7 October 1999 - Thursday

ATI Rage Fury Pro
21:17 pm - Kan
AnandTech also posted a review on the ATI Rage Fury Pro graphics card. Though this card was reviewed almost a year ago by major sites out there, it finally hit the shelves this month (duh!).

Not only was the Rage 128 plagued by a delayed release date but the driver support for the card was a joke. Although our original test sample had no problem operating in a Super7 system, the final shipping card did. It wasn't until ATI specifically addressed the problem of enabling AGP 2X on Super7 chipsets that the Rage 128 became a viable option for non-Intel owners.

Advent AV390PL Speakers 21:15 pm - Kan
Exxtreme Hardware just whipped up a review on the Advent AV390PL Speakers. Here's an excerpt from the article:

The Advent AV390PL retail box contains 2 satellite speakers, all the required connection wires, a power supply plug, an installation manual, and the subwoofer. The entire 3-speaker set totals 70 watts in all, with 15 watts per satellite and 40 watts for the subwoofer. The satellite speakers are exceptionally designed, and produce very clean sound. Though the front width of the satellites is relatively small, they are quite deep and have a healthy speaker weight to them.

Supercharged GeForce Article 19:24 pm - Wilfred
Just like to point you all to this article at GameSpot. It writes about the coming DDR version of nVidia's GeForce 256, its expected availability as well as expected price. Here's a clip:

What's so special about DDR RAM? Essentially, DDR RAM allows for twice the data-transfer rate per clock cycle of standard SDR (single data rate) RAM found on all the major desktop video cards on the market today. This increased bandwidth eliminates the data bottleneck accompanied by running polygon- and texture-crunching 3D games at resolutions beyond 1024x768. Translation: Mind-blowing frame rates at jaw-dropping resolutions.

Now here's the catch. Actually there are two catches. Don't expect GeForce 256 cards with DDR RAM to become available at your local retailer anytime before November, or even December. And when they do ship, these cards are going to be hot property and thus their availability will be severely limited. Now here's the kicker - DDR RAM doesn't come cheap, and the vendors that'll be supplying DDR boards are paying through the nose for this stuff.

Making T&L Work 19:20 pm - Wilfred
VoodooExtreme has a short writeup on "Making T&L Work", touching upon the onboard transform and lighting that are found in cards like the GeForce 256 and the coming Savage 2000.

With specialized T&L solutions, such as the upcoming GeForce, games can employ models composed of thousands, or even tens of thousands (in the case of the eye-candy only "games") of polygons while maintaining a fast frame rate. Since curved surface support (for models) is rapidly becoming a standard, most engines will be able utilize the extra power of the T&L solution without any code modification (provided the API used supports hardware T&L).

Gamer's Snapshot #2 19:07 pm - Wilfred
If you've followed FiringSquad's part 1 of their editorial (posted earlier today), then be sure not to miss this followup. It covers the next generation video cards such as the Savage 2000, GeForce 256 and 'Voodoo4', as well as the CPU war between AMD and Intel.

The Athlon, on the other hand, has achieved 700MHz. It's beating the Pentium III both in raw speed and speed/MHz, especially where it matters: floating point. Floating point performance determines performance in CAD, many image editing filters and most importantly to us, 3D games. In general, without specific Athlon optimizations, the Athlon will outperform the Pentium III by about 30% in floating point operations, when you compare processors with the same MHz speed.

Network Internet Sharing Guide 17:54 pm - Kan
Tech-Review wrote an article on Network Internet Sharing Guide. With the widespread availability of ADSL/cable modems nowadays, it's a great idea to hookup all the computers in your home to share a common access to the internet.

As mentioned above, you can use NAT or Proxy software to share Internet connections. It is highly recommended that you use a NAT program to share your Internet service. Unlike proxy gateways, NAT gateways operate within the routing layer, and are faster than proxy gateways. NAT gateways have the advantage of being lucid to the client for the traditional Internet protocols such as HTTP, Gopher, Telnet, POP, SMTP, IMAP, etc.

Addtronics 7869A 17:52 pm - Kan
TheTechZone whipped up a review of the Addtronics 7869A full tower casing. Actually, I just got myself an AOpen full tower casing and I must agree, it makes life easier arranging all the cables and stuffs like that.

One of the most important factors of a case is expansion room, quality, accessibility, cooling, power and styling. I was on a quest to find the ultimate case to fit my Dual Processor system with 7 drives including the floppy. The reason is because I upgraded my system to the point where my current case won't even fit anymore. I wanted to use the system for video editing, 3D graphical design, and of course the ultimate gaming rig.

FBI Traces Cyber Raids To Russia 15:43 pm - Wilfred
According to this story at Excite News, the FBI traced a string of raids that stole information from the US Defense Department and other US-based computers to Russia. Check out the whole story here.

A string of raids that plucked data from Defense Department and other U.S. computers appears to have been launched from Russia, the top U.S. cybercop told Congress Wednesday.

Disclosing a probe he said had been under way for more than a year, Michael Vatis of the Federal Bureau of Investigation said intruders had stolen "unclassified but still-sensitive information about essentially defense/technical research matters."

"About the furthest I can go is to say the intrusions appear to originate in Russia," said Vatis, director of the FBI-led National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC), a bulwark to detect and deter threats to U.S. electronic lifelines.

Playstation2 Technology for Workstation 14:34 pm - Sniper
Believing that they may have the lead in graphics technology, Sony is intending to release a line of workstations utilizing the company's Playstation2 technology and environment. EETimes has the full story.

"In the past, workstations and PCs had more power than home game consoles, so we could use them as development tools. But when the power [of Playstation 2] matches or surpasses their power, it becomes difficult to use them for development," said Kutaragi. 

Even More Updates On CL GeForce 09:27 am - Wilfred
Apologies for the unceasing updates to the CL Annihilator review... due to overwhelming readers' requests, we've made every effort to respond to enquiries and perform more tests to clear any doubts. As such, Wy Mun carried out a number of additional tests in today's update. Today's updates includes running the card in Q3Test against the following criterion:

1. PIII-450 Vs O/C PIII-558Mhz
2. Stock 120/166mhz card Vs O/C 140/190Mhz
4. Vertex Lighting Vs Lightmap Lighting
5. Setting r_picmap 0 Vs r_picmap 1

NB: This is NOT a review in progress as some may think, but there was a need to address the concerns of our readers on different aspects they saw as vital to determining the card's performance. It is clear that the shipping drivers (mind you, it's shipping) are early ones, thus we plan to keep this review updated to reflect any significant changes.

Creative Announces Nomad II 08:27 am - Kan
Caught this off USB Workshop on the press release of the new Nomad II from Creative. What? It will cost less than a whopping US$400 bucks??

Creative Technology Ltd. today introduced the next-generation Creative NOMADR II portable digital audio player at the 1999 Fall Internet World convention in New York. The NOMAD II is one of the exciting new devices that make up Creative's Personal Digital Entertainment (PDE) Internet solutions.

A key feature at the core of the NOMAD II is its programmability, designed to be virtually future-proof. By incorporating this upgradeable feature, the NOMAD II can be programmed to support multiple digital audio formats such as MP3 and Microsoft Windows Media or software extensions that will be made available on http://www.nomadworld.com. In addition, NOMAD II is designed to enable consumers to download support for future digital rights management technology, including future SDMI compliance requirements, enabling the NOMAD II to play digital music in secure formats.

ATI Aurora 64MB AGP4X Card 08:22 am - Kan
This is HOT! SharkyExtreme scored a preview on the new ATI Aurora 64MB AGP 4X card with a 500M Pixels/s and 4 GB of memory bandwidth. Here's an excerpt from the article:

With two full speed Rage128 Pro graphics processors on one board, each processor requires 32MB of independent local memory to provide 3D resolutions up to 1600 x 1200 x 32bpp in entertainment apps. This is where the "64MB" figure from the Aurora's spec sheet comes from, which is similar to how two 3dfx Voodoo2 cards each with 12MB of SDRAM offered a total of 24MB of memory in SLI mode while their effective memory total was still just 12MB.

Interview Highlights 08:19 am - Kan
nv News let us know that they had posted the Interview Highlights at AGN Hardware with nVidia's David Kirk and Derek Perez. The good news is, GeForce will be out in the US in 1-2 weeks time. 

RaveMP MP3 Player 08:15 am - Kan
Our network buddies over at 3aG sent note on their review on the Sensory Science's RaveMP MP3 Player. This one looks rather impressive and is a cross between a Palm Pilot and MP3 player, offering features like phone number database, notes database and even voice recording.

