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Wednesday, November 26th, 1997
Comdex: DVD Players, Windows CE Handhelds And Clik Drives!
Comdex/Fall, the giant trade show in Las Vegas drew a crowd of 220,000 people and 2,100 companies. Most people who attended Comdex find the whole experience overwhelming and tiring with so many things to see. With so many new and exciting technologies vying for peoples attention, it is sometimes hard to predict what new technological trends among the huge number offered will reign supreme in the coming years. A number of attendees were polled as to what were their favorites seen at the show. Handheld computers from some manufacturers running the latest version of Windows CE 2.0 caught the eye of many showgoers and also many new DVD players was found to be exciting. The new Clik! drive from Iomega, the makers of the Zip drive, stood out as one of the new exciting technologies to emerge from this show.
 
Tuesday, November 25th, 1997
AMD Shows Off The K6 3D 300/100 At Comdex
The AMD K6 3D chip was running at 300 MHz with a 100 MHz socket 7 Bus on a AMD motherboard. It was performing 30 percent faster than a Intel Pentium II 300 while running 3D Winbench 97. This chip was shown to a small group of people in a back room and was not shown to the general public. The current AMD K6 chips are manufactured in 0.35 microns, but the AMD K6 3D will be manufactured in 0.25 microns. This will reduce the die size from 162 mm2 to 68 mm2 which will allow the chips to be manufactured much more cheaply. New features added to the K6: 
  • 24 new instructions to accelerate 3D graphics, audio and other multimedia
  • Superscalar MMX unit with dual decode and dual execution pipelines
  • 100 MHz local Bus 
The new instructions will be taken advantage of by Microsoft's Direct 3D version 6.0 due out next year. This chip is due in March 1998.
 
Monday, November 24th, 1997
'Highlander' Shown At Comdex Behind Closed Doors
The second generation PowerVR technology 'Highlander' was shown at Comdex on Tuesday, November 19th, 1997 behind closed doors to a group of about 15 people. This was a private presentation and no public announcement were made. Videologic response is 'no comment', to anyone who asks about 'Highlander'. A lot of attention was shown to Voodoo 2  at Comdex and it is possible that Videologic/NEC did not want to compete with the Voodoo 2 on attention. It has been reported that the 'Highlander' is not as powerful as the Voodoo 2 in the polygon department but it more powerful in other areas. Does that mean it has a fill rate greater then 90 mpps? Time will tell. It also has been reported that 'Highlander' is only one of a series of chips based on the 2nd generation PowerVR. Unfortunately it is 'no comment' for now on 'Highlander', but we here at Saturn 2 Technical Pages expect a public announcement from Videologic/NEC within a month.
 
Friday, November 21st, 1997
PowerVR Direct Goes Live
Here is a site where can buy PowerVR game titles online. Prices are in $US dollars and $UK pounds. This site has descriptions and screenshots of all the games listed. Links are also present to other PowerVR sites. Here is the URL to this site: http://www.powervrdirect.com
 
Thursday, November 20th, 1997
Creative Delivers Sound Blaster PCI Audio
Creative Labs, Inc. introduces the EMU8008 advanced PCI audio processor. The EMU8008 is an advanced PCI audio processor designed specifically for the OEM market. It provides a complete digital audio solution designed with E-mu-based professional audio technology and the AC97 Codec interface in a 144-pin SQFP. Both the EMU8008 and the Sound Blaster AWE64D solutions provide complete Sound Blaster® 16 compatibility through Creative's new SB-LINK™. They also offer advanced wave-table synthesis with 64-voice polyphony, true E-mu 3D Positional Audio™ and a unique memory management system with a predictive caching system for uncompromised, high quality audio performance. Here is the press release.
 
Wednesday, November 19th, 1997
Hitachi To Ship SH-4 Microprocessor In January
Hitachi Ltd. announced that it will start sample shipments in January 1998 of the SH-4 SH7750 series microprocessor. Sample shipments of the 200MHz (Model No. HD6417750BP200) and the 167 MHz (Model No. HD6417750F167) will begin at the same time. The 200 MHz version will come in a 256-pin ball grid array (BGA) and will have a 64-bit bus that will allow the transfer of data at 800 MBytes/second. The 167 MHz version will come in a 208-pin quad flat package (QFP) and will have a 32-bit bus that will allow the transfer of data at 334 MBytes/second. The 200 Mhz version will perform at a rate of 360 mips sustained and 1.4 billion floating-point operations per second (GFLOPS) maximum, 900 MFLOPS sustained.  Pricing for the 200 MHz version in 10,000 unit quantities is 4,000 yen (US$31.70) and the 167 MHz version in 10,000 unit quantities is 3,000 yen (US$23.80). The microchip will be manufactured in Hitachi's advanced CMOS process technology. It will operate internally at 1.8 V and have 3.3 V external interfaces. The maximum power consumption will be 1.5 Watts of heat, negating the need for a fan to keep the chip cool. A company press release is available here. Lets hope that Sega will use the 200 MHz version of this chip as opposed to the 167 MHz version for the Saturn 2.
 
