November 30th, 2001

Pogo Linux Altura Athlon XP Workstation

Mario sends us this:

This Linux Red Hat 7.2 XP1700+ system offers tremendous value at $999 USD, Windows XP or 2000 dual boot cost option, name-brand quality components throughout, and a peace of mind 3 year warranty. Great performance system for those who want to migrate to Linux but wish to avoid the do-it-yourself pit falls. This package resolves all those concerns.


CDRs and the Xbox
Taken from Xboxhacker BBS, CD-R brands that Work/Don't Work With the Xbox.

Office Depot 700MB/80min
CompUSA 650MB/74min
Mitsui 650MB/74min and 700MB/80min
TDK 650MB/74min
Cursor and Giga Storage 700MB/80min
Don't Work:
Imation 650MB/74min and 700MB/80min
Kingston Hypermedia 650MB/74min and 700MB/80min
Digital Research 700MB/80min
PNY 700MB/80min
Memorex 700MB/80min

Apparently Verbatim CDRW work as well.


Xbox Hard Drive Contents
This is supposedly a list of files taken from an Xbox drive. The information was obtained from a link in this thread.


Intel's Clarification on ATX Power Supplies
Joel talks with Intel about ATX power supplies and the P4.


Xbox M.A.M.E.
Run arcade games on your Xbox – if they could only distribute it.


Worth Every Penny: The Sony G420 19" CRT
Joel takes a close look at this Sony monitor.


More on DS1
Spencer Kittelson sends us this. In a sequel to the Little Spacecraft That Could article a while back that showed us the best pictures to date of a comet nucleus, NASA and JPL have release a couple of short Real based motion pictures made from composited images. There's also a clip from prior to the encounter where Dr. Marc Rayman, DS1 project manager narrates a brief description of what was being attempted and some of the risks involved. My hat is off to a science and engineering crew who worked on a truly historic mission.


Astounding New Thermoelectrics developed
Spencer Kittelson writes to us about this news.


By developing a deep semiconductor superlatice, scientists at the Research Triangle Institute (RTI) in North Carolina, in conjuction with the Office of Naval Research (ORNL) have created a new form of thermoelectric device which is thousands of times more efficient than existing thermocouples and peltier devices. It's not often we get multiple orders of magnitude improvement in a technology and this looks like a monster breakthrough. The implications for cooling, heating and power generation are very significant.

The device is composed of thousands of layers, each of which is only a few molecules thick. The effect on electrons passing through is to separate their electrical from their thermal characteristics (quite a trick!). Obviously, for computer users, these things could make thermoelectric CPU coolers the norm. Don't be surprised if they obviate the need for mechanical refrigeration too. It's very early in the game though so it will be a while before they reach the market.

The above announcement may have been prompted by the following item which originated at MIT. Their development is a miniaturized and more efficient version of ancient thermionic devices. It doesn't look like it's a match for RTI's development but it's another path to investigate.

The race is on!


Geek.com: ECS K7S5A Motherboard Problem
One of our favorite sites reports on an issue with the popular ECS K7S5A and 1.4 GHz Athlons:

I've encountered an interesting problem after building a system using a 1.4 GHz Athlon and ECS K7S5A motherboard. It appears that some versions of the board may not work properly with 1.4 GHz Athlons, but work ok with Athlon XPs. This appears to be a direct result of changes suggested by AMD to support the Athlon XP/MP better.


Phil Trent's Thoughts on Intel's SOI About-Face
I was reading JC's and noticed his remarks on Intel's SOI.  I cross checked the info with what can be found on Isonics site (all but the last point refer to the benefits about 3/4s of the way to the bottom of the linked page).

Here are Isonics benefits of SOI versus Intel's corresponding benefits of their "special" SOI process:

Is is possible Intel could be leveraging Si-28 to offset their inexperience in SOI? In other words, will they use a superior material to mitigate an inferior process?

(Disclosure: I, Phil Trent, own Isonics stock)

Beatle George Harrison is Dead
My guitar gently weeps.  Time Bandits, which Mr. Harrison produced, is one of our favorite movies.


November 29th, 2001


AMD’s 0.13-Micron Process Transitioning Smoothly

AMD’s stock tumbled on a negative report today from JP Morgan’s Eric Chen. Chen claimed that the chipmaker is currently suffering problems shifting its production to a new and smaller 0.13-micron copper process. According to Chen, these difficulties are significant enough to endanger AMD’s scheduled release of a new line of faster Athlons early next year.


AMD rejects Chen’s report. Damon Muzny, an official spokesman for the surging CPU company, told VHJ:

Regarding AMD's moving to .13, the transition is going smoothly and AMD remains on schedule to ship the first production 130-nanometer devices in Q1 2002. We're currently experiencing no process transition problems and no production problems.

We have discussed in previous articles the entanglement between the financial analyst community and Intel. 


The Euros Are Coming

Seven denominations of the unified monetary banknotes are scheduled to debut January 1, 2002. The designs are remarkably benign and generic, though colorful. Follow the hyperlink above to view them. If you are curious about coinage, look here.


Have Broadband? Big Brother Might be Listening

The DOJ is already using its anti-terror powers to monitor cable modem users without a judge’s order. Meanwhile, here are a few questions for the now nearly omnipotent Ashcroft.


Our Take: Is There an Intel-Compaq Conspiracy Against AMD?

There has been significant interest resulting from our coverage of potential Intel strong-arming of a major OEM to the detriment of AMD.  This case involves Compaq's reluctance to provide "Professional" versions of Windows 2k and XP for their AMD systems. 


