June 29th, 2002


Please Pray for Amber

Mario sends us this.  Thank you, friend.


IBM Class Action Suit

Two readers have sent us this filing regarding IBM's notorious hard drive failure issues.


June 28th, 2002


Please Pray for Amber

My two-year-old great niece Amber has leukemia.  As we posted here before, she was scheduled to have a bone marrow transplant.  However her cancer had to be driven into remission first.  While attempting to do so, Amber's doctors exposed her to an experimental chemotherapy medication that has severely damaged her heart. 

The damage is so severe that the doctors have told Amber's parents that she has less than a week to live.  Please pray for this innocent young girl's recovery.  Please pray for a miracle.


June 27th, 2002


Intel and Yamhill and x86-64

Xbit Labs has produced a very interesting commentary regarding Intel’s Yamhill strategy in light of recent denials from an executive at the chipmaker.  As we have reported before, according to our sources Microsoft is very interested in fielding a 64-bit desktop OS.  Anna’s reasoning underscores compelling motivations for the software giant to work towards this goal.


Untrusted Microsoft

Spencer comments on Matt Loney's article at ZDNET.


Impossible Structure

Spencer writes, "If you look carefully at this odd 5 story structure you may note that it appears to be impossible - none of the rigid tubes support each other.  This is an example of  a "tensegrity structure". Similar principles apply to the external structure of our cells and thus they are of unique interest to scientists."


June 26th, 2002


Prescott is Out

Intel's next-generation Pentium 4 has reached silicon and includes x86-64 support.  Based on 90-nm technology, our sources have confirmed that the Santa Clara-based chipmaker has working Prescott silicon, and despite recent denials by Intel’s COO Paul Otellini, the design includes AMD Hammer-like 64-bit instruction set extensions known by the codename “Yamhill.”


The chip should be able to scale to over 4 GHz and is strategically crucial for the CPU giant to counter rival AMD’s highly anticipated “Hammer” line of 64-bit processors.  Hammer should debut late this year.


In related news, while Prescott will be aimed at the high-end desktop and server markets, Intel continues to work quietly on another pure 32-bit product codenamed “Tejas.”  This consumer desktop chip is a collaboration between Texas and Folsom-based Intel design teams and includes enhancements for media decoding.  Perhaps the biggest news about Tejas is that it will feature a true instruction L1-cache and a larger data L1-cache reportedly 32 kB in size.  The cache improvements should serve to provide a slight boost to IPC (instructions per clock-cycle).


Finally, the Hammer’s memory controller issue we reported yesterday has been characterized as a “to be expected” early bug that will be relatively trivial to correct prior to the December launch.


[Ed: We published this story first on our message boards earlier today.]



Spencer writes, "In case you haven't figured it out yet, Verisign, Network Solutions and Thawte are all peas in the same ugly pod.  The abusive control over TLD's that has been promulgated for years should have come to and end long ago.  This web site provides some background links and solutions.  Pass the information on to everyone that uses a domain name and security certs."


The Future of Hard Disk Storage

Spencer writes, "By patterning the magnetic media it is likely that future disk based storage will exceed 100Gbit per square cm.  That would put a laptop size drive into the terabyte capacity range."


June 25th, 2002


AMD to Change Hammer Memory Controller?

Enthusiast site AMDZone has published a link to the Taiwanese publication DigiTimes which claims that Advanced Micro Devices is currently reworking the Hammer’s integrated memory controller.  The DigiTimes article maintains that this change will delay the launch of the highly anticipated 64-bit CPU from October to December.  AMD publicly disclosed several months ago that Hammer will debut in December, so the publication’s characterization of a December launch date as late seems somewhat dubious.


However, according to our sources, there have been a few complaints by chipset vendors regarding difficulty designing Hammer integrated video solutions.  Some core logic designers seem to be having trouble when current Hammer samples enter “deep sleep” power saving modes.  Apparently the integrated Hammer memory controller goes to sleep along with the rest of the CPU denying memory access to integrated graphics solutions.  Enhancing arbitration between the Hammer memory controller and integrated graphics solutions when the CPU enters and exits power saving states might be one of the issues being refined by AMD if the DigiTimes article is accurate.


