21 January 2000 - Friday

Wilfred Coughs
- 22:58 pm Wilfred
Whoa! Thanks to all who mailed about my recent PC woes! =) I'm back in action, and really the problem turned out to be having to enable ATA/66 via the Seagate utility (downloadable at their website) before things will work reliably.

Razor Boomslang - 22:51 pm Wilfred
3D Unlimited posted a review of the Razor Boomslang mouse, they should be available in Singapore very soon and I bet some of you can't wait to try it out for yourselves!

Karna’s Razer Boomslang 2000 does live up to advertised performance in every aspect. However most people interviewed thought $99.99 was too much for a 2000 dpi mouse even with the fourth button and on-the-fly-scrolling. Overall, I highly recommend the 2000 model or for $69.99 the1000, the difference being dpi resolution. Though we’ve mainly focused on the gaming use, this mouse is perfect for users who modify and manipulate photographs or work with CAD (Computer Aided Design and Drafting).

ABIT SlotKET !!! Press Release - 22:49 pm Wilfred
Just some hours after we got those pics out of the door, ABIT sent along the official press release of the SlotKET !!! product.

ABIT® Announces the SlotKET™!!! Adaptor, for “Flip-Chip” Pentium® III (Coppermine) Support on Slot 1 Mainboards

Taipei, Taiwan, R.O.C. Wednesday, January 18th, 2000— With great shifts taking place in CPU architectures, ABIT® continues to help bridge the gaps between them with their introduction of their new SlotKET™ !!! adaptor card.  Previous SlotKET™ converters were able let Celeron PPGA CPUs run in Slot 1 mainboards. The new SlotKET™ !!! allows you to do the same with Intel’s new line of socketed Pentium® III Coppermine CPUs. This architecture, termed “FC-PGA” or “Flip-Chip” (as opposed to the PPGA Celerons), is supposed to gain more precedence in the future, but the SlotKET™ !!! lets you enjoy it on your current Slot 1 motherboard.

In addition to “Flip-Chip” Coppermine support, another new addition to the SlotKET™ !!! is core voltage adjustment capabilities, for further stability and control.  Sets of color-coded jumpers allow you to select from 32 different voltage settings between 1.3 and 3.5v, including an “auto select” option. As with previous SlotKET™s, dual CPUs are possible. In addition to the Coppermine’s 133MHz front side bus speed, the SlotKET™ !!! can be set at 66 or 100MHz instead, to comply with motherboard support.

With this new solution from ABIT® a person can purchase among any of the Slot 1 or Socket 370 CPUs on the market (be they PPGA or FC-PGA) and not have to worry at all about compatibility with whatever motherboard they have.

Dreamcast Console Review - 22:42 pm Wilfred
SharkyExtreme reviewed the Sega Dreamcast. Go hear what they have to say about this gaming station. I didn't fall off my chair when I saw it, but I guess it's still the best there is now.

At the core of the DreamCast is a 200MHz Hitachi SH4 processor with 8KB of instruction and 16KB of data cache on chip. Serving it is 16MB of interleaved SDRAM running at 100MHz and connected by a 64-bit memory bus. The SH4 is 2-issue superscalar RISC processor designed with Windows CE and 3D in mind. It sports a 32-bit integer unit and a 64-bit floating point unit. It has a multiply-accumulate unit that, Sega tells us, can take four floating point numbers, multiply them by four, then sum them all in only seven floating point instructions. These kinds of abilities prove useful for 3D graphics calculations. In fact, in certain procedures, it can attain 1.4Gflops of processing power. Of course, such situations rarely, if ever, come up in the real world, but the processor's capabilities are still impressive and translate into high frame rates in complex game scenes.

KDS 19" Monitor - 22:39 pm Wilfred
Don't remember seeing this item on sale here in Singapore, but the KDS looks like an elegant monitor to have for a good price. The TechZone posted a short review on it.

Image quality on the VS-195 is great. No matter what resolution you are running, the image and text quality don’t seem to fade, this is achieved by the clock speed reaching up to 205mhz. Dot pitch is another ruling factor of image quality, the lower the number the tighter images appear.  With a dot pitch of 0.26, any graphics artist would appreciate the images produced by the VS-195.

Thief 2 Preview - 22:36 pm Wilfred
Followers of the first Thief will want to read this at The FiringSquad, but of course, you would have already been playing the demo right? Here's a blurb from their preview:

One of the most interesting things about the Thief universe is the setting. The city and world are clearly vibrant and alive. Its leaders have goals, the factions within the city have goals and, of course, Garrett has his goals. Throughout the game, you will learn more about the situation, Garrett and the workings of the City in general. Of course, most of this comes through what Garrett says, which starts at cynical and goes down from there.

GeForce DDR ShootOut - 22:33 pm Wilfred
Gamers Depot posted a shootout comparing the Erazor X2 and the Asus V6800 GeForce cards. Errmm.. I believe the guys there had much too high expectations for even the DDR GeForce, check this:

Well there is no question about it, DDR does make all the difference in the world to the overall performance of the GeForce. Both cards totally eclipse the performance of both the Rage Fury Maxx, and the GeForce SDR, especially under 32bit rendering, which is the direction that the games are moving to. Unfortunately all the GeForce cards crapped out under our D3D test when pushed to [email protected] due to driver issues, which we are sure will be fixed in future releases.

ThinkPads For US$1?? - 09:22 am Sniper
Too good to be true? Well, find out for yourself here.

Austin placed his order on Tuesday and received two separate confirmations that the unit price for his ThinkPad was $1.00, plus $70.45 in shipping and taxes. "Well, I ordered overnight delivery," he said with a chuckle. "It sounded like a good price to me." 

Mobile Linux - 09:15 am Sniper
Some information regarding the Mobile Linux developed by Transmeta are available here.  Go grab it.

Many Linux improvements are under way at Transmeta. Employees have developed support for touch-sensitive screens that get around the need for a keyboard and mouse. They've written a program that draws a keyboard that can be used to type on a touch screen and that recognizes handwriting in a method similar to that used on Palm Pilots. 

They also built in a way to automatically store files in a compressed form for computers with small storage space or no hard disk at all. And they've written software that will let small handheld devices run programs actually stored on powerful computers across a network. 

ABIT SlotKET !!! - 09:02 am Wilfred
Here's some saucy information about ABIT's SlotKET !!! PPGA/FC-PGA to Slot-1 converter, together with some pics you might like to see:

  • Converts PPGA/FC-PGA 370 processor into Slot 1

  • Supports Celeron PPGA / Coppermine FC-PGA / Cyrix PPGA CPU

  • Supports Dual CPU configuration

  • CPU Vcore adjustable (1.3v~3.5v) via Jumper

  • CPU FSB adjustable (66/100/133) via Jumper

  • More CPU options for Slot 1 Motherboard

  • Pentium II/III-like cartridge for easy insertion and CPU safety

  • Dimension:128 (W) x 73 (H) mm (w/o cartridge)

  • Available later February, 2000

Ars Takes On Transmeta Crusoe - 08:45 am Wilfred
Whoa! Surely the Crusoe generated immense interest with so much hype and hope. The crew or more specifically Hannibal at Ars Technica sat down and wrote you a nice analysis of the Crusoe announcement and what it promises. Lots of intriguing keywords like 'Code Morphing', 'VLIW core' and more...

Crusoe isn't about framerates (yet), and it isn't about 3DSMAX rendering or weather simulation. It's about doing low to mildly compute-intensive sorts of tasks like word processing, video and audio playback, web browsing, email, etc. And more specifically, it's about taking those tasks on the road.

The Crusoe team's answer to the questions they asked is an impressive blend of software and hardware technology that should make anyone with even a passing interest in CPU architecture sit up and take notice. Throughout the rest of this article, I'll be talking about the actual technology behind the Crusoe in detail: the Code Morphing software, the VLIW core, the Long Run power management features, and more. I'll look at how those technologies work and what they offer.

Intel Seeks To Ban Imports of VIA Chipsets - 08:37 am Wilfred
A report at CNet says that Intel is trying to seek a ban on VIA chipset imports, citing intellectual property infringement of the 'P6' bus. This may extend to their upcoming Joshua processor. Read this:

The giant chipmaker has filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission to bar Via from importing, among other products, its Apollo Pro chipsets, which work with Intel's Celeron and Pentium III processors, said Chuck Mulloy, an Intel spokesman.

Via is also slated to release its "Joshua" processor for low-end PCs in the near future. It is uncertain, but likely, that the request for a ban could be expanded to include these products as well.

AMD To Add On-Chip Cache To Athlon - 08:31 am Wilfred
Most of you who'd read about AMD's future Thunderbird processor would prolly know, the CPU will come with integrated on-chip cache, much like the CuMines. So we can really expect the stellar processor to perform even better! EETimes has a story you will want to read (more about SpitFire and Mustang, slurp!):

"AMD has a very coherent road map, and they are executing it beautifully," he said.

The upcoming Thunderbird device will boost performance by transforming the Athlon's current 512 kbytes of off-chip L2 cache into 256 kbytes of on-die L2 cache. Brookwood noted that Intel used the same strategy to turn its Katmai chip into the Coppermine, with cache sizes in the same ranges as the Athlon and Thunderbird designs.

FIC KA-11 VIA Apollo Pro 133A - 06:23 am Kan
Word from AnandTech on their new review on the FIC KA-11 VIA Apollor Pro 133A motherboard. From the physical layout, it looks pretty good with 4 DIMMs and 5 PCI/2 ISA slots. Here's an excerpt:

Otherwise, the layout of the FIC KA-11 follows the ATX specification closely with all FDD, HDD, and ATX power connectors are all located at the front of the board, right in front of the DIMM slots. FIC has also implemented an optional 6-pin ATX power connector that offers power supply fan speed monitoring and control for power supplies that offer such capabilities. While this may not seem like the most useful feature, it is unique nonetheless.

Despite being rated to run at 133 MHz, with the option of overclocking it to 150 MHz, the 694X chip was not covered with a heatsink. Fortunately, we did not notice any heat related issues in our evaluation sample. Creative Labs CT5880 sound is optionally integrated on the motherboard and provides a basic PCI audio solution for those that don't need some of the more advanced features available with dedicated PCI sound cards.

The Future of Operating System - 06:16 am Kan
BuyBuddy also just penned down their thoughts on The Future of Operating System. Now, I only wish for a stable OS! 

If you take a look around the world of database management, on the massive scale of, say, a bank or large corporation, you’ll find little evidence of a Microsoft based system, but rather one based on Unix. Unix is an operating system based entirely on file serving. Linux is a Unix-based system with an interesting concept: the entire OS is based on open source code. What is open source code? It means that anyone can take the code, change it the way they want, and (the most important part) package it as their own. This is a step sideways in the operating system world. If Microsoft’s Windows was open source, anyone could take the core operating system, change it, and sell it, thereby creating competition. Which is why, of course, Windows is not open source.

Transcend TS-AVD1 Review - 06:15 am Kan
iXBT-Hardware dropped us a note on their review on the Transcend TS-AVD1 motherboard. Using the Apollo Pro Chipset, it comes with 5 PCI slots as well as 3 DIMM sockets. 