What I discovered was Sensory Science's Rave MP (bet you didn't see that coming, after all this is a review for the RaveMP). What Sensory Science did was take the idea of all MP3 players and then build on it. Most have headphone plugs, so they put in headphone plugs and line-in and -out ports. Where most left it at that, they put in several other features. Blurring the line between a portable MP3 player and a Palm-Pilot, they added a phone number database, notes database, and even voice recording functionality.

Gamer's Snapshot 08:13 am - Kan
Feeling nostalgic? FiringSquad wrote an article titled Gamer's Snapshot of the Computer Industry. Gee, it's nice to walk on memory lane again.

For years, since the very early 90s, Creative Labs, with their Sound Blaster brand, has dominated the industry. Back in the day, when AdLib was king of sound, Creative Labs came out with their original Sound Blaster. The card was good, definitely better on the spec sheet than the AdLib. The Sound Blaster was well received by the high-end gaming population and soon all games had support for the Creative Labs card.

Palo Alto PA-600 Casing 08:09 am - Kan
Check out our pals over at ArsTechnica with their latest review on the Palo Alto PA-600 Mid-tower casing.

The idea behind the PA-600 is simple: using a screwdriver inside of a computer case is irritating. This enclosure was designed to minimize your reliance on tools when building and maintaining your Box o' Pride, and I'm pleased to say that they've done a very good job. Working from the outside-in, you'll first enjoy the single thumbscrew that provides access to the left-side cover. Once you pop the side of the case off, more goodies await. The card guide which snaps on to the inside of the front of the case doubles as a fan housing.  No screws needed there. 

6 October 1999 - Wednesday

Aztech AMS 5.1 Speakers
- Wilfred
Wy Mun is at it again! He's checked out Aztech's latest go at the desktop speakers market. The Aztech AMS 5.1 is a gigantic setup not everyone can imagine sitting on their desktop. Available at your familiar Sim Lim Square (Singapore), it wouldn't hurt you to know how this system stands against other popular choices like the Creative and Altec-Lansing speakers before making your purchases.

Next Generation Motherboards Platform 22:31 pm - Kan
Our gurus over at AnandTech released an article called Next Generation Motherboards Platform, basically touching on the upcoming i820 chipset. 

The VC820 features five PCI slots, and not a single ISA slot. A year ago a move like this would have been considered drastic, but now, it is appreciated. Not including any ISA slots removes the cost of an ISA bridge from the cost of ownership but it also forces the industry to kill a standard that has been strung along for entirely too long. The PCI bus is the interface of today, and prolonging the death of the ISA bus will only mean having to provide for the standard in future motherboard designs. The ISA-less motherboard design will be one that will dominate the i820 realm.

Consoles vs PCs 16:47 pm - Kan
There's an interesting article over at 3D Alpha touching on Consoles vs PCs. Hmm, which one do you actually prefer for playing games? For me, I still find PCs a more enjoyable experience.

A good number of factors seem to be the criteria for determining a love for consoles or PCs. Chances are, if you've played games on a console since Nintendo, you're probably a console man who had very little or no love for a PC at all. Or, if you've been messing around with computers since the 286, you probably find more productivity in PCs than you would in consoles. Those are quite obvious statements, but being as obvious as they are, they do say something about how the gaming community is divided between PC games and Console games.

Wilfred Coughs 16:16 pm - Wilfred
I hope you've checked out the updated GeForce benchmarks posted this morning. Mails are still pouring in, with most people concerned over the card's performance... Have no doubts that we're truly keen on bringing on the best side of the card. Like Mike Chambers of NV News said, numbers will probably improve once the driver issues are sorted out and give time for games to actually take good advantage of the card. DDR RAM versions will be expensive, but if our intuition/hypothesis are accurate, they should alleviate the memory bandwidth issues significantly - abet at a high cost. Dum-dee-dee-dum... =)

The Warped Perspective 16:07 pm - Wilfred
As a formal OS/2 aficionado, I've always had a soft spot for OS/2 articles. osOpinion posted an editorial about what OS/2 could have been, and what it can be even from this point on. Can't hide my despair when IBM decided not to push it hard as the masses' OS anymore. Tune your head back in time to 1996 and read this:

The year is 1996. It is September. IBM has just released its latest version of OS/2 Warp. It is with some anticipation that you have looked forward to this release, since you know that it includes such leading-edge features as voice-directed navigation and voice-to-text conversion, the Java Virtual Machine embedded right into the core of the OS, and an improved WorkPlace Shell including the WarpCenter task bar and superb icon and screen schemes. TrueType fonts are now supported, as well as a much wider range of hardware devices compared to the support level when version 3 was released. And while it needs a little more RAM to run smoothly, memory prices have just dropped precipitously compared to the early 1990's.

Yet, you have that same nagging feeling that has always accompanied the public announcements about OS/2. Despite the technological superiority and leading-edge features of this futuristic operating system, the pall of death hangs in the air. FUD is everywhere. There does not seem to be any signficant media response to this monumental release, a product that puts to shame the competitor's wimpy Windows line of products. Faster and more stable than WindowsNT, and far more stable and powerful than Windows95, it really should only be a matter of time before the world wakes up and realizes it has been fooled by the Windows devotees among them.

Network Installation Guide 16:00 pm - Wilfred
Like many users, I'd outgrown playing with one computer at home. There came the need to connect my notebook with the desktop, a need to configure the systems to share the same internet connection, printer and more. So that brings me to inform you that Tech-Review posted a guide on how to set up a Local Area Network. Advanced users can check this out and the rest can bookmark this in case you need reference in the future. =)

It's time to put down the disk and use something a bit more up-to-date for transferring your files from one computer to the next. It's time to setup a LAN (Local Area Network). The benefits of a LAN definitely out weight the setup costs and installation. Being able to play multiplayer games with lag free connections, share hard drive space, printers, and Internet connections make LANs almost a necessity in this day and age.

Unreal Tournament Tweak Guide 15:53 pm - Wilfred
You all know, I don't play FPS games a lot. In fact, I'm no fan of them. Call me a freak if you wish, but recently I crumbled at the jaw dropping graphics of UT I saw at WyMun's place and was compelled to try it out on my own. I'm not a least bit good at it, but I admit it is great fun! That aside, take a look at 3DSpotlight's tweak guide for the game. They covered quite a lot, even to the minutest detail.

After doing all what we have already mentioned I tried the game in a TNT2 and Matrox G400 card, speed was noticeably improved but not to the point I wanted, so after playing a bit with the Video options I found that setting Skin Detail to Medium resulted in the best speed boost without loosing too much of the graphical detail.

In the case of the TNT2 card (clocked at 165/175mhz) removing the HUD was a MUST, you can do so by entering in Options > Preferences > HUD > Show HUD. This really helped with the severe texture thrashing I was experiencing, if you don’t want to lose your stats completely you can also minimize it by hitting the “-” key.

With the Matrox G400 card however I noticed that when using the new file (D3DDRV.DLL) reducing the HUD size didn’t make much of an improvement.

The rest of the options were all set to the maximum possible, that includes Detail Textures and 32bit color, the truth is that using 32bit over 16 didn’t result in much of a drop, makes me wonder if the problems with TNT cards are mainly drivers related. Also playing at 1024x768 was possible without any speed problems. Some people might want to disable Detail Textures and set the Skin Detail to the Max instead, whatever of those you prefer to turn down will give you a boost.

AOpen AX63Pro Mobo 15:40 pm - Wilfred
BXBoards has a review of AOpen's VIA Apollo 133 based motherboard, the AX63Pro. It is a fact that the VIA Apollo 133 chipset doesn't beat the venerable BX yet, but let's see how this board fares on the whole. BXBoards also has a comparison of it against the AX6BC here.

This is a very good board, and for overclockers striving for AGP stability at 133Mhz this is just ideal. This VIA 133 implemention does not feature AGPx4, which many boards will in the feature. However it is unlikely that the extra bandwidth offered by AGPx4 will improve framerates significantly.

Despite initial reports that the VIA Apollo Pro 133 is slow, these are at least somewhat unfounded. Speed wise, its not quite up to the very fastest BX boards, but its just fine on applications, and runs only around 0.4 to 0.7 Winstone99 points slower than an equivilant BX boards. To translate this into real-speak, you won't notice this hit for applications.

Linux Myths - According To Microsoft 15:32 pm - Wilfred
Microsoft has put up a page providing their own demystification of the 'Linux Myth'. You should take a look at this no matter which side you are on. Much as I deplore an unreliable system, I just cannot recommend Linux to anyone but the technically inclined. It's great, but it's not yet ready for the masses.