June 24th, 2002


A Funny Thing Happened On the Way To The Future

Nils adds perspective to Intel's P4 and PIII designs, AMD's  push to the future, Lindows and more.


June 23rd, 2002


Fat People Pay Twice to Fly on Southwest

Southwest Airlines' euphemistically dubbed "Passengers of Size" rule requires people who can't get both armrests down or who need seatbelt extensions to pay for a second seat.  According to David Stempler, president of the Air Travelers Association, corpulent passengers "are really impinging on the sense of fairness" and deserve the extra costs.


The People of Size policy will be enforced in the boarding stage when the budget airline, which does not assign seating, passes out its new paper boarding passes.  Like an amusement park, perhaps the Dallas-based Southwest will deploy wooden cutout figures of cartoon characters to cull out its fleshier revenue opportunities.  Or maybe a large, smiling, animatronic Porky Pig will greet passengers with a hug and congratulate those whom his reach can't span.  "Pa-de-bada-da-pada-deee, congratulations!  Paa-daa-beee, you get to ride under our new, paaa-daaa, People of Size policy where you get to enjoy two seats for the whole flight!"


In related news, the Federation of Airline Travelers' committee for Back, Urinary Track, and Testicular wellness has endorsed the new "Snug-Fit" airlines seat which will ensure a safer flight for the majority of healthy air travelers.  By providing more support in cases of violent lateral motions, the new seats also promote improved circulation to the head and neck regions in order to increase awareness during emergencies. 


By reducing the average width of the typical budget airline seat from 18.75 inches to a more comfortable 14.1-inches, the new Snug-Fit seats and the accompanying 40% more intimate Snug-Fit seatbelts are championed by experts who say the new guidelines will provide much greater protection for the vast majority of healthy on-the-go budget travelers.  "Severe third-degree subluxation of the lumbar vertebrae" is usually the result from airline passengers who "sit in seats that are just too big for them" says FAT-BUTT committee chiropractor, Shill Offsky.  In today's press release the Dallas-based group lauds Southwest Airlines "for its vision in becoming the first airline to adopt the new 'Snug-Fit' safety guidelines."


Responding to questions from obesity groups that the new seats will make it impossible for larger air travelers to fly on the airline, a Southwest representative disclosed that each plane will retain a number of legacy 18.5" seats to be used by "Passengers of Size."  However, since the larger seats are much less safe than the state-of-the-art Snug-Fit design and require twice as much headroom and legroom, the airline will have to continue to charge double-fare for Passengers of Size tickets.


[Ed: FAT-BUTT is a spoof.]


June 22nd, 2002


It’s the Oil, Stupid!

Terry sends us this piece by Joseph Clifford.


Hammer Boards Sited at Akiba

Courtesy of Cynic.


June 21st, 2002


Wal-Mart to Sell Mandrake-Based PCs

Mario writes, "Newsforge reported last week that Lindows.com had secured a deal to supply its Lindows operating system to retail giant Wal-Mart, which would install this version of Linux on to its bottom dollar Microtel desktop PCs. Newsforge now reports that Mandrake has almost closed a similar deal for its version of the Open Source software. This competition will help Wal-Mart to keep its Open Source software costs at rock bottom, something that Windows-based PC vendors seriously lack. Currently, Wal-Mart's cheapest Lindows-based PC is Duron powered and retails for only $299. Its unlimited access Wal-Mart Connect ISP service is also rock bottom at only $9.94 per month. Wal-Mart also sells a range of Microtel PCs without an operating system. Newsforge reviewed the 1 GHz Duron model with various distributions of Linux. The reviewer noted that Mandrake Linux was easier to install than Windows ME.     

"Wal-Mart has certainly been bold in making these Open Source and no OS strategic decisions. One wonders how successful these ventures will turn out to be. Hopefully, Wal-Mart's far-reaching decisions will kick-start the migration onto the Penguin's desktop bandwagon. This must have Microsoft and its partners who sell Windows-based PCs seriously concerned. At the other end of the spectrum, businesses and individuals who are exasperated at the extra cost they have to incur to use Windows may now see this as an opportunity to reduce their costs. Wal-Mart has to be commended for bringing more choice and more value to the PC buying consumer. Let's hope that others have the courage and vision to follow."


