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 Gameguru Mania News - Feb,01 2006 - tech 
Video Shootout: ATI vs. Nvidia - tech
(hx) 07:12 AM EST - Feb,01 2006 - Post a comment / read (6)
ExtremeTech take a look at the quality and performance of video with the latest generation of Nvidia and ATI cards. They look at CPU utilization with a variety of source material and describe some of their subjective and objective quality observations:
Clearly, ATI offers better video support in their latest graphics cards than Nvidia does. They dominate the HQV benchmark tests, offer much lower CPU utilization for DVD playback, and offer solutions for acceleration H.264 and DivX (though one requires a specific codec and the other a specific player). In really tough video scenarios, like those with odd cadence patterns or noisy DVDs, ATI delivers better quality. Their de-interlacing algorithms seem just a little bit better, too.

This is the rub: Most users will never run into those situations. The vast majority of users only ever encounter reasonably well-made DVDs that only require 3:2 pulldown or none at all, and have no interlaced images. Odds are, most computer users will only very rarely run into a situation where the visual quality between ATI and Nvidia's latest graphics cards is different enough to notice, and that's if you stick your nose up to the screen and start to scrutinize the video very closely. Users that have TV tuners in their PC will certainly appreciate the good de-interlacing and noise reduction in the Radeon X1000 series of cards.
 Gameguru Mania News - Jan,31 2006 - tech
Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 Preview - tech
(hx`) 01:28 PM EST - Jan,31 2006 - Post a comment
Just now Microsoft released Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 Preview (local US mirror ~ 11.7MB) for Windows XP SP2 to the web. Dubbed "Public Preview" the release includes tabbed browsing, page zoom, tab groups, RSS support and improved printing support.  This release is Beta 2 Preview and so not Beta 2, which should be released about the same time as Vista Beta 2 is released somewhere in April. Microsoft is expected to deliver the final version of Internet Explorer 7 at the end of the year alongside Windows Vista.
Warning: Evaluation of Internet Explorer 7 should start now, but the software should not be used on production systems in mission-critical environments. Internet Explorer 7 Beta 2 Preview will only run on Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2) systems, but will ultimately be available for Windows Vista, Windows XP Professional x64 Edition, and Windows Server 2003.
ATI's All-In-Wonder X1900 - tech
(hx) 06:38 AM EST - Jan,31 2006 - Post a comment / read (1)
The AIW X1900 puts in a strong showing here, edging out the 7800 GTX
TechReport take an in-depth look at ATI's All-In-Wonder X1900. This card is based on the Radeon X1900 GPU, but it runs at different clock speeds (500MHz for the GPU and 480MHz /or 960MHz DDR/) than the familiar Radeon X1900 models XT and XTX, so its performance will be quite a bit different:
The value proposition for the All-In-Wonder X1900 is quite good, all things considered. The card's performance in 3D graphics matches up well against NVIDIA's GeForce 7800 GTX, and the GTX is currently selling at online retailers for about $489. At $499 list, the AIW X1900 looks like a steal by comparison. The only reason I can think to buy the GTX instead is if you hope to upgrade in the future to a multi-GPU config; the GTX can do SLI, but the AIW X1900 can't participate in the ATI's CrossFire scheme. Beyond that, all of signs point to the All-In-Wonder X1900 as the smarter choice. Not only can the AIW pump out fluid 3D graphics and gaming at high resolutions for that price, but it also packs a TV tuner, all manner of video input and display options, a programmable RF remote control, and software to tie it all together. These extras and the video card would almost certainly cost more if they were purchased separately (although that's a very theoretical argument until ATI delivers a less expensive version of the Radeon X1900.)

The AIW 1900 also moves the overall AIW concept ahead with the addition of ATI's latest GPU, the incorporation of the Remote Wonder Plus with its superior button layout and Windows Media Center mappings, and the inclusion of Adobe's Premiere Elements and Photoshop Elements. All of these things represent progress for a product line that's totally unique and has very little competition from NVIDIA or anyone else.