With all the recent attention around Linux as an operating system it's important to step back from the hype and look at the reality. First, it's worth noting that Linux is a UNIX-like operating system. Linux fundamentally relies on 30-year-old operating system technology and architecture. Linux was not designed from the ground-up to support symmetrical multiprocessing (SMP), graphical user interfaces (GUI), asynchronous I/O, fine-grained security model, and many other important characteristics of a modern operating system. These architectural limitations mean that as customers look for a platform to cost effectively deploy scalable, secure, and robust applications, Linux simply cannot deliver on the hype.

After you've finished reading that, then check out System Apex's article in response. I can already smell the smoke of the flame war coming, but read it during your leisure.

Viewsonic P817 21" Monitor 15:15 pm - Wilfred
Drool... ReviewFinder posted a writeup on Viewsonic's P817 monitor - very high-end 21" model. The specifications are impressive on its own supporting resolutions up to 2048x1024 and refresh rates up to 180Mhz. The monitor sports BNC connectors, even a 4-port USB hub and more! The price will put it out of reach for most of us, but still...

ViewSonic says this monitor is "For the imaging, CAD/CAM and graphics professionals who require the highest resolutions". Well, that must be true, because at a resolution of 2048x1536, the windows desktop is far too small. To get an idea of what a desktop of that size looks like (resized to 1024x768), click here. I couldn't imagine working in this resolution (especially using Small Fonts mode in windows). With this monitor, my preferred resolution is 1280x1024. At that screen size, text is about the same size that it was on my 17" monitor at 1024x768, and the refresh rate is rock-steady.

If you checked out the link to Ian Donen's desktop, you'll be truely tempted. =) And before I forget, check out our review on the slightly lower-end P810 model if you'd missed it previously.

Updated GeForce Benchmarks 10:15 am - Sniper
After receiving numerous requests, we did additional tests on our GeForce and here's the updated results. In addition to Q3test numbers, we have now the nVidia Tree Demo numbers, Tirtanium and Exercizer benchmarks.

Intel i820 Chipset Review 06:50 am - Kan
TomsHardware took a look at the upcoming i820 Camino chipset and penned down his thoughts on them. Here's an excerpt from the article:

The memory bus in combination with RDRAM is twice that of the BX chipset. However, let's not forget that the CPU can only take advantage of 33% more memory bandwidth, and this is only the case if the CPU runs at 133 MHz FSB. Also, because AGP has moved to 4X it requires increasing the memory bandwidth so it can keep up with the AGP bus. The new RDRAM or Rambus memory does have a much higher bandwidth, but it suffers from lower latencies vs. PC-100 and PC-133 SDRAMs.

Rack-Mount PC Case 06:49 am - Kan
TheTechZone written an How-To build and Fix a Rack-Mount PC article. Great for LAN parties.

The Rack-mount case I found has a great layout for what I needed. All of the interface connectors are to the front side (where the drive bays are). It keeps me from having to dig behind to hook up anything other than the power. Unfortunately I can’t tell you who made this case. The company I bought it from had no idea, and I can find no identifying marks, stamps, stickers, or numbers anywhere on or in the case. The case has a space for a single hidden 3 ½" drive bay, and accessible 5 ¼" and 3 ½" bays (one each).

Microsoft SideWinder Gamepad Pro 06:43 am - Kan
AGN Hardware reviewed the Microsoft SideWinder Gamepad Pro with a MSRP of US$44.95. This gamepad is getting real attractive!

So what does this new MS Sidewinder Gamepad Pro offer? First of all it has a single thumb controller that acts as both a direct input and a proportional input similar to a joystick. It has my preferred 3 over 3 layout for the primary buttons, 2 trigger buttons underneath, and a Shift button beside the thumb controller for toggling all of the other buttons to an alternate mode – effectively giving you a gamepad with 16 buttons. The styling is certainly classy with a metallic silver finish. The "boomerang" design fits nicely into the hands much like the excellent Dual-Shock controllers for the PlayStation.

3DfxCool hDDHO-Fan 06:38 am - Kan
3D Alpha whipped up a review on the 3DfxCool hDDHO-Fan. Basically it's a hard drive cooling device, promising more punch than normal hard drive coolers. Here's some juice:

3DfxCool makes just such a device. The hddHO-FAN is designed for cooling 3.5" hard drives in a 5.25" bay. the reason for using the larger drive bay is that this provides more room for air flow, and allows for larger fans to be utilized. The hddHO kit has two 40x40x20 high power fans, as well as a blue-colored heatsink all mounted on a sturdy metal bracket. The metal bracket also serves as a 3.5" hard drive mounting bracket. In order to ensure that the heatsink performs optimally, the hard drive must be spring mounted into the hddHO.

Driver 06:34 am - Kan
Speedy3D reviewed the game called Driver. If you are a NFS fan, then check this out:

Ever since 'The Need for Speed' introduced the concept of being chased at deadly speeds around fast lanes and motorways; others have tried to follow. In fact all the games that have exhibited such a 'police chase' scenario came out quite well, most of them awarded the highest marks.

Audio Performance in Unreal Tournament 06:32 am - Kan
3dSoundSurge whipped up an interesting Audio Performance in Unreal Tournament comparing between A3D and EAX.

The performance impact of DS3D and EAX ranges from 11% to 7.6%. Also interesting to note that output rate seems to have no effect on performance when 3D sound is enabled. The performance impact of  going to 32 from 16 effects channels is rather small and choosing just 8 is a rather big trade off so you're probably best off choosing 32 channels and an output rate of 48Khz. Digitial music has a performance hit of 2%.

Intel 256K Coppermine Info 06:28 am - Kan
Our pals over at HotHardware sent note on some pretty interesting information. Here's some of them:

5 October 1999 - Tuesday

HW1: Creative 3DBlaster GeForce Annihilator
-
Wilfred
Your patience has paid off. Whew! Wy Mun had slugged it out all day and night to bring you a review on the retail version of Creative's 3D Blaster GeForce Annihilator card. This is now the hottest video card available in Singapore. Be sure to check this out!

AMD SledgeHammer 18:00 pm - Sniper
Looks like AMD is going to ambush Intel's 64 bit plans with their own plans.  Go to The Register for more details.

AMD is today poised to build on the buzz surrounding the Athlon by announcing its 64-bit successor, SledgeHammer. It's scheduled to ship in 2001, after Intel's H2 Merced/Itanium target, but it appears AMD has been reading Intel's roadmaps diligently, and has an
ambush planned.

Merced = Itanium 17:48 pm - Sniper
Well, that's the brand name given by Intel for its next 64 bit processor. There is more of this news at EBNOnline.

Intel Corp. has branded its upcoming line of high-end 64-bit chips Itanium, and the company will discuss more architectural details tomorrow in presentations at the Microprocessor Forum here.

More X-Box Details 17:33 pm - Sniper
Ok, time to settle down again after this morning's excitement.  Next Generation has uncovered more details on Microsoft's secret console.

We all know the current name for the secret console is X-Box but the development program is currently going under the name of Mariner. An AMD Athlon has been hinted at being the processor powering of the machine while sources at Advanced Micro Devices have said the OS will be a customized version of Windows 2000 and not a modified version of Windows CE. 

Wilfred Coughs 15:33 pm - Wilfred
The response to the review has been quite overwhelming indeed and our mailboxes are literally exploding, and the server almost did too.

Well, I've read all your mails... Wy Mun is fully aware that his benchmark scores are lower than most of you expected... many of you have mailed kind suggestions, while some blamed it on the PIII-450. However, I have to agree with Wy Mun that it is more than adequate a system to benchmark the product. Come on, it's overclocked to 558Mhz, and would be faster than a good majority of desktop PCs used right? The fact that the GPU is introduced was to reduce the dependency on CPU ain't that right?

The card is Wy Mun's investment as a consumer, and you can trust him to push that card to the limits. Some of you have read in NGs of better scores posted by users running the same card, but Wy Mun will continue his investigation into why this might have been. In Q3Test, he's turned everything on to the highest setting... in case that is a reason. Hopefully, as games better take advantage of the card's features, we'll have some meaningful scores to talk about. Now, Q3Test is but one of the best indicators around. The probe continues... and we'll love to hear from you.