Tuesday, November 18th, 1997
KOEI PowerVR Game Enigma
A game from KOEI CO, Ltd of Japan for the PowerVR. This game looks alot like a Resident Evil type game with beautiful visuals. Not much is known about this game at this time but you can visit this Japanese web site to see sample screen shots of the game and character screen shots. Since the Saturn 2 will most likely use the PowerVR, we could see this game on the Saturn 2.
 
Monday, November 17th, 1997
"Unreal" To PowerVR
NEC and VideoLogic today announced "Unreal" from Epic MegaGames Inc., the most anticipated title in 3D game history, will join the PowerVR ready program when it ships in early 1998. Other titles coming to PowerVR will be Turok the Dinosaur Hunter, Quake II, Hexen II, SiN, Tomb Raider II, FIFA, Road to World Cup 98, Actua Soccer 2, Resident Evil, Ultim@te Race Pro, Jedi Knights, Dark Forces 2, Shipwreckers, Messiah and NHL Powerplay 98. All these games will make easy ports to the Saturn 2 because they will be using the PowerSGL Direct API.
 
Friday, November 14th, 1997
Clik!: Iomega Introduces 40 MByte Match Book Size Media
This new drive called Clik! from Iomega allows devices such as Laptops, Digital Cameras, Personal Digital Assistants (PDA), and Smart Phones to have unlimited removable storage. Iomega has received endorsements from industry leaders such as Kodak, HP, Hitachi, Microsoft, Polaroid, Motorola, Matsushita, Citizen and Texas Instruments. The drive will have a sustained transfer rate of 700 KB/sec avg. and 1000 KB/sec max. The drive dimensions is roughly 4 inches wide, 2 inches deep and a quarter of an inch high. Talk about tiny! High reliability enables this drive to withstand a shock of 100g while operating and has a MTBF of 100,000 hours. The drive is designed to be extremely power-efficient; uses intelligent power management. The disk media estimated shelf life is 10 years. The clik! drives will be available at retail for a suggested price under $200 (U.S.) and the clik! disks will be available for suggested retail price of $9.95 (U.S.). The drive unfortunately is not due till the 2nd Quarter of 98.
 
Thursday, November 13th, 1997
Hyundai Develops Fast SLDRAM Test Chip 
November 5, 1997 (SEOUL) -- Hyundai Electronics Industries Co., Ltd. developed a synclink SLDRAM test microchip that can process data four times faster than conventional synchronous DRAMs. Hyundai said it has been developing SLDRAM chips through a consortium that includes Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., NEC Corp. and Mitsubishi Electric Corp. The company explained that SLDRAMs and Rambus DRAMs are emerging as next-generation memory chips that will resolve the speed-gap problem between high-speed microprocessors and existing slower DRAMs. Hyundai claims that its SLDRAM costs less to make than a Rambus DRAM. The company also can keep costs low by using its current packaging facilities.  SLDRAM chips are smaller than conventional DRAMs and consume less power. Also, SLDRAM producers won't need to pay royalties for manufacturing technology, the company said. Its test chip has a data transfer speed of 400MHz, but Hyundai said the performance could be increased to 800 MHz. Hyundai's SLDRAM test chip operates at twice the speed of double-data-rate (DDR) synchronous DRAMs. SLDRAMs will be used as main memory devices for desktop PCs, notebook computers and workstations. Commercial production of SLDRAMs will likely begin in 1999, the company said. 
 
Wednesday, November 12th, 1997
Canon Develops Large-Capacity Magneto-Optical Disk
Canon Inc. has developed a magneto-optical disk that features eight times the capacity of a DVD-RAM, a rewritable digital video disk for personal computers, a company official said. At 12 cm, the optical disk is the same size as a DVD, but is capable of recording 22 Gigabytes of data - equivalent to a 10-hour motion picture. Canon plans to start commercial production of the disks by 2000. Because the optical disk works with laser technology used to read data in existing optical and digital video disks, the cost of designing a player for the disks would be minimal, the official said. Canon's product will compete with a 14-30 Gigabyte optical disk Sanyo Electric Co. and Hitachi Maxell Ltd. are jointly developing. 
 