So, Transcend TS-AVD1 is a Slot 1 mainboard based on VIA Apollo Pro133 chipset. Like any other mainboard, TS-AVD1 is equipped with a voltage regulator meeting VRM 8.4 specification. It means that it supports all Intel processors including its brand new Coppermine. In fact, choosing VIA Apollo Pro133 was a very logical move: it supports not only old system bus frequencies - 66 and 100MHz, but also 133MHz, which is required for some new Coppermine 133MHz processors. Besides the FSB frequency equal to 133MHz, this chipset also features such modern technologies as UltraDMA/66 and PC133 SDRAM. The only modern feature, which is not supported by VIA Apollo Pro133 chipset, is AGP 4x. However, this is not that fatal, actually, since the performance difference between the graphics cards using AGP 2x and AGP 4x makes not more than 1%.

Intel Celeron 533 - 06:12 am Kan
The fastest Celeron to date by Intel, GamePC took a peek at this processor based on the good-old Mendocino core.

As you can see from the benchmarks, the Celeron 533 can hold its own against slower overclocked Celerons. It also posses a threat to the P3 450, and when overclocked does amazingly well even with a relatively low front side bus, which reminds all of us just why and how the Celeron became so popular. Its brute speed helps it along the way, but you can't forget about the 128k of L2 cache running at the CPUs core speed. The L2 cache is one of the main reasons why it did so well in all the tests.

All Games Hardware - 06:08 am Kan
Alright, be sure to get out AGN3D on their All Games Hardware video review. This time round, the guys get their paws on reviewing the Klipsch, Midiland as well as Altec Lansing speakers. 

On tonight's All Games Hardware show we talk with Midland, Klipsch and Altec Lansing on the topic of their newest gaming speakers. The interviews go into detail on the benefits of their speakers and how they were built as well. The big question is who is the current leader for that precious desktop space for your speaker needs for your PC? You can check out the Hardware show and then come up with the decision on your own. 

20 January 2000 - Thursday

nVidia/SGI/VA Linux OpenGL Q&A - 21:41 pm Kan
CPUReview sent note on some of the questions he fired on the PR guys over at at nVidia, SGI and VA Linux. Here's some of it:

Will this OpenGL be Open Source?

A: Since the future product is a result of the collaboration, we have not yet determined an Open Source strategy. We will let you know the details at a future time.

New Batteries - 21:40 pm Kan
Yep, though not exactly computer related, but being the geeky us, Electric Tech dropped us a line on the new announced batteries from Motorola. 

Scientists at Motorola Labs and Los Alamos National Laboratory have developed a new, miniature fuel cell that may one day replace the traditional batteries that now power everything from cellular phones and laptop computers to portable cameras and electronic games.

The energy density of these new fuel cells is 10 times that of conventional rechargeable batteries. At the same time, they will be significantly lighter in weight and less expensive to purchase.

The new fuel cells, each measuring about one inch square and less than one-tenth of an inch in thickness, are powered by liquid methanol (wood alcohol) and can easily be installed into numerous existing and future electronic devices. Use of the fuel cells, for example, could safely power a cellular phone for more than a month and eliminate the need for battery chargers and a/c adapters.

Diamond Web Pad - 21:36 pm Sniper
Diamond Multimedia is expected to be the first company to announce products that make use of the Crusoe processor.  Catch all the info here.

Details on the Diamond Web tablet are sketchy, but the Santa Clara, Calif., company showed a copper-colored device on the stage at yesterday's unveiling of Transmeta's initial processors. Transmeta chief executive Dave Ditzel said in an interview that he expected the first products with the Transmeta chips to ship in the second quarter of this year.

The Diamond product will use Transmeta's lower-end 3120 chip, which costs between $65 and $89 and is in production. Web pads and other devices using the 3120 chip are expected to cost between $500 and $1,000, Transmeta representatives said yesterday.

Western Digital Caviar WD205BA - 21:32 pm Kan
Alright, not to leave out the gurus over at StorageReview on their latest thoughts on the Western Digital Caviar WD205BA hard disk.

Though the scores are close in high-level tests, the WD drive falls just short of the Maxtor's lofty scores. The Business Disk WinMark 99 run under Windows 95 reveals a negligible 2% difference in Maxtor's favor. The High-End WinMark difference is slightly more substantial, with the Caviar trailing by 7%. Traditionally Maxtor would put considerable distance between itself and its competitors when it came to the Disk Winmarks in Windows NT. Here, however, the overall difference is relatively slim, with the Caviar trailing the DiamondMax by margins of 4% and 6% respectively in the Business and High-End WinMarks. ThreadMark turns in virtually identical scores for both drives, with the Maxtor edging out the WD by margins of 1% or less.

Erazor X Review - 21:30 pm Kan
3DRage dropped us a line on their review on the Elsa Erazor X GeForce graphics card. I guess once Wilfred's hard disk is stable enough, we can release our thoughts on it soon. :)

The graphics cards manufactured by Elsa Inc. have always been good, reliable products, that might not have topped the competition in performance, but what they lacked in performance they made up for in features. A majority of the time, however, the performace compliments the feature rich board, and you come out with a wonderful product that any Nvidia owner would be proud to own. When 3dfx began to produce and ship their own graphics boards, and S3 bought out Diamond Multimedia, NVidia chipsets became the only staple in the OEM market. ATI and Matrox have always made their own cards, so right now all the OEM's are trying to best each other in the GeForce 256 market. Today we take a look at the latest SDRAM GeForce 256 offering from Elsa Inc., the ERAZOR X.

GeForce DDR Overclocking Guide Updated - 21:27 pm Kan
Planet GeForce sent note on their updated overclocking guide with with some new benchmarks in Quake III using a new technique to boost the overclockability of the RAM chips of the card. Increases of between 10 and 20 MHz over the previous maximum were observed.

One of our readers, Ed, mentioned a way of significantly increasing the overclockability of the DDR RAM chips. When hooking up the second fan (the one on the back of the card) avoid connecting it to the video card's output if at all possible; try to splice it in with the Socket 370 fan. After new testing of my own, I was able to confirm what Ed suspected. By the looks of it a fan drawing power from the video card can draw enough juice to hamper the maximum frequency the RAM will operate at. While before I could only overclock to 347 MHz I can now push it all the way to 355 MHz. Results will vary, but it's pretty obvious that there is enough of a voltage drop across the board to make it harder to crank up the speed.

Build your Own Blowhole - 21:25 pm Kan
Ah, trust our buds over at HardOCP to come out with such provocative title. Anyway, the guys have some very interesting ideas on how to cool your system efficiently, so check it out:

Voila!  The hole is ripped and what you see is the Power Supply right under it.  See how we had to follow the back edge of the PS with the snips so we would have enough room to cut. Even though this only made a little bit of space, it was NEEDED to make the fan fit in the space.   Another thing this illustrates is the fact the not so much metal was removed that it hosed the structural integrity of the case.  It is still very solid.  You don't want to cut the entire plate out or really close to the edges as this will weaken you case considerably.

AGP Sidebanding vs AGP Overclocking - 21:21 pm Kan
Looks like Adrian over at Adrian's Rojak Pot updated his AGP Sidebanding vs AGP Overclocking guide, bumping it up to Rev 3.0. Here's some of the new stuffs:

Overclocking the AGP bus appears to be the most logical step in improving the performance of the AGP bus since it brings about a substantial increase in AGP bandwidth. For example, overclocking the AGP bus to 112MHz increases
the AGP bus' maximum bandwidth to 900MB/s (using the AGP2X transfer mode), which is way over the usual AGP2X's maximum bandwidth of 534MB/s.

Hauppague WinTV/GO Review - 21:17 pm Kan
Here's an interesting review for today on the Hauppague WinTV/GO card from CTNews. It allows you to watch TV on your monitor (good if you stay in a small room or hostel) and it can also capture TV programmes directly into AVI files.

Playing around with the utility, I was pretty much impressed. The video captured was of very decent quality (depedent on format, of course) and audio was good. The only problems I had were that there is an occasional line of "static"-like artifacts. This is because that CPU and I/O system was working hard to encode and write the image to disk. Quality improves when audio is disabled and when you minimize the capture preview. Quality can also be improved if Microsoft wrote a decent operating system ;) (Seriously though, if one needs good capturing, you should try Linux, or Windows NT). The more CPU, the better. This also applies to your harddrive too. If you are capturing images at a higher resolution, you need a harddrive that can keep up. SCSI is always the best when it comes to heavy I/O usage, but a decent 7200 RPM IDE should suffice for most capture. 

Sanding the PPGA Celeron - 21:15 pm Kan
Overclockin.com has an article on sanding your PPGA Celeron to improve heat transfer between the processor and the heatsink. Tricky stuffs, but it sure looks interesting!

There are a couple of reasons why one might get something out of slug sanding. First of all, we're taking off a layer or two of material from between the hot silicon inside the chip, and the heatsink that will dissipate that heat. Second of all, the fewer types of metal involved in the heat transfer, the more efficient the heat transfer. The silicon in the chip transfers its heat to a copper casing, the copper casing transfers the heat to a coating of (I believe) nickel, and then the heat is transferred to your heatsink (probably aluminum). Slug sanding takes out one of those transfers, because we're sanding off the nickel. Thirdly, the flatter you can get the chip against the heatsink, the more evenly and faster you can transfer the heat (you may think of sanding the bottom of your heatsink in basically the same way we'll show you to sand you're processor).

Future of PC Memory Article - 21:12 pm Kan
FiringSquad posted an article on the Future of PC Memory Article. The usual technical stuffs, sure makes me excited. =)

Since a read request generally takes two or three cycles to be processed and fulfilled, there are obviously some other technologies supporting this gap between processor and memory performance. One of these technologies is the multi-layered cache design of modern systems. Cache is a small amount of extremely fast RAM that is physically and logically closer to the CPU than regular memory. To understand how a cache works, you first have to understand how a CPU functions. The following is a short version of the explanation found in our G4 and IA-64 articles.

Transmeta Announcement Coverage - 21:01 pm Sniper
Slashdot's David Cassel wrote an article covering the entire Transmeta Announcement.  If you don't feel like reading, you can watch the telecast here at ZDTV.  Well if you fast forward to 57min of the telecast, you can catch Linus Torvalds and Dave Taylor co-creator of Quake demonstrating Quake on Crusoe chips running on Windows and Linux.

Then to break things up, there was the historic Quake showdown between Quake co-creator David Taylor and Linus. "I can't think of anybody better on the face of the planet to demonstrate Crusoe on Linux than Linus Torvalds," Laird joked. The photographers rushed towards
the stage again for the even-more-obvious photo-op as Linus came out in his denim shirt, jeans, and sandals. ("I'd like to point out that if I lose, it's not the operating system," Linus joked.) It all ended when Linus fired all
his bullets in a spray, then got nailed when he ran out of ammo. (Later in the press conference, after a bunch of questions about his role and Transmeta, Linus referred back to the Quake game, saying it was "meant to show that I'm here, but I'm not supposed to be the main point of it all.") One of Transmeta's technical staffers told me at lunch that "We all knew Linus was gonna get his ass kicked," and sure enough, when I asked Dave Taylor what he thought of Linus's Quake-playing, he said "I
thought he sucked." But then he added modestly "I suck at code compared to him. So that felt good." 

Torvalds at Transmeta - 11:54 am Sniper
Wide Open News has an article describing Linus role at Transmeta.  Described by Transmeta executives as "key" to Crusoe's software
development.

While considering job offers at the time, he passed on many chances to join Linux startups, because "I didn't want to polarize the Linux community" by hooking up with a single vendor. But at Transmeta, Torvalds said, he gets to work for a company "that is very interested in Linux.... I'll do Linux because that's my passion and that's really what I know." 

