• Tag Archives MMX
  • boot (November 1996)

    November 1996 brought a feature heralding the brave new world that DVD was going to usher in…although it was a very long time before many software titles would be released on the format. As for video, the systems of the era were not powerful enough to decode and display DVD-Video, so in addition to the expensive DVD-ROM drive you’d need a hardware MPEG decoder board as well.

    Other headlines include a story about dualbooting Windows 95 and Windows NT 4.0, a review of Photoshop 4.0, early digital cameras from Kodak and Olympus and the first 3Dfx graphics accelerators.


    The cover of the November, 1996 issue of boot promises lots of goodies.

    First, the cover story is about DVD. In an era when hard drives were measured in the single digit gigabytes, the promise of cheap 4.7GB of removable optical storage was enticing. Even if you couldn’t yet write to it. Computers were still slow enough at this point that you could not even watch a DVD movie without an add-on mpeg decoder board to go with your DVD-ROM drive and it would still be a long while before much software was distributed on DVD.

    Next up is an article on dual booting Windows 95 and Windows NT. It would be hard to overstate how much of an improvement was from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95 but it still didn’t have the stability of NT. If you planned to use your machine as a server or do serious database work or certain other tasks then Windows NT was desirable. For most people Windows 95 was good enough but we are talking about power users here.

    Next up is a review of the Pentium Pro 180. The Pentium Pro was originally meant to be the successor to the Pentium line. However, it was expensive and didn’t offer that much of a performance improvement, at least relative to the cost difference. Later on the Pentium II, which was basically a slightly modified Pentium Pro, would be released that was cheaper and clocked higher. The Pentium Pro (and P2) were not much faster, clock for clock, with 16-bit code which was still most common at the time. For 32-bit code it was much better.

    Also included was a review of the first MMX game and also, if you look down in the bottom left corner, you can see that they review the first 3D cards from a new company called 3dfx which would soon dominate the 3D card market (but not for long).

  • boot (October 1996)

    Here’s another extremely 90s cover, promising stories about the upcoming 200mhz Pentiums with MMX, AMD’s K6, a new strategy from Netscape and an interview with someone from IBM!


    It seems like through out most of the 1990s there was always a new CPU coming out or just around the corner. On the cover of the October 1996 issue of boot alone there are several mentioned including the first 166MHZ Pentium laptop, the P200 (Pentium 200), the P55C and MMX (the same thing really), the AMD K6, the Pentium Pro and the Cyrix 686. That’s a lot of CPUs.

    The Pentium 200 would be the fastest clocked classic Pentium CPU (before MMX) and was relatively rare and expensive compared to the Pentium 166. The Pentium Pro was Intel’s first attempt at a successor to the Pentium but it was only faster if you were using 32-bit applications (which most people were not yet) and was quite expensive. The Pentium 200 and subsequent MMX Pentiums were more of a stop-gap and marketing solution to maintain pace with competitors such as Cyrix. The Pentium II and III were essentially just improved Pentium Pros that came later. The Pentium II added MMX instructions, and increased L1 cache but the L2 cache only ran at half processor speed. The Pentium III added SSE instructions. Clock speed, bus speed and caches increased as newere interations were released.

    The Cyrix 686 was an interesting processor. When it was released, it was much faster than Pentiums at the same clock speed for certain things. Cyrix processors excelled at integer processing and 16-bit applications. However, if you were for some reason a heavy floating point user or made significant use of 32-bit applications, Intel processors were generally better. Cyrix processors, like AMD processors would later, gave you a lot more bang for your buck. However, Cyrix’s moment in the sun only lasted a year or two. While Cyrix processors may have been faster clock for clock for some operations, they could not scale up in frequency the way Intel processors did. Over the next few years, Intel progressed from 200 MHZ to 300 MHZ to 500 MHZ and beyond. Cyrix could not keep up.

    AMD was not much of a factor at this point but that would change soon. The first truly competitive K5 wouldn’t come out until the following year and by then the superior and more popular K6 was on its way. With the K6 which would be released in six months or so, AMD picked up where Cyrix had left off, producing a chip that was competitive with the Pentium II but at a much lower price. Since then the only real contendors for x86 CPUs have been Intel and AMD. Cyrix also released Pentium II competitor (the M2) but because of the aforementioned scaling issues and an inferior FPU it was relegated to the bargain bin.

    Besides CPUs, this issue also had a cover story on multimedia (the buzzword of the day) and a review of Quake among other things.