Yet I can't escape the impression that the AIW X1900 isn't all that it could-and should-be. ATI's Multimedia Center is dreadful compared to Windows MCE or even Snapstream's Beyond TV. The EazyLook interface desperately needs more work, especially more integration with the program guide, before any AIW product can bill itself as truly suitable for the living room. Even then, the AIW X1900 probably shouldn't be pitched as an HTPC-type solution. With current games, this big, hot GPU is overkill for any common TV resolution except maybe 1080p, and its cooler makes too much noise for the living room. We might be willing to overlook those things if the AIW X1900 had hardware-assisted MPEG2 encoding, but it doesn't. Add in the bugs we found in the Remote Wonder software and the Media Center encoder, and the AIW X1900 just doesn't make sense outside of a more traditional desktop PC.
Nikon CoolPix P1 Wi-Fi Compact Camera - tech
(hx) 06:14 AM EST - Jan,31 2006 - Post a comment
Trusted Reviews take a look at Nikon CoolPix P1 Wi-Fi Compact Camera, the first digital compact camera that features wireless LAN, (Wi-Fi) connectivity straight out of the box. It is designed to connect to any computer, printer or other device equipped with a wireless network adapter, enabling you to download or print your pictures without having to either remove the memory card or plug in any cables.
Of course the wireless ability is just icing on a very tasty cake; even without it the P1 would be a superb camera by any standard. The weather this past week hasn't been exactly conducive to high-quality photography, with grey overcast clouds and lots of rain, but the P1 has still managed to produce some outstanding shots, with bright rich colours, plenty of fine detail from that big 8.0 megapixel sensor. The exposure metering is absolutely perfect, capturing the subtleties of the light early on a frosty morning better than many semi-pro cameras that I've tried. A close-range wide-angle shot revealed some barrel distortion at the shortest end of the zoom range, but just stepping back a few feet and zooming in slightly eliminated this effect. Noise control at 50 and 100 ISO is superb, with clean images at both lower speeds. There was some problem with noise at 200 and 400 ISO, but it wasn't too bad.

Even without the wireless technology, the P1 would be an outstandingly good camera, although it does make it a little expensive compared to other cameras at this end of the market, such as the Olympus mju 800 or the Canon IXUS 55. The wireless connectivity is certainly more than a novelty, and it can match anything else in its class for picture quality.
 Gameguru Mania News - Jan,30 2006 - tech
Logitech Bluetooth MX5000 Laser Desktop - tech
(hx) 03:47 PM EST - Jan,30 2006 - Post a comment
ByteSector takes a look at Logitech Bluetooth MX5000 Laser Desktop suit powered by Bluetooth wireless technology. Here's a slice:
Logitech has put together an exceptional package with the MX5000 Laser Desktop. Using Bluetooth 2.0, Logitech has united their classic MX1000 Laser mouse with a brand new MX5000 keyboard sporting a touch sensitive panel and a dot matrix display. The MX1000 comes with a built-in battery pack and a charging station with a small footprint. The use of Bluetooth in this package also allows other Bluetooth devices to connect to your computer through the included Bluetooth receiver. I was thoroughly impressed by Logitech's unique approach to designing the MX5000 keyboard and found it to be above and beyond the competition in every regard.

The MX5000 Laser Desktop has an MSRP of $230 CAD (approximately $200 USD) but can be found for as little as $150 CAD (approximately $130 USD). This is definitely something that is worth the investment if you're looking for comfort, functionality and the latest cool gadgets in one complete package.
CPU Performance Test Procedure 2005 - tech
(hx) 03:23 PM EST - Jan,30 2006 - Post a comment
The chaps over at Digit-Life have compared performance of forty (forty!) processors from the two leading manufacturers. Here's a taster:
For your information, fps shown on the diagram is a geometric mean of fps in four different games: Far Cry, DOOM 3, Painkiller, and Unreal Tournament 2004. For this article we decided to use the diagram with the total score for 800x600 and average quality settings, as our shootout includes quite a lot of low-end CPUs. Besides, here we use testbeds with different video cards, one of which is noticeably weaker than the other. So theoretically, a relatively low resolution and an easy graphics quality mode should smooth differences in video performance and bring CPU performance to the foreground. You can easily see that top three places are taken by AMD processors only. That's not surprising, as we all know preferences of modern games. Top ten game results deal a final blow to NetBurst: there are only three processors from Intel in top ten, two of them being... Pentium M! Only the top Pentium 4 eXtreme Edition managed to break through to Place 8(!).

The ten bottom positions are a coup de grace: eight processors from Intel, including all Celeron models tested, and just two AMD Semprons, both for the outdated Socket A (they were tested with a less powerful video card than, for example, Celeron D xxxJ). Thus, the situation in games is so straightforward that it requires no wordy comments. In this very comparison, it would have been very difficult to change the layout of forces, even by adjusting test software: if you read reviews from other independent test labs, you'll understand that AMD processors are leading in practically all modern games, not only in those included into our test procedure.
 Gameguru Mania News - Jan,29 2006 - tech
ATI Radeon X1900 CrossFire Performance - tech
(hx) 06:57 AM EST - Jan,29 2006 - Post a comment / read (5)
The chaps over at FiringSquad take a look at the performance of ATI's Radeon X1900 CrossFire solution. With 96 pixel shaders and 1GB of combined RAM in an X1900 CrossFire system, you can imagine that it's quite a performer:
ATI's new Radeon X1900 CrossFire solution is the most exciting CrossFire platform we've seen yet. Performance scaled particularly well in Call of Duty 2 at 1600x1200, as well as Half-Life 2 Lost Coast with HDR at 2048x1535, where performance was up by a factor of 1.5. We have a strong feeling that the numbers will only go up with a faster CPU, as a card as powerful as the Radeon X1900 XTX finds itself CPU-bound in a lot of cases all by itself, let alone once you combine two cards together to run in CrossFire mode.