Tuesday, November 11th, 1997
VM Labs Massive Parallel Multimedia Processor
VM Labs is working on a console system that has the financial backing of a large Corporation the size of Sony. Is is rumored that Motorola is the financial backer. Jeff Minter of Tempest 2000 fame is working on a game for this new system. Jeff has indicated that this is by far the most powerful system he has heard of. Jeff's web site. There are currently some development kits in the hands of a few select developers. Formal announcements and specs are expected soon. This system might give some very stiff competition to the Saturn 2 and Playstation 2. Bill Rehbock formally of Atari and just now formally of Sony Entertainment where he was head of R&D started work at VM Labs on Nov. 3rd, 97, said this about the technology being developed at VM Labs   "The guys at VM Labs waited to approach me until they had something to show me so that I would have an easy decision to make. Needless to say they knocked my socks off." Bill left his former employer Sony on the previous Friday based on what he saw and heard at VM Labs.
 
Monday, November 10th, 1997
Home Entertainment Systems To Be Developed
Hitachi & VLSI Technology, Inc. will work together to design a home entertainment system. Microsoft's Windows CE operating system will be the centerpiece of this new category of consumer electronics. VLSI technology will develop a system-on-a-chip that will use Hitachi's SH-4 processor. More details will be announced at the CES show in January. This system will most likely include a DVD player. Systems based on this technology will be available for the Christmas season of  98. This type of technology will add some competition against game consoles like the Saturn 2. Here is the news article from TechWeb.
 
Friday, November 7th, 1997
"Highlander" PowerVR to be shown at Comdex 
Comdex is later this month and Videologic along with NEC is going to be showing the "Highlander" or PMX chip as it is also rumored to be called. This is the chip that Videologic has been working on for at least 2 years and is suppose to be a highly integrated 3D/2D/Sound chip. This is the same chip that is suppose to be used in the Saturn 2, so it will be very interesting indeed to see the details on this chip. Check this web site for more information on PowerVR.
 
Thursday, November 6th, 1997
The First Saturn 2 Development Kits Sent to American Developers
Nothing too concrete yet. Rumors are that Shiny has signed on to port their game Messiah to the Saturn 2. This is the game that is suppose to use new graphic techniques that Shiny calls RT-DAT which stands for Real-time Deformation and Tessellation. Another developer rumored to have signed on for a Saturn 2 developer system is id for their game Quake II. There is no case as of yet for the Saturn 2 just a circuit board.
 
Wednesday, November 5th, 1997
Toshiba Uses Blue-Violet Laser For  15 GigaByte DVD
At the recent Joint Magneto-Optical Recording International Symposium and International Symposium on Optical Memory (Joint MORIS/ISOM '97), Toshiba announced a R&D project where they have a working DVD prototype using a GaN-system blue-violet semiconductor laser. Using this laser, Toshiba is able to develop a DVD player that allows 15 GigaBytes on single side with a data transfer rate of 30 Mbps (3.75 MBytes/second). This new technology will allow HDTV movies to be storied on a DVD disc. Pioneer announced recently a DVD prototype unit with 15 GigaByte capacity also.
 
Tuesday, November 4th, 1997
3Dfx Interactive Announces Voodoo 2 Specifications
  • 3 million triangles per second
  • 90 million dual-textured, bilinear filtered, per-pixel MIP-mapped, alpha-blended, Z-buffered pixels per second
  • 192-bit memory architecture
  • 2.2 gigabyte-per-second memory bandwidth 
  • 50 billion operations per second
This technology is not due till the 1st Quarter of 98 which is about the same time that the Banshee is to be introduced. Banshee is the 3D/2D integrated graphics solution from 3Dfx Interactive where the Voodoo 2 is a 3D chipset only. Voodoo 2 will retail for under $300 US. Here is a press release.
 
Monday, November 3rd, 1997
Samsung Electronics 32X Speed CD-ROM
This company is sure in the news alot lately. Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. has developed a 32X CD-ROM drive. This drive has some impressive specs like 4.8 MBytes per second transfer rate, 80 milliseconds data access time, and 512 KByte data buffer. Since this drive is using Constant Angular Velocity (CAV), the data rate of 4.8 MBytes is a maximum rate for reading the outside tracks of the disk. Reading the inside tracks could be as low as 2.4 MBytes which would be as fast as a 16X speed CD-ROM drive. No word on cost or availability yet. Here is the press release.
 
Saturday, November 1st, 1997
Samsung Electronics Shows 30 inch TFT-LCD Prototype Panel
Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. unveiled a 30-inch thin film transistor (TFT) liquid crystal display (LCD) panel. The Korean electronics giant showed the prototype panel at the LCD International '97/PDP International '97 show in Yokohama, Japan. This panel would make a excellent high resolution workstation monitor as it supports a resolution of 1,600 by 1,200 pixels with 16 million colors. This unit has a analog interface so that it can be hooked up to any standard VGA card.