility. The VSA-100 is designed for optimal performance on current and future CPUs from Intel and AMD.

The Voodoo4 family of products feature single-chip implementations of the VSA-100 architecture and are targeted to deliver great performance at mainstream prices. The Voodoo4 4500 will be available in both PCI and AGP versions, and will feature a single VSA-100 processor and 32 MB of graphics memory. The boards, which render two fully featured pixels per clock, will deliver between 333 and 367 megatexels/megapixels per second fill rates and are expected to be priced at $179.99*.

The Voodoo5 family of products feature multi-chip implementations of the VSA-100 architecture including both dual-chip and quad-chip configurations. The multi-chip capabilities of the VSA-100 allow for the first time, true full-scene, hardware anti-aliasing at real-time frame rates. True full-scene anti-aliasing removes visual artifacts, such as “jaggies” and triangle “popping,” to create smooth images that create a substantially improved immersive experience for the viewer. Additionally, Voodoo5 products enable advanced T-Buffer™ digital cinematic effects including motion blur, programmable depth-of-field, soft shadows and soft reflections.

The Voodoo5 5000 PCI will have dual VSA-100 processors and 32 MB of total graphics memory. The Voodoo5 5000 PCI board, rendering four fully featured pixels per clock, will deliver between 667 and 733 megatexels/megapixels per second fill rates and is expected to be priced at $229.99*.

The Voodoo5 5500 AGP will feature dual VSA-100 processors and 64 MB of total graphics memory. 64 MB of memory allows for higher resolutions and pixel depths with full-scene anti-aliasing and T-Buffer effects enabled, along with more memory available for texture storage. The board, which renders four fully featured pixels per clock, will deliver between 667 and 733 megatexels/megapixels per second fill rate and is expected to be priced at $299.99*.

The flagship product of the VSA-100 architecture, the Voodoo5 6000 AGP, will feature quad VSA-100 processors and 128 MB of graphics memory. It will be the first consumer graphics product to break the one billion pixel per second fill rate barrier. The Voodoo5 6000 AGP, which renders eight fully featured pixels per clock, will deliver between 1.33 and 1.47 gigatexels/gigapixels per second fill rate. It is expected to be priced at $599.99*.

Pricing and Availability
Voodoo4 and Voodoo5 products based on the VSA-100 are scheduled to be in volume production in the first quarter of 2000. Final board pricing and performance will depend on memory prices and will be announced in the early part of 2000.

Kryotech SuperG Athlon - 1 GigaHertz 19:54 pm - Wilfred
Tom's Hardware whipped up a review on the first 1Ghz PC based on a Kryotech cooled Athlon system (no don't bring in your dual processor system for comparison). Though the SuperG probably won't find its way into your home, but still, knowing that Neil Armstrong walked on the moon was a historical achievement wasn't it?

The PC-industry has finally reached a historical moment. The first 1 GHz PC is a reality and it's not based on an Intel-processor. Kryotech's new SuperG may not seem much more than a logical consequence after the introduction of the Cool Athlon 800 and then the Cool Athlon 900 systems, but it marks the crescendo of a long and sometimes difficult cooperation between 'processor-underdog' AMD and the visionaries from the hard working American South in West Columbia, South Carolina. While the 'cool guys from the hot South' throw in the world's most advanced CPU-cooling system, AMD provides the fastest PC-processor of today's market. The 'marriage' of those two top-players turned out to be a perfect symbiosis and there couldn't be a worthier winner of this millennium race for reaching the gigahertz-limit than those two companies.

Asus K7M Motherboard For The Athlon 19:48 pm - Wilfred
Yeah, I EXPLICITLY wrote "For The Athlon", just so that you know Asus has such a board in their catalog. The good guys at ArsTechnica delivered a review on the board giving it a raving 4.5/5 Laurel Wreaths (Hey, what happened to the WooHoos?).