But this is where ATI's Super AA mode kicks in. In cases where you're being held back by the speed of your processor, simply turn on Super AA to experience nearly jaggie-free visuals. As you saw in the benchmarks, ATI's 8x Super AA mode comes with a very minimal performance hit at lower resolutions, and even delivers playable performance at resolutions as high as 1600x1200 in Half-Life 2 Lost Coast. Even ATI's 14x AA mode performs well. NVIDIA's GeForce 7800 graphics cards don't scale nearly as well at the higher AA modes. NVIDIA's 8xAA mode delivers very fluid performance at lower resolutions, but by 1600x1200 the SLI cards are tapped out. Even the mighty GeForce 7800 GTX 512MB, with its super high-end 850MHz GDDR3 memory doesn't have the bandwidth to game adequately at these resolutions with 8xAA, while the 16x mode runs like a slideshow at hi-res.

The compatibility question is stil up in the air. You saw how Radeon X1900 CrossFire performed with IL-2. Considering how new the platform is, we wouldn't be surprised if this were the case for a lot of obscure titles. The problem is that ATI's only had enough time to build in CrossFire support for a limited number of games, the rest haven't been optimized yet. NVIDIA provides built-in tools in their driver that allows SLI card owners to add SLI support to games that haven't been optimized by NVIDIA directly for SLI. Unfortunately at this time, ATI doesn't provide this for CrossFire owners -- either it works or it doesn't. This is a limitation of CrossFire that ATI needs to address quickly, as many gamers will not want to wait for a driver that may or may not come to add CrossFire to their favorite games. As one of the readers in our comments put it "With crossfire all you can do is turn it on or off, nothing more. You can sit and pray that the game runs faster, and if it doesn´t, live with it and wait for the next driver..."
Microsoft driver bug saps Core Duo power - tech
(hx) 06:10 AM EST - Jan,29 2006 - Post a comment / read (1)
Connect any USB 2.0 device to your notebook and lose more than one hour of battery time! Tom's Hardware Guide's tests of a Windows-based Intel Core Duo mobile processor platform revealed a serious power consumption issue that, according to Intel, is caused by a Microsoft driver bug - a bug that has been known by Microsoft for some time, but kept from the public eye until today.
The issue, according to Microsoft, concerns the asynchronous scheduler component - a part of the USB 2.0 driver that determines when devices can access local memory. With the revision to that driver implemented in Windows XP Service Pack 2, the scheduler can inadvertently be left running. As a result, Windows' internal task scheduler (a separate item) treats the asynchronous scheduler as a running process involving the attached device, and thus stops itself from ever giving the processor the signal to power down, or power lower - to slip into one of its ACPI sleep states. Because the scheduler is running, Windows thinks the system is continually busy. As a result, the computer can use more battery power.

While Microsoft's Knowledge Base article is conclusive and states that the current ACPI driver is a "known problem," we are still scratching our heads why only our Core Duo/945-based platform provoked the error and not the Sonoma or the AMD/ATI Radeon platforms

According to Myers, Intel has asked Microsoft "to fix the registry to make the problem go away." In the meantime, he said, Intel is working to fix the issue by itself: "We are doing additional work on our end to see if there is anything we can do to overcome the same challenge Microsoft is having," Myers said.

If the patch can be as simple as a modification to the registry, the question arises why Microsoft hasn't issued a registry patch. We were not able to reach Microsoft representatives to answer this question and Myers said that he was unsure why the problem has not been fixed so far. "Battery life of Napa is a big deal for us. Microsoft said it is investigating and looking into this issue."

 Gameguru Mania News - Jan,28 2006 - tech
ATI X1900 hits image quality snag in 3DMark06 - tech
(hx) 07:32 AM EST - Jan,28 2006 - Post a comment / read (3)
Radeon X1900 XTX
GeForce 7800 GTX 512
TechReport discovered a problem with Radeon X1900 cards in 3DMark06. They grabbed some screenshots that clearly capture the problem. First, the Firefly Forest scene on the GeForce 7800 GTX 512 looks like so. Note especially the glow of the green light on the forest floor. Now, look at the same frame as rendered by the Radeon X1900 XTX.
They also contacted ATI and they confirmed that were able to duplicate it themselves. Pixel shader programs are compiled in the graphics driver, of course, so ATI should be able to fix the problem with a driver update, and that's exactly what they expect to do.
 Gameguru Mania News - Jan,27 2006 - tech
The AMD-Ferrari collaboration - tech
(hx) 03:38 PM EST - Jan,27 2006 - Post a comment
The chaps over at Bit-Tech take a look at the AMD-Ferrari collaboration:
Crucial to the team's success is the Opteron processor. Why? Because so much of the car's design and engineering relies on high-powered computing systems. AMD is being used for:

- Telemetry: During every race and practice session, data from the onboard computers are sent back from the car to the pit garage. This data needs to be crunched and analysed very quickly so that the engineers can extract race-defining information. Pit stop strategies, tyre decisions and fuel loads are all based on computer simulations of the race extrapolated from telemetry data.