Wilfred Coughs: Splutters of Me - 08:44 am Wilfred
Sigh. Gave up the HotRod/66 and Seagate Barracuda combo late last nite and conceded running the new HDD at ATA/33 instead. Still in the process of restoring the system to its former glory... I'll be back!

Racing Wheel Wars - 08:40 am Wilfred
Well, even racing wheels wage war against one another at 3DWars. If you are on the verge of splurging on a racing wheel to add more thrills in your driving simulators, I urge you to read this first.

Well, to start off our search for the ultimate racing wheel, we have two contenders that would like to try for the spot. In one corner, we have the highly acclaimed ACT Labs and their Force RS racing wheel. ACT Labs is very well known for making peripherals of all types. On the opposite end, we have AVB Tech and their GC Force Feedback racing wheel. AVB is also a pretty big peripheral manufacturer with a lot of history behind them. Both wheels provide powerful force feedback effects and the bliss of USB...

Trinity Micro Gold Fingers - 08:36 am Wilfred
BXBoards let me know that they reviewed Trinity Micro's Gold Fingers. Yes, surely you need Midas' touch to overclock that hot Athlon chip of you.

Well, being that both seem to operate the same, one may opt for the older device, being that he or she can save a few bucks. I personally recommend the newer Northwind GFD, because of two big differences. First of all, the Northwind is a fully fabbed solution, which means there are none of the wires that go along with the old device. Second of all, the quality of resistors used on the Northwind is higher. I think that the Northwind device will outlive the old Gold Finger Device. (Will they both outlive one's Athlon 500? Well, probably, so it's all relative.)

With those two improvements come two drawbacks. #1) The DIP switches on the Northwind are much smaller. They require a fine ball point pen or small blade to alter the device's settings. This is not a big deal to me, but it is a slight hassle. #2) The settings for half of the DIP switches are read left-to-right, while the other half are read right-to-left. This was a little confusing at first, but in the end, it wasn't that significant as well.

MSI K7 PRO Motherboard Review - 08:24 am Wilfred
The guys at OWB are fast, and posted a review of the MSI K7 PRO Motherboard. This newcomer uses AMD's Irongate chipset and it does seem to be very overclocking friendly. But there seem to be some issues... this is a review in progress:

Initial test shows that the board is very stable under normal condition. Overclocking it is also not a problem. We managed to set our Front Side Bus to 119Mhz and the system went straight into Windows 98 without much hitches at all default at 1.6volts.

BCM Diagnostics tests passed through with no problems at all. It is absolutely stable.

Knowing that I have run the modified Athlon 500 on the ASUS K7M on 1.75v and worked like a charm, I tried the MSI K7 PRO by installing a fresh Win98 using the modified Athlon 500 that runs at 700Mhz and you know what happened ?? 

The Win98 was very unstable and I did not managed to install the Windows at all. Even I use a preinstalled Harddisk which was meant for another Althon board does not help. I am still wondering why is that so.

Crusaders Of Might And Magic - 06:20 am Kan
Gameslink.net did a pretty nice review of Crusaders of Might and Magic. As far as I can remember, Might and Magic has been out for a long time already. If you like RPG games, you may like to check this out:

The "map" of the world in Crusaders of MM is actually several maps joined together. This is actually quite apparent as you traverse through Crusaders' world. Environmental changes can be dramatic from one section of the map to another (foggy to clear and sunny). Collections of maps make up each section of the main map. These collections formulate the areas for each of the quests. However the world in Crusaders is primarily made up of valleys, corridors and tunnels. This type of map design produces very linear quests. There is almost no adventuring, as the entire world is not open for exploration. Portions of the map open up when a quest requires that area. As long as you follow the path it will take you to your goal. So there really isn't any adventuring (or thinking) involved.

Editorial on 3D Glasses - 06:15 am Kan
CTNews3D whipped up an editorial on how 3D Glasses 'trick' your brains into perceiving 3D images.

This method is usually used with projection displays when 3D material needs to be displayed. Every viewer has to wear special glasses which have two polarizing lenses which have their polarization directions adjusted to be 90 degrees different. This makes is possible that left eye sees it's picture without problems but everything ment to right eye (sent out at different polarization) seems to be black. Same applies also to right eye.

The material which has to be shown is typically projected using two projectors (film projector, slide projector or video projector) which each have polarizing lenses in front of them (adjusted to meet the polarization directions of the glasses). The projection surface must be specially made so that it does not do any harm to the polarization (many traditional projection surface materials are not suitable, silver stripe screen is recommended). The advantage of this method is that the pictures can be in full color and the viewing glasses are still quite inexpensive.

AMD K6-2E Processor - 06:05 am Kan
Thanks to CNEWZ who pointed us to this article on the new AMD K6-2E processors which were announced today.

AMD today introduced two new AMD-K6®-2E embedded processors, providing higher-performing solutions to help meet the increasing bandwidth demands of the embedded market. The 400MHz standard-power processor and the 350MHz low-power processor extend the performance of the AMD-K6-2E family of processors and are AMD's highest frequency embedded processors offered to date.

The AMD-K6-2E family of embedded processors is designed to offer compelling yet affordable power and performance for embedded applications, including point-of-sale terminals, printer controllers, public and private communications infrastructure, industrial automation, information appliances, and Microsoft® Windows® operating system-based single board computers and embedded PCs.

UT Better than Q3? - 06:02 am Kan
Eh-oh. In the latest My Voice editorial in PC Paradox, the guys discussed which game engine is better, UT or Q3. Gee, reminds me of the browsers war... =)

I bet you thought that discussion was over, long gone, completely forgotten. Than let me ask you this, why did half of you just open up your e-mail client to curse me out, while the other half were nodding their heads in agreement? I'm going to re-open this debate, because frankly, it interests me. I enjoy hearing your opinions, and am surprised by the intelligence and legitimacy in them (well most of them ;). More over, it amazes me that politicians and religious fruitcakes blame video games such as UT and Quake for the downfall of IQ, and yet there are 12 years olds E-mailing and trying to explain to me the nuances of texture mapping. But that's a column for another day. 

CL Annihilator Pro - 06:00 am Kan
Jsi Hardware also posted a GeForce review today on the Creative Labs Annihilator Pro.

The card uses Nvidias GeForce Chip which is a .22 micron design that has over 22 million transistors (That's more than a Pentium III Chip). Creative have used Nvidias reference deign for the board which has 32Mb of DDR Sgram which is made up of 8 5ns chips (4 on front and 4 on back)

The card has no extra bells and whistles like TV out and Dvi (Digital Video Output) for Flat screens just Raw Gaming Power.

ASUS V6600 SDR - 05:58 am Kan
AnandTech posted a look at the ASUS V6600 SDR GeForce graphics card today. Yes, it's still a pretty fast card but eventually will be out shadowed by those newer DDR GeForces very soon.

As with the majority of the GeForce based cards that are coming into the AnandTech lab, the ASUS V6600 Pure is based upon NVIDIA's reference design. By using this design, ASUS was guaranteed to have a functional card off the bat and, in theory, prevented the need for future board revisions. By using NVIDIA's reference design, ASUS could also essentially skip the costly and time consuming development and testing phase, as they were guaranteed a fully functional and efficient card upon manufacture. However, rest assured that ASUS put the card through a battery of tests, as this is the tradition at ASUS.

ASUS P3C-E and ASUS PC3-2000 - 05:55 am Kan
The guys over at GamePC did a roundup comparison between the ASUS P3C-E and ASUS PC3-2000. Both are i820 Camino boards and the P3C-E comes with 2 RIMM (RAMBUS) slots while the PC3-2000 comes with the MTH (Memory Translator Hub) and hence supports 4 DIMM (SDRAM) slots.

Like Asus's popular P2B series of boards, the P3C series are quite large in physical diameter, measuring about 1/3 wider than most other BX/I820 motherboards. This larger form factor allows Asus to use the same PCB size for all of it's P3B-series motherboards. The P3C-2000 board seems to use quite a bit more of it's PCB space, seeing as how the board has an extra large chip (memory translator hub), and two extra memory slots. On the other hand, the P3C-E board has plenty of wide open space, but leaves room for optional SCSI connectors and chips.

Epson Perfection Scanner W2K Drivers - 05:50 am Kan
Yep, the usual good stuffs over at NT Compatible. If you are using that scanner, you can check that out.

Palm IIIe Special Edition - 05:47 am Kan
Digital-Clips did a review on the Palm IIIe Special Edition. Looks like the guys didn't like it a lot due to the lack of expandability as well as flash ROM updates.

The Palm IIIe/SE editions are identical to the slightly older Palm IIIX.  Basically, it is a marketing ploy by 3Com to lure unwitting people into spending money for the translucent case.  No, actually, its targeted towards students who do not have the need for power which business executive demands but would like to make a fashion statement, jot down when they have sex and their score...not that I have anything like that in mine...I can only wish. =)

Fastest x86 Mobile Processor - 04:36 am Sniper
Over at TechWeb, the Crusoe chip is quoted as the fastest x86 mobile processor out there in this article.

Each of the chips contain an on-chip SDRAM memory
controller and PCI interface. In addition, the TM5400 contains an interface to double data rate SDRAM. 

The chips are sampling. The 500- and 700-MHz TM5400 versions will list for $119 and $329, respectively. The 333- and 400-MHz TM3120 devices will list for $65 and $89, respectively. All chips ship in a 474-pin BGA package. 

Crusoe News - 04:30 am Sniper
ZDNet just released an article on the Transmeta Crusoe.  Go chew on it.

The Santa Clara, Calif., company unveiled Crusoe, a two-member family of what Transmeta calls the first software-based, low-power smart microprocessors designed for mobile Internet computing

Transmeta's initial chips are the 400MHz TM3120 and 700MHz TM5400, which use so-called code morphing technology to translate x86 instructions into the chip's very long instruction words (VLIW) to run the thousands of applications already written for PC based on Intel processors.

Transmeta Goes Live - 04:10 am Sniper
After years of waiting, the Transmeta website goes live at this moment with all the information you need.  Yawn........time for me to get some sleep too after watching the live webcast of their announcement.

Transmeta Day
- 03:20 am Sniper
Yawn.................I'm back.  If you are wondering where I disappeared to, just to let you know that I'm saving all my energy and strength for this event.  Well, today is the official launch of Transmeta's products and HW1 editors will try to bring you as much news as possible on this revolutionary processor.  

To give you some hints on what this baby can do.  It will run many instruction sets out there (i.e. x86, java, SPARC etc).  It will be a low power consumption, high performance, 0.18 u processor. The highest clock speed is 667mhz and it is the only CPU out there that is software upgradeable thru the internet.

 

19 January 2000 - Wednesday

Combo of The Year
- 21:59 pm Kan
TargetPC sent note on their nominations for Combo of The Year. Yep, the guys choosed the the ABIT BM6 as well as the Celeron 366 o/c to 550 Mhz as the best combo. Here's some of it:

The Abit BM6 is a great package. Socket-370 only, it uses Intel’s ubiquitous 440BX chipset and has bus speeds up to 133 MHz. For more detailed info on this product, click here. What is crucial to ramping up a 66 MHz chip to the next level is support for the 100 MHz FSB and AGP 2/3 divider. Unfortunately, like many other socket-370 MB’s, the BM6 FSB’s have huge leaps in the lower range. The BM6’s list starts with 66 MHz, then 75, 83, 100, 103, 105, 110, 112, 115, 120, 124, and ends with 133. Until you manage to reach to 124 FSB, the PCI divider stays at 1/3 which means that your add-in cards need to be extraordinarily stable if you’re lucky enough to venture into the 110-120 FSB area.