Despite the amount of coverage this story has received, David Vorov's questions, posed here on the 27th, have gone unanswered.  Is there an agreement between Intel and Compaq barring the bundling of Professional Windows versions with AMD systems?  If so, how can such an arrangement legally exist?


A letter published on Mike Magee's the inquirer asserted that the lack of availability of Windows XP Professional for AMD systems was simply due to the fact that AMD processors are limited to Compaq's "home" line of PCs, namely Presarios.  The author is likely only partially correct.


Although we are not privy to the details of Compaq's agreement with Intel, we suspect that this deal involves an exclusivity clause for Intel processors in all Compaq business machines in exchange for more favorable CPU pricing.  To accomplish this contract, the agreed upon written definition of a "business machine" likely includes the bundling of Pro versions of Microsoft Windows.


What results from such arrangements is the strange case demonstrated with Compaq's Presario 8000 Series.  In the Houston-based OEM's online ordering system configuration utility, XP Professional is available for the Intel Pentium 4-based systems, yet the otherwise similar AMD Athlon XP-based systems are limited to Windows XP Home Edition.


Is this fair?  Obviously no, but unfortunately this is likely the nature of Compaq's contract with Intel.  Of course, Dell's unspoken famous arrangements are even more unfavorable towards AMD. 


How can this situation change?  Clearly, exclusivity agreements would serve as a barrier to market entry for AMD and other Intel rivals.  In Europe, AMD is seeking government intervention for some of Intel's monopolistic practices there.  Unless the market demands AMD-endowed business machines, circumstances are not likely to turn here in the US on their own.  In the meantime, we suggest that readers needing AMD Athlon XP-based Windows Professional systems avoid OEMs like Compaq and Dell who enter in such pacts with Intel.


Unlock the Athlon XP with a Crayon

At Bench House.


November 28th, 2001


Response to the Reader Hacking Xbox Controller

Matthew Cormie writes:

To the reader trying to put "5 LED's of varying voltages" in parallel with the rumble motor in the XBox controller:

LED's are current devices. While high school edumacation teaches all about light bulbs, it mentions little or nothing about PN junction devices. The junction in an LED tries to maintain a fixed voltage drop across the device. Without current limiting it, the LED will keep trying to maintain its junction voltage (~2.7 - 4 volts) while the Xbox power supply will try and maintain its output voltage. The effect is similar to sticking a fork in a power outlet, if a little less spectacular. The outlet tries to maintain ~120 volts and the fork tries to maintain 0 volts, the result being a melted fork or blow fuse. To properly use an LED in circuit, it needs to be current limited, usually with a resistor. To properly add an LED to the controller, you could do the following:

1) Measure the peak voltage across the motor with a multimeter (V_motor).

2) Subtract the LED forward voltage (V_forward) from the previous motor voltage. Let's call this the voltage we need to drop (V_drop).

3) LED's typically have a maximum operating current around 20mA. Let's call this maximum current (I_led) so we can calculate the required resistor to limit the current as follows: (V_motor - V_forward) / (I_led) = R

A blue LED has a forward voltage drop of about 3.75 volts. Assume that the XBox motor has a peak voltage of 12 volts (I don't have a XBox to test). (12 - 3.75) / (20) = 412.5 ohms You will need to put a ~412 ohm resistor in series with the LED to prevent it from blowing. You will not be able to get a 412.5 ohm resistor without buying an expensive precision one, so a 370 ohm would probably be OK. The LED life would suffer a bit but it would be really bright.


Reliability of CPU Suppliers

Courtesy of Mario.


Sobering Eyewitness Account of Taleban Revolt

Blames CIA, Northern Alliance.


Reader Hacks Xbox Controller

"I was intrigued by the disassembled Xbox, I was wondering if you have taken apart the controller. If you have, have you tried modifying it? I have tried putting LED's in parallel with the rumble motors. I have now blown 5 LED's of varying voltages and I was wondering just HOW MUCH voltage goes through those motors? I have tried a 6 volt and it still blew... Any help would be appreciated."


Xbox Stuff

Play Halo over the Internet, while some are claiming (unsubstantiated) to have hacked third party hard drives to the Xbox.


the inquirer: Kentron CEO on QBM

Memory modules coming as soon as Q1 next year.

Cherokee at NASA

Spencer Kittelson sends us this.


the inquirer: Intel Claims Itanium Bug is Fixed

Mad Mike Magee reports on an official Intel statement asserting that a corrective BIOS has alleviated Compaq's Itanium problem.  This widely reported snafu involving the Santa Clara chipmaker's 64-bit flagship has been holding up server shipments for several weeks.  The nature of the tweak and whether it impacts performance are both still unknown at this time.


Transcript of BBC Expose on Bush, bin Laden and the Carlyle Group

Courtesy of Mario.


November 27th, 2001


Follow-up on Intel Strong-Arming

Our own research done by Joel shows:

I called HP, Compaq, and Sony. Here's what they told me.


Compaq initially said that XP Pro was NOT available on Duron/Athlon systems--but then checked into something and immediately changed their mind and said it was. I asked for clarification: "So XP Pro CAN be bought on a Compaq system for either an Athlon or a Duron?" They confirmed. This was on their Presario 700 series.


Sony said that XP Pro was NOT available on any Athlon/Duron system but could be bought with a P3. The sales rep I spoke to said he did not know the reason for the decision.


HP does not offer XP Pro for any Home Laptops, Intel or Athlon. XP Pro is offered only in their business line, which is entirely P3.


The sales rep I spoke to at HP informed me that I would be unable to select XP Pro as an OS no matter what processor I chose, even if I used a P3 (assuming I wanted to customize a notebook).