Web Watch

Albatron GeForce4 MX440 Review, ATI FireGL8800, ATI A3/FIC AT31 Fusion First Look, Slotbus Guide, Air Cooling: Rocket Science or Common Sense?,  RAID Seagate Barracuda ATA IV Comparison, Linux Meets VPC, VIA "Eden" 800MHz Review and much more.


June 20th, 2002


Intel To Dump Yamhill?

Van reports on news that Intel's Paul Otellini renounces hammer support.


Silicon Quantum Computer and Organic Memory...FAST! and Laser Lithography Makes Cheaper Chips

WickerBill sends us these links.


June 18th, 2002


What to Make of Anomalous Thoroughbred Overclocking Results

Van follows-up on last week's report over the storm of controversy surrounding an enthusiast sites' claim of successfully overclocking the new Athlon XP2200+ Thoroughbred core by 360MHz.  This deviation was so great from the results announced by all other sites that there was widespread skepticism that the claims were legitimate.


Web Watch

ASUS makes mobile phones, Budget Workstation Article, Samsung PC2700, Ezonics i330 Digital Camera and more.


June 16th, 2002


Rocket Guy

Phil Trent corresponds with Brian Walker who is building a rocket to travel 30 miles up, orbit the earth a bit and parachute to the ground.  His fuel is 90% hydrogen peroxide, which reacts with a silver catalyst and expands to six times its volume.


Web Watch

Longshine ADSL Router Review, Sony D-CJ01 MP3 Discman Review, Radeon 8500 Giveaway, TDK S80 2.1 Speaker System Review, Neon-String Keyboard Mod and more.


June 15th, 2002


Web Watch

Wireless Logitech Mouse Mod,  ABIT MEDIAXP Review, VIA P4X333 SMP-Capable ???, How To Fry A TBred and more.


June 14th, 2002


Wal-Mart Selling Lindows-Based Computers

Gigantic retailer Wal-Mart is now offering computers based upon the new Linux-derived operating system controversially dubbed "Lindows," a product name that was the unsuccessful target of Microsoft's legal ire.  Marketed as an OS that delivers the best of both the Linux ("Lin") and Windows ("dows") worlds, Lindows is essentially a customized Linux distribution with a well-tweaked version of Wine, a widely distributed Windows emulation package.


With the enormous weight of the gargantuan Arkansas-based retailer behind it, this could provide a successful kick-start for the fledgling operating system.  Capable of running such stalwart Microsoft packages as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and even Internet Explorer, Lindows might get the chance to prove to a critical mass of people that Microsoft's Windows operating systems are simply not needed.


Wal-Mart is delivering Lindows in Microtel PCs.  One particularly good deal is an Athlon XP 1800+ based system with 256MB DDR SDRAM, 40GB HD, 10/100 NIC, modem and more for $499.


June 13th, 2002


More Comment on Hammer

Mario writes, "Slashdot has a near 500 comment thread on the first benchmarks of AMD's Hammer. Naturally their was some skeptical comment, but the replies were very informative.


"This thread also had a link to an interesting article by Bryan J. Smith about how AMD and its partners are putting x86 back on the right track."


Spy TV

Spencer writes, "As incredible as it may seem, our manned and unmanned spy aircraft over the Balkans have been cross linking their signals via a commercial television relay satellite in unencrypted form.  This makes the signals available to anyone with a regular receiver and for months now it has been possible to view them.  Some have been linked directly to the internet so they can be seen from anywhere in the world.  Unbelievable!"


June 12th, 2002


Web Watch

Several contests, Space tourism, Caffinated soap, Review of Inno3d GF4 Ti4400 and GF4 Ti4600, Soyo Radeon 8500 Review, Solar Power Mouse, Reflection Article, Palm m515 PDA Review, Jazz 9940 5.1 Sound System and much more.


June 11th, 2002


Bogus Thoroughbred Overclocking Claims?

Michael Morelock points out that an anomalous overclocking report from an AMD-centric hardware site has ignited fractious arguments within the hardware community over whether or not the claims are bogus.