Choose Your Weapon - 21:54 pm Kan
HardwareCentral has an article titled Choose Your Weapon. Besides your rail-gun in Q3A, the guys also recommend a sensitive mouse as well as a chopping board as a mousepad. Here's an excerpt:

So let’s face it, there has been tremendous growth and change in the computer industry, but one device has remained pretty much the same since it was first introduced well over a decade ago. The computer mouse has become a standard device for all PC’s, but it has not been altered dramatically. You could argue that the first dramatic change came when the mouse was re-engineered to be more ergonomic, You may also argue that the addition of new features such as a scrolling wheel between the left and right mouse buttons are fundamental changes. Most people would agree that these changes have significantly improved the use of the mouse. But even with all of these new additions, the fundamental technology used within the mouse itself has not changed. No matter how pretty the device is or how many gadgets it has, you’re still pushing a ball around on your desk.

Q3A W2K SMP Shoot Out - 21:51 pm Kan
The dudes over at FiringSquad did a Q3Test Windows 2000 SMP shootout! In the grueling tests, the guys also tested the game with new .DLL drivers which bypass the usual Quake3 VM code, giving you more performance gain!

Even after optimizations, the VM still causes a significant slowdown. With the release of the Q3 gameplay source, people are now releasing precompiled DLLs that bypass the VM to avoid the frame rate hit. With the release of these DLLs and the new Nvidia drivers, we had to test them out for ourselves, and we decided to share the results with our readers.

Just to make things clear, Nvidia is not associated in any way with the Q3A DLLs. We just decided to kill two birds with one benchmark set.

Overclocking For The End User - 21:43 pm Kan
Systemlogic posted a Guide to Overclocking for the end users. I'm aware that some of you out there do not know what overclocking is or may not have tried it before. But never mind, check out the article and you will see all the benefits overclocking can bring to your system:

Reduced CPU life – A normal CPU is designed to last between 10 to 20 years. If the life of the CPU is reduced by 50%, the CPU will last between 5 and 10 years, at the rate that technology is advancing; how useful will that system be in 5 years? (Given my clients past record this system will be used for about 2 years)  So in reality, you will not have to worry about this that much because of the lifetime of a computer these days.

Everglide Large Attack Pad - 21:43 pm Kan
Overclockers Australia took a look at the Everglide Large Attack Pad. Seriously it's a chopping board, and I wonder how it can actually  creep into your computer table as a mousepad. =)

This particular unit is called the "Large Attack Pad". It looks pretty wicked, more like some kind of Klingon hurled weapon than a humble mousepad. For the true fetishists there's even one with the Q3 logo emblazoned across the top. This one has a small "EverGlide" logo in the bottom left corner. This has been painted on - stamped, it seems - the rough surface makes the paint look pretty scruffy around the edges, though. The units are apparently hand-made and they have that feel, the not quite machine-perfect curves and the occasional ripple on the bevelled edge. It seems to be made from the same plastic as those chopping boards - in fact, it really does seem to be one of those plastic chopping boards cut to shape. The surface is covered in millions of extremely fine craters and I wonder how it would stand up to months of sustained use.

Intel & Five Others Ganging Against RAMBUS - 14:32 pm Wilfred
So much for the Intel and RAMBUS alliance, it seems like Intel is switching sides. From this story at EETimes, the Santa Clara giant is teaming up with 5 major memory suppliers Hyundai Electronics, Infineon Technologies, Micron Technology, NEC Corp and Samsung Electronics to decide upon the next generation DRAM products to be ready by 2003. Here's a blurb:

TOKYO—In a stinging slap at the troubled Rambus memory technology, Intel Corp. and five major memory suppliers will collaborate to develop a new high-performance DRAM architecture. Intel, Hyundai Electronics, Infineon Technologies, Micron Technology, Inc., NEC Corp., and Samsung Electronics will solicit other participants in the effort and aim to have the DRAM ready for systems by 2003.

Palo Alto ATCX Convertible - 14:26 pm Wilfred
ArsTechnica has taken to reviewing cases lately, and today they have this really neat box from Palo Alto Products International. Hey, the modular design resembles that of my T-10A, but it has a host of other enhancements that will make this a great case to own!

In the end this case shows all of the grace and beauty of the PA-600 in manufacturing quality. I don't want to sound like I'm a member of the Palo Alto Glee Club, but the ATCX is just another example of their attention to detail and their dedication to smart design. The ducting system adds a little cooling benefit to those of you looking to mildly overclock, and of course the one thumbscrew pop off size is always nice, too.

Absolute Multimedia GeForce 256 DDR - 14:05 pm Wilfred
Looks like everyone has a DDR to play with these weeks! The boys at SharkyExtreme whipped up a lengthy review of this newcomer:

The effect of the increased memory bandwidth offered by DDR RAM is apparent throughout as you can easily tell, but the performance gains are most noticeable at the higher resolutions and color depths where memory performance is stressed the most. While the SDR based LeadTek board is some 22% slower in 1024 x 768 at 32-bit than at 16-bit in our 3DMark tests the DDR based Outrageous 3D GeForce DDR is just 9% slower in 32-bit than it is at 16. The same is also true at 1280 x 1024 where the SDR board takes a performance hit of roughly 36% while the DDR board takes a hit of "only" 26%.

Piracy: OpenSource User's Perspective - 14:01 pm Wilfred
More good stuff from the site of opinions! osOpinion has an editorial about software piracy taken from the view of an open source user.

I could even make a business case for supporting the growth and development of these alternative markets, development methodologies, etc. If Microsoft, for example, is going to lose several billion per year to software piracy, then if someone gets the same functionality from a standard Linux distribution, Microsoft has not necessarily 'lost' a customer. They might well have not had that 'customer' in the first place.

Leadtek WinfastGeForce DDR - 13:56 pm Wilfred
I keep hearing good things said about this card, I wonder if they will be bringing in this product to Singapore. I could do with a DDR that gives me the best bang for the buck any time. Today, HotHardware evaluates Leadtek's flagship video accelerator.

The Leadtek GeForce256 DDR was a competent overclocker. With Leadtek's Speed Runner utility built directly into the driver suite, we were able to easily take the card well beyond the default core and memory clock speeds. We were able to hit 140MHz core and 326 MHz DDR Memory clocks. With other GeForce cards we have been able to obtain slightly higher core clock speeds of 150MHz. This was probably due to the heat sink on the Winfast product being a little bit "lighter duty" than others we have tested like the Elsa Erazor X. Regardless, you can still gain a fair amount over the default speed with the the Winfast GeForce256 DDR.

Wilfred Coughs - 08:43 am Wilfred
You hear me now on my little notebook, but don't expect me for quite a while as I'm troubleshooting the dumb PC I have. Did not imagine a new HDD, ABIT HotRod/66 card and a CPU swap could gimme so much headache. Sigh... 

Linux Vs Microsoft In China - 08:38 am Wilfred
Sounds like some kind of pugilistic competition in ancient China eh? Surely, the duel has only started and osOpinion has an editorial about how Linux would square off Microsoft, now with rumours that the Chinese government is backing the former.

Right now, Microsoft dominates the mainland Chinese market just as it dominate the OS market in every other country so far, and this is no doubt one of the reasons why Chinese officials are reluctant to adopt any overt anti-Microsoft political stance. Yet patriotism, nationalism, a dose of anti-foreign sentiment and a rising concern about Microsoft business practice is giving Linux many aces it will need to level the playing field against Microsoft. The Chinese government is probably adopting a wait and see approach towards Red Flag Linux, China's very own operating system.

VIA Cyrix Joshua Preview - 08:29 am Wilfred
The good guys at iXBT have a preview on VIA's Joshua. It is expected to come for the low-end and performance like the present Celerons. Check this:

As for the overclockability, the answer is rather vague here. On the one hand, the clock multiplier isn't locked, which seems heavenly cool compared to Intel and AMD processors. On the other hand, the processor initially designed for the voltage of 2.2V (for the slowest 300MHz model marked as 433 according to the PR-rating). However, the chosen technology - 0.18 micron - still gives us hope for the better.

As for the performance, we expect it to be at the level of Celeron processor with the working frequency according to PR-rating. Some drawbacks of a slightly improved architecture should be compensated mostly by 256KB L2 cache working at the processor clock frequency. In general, it has to do with office applications, where the extra 128KB L2 will hardly be a burden. Speaking about the games, we have to mention a significantly improved coprocessor since the times of 6x86MX. And of course, you shouldn't disregard the support of 3DNow!. Today almost all the more or less serious games as well as new graphics card drivers are optimized for this set of SIMD instructions.

Athlon 800 Processor - 08:21 am Wilfred
Gamers Depot took the sexy Athlon 800 processor out for an exhilarating spin today. Have a read if you are one of them who can afford the price tag.

The benchmarks really do tell all don't they?  The scores presented here have set new records at the GD labs, and represent just how powerful this chip is.  Even with it's "crippled" 1/3 speed L2 cache, the sheer muscle of 800Mhz shines through and tears the Quake 3 benchmarks a new one.

Even under 3DMark 2000, the Athlon 800 does manage to edge ahead of the slower chips to some degree.  This is the same kind of performance delta to expect in your Direct3D games as well.  With this level of CPU power, it's hard to imagine just how far interactive gaming can go when they start making games to really take advantage of the Athlon.

Some Info On The FC-PGA - 06:32 am Kan
Ah, managed to find this mail from tBreak on some of the interesting specifications of the FC-PGA processor. 

Today I just found about a new Datasheet: the PIII FC-PGA specifications up to 750 Mhz. (Before, the PIII FC-PGA datasheet was only for the 500E and 550E) There is explanation/literature of the SMP pins:

It says that only the processors that have not the "For Uniprocessor systems" on the box are SMP capable. Are they all or not? I don't know yet. I'll write an article about the BR1 pin change, that went from AN15 (remember ..;) to X2 that was a reserved pin. The bug is that the AN15 is a VTT now. That is a real bug since BREQ0 from the chipset goes to BR0, and BR0 to BR1 of the second processor, and BR0 from that one to BR1 (AN15) of the first CPU.

That means that a BP6 transformed to dual FC-PGA will be quite a thing to look at! ;))

New Generation of Optical Drive - 06:22 am Kan
Thanks to CDR-Info for pointing this out, there's a new model of the Plasmon WORM optical drive which supports up to 30GB on a single 12 inches disc. Gosh, check out the prices as well. *faint*

"..Plasmon has announced shipping for the 8000 series, its fourth generation 12-inch optical TrueWORM Technology drives

With a substantial 30 GB of online storage per disk, the 8000 series will more than double the current 12-inch disk capacity. The new series will also include a SCSI-II (Fast/Wide) interface and a faster sustained data transfer rate of 6.0 MB/s -- more than double the current speed.

Unlike the first three generations that used ablative WORM recording, the new series uses Phase Change write-once technology to encode data. This Phase Change technology increases disk capacity while also speeding up the data-verify pass for drives. Also, by using 12-inch glass media, the most stable on the market, the 8000 series ensures that archived data is protected and unalterable for 30 years or longer.

The 8000 will be offered in stand-alone RapidChanger, or library versions. The series can be configured with 22 to 141 disks and one to five optical drives. The maximum configuration will yield 4.2TB of data storage. Prices will start at $30,000 for the drives and the libraries will range from $126,000 to $263,000 depending upon the configuration. The media list price will be $595 per disk, resulting in a cost of only two cents per MB.