- Car design: The precision required to design every millimetre of the car obviously requires a high-powered CAD/CAM programme running on a meaty workstation.

- Wind tunnel: Crucial to the speed of the car is the aerodynamics of the wings and the body shape. To test this, the team uses a wind tunnel and then records how the air flows over the car. By recording the airflow, they can work out how to make the car sleeker. This data recording is called Computational Fluid Dynamics, or CFD for short.

AMD is involved in all these areas. Opteron machines populate the pit garage, and AMD's pair of technicians are always visible hunched over machines on race day. When it comes to design, Opteron-based workstations run the sophisticated software required. Wind tunnel data is analysed in a new state of the art facility built especially for the purpose, populated with a mammoth 400-node cluster of dual-core Opteron machines.

The software running in the data centre is called Fluent, which is the leader in CFD analysis. With the help of AMD, it's been written to take advantage of the extra memory allowed by the 64-bit processors that AMD has. AMD has also been able to significantly up Ferrari's computing performance over the last year. Just as many of you will have upgraded to a dual core AMD processor, merely flashing the BIOS to enable the extra functionality, Ferrari has done exactly the same thing - times 400. Because Fluent is a threaded application from the ground up, dropping in effectively another 400 processors literally doubles performance. That's a pretty cool real world application of the technology.
Itanium gets $10 billion commitment - tech
(hx) 03:28 PM EST - Jan,27 2006 - Post a comment
A group of Itanium backers, including Intel, HP, Unisys, Silicon Graphics, NEC, Fujitsu, and Hitachi, have pledged to spend $10 billion through 2010 to try to increase adoption of the Itanium processor. The companies said Thursday that they will spend the money on research and development, marketing, and work to help software companies support the high-end processor. Intel recently revealed that it will drop 32-bit emulation hardware from future Itanium processors, including upcoming dual-core Montecito chips. 32-bit apps will still be supported through software emulation. (thanks TechReport)
Asus EN7800GT Top Silent graphics card - tech
(hx) 12:36 PM EST - Jan,27 2006 - Post a comment / read (1)
Trusted Reviews take a look at Asus EN7800GT Top Silent graphics card. The GPU is only modestly overclocked at 420MHz, but the memory - which coincidentally happens to be 1.6ns compared to 2.0ns on most 7800GT cards - is clocked at 1.24GHz, that's 240MHz over stock speeds.
As you might already have guessed from the specifications the EN7800GT Top Silent this is a rather fast card. It might not compare to the GTX's or the latest X1900 cards, but then again neither of those are passively cooled. 131.2fps in Doom 3 at 1,024 x 768 is in itself quite impressive but the EN7800GT Top Silent scores 107.78fps in Half Life 2 and 102.8fps in Far Cry at the same resolution. Asus has definitely managed to squeeze a lot of performance out of this card.

It's only in F.E.A.R. that it doesn't manage to break the 100fps barrier, but this is an extremely demanding game. Considering that the EN7800GT Top Silent was tested using an AMD FX-57 processor and 2GB of Corsair XMS Xpert PC3500 memory, you might not hit these numbers on your PC. I doubt most people would be disappointed with the performance of the EN7800GT Top Silent regardless of their computer.
US Army to Test New Electronic Ignition Weapons - tech
(hx) 07:29 AM EST - Jan,27 2006 - Post a comment
Metal Storm Area Denial Weapon System (ADWS)
The US Army will begin thorough tests on more Metal Storm weaponry in early February. The tests will serve as demonstrations of Metal Storm's electronically ignited, high rate of fire small and heavy arms.
Metal Storm's technology revolves around the principle of using electronically ignited ammunition stacked along a barrel. The traditional magazine is replaced by rows of ammunition in the barrel that are fired in sequence. There is no delay while another projectile is chambered, so the electronic ignition can fire the next round immediately after the previous one. The extremely high rate of fire makes Metal Storm weapons likely candidates for defense against other high speed projectiles, such as mortars. The Area Denial Weapon System (featured right) may be the US Army's solution to destroying enemy mortars in the sky.
 Gameguru Mania News - Jan,26 2006 - tech
Torvalds: No GPL 3 for Linux - tech
(hx) 07:18 PM EST - Jan,26 2006 - Post a comment
Linus Torvalds said Wednesday that he won't convert Linux to version 3 of the General Public License, as he objects to digital rights management provisions in the proposed update. Torvalds founded the Linux project in 1991, the same year the current GPL version 2 was released, and is still its leader.
Torvalds specifically objected to one new provision in the GPL 3 draft that opposes digital rights management, which is technology that uses encryption to control the use of content and running of software. "I think it's insane to require people to make their private signing keys available, for example. I wouldn't do it," he said.
OK, so it appears Linus has decided that Linux will not be converted over to GPL v3. In my opinion, converting offers basically no major advantage anyway. GPL v2 is just as good as GPL v3 for the purposes of Linux. There doesn't seem to be any kind of compelling advantage... What's your opinion?
 Gameguru Mania News - Jan,25 2006 - tech
Nightly Reading - New Audigy Drivers - tech
(hx) 09:45 PM EST - Jan,25 2006 - Post a comment

SECURITY...