What's my overall take on this board?  I give it a big plus for ingenuity, and I give it another plus for layout and tweakability. I should note that the layout might be a little restrictive for people looking to implement massive cooling options, but again, I don't think overclocking the Athlon delivers a lot right now. Of course, with regards to the K7M, I like the increased ability to overclock (freedom is good), but I just wish I could actually run some games on it while it's overclocked! FSB tweaking produces too little of a performance gain in return for for increased instability, and so the ASUS doesn't seem to be such a marvel on account of its tweakability anymore. Note: I'm not saying that it's bad--I like its tweakability-- but it doesn't carry the same value as, say, SoftMenu on a BX-based system.  Not yet.

US NSA Patents Eavesdropping Technology 19:40 pm - Wilfred
The National Security Agency of U.S. received a patent for a new tech they developed for eavesdropping. The new invention allows them to automatically sift through human speech transcripts in any language. Wows! I'm SPEECHLESS.

"One of the holy grails of the NSA is the ability automatically to search through voice traffic. They would have expended considerable effort on this capability, and this indicates it has been fruitful," he said.

To date, it has been widely believed that while the NSA has the capability to conduct fully automated, mass electronic eavesdropping on e-mail, faxes and other written communications, it cannot do so on telephone calls.

While cautioning that it was difficult to tell how well the ideas in the patent worked in practice, Schneier said the technology could have far-reaching effects on the privacy of international phone calls.

"If it works well, the technology makes it possible for the NSA to harvest millions of telephone calls, looking for certain types of conversations," he said.

"It's easy to eavesdrop on any single phone call, but sifting through millions of phone calls looking for a particular conversation is difficult," Schneier explained. "In terms of automatic surveillance, text is easier to search than speech. This patent brings the surveillance of speech closer to that of text."

3DfxCool Alpha P3 125 19:33 pm - Wilfred
There's a review of this huge Pentium III cooler at 3DSpotlight. Looks really fierce to me, and it should suffice for even your most demanding systems.

The Alpha P3125 is an excellently made cooler. If you are willing to give up $55 of your hard earned dollars for the unit you won’t be disappointed with how well it does perform. The cooler can increase the life of your CPU by keeping it cooler than what you would get with anything else and it can be used with some of the future P3 CPUs. The Alpha P3125 allowed me to overclock my CPU to 600MHz with only a core voltage of 2.0 volts. Many people that I have seen with Pentium 3 450 SL37Cs were only able to get to 600MHz, but they had to use a little bit higher voltage level.

Computer Morphing - A War Crime 19:29 pm - Wilfred
The Pentagon now labels the use of certain inappropriate use of computer morphing technology as a crime of war. Well, very interesting indeed. You mean not all is fair in love and WAR? =) Fighting a war within the international law... hmm... read this:

A Defense Department study on how international law could be applied to the military's use of information operations (IO) and computer network attack concludes that though there are no show stoppers preventing the Department's use of such tactics in war, communicating false computer-generated images would be a war crime.

Although "it might be possible to use computer 'morphing' techniques to create an image of the enemy's chief of state informing his troops that an armistice or cease-fire had been signed," such images, "if false, would also be a war crime," concluded the study, which was completed in May and publicly released this week.

Thresh Also Checked Out The Viper II Z200 14:08 pm - Wilfred
Today, Bowwow should have reasons to celebrate coz reviews on his babe can't stop coming out today. FiringSquad took a piece for scrutiny in their labs and the test results against the ATI Fury MAXX, GeForce and TNT2Us are available here. This one is a 32Mb breed, which should better appeal to the hardcore DIYers. Hmm... judge for yourself the performance if it lives up to your expectations.

The Viper II Z200 is a card of extremes. In Quake 3 fastest, the card performs great at 640x480 and 800x600, but the card disappears at 1024 and higher resolutions. The card lags behind both GeForce cards at the normal settings, but comes back with a strong showing in the high quality benchmarks. The drivers still needs a little tweaking (DirectX 7 support would be nice), and Quake2 & Expendable performance also need some help.

Nevertheless, 79fps in high quality at 800x600 still looks pretty good, and us low-res fastest people can't argue with 107.3fps at 640x480. Diamond's Viper II stands up to NVIDIA's best pretty well, especially when you consider that Diamond isn't positioning the card as a GeForce competitor.