Current Plasmon users will be able to upgrade their existing 12-inch libraries by simply replacing the drives. Plasmon announced a hot swap program for users in North America to exchange their 12 GB drives for the new 30 GB drives for a reduced price. Because the 8000 series is fully backwards compatible, users can migrate data into the 30 GB media format or use libraries intermixed with 12 and 30 GB media.."

The 1000 MHz Sys Cold Fusion - 06:20 am Kan
PCMech has posted a funny editorial on Microsoft, in light of Bill Gates' recent step-down. If you are looking for some hilarious comments, check it out:

Work in other markets as well.
Micro-soft released FORTRAN and COBOL-80 packages, so you could work in more powerful and confusing languages than BASIC.  By 1980, they had also gotten involved in the market Apple had.  They released a hardware card (Z-80 SoftCard) which allowed the Apple to run FORTRAN, COBOL, and BASIC.  This established them as a developer of hardware as well as software.  By this time, they had revenues near $8 Million for the year.

The 1000 MHz Sys Cold Fusion - 06:20 am Kan
Ace's Hardware took a look at the 1000 Mhz Sys Cold Fusion (Athlon 750Mhz o/c to 1 Ghz) system. To tad up the review, they add in some benchmarks from a dual / Single Celeron 523, and a dual SUN Ultrasparc IIi 400 MHz as well as Unix benchmarks.

Ace's Hardware: Memory performance bottlenecks have become a hot topic lately. It's really put into perspective when you consider the clock frequency of the CPU (1 GHz) is ten times greater than the main memory frequency (100 MHz). Obviously the system is buffered by the presence of a large (128 KB) L1 cache and its 2/5-speed L2 cache, but what are your thoughts on this bottleneck?

Ed Leckliter: L2 cache speed is the most critical issue. Thunderbird and Mustang will solve that. Even without full speed L2, the SYS Cold-Fusion 1000 is ahead on performance. Since we sent you the system we have already learned several things about adding performance and stability. Sorry, I'm not prepared to go into more detail on performance improvements at present - stability items are implemented on the fly (as validated in R&D). In general, we implement improvements as quickly as we can validate. R&D is very focused on this product line.

Extreme GeForce DDR Cooling - 06:18 am Kan
This is crazy! PlanetGeForce took apart a DDR, sandwiched the card between two fans and added 8 heatsinks into the casing as well as showing us some new Q3 benchmark results on this supercooled card.

Time to put it all back together. Shove the motha' back your AGP slot and connect the Socket 370 fan to your power supply (you can't imagine how many people forget this and later wonder about an all to familiar "burning electronics" smell). One thing I should mention: You might find it necessary to move stuff around because of the extra space that the board now takes. In my case, the GeForce card now takes up an extra PCI slot, and it also forced me to move my RAM from DIMM 1 to 3, as the DDR RAM heatsinks got in the way.  

ASUS V6600 vs Guillemot 3D Prophet - 06:16 am Kan
Guru3D did a comparison roundup between the two GeForces, the ASUS V6600 and the Guillemot 3D Prophet. The 3D Prophet is better equipped with 5ns SDRAM while the V6600 comes with 5.5ns.

Some of you might know recently NVidia updated their drivers from 3.5x towards 3.6x What has happend in that fase is this, in the 3.53 drivers  dynamic lighting was broken( disabled as NVidia calls it). Thus the GPU had lesser tasks to calculate. NVidia fixed dynamic lighting in the 3.6X drivers, there was a corresponding performance drop. 

nVidia to Support Linux - 06:13 am Kan
Great news from PlanetGeForce who told us that nVidia, SGI and VA Linux will be the industry's first professional-level OpenGL graphics sub-system for workstations under Linux!

This planned platform would be the first 100% OpenGL 1.2-conformant hardware-accelerated graphics solution to bring professional workstation graphics standards to the Linux market. Developers using Linux desktop systems equipped with the new graphics sub-system will be able to utilize the depth of the OpenGL graphics application programming interface (API) to create professional quality 2D and 3D graphics applications. The first public demonstration of the collaborative effort will be shown during LinuxWorld, February 2 –4, 2000, in New York City.

18 January 2000 - Tuesday

TerraTec's XLerate Pro Sound Card
- 20:10 pm Wymun
BoomGames just posted a review of Terratec's XLerate Pro sound card which features the Vortex 2 chip from Aureal.  Here's a snippet from it:

The XLerate Pro package was seemingly lacking, after having the SQ2500 board include three games. The XL Pro did not include games, but has Wavelab lite, Mixman Base Edition, WinJey, and the full InternetPhone 4.5. InternetPhone was nice, and while I'm not going to debate the quality of these applications, I'll note that the XL Pro package was not very stunning.

FastTrack66 IDE RAID Controller Card - 20:05 pm Wymun
Coupling ATA66 in a RAID configuration does produce some phenomenal results as demonstrated by iXBT Hardware.  Hmmm, sounds tempting...But then again, striping my drives won't give me enough space to store all my digital pics...

Stripe 4 drives

The "coolest" regime. Really, the speed is impressive. Of course, there was no 4 times growth, but the increase was still very tangible. However, we were a bit irritated with the evident transfer rate instability, especially in the end of the virtual disk. We think, it happens because the buffer is too small and the read prediction algorithms are simply unable to work in regimes like that. But anyway, it is not bad at all. And if we install an IBM DPTA? Well, why not, but the price will be absolutely different in this case :-)

Athlon 700MHz Scrutinised - 20:00 pm Wymun
Just received word from CTNews3D that they've done up an 8-page marathon review on the Athlon 700MHz and pit it against its PIII counterpart.  Yeah it screams, but did I ever mention I'm running a 550e at 825MHz now? :P 

Before you loose consciousness and sell your car to buy a PIII 500, 550 or 600 MHz CPU you owe it to yourself to look at the Athlons. These are currently clocked at 500 to 800 MHz. And after benchmarking them for several weeks we know these CPUs as a very real alternative. We aren't trying to tell you that the Athlon 500 will make your PC run so fast that you will win every contest before you even start. What we are telling you is AMD has a really nice CPU for every day computing, business applications and 3D accelerated gaming. These are three areas that the PC companies are always trying to figure out.

Another ASUS P3C-2000 Review - 19:55 pm Wymun
Another review on the ASUS P3C-2000 motherboard has surfaced "Down Under" at Overclocker's Australia.  Check it out, but do come back soon for our very own take...

The first thing that struck me about the board itself is the huge size. It is in relation to this that I discovered the first major problem with the board. It manages to be one of the widest ATX boards I've ever seen and yet be one of the most restrictive for space in front of the Slot1 connector. Indeed, I couldn't get ANY aftermarket P2 coolers to fit on the unit due to 3 tall capacitors, badly placed in front of the slot. I tried GlobalWin's VEK-32, Vantek's K7D-5030 and a couple of RDJD units - all rest on the capacitors strongly enough to stop you getting the P2 into the Slot1.

D-Link DHN-910 10Mb Phoneline Network - 19:50 pm Wymun
A review on D-Link's DHN-910 10Mb Phoneline Network, poised for LAN-based multiplayer gaming at home, has cropped up over at Planet GeForce.  Now, I just have to build myself another PC....

The DHN-910 may very well represent the future of home networking (or heck, even the small office environment). Ease-of-use is a great selling point in this market, and that is where this product certainly delivers. Doing away with the RJ-45 connectors typically associated with Ethernet Local Area Networks (LANs), the DHN-910 uses instead the standard RJ-11, the same as your phone.

Last 0.25 Micron Celeron Reviewed - 19:40 pm Wymun
The "Anand-sters" have written a review on most possibly the last 0.25 micron Celeron from INTEL, which runs at 533MHz default speeds. Check out its budgetary offerings...

Fortunately, most AnandTech readers know that clock speed isn’t the definitive factor when determining the performance of a CPU.  You also know that because of the Celeron’s integrated 128KB L2 cache, it is ideal for an entry level system where the most common tasks will involve running business/home office applications, surfing the internet, and even gaming.  There is no reason to spend more than $100 on a CPU if all it’s going to be doing is running spell check in Word or making graphs in Excel. 

Guillermot/Hercules 3D Prophet DDR-DVI - 19:30 pm Wymun
Just received word from Sharky that they've spawned a review on the Guillermot/Hercules 3D Prophet DDR, with DVI support! Now, playing Q3A on your LCD projector or HDTV ("You lucky dude!") doesn't seem that far-fetched after all...:P

For owners of a digital flat panel display or LCD projectors, there is no question that the 3D Prophet DDR-DVI would be the most recommended choice for 3D acceleration. The same goes for those who are looking to push their graphics card to insane frequencies. Providing incredible performance, Guillemot's latest offering has us holding onto our seats.

Tyan S1832DL Motherboard - 19:25 pm Wymun
AllHW.com has a short take on the Tyan S1832DL motherboard.  Although slightly dated and sporting no Coppermine support, it still comes with 2 slot-1 sockets (SMP) which is a worthy performer especially on NT or Win2000 platforms.

After three weeks of solid use at 103MHz FSB, this board has proven to be rock-solid.  To keep the processors busy, it has been running the distributed.net RC5 client 24/7 with no problems.  It processes RC5 packets at 3.0 Mkeys/s for those who are interested.

ABIT VA6 Motherboard - 08:14 am Wilfred
GamePC has a review on the ABIT VA6 that uses the VIA Apollo Pro 133 chipset. I'll say, get the 133A if you can. Anyhow, check this:

It all comes down to what you're willing to pay on a price/performance scale. You'll pay a little less by buying a VIA PC-133 motherboard, but you'll get less overall performance than a BX board. Of course, if you've just bought one of Intel's new Coppermine EB processors that runs at 133 MHz FSB natively, many people will go to the VIA chipset instead of going to Intel's I820 chipset with pricey Rambus modules. Other than the EB processors, there is really no reason to vouch for VIA over the BX. Business workers may not even see a performance difference between BX and VIA, but gamers will surely take note.

I've Got Balls - 08:14 am Wilfred
Of course you'd already known that! Heh, HardNews.org did a highly provocative editorial so titled, that discusses review standards and well, urmm... has many big sites mentioned. I think it's worth a read, but having read it, I found myself asking if we want to implement a scoring system as we all know how quickly technology gets dated (along with the scores we give it):

All reviews need a scoring system. A nice one at that. People want things to be scored so they can compare em. I HATE REVIEWS WITHOUT SCORES. It's just full on opinion and I'm so damn used to seeing scores it's rather depressing reading through an article only to find it didn't rate or anything. I think Sharky Extreme has it down, as does FiringSquad and us :) Scoring sytem's are important to hardware reviews, and awards are even better.

Promise FastTrak66 IDE RAID - 06:22 am Kan
iXBT-Hardware reviewed the Promise FastTrak66 IDE RAID controller card today. It supports RAID 0, RAID 1 as well as 0+1. You know, reading such reviews always tempt me to get a piece of it to try at home. Evil, evil...

RAID controllers for HDDs with IDE interface are no longer something out of the way, however, they are not so widely spread yet. The situation may change if hard disk drives get cheaper and the controllers obtain brand new features. Who knows... Time will show. And in the meanwhile we suggest taking a look at a new controller by Promise Technology, Inc. - FastTrak66. The mere name of this product says that it supports UltraATA/66, which is getting more and more useful recently. So, what have we got here?