I've been unable to verify this as the HP site is giving my browser fits.

One VHJ reader writes:

I could not believe the blatantness of this Unavailability of XP/2000 for AMD hardware, through Compaq's website.


I called for myself pretending that I had trouble ordering online, the minute I said WIndows 2000..., the sales guy admitted that they don't offer the Presario 8000 with anything other than XP home. And that it was offered on Pentium 4 systems, and that he didn't know why that was so, and he could do nothing. I told him that I'd have to shop elsewhere as I don't want to have to buy an additional copy of the OS.

John Norene sends us this: 

I checked the Compaq website, and it appears that Windows XP Professional is orderable as an optional operating system with the AMD processors.  This doesn't assure that Compaq will install XP Pro on pre-configured systems for the retail sellers, however.


NVIDIA offering trade-in program for 3dfx cards

JOEL: While this is a welcome move from NVIDIA and PNY, the rebate amounts are rather low. Offering the same amount of rebate cash for a Voodoo2 or a Voodoo5 is also a rather bad deal as the V5 is much newer and a much more recent investment. Still, its a nice gesture for the two companies to make.


Version 0.6 of MemLatencyPlus

The new version introduces the following changes:

The download is about 350kB, and like all COSBI tools is a standalone binary that does not need to be installed.


More Rambus Setbacks

I am proud to say that some of the material we uncovered was used in the trial.  Thanks to Jeff for the link.  Also Joel points out this article at Mike Magee's the inquirer.


Plastic Magnets

Rthoreau sends in this link.


More Intel Strong-arming?

David Vorov writes:

A few weeks ago I attempted to order an Athlon notebook from Compaq (Presario 700) with Windows 2000 as an operating system. Compaq said they didn't offer Windows 2000 on notebooks. I pointed out that on their website they offered Win2k on all INTEL based notebooks, but it didn't seem to be available on any AMD based notebooks. After a lot of back and forth, the salesperson admitted they DID sell Intel based notebooks with Win2k, but said that Win2k did not work with AMD processors. I demanded to speak to a supervisor.

After I listed all the AMD desktop and notebook systems I had running Win2k, and giving her the Microsoft URL which shows AMD Athlon as compatible Win2k hardware, The supervisor admitted that yes, it would run on AMD processors just fine, but their contract with Intel prevented them from offering either Win2k or XP Professional on AMD hardware. When I mentioned that this would probably be an illegal contract, she got a bit nervous and said she didn't know if it was really a contract, I should contact someone else about this, she's just a sales manager, blah, blah... so I let her off the hook.

Last week I called a friend who has a brother-in-law who works for Compaq in Houston. Over Thanksgiving dinner he said his brother-in-law confirmed that they didn't offer W2k on AMD notebooks because of "Intel pressure".

So my question now is: Who do I go to about this? This doesn't seem like it would be legal. I have two (fairly low-level) employees at Compaq admitting that they know Intel is pressuring Compaq to squeeze AMD out of a decent operating system and relegating it to the low end "XP home edition" piece of crap O/S.

So I go to the press. Maybe you can make a difference. Go ahead, try to get Win2K on an AMD notebook, or anything for that matter.


More Xbox

Several readers have written in stating that they believe the Xbox hard drive is password protected.  One reader writes:

Your hard drive analyses is almost correct; myself and someone else have been looking into the XBOX hardware as well, and that someone else I mentioned figured out that the hard drive is not using a strange firmware, but instead is adhering to a different HD standard called ATA-3, this new standard has a password protection function that requires a password to allow the drive to give out information.

He has also found that brute force isnt an option, because the Drive only allows 5 password re-trys before it requires the power to cycle... please post this revision on your website if possible. XBOX will be hacked... sooon...

Another reader, SkipMeister, writes that there have been overheating problems with some Xboxes:

Just wanted to say I have a friend that works for an electronics store and goes to different stores setting up displayes. He said they have had problems with the Xbox overheating. Not sure if you have had any similar problems or heard similar reports. He said they drilled holes in the bottom to help with air flow but not sure they grasp the concept of air flow. =)

We have not seen such problems, but if the rear vents are blocked, the mutant Celeron would not get air flow through its passive heat sink and could possibly get too hot.


Finally, there are widely reported problems reading CD-Rs.  However, apparently Verbatim CD-RWs do work according to a post on the Xbox enthusiast site we pointed to yesterday.


November 26th, 2001


AtlantaOC: Review of the GlobalWin 8850 Aluminum Case

OCmadeEZ writes "... this is a really cool looking case. The side panels remove very easily even if you do have to remove two thumbscrews.... The manufacturing quality is excellent and installing the components is very straightforward and easy to accomplish."


My Grandfather

After my stepfather's recent death combined with the particularly egregious circumstances surrounding it, my sister, her daughter and my family took my mother to see her relatives in the "Valley" of southern Texas.  It was our intention to attempt to distract my mother from her loss as well as remove her from dangerous circumstances. 


While visiting her family, my mother was given a photograph of her father.  This is remarkable because the picture was the first time my mother had ever seen him.  The tiny photo is in poor shape -- old, worn, wrinkled, dirty and scratched -- but the resemblance to Mom is still clear.


It is strange for me see my grandfather for the first time in my 38 years, so I can scarcely imagine my mother's feelings.  Here is my grandfather's picture, probably taken in the early 1930's.

There are many contradicting rumors surrounding my grandfather.  Unfortunately, one bit of hearsay that is likely true is that he died years ago, so neither my mother nor I will ever get to know him.


