Isn't It a Soft Drink? (5/31/98)

Confused by all the recent hype about AltiVec? Perplexed because you thought AltiVec was the site of that free Rolling Stones concert gone horribly wrong? Never fear-- there's a great overview of AltiVec technology available that can bring you up to speed. Basically, AltiVec is a "vector processing extension" to the PowerPC architecture which promises to speed up certain operations by several hundred percent. Think "MMX done right." It doesn't just accelerate certain multimedia-focused operations like MMX does, but it's purported to have a much wider range of use.

Be warned, though-- the overview is written from a programmer's standpoint, so if you're not a programmer, make sure you're wearing your hardhat. After trying to get our heads around all the technical bits about vector permute instructions and data cache prefetch, your friendly AtAT staff eventually skipped to the end for the non-geek summary. The good news is this: AltiVec should add a serious speed boost to upcoming PowerPC's (like the G4 we're expecting in Macs this winter) "without compromising any other part of the already elegant PowerPC architecture." Good enough for us.

And no, AltiVec isn't an internet search engine, either.

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The above scene was taken from the 5/31/98 episode:

May 31, 1998: Up in the sky: it's a bird, it's a plane, it's... AltiVec! Meanwhile, Microsoft is either worried enough or distracted enough by its current antitrust entanglements to relax the tight anti-Netscape reins on its Windows licensees, and according to Jerry Pournelle, BYTE is apparently dead after all...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 754: While the Cat's in Court (5/31/98)   Microsoft continues to bend like the willow once the government antitrust threat exhibits the potential to uproot them completely. You've probably heard about the recent concessions it's made to PC manufacturer Gateway-- Gateway is now allowed to ship its Windows 98 computers with a custom screen that allows customers of its "" online service to choose whether they'd rather use Microsoft Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator...

  • 755: Cross Purposes (5/31/98)   Looks like we may have announced BYTE's return a little too quickly, as we hadn't yet noticed ex-columnist Jerry Pournelle's take on this before our last broadcast. CMP Media's rosy press release about the buyout of BYTE claimed that the publication would be returning in a few months after a "refinement," but Jerry notes that he returned from a trip to Israel to find the whole staff sacked with one day's notice, and "few if any" employees offered positions with CMP...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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