There is NO DOUBT that the drivers which shipped with our box are VERY early ones; rest assured that if the need arises, or when new drivers become available, we will post an update to the review. Thank you for dropping by! =)

Misc Follow-Ups To HW1's GeForce Review 15:15 pm - Wilfred
Interestingly, our friends at nV News posted a follow-up to our GeForce review with some comparisons to an o/clked UltraTNT2 card. Also, I caught an amusing blurb off 3DGPU on our review:

I was dubious about this review, so I gave my contact at NVIDIA a call. He is not sure how the card could be on a shelf anywhere, and assured me that they cannot be using final drivers, as they are not yet completed. Keep an eye here for more details as I get them. - Brian

Huh? Either the guy is completely ignorant or their developer communications are totally screwed up. Should have photographed the boxes sitting on our retail shelves as proof eh? =) Then, another followup blurb from Creative's Senior Technical Marketing Specialist, Bill Ball, cleared things a bit:

"The Asian Region has begun shipping, as you know. We have been getting ready right along with them. The cards come out of Singapore and are allocated in varying lots to the Regions. Despite this, we have been the first to ship in the past, such as with the Ultra, as we finished our other preparations ahead of the other regions. So, launch dates can vary among the regions, often by a week or two. Sorry, I don't have a ship date for our region yet."

(Regarding posting the GeForce drivers, which are also for the TNT2 series)..."Well, we have to test them on all cards before we can do that. 2.08 will get posted ASAP. Who knows, 3.35 or whatever we ship could follow very quickly. Perhaps we could do a beta with that to give people an early look. I will tell you 3.34/3.35 are not the end of the road and we expect fresher drops from NVIDIA in a few days from now. There are some important optimizations we are waiting for. I can't say yet whether the coming drop has them, but I know that 3.34/3.35 doesn't."

Enuf said about the review's validity. However, we certainly look forward to better performance with newer drivers.

Intel 533B & 600B 14:56 pm - Kan
AGN Hardware reviewed these two puppies running on the new 133 Mhz FSB setting. But wait, when's the new i820 Camino chipset coming out?

The Pentium 533B and 600B are the newest CPUs from Intel to head for your desktop. These new little pieces of silicon promise faster speeds and features for your computer, using a new 133MHz Front Side Bus (FSB) setting. This 133MHz FSB promises to speed up your system, but then promises are meant to be broken. In the end, the 533B and 600B are no different than the past Pentium III processors that we have been using for some time now. Put a new multiplier on the chip, add 133MHz for the FSB speed and you have the new B version incarnate.

Diamond Monster MX400 14:55 pm - Kan
SharkyExtreme also chewed on the Diamond Monster MX400 soundcard and penned their thoughts on it. Here's an excerpt from the review:

The MX400 offers support for PC-based DVD home theater setups through its inclusion of the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio format via the MX400's included S/PDIF digital out port. Previously MX300 owners had to purchase the MX25 daughtercard to get this level of support with their card, we're glad to see that Diamond has included it right out of the box in the MX400.

Quake3 Arena Tour Bus 14:52 pm - Kan
Just hot off the stove is the article by FiringSquad on their experiences on the Quake3 Arena Tour Bus held few days ago in LA. Lots of pictures to pepper up the event. Darn, I wish I was there!

Well, maybe nothing quite so tacky, but you get the gist of it. In id's first public road show, a giant black bus with a Q3A-themed "skin" is now traveling the last leg if it's journey from Dallas to the hallowed halls of Activision HQ in Los Angeles, California. Quoted from a real Southern California resident ( who shall remain nameless), "the bus had to make it's way through such unfortunate states as New Mexico, Arizona, and Oregon before striking gold." Very clever of himself, I'm sure. Regardless of nationalism (stateism?), just as the Presidential Primaries, Cali is the last leg of the trip, so you could say we were totally missing out as such unfortunate states as New Mexico, Arizona, and Oregon had the grand opportunity to see the latest build of Quake 3 Arena.

TOPLAN 14:28 pm - Kan
Demonews just posted their review of the Skywell TOPLAN USB network kit for your PC. Using USB to network your computers is probably the easiest way and when USB 2.0 comes out, it will rock in terms of speed.

TOPLAN does not need any server between the computers, it runs with a so called point to point connection (host to host). It can connect PCs up to 20 sets (most up to 127 sets), the transfer rate is 12Mbp. The maximum length is 5M between two USB devices, so that the maximum length between two PCs is 10M, but you can extend the length by the USB Hub unlimitedly, and if there are some PCs in the network that hangs/locks up, you can still work with the network.

FIC SD-11 14:26 pm - Kan
Our pals over at FPS3D whipped up a review on the FIC SD-11 Athlon motherboard. How does 4 USB ports and super-fast BIOS startup sound to you?

The AMI BIOS startup is very, very fast. Watching this baby boot up is enough to instill a case of the speed-giggles in even the most hardened tweakmonkey. Windows will start loading literally within a second of hitting the power button. Usually we don't talk about "BIOS speeds" in motherboard reviews, but this still deserved a mention.

Just Cooler PC Cooling Fans 14:24 pm - Kan
DansData dropped us a line on their massive roundup on Just Cooler PC Cooling fans products. 

Fans move the maximum amount of air when they're completely unhindered by housings or grilles - the "free air" situation. Any actual real world situation won't be completely free air, but some come close - a plain desk fan, for instance, which only has to blow air around its wire safety guard. Computer fans are usually choked by more-steel-than-hole grilles, and the efficiency of most front-of-case fans is further reduced by really badly sealed mounting cradles, that let air leak around the fan and make it stir the air inside around more than it exchanges it with the air outside.

Introduction to Peltiers 14:14 pm - Kan
TheTechZone sent note on their latest article on Introduction to Peltiers or what we call Thermoelectric Coolers. Check it out if you are interested to get a peltier cooler for your CPU. 

A voltage is applied to two ends of the peltier. This creates a difference in temperature between two dissimilar materials. With the temperature difference, heat is moved from one end to the other. The absence of heat is simply cold. The heat is absorbed from the environment and is carried through the cooler by electron transport. It is released to the opposite side of the peltier (hot side) as the electrons go from a high to low energy state. The capacity of the cooler is proportional to the current and number of n- and p- type elements (couples)

BIOS Optimization Guide Revision 4.3 14:12 pm - Kan
Adrian over at Adrian's Rojak Pot (where else?) updated his BIOS Optimization Guide, upping it to revision 4.3. What's new include some notes on the Video BIOS Shadowing as well as parallel port mode settings. 

Intel AnyPoint Home Network 14:08 pm - Kan
Win-News sent us a note on their review on the Intel AnyPoint Home Network kit. Basically the kit allows you to network your home computer thru your phone lines, supporting up to 1 Mbps (yucks!).

The newest way to network has come! Now you are able to speed through your favorite multi-player software/games easily and quickly through Intel's AnyPoint! Now, Throughout your house-hold you are able to network ANY computer or printer! And it only requires a phone jack! Amazing. Now you can transfer files at 1Mbps throughout each PC, While you are still on the phone!  Also as a bonus you get the Intel Internet Sharing Software.

Kan Yawns 14:04 pm - Kan
Let me tell you, things just didn't go too well early today. Sorry to the visitors who encountered strange scripting errors 8 hours ago. Apparently the server nearly died due to the overwhelming response to the GeForce review. Hopefully, things are more stable now.

 

4 October 1999 - Monday

RSA-512 Broken In 12 Microseconds?!
23:35 pm -
Wilfred
According to this news, an Israeli research institute said it had developed a handheld device, which used a mixture of quantum computing and special optical technology, that could break the RSA-512 code (the system used by the European banking sector) in 12 microseconds. Can you count ONE with me?? Interesting read...

The institute was founded a few weeks after news leaked from the Israel's Weizmann Institute that it was using a mixture of quantum computing and special optical technology to break the RSA-512 code, the system used by the European banking system. It claims it has developed a hand-held device that can break the code in 12 microseconds.

Quantum computing works by taking advantage of the peculiar characteristics of subatomic particles. Whereas a normal computer relies on a signal - or bit - being either on or off, a quantum bit can be both on and off at the same time. This unusual ability means a great deal more information can be stored. While a regular computer works through each sum one at a time, a quantum computer can do every operation at the same time.

Diamond MX400 Preview 23:26 pm - Wilfred
The FiringSquad never fails to surprise. Read about their latest preview of Diamond's upcoming MX400 sound card. Now that Aureal has gone into making their own sound boards for retail as well as OEM, Diamond has turned to the acclaimed Canyon3D processor from ESS. So what are we to expect?

For Diamond, the hardest part will be convincing people that the revolutionary wavetracing features of the Vortex2 and MX300 are not as necessary as they themselves had hyped. If you ask us, that's asking for a lot. However, try to think of something that can compete with the advanced 3D effects of Vortex2, and acceleration of digital encoding and decoding is certainly a top contender. After all, we're all running amidst the "MP3 revolution," and at the very least it's a selling point that should resonate strongly among active Internet users.

Poll #28: When I Visit A Fast Food Outlet... 23:19 pm - Wilfred
Yuppers, kinda weird poll right? Heh! Nvm... So let's see... 37% of you take away and the rest dine in. Easy? I usually just sit around.