Xbox Site

I am happy to promote any non-corporate media entity and here is an interesting site that seems to be a genuine enthusiast start-up.  Someone there claims to have hacked a hard drive drive for the Xbox, though there seems to be confusion surrounding this feat.  Also on another Xbox related message board someone spent the time trying to find out how many blocks could be stored on their Xbox drive.  With a total of 312,500 blocks, it looks like each block is 32k if their data is correct.


First Human Clone

American scientists claim to have cloned a human embryo.


Brief Site Update

This is my first post since the day before Thanksgiving.  Joel made the single post since then and he may start updating the news page more often.


Please forgive me if I am slow to respond to emails since work and messages have piled up over the last few days.

November 25th, 2001

the inquirer: QBM Technology Doomed to Fail?
JOEL: the inquirer has reported that Kentron's QBM memory technology may face major problems in implementation. According to some engineers, the Kentron simulations are too simplistic--get the full story above.

November 21st, 2001


A Time for Family

With the recent death in my family, it is time for us to focus on what is important.  My wife and I will not be tending the site over the next few days.  Although our site has grown exponentially since we launched only four months ago, and some of our articles have had quite a bit of industry influence, I have personally been unhappy with the quality and frequency of my articles.  It has been difficult to work fulltime testing CPUs while tending the site on the side.  Doing so has taken a great deal of time away from my family, and with the events of the last few days I feel a greater need than ever to reevaluate my priorities. 


I have high expectations for my articles, but I have simply had neither the time nor the resources to devote to the rigorous, in-depth coverage that I feel our readers deserve and this leaves me with a feeling of unfulfillment and  regret after every piece I have  published recently.  Those who have followed my career from Tom's Hardware and InQuest no doubt see the decline in the depth of my analysis.  I do not know how to remedy this situation without taking even more time away from family and work.


I want to thank Joel, Spencer, Nils, and Phil for their invaluable help over the last few months.  They have added greatly to the site.  My wife Kathy, of course, has helped to keep the site and me together through chaos.


This site is about passion, honesty, truth and objectivity with the focus on computer related high technology.  I continue to believe there is a place for us and our growth seems to support this.  I simply do not know how under current conditions I can balance the site with the other, more important obligations I carry.


We will revaluate our situation after Thanksgiving.  But for now, it is time to give thanks for what really matters.  Thank you, Lord, for my family.


Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.



the inquirer:  VIA Chipset to Use Kentron QBM?

The proven, simple and cost effective Kentron memory technology allows twice the bandwidth of normal DDR systems.  Whether the rumor that VIA will pick up this design we cannot confirm, it is good to see this technology get more attention.


Xbox Operating Frequency

It appears the operating frequency of the nVidia GPU has been reduced from 250MHz to 233MHz.  The GPU was originally announced at 300MHz.  If I am not mistaken, nVidia's site has only been updated to the 233MHz speed in the last few days.


November 20th, 2001


ASCII Star Wars

To see an interesting rendition of Episode I, telnet to towel.blinkenlights.nl.  In Win2k, click "Start|Run..." then enter "telnet towel.blinkenlights.nl" and hit "OK".


Purported Afghan Nuclear Bomb Papers a Spoof

The document was copied nearly verbatim from famous 10-easy step humor piece "Weekend Scientist: Let's Make a Thermonuclear Device."  The original article appeared in a 1979 edition of The Journal of Irreproducible Results.


November 19th, 2001


Xbox DVD Remote = RCA DVD Remote

Victor Caro writes:

Well, I finally managed to get the DVD Playback Kit today, and tried something... The remote kinda looks like an RCA brand remote...so I took it to my RCA DVD player.....and it worked!!! PERFECTLY!!! So then I took my RCA brand remote to the X-BOX.....it works like a charm....so technically for DVD playback, all you need is the receiver (or if you break/loose yours) and a generic RCA remote with DVD compatibility, and you're in luck.....


November 18th, 2001


More Xbox

Although you have to purchase an extra kit to play DVDs on the Xbox, out of the box the game console will rip and encode music directly to the hard drive which is a nice feature.  Microsoft charges $30 for a DVD kit that includes a remote control.  Normally this would anger me, but the Xbox is so feature-packed I won't complain much.


Some people have wondered why we didn't take the heat sink off the nVidia GPU in our recent article since it appears to only be attached with a clip.  The problem was that the thermal compound used had very strong adhesive qualities and we were exerting so much force trying to remove the cooler that we were afraid that we might damage the system if we persisted.


The memory used in the Xbox turns out to be "Samsung 136, K4D263238M-QC50."  Reading this designation was very difficult because the markings on the DDR SDRAM chips were faint.  This memory is only 128Mb = 16MB per chip.  Since we found only two chips on the topside of the motherboard, this means that two other memory chips must be on the reverse side.  We have since verified that this is indeed the case.  In fact, the empty pads we noted in our original article are the bottoms of the two other 128Mb chips.  (Thanks to "CityZen" for help.) 


According to Samsung's product data, this memory appears to operate at 200MHz.  This might explain Microsoft's original infatuation with the AMD Duron which also happens to have a 200MHz front-side bus.


Although Intel informally told us several months ago that the Xbox CPU's FSB would be 133MHz, this would mean that the memory would run asynchronously in a fractional harmonic (200/133).  Since this would be inefficient and yield only mixed results, the BGA Mobile Celeron might only have a 100MHz FSB and performance would not be impacted much (yielding a more favorable 2/1 ratio).  Ah, but the 733MHz CPU speed would not be possible because the multiplier would not work, so the FSB must be 133MHz like we originally concluded.