GlobalWin's FDP-32 and FEP-32 - 06:20 am Kan
DocHardware did a comparison between the gigantic GlobalWin's FDP-32 and FEP-32 heatsinks. One of them fits in the ABIT BP6 motherboard while the other doesn't.

Each heatsink was mounted on a Socket 370 Celeron 366 with silicon heatsink grease. Then, I ran Unreal in software rendering mode for 30 minutes to heat up the CPU. The temperature was measured after the 30 minutes via a thermister connected to the motherboard. The placement of the thermister is shown in the picture below.  The temperature reported by Motherboard Monitor was then recorded. The CPU was allowed to cool for 5 minutes. This procedure was done at 366, 413, 458, and 550 MHz (in the order of increasing MHz). NOTE: I purposely did not document case temperatures because I was focusing on the CPU heat-dissipating abilities of the heatsinks.

CyberLink PowerDVD 2.5 - 06:18 am Kan
nV News told us that they have their review of the CyberLink PowerDVD 2.5 available in the web. I'm currently using WinDVD and after seeing PowerDVD, PowerDVD's interface does look better. 

Motion Compensation is not true hardware DVD decoding.  Instead, motion compensation is a kind of pixel buffer that gives more efficient rendering through prediction of on-screen movement.  It typically decreases CPU usage by 20-30%.

I started The Matrix and began to stare, trying to find difference between full software and the GeForce enhanced version with GeForce motion compensation.  Only until I pulled up the System Monitor to check the CPU usage.  The verdict?  Patience, keep reading...

Leadtek Winfast 256 GeForce - 06:14 am Kan
Exxtreme3D also reviewed another GeForce card today - the Leadtek Winfast 256. Yup, the only thing now is to wait for the prices to drop slightly before grabbing a piece home. *drum fingers*

The GeForce chipset has a few new tricks that haven’t been done before by any chip. One of them is T&L. What T&L stands for is Transform and Lighting. What this all basically means is that these CPU intensive tasks have been moved to the video chip itself. There is a catch though; T&L must be implemented in the actual game for it to take full advantage of it. It seems to be catching on though, there are many titles in the works that will support it. Most of them are coming out in the next few months.

3D Prophet Review - 06:11 am Kan
Guru3D reviewed the 3D Prophet SDR 32MB 5.5ns video card today. The 3D Prophet comes with a TV-Out as well as the S-Video cables which allow you to hookup the card with your TV.

Bump mapping is a process used where the texture bitmap of a 3D object is enhanced by a second map that's designed to realistically reflect or react to the light in a way that makes the object appear "bumpy."  3D Cards originally used "Emboss Bump Mapping", a form of multi-texturing that approximated the effects of light.   3D Labs, NVidia, and others have incorporated dot-based bump mapping into their hardware.  It's a nice feature, but to develop a game with bump mapping in mind programmers would lose out on the time saved by the original "code once" approach intended with DirectX or miss out on each individual card's benefits.

 

17 January 2000 - Monday

AMD Athlon Buyer's Guide - Part 4
- 22:05 pm Kan
AnandTech just posted their AMD Athlon Buyer's Guide Part 4. If you are buying a Athlon system, it's nice to read on to find out what PSU rating you should get to ensure a stable supply of power to your Athlon processor.

The Athlon is a very complex CPU and because of that complexity, it tends to draw more power than most Intel CPUs.  The high transistor count of the Athlon is the main culprit for the high power requirements of the CPU: the more transistors you have, the more current your CPU is going to draw.  This not only puts a strain on your power supply, but also on your motherboard, which is part of the reason why we didn’t see as many Athlon motherboards at the launch of the CPU.  Luckily, the motherboard manufacturers seem to have perfected their designs to a level that motherboards are no longer a major issue when determining the stability of an Athlon platform (as long as they’re on AMD’s recommended motherboard list).  This leaves the power supply as a potentially major cause of system instability if it isn’t able to supply enough power to the motherboard. 

Adaptec AHA-2940 U2W SCSI - 22:00 pm Kan
3DAlpha reviewed the Adaptec AHA-2940 U2W SCSI card today. This is one-hell of a card which supports up to a maximum of 80MB/s. Ideal for video editing, the card alone will probably cost more than a hard disk!

After the transfer rate test, I decided to run two more small, but very important tests on how fast the Cheetah would respond under the AHA-2940U2W versus how the Caviar would respond under the motherboard's IDE controller, as well as CPU utilization for each drive. On the right, there's a display of the results I got which I graphed. The access times were of little importance when compared, because it's quite obvious that SCSI access times are going to be far lower than those of EIDE drives. What really caught my eye was the IDE controller's CPU utilization versus that of the AHA-2940U2W's utilization of the CPU. The IDE controller used 31.6 percent of the CPU, whereas the SCSI adapter only used 2.6. What does this say about this card and SCSI adapters in general? That IDE controllers obviously utilize more CPU power than SCSI adapters, since they're based on the motherboard. The Adaptec AHA-2940U2W, and all other SCSI cards, handle hard drive transfer operations and calculations on it's own.

Dealing With a Slow Computer - 21:58 pm Kan
GameWire dropped us a line on how to deal with that slow computer of yours, especially if you play intensive games like Quake III. My opinion, don't play games and use Windows 95 *serious!*

If you're stuck on a slow machine and are getting frustrated, don't start bitching to everyone on the server. Just take a moment to calm down and pull your self together. No one wants to listen to you whine; so don't ruin their game just because yours isn't running perfectly. Just don't go off blaming people just because they bought a brand spanking new P3-800/GeForce DDR on an OC48 connection. Either they got that setup because they paid for it, or they're just lucky. Maybe you can play better if you had a better computer or connection, but there is no much you can do at that time.

TNT Benchmarks @ 807 Mhz - 21:55 pm Kan
Yup, trust our pals over at HardOCP on pumping that TNT with a Coppermine 650 @ 807 Mhz. Hmm, you won't be seeing any drastic performance gains with anything above 500 Mhz on the TNT. Here's an excerpt:

Whenever friends come over and play around with my machine, play a few games (Q3, UT etc), they always say, "Hey man, that's as smooth as a MoFo.  Whatchya running in it?". I respond, "Fast Pentium III with a Viper550". I usually get an response of, "A Viper 550 ?? That's a first generation TNT hunk a trash, No Way!". Anyway, I'm pleased to say that with a well configured machine running a TNT, you can get very nice frames per second (Please don't ask me how to do it! It's taken the most part of the last decade and the decade before that, and a lot of beer, to get to the system to where it is today).

Olympus 2500L vs Sony FSC-505 - 21:52 pm Kan
Wow, Dan's Data did a roundup comparison between the Olympus 2500L and the Sony FSC-505 digital cameras. Oh yes, we nearly got the chance today to touch the $10,000 Nikon D1. Slurrrp....

Film photography aficionadoes may now present their monster list of all the regular photographic gear they could get for that kind of money. Top-of-the-line auto-everything SLR, really nice tripod, a couple of really nice lenses, a big old crate of film, and plenty of change for processing.

And yes, if you've got a place that'll put your film photos onto Kodak Photo CD, you'll get high-resolution (3072 by 2048!) digital images the equal of those created by any digital camera, with which you can still do all the digital fiddling you want.

Soldier of Fortune - 21:49 pm Kan
Professional gamers over at FiringSquad managed  to catch a glimpse of Raven's upcoming Soldier of Fortune. Your usual type of FPS games and wow, this game is based on the Quake II engine.

As one of the last games based on the Quake 2 engine, Raven's Soldier of Fortune represents the end of an era. With Quake 3 and Unreal Tournament already out, many people might be asking what a Quake 2 engine game could possibly bring that's new? The fact is that Raven has done much more than slap a different face on the venerable id game - the developers packed a ton of fresh new technology into the game. True locational based damage, bolt on attachments, realistic weapons, and advanced animation make Soldier of Fortune into a much more immersive first person shooter than most people might expect out of a Quake 2 engine game.

Mac OS X @ Ars - 21:46 pm Kan
The Ars boys written a very interesting article on the upcoming Mac OS X architecture. If you wanna catch a glimpse of what the future desktops and OSes will be like, be sure to check out their writings!

Nothing has really changed since Mac OS X was first announced over a year ago, but the naming, emphasis, and ordering of the blocks has been altered to suit Apple's marketing goals. For example, the bottom-level block is now labeled "Darwin." Darwin is Apple's name for the open source distribution of the Mac OS X kernel. In previous diagrams, the bottom-level block was simply labeled "Mach." It's still Mach, of course, but the Darwin project also encompasses the BSD API layer--something that was previously shown as a separate block above Mach and alongside the other APIs like Carbon and Cocoa.

Intel i840 Chipset Review - 17:30 pm Wilfred
HardwareCentral scored with a review on Intel's high-performance i840 chipset, running it through series of benchmarks. Whoa! Have a look if you wish for dual CuMines!

Intel has proved to be able to make quality chipsets that work wonders with their new Pentium III Coppermine processors. The 840 chipset combines the best of previous generations, implements support for the 133 MHz system bus, dual RDRAM memory channels, AGP4X, and dual CPU support plus a whole slew of other features. Whereas the 840’s little brother, the 820, seems to be plagued by minor problems, the 840 has none of those and deserves a warm recommendation--even with the higher price tag.

1GHz Athlon Synthetic Benchmarks: Part 2 - 17:27 pm Wilfred
CPU Review has updated the Sys ColdFusion 1000 1GHz Athlon review with synthetic benchmarks like Final Reality, 3DMark 99 Max, 3DMark 2000, Indy3D, RC5 client, Pov-Ray and Sandra 99.

Monsoon MH-500 Flat Panel Speakers - 17:23 pm Wilfred
The TechZone has a review on these flat-panel speakers from Monsoon. Well, form is important these days! Listen to what Moto has to say:

I really wasn't expecting much from the MH-500, thinking they'll be on the same level as the SONIX S-2000. To my amazement, the MH-500 sounded damn good! The little 4 inch sub woofer put out desk shaking bass and the two satellite speakers sounded nice and open. By comparison, the SONIX S-2000 sounded hollow and truly lacking in mid range punch.

Unlike the SONIX S-2000, the Monsoon MH-500 sounds good with both games and music. The sub is on the boomy side, but this is typical of computer speakers. The only computer subs I've heard that sounded correct are from Cambridge but they're a lot more money. When playing music the system was a tad on the warm side and lacks the power from its amp to create the true dynamic range that is contained in the IASCA test CD.

ASUS K7M Evaluated - 16:02 pm Wilfred
SlotA.com reviewed the ASUS K7M board, supposedly the best board for Athlon overclocking. Have a read of this:

This is the ultimate overclocker's motherboard bar none.  If you want to push the most out of your Athlon look no further than the K7M.  It is just feature packed.  The ability to adjust the memory bus speed in the bios is a luxury you won't find in another Athlon board.  You also get the ability to change key voltage settings.  No other board allows you to change the i/o and core voltage.  This can help greatly in overclocking. 

Athlon L2 Cache Speed Control Proggy - 14:52 pm Wilfred
The Tech Report stole a look at this beta utility that allows you to change the L2 cache speed in your Athlon processor. If your Athlon overclocking crusade was hampered by the L2 cache, there could be hope in the near future. H.Oda! also hints at the possibility of adjusting the Athlon's multiplier in software! Kewl!