Monsoon MM-1000 17:16 pm - Kan
VoodooExtreme sent note on their latest review on the Monsoon MM-1000 flat-panel speakers. Actually I haven't listened to flat-panel speakers before, but I guess they should be of decent quality. In the meantime, there _should_ be a new review up by tonight and yes, we got the CL GeForce 256 already. :)

Unlike a conventional cone speaker, the MM-1000’s planar magnetics utilize a very thin, conductive mylar diaphragm, suspended between neodymium magnet bars, and encased in a perforated "stator". As voltage is applied to the magnet bars, the diaphragm vibrates, and produces sound. Air can pass through the perforations in the "stator," from the front and the back of the diaphragm, allowing sound that is directed both forwards and backwards.

E2C-2E Cooler Review 17:12 pm - Kan
E2C-2E sounds more like a new secret aircraft. Anyway, CPU Review reviewed the E2C-2E Cooler for your hard drive. It looks cool with the digital clock and temperature display. Also Bill let us know that he had updated the Athlon/Pentium III pricing on his site.

You can program the E2C to display temperature in either 'C or 'F quite easily. The temperature that the fans turn on at is also programmable; however the alarm is fixed at 5'C (about 10'F) above the configured fan activation temperature. You can also configure the "air filter replacement warning" which defaults to 120 days. The air filters supplied with the unit were not impressive; and I suspect are quite ineffective.

AMD Athlon 700 15:07 pm - Kan
AnandTech just posted their thoughts on the AMD Athlon 700 processor today. Looks like the Athlon smoked the Pentium III in most of the benchmarks.

The 700MHz part hasn't changed from the other four clock speeds currently available. The CPU operates at a 1.6v core voltage, makes use of a 7.0x-clock multiplier, and a 100MHz FSB that transfers on both the rising and falling edges of the clock (this produces the equivalent of the 200MHz FSB that the EV6 protocol ambiguously specifies).

The Athlon 700 naturally draws more current than the previous speeds and some early boards may have difficulties supplying the processor with the right amount of current. But, rest assured that once the CPU begins shipping in quantities to the public there will be motherboards that are more than capable of driving it. November will be a good month for Athlon motherboards…

NBA Inside Drive 2000 15:04 pm - Kan
3DSpotlight posted a review of the Microsoft NBA Insider Drive 2000. Basketball fans should like this game and the graphics are pretty niffy. Here's an excerpt from the review:

Players look very detailed, in fact, I don’t think you will have a problem recognizing Reggie Miller or Shaquille O ‘Neal, since the faces are digitized. Also the motion of the players has been captured completely, I mean, movements are pretty life-like, you can really feel you are playing basketball. The arenas look very nice as well and although the crowd is totally static it looks good.

Soyo SY-6BA+ III 15:01 pm - Kan
Tech-Review reviewed the Soyo SY-6BA+ III Slot-1 motherboard. With 27 different FSB settings, this board is pretty overclockable as well.

With soft jumpers being the latest craze in the motherboard industry, it's no wonder that almost every motherboard manufacturer has decided to implement them. Soft jumpers allow you to change the bus speed setting via the BIOS rather than using physical jumpers on the motherboard itself. We first encountered soft jumpers with ABIT and their highly successful line of BX based motherboards. Since then, motherboard manufacturers have been scrambling to upstage ABIT as the number one choice for overclockers. Enter the Soyo SY-6BA+III which provides more bus settings than the new ABIT BE6 and an extra DIMM slot for increased memory support.

Building an All  SCSI System 14:59 pm - Kan
Not for the faint hearted, TheTechZone whipped up a whopping 13 pages article on Building a purely SCSI system. Be sure to have lots of dough in your bank account. :)

Theoretically speaking, the fastest SCSI bus has a bandwidth of 160MB/s, but this requires a 64 bit 66 Mhz PCI slot (not found in common systems, mostly servers). So with your average PC, the max is 80MB/s. This means your hard drives can transfer up to 80MB/s (theoretically, actual transfer rates are much lower) IDE just recently started using 66MB/s (ATA-66), but most people who haven't built a new system or upgraded still have ATA-33 (33MB/s) at this time.

System Building Guide 11:08 am - Kan
Our buds over at ArsTechnica just dropped us a line on their new article called System Building Guide. Should you buy a complete system or build one yourself? Check it out over there!

There are three ways to obtain a personal computer.  You can it purchase retail, "mail-order" (when it's sent to yer house), or you can build your own.  Building your own 'puter has become an increasingly popular undertaking amongst the savvy technophile class.  One of the reasons why people are turning to their tool box instead of Dell or Micron is so that they can get exactly the video card, exactly the network card, and precisely the hard drive they want to dual or tri-boot different OSes.  For a laugh sometime, ask one of the Gateway sales reps if their machine will run Linux or even funnier, BeOS.  

Sound Blaster Live! Platinum 09:53 am - Kan
Our pals over at ALive! posted some info on the new Sound Blaster Live! Platinum soundcard. Sure is interesting with the new Live!Drive to connect all your MIDI/SPDIF inputs to...

The Live!Drive seems to be a very flexible solution enabling different connectivity options that Creative may be selling in other digital I/O products, like I/O boxes and cards.

I noticed that there are 4 sets of header pins on the Live!Drive, compared to only 1 set of header pins on the SBLive! card itself:

  1. DIGITAL IN
  2. TO DIGITAL I/O CARD - this means you can cascade and connect the Live!Drive to another digital I/O card
  3. TO SBLIVE! - this header connects to the pins on the SBLive! Platinum card
  4. TO EMU10K2 - this is the interesting one!

Desktop Theater 5.1 DTT2500 09:39 am - Kan
Speakers of your dreams, GA-Source took a look at the Cambridge Desktop Theater 5.1 DTT2500 speakers. 

The most noticeable thing about the DTT2500 is the external amplifier. It is one of the relatively few PC speaker systems that use a full separate amplifier(not built in to the subwoofer). I think it was a great idea from Creative. You have direct separate knobs to adjust the volume levels of the whole system, the surround speakers and the center speaker. You are also able to set whether the receiver uses the source directly or tries to apply some surround processing to it. In the case of things that are output in plain stereo (audio CDs for example) this can be handy.

EliteGroup P6IWT-A+ Motherboard 08:55 am - Kan
SharkyExtreme also posted another i810 motherboard review from EliteGroup.

Measuring in as big as most 440BX motherboards, the P6IWT-A+ is certainly bigger than most of it's i810 counterparts, and for good reason. With the added Slot-1/PPGA combo architecture and the clearance space needed to stick a CPU/Fan there, ECS engineers had to leave some extra space. Wisely, the DIMM slots are nowhere near either of the CPU sockets or any of the card slots. Its spacious design probably makes the P6IWT-A+ the best laid out board in the i810 market.

Delta Force II 08:52 am - Kan
SharkyExtreme posted a preview on Delta Force II. The game is now based on the new Voxel Space 3 technique, promising better graphics. In my opinion, it's still sucky.

Delta Force II uses NovaLogic's Voxel Space 3 engine, which supports 32bit 3D acceleration of non-voxel graphics. The levels consist of very wide-open areas. In several situations we were sniping from six hundred meters away or more. (One impressive part of Delta Force II is its realistic ballistics. Bullets are influenced by wind and gravity and can pierce walls if their caliber is high enough.) If areas with the same detail, including rolling hills and grass, were drawn in a polygon engine, frame rates would choke to death. There would just be too many polygons to draw.

AGP 4X Motherboards 08:49 am - Kan
Thanks to 3aG who sent us a note on the availability of AGP 4X motherboards in the Japan market. Woohoos! These are powered by the Apollo Pro 133 chipset running on 133 Mhz FSB and supports ATA-66 interface.

3D ExerciZer Benchmark 08:43 am - Kan
Mike from nV News dropped us a line on their research on benchmarks which will make use of the new GeForce T&L capabilities. Pretty interesting, so take a look:

3D ExerciZer is an OpenGL based graphics application designed for use on "Intel-based" workstations running Windows 95/98/NT.  3D ExerciZer is used to stress test the 3D graphics performance of a system and can be used to compare performance of different graphics cards, systems, and drivers.

With NVIDIA's GeForce 256 due to appear shortly, and a lack of readily available "consumer based" software to test the Geforce's Transform and Lighting capabilities, 3D ExerciZer may be a good candidate for comparison purposes (especially the processor and geometry stress tests).

3 October 1999 - Sunday

Hardware-One: Compro 7503 8W/20R CD-R
- Wilfred
Hiya! Sniper's review of the Compro 7503 8xWrite/20xRead CD-R is ready and available for public consumption. If you think you will have little use for the Re-Write function or consider RW-discs uneconomical to use, then just the vanilla CD-R might appeal to you!