Quick gaming impressions: Halo is fantastic.  It is somewhat reminiscent of Half-Life, but the graphics in Halo are much, much better.  Halo is a very engaging game, although it starts off a little slowly.  Dead or Alive 3 looks very, very good -- quite a bit better than even Soul Caliber or Tekken TAG TournamentDOA3, however, is not a very meaty game, but fighting games are not usually very deep anyway.  Still, I much prefer Halo.  The graphics in cartoony Cel Damage are fantastic, but I cannot be very positive about the game itself.  CD looks cute and is humorous, but it is very tedious to play.  The two football games, Madden and NFL Fever, are pretty much the same as they are on other high-end platforms -- this is a trend we'll likely continue to see for some time from companies who want to play the field among different systems.  It simply takes too much time and effort to exploit each platform.  Nevertheless, I expected Microsoft's Fever to look better than it didThe only advantages these two football simulations seemed to exploit from the Xbox is generally smoother game play.


My Stepfather Died this Morning

John Jones was a good man; may he find peace in Heaven.  God, please grant my mother strength.


November 17th, 2001


the inquirer: Compaq Internal Memo on Intel Itanium Bug

"Repeated testing of products containing 733MHz and 800MHz Itanium processors revealed that these CPUs do not meet standard reliability tests. Other Intel OEM boxes containing these Itanium CPUs also have failed the standard test suite. The issue has been credibly determined to be an Itanium issue, not an OEM system issue."


Ashcroft's War on Terrorism


Dell's "Steve" Gets Beaten Up

Humor link courtesy AMDZone.


November 16th, 2001


the inquirer: Intel Says Rambus is Dead

As we have been reporting for months, our sources have told us that Intel has been counting the days before it could jump the leaky Rambus dingy and endorse DDR SDRAM.


Xbox Dissected

We open up the Xbox and peek inside.  We discover interesting facts about the CPU and other hardware.


November 15th, 2001


Press Release: Kentron Technologies Launches International Alliance For Implementation Of "Quad Band Memory" (QBM) Technology

QBM technology uses today’s existing DDR SDRAM memory devices to double the memory bandwidth to the highest in the industry and provide balance with the fastest system processors.


Press Release: New 1.2GHz AMD Duron(tm) Processor Offers Outstanding Performance For Everyday PC Computing

AMD Duron(tm) processor, coupled with DDR memory, delivers practical performance for mainstream PC market.


November 14th, 2001


Press Release: AMD Athlon(tm) XP Processor Powers Pc Magazine Editors' Choice Award Winner For Desktop

Compaq 'Built For You' Presario 8000Z Wins Best Performance Desktop Computer, Features World's Highest Overall Performing PC Processor.


Big Brother Goes to the Beach

Facial recognition cameras will be deployed along the Virginia Beach oceanfront. “You have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide,” chant the proponents of this action, apparently ready to move into glass houses, adopt fulltime nudity and have government monitored tracking devices implanted into their shiny buttocks. Needlessly invasive measures must not be adopted in the haste and panic of the recent attacks. Our forefathers fought for our precious freedoms; do not let their efforts be in vain! Do not allow those cynically manipulating recent tragedies to undermine the basic foundation of our great nation!


Media Bombed

Reportedly, Kabul offices of Qatar’s al-Jazeera were struck by warplanes just hours before the Northern Alliance entered the Afghan capital.


Microsoft Insecure

Joel asks, "Is product integration a threat to stability? Can a Passport-type of system be created and made secure by ANY company (not just MS)?"


the inquirer: New Stepping To Fix Itanium Bug?

Intel hopes so as C1 stepping heads Compaq's way.  A "stepping" is a new silicon release of a microprocessor usually issued to correct bugs or improve performance.  The initial story of Compaq's stop shipment of Intel Itanium-based servers, broken by Mike Magee, has apparently been confirmed by a third party.


November 13th, 2001


Dell: No 2GHz Pentium 4s

The manufacturing problems plaguing the Intel Pentium 4 have caused shortages so acute that Intel's premier customer has had to pull the 2GHz chip from its Web "Configurator," an online catalog for ordering Dell systems.  We discussed this emerging issue for the chipmaker, reminiscent of its recent history of "paper launches," in an October 19th news posting.


Windows XP: We Don't Work With Anyone

Problems now with PowerNow!  Supposedly both this and the SpeedStep issue reported yesterday have fixes, although neither patch is graceful.


Press Release: Kentron Technologies Is The First To Be Approved For A Low Profile, 1GB DDR Memory Module On The Serverworks Grand Champion He Architecture Platforms
FEMMA technology and the Serverworks Grand Champion HE platform make a winning combination.


Low End PC: My First PC

"Our publisher shares his personal computing story from Apples and Commodores through DOS PCs and beyond."


Press Release: FIC Announces Arrival of the Tablet PC era with Thunder and Crystal

First International Computer Inc. (FIC) is ushering in a new age of computing at Comdex Fall 2001 with its introduction of two new, revolutionary Tablet PCs: Thunder and Crystal.


Press Release: AMD Duron(tm) Processor-Based Computers Chosen For Major Education Program In Europe

AMD teams with Italian OEM CDC to provide 60,000 PCs to Italian Government Organization.


Iraqi Attack of Kuwait?

Doesn't seem like a smart move in today's climate.  Meanwhile NYT reports 80 Kuwaitis are still being held in a "secret jail" Baghdad.


Taliban Leave Kabul

Afghan capital falls to American backed opposition.  Meanwhile claims of Northern Alliance atrocities have been raised by an Arab publication.


November 12th, 2001


105th issue of ZZZ

This issue of ZZZ online includes  unusual 3D 'mouse' for the second hand, sustainable streetlight,
virtual reality chair and other goodies.


