New Laptop

I bought a new laptop today.  It is a Compaq v2000z.  Here are the specs.AMD Turion 64 ML-28 (1.6GHz)
14.0 WXGA BrightView Widescreen (1280X768)
ATI Radeon(r) 128MB Xpress 200M w/productivity ports
100 GB Hard Drive
DVD/CD-RW Combo Drive
54g Integ. Broadcom 802.11b/g WLAN & BluetoothThere is a picture below.


Physics Card

Physics in games has grown rapidly over the last few years.
Characters are interacting with their virtual environments in many
ways that were impossible years ago. Take, for example, the new Tomb
Raider game. In the game, you can kick rocks and depending on which
angle you kick them and the incline, the rock will roll in that
direction relative to the force you applied. Also, tools and
projectiles respond based on laws contained in the physics engine.

The power of graphics cards is increasing rapidly. A powerful
graphics card could be the most expensive component in a machine. At
one point, I had very limited graphics cards. Then, 3dfx, the maker
of the Voodoo card, released the first 3d accelerator card. This card
worked together with the graphics card to provide 3d graphics.
Eventually the accelerator card was integrated into the graphics card.
Soon to be released is a physics card. Having a physics card will
allow your graphics card to move some processing over to this other
card which is dedicated to performing physics computations rapidly.
Games designed to take advantage of this card are still underway but
it should be a boom for gamers. In a few years, I will most likely
see graphics cards that license not only a graphics chip but also a
physics chip.

Also, here is some of the terminology you should know. You probably
already know that the chip in your computer that does most of the
computations is called the CPU (Central Processing Unit). The chip
that sits on your graphics card is called the GPU (Graphics Processing
Unit). The physics chip is called the PPU (Physics Processing Unit).

Mac Mini

I bought a Mac mini a few weeks ago. I have had my eyes on one for
quite some time. I love it that they are so small. I have it hooked
up to my 23" Apple Cinema display. I found out soon after I purchased
it that it really needs RAM. I got one of the new Intel machines.
Some of the software I use has not yet been optimized for the Intel
core so it runs in emulation mode. This slows some programs down.
One program specifically, Firefox, does not yet have an Intel version.
They do have an Intel beta that I hear is not too bad.

I bought 2GB of RAM for it but it did not work in the machine. I had
to send the RAM back and I am still waiting for replacement sticks to
arrive. The machine runs a little slow with only 512MB of RAM in it.
I was dissapointed that the new Intel Mac Mini uses shared video
memory. The old G4 mac mini models did not use shared memory. This
reduces my main memory and I just wonder how good it really is. Apple
says it is great because the system memory is DDR2 running at 667MHz.
I have not had any problems with it but I haven’t really played any
games or anything on it.

I had to get one of those white keyboards to go with the mac mini
because they look sweet. I also wanted to have the special mac keys.
I was going to sell my G4 cube to Richard but he did not buy it so I
guess I really did not need a new keyboard. I had a mac keyboard with
the G4 cube. Oh well. The cube still runs fine and it has Tiger on
it so I will use it someday or find someone who wants to buy it.

New Equipment

We got some new equipment for the classroom.  I am missing hard drives on the parts because they were taken from a company but the servers do POST correctly which means they work.   I will be searching ebay for some good deals on SCSI hard drives.  Preferably some hot swappable hard drives.  I need about 10 and I would like 20 so that I can set up RAID 5 on some of the machines.
Here are some pictures of them.  Chris helped me with the setup.
NewEquipment5 NewEquipment4 NewEquipment3 NewEquipment2 NewEquipment1

PCI Express is coming

I am not going to buy a computer any time soon but I still get excited about new things in the market. I found out that the Althlon 64 motherboards will start supporting PCI express by the end of September. This is a big improvement because I have been using the same bus technology for quite some time now. While, AGP has seen increases in speed simply by multiplying, I have not had a new technology since AGP and I are still using a version of PCI which was introduced somewhere in the early 90’s.

Here is a short description of PCI express. PCI express was first called 3GIO or 3rd generation I/O (input/output). PCI express will be able to handle 2.5Gb/s. The current PCI slots can only handle 133MHz. AGP is faster but that is only available for the graphics card. The PCI express replacement for the video card slot called the 164-pin X16 slot will have a bandwidth of 4GB/s. The fastest AGP 8x only has a bandwidth of 2.1GB/s. Future chipsets might also have multiple X16 ports for multiple high end graphics cards to run side by side in the same machine.

The main speed difference will be seen in other devices. These devices, such as 1GBps LAN cards and SATA controller cards, need more bandwidth to operate at full speed and PCI express is the answer. In other words, PCI express will finally remove a bottleneck I have had for much too long. Now I only need to improve hard drive speeds. 🙂

Also, PCI express will be compatible with old PCI cards. AGP cards, however, will have to be replaced. Another thing to keep looking at is express cards. Express cards will hopefully replace PCMCIA cards for laptops.

Well, thats enough of a tech update.