After extensive testing of this drive, I must say that it is a worthy successor to the 7502. Taking less than 10 minutes to finish a 650 MB disc, this drive is definitely a screamer. I guess we should see a new speed race with various manufacturers competing to bring out the fastest CD-R drives to the market.

More Athlon Goodness 22:00pm - David
BXBoards has done a review on the Athlon 500 vs the P3 500, plus a review of the FIC SD-11 Athlon board.

You know, beyond a doubt one has to respect a company like AMD; but then again, the underdog is always admired, aren't they? The days are long since gone that INTEL and AMD shared technology in a common goal to bring the X86 platform to dominating levels. Now, both companies are like two chess masters trying to checkmate one another. Well, guess what Intel? Queen takes Knight Checkmate!!!

Homeworld Game Review 21:50pm - David
ActiveWindows has done a review on the new game Homeworld, here's some juice from the review.

Your past is a like, your future is in jeopardy, and you're 35,00 light years from home. That's one of the taglines on the Homeworld box, keeping the game in the sci-fi flavor. I remember reading about Homeworld sometime ago, a lot is expected of it after some great showings at various trade shows and a very nice demo release.

Linksys 4-Port USB Hub Review 18:35 pm - Kan
Today is Sunday and as usual news are a bit slow today. Hopefully, a review from Speedy3D on the Linksys 4-Port USB hub will pep you up a little.

The USB Hub is simply a device that connects to one of your USB Ports and offers support for 4 or more, more. By doing this it greatly expands your ability to use USB devices. For example if you went out and bought 4-port USB Hubs you would then have support for 8 USB Devices instead of just two. Pretty cool isn’t it?

Future Power P3-500 16:07 pm - Kan
AnandTech went for a change and reviewed the full complete P3-500 system from Future Power. Here's an excerpt from the review:

Future Power is looking to tailor to the needs of the users that aren't looking to invest the time in building their own system for whatever reason, yet want all of the benefits they would normally get if they were to go out and build the computer themselves. The company is looking to bridge the gap between your standard pre-built retail system and a true hardware enthusiast's computer, and with their latest addition to the Power Series line it seems like they are headed in the right direction.

TNT2 Roundup 16:04 pm - Kan
Our pals over at HotHardware posted a TNT2 roundup comparing the Gigabyte GA660 vs Microstar 3DAGPhantom. So how do they fare? Check it out:

If you are like me and have a keen sense of the obvious, you'll note that the Gigabyte board is set up dramatically different than any other TNT2 board on the market today. Dig that Metalic Blue Heatsink on the back side of the PCB! It is mounted directly underneath the Ball Grid Pads of the TNT2 chip's BGA package. Since you can't mount other components directly underneath a BGA device, this area of the board is wasted space normally.

GeForce256 Ultra: Hoax? No Such Thing? 12:59 pm - Wilfred
I know many will think that it is a letdown... but hey, that gives you the green light to grab your GeForce256 right away! Riva3D posted about the bogus .PDF file in circulation, regarding a coming 'Ultra' version of the card. Whew! Anyway, here's some info I saw on RivaStation about Asus' upcoming GeForce256 card:

  • V6600/32M: GeForce256 + 32Mbyte + Hardware-Monitor-IC
  • V6600/64M: GeForce256 + 64Mbyte + Hardware-Monitor-IC
  • V6600Deluxe/32: GeForce256 + 32Mbyte + Hardware-Monitor-IC + TV-Out + Video-In
  • V6600Deluxe/64: GeForce256 + 64Mbyte + Hardware-Monitor-IC + TV-Out + Video-In
  • V6600GL: GeForce256 + 32Mbyte + Hardware-Monitor-IC + Standard AGP 4x + TV-out + DFI FlatPanel
  • V6600GL/PRO: GeForce256 + 64Mbyte + Hardware-Monitor-IC + AGP-Pro + TV-out + DFI FlatPanel

Turn VSYNC OFF In 3.34 Beta Drivers 12:46 pm - Wilfred
Riva3D posted some clues about how you can turn off VSYNC in the latest beta Detonator 3.34 drivers. Edit the following registry key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\NVIDIA Corporation\Global\NVTweak G_DWORD CoolBits
Value 3 (1=Direct3D vsync option, 2=overclock option, 3=both, 0=none)

AOpen AX6BC Pro Review @ The Tech Zone 12:35 pm - Sniper
The Tech Zone has posted a review of the AOpen AX6BC Pro motherboard. This is AOpen's gift to an overclocker. It has a cool 24K gold plated heatsink on the BX chipset too! Looks very nice!

The AOpen has no problem running my P3-500 at 620Mhz. It was 100% stable. However, it was unable to run my Celeron 366 at 616Mhz (112x5.5). The highest it could do was 567Mhz (103x5.5). It's really too bad that AOpen didn't include a 105 or 110Mhz bus as this lapped Celeron 366 has no problem running at 605Mhz (110x5.5). To be fair, no motherboard has been able to run my C366 at 616Mhz with 100% stable, but the Abit BE6 and BP6 can run the CPU at 605Mhz without any problems. 

Unreal Tournament/Q3 Test Comparison 12:30 pm - Sniper
The guys over at Digital-Clips.com has put up a comparison between these 2 first-person shooters, go check it out.

There have been heated debates around Internet forums and newsgroups over which is the superior game. Many a
thread have been dedicated to comparing Q3Test with
Unreal Tournament Demo, either resulting in flaming (“this
is not a UT / Q3A forum, dammit!”) or logical, civilized
debates. There seems to be more of the former than the
latter, though =)

2 October 1999 - Saturday

Creative GeForce Website
22:51 pm - Sniper
Snooping around the Creative website, I found this link to the GeForce. The box is way cool...

3D Blaster GeForce 22:38 pm - Sniper
Well, I was also hanging around at SLS this afternoon when I chanced upon the Creative GeForce. The piece I saw was only priced at SGD 400. The lady at the counter was nice enough to let me take a look at the navy blue box which showed a card whose layout is very similar to the 3D Blaster RivaTNT2 ULTRA. It has only a VGA connector and no other output connectors. If I'm not wrong, the board could be making use of the 3.34 reference drivers we posted about yesterday. We would keep you updated when we have more information! Stay tuned!

Aureal SQ2500
21:28 pm - Kan
Our buds over at FiringSquad are busy at work again and brought us their latest views on the Aureal Vortex2 SQ2500 soundcard.

The main new feature we see here is the coaxial S/PDIF output. Most Vortex2 cards only offer the coaxial S/PDIF output on a separate daughter card, but the Aureal card has it on-board. Other cards such as Xitel's Platinum Storm only have on-board optical (TOSLINK) S/PDIF output. The coaxial output offers greater compatibility with consumer electronics equipment. This makes sense considering that the whole point behind the digital out on a consumer level sound card is to be able to output a line to an external AC-3 decoder.

Creative GeForce 256 At Sim Lim Square 16:07 pm - Wilfred
I had to post this! Just received a phone call from our 'agent' at Sim Lim Square. The card is on sale less than an hour ago. I say again, boxes are retailing at Sim Lim Square for SGD 429 (US$1 approx SGD 1.7). Whoa! Reportedly, it's a stock 32Mb card with no game bundle or... so what are you waiting for?! =)

Tom With A Neon 250 12:22 pm - Wilfred
Did I miss this or did Tom just release it??? Anyway, just saw on Tom's Hardware a thorough review on Videologic's long delayed Neon 250. Sigh... this card would prolly make no impact to the scene after such a long delay. What could have been a pretty decent card in the playing field of the G400s, TNT2 Ultras and Voodoo 3 will not stand a chance against the next generation - already at the doorstep. Duh!

The Neon 250 offers some very interesting technology that in theory can offer major performance gains under certain circumstances. However, when these certain 'circumstances' aren't present, the card doesn't really keep up with the graphics cards in its class. The OpenGL performance in Quake Arena is very good while the visual quality in our entire test suite was excellent. With a little more work on their drivers (and a full OpenGL ICD which won't be easy), I think VideoLogic will have a pretty competitive card on their hands until the prices of the TNT2 Ultra based cards drop (thanks to the GeForce making it's way into stores).