Justice to break up Apple

Spencer sends us this.

In a funny item referenced by GMSV, it is announced that Microsoft and the US DOJ have agreed to a break up of Apple Computer. Both sides agreed that Apple's history of "self-inflicted, anti-competitive" management practices is primarily to blame for turning Microsoft into an illegal monopoly..."


the inquirer: Windows XP Overheats Intel Mobile PIIIs

…and Intel Itanium bug leads Compaq to stop shipments of servers based on one of the most disastrous and embarrassing CPUs ever produced. Double “oops” Monday.

Veteran's Day Celebrated Today

Although yesterday was actually Veteran's day, take a moment today to remember those who have served our Country and give thanks. I am thankful for my many uncles, who served in WWII, my father who retired as a Lt. Colonel from the Airforce, and Van, who served in the Army.


Van’s Gaming Corner Debut: Deus Ex

Joel looks at a classic.


Mark McGwire Retires

The greatest slugger ever calls it quits.


VIA Announces Development of Tablet PC Reference Design

VIA continues the drive for ‘Total Connectivity’ with the Microsoft Windows-powered Tablet PC concept.


LostCircuits: Review of ASUS A7V266-E (VIA KT266A chipset)

"Loaded with features like support for the iPanel, SmartCard reader and onboard CMedia 6-channel sound including SPDIF support, the A7V266-E is bound for success."


Press Release: AMD Introduces 1.2GHZ Mobile AMD Athlon(tm) 4 And 950MHZ Mobile AMD Duron(tm) Processors; Increases Momemtum In Notebook PC Market

New AMD mobile processors deliver outstanding performance with Windows® XP.


How Low Can They Go?  Is It My Imagination or Did THG

just rip off OverClockers with their latest article on unlocking the Athlon XP?  Considering some of the tantrums I have personally witnessed, I think Lew is in line for some ranting considering that his story was stolen and he wasn't even given credit.


Feds Hiring Psychics To Fight Terror

Looks like the purse strings on our hard-earned tax dollars have been opened a little too widely in the money grab that has exploded in the last two months.  Maybe they'll end up hiring Xinoehpoel and Sollog if they haven't done so already.  The next thing you know, they'll be asking Hollywood for advice on terrorism -- whoops, it's already been done.  I'm sure the man who made Grease can bring potent anti-terrorism strategies to the table.


November 11th, 2001


The End of Hard Drives?

Spencer writes:

Here's an interesting article from Harvard about research into self assembling nanowires which have a variety of properties.  From biological sensors, to quantum computers, to ultra dense solid state memories that could eventually obviate current hard drive technologies, these little gems are literally only a few atoms wide which is an improvement of 1-2 orders of magnitude over existing connective technologies.  Since the wires themselves can be manipulated as semiconductors they can be used in completely new ways to build sensing and logical devices with fundamentally new properties.  Further, the wires exhibit "ballistic conductivity" a property that appears akin to superconductivity which could dramatically reduce or eliminate resistive heat losses.


November 10th, 2001


COSBI MemLatency: How It Works and Get Version 0.5

In a couple of our recent articles we have used a tool we have developed to measure memory subsystem latency characteristics.  We have also fielded a number of questions as to how it works.  Here is a brief explanation.


Bandwidth and latency are integrally related and to suggest otherwise is misleading. For instance, in typical tasks that do not utilize streaming operations, bandwidth is limited by the latencies from a cache line request until when data starts arriving -- some chipsets increase effective bandwidth by speculatively prefetching data into local caches directly reducing these latencies. The Athlon XP's hardware prefetch mechanism increases bandwidth essentially the same way.

In our memory latency tests, we perform a simple and direct operation -- we copy random elements from a source 32-bit integer array to random elements of a target 32-bit integer array (it is important to choose random assignments to defeat stride prediction). After a certain number of assignments, we then increase the sizes of the datasets. As was our intention, this type of operation is probably close to worst case for systems that have latency problems.

Just as reducing latency helps increase bandwidth, increasing bandwidth can reduce practical latencies as in our MemLatency test.  In typical operations, data requests are gated by the time it takes to fill a cache line.  In the Athlon the cache line size is 64-bytes, while in the Pentium 4 the line size is 128-bytes (sectored) and the Pentium III's cache line is only 32-bytes long.  Increasing line size will help increase bandwidth because initial request latencies are directly reduced -- for streaming operations, the Pentium 4 only has to request data half as many times as the Athlon.


However, increasing line-size can increase latencies and reduce memory subsystem efficiency.  On any particular architecture, reducing the burst time -- the time to fill a cache line -- directly reduces access latencies.  This is most easily accomplished by increasing the bandwidth of the underlying memory.  DDR SDRAM has about twice the bandwidth of SDRAM and can therefore burst data to fill a line about twice as fast.


This dynamic is demonstrated in our recent tests of the Athlon XP where DDR SDRAM chipsets easily beat SDRAM chipsets on our MemLatency tests.


We are making version 0.5 of MemLatencyPlus available here for a limited time due to bandwidth costs to us.  We are aware of a few quirks in this beta such as the mislabeled title bar.  Please send us any other issues you encounter.


Full Text of bin Laden Interview

Transcription of the Dawn interview where the Saudi maintains that nuclear and chemical weapons are at his disposal: "I wish to declare that if America used chemical or nuclear weapons against us then we may retort with chemical and nuclear weapons. We have the weapons as a deterrent."

Pashtun Leader Claims to Still be in Afghanistan

Contradicts US statements of rescuing him.


