And a New Year Has Begun

By Nils Dahl

Date: January 8, 2002

Microsoft's new Style system and Mira - appear to be the much awaited simpler version of Microsoft Bob. Well, it just might be easier than programming my Sony STR-G3 receiver's features on a TV screen, a feat that quickly sent the price of this $900 receiver down to $199.

Apple - now makes desk lamps that vaguely resemble computers. That stem is a weak point just waiting to fail. The message is obvious - it is a throw-away design. Well, I had to give up using my Mac - the one button mouse caused chronic carpal tunnel pain.

I decided to stop waiting for AMD technologies that arrive late or never. I went shopping for something simple - the new ECS K7S6A motherboard based on the SiS 645 chipset. That product may not be out until the next rev of SiS chipsets arrive, judging by the lack of places selling ECS stuff. Why ECS? I used to have an ECS 386 system - and it was a solid, reliable system for years.

I am still waiting to read a review of the Plus nForce system launched so long ago in Germany. What happened? Didn't anyone buy them? Or is there a sinister conspiracy to suppress news and reviews of nForce? By the way,
the new flat panel iMacs all use GeForce 2 MX video technology just like nForce does. Er, yeah, Jobs does pick low cost older technology for his iMacs. My friend 'G' tells me that Gigabyte actually has a P4 nForce motherboard
in production. This is pure rumor as far as I am concerned - but an interesting rumor.

On a personal note, I got the flu for Christmas and spent 3 days in bed, enjoying every shiver and shake. It was so much fun that I got another cold on New Year's Eve just to celebrate. Life in the old man's lane. We got no chickens here. New England is part of the East Coast region that is no longer receiving shipments of chickens, thanks to major storms in the primary producer states down South. My local supermarket had some 6-8 pound roaster chickens - nothing else, not even a package of those tiny meatless legs that people, for some unknown reason, choose to buy for parties.

So congratulations to VIA for the C3 and for the EDEN project. Looks to me to be precisely the right product and packaging/design choice for 2002. If National Semi can sell tons of one board systems, VIA can sell even more. On the other hand, G tells me that one can easily buy a brand new socketable pentium 233 in India for around $10 each or less - and buy motherboards that use this processor. Just don't try using this processor in US market pentium systems - the pinout was changed. And don't try selling such systems in the US. Intel marketing at its best.

Would it not be interesting to test out the PCI bus of motherboards that use the 760, 760MP, 760MPX, and the SiS and Ali Athlon chipsets? Frankly, I see absolutely no sense to even considering a P4 based system as a server unless it is one of the new P4 Xeon systems based entirely on an Intel server motherboard. That's the curious thing about that Tecchannel testing of ultra fast hard drive systems on P4 chipsets - it just doesn't make sense except as a way of publicizing a weakness in VIA's designs - a weakness that really doesn't matter to the actual end users. Anyone who
wants a nice low cost server is going to buy a genuine Intel PIII-S motherboard and processor from that Intel server design division - and those things easily beat any P4 system. As I recall, VIA, SiS, and Ali make no attempt to support 64-bit pci slots in motherboards that use their chipsets either. Oh well.

Well, Happy New Year and may this year be much better for you and your family.

nils dahl
waiting for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (aka Book 5)


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