Quantum Cryptography 11:41 am - Wilfred
Some news about Quantum Cryptography was posted here some time back and today New Scientist magazine has a feature about it. Very insightful read for the layman (me!)... We should be able to see its application some years down the road. The story is long:

It works like this. Alice needs to send a key to Bob, which he can then use to decipher a future coded message. To do this, Alice starts with two polarising filters oriented at 0 degrees and +45 degrees, representing 0 and 1 respectively. Bob has two similar polarising filters oriented at 90 degrees and ­45 degrees. For the key, Alice sends Bob a string of randomly polarised photons representing 1s and 0s. Bob then tries to measure the polarisation of each photon by randomly switching between his two filters. A photon striking a filter oriented in the same direction will always pass through. Conversely, a photon striking a filter oriented perpendicularly will never pass through. But a photon hitting a filter that is diagonal to its own orientation is in a quantum quandary, with a 50:50 chance of passing through or being blocked.

Suppose Bob chooses his ­45° filter to measure a photon from Alice, and no photon passes through. He cannot know whether Alice sent a +45° photon (meaning 1), which is always blocked, or if she sent a 0° photon (meaning 0), which is only sometimes blocked. If a photon does pass through his filter, then he is in luck: he can be sure that Alice sent a 0° photon. This means that Bob knows that if a photon passes through his ­45°filter, Alice must be sending him a 0. Similarly, if he uses his 90° filter and the photon passes through, then Alice must have sent a +45° photon.

So when Alice sends polarised photons to Bob, he will be able to establish with certainty the bit value of a fraction of them. Alice could send a series of a hundred photons, each one polarised at random, while Bob randomly switched between his filters. Typically, three-quarters of them would be blocked, but Bob would know the bit value for the lucky minority that got through. Bob could then call Alice on the telephone and tell her exactly which 25 photons he received. These would form the key for encrypting a subsequent message.

Although Bob tells Alice which photons he correctly measured, he does not say which filter he used to measure them. So even if Eve overhears the telephone conversation, she gains no information about the composition of the key.

Digital Camera Reviews 11:30 am - Wilfred
Since I'd delved a little into digital photography, posting about them is inevitable. Recently, Fuji has launched several very impressive digital cameras aimed at different market segments. From these reviews, you'll learn about their great performance! (I'm still loyal to my Olympus) =)

FreeSpace 2 11:21 am - Wilfred
It's out in U.S. and should be right here in Singapore within weeks! IGN.PC already has a short review on the game, giving it a 8.9/10. Cool, this is a game I want to get!!

Where Freespace 2 really stands out is its mind-blowing visuals. Simply put, every ship, every stellar object, every surface in this game looks incredible. Ships move quickly and realistically, and when they're hit, they shower sparks and plasma behind in dazzling arcs as they spin out of control. Weapon effects, particularly the giant beam weapons fired from the capital ships are beautiful, and dynamically light up any objects close to them. Certain missile types fire as streak packs and leave a chaotic trail of particles behind them. The end result of all this going on at once is a startlingly attractive battlefield that will give you joy just to watch. This effect is enhanced by the game's plentiful sound effects and voice acting, which I found to be cut above what I'd heard before. The soundtrack is also movie quality and never gets in the way of your enjoyment of the game.

Sun To Make Solaris' Source Available 11:14 am - Wilfred
According to ZDNet's story, Sun will be releasing Solaris' source code to the public in an attempt to parallel Linux's success. Ah, but there's a difference...

Sun (Nasdaq:SUN) doesn't intend to simply give away Solaris, its version of Unix that the company runs on its entire line of computer servers and workstations. But the Palo Alto, Calif., computer maker does plan to make the Solaris source code -- the computer instructions that set out exactly how the program works -- available under its "community-source license," said Greg Papadopoulos, the company's chief technology officer.

Under Sun's community-source license, programmers around the world will be free to download the Solaris source code and to make any changes they desire, so long as they provide open "interfaces" to the software and report bugs back to Sun and other programmers. Developers will also be allowed to use Solaris for free in noncommercial applications, but will owe Sun licensing fees if they incorporate it into commercial products.

Big Blue's Colourful Thinkpads 11:06 am - Wilfred
Looks like even the mammoth IBM caught the iMac fever. When I said 'Colourful', I didn't just mean 'BLUE'. Like Slashdot described, IBM merged ideas of Nokia/Swatch swappable covers onto their latest revamped notebook lines. Read this Yahoo article.

Sony 21" 500PS Monitor 11:00 am - Wilfred
I imagine Kan drooling at this. Check out GameWire's review on Sony's 21" 500PS. Everyone wants one isn't it?

The Sony 500ps gives excellent resoultion and refresh rate support with its max resoultion being 1600x1200 @ 85Hz. I run my desktop at exactly this setting and it looks awesome especially with my Voodoo 3's 350 Mhz RAMDAC. The colors are vibrant and really are distinct. The Sony 500ps is what I would call a gamer's monitor - great vibrant colors, a large viewable area and excellent geometry due to the flat surface. In addition to great resolutions, refresh rates and color definition, the Sony 500ps supports dual inputs (the ability to plug to boxes into one moniotr). The ability to run dual inputs is a necessary feature for me since I run 2 machines here. First of all, dual input ability saves space, hassle and electricity (hehe, I'm talking to you Woods). You can switch bewteen the two boxes by simply pushing a button located on the front panel of the monitor (convienently named Input).

Free Software & The Innovator's Dilemma 10:49 am - Wilfred
osOpinion has an enjoyable read for you. Much of it discussed Linux as an open-source operating system, how companies have chosen to embrace or dismiss it, as well as it's feasibility.

How have today's successful technology firms, then, fallen into the "innovator's dilemma" with respect to Linux? By focusing on the short run and the high end. When companies like Sun, SCO, and Microsoft dismiss the OS, they talk about its lack of scalability, its relative newness, and its lack of a journalling file system. These features, however, are irrelevant at the workstation and workgroup server level, and, more importantly, they're all being developed at an unbelievable pace to help the OS scale to enterprise levels. As commodity hardware becomes more and more powerful, while Linux and Windows NT continue to scale up to new heights, the traditional Unix vendors will find themselves increasingly marginalized to the very highest-end of the computing spectrum, falling into what I call the "Silicon Graphics trap."

Silicon Graphics (now SGI) was notorious for their focus on the high-end, sexy technologies: Cray supercomputers, 128-processor Origin servers, $10,000+ workstations, etc. While each unit sale at this level seems highly profitable, in reality the R&D costs involved in pushing the envelope of technologies at the microprocessor, OS, server, and applications levels was simply impossible to maintain, and the company spiraled deep into unprofitability as companies like Intergraph ate away at their core graphics business with low-cost graphics workstations.

Tweaking your PC Part 4 08:56 am - Kan
Tweak3D posted Part 4 of the article Tweaking your PC. In this article, they talked about the importance of updating your drivers.

To freshen up your drivers, begin by going to Windows Update and clicking on the device drivers link. This little area of the web site will check your drivers against the versions that Microsoft supports, and will update any drivers that need to be.

Next step would be to go to your computer manufacturer's web site and check for the newest drivers they have there. Many times, these drivers will be more up to date than the ones that Microsoft has access to. Another bonus of working with your manufacturer's site is that any drivers that you download off their web site, they are required to support.

Intellimouse Explorer 08:49 am - Kan
AGN Hardware reviewed the Intellimouse Explorer. Optical technology is just way too cool!

IntelliEye uses a tiny CMOS digital camera to take 1,500 pictures per second of the surface beneath the mouse. A digital signal processor then analyzes these pictures and translates movement of the mouse into crisp movement of the cursor on your computer screen. IntelliEye uses a powerful 18 MIPS processor to give you great performance. In fact, this processor is so advanced that it is faster than a computer built several years ago.

The Motherboard Guide Part 2 08:48 am - Kan
SharkyExtreme posted Part 2 of The Motherboard Guide. This round, they took a look at the components that made up of a motherboard. Pretty good reading.

The PCB is the actual board whereupon all of the components will be mounted. The PCB is actually several layers of flat resin which have the various circuit lines, called 'traces', embedded into them. A typical PCB will have four layers, with the top and bottom being the signal layers. The two middle layers will be used as the ground and power planes (see Figure 1). By placing the power and ground planes in the center

GeForce 256 Ultra 08:42 am - Kan
Thanks to TheTechZone, why am I not surprised to hear the GeForce 256 Ultra? How does QuadEngine, QuadPipe 256 bit pixel pipeline, 150 Mhz Core, 600 Mpixels/s and the world first HDTV processor sounds to you?

Motherboard Monitor 4.11 DLL 08:38 am - Kan
Thanks to Damon from Dredd News, you can download the new version of the .DLL from here directly. What's new include:

  • option to set the file path for the log files

  • VIA 686A support, this includes the Tyan S1598, Fan's and Voltage are working correct however the Temperature is not 100% working as it should, so if there is anyone around who know how to transfer the 10bit number the VIA686A resturns into the correct temperature please let me know

  • AMD 756 Smbus support, this is finished as far as I can tell, this means that Athlon Boards that have a (known) sensor chip connected to the AMD 756 Smbus on their board should be supported.