  • Microsoft Security Bulletin Summary for January 2006 (Updated) - Microsoft has updated the Security Bulletin Summary for January 2006.
  • Netscape 8.1 takes aim at spyware - Netscape 8.1 offers (download) built-in spyware and adware protection that scans files that Web users try to download as well as those that are sent to them without their interaction. The updated browser will also let consumers run complete memory and disk scans. Other security features include an updated blacklist of potential phishing sites and a security center people can access to see if they need to take action on their computer.
  • Zone Labs says its firewall is no spy - Zone Labs claims the communications detected by Infoworld boffin James Borck between its Zone Alarm Firewall and a bunch of remote servers are benign.
  • Cisco Aironet Wireless Access Points DoS  - A vulnerability has been identified in Cisco Aironet Wireless Access Points (AP) running IOS, which may be exploited by remote attackers to cause a denial of service. This flaw is due to an error in the management interface that does not properly handle spoofed ARP (Address Resolution Protocol) messages, which could be exploited by an attacker who has successfully associated with a vulnerable device to exhaust all available memory resources and cause a denial of service.
  • Editing tips from the NSA - The 13-page paper (PDF) is called: "Redacting with confidence: How to safely publish sanitized reports converted from Word to PDF."

CRIME/LAW...

  • Major Piracy Bust Against Top Providers - At approximately 10 AM yesterday, local police in a wide spread coordinated effort raided over 300 homes and offices associated with top warez providers. The raids took place in Germany, Austria, Holland, Poland and the Czech Republic. According to GVU (translated to German Federation Against Copyright Theft), over 30 individuals were arrested in the raids.
  • 'Rent-a-Zombie' Ringleader Pleads Guilty - A man who leased networks of infected computers to criminals to carry out denial of service and spam attacks has pleaded guilty and could receive six years in jail. Twenty-year old Jeanson James Ancheta of California faces felony charges after making $61,000 from renting the infected machines and infecting US military computer systems. After his sentencing on May 1st he stands to lose his BMW and more than $58,000 in addition to jail time.
  • MPAA is accused of piracy for unauthorised copying of a movie - The Motion Picture Assn. of America, the leader in the global fight against movie piracy, is being accused of unlawfully making a bootleg copy of a documentary that takes a critical look at the MPAA's film ratings system.
  • US Tops Spam List - Q4 of 2005, the US was the source of 24.5 percent of reported spam, with China coming in second at 22.3 percent. While still coming in third, South Korea's spam output dropped dramatically, down to 9.7.
  • Google launches censored China site - Google Inc. launched a search engine in China on Wednesday that censors material about human rights, Tibet and other topics sensitive to Beijing - defending the move as a trade-off granting Chinese greater access to other information.

OFF-TOPIC

  • Eye Scan Technology Comes to Schools - Parents who want to pick up their kids at school in one New Jersey district now can submit to iris scans, as the technology that helps keep our nation's airports and hotels safe begins to make its way further into American lives.
  • Scientists Discover World's Smallest Fish  - Yahoo news is reporting that scientists have found the world's smallest fish in Thailand. It wins the prize by 0.1 mm, being 7.9 mm in length.
  • Scientists solve puzzle of flu virus replication - Scientists have solved the genetic puzzle of how influenza A viruses--including the H5N1 bird flu--replicate inside cells, which could help to speed up the development of new drugs to avert a pandemic.
  • New Gravity Theory Dispenses with Dark Matter - According to New Scientist, a theory of modified gravity, which has no need of dark matter, has just explained why the Pioneer 10 probe is 400,000 miles off its expected course as it leaves the solar system. It sounds pretty convincing, although in dispensing with dark matter, they've had to utilize the theoretical particle, called a graviton, which appears from the vacuum of space wherever stars are densely packed, making gravity stronger. (thanks Slashdot.org)
  • Microsoft bans best Xbox 360 Video ad ever - Heard about the Xbox 360 advertisement that Microsoft is refusing to air?

TECHNOLOGY...