Now comes the big question: How useful is this program? After all, there's one big hitch. This program adjusts the L2 cache speed in the operating system, but the system has to boot before that can happen. A system with an L2 cache that's flaky at (relatively) higher frequencies isn't likely to boot into the OS successfully.

As Dave at ComputerNerd pointed out to me, it might be possible to boost the CPU clock after booting the system. How? SoftFSB, of course, which could raise the front-side bus frequency (and thus the CPU frequency) after WCPUA2 does its magic. Using a .25-micron Athlon 500 overclocked to 700MHz, I was indeed able to set the L2 cache divisor to 2/5 and raise the FSB speed to 110MHz (or 220MHz DDR). The system ran briefly at 770MHz, then crashed. Ah, the joys of extreme overclocking.

Wilfred Coughs #1 - 11:02 am Wilfred
Added a "#1" to my coughs just in case I need to cough again later. =P Was fiddling with some sweet P3-500E overclocking and swapping cards within my PC and somehow Windows managed to screw up the registry (I'm lost for reason), sending the machine to a crashing halt, resetting the system date/time and causing some irreversible damage to the OS. Damn, it happened before and it must happen again. Looks like an imminent re-installation soon. =( 

Videologic Sirocco Crossfire - 10:58 am Wilfred
What a mouthful (or handful to type)! Anyway, BXBoards reviewed this set of quality speakers from Videologic. Now VIDEOlogic makes AUDIO speakers AND BXBoards reviews them, ironic eh? =P Check this out - the Sirocco Crossfire.

Videologic Systems' Sirocco Crossfire speaker system has redefined my definition of high fidelity audio. I enjoy listening to listen to music, so I would naturally listen to my large song collection to find what arena of sound these speakers lack in. I tried the romantic classics of Tchaikovsky, Stauss and Chopin, the rock and roll legends of Eric Clapton and  Jimi Hendrix to the present day rap from Dr. Dre and Ice Cube. The classic songs only proved these speakers strengths. Reproduction of the string, wind, and brass instruments were astonishing. The awesome rifts from the guitar greats were as crisp as a cold winter's day. The bass returns from the rap were rich and overwhelming. The low frequency responses were smooth without any hint of bottoming out - even at maximum volume.

3DCool UT Exhauster - 10:53 am Wilfred
UT meaning Ultra Thin here, BoomGames has a review for the cooling freaks here. This is yet another modification you can add to your machine. The UT Exhauster is designed to be mounted beneath the harddisk drives, meant to move the air-flow for better cooling.

Well, as far as real world performance goes, this device was especially useful in bringing down my case temperature by a degree or two. Since the hard drive is the single irreplaceable item in your computer (contains your permanent data which can rarely be restored after a fault), it's important to obey it's needs, and thus I am left to recommend 3DCool's UT Exhauster.

Windows 2000 vs Windows 98SE - 06:25 am Kan
Now, Windows 2000 is going to be release next month and you will be wondering whether it can play your favorite games? PC Gunk took the opportunity to write an article between the two OSes and their benchmark differences.

The really good thing about Windows 2000 is that it does not build on DOS as win9x does. Windows 2000 builds on Windows NT, which is a pure 32-bit OS. It has all the possibilities of making LANcards run better, making IDE drives perform better and overall be better than Windows9x. Maybe even be more stable, but I can say nothing so far. These benchmarks have to be taken with a grain of salt because Win2000 is still beta, and the sandra harddrive benchmark has to be considered as a pointing finger, not a 100% accurate benchmark. Why do I do it then, bother to benchmark with a program which is not 100% accurate, well I have to measure it someway. If you come upon a better benchmark program then please send me the url, then I will benchmark it once again, and then post it. If I don't get any suggestions I might go and find another benchmark program, but I am lazy so I would prefer suggestions.

Half Life - Opposing Force - 06:20 am Kan
Jsi Hardware wrote a review on Half Life - Opposing Force. Opposing Force is an expansion pack for Half Life in which you play a character called Corporal Adrian Shepard who is sent on a mission to the Black Mesa Complex to clean up the experiment which went wrong.

The scripted sequences in this game are brilliant, in the first level you are walking past a lab when a creature gets up off a table, kills the scientist that was studying him and throws him through the window you are looking through before running after you.
A coulpe of levels later you walk into a perfectly normal room which then starts literally falling apart around you while you try to find a safe corner. Sequences like this really added to the game making you belive the complex had just been in an accident and is very unstable and there were many more like this in the game.

IWill Slocket2 - 06:20 am Kan
There's a review of the IWill Slocket2 PC-PGA converter over at TargetPC. This one also supports the new Cyrix Joshua processors and it allows you to set the voltages from 1.30v to 3.50v.

Several manufacturers have released adapters that allow a socketed CPU, such as the PPGA Celeron, to be inserted into a Slot-1 motherboard. iwill went one stop better by allowing their new adapter to run the FC-PGA Pentium III. Basically the Slocket II allows the adjustment of the core voltage of the CPU down to as low as 1.3 volts and adjusts the pin outs of the CPU so that the new FC-PGA processor can run on a motherboard with the BX chipset. This is especially useful considering most BX boards cannot adjust below 2.0 volts. The Slocket II will even allow you to use the extra SMP instructions built into the new Pentium III chip. All that is needed is the Slocket II and an update to your motherboard’s BIOS in order to recognize the FC-PGA chips.

 

16 January 2000 - Sunday

Transcend microATX i810 Motherboard
- 22:35 pm Kan
AnandTech released another motherboard review today on the Transcend microATX i810. Sweet, it comes with ATA66 channels as well and it's pretty ideal for a simple system.

The GMCH that Transcend included is Intel's i810-DC100 GMCH which includes 4MB of 100 MHz display cache. For more information on the chipset and GMCH, take a peek at the i810 chipset review. Although most i810 buyers might not care, all three of the PCI slots are capable of accepting full length PCI cards. Like other i810 boards, the TS-UWH31 has two 168-pin 100MHz SDRAM DIMM slots supporting up to 512 MB of RAM. The TS-UWH31 provides sound by featuring a built-in AC97 CODEC which uses processor power. The "soft audio" powers the audio input/output jacks towards the rear of the motherboard, but when CPU power needs to be preserved, the CODEC can be disabled allowing the addition of a PCI soundcard.

CSC Contest a Success - 22:29 pm Kan
Now, I'm damn excited! Distributed.net managed to complete the CSC encryption contest after only a few weeks of cracking. Hey, it's back to RC5 now while we wait for the OGR contest to start soon. Anyway, join Hardware One and contribute your CPU idle power to these distributed projects today! Remember, it's fun!

I'm very proud (and quite relieved) to announce that distributed.net has successfully met the CS Communications & Systems CSC encryption challenge. The key was submitted to CS Communications & Systems just moments ago. At the point of success, distributed.net had checked over 98% of the CSC keyspace. 

At 06:26:52 on 01/16/00, we received a success key, 00438EF36FE3FC21. I haven't contacted the user yet, so I can only say that the computer that found the key was a Sun Sparc running Solaris and version v2.8002 of the DCTI client. 

The secret message is: CS-Cipher a ete presente en mars a Fast Software Encryption (PARIS). Congratulations to the winner! Users can expect an official press release with far more information and statistics within a few hours. Please standby for more details. 

Thanks again for all your support and dedication.

Althon Vs Pentium - 12:53 pm Wilfred
IT Network published a 'provacative' (so described by The Register) article titled "Athlon Vs Pentium", and proclaimed the superiority of the Athlon. Go read the entire piece!

One of the Athlon's key advantages over the Pentium III is the EV6 bus. AMD licensed the EV6 bus from Digital Corporation. Unlike Intel's Pentium III which uses the GTL+ protocol, The EV6 has a point to point topology. The GTL+ has a shared bus topology. One of the disadvantages of the shared bus topology is higher noise and cross talk. This means that the motherboard design has to be of very high quality.

A shared bus means that all the devices on that channel share the available bandwidth. For instance, in a dual processor Pentium III system, the same 133MHz bus is shared by the processors. Moreover, in order to prevent both CPUs from talking to the controller chipset, one of the processors have to be designated as the bus master. Thus if the other CPU wants to use the bus, it has to request it from the bus master.

On the other hand, the EV6 is a vast improvement over Intel's GTL+. The point-to-point topology of the EV6 means that each Athlon processor has a dedicated interface to the main chipset. Therefore, there is no danger of cross talk. Moreover, the Athlon enjoys a front side bus speed of 200MHz. This is almost double the bandwidth enjoyed by Pentium III. With the advent of faster memory types like Rambus, an Athlon system is likely to show better performance gain than the Pentium III.

Overall, we find that AMD's Athlon outclasses Intel's Pentium III in almost every respect.

Power Supplies - 12:45 pm Wilfred
Probably one of the most forgotten, but essential piece of component within the PC setup is the PSU. If you are into DIY or have some really hardcore peripherals, you better be sure the PSU is up to it. You wouldn't want no overloaded PSU going up in smoke or fire. TargetPC has an article telling us more about that box in our casing.

It was slightly surprising that power usage for home systems were well below the 100 watt level, but note that both configurations are of a minimalist nature. With 3 Hard Drives, 4 RAM strips, 2 CD-ROM’s, and six add-in cards, I could easily believe that peak power could exceed 150-200 watts. Of course, those crazy overclockers out there with 10, 3 watt fans and 2, 50 watt peltier coolers will experience higher usage too.

Linux Web Browsers Reviewed - 12:40 pm Wilfred
There's a nice review at Webreview.com on Linux web browsers. Mozilla looks kinda cool to me, but can we have it soon? Have a read over here:

Mozilla M12 is an impressive piece of software although obviously still a work in progress. The new HTML renderer is very fast, and can display a page partially downloaded even before the image sizes are known. Just like IE, Mozilla re-renders the page in real time as it receives additional details as to what it is being asked to display.

Also new is a left-hand side-bar panel that contains several views of links (including your bookmarks), but also minimizes to take only a few pixels when you don't want it. The e-mail client component, the address book, and the HTML editor are all running, while the Newsgroup reader, IRC Chat, and Java functions are not. Also, cut-and-paste and drag-and-drop are not yet working.

While not quite ready for daily use, I know several people who use Mozilla for testing and debugging of HTML code during development. One aspect is simply to see how a different HTML 4.0 browser parses and renders particular HTML. The "View Source" feature is also quite rich, and it includes color syntax and error highlighting.

Once Mozilla becomes production-level code, I suspect a lot of people are going to be using this browser.

Monsoon MH-500 Flat Panel Speaker System - 09:15 am Kan
GameWire posted their thoughts on the Monsoon Flat Panel Speaker System. These speakers are futuristic looking and would blend well in any modern high-tech room (such as mine!). Cool!

Just like with almost any speaker set, you have no drivers or other software to install. All you have to do is take them out of the box, set them on your desktop, and as described in the four page "manual," set them up for optimal sound radius. The speakers are connected to the subwoofer through thick cables no more of these flimsy headphone type speaker wires. The subwoofer has an AC adapter, which powers the whole shebang and a lot of extra cabling. Next you have a volume "puck." This nifty little device is like the volume control you find on newer headphone sets that are attached to the cables. On this "puck" (looks more like a giant suppository to me) you have a volume control knob and a mute button. One end plugs into the subwoofer and the other into the speaker out jack on your sound card. The subwoofer also has a standby setting, so when its not in use it shuts down to conserve power. The subwoofer has a knob so you can adjust how much bass you want.

Alright, the guys also dropped us a mail on the new Everglide GIGANTA mousepad!! Gosh!