CPUs obtained from the same wafer have maximum clock-speeds that asymptotically approach an overall maximum.  From the (admittedly small) sample size that I have seen for the Athlon XP 2200+ review parts (including mine), this asymptote appears to be around 2GHz.  This suggests that it is unlikely to see any XP 2200+’s exceed this speed if they were all taken from the same wafer (or similarly prepared wafers) and subjected to the same qualification criteria.  (It is possible to have multiple recipes on the same wafer, but this is rarely done except for experimentation.)


As I described yesterday, I believe that the Thoroughbreds distributed to reviewers were produced with a recipe intended for mobile products.  This would greatly encumber overclocking efforts and introduce a low and hard ceiling for maximum clock-speeds.


However, with little effort AMD should be able to change the process recipe to improve transistor switching speeds.  I fully expect the Thoroughbred core to be capable of speeds as high as 2.3-2.5GHz if AMD aggressively pursues “clock” for this chip.  For marketing reasons, this may never occur.


AMDMB claims to have obtained a successful Thoroughbred overclock of 360 MHz to 2.16 GHz.  If the site's Athlon XP sample was similar to all of the other review chips in the manner described above, then this feat is highly unlikely.  The small sample size, of course, remains a caveat.


If this one CPU came from a different batch of chips cooked with a faster process recipe, then 2.16 GHz is easily possible.  Although the faster chip might be delivered with a new stepping, a new stepping is almost certainly unnecessary to increase clock-speed to this degree.


Web Watch

More Athlon XP 2200+ Reviews, Soyo Radeon 8500LE-D Video Card Review, Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, Picking the Right 35mm SLR and more.


June 10th, 2002


AMD Launches Thoroughbred

AMD's Athlon XP 2200+ debuts today.  Codenamed "Thoroughbred," this chip brings AMD's 0.13-micron process to the desktop for the first time. 


Over the last few weeks, I have been overseeing verification of a critical project and have had no spare time for our review.  I apologize and will finish the article at first opportunity. 


However, I have noticed a very large number of misconceptions in reviews today regarding the "low potential headroom" of AMD's 0.13-micron Athlon XP.  It is clear that AMD is currently using a process skew emphasizing higher yields and lower power dissipation, apparently to produce large numbers of mobile chips.  This is logical since mobile parts command higher ASPs.  Such a mobile-friendly process skew would result in a slower transistor and reduced maximum clock-speeds.


Faster transistors have shorter gate lengths and are therefore leakier (consuming power when doing nothing at all).  That AMD is using a slower transistor is demonstrated by typical current in Stop Grant, which is less than one-third of that leaked by the Intel Pentium 4 Northwood core in this sleep mode (the P4-Northwood wastes an amazing 18A when the chip is doing nothing!).  This makes the Thoroughbred a much better mobile part, but higher clock-speeds will likely have to wait until AMD remixes its recipe for faster transistors.


The World's Best Mice

Nils Dahl on mice, Microsoft, Linux, AMD and Casio watches.


More Reader Comments on Aluminum Computer Cases


Web Watch

Athlon XP 2200+ Reviews, Enermax CS-5190AL-061 Case (Review), Computex Taipei 2002 Full Report, Aqua Cooling kit (Review) amd more.


June 8th, 2002


Web Watch

Jeantech JN424 ATX Midi Tower Review, Leadtek Winfast A250 Ultra TD Review, Belkin Wireless Networking Solutions, Computex Coverage and more.


June 7th, 2002


Creating Micro-Blackholes

Yousuf Khan writes, "Here's an interesting article about creating micro-blackholes in a lab."


Explosive ClawHammer Performance

Mario writes:

"An update to yesterday's story. tecchannel in Germany has been courteous to those who don't speak German and has posted yesterday's first benchmarks of Hammer's performance in English.


The community at Ace's Hardware has been quick to offer their extensive in-depth thought and analysis as to what this means for AMD's next generation product. Comment can be read here, here, here, and here. VHJ's community comments can be read here."


What's a Military Family Worth?

Tim Sullivan sends us this.