Tajikistan Threatened by Afghan Retreat

Remote areas susceptible to destabilization.


Dawn: US Seeking to Divide Afghanistan, Fragment Pakistan

Recently making headlines reporting bin Laden's purported claim to control nuclear and chemical weapons, the same Pakistani newspaper has an article covering a professor asserting that the United States intends to divide both Afghanistan and Pakistan: "The most probable objectives of this New International Economic Order could be to get control over the Caspian Sea oil, imperialism and fragmenting countries into small geographical parts, like they tried to divide Iraq."


November 9th, 2001


bin Laden Threatens Nuclear/Chemical Retaliation

Dawn, a Pakistani newspaper, claims to have interviewed the Saudi-born mercenary.


Anthrax Hits Fayetteville?

Dear Lord, I hope not and it looks like a possible hoax.


VHJ Quoted at AMD Analyst Conference

A pleasant surprise.


the inquirer: Intel to Rush the 533 MHz FSB P4

The Intel Pentium 4 has fallen behind the AMD Athlon XP, and the Santa Clara company has encountered problems with Northwood causing the chip giant to postpone the 0.13 micron P4 shrink until next year.  Together with a dearth of 2GHz parts, Intel is in very poor shape to take on the Athlon XP until then.  However, Mad Mike Magee reports that Chipzilla is apparently intent on hurrying the release into Q2 of next year of both a 533MHz front-side bus P4 and a new P4-based "Celeron" economy chip.


Time To Upgrade: DDR SDRAM, Athlon XP Are Worth It

The Athlon XP paired with the VIA KT266A DDR SDRAM chipset deliver compelling performance advantages over Thunderbird/SDRAM platforms.  Surprisingly, the XP wrings life from the old KT133A platform as well.


Molecular Transistor

Bell Labs, the originator of the transistor in 1947, has created a transistor composed of a single molecule.


November 8th, 2001


Free Antivirus Software

We have been looking at two free antivirus software packages.  I have been using AVG Antivirus (only the English version is free) and it has a very nice interface while supporting heuristic algorithms, scans email and can automatically update itself.  Kathy has installed AntiVir which has an Internet update wizard to help combat the latest viruses.


Windows ME:  Double Cash Cow for Microsoft?

Joel questions the software sauropod's motivations for the OS everyone loves to hate.


November 7th, 2001


Ancient Tunnels Aid Taliban

Built around 300 B.C.


Kandahar Raid Finds More Criticism

Labeling the operation a "debacle," the article mirrors the recent New Yorker piece.  Meanwhile an Austrailian publication reported today that a US helicopter crashed in Pakistan Sunday after encountering Afghan fire.  MSNBC has a report that also mentions this incident.


MicronPC Announces Athlon XP nForce Systems

The $2,000 Millennia XP+ includes an Athlon XP 1900+, the nForce 420, 256MB DDR SDRAM, 100 GB ATA100 drive and more.


Two More P4 / XP Thermal Videos

Courtesy of "The Condor," here are two more videos, these coming from an Italian site, examining the worst case catastrophic thermal performance of the P4 and the Athlon XP.  These massive though entertaining files require DivX.


BBC: Bush, bin Laden and the Carlyle Group

FBI told to "back off" Saudis prior to the September attacks.  This RealMedia video will only be up a few more hours.  We removed the link since the file is no longer online.  We may have a transcription later.


LostCircuits: Review of the Athlon XP 1900+

"...there are reports of XP1900+ that potentially reach 1800 physical MHz."


Real-time Holography

"Help me, Obi-Wan!"  While perusing a news column, Spencer Kittelson came upon a link to a New York Times article describing a device claimed to deliver real-time 3D images.  Spencer writes:

Using a form of beam splitting projection, a Dallas company has developed the means to transmit full size "holographic" images. By using high speed data circuits and real time processing on both ends, a highly interactive, "real" telepresence experience can be had. Fittingly, the company name is Teleportec.

The New York Times piece requires a free registration.


OCWorkbench: Review of Iwill XP333

ALi MAGiK 1 C1-based motherboard supports a 333MHz FSB.  Most results are lukewarm, but gaming numbers look strong.  Beware the evil pop-ups on this site!


DigiTimes: i845G Integrated Chipset To Launch April, 2002

Debut accelerated from Q3, 2002.  The Taiwanese publication is also reporting that VIA boards are currently "delivering good gross margin" that is better than what is being maintained for comparable Intel i845-based products.


the inquirer: Linux Poised for a Spring Breakthrough

With controversial Windows XP as opposition, this is a possibility.


SocketA: nForce Review

Chris's test show that NVIDIA's chipset performs is roughly on par with the VIA KT266A.


November 6th, 2001


Arkansas QB Matt Jones Makes CNNSI Player of the Week

The speedy 6’6” true freshman led the Razorbacks to a 58-56 history setting seven-overtime victory against Ole Miss. The game will be replayed on ESPN Classic this Friday.


Phil's Take on AMD's Unprofitable 3rd Quarter

Phil Trent sends us this "AMD lost money in the third quarter. Will they lose money in the fourth quarter also?"


Press Release: VIA Unveils New Ultra-Compact Mini-iTX Mainboard Reference Design

Provides the smallest and most highly-integrated platform for building new generation of innovative small footprint Information Station and Information Server Appliance Designs.


How Can You Tell if an AGP Card / i845 Combo Will Destroy Each Other?

Use of certain AGP graphics cards with Intel i845/i850 based motherboards can potentially destroy both the video card and the motherboard.  A few days ago we demonstrated, with the help of Hercules, that the "Pin A2 Test" could not be used to determine which AGP cards were incompatible with these Intel-based motherboards.  Since electrical specs are rarely available for AGP cards, how can this incompatibility be determined?


