It's Monday, and we all know that means it's time to get Old School and take a look back on the technology that brought us to where we are today. This week we're going back to the July 1997 issue of boot, so that we can look forward to what videocards would look like in 1998. It's a whiplash of a time trip back to when Voodoo reigned supreme, 3Dfx was preparing to go public and Cirrus Logic was strugling to transition to 3D. Join us as we discuss Riva 128, ATI's 3D Rage Pro and exactly what an AGP is.
It may seem quaint viewed from our world of tomorrow, but back in 1998, people got legitimately hot and bothered by Intel’s move to an amazing—wait for it— .25 micron process in the second-gen new Pentium II. For those too used to our Nanometer ways, the original Deschutes .25 micron processor would be 250 nanometers.
Besides the move to 250 nanometers, Deschutes also ushered in the 100MHz front side bus for the Pentium II ( although the 100MHz FSB didn’t make it for this story.) The reign of the Pentium II should be remembered for Pax Intel— a time when its chips would bring fear into its competitors who were still trying to make AGP work with Socket 7.
What do you know about 3D technology? Could you describe antialiasing? Can you define a Z-Buffer? How about a Phong shader? If you need a little refresher course on the ins and outs of 3d rendering, you're in luck* because we've got a a whitepaper for you!
*Note: If you're looking for information on bump maps, pixel shaders or tesselation, you are actually out of luck, because this whitepaper was written in 1997. Close enough!
Here at Maximum PC we take the "Maximum" part pretty seriously, covering the bleeding-edge, the next-on-the-horizon and the over-the-top. That's a tradition that goes back to before maximum was even part of our name, back to the days of boot. A fine example of this is boot's Speed Trap feature from May 1998. Penned by current Editorial Director Jon Phillips, this feature highlighted and reviewed three top systems from the year. Read on to see which systems were breaking the speed limit, and which were stuck in the slow lane.
Last weeks Old School Monday featured a 1997 white paper explaining RAM - and since it was so popular, we thought we'd give you another one. Up this week, Knowing Your BIOS--courtesy of the June 1997 issue of Boot. It's actually hard to believe that an aspect of computing could have changed so little in 14 years, but the ancient BIOS is finally on the way out. So, read on for a historical perspective on the ins and outs of BIOS and PC performance and stay tuned, next week we'll cover magnets. (How do they work?)
Last week was the very special premiere of our sister site: MaximumTech.com - which made us look back fondly on the day that Maximum PC made it's first appearance. So, in the name of Old School Mondays, we went ahead and tracked down the sneak preview pages of Maximum PC when they first appeared in the final issue of boot. Check out our very first MaxPC pages below and see how much (or how little) has changed over the past thirteen years!
It may be all about Facebook, Google and mobile phones today, but in the late 1990s, the world trembled in fear from Microsoft. So, taking the lay of the land, boot layed out five rebel OSes that a user could explore if he or she wanted to flip the finger at Redmond. Could OS/2 Warp, Rhapsody, BeOS, Linux or Open DOS really make it? To find out, read on.
Wondering whatever happened to VideoLogic and the PowerVR technology it licensed to NEC in the late 1990s? Unlike so many other 3D chip manufacturers that flamed out, were acquired, or simply gave up on the consumer graphics market at the tail-end of the last century (3Dfx, 3DLabs, Matrox, Oak, Rendition, S3, and Trident, to name a few), VideoLogic is still going strong. And so is PowerVR.
VideoLogic did change its name in 1999, to Imagination Technologies. 3Dfx ruled the market at the time, leaving many of us to chuckle at Charles Bellfield’s claim that “PowerVR is a technology with long legs.” But Bellfield had the last laugh 10 years later when Imagination licensed PowerVR to Apple for use in the iPhone. You’ll find PowerVR technology in the iPad and in a host of other smartphones and tablets, too.
Bellfield, by the way, eventually left NEC to rejoin Imagination Technologies. He currently heads the company’s North America Internet radio operations as General Manager, PURE North America.
Atiq Raza wasn’t an original AMDer. A holdover from the buyout of NexGen (which AMD bought when the K5 flopped), Raza became AMD’s Chief Technology Officer.
Boot had a forthright, frank discussion with Raza in the January of 1998 to discuss K6+3D (later renamed K6-2 3DNow!) AMD’s intentions to leapfrog Intel in performance, his feelings on Intel domination and whether the Slot 1 design that Intel had switched to would kill everyone. While the K6-2 didn’t slam the door on the vaunted Pentium II, it gave AMD a cachet the company had never had before. In fact, some would alter credit the K6-2 and its 3D gaming prowess as the saving grace for AMD.
It's Monday, again, and we all know what that means, right? Time to get into the Wayback Machine and go back, back, back to the days of computing past. This week we've got an interview with the straightforward Scott Sellers, he of 3Dfx. Senior Editor Gordon Mah Ung reflects on the highlights below:
Frank talk from corporate executives is a rarity in today’s world of carefully nuanced, on message, talking points dressed as interviews. But back in 1997, boot went on the record for an incredibly frank in your face interview with Scott Sellers. Sellers, one of the founders and CTO of 3Dfx (before the D went lower case) unleashed startlingly frank words at his competitors, paying developers not to support other 3D cards, bad gaming, bad benchmarks, cheating drivers, and the state of the 3D industry. This, mind you, was in the days before Voodoo2 went public, before nerds knew what SLI meant and before AGP even surfaced. It’s a hot interview and one any student of PC history shouldn’t miss.