  • Microsoft: "Xbox Support to Continue Through 2006" - Rumours circulating the Internet suggesting that Microsoft has ceased manufacturing of its Xbox console and shifted its focus entirely towards its next-generation machine have been dismissed by the company.
  • Disney Acquires Pixar - It is official: Pixar has been sold to Disney. Steve Jobs will join the Disney board, and John Lasseter is now Disney's Chief Creative Officer.
  • Microsoft opens up Windows source code - Microsoft's general counsel Brad Smith today announced that the software giant is offering to license its Windows Server source code in a bid to end its long-running antitrust battle with the European Union. The company is making this "voluntary move" in order to address all the issues raised by the European Commission.
  • Windows Vista Build 5270 impressions - We were quite surprised by the amount of disk space the installer required. It needs a minimum of 8GB+ of free disk space, which goes on to show Microsoft's capitalization of cheap storage.
  • Microsoft Office 12 will be Office 2007 - Now with Office Online Beta the name Office 2007 appears again, so we can expect to launch as Office 2007.
  • 14% of Internet Uses iTunes - According to the BBC, Statistics gathered by Nielsen NetRatings shows that traffic to Apple's iTunes Music Store grew by 241 percent in 2005.
  • Intel Says 45nm Process On Track - Intel has created test chips made using the 45nm fabrication process and expects to see processors, flash memory, and other products based on the technology available in the second half of 2007, according to director of process architecture and integration Mike Bohr.
  • Intel ships 1m 65nm dual-core chips - Intel has shipped more than one million 65nm dual-core processors, the chip giant announced today. That figure comprises all the Core Duo chips, 'Presler' Pentium D 9xx parts and the Pentium Extreme Edition 955 that have gone out to makers of notebook and desktop PCs, not to mention the products Apple's using in its latest iMac and upcoming MacBook Pro.
  • MSI ships GeForce 7300 GS - MSI has reportedly begun volume shipments of its GeForce 7300 GS graphics card. It's unclear when the cards will actually be available in North America, but they're expected to sell for around $110.
  • Nokia develops crime-buster handset - Nokia is seeking a US patent for a mobile phone feature allowing users to summon help at the touch of a button. An alarm is triggered by pushing two buttons on either side of the phone. The handset then speed dials an emergency centre while recording pictures and sounds of the surrounding events for transmission to a pre-arranged location. GPS technology integrated into the phone automatically keeps track of the victim's location.

HARDWARE... 

GUIDES...

  • Setting Up a Portable Office on a USB Drive - To do this all the things you will need are: a USB flash drive (practically any size) and a few minutes. When you get to your destination you will simply need a Windows computer, something which can be found in almost any library, office, hotel, or internet cafe any in the world.
  • Running high VDIMM & low VCORE you risk to killing your Athlon 64 CPU - check it out

SOFTWARE...

  • The Netscape Browser 8.1 - download
  • Damn Small Linux 2.2 RC1 - DSL (download) is a very versatile 50MB mini desktop oriented Linux distribution.
  • Winamp 5.2 build 359 Beta - WinAmp supports playback of many audio (MP3, OGG, AAC, WAV, MOD, XM, S3M, IT, MIDI, etc) and video types (AVI,ASF,MPEG,NSV)...
  • AM-DeadLink 2.8 Beta 1 - AM-DeadLink (downloads) detects dead links and duplicates in your Browser Bookmarks. If a Bookmark has become unavailable you can verify it in the internal preview and delete it from your Browser. Additionally you can download FavIcons for all your Favorites and Bookmarks.
  • Blender 2.41 - Blender, the open source software for 3D modeling, animation, rendering, post-production, interactive creation and playback.
  • GAIM 2.0.0 Beta 2 - Gaim (download) is a multi-protocol instant messaging client for Linux, BSD, MacOS X, and Windows. It is compatible with AIM (Oscar and TOC protocols), ICQ, MSN Messenger, Yahoo, IRC, Jabber, Gadu-Gadu, and Zephyr networks
  • DC++ 0.6811 - DC++ (download) is an open source C++ client for the Direct Connect protocol. Direct Connect allows you to share files over the Internet without restrictions or limits.
  • Skype 2.0.0.76 - Skype (download) uses P2P (peer-to-peer) technology to connect you to other users. Not to share files, but to talk with them for free.
  • ATITool 0.25 Beta 12 - ATITool is an overclocking utility designed for ATI and Nvidia video cards
  • XTreme-G 83.20.v2 - This set started out as a Laptop driver from ASUS with International language files and has been modded into the latest XTreme-G modded Forceware driver.
  • [!] Creative Sound Blaster Audigy, Audigy 2 and Audigy 4 series Driver 02.08.0004  - Creative has released new Soundblaster drivers for its family of sound cards (Audigy series). Download: Driver v.2.08.0004 for Sound Blaster Audigy, Audigy 2 and Audigy 4 (34.26MB) / Creative MediaSource DVD v.2.00.75 for Audigy 2 and Audigy 4 (20.3MB)
Gigabyte's i-RAM storage device - tech
(hx) 05:28 AM EST - Jan,25 2006 - Post a comment / read (4)
Gigabyte's i-RAM storage card is no doubt one of the more innovative products that I've seen in months. With the ability to hold up to 4gb in data using up to 4 sticks of standard DDR memory, the i-RAM plugs into a standard PCI slot and uses a Serial ATA interface to transfer data!
Since it relies on volatile memory chips for storage, the i-RAM will lose data if the power is cut. Fortunately, the card can draw enough juice from a motherboard's PCI slot to keep its four DIMM slots powered, even when the system is turned off. The system does have to be plugged in and its power supply turned on, though. To allow users to unplug their systems for periods of time and to protect against data loss due to a power failure, Gigabyte also equips the i-RAM with a rechargeable lithium ion battery that packs 1600 milliamp-hours of power. The battery charges while the system is plugged in, and according to Gigabyte, it can keep four 1GB DIMMs powered for more than ten hours. Battery life will vary depending on the i-RAM's memory module configuration, though. It's probably a good thing to back up anything you actually store on the drive, just in case.

