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Comdex roundup What's hot in the mobo dept

And some wireless networking...

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Part One It's not difficult to hear about the big news from Comdex, but after the keynoting crowd has made its big presentations and headed off - frequently by the end of day one - there's still a big, big show jam-packed with great stuff, cool stuff or just plain weird stuff. And who notices? Well, The Register does, and here we present a roundup of the bits you could have missed, but might still find interesting - even if you've got a life.

Motherboards

ABIT finally showed off its successor to the ever-popular BP6: the VP6, which has a dual socket 370 VIA Apollo Pro 133A chipset motherboard. The company also had the new 815e boards on display, stepping up from the SE6 to the SA6R, which has ATA 100 and ATA 100 RAID (via the HPT370 chipset). Alongside this was the SA6PR, sporting a newer revision of the 815e chipset: the EP version, which does away with the integrated video feature of the chipset, and the SA6R-1394, which has an integrated Firewire controller on board.

ABIT also showed its first AMD 760 DDR motherboard (which is MicroATX) and the VIA DDR board (also MicroATX). Full size ATX boards are promised soon after the MicroATX hit the market.

Pentium 4 Motherboards?
Even though Comdex took place a few short days before the launch of the Pentium 4, only a few i850 motherboards were spotted there. In fact, the only major manufacturers that seem to be ready to deliver a Pentium 4 solution are MSI, Gigabyte, and Aopen.

In contrast to the poor i850 turnout, nearly every major motherboard manufacturer proudly displayed DDR motherboard solutions from AMD, ALi, and VIA. DDR seems to have replaced RDRAM as the "hot" technology. On the Athlon desktop side, there were more than a few AMD 760 boards, as well as quite a number of Via's KT266, which should be arriving soon. Also, many Apollo Pro 266 based boards will finally bring DDR memory to the Slot1/Socket370 platform.

Another interesting item was a mobile DDR platform, offered by ALi. Running a Socket A processor, it seems that it is stacked on top of a regular ATX motherboard. Interestingly enough, the mobile motherboard had a large AMD stamped on it, suggesting that perhaps AMD is helping ALi make a mobile DDR platform a reality.

Wireless Networking

If you're annoyed by having CAT-5 wires trailing around the house, the obvious solution is a wireless network.

Orinoco and Apple (with their Airport) have more or less held the market in wireless networking for some time, but that's soon going to be changing, in a big way. There are three companies boasting about their new wireless products: Netgear, D-Link, and Linksys. I think the most promising is Netgear's. They're using a technology from ShareWave that enhances the 802.11b standard used in the offerings from D-Link and Linksys. But the IEEE does have a committee looking at the technology they're using, and if all goes well it'll be at least partially adopted in a new standard (802.11e) by June or July '01.

Essentially working much like a cordless phone, it will begin broadcasting at a certain frequency and if it experiences too much interference or too many lost packets at that frequency, it will change the frequency to one where it gets a better connection.

Linksys has something of an all-or-nothing approach to wireless networking products. There are two products available; one is a router that is entirely wireless. Plug in your cable modem and hook up the home with PCI/PCMCIA bridges and use the PCMCIA wireless cards in all your desktop and laptop computers. Linksys's second product is the BEFW11S4, which works as both a wireless and a wired router. This is more of a legacy friendly product, but I still think that Linksys is missing out by not having a USB wireless unit for desktop computers.

D-Link had the same type of setup, standard 802.11b protocol with the biggest difference being that the network product for the desktop is a USB solution as well as a PCI/PCMCIA one. With the USB solution, you don't need to open up the box. This type of setup would seem to me to be more attractive to a non-technical end user than the Linksys option. ®

Comdex Roundup part 2 - PDAs and gizmos
Comdex Roundup part 3 - graphics and weird stuff

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