June 6th, 2002


Web Watch: Reaction to Cooler Master Case Review

Bill Brier has this to say about this recent review at blargoc.co.uk:






  • Aluminum is a great light material.
  • Removable motherboard tray.
  • Front USB ports.
  • Keeps hardware nice and cool.
  • Thumb screws.
  • Build




  • Couldn't reach the back of my FDD.
  • Only supplied with 3 5.25' bay covers.
  • Top exhaust fans needs to blow more

The one "con" missed in this review was that aluminum has almost no EMI shielding capability.  Any PC built with an aluminum case would violate FCC radiation regulations (the PC wouldn't even make class A) and would probably irritate close-by neighbors with herringbones on the TV screen, whining in the radio, etc.

UPDATE: Brian points out that the review claims the case has full EMI protection although how this is provided is not described.


Web Watch

Find Out How Much Heat Your CPU Really Generates, Thermalright AX-7 HSF Review,

GeForce4 Ti4200 From nVidia, MSI KT3-Ultra, Leadtek WinFast TV 2000 XP and more.


ClawHammer Performance: Explosive

Mario writes, "tecchannel in Germany has released ClawHammer benchmarks at 800MHz that prove to be explosive. These Quake 3 benchmarks show ClawHammer knocking out 183 fps, which is one more than a 1600 MHz Willamette P4. One other interesting statistic, ClawHammer is able to produce 41% or 53 fps more than an Athlon MP clocked at the same frequency. These numbers are out of this world. The WCPUID shows ClawHammer as supporting SSE2 but only having 256 KB of level two cache. If ClawHammer is able to scale this performance as the frequency is ramped, AMD's next generation Athlon will wipe the floor with Intel's P4. It will be a quantum leap in performance. I can now understand why AMD fixed the multiplier to avoid everyone getting too exited about the performance of AMD's next generation produtct. These benchmarks have only added fuel to the fire. The forums will be very busy this evening.  


Solar Eclipse on 10-Jun-2002

Spencer writes:

An annular eclipse (not quite complete coverage of the sun when perfectly centered) will occur on June 10th, 2002. The moon will be near its farthest orbital distance from earth so its apparent size will be insufficient to fully block the sun. Still, since the time of the eclipse will be very near sunset for much of the U.S. it will make for interesting viewing. Most of us will only see 10%-20% coverage at high lattitudes but southerners may see as much as 70% coverage. Here's a good web site for information.

Be sure to click the "What you'll see" map to get an idea of when and where the eclipse will maximum and how it will look near sunset. Those in Texas will get the best views by far with Houston or San Antonio excellent locations.

Also, and MOST IMPORTANT, safety first!!! Use proper viewing techniques - Safety info is in the article. Be SURE to read it.


More Open Source Bashing

Mario writes:

Newsforge interviewed Ken Brown, the author of a white paper that says Open Source software makes government computer systems susceptible to terrorist attack, and exposed him as just another "paid" apologist for the proprietary software industry. Grant Gross conducted the interview and gave the following classic analogy that Brown could not authoritatively reply to. Which house would you burglarize?

Let's pretend you and I are burglars, I tell him. We're considering breaking into two houses. We have the blueprint for the first house, let's call it the Open Source house. We know how the house is laid out, we know where the doors are, but we also know that there are locks on the windows, there are dead-bolt locks on all the doors, there's a burglar alarm installed, there are two 100-pound Rottweilers living inside, and the owner keeps a loaded double-barrel shotgun somewhere in the house. Let's call the second house the Microsoft house. We don't have a blueprint, but we know the owner doesn't have locks on the windows, has no dogs, guns, or burglar alarm, and tends to leave the back door unlocked.

Enough said.


June 5th, 2002


Web Watch

WinTasks Pro Review,  IWill P4R-533N Review, VisionTek Xtasy GeForce 4 Ti 4600, MegaMite Northbridge Cooler, possibly the coolest remote controlled vehicle ever and runaway missiles sliding around on aircraft carriers, The Black Edge, Flow Rates & Radiator Comparison Article and more.


Gil Russell: The Mother of All DRAM Shortages Just Ahead?

Chip industry guru Gil Russell sees the potential for "the mother of all shortages" looming ahead later this year for the DRAM business.


Surprise Hammer Launch in August?

...and just in time for school.  Mark sends us information from a Digitimes article:

New 8th-generation (K8) processors from Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) may hit the market at the end of August, instead of the scheduled October, industry sources said. Following the schedule, K8 motherboards would be available after mid-August. However, AMD has not confirmed the information.