To be honest, we didn't actually expect Gigabyte to turn the i-RAM into an actual end-user product, much less make it available in North America. But they have, and at $150 online, the i-RAM is actually pretty affordable, all things considered. With the price of 1GB DDR modules is hovering around $80, it's possible to build a 4GB i-RAM drive for under $500. That's a horrific cost per gigabyte for a hard drive or RAID array, but it's pretty good for a solid-state storage device with this kind of performance.

Of course, the i-RAM isn't without limitations. Performance is undoubtedly constrained by the 150MB/s Serial ATA interface, and I shudder to think how much faster the i-RAM could be if it supported 300MB/s transfer rates. Size is an issue, as well. With only four DIMM slots and no support for 2GB modules, the i-RAM hits a capacity ceiling at 4GB. That might be enough storage for certain applications, but it leaves us wanting more. We'd gladly accept a double-wide design if it allowed for a greater number of DIMM slots and a larger overall capacity. As it stands, you'll have to rig up multiple i-RAM drives in RAID to breach the 4GB barrier.
 Gameguru Mania News - Jan,24 2006 - tech
ATI Radeon X1900XTX 512MB impressions - tech
(hx) 09:53 AM EST - Jan,24 2006 - Post a comment / read (7)
Half Life 2 is the first benchmark where we start to see huge performance increases for the X1900XTX. At the higher resolution the X1900XTX is a massive 84% quicker than the X1800XT and the X1900XTX is only just behind the dual X1800XT Crossfire configuration.
The chaps over at TweakTown have tested the most high-end card - ATI Radeon X1900XTX 512MB. The X1900XTX comes with default clock speeds of 650MHz on the core and 775MHz (1550MHz DDR) on the memory which seems to be yielding well for ATI and comes with a total of 512MB of memory. The memory used (K4J52324QC-BJ11) on the XTX version of the X1900 series is very fast (and expensive) GDDR-3 memory from Samsung at 1.1ns which operates at 2.0 volts. That means it is capable of running at 900MHz or 1800MHz DDR - which is of course, extremely fast. Here's a taster:
After a full day of testing the ATI Radeon X1900XTX graphics cards at the Gigabyte offices here in Taiwan, we are pretty happy with the performance numbers we see from ATI's newest GPU. In our benchmarks we saw increases from 13% all the way up to 84% over the previous generation X1800XT which is fairly impressive. As expected, the X1800XT Crossfire setup still manages to win every benchmark but that's because it is two GPU versus one. What we can all look forward to though is X1900XTX Crossfire which should offer some really serious performance, whenever ATI choose to release a master card version of the X1900 series.

If you've just bought a new X1800XT graphics card, should you upgrade to the newest from ATI? If you have plenty of money to spend and demand the best 3D gaming performance for your computer, then yes. Although, unless you are playing games at a resolution of 1600 x 1200 or above (with all the settings turned up), you won't start to see the performance advancements of the X1900XTX. Sure, we see the X1900XTX doing a good job of beating the X1800XT at the lower resolution but in most of the real-world game tests we don't see much of an improvement until the resolution is increased.

Sadly we couldn't compare the X1900XTX against the GeForce 7800GTX 512 but from what we can tell the new ATI GPU will be able to perform quite well against the GTX 512. The real question is, how will the X1900XTX perform against nVidia's upcoming G71 GPU which is due to be released in March of this year. And the second most important question is supply by ATI, especially at launch. ATI have been criticized over the past while for not having any product available at launch but from what we've heard this time around, ATI has well and truly heard the cries and moans from their customers and end-users and you should be able to buy the X1900XTX and X1900XT from today, the launch day!
Prices for the X1900 chip are, as one might expect, very high with the high end Radeon X1900 XTX having a suggested price of $649 and the slightly lower end Radeon X1900 XT having a suggested price of $549. The dual Radeon X1900 Crossfire has a price of $599 and the All-In-Wonder X1900 has a price of $499.