According to Hercules, a few graphics cards have been developed with Vcc3.3 directly shorted to Vddq.  Before the introduction of AGP4X-only chipsets, this worked fine, but now, according to Hercules, this will lead to a 3.3V AGP signal across 1.5V tolerant circuitry resulting in a meltdown.


We are working on an article to show how to explicitly test for this condition and hope to have it up shortly.


The Inquirer: DDR-i845 Benchmarks Appear

But there are few tests and the numbers look off for the VIA and SiS chipsets.


The Inquirer: AMD Confirms the Palomino Uses Smaller Tech

But only in certain areas of the chip.  This is not an unusual practice. 


LostCircuits: K7T266 Pro2-RU Retake

Dr. Michael Schuette revisits MSI's KT266A Athlon/Duron motherboard and observes much better results.


November 5th, 2001


Crucial Technology Joins NASBA As Executive Sponsor

Leading memory upgrade supplier's sponsorship benefits system builders


AMD Pricing for the Athlon(tm) XP Processor 1900+

Here is AMD's processor pricing, including the new XP Processor 1900+.


Press Release: AMD Introduces The AMD Athlon(tm) XP Processor 1900+; Extends AMD'S Performance Leadership In Desktop PCs Platform

AMD's QuantiSpeed(tm) architecture delivers extreme performance for Microsoft® Windows® XP.


Reviews of the New AMD Athlon XP 1900+

Athlon XP 1900+ reviews: AMDZone, Amdmb.  Look for our review soon.


November 4th, 2001


Arkansas 58, Ole Miss 56 in Seven OTs

In the longest college football game ever, the Arkansas Razorbacks edged arch-rival Ole Miss 58 to 56 in seven overtimes.  Easily one of the most inspiring displays of courage, determination and character in the history of athletics, this might have been the best football game I have ever seen.  Although Mississippi's Eli Manning was spectacular and both teams played superlatively, Matt Jones, the Razorbacks 6'6" true freshman quarterback/reciever who runs a 4.4 second 40 yard dash, was perhaps the most exciting player to watch.  Unbelievably, the towering Fort Smith native runs as fast and elusively as a deer and can pass to boot.  Although I live in Austin, Arkansas will always be my home. Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt embodies many of the qualities I have come to recognize in Arkansans: honesty, compassion, focus, hard work ethic, passion, humility, courteousness, intelligence, courage, love of family and spiritual devotion.  Go Hogs!


November 3rd, 2001


More on the i845/i850 AGP Incompatibility Issue

We follow-up with important news about the "Pin A2" test.


November 2nd, 2001


Letter to the Editors of WSJ: Grotesque Ignorance

Spencer Kittelson sends us his letter to the editors of WSJ strongly refuting that publication’s assertions regarding Microsoft’s contributions to the Internet. Although we are publishing Spencer’s letter here, you can also view it on the Wall Street Journal subscription site.


The Inquirer: VIA C3 Versus Celeron Video Parody

With the heat and fury of the recent CPU cooler related videos, VIA has snuck out a tongue-in-cheek digi-film (without telling me first -- oh well) showing what happens when the heat sink is removed from an operational 800 MHz Celeron (a rapid crash, of course) versus the consequences from yanking the CPU cooler off a running 800 MHz C3 (Ezra) processor.  Remarkably, the C3 continues to run for over a day before the test is ended with the chip still running Quake III.  This is almost unbelievable.  I want to stress that it is not a good idea to subject your CPU to cooler-less conditions because high temperatures will shorten your chip's life.  Nevertheless, the C3 parody is an eye-opener.  You can grab the 7MB C3 video off of Mike's site.


November 1st, 2001


InQuest: Review of the VIA P4M266 Integrated Chipset

The VIA ProSavageDDR P4M266 is the first integrated core logic solution available for the Intel Pentium 4. The VIA product boasts such features as support for the new ATA133 hard drive interface that both increases maximum transfer rates while breaking through the 132GB size limitation. And yes, the chipset supports DDR SDRAM which should help boost performance of the integrated graphics controller. The P4M266 looks like another promising product from VIA who has produced a number of impressive chipsets lately.


THG Heatsink Video Played at Intel

A reader sends us this interesting note.

About the same time the THG heatsink video came out, probably a week or two later, I went to an Intel meeting where they actually played this video. Wouldn't you assume that they would have to pay him for the rights to run this? I may be wrong but it seemed like he may have done this for some kickback from them...


Study: Prayer Helps Heart Patients Recover

From the BBC News, patients who were prayed for had fewer complications.


Press Release: VIA Launches the VIA ProSavageDDR P4M266, the First Integrated Graphics Chipset for the Intel® Pentium® 4 Processor Platform

Delivering the powerful performance of the Intel Pentium 4 processor combined with fast DDR266 SDRAM and effective AGP 8X bandwidth graphics at ultra-competitive price points.


The Inquirer: Bug in Intel's Itanium?

May explain short supply.


Florida Oil Refinery Sprayed

Unidentified airplane sprays "mysterious substance" on a Hernando County, Florida oil refinery.


Satire: Big Brother Requiring Windows XP

It would be funny if there was not so much truth in it.  Thanks for the link, Spencer.


NewScientist: Windows XP Cracked?

Apparently WPA has been circumvented.  With Windows XP being so expensive and invasive, piracy is likely to boom.  It is likely that Linux will gain momentum from consumer backlash.  In the meantime, Mike Magee has a piece up reporting that Win2k out performs WinXP except in dual-CPU configurations.



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