Implementing Effective Case Cooling 13:55 pm - Wilfred
Andy Assareh popped me a note about an article he wrote. Ah.. should appeal to those of you equipped with drills, chainsaws etc but haven't a clue how to make use of those hardware. (Yeah, those of you talking about case building in the forum, check this out!).

I want to bring as much fresh outside air as possible onto the critical “hot spots” and allow for an exhaust of warm air from the top of the case. The simple 3 fan solution that I implemented allows me to run the P3-500 at 610MHz and the V770 Ultra at 175MHz core and 220MHz memory. This configuration is solid as a rock and still keeps my system temperature inside the case at a chilly 21°C. 11°C cooler is an incredible difference over what I had before.

RAMBUS RIMM Pics 13:46 pm - Wilfred
3D Accelerated Gaming sent word of a few pics they'd snatched of some RAMBUS RIMM modules. After some calculations, it is concluded that they'll sell for US$760 per 128Mb... err... well, then I think we can all afford a peek - at least. It looks really cool if you ask me. =)

The Fastest CPUs This Millennium 09:43 am - Wilfred
Alongside the earlier mail from the Sharks, Ace's Hardware also let us know that they've dug up some information about AMD's Athlon Spitfire, Thunderbird, Intel's PIII EB and Coppermine 128. (Um, the first two ain't vintage fighters mm'kay?!). VERY delicious findings of what is to come, the Spitfire is a 462-pin Socket A chip aimed at gamers and promises to be easily overclockable (wows?! like the Celeries?). There is a lot more detail not to be missed!

The Athlon 'Spitfire' is the interesting chip here. It will be plugged in 462 pin Socket-A and will stay behind the other Athlons in clockspeed, because it competes with the Intel low cost offerings. The 'Spitfire' should be a very attractive chip for gamers: easy to overclock (sold at lower clockspeeds), relatively cheap and 256 KB on-die cache is perfect for gaming purposes.

This chip will have die size of about 114 mm² and this together with the low cost socket A motherboards should enable it to compete with the Coppermine 128 (+/- 92 mm²). If the Spitfire will be introduced in a timely manner, the K6-2+ and K6-3+ will probably never reach more than 600 MHz. The short pipeline of the K6 makes it hard, even with an advanced .18 µ copper process, to reach such high clockspeeds. It is clear that AMD wants to phase out the K6-line as soon as the 'Spitfire' arrives, as the Socket A Athlon will have no problem competing with the Coppermine 128.

Sharky Reviews 16Mb Savage 2000 Viper II 09:30 am - Wilfred
Damn! It better be good when I was rudely awaken by the Windows sound of "YOU'VE GOT MAIL". You know, just when I grumbled about the news trickle... oh well, Sharky heard it. Since it warranted me getting out of bed to read, you'd better check this =P. The 16Mb variation is not as impressive as the 32Mb in terms of performance, but nevertheless it puts up a good fight.

Obviously the board we got was rather limited above 800x600 due to the 16MB frame buffer. With 32MB (as our last preview showed) the board is much more capable. But there were times when it really shone. When turning up the texture size in Quake 3 to 512x512 in 'HIGH QUALITY' it happily sped past a TNT2 Ultra and was only 5fps behind a GeForce 256.

Wilfred Coughs 08:47 am - Wilfred
There are days we can just laze around and refuse to post anything, but heh, now I'm wide awake on this rainy morning without stuffs to post. Grrr... (Wilfred blames the slow trickle of news and goes back to bed). Maybe later. *yawn* =)

Still More Redmond 08:44 am - Wilfred
I read it like the daily newspapers, whenever. osOpinion has got a few new editorials worthy of mention. They revolve around Microsoft, though not SOLELY on its recent brush with the law. The scoop:

MS Office For Linux: Cognitive Dissonance
Some of the Penguinistas delude themselves if they somehow think they'll control Microsoft from dominating LINUX or that the company'll somehow act differently. They can't and it won't. Having MS Office for LINUX sounds like offering yet more choice for the users but it's illusionary. As the findings make abundantly clear, Microsoft is very much like the old 19th century imperialists: instead of the flag following the gold, the market follows the standards. Microsoft's standards are both proprietary and arbitrary- the stealth incompatibility of Office 97 file formats with older versions of Office or the subversion of Open standards like XML with proprietary extensions that require Internet Explorer 5, MS Active server and so on, are sober reminders of what the company does to a market.