  • Pause function

  • Option to make MBM go into pause mode when a DirectX / OpenGL game goes full screen, this is just an idea so if there is a DirectX / OpenGL guru among you who knows what messages get send to windows when they go full screen please contact me. Without this info it will remain just an idea :-)

G400 Drivers for Windows 2000 08:33 am - Kan
Philipp from NT Game Palace kindly sent note on the availability of the G400 beta drivers for Windows 2000. Kinda good to see Matrox supporting a new platform aggressively. 

Intel AnyPoint USB Network 08:29 am - Kan
SystemLogic posted a review of the Intel AnyPoint USB wireless home network kit. Basicaly it makes use of your existing phone wires to network your computers together.

After I received my review model of the AnyPoint network kit, I found 2 boxes. Each box had a sleek, black tower/adapter measuring about 8 inches tall and 3 inches wide, accompanying that was a AC power cord, a phone cord and a USB female/male cord. Behind the tower were 3 output and 1 input port. power, USB, and modem/phone ports all direct information from the phone line input port.

1 October 1999 - Friday

nVidia 3.34 Drivers
15:12 pm - Kan
TheTechZone told us that GeForce-fr has the new beta version of the nVidia 3.34 drivers for TNT, TNT2, M64, Vanta and GeForce 256 graphics cards. You can download it from here.

Overclocking and CD-R Recording 15:10 pm - Kan
CDR Software dropped us a line on the implications of overclocking your system and doing CD-R Recording. Personally I'm running at 110 Mhz and it doesn't really go well with my SCSI card.

Few PCI cards and modern hard disks have trouble at 75FSB, but things are different at 83FSB, since 41,5 PCI bus speed is far beyond the official specifications. The result is overheat and a lot of NIC cards and SoundBlasters will have trouble.

The most dangerous implications have to do with the hard disks. Running a hard disk out of specs can easily trash its FAT and data and the only solution will be repartitioning/reformating.

FANBUS Review 15:05 pm - Kan
This sure is wacky as FPS3D sent note on their latest review on the FANBUS. The FANBUS is basically a central hub for all your fans/cooling products. Check it out!

The screws were my only real complaint about this product. All you have to do is request a springloaded bus, and installation pains are gone before you have them. That's the way it should be with everything, really. If by now you are considering buying a FANBUS, keep one thing in mind: You must cut and strip the wires yourself. While it hardly requires an engineering degree, just make sure you know how to do it before you order one. The instructions do provide a fairly good idea of what you'll have to do.

ABIT BE6-II Review 15:03 pm - Kan
Today we have the ABIT BE6-II review from our buds over at iXBT-Hardware. Here's an excerpt from their wonderful review:

You saw in the specs that ABIT also uses Award BIOS version 6.0 as ASUS does. The range of the options available was enlarged and the access to them via Setup became more convenient. Setup now allows assigning IRQs to PCI slots as well as fine tuning of all memory timings.

ABIT BE6-II hardware monitoring is carried out on Winbond 83782D microchip. It controls two fans of the three, which can be connected to ABIT BE6-II, nine voltages and three temperatures, one of which can be taken with an external sensor included in the package.

Solitaire in Windows 2000 15:01 pm - Kan
Gee, I didn't notice this before. But BetaOS is kind enough to dropped us a line on the new version of Solitaire spotted in Windows 2000 with this feature:

Windows 2000, like all its predecessors, comes with a pack of basic entertainment games.  However, the game Solitare included with Windows 2000 contains a new, very cool feature.  When you're playing Solitare, press ESC and the Solitare window will minimize to the taskbar - with a new name:  budget.xls - "you won't get caught playing solitare from your boss anymore!"

Hauppauge WinTV USB 14:57 pm - Kan
Pretty rather interesting piece of hardware reviewed by our pals over at HotHardware. The WinTV allows you to watch television/video players thru your USB port. That is cool! Now you can watch TV with your laptop by hooking'em up with a portable antenna.

Hauppauge the company is well known for their TV cards. Their use of the BT48 chipset has pretty much made them a standard for PC users of many OS's. Their PCI TV cards can be found at the local Office Max, Best Buy, Computer store, etc. I used to have one, and Used it quite a bit. There's nothing like sitting in front of your computer surfing the web, doing homework and still having the ability to watch TV in a small corner. Actually there is. How about being able to be out with your laptop outside or away from the office and still being able to watch the game?

Wingman Gaming Mouse 14:55 pm - Kan
Those gurus over at AGN Hardware whipped up a review on the Wingman Gaming Mouse. Definitely good news for those hardcore Quakers. :)

Today Logitech's newest mouse is called the WingMan Gaming Mouse. Not surprisingly, it looks just like the classic three-button MouseMan device, only this mouse is decked out with a charcoal finish and the Wingman Gaming Mouse logo. Essentially they revived the classic MouseMan shell, but they claim the insides are different as well, which includes the addition of a larger mouse-ball inside. Best of all, the WingMan Gaming Mouse is a USB or PS/2 device. The end of the cord features USB connector, complete with a PS/2 adapter on the end of it. Completing the package in a full copy of Shogo: Mobile Armor Division version 2.2 from Monolith and GT Interactive.

Next Generation Motherboard Platforms 12:25 am - Sniper
AnandTech has an editorial on the next generation motherboard starting with the Athlon.

Since we received these samples, two of them have been released to the public and they are available for
sale (the FIC SD11 and Gigabyte GA-7IX which are, coincidentally, both Athlon motherboards). However,
the purpose of this article isn't to compare the boards and provide a clear winner, but, rather, to set a standard that you, as a consumer, can expect to see from motherboard manufacturers when you do decide to pick up one of these motherboards for your next system. 


Six For Stick
10:25 am - Sniper
Over at The Register, it is reported that Sony has sign on six companies for its memory stick.  We also did a review on this thing back in March. Do take a look.

Aiwa, Fujitsu, Sanyo, Sharp, Kenwood and Pioneer will variously produce, promote and support in other devices Sony's answer to Compact Flash. That's a long way from
the industry standard status Sony wants Memory Stick to attain, but definitely a step in the right direction. 

K8 & Athlon Ultra 10:05 am - Sniper
CNET confirms that the AMD's next generation chips will be detailed next week at the  Microprocessor Forum.  Read on.

Following its architectural triumph with the Athlon chip, Advanced Micro Devices next week will detail the K8, a 64-bit chip that will compete against Intel's Merced.

The K8, along with the upcoming Athlon Ultra chips, will constitute AMD's attempt to get into the lucrative market for server and workstation processors, a segment that the struggling chipmaker has long coveted.

Slipstream Enhancer Kit 07:35 am - Kan
Ultimate3D sent note on their review on the Slipstream Enhancer Kit. The Slipstream Enhancer Kit promises to squeeze every drop of juice (err... performance) on your graphics card. Check it out:

The SlipStream is real simple product to install. Installation of the heatsink/fan went flawlessly. Just apply some alcohol (Rubbing Alcohol) to the base of the heatsink to loosen the thermal epoxy and let it soak for a couple of minutes. After that, you carefully pry off the heatsink/fan with a flat screwdriver and scrape off any residue using the supplied razorblade. Then dry it off, and snap coupler onto the chip. Finally, simply screw on the fan/heatsink to the base, and attach the powercord, VOILA!

TennMax Heatsinks 07:32 am - Kan
More TennMax madness as Overclockin.com did a roundup on the  TennMax P3TF vs TennMax P3STF heatsinks.

So what is new about the P3STF heatsink? Glad you asked. The same heatsink is used (including the same retention method), but they have added higher performance fans to it. These heatsinks are rated at 17CFM each instead of the ~10CFM fans.  This is a significant increase in airflow.  So does that extra airflow really make a big difference?  Before we get to that, let's take a look at a couple more pics of the P3TF and the new P3STF:  

Optimizing Your System Memory 07:31 am - Kan
3D Spotlight dropped us a line on their latest article on Optimizing Your System Memory.

Windows also uses what is called "Virtual memory" this is made up of space on the hard drive. Its default setting is to allow Windows itself to determine the amount used. However, it is much more efficient to set this yourself.

Here's how to get it done. If successful you will notice that your hard drive is accessed a bit less, signs of it being accessed would be, say a grinding noise or something similar coming from the PC, & a degradation in its performance will doing so, e.g. every notice the way Unreal stutters sometimes during gameplay ? Well that's a sign of the virtual memory being accessed. It may not be possible to completely stop this accessing, but this will reduce its occurrence if done right.

 

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