For the record, AMD has stated that Hammer will debut in December.


June 4th, 2002


Hexus.net: 1GHz VIA C3 Review

The little chip reaches the gigahertz level.


Vacuum Tube Motherboard

Mike Uchima is taken aback by AOpen's seemingly anachronistic amalgam of technologies.  The main board targets high-end audiophiles with onboard vacuum tube audio output.


Clawhammer Motherboard: Part Two

Joel Bruesch informs us that MSI has changed its published specs.

In the specifications that Milo and John make reference to, MSI now writes "CPU Frequency: support high frequency".  Looks like AMD is really trying to crack down on performance speculation.


Web Watch

ABIT AT7 Review, Coverage of Computex, Logitech Wingman Cordless Review and more.


June 3rd, 2002


Web Watch

Waitec Storm 32x CD-RW, Cooler Master ATC-710-GX2 Case (Review), New Hardware Site, Shuttle AK35GT2R KT333 Motherboard Review and more.


New Thinking on Supercomputers

Spencer writes, "We all like to see brute power advances in computing technology but we don't have to pay the electric bill for state-of-the-art systems. This article (via Science Daily) references a system at Lawrence Livermore that uses 240 Transmeta CPU's running at a lowly 667 MHz yet still provides a 160Gops performance rate.  The engineers are starting to take TCO into account in building these systems where the cost of energy and support staff can make such supercomputers real black holes for precious research dollars.  A salient quote from the article, 'Green Destiny, whose processors operate roughly one-tenth as hot as market-leading chips, has been running continuously since September without air filtration or special cooling. In fact, it kept humming even with the fans removed.'"


DHMO Alert

Spencer writes, "From GMSV comes this site link warning us of the dangers of DHMO."

Piracy Proof Recording Format

Spencer writes, "Also from GMSV is this link describing a new piracy proof recording format.  Teens who have tried to crack it have been left puzzled and frustrated."


June 2nd, 2002


Clawhammer Motherboard

Milo and John send in this link.  To navigate through MSI's irritating Flash-driven Computex 2002 Online Exhibition, first cursor over the central cylindrical building to cause it to explode.  Then left-click on the lower section of the exploded view after "AMD Platform" is visible.  After the next screen loads, click on the rightmost motherboard labeled "K8A Gem MS-6589."


The K8A-Gem appears to be a low-end-to-midlevel main board built on the AMD 8151 / 8111 chipset.  The page's CPU frequency bullet is interesting since the listed "1.6 GHz" is somewhat low.  However given the great similarity between the Hammer and Thoroughbred designs, it is probably safe to believe that right out of the gate Hammer will reach at least the same clockspeeds as did its predecessor.  Of course, Hammer should ultimately ramp to higher speeds thanks to its reworked pipeline.


John also points out that Gigabyte has apparently claimed to be able to overclock the Thoroughbred 2200+ core to an incredible 2.6-2.7 GHz using their "Easy Tune 4" overclocking utility.  Although the author of the news bite maintains that this is actual frequency of the CPU (and not a model number), the cooling method is not known.


June 1st, 2002


XboxHacker.net: Tapping the Xbox HyperTransport

Our affiliate, XboxHacker.net, has a post from "bunnie" on how to tap into the Xbox's HyperTransport interlink to successfully snoop for the secret Xbox boot code.  Andrew "bunnie" Huang is an MIT doctoral candidate who achieved a level of notoriety after Microsoft "requested" that he take down the Xbox's FLASH ROM contents from his website.  Huang has written a detailed white paper discussing "the hardware foundations of the cryptosystem employed by the Xbox."


In related news, XboxHacker.net's  Dan Johnson was quoted in a recent Yahoo! News article regarding the appearance of the "Xtender," an Xbox mod chip that disables the game console's copy protection features.


A final interesting aside, the Xbox apparently contains a 1 Farad 2.5 Volt Aerogel capacitor to temporarily power the system's clock in case of an outage.  Aerogel, or "Solid Smoke," is an exotic material billed as the world's least dense solid.



Pssst!  Our Donation Page is up.