A Tamed And Honest Microsoft
But can there be a tamed and honest Microsoft? Microsoft now continues misdirecting us by saying, "We will continue to innovate!" as if the goal of these recent proceedings has been to prevent innovation, rather than simply prevent Microsoft from stifling innovation in the rest of the computer industry. David Boies has publicly stated he was not trying to "demonize" Microsoft and Bill Gates, as Bill Gates has accused. I submit to you that Microsoft's continued misdirection and misinformation campaign is evidence Bill Gates has chosen for himself an ironically prophetic description.

Olympus C-2500L 08:35 am - Wilfred
You saw the latest chunk of meat from Olympus right? It must have set some budding digital photographers' hearts racing. The 2.5 megapixels offering comes in a huge 'SLR-like' enclosure and from the words of Imaging Resource, quality pics is what you can expect!

Overall, we found the C-2500L to be an incredible performer, producing arguably the best/most accurate color and highest resolution of any camera we've tested to date. Its large internal RAM buffer memory makes it very responsive in terms of shot-to-shot cycle time. It's controls also have a great "feel" and are logically laid out, also contributing to a general sense of responsiveness.

The 2500L produces very high-quality images, with noise that looks more like film grain than that from other digicams, but that is also more visually evident in the face of some sharpening processes. Quite apart from issues of noise we agree with those who have said that pros looking for the ultimate in image quality from a digicam would do well to use the C-2500L in "soft" mode, and sharpen their images in Photoshop. For the vast majority of users though, the "normal" images, straight as they come from the camera will be very satisfying.

Voodoo 3 3500TV Again 08:27 am - Wilfred
GA-Source threw up a review on the V3 3500TV - the 'I-have-it-all-but-32-bit-colour' card for all gamers. Since you all know how the V3 chipset performs, here's a snip on its *other* abilities. Check this out!

Beyond it performance in 3D games, the V3 3500 has more entertainment value. The TV tuner worked very well, giving me as good of a picture as any of the other TV tuner cards I have tried. It did not necessarily have as many fancy software features as some, but the interface was easy and simple to use. The still image capture worked perfectly, and gave excellent image quality. Images were as crisp and clean as the original source. I was not nearly as impressed with the motion video capture however.

Attempting to do 320x240 30 fps live video captures was not quite possible with my test system. I would say that if you get dropped frames and pauses with a 600mhz Pentium 3 with 192mb of RAM and a 7200 rpm harddrive, its not very functional. At 15 fps, it didn't drop frames, however any fast motion was still a bit choppy. If you don't intend to try and capture live video for later use or editing, or don't mind using the lower fps or resolutions, then it does a decent job.

The FM tuner was great. The reception quality was better than any of the other FM tuner solutions I have tried. I believe it was actually marginally better than my home stereo receiver's reception. The software interface was very much just like a car stero, easy to operate. One missing feature that would have been nice is the ability to directly record from off the air. I suppose that 3dfx felt that was a little risky (in terms of copyright laws) and left it out.

One nice feature that applies to both the TV + FM tuners is the ability to re-skin the remote. 3dfx has a library of different skins you can download, and you can also fairly easily make your own. The nice thing is that this allows you to completely re-design the setup and feel of the control, because you are not just slapping a coat of paint over it, but are able to re-position buttons and change the whole size and shape of the unit.

More Microsoft Breakup Tales 08:16 am - Wilfred
I hear some of you shouting 'ENUFF!". Here it is anyway, a report about the ongoing speculation of a possible breakup of Microsoft. I don't actually care, but do anything that'll get us consumers better, cheaper and more reliable software!

A breakup of Microsoft could take any of several forms. One method would be to divide Microsoft into two companies: one that makes an operating system and one that produces other software applications. Another method, urged by rival Sun Microsystems and others, would create at least two new "clone" companies that would have full rights to Microsoft's legal assets.

 

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