Razor 2000 Boomslang - 09:13 am Kan
HardNews took a look at the new Razor 2000 Boomslang mouse. Engineered for the human hand and perfected for Quake III, is it the ultimate mouse for fragging purposes? Check it out:

For the first time in gaming history, I began to feel motion sickness from an FPS. The movement was so godamn FAST and smooth that I may as well have been in the game itself (minor exaggeration)! However, for the first few games I was completely off whack. The buttons are so sensitive that you can pretty much breathe on them to push them down, and as thus I was jumping about and firing rounds into the wall like a gun-toting psychotic murderer. After a bit of tweaking though I managed to find a nice setting for the sensitivity and went back into the game. Comments were flung my way of "WTF? How did kill me so fast?" and "BOT!! lame cheetur using BOT!!!" After getting kicked from a couple of servers full of llamas, I settled in nicely and had the best damn game I've played in months. The accuracy you can get with this sucker needs to be seen to be believed.

Enabling SBA With GeForce/Athlon Systems - 09:12 am Kan
Our buds over at 3DSpotlight posted a blurb on how to enable the Side Banding Addressing with a little tweak in systems where the GeForce and Athlon co-exist. 

I noticed on a few forums and newsgroups that people with the 3.69 drivers and Athlon systems are able to get Side Band Adressing with a little registry tweak. Unlike the false registry key that was posted a few weeks back, this one actually works. It does, however, only work with Athlon systems with the AMD chipset. If your one of those that is not effected by the AGP 2X bug, then try out this key for SBA. Included are keys that also work in all 3.6X drivers and the one for 3.69.

Pioneer DR-104S DVD-ROM - 09:08 am Kan
CDR-Info posted a pretty good review of the Pioneer DR-104S DVD-ROM drive. I've one of these, and except for the pretty noisy spin-up, it's pretty good. Oh yes, the firmware can be 'upgraded' to support all the DVD regions too.

REGION CODES: Region Codes are part of the DVD Standard. There is a Region number located within one or all of the components required for DVD-VIDEO playback. The Region number defines the region of the DVD-ROM drive and its playback hardware/software. DVD-VIDEO discs may also contain a Region number in the shape of a world globe. Unless the Region number on both the DVD-VIDEO disc and DVD-ROM drive and its playback components match, playback is not possible. When the word "ALL" is located in the world globe on a DVD-VIDEO disc, that particular DVD-VIDEO disc can be played on all DVD-ROM drives and its playback components, regardless of its region.

Lava 2.0 Review - 09:05 am Kan
Something interesting this morning with the review of Lava 2.0 by the boys over at t-Break

The MP3 format caught the Internet like fire and gave every wannabe a chance to prove themselves with their music. However, MP3 is an audio-only format and can only let artists express themselves to a certain extent. Using LAVA, the same person can now create some very interesting, bizarre and funky videos that are small enough to transfer over the net, yet can add a completely new meaning to their work.

They can do this by fooling around with the different effects found in LAVA as well as add their own textures and pictures along with song titles fully linked to their websites. It’s hard to describe the effects that can be produced with LAVA. The best I can say is that it creates some of that cool computer animations you see at some nightclubs. I would recommend anyone whose the least bit interested in music to download it.

Gigabyte GA-660 Plus TNT2-Pro - 09:03 am Kan
AnandTech reviewed the Gigabyte GA-660 Plus TNT2-Pro graphics card. As you know, the 'Pro' is based on a smaller micron process than the original TNT2 chipset and supposedly offers better overclockability.

Next was to push the processor and memory speeds even further.  By playing with core and memory settings that were easily accessible via Gigabyte’s included utility, we were able to push the chip even higher than the already fast 170 MHz.  Unfortunately, doing so resulted in a running temperature that was apparently too hot, based on the fact that ghost images began to appear and minutes later our 3D testing programs stopped responding.  The most likely culprit here is the 32 MB (four 8MB chips mounted on the front of the board) of 6ns SEC SDRAM used on the card.  Having RAM that is supposed to run at 166 MHz going all the way up to 180+ with a super fast core is likely to cause many problems when pushed over the edge.  Gigabyte seems to have done their homework on the RAM quality, allowing for the turbo mode to take full advantage of the higher quality product.  Thus it seems that Gigabyte made a good choice in setting the speed at 170/180, a speed upgrade that would make any overclocker drool.

15 January 2000 - Saturday

SharkyExtreme Buyer's Guide
- 20:59 pm Kan
SharkyExtreme just updated their monthly Buyer's Guide. Some of their new recommendations include the juicy Athlon 800 Mhz processor as well as the 128MB EMS PC-133 HSDRAM. Yum yum...

While 3dfx is just getting their VSA-100 to silicon, ATI and S3 have finally shipped their powerful new 3D accelerators that place NVIDIA's GeForce256 powered by DDR SGRAM squarely in their gunsights. But even with heavy hitting competition, the King of the Hill is clear.

Any GeForce256 with DDR SGRAM is the card to beat and they're shipping in quantities from a variety of different manufacturers. Very little differentiates the various boards as almost all use the NVIDIA reference design, so either get the least expensive one you can find or buy one with a bundle that appeals to you.

Quake III Arena - 20:46 pm Kan
Exxtreme3D reviewed Quake III Arena and they liked it a lot. Enuff said about this game, go purchase yours now.

If you have played the test and demo, you should have the basic idea of gameplay.  There is a reason this game has so much hype.  First there are the models.  The models provided in this game are among the finest I have seen.  Each model has its own attributes, take Orb for instance, Orb is an eye with legs, it runs around with great speed.  Then there is JrTank.  If you remember QuakeII, JrTank is the son of the Tank Commander and the Iron Maiden.  He is pretty slow, but can take more hits than other models.  There are also some other models you may remember from QuakeII.  

Replacing a Fan and Heatsink - 20:44 pm Kan
nV News dropped us a line on how to replace the default heatsink on the Viper 770 graphics card and replace it with the Tennmax Lasagna heatsink. Here's an excerpt:

The fan on the Viper 770 is held in place with 4 screws.  These can be easily removed (shown below).  I had a problem with the two wires that carry power to the fan, which are attached to the board by a small piece of glue.  I was hoping it was a rubber based glue that could just be pulled off, but it is very hard.  After picking at it for a while, I gave up and cut the wire on either side of the glue and left it there.

Wilfred Coughs - 19:10 pm Wilfred
Coughing everyday huh? Heheh! Ok, everyone is busy today but fortunately it's a S.N.D. (Slow News Day!) =) Anyway, the real action is happening behind the scenes, so well, look forward to more reviews in the coming days. Meanwhile, the forum is the place to be!

Skywell TNT2 M64 Video Card - 19:07 pm Wilfred
Those of you on shoe-string budgets and no hardcore gaming habits might want to consider this?! Overclockers Australia has done a review on the above card:

Whilst not disappointed with my purchase, this particular Model 64 is weaker than identically priced cards which are endowed with 7ns RAM and hence immensely more room for overclocking. For the price, I think that M64 cards are very good value at ~135AUD, especially for those who aren't that interested in stratospheric fps and simply want things to run at a reasonable speed. The lower priced chip has the full complement of TNT2 features, and is blessed with the TNT-family compatibility.

Microsoft SideWinder FreeStyle Pro - 19:04 pm Wilfred
If you are still interested in spending on a 'high-end' gamepad, now is a good time with the prices fallen. PC Paradox has a late review of the FreeStyle Pro today, check it out along with Flashman's take (have you forgotten him?!).

The one reason any one would go out and buy this game pad is for its "Motion Sensing Technology", but the Freestyle has many more advantages over other game pads. One of these is the throttle wheel, which is postioned in the front in the middle. The wheel allows you to easly change speed in simulation games, or any racing game. The pad also has two trigger buttons, enabling youto shoot of rounds faster. Also unlike any other game pad the Freestyle features

Asus P3C-2000 Motherboard Review - 10:53 am Wymun
iXBT Hardware has a good take on the ASUS P3C-2000 Motherboard based on the I820 chipset.  Hmmm...Mine is also chugging along.  So expect a review from us soon as well...

So, it turns out that we don't even have what to choose from. However, the mainboard manufacturers suffer much more serious problems: it turned out that they have nothing to produce. Driven into a corner, they have to prolong the life of their old hits on i440BX artificially and to launch very inefficient solutions on i820 with SDRAM support in order to please Intel. ASUS, No 1 mainboard manufacturer, chose the same way and announced their P3C2000 mainboard. Well, let's take a look what has come of it. Maybe, the leading Taiwanese engineers managed to save Intel's reputation and achieved acceptable performance of their mainboard? In fact, it's pretty doubtful, but who knows.

DFI PW65-E Motherboard Review - 10:43 am Wymun
Just received news that the folks at Active-Hardware have spun up a review on DFI's latest I810 based motherboard - the DFI PW65-E. Here's a blurb for your savoring...

The DFI PW65-E motherboard is among the first of a new breed of motherboards to employ the Intel 810E chipset. As such, the PW65-E incorporates both graphics, and sound cards. The PW65-E's graphics card is the DC133 AGP, capable of operating at 133Mhz, while the sound card is of the AC"97 variety

19" Monitor Round-Up - 10:30 am Wymun
Wooah....Seems like GamePC has tested a slew of 19" monitors and have compiled it for your reference.  All this makes just my 17" Mitsubishi DiamondScan 70 look rather outdated!  Time for an upgrade?? :P

Here's how we're breaking down the results, out of all the monitors, the Viewsonic PF790 seems to be the best monitor on the price/performance scale, having great image quality, a flat CRT, and a price tag that won't make anyone faint. It's a close call for the best overall monitor (price not being an issue), the Sony and Mitsubishi nineteen-inchers are both incredible, but I found the Sony monitor on my desk the most during this whole roundup, but the Mitsubishi has lots of nice extras and killer image quality. The Sony though, with a 1600x1200 native resolution, is setting new standards of quality for monitors, and should be something for other manufacturers to look up to.

Elsa Erazor X Review - 10:24 am Wymun
3D Hardware has yet another GeForce 256 review, but this time round they take the non-reference designed Elsa Erazor X through its paces.  Hmmm...Check it out, as they gave it quite a good score... 

There’s no doubt about it. This card and it’s variants are fast, the fastest cards on the market for right now and at least the next three months. With a theoretic fill rate of 480 Mtexels/s (which it will get close to in 16 bit), the GeForce offers about a 40% improvement over the TNT2 Ultra in fill rate. But fill rate is not the only thing it offers. What the card is really pushing is polygons, and lots of them. Does it deliver? It depends if the game or application supports T&L. As of now, there aren’t many games that support it. In fact, I don’t think there is a full Direct 3D game released now that supports T&L. This is a strike against the card. Unfortunately, we probably won’t see a wide array of T&L games until the next T&L card. Early adopters will still derive great pleasure out of the ERAZOR X or any GeForce, especially if upgrading from an older generation of cards.

Actiontec Camera Connect Pro Review - 10:18 am Wymun
CPU Review just issued out a nifty review on the Actiontech Camera Connect Pro card reader/writer.  If you do own a digital camera and can't stand slow-serial transfers, this may just be the solution for you. 

GREAT! I can get my files... so I dragged the contents of the F:\DCIMAGES folder to one of my network drives; and away it went. In a fairly short time (between one to two minutes if memory serves) the copy operation was completed.

This is a VAST improvement over the serial link, or of having to drag out the laptop, connect it to the network, etc.

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