Another reviews can be found on Beyond3D, Digit-Life, Guru3D, HardOCP PC Perspective, Hexus.net and Tech Report.
InterVideo H.264 Codec accelerates hi-def decoding - tech
(hx) 07:48 AM EST - Jan,24 2006 - Post a comment
InterVideo announced today that its H.264 Codec now supports the new NVIDIA PureVideo H.264 decode acceleration available on GeForce 6 and 7 Series graphics processors from NVIDIA.
H.264 is the digital video codec specified for the Blu-ray (BD) and High-definition DVD (HD DVD) formats. The H.264 specification, which is also known as the Advanced Video Codec (AVC) specification or MPEG 4-Part 10, delivers two to three times the compression efficiency of solutions such as the MPEG-2 standard, which is used in DVD video. H.264 also delivers high-definition video with six times the resolution of standard definition DVDs.

InterVideo's H.264 codec technology leverages highly advanced algorithms to deliver superior quality and performance on today's personal computers. One of the key new features is the ability to divide the decoding tasks among several hardware cores and hardware threads on both the CPU and the GPU. Using traditional single thread decoding techniques, H.264 with high definition would not be feasible on today's personal computers because much of the overall processing power is unused. InterVideo's H.264 codec partitions the decoding tasks through algorithm and data decomposition into multiple threads to use all the processing power of the dual core and hyper threading technologies from Intel and AMD CPUs, as well as the GPU acceleration from NVIDIA graphics hardware.
ATI RADEON X1800 XT CrossFire Edition - tech
(hx) 06:10 AM EST - Jan,24 2006 - Post a comment / read (2)
The GeForce 7800 GTX SLI platform boasts a total of 48 pixel pipelines, but its memory is slower than the graphics memory subsystem of the RADEON X1800 XT CrossFire, which also has efficient memory controllers into the bargain. This is why ATI's solution takes the lead in 1280x1024 resolution, leaving the others far behind, and then yields over 70fps in 1600x1200. Both the multi-GPU subsystems perform close to their theoretical maximums, NVIDIA's SLI being as high as 100% efficient in 1600x1200!
X-Bit Labs take an in-depth look at ATI RADEON X1800 XT CrossFire Edition:
It's only in one game, in the 3D shooter Project: Snowblind, that the multi-GPU rendering mode brought about a negative performance gain, and not only with CrossFire but also with SLI. It means that the problem must be in the game rather than in these two technologies. In the majority of applications we have observed a performance growth ranging from 10-20% in F.E.A.R. (probably due to some problems with SuperTiling) to 80-90% in other games. In three more games the speed proved to be limited by the CPU performance despite our using full-screen antialiasing. We were also pleased with excellent stability of the CrossFire platform which never hung up and never produced any image artifacts during our tests. This is another sign of maturity, we guess. ATI CrossFire does work now and it works quite well.

So ATI now offers a working alternative to NVIDIA's SLI, but how appealing this product is? The recommended price of the RADEON X1800 XT CrossFire Edition being $599, the combined cost of the corresponding CrossFire platform will be $1200 - without the mainboard and power supply. This is not too much in comparison with the cost of two GeForce 7800 GTX, which is about $1000. Multi-GPU systems are assembled to make high resolutions with turned-on full-screen antialiasing and anisotropic filtering playable and the RADEON X1800 XT CrossFire looks preferable to the GeForce 7800 GTX SLI in almost all the games we've used in this review. The Super AA 14x mode is available most of the time, while SLI AA 16x, although it does ensure a noticeably higher antialiasing quality, is such a difficult algorithm that the performance of the SLI platform sinks below playable level in nearly every game. Moreover, the RADEON X1800 architecture allows using FSAA and HDR simultaneously, while the GeForce 7 architecture does not.
Panasonic Oxyride Extreme Power - tech
(hx) 05:51 AM EST - Jan,24 2006 - Post a comment
The new Oxyride Extreme Power batteries (product page), according to Panasonic spokesperson Lindsay Singler, deliver 20 percent more power than the current generation and will ship this spring in AA and AAA packs. They are already available in Japan, where reportedly they've been a hit.
The next generation of Oxyride batteries, according to a Panasonic press release, "combine newly adapted cathode materials (nickel oxyhydroxide and newly-developed manganese dioxide and graphite) with advanced vacuum pouring technology that allows the volume of electrolyte in the battery to be increased, leading to a higher voltage of 1.7 volts."

This higher voltage, said Singler, provides for the overall increase in battery life. She explained that, in an independent lab test conducted across major battery brands and their life span in regards to the number of photos taken on a digital camera, the new Oxyrides came out on top.

"They did comparisons of Oxyrides with Duracell and Energizer," said Singler. "The Duracell Coppertop came out at 71 shots, the current Oxyride was 153 and the new and improved one 187."
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