E3 2002 Wrap Up

E3 2002 Wrap Up - Page 1


E3 2002 Wrap Up
A quick take at the Los Angeles Gaming Extravaganza

By, Chris Angelini
May 26, 2002


Thousands of gamers annually trek to Los Angeles for one of the largest entertainment industry tradeshows in the world.  Luckily, I live 15 minutes away, making the journey an easy one.  A combination of PC and console games, along with a smattering of hardware, populates the exhibits that span the entirety of the Los Angeles Convention Center. Although the convention focuses on the gaming industry, several of the most influential hardware vendors were also present to demonstrate their technology paired with the latest software.  Intel and AMD were there showcasing their processors.  ATI, Matrox, 3DLabs and NVIDIA were all demonstrating their latest graphics technology.  Altec Lansing had a new line of speakers for enthusiastic console gamers.  There was certainly enough hardware to keep this enthusiast busy for a couple of days.





We?ll start off with Intel, whose booth was curiously tucked in a well-hidden hallway.  With no big announcements to make, Intel had no real need to command a large presence on the show floor.  Regardless, Pentium 4 processors powered a large percentage of the demo machines found on the show floor.  We were able to confirm that Intel is still on track for 3GHz by the end of this year.  If AMD is able to execute with their next-generation architecture, the competition between Intel and AMD will undoubtedly heat up once again.



Instead of a booth or room in the convention center, AMD rented a trailer on the Promised Lot.  There were a couple of demo machines running in the trailer ? two Hammer systems and an Athlon XP 2200+, based on the upcoming Thoroughbred core.  As a quick refresher, the new core is a .13-micron die shrink with no other performance enhancements.  Therefore, the 2200+ can be expected to scale in line with the Palomino-based 2100+ before it.  Intel has clearly clenched the performance crown, but AMD is banking on the Hammer to compete aggressively against the Pentium 4.  One of AMD?s Hammer machines was running a 64-bit version of Internet Explorer (obviously, with a 64-bit version of Windows).  The other was running Electronic Arts' Medal of Honor.  It was good to see the Hammer running something a little more strenuous than just an OS.



ATI garnered a huge victory during the show.  Their next-generation hardware (presumably R300) powered the Doom III demo on the floor.  Other than that, their conference room was all about the mobile RADEON 7500, Gamecube, and of course, the 128MB RADEON 8500 desktop board.  Expect to hear more from ATI in the near future, as they execute on their promise to be much more supportive of end-users.  Unfortunately, ATI was not yet ready to discuss any details of the much-anticipated R300 featured in the Doom III demonstration.  On the bright side, ATI is nearly ready to release the component output for use with current RADEON products.



Potential ?comeback kid? Matrox, was present in both the Intel and AMD booths, not to mention their own.  The upcoming Parhelia-512 powered several three-screen displays in Surround Gaming demonstrations of Unreal Tournament 2003 and Flight Simulator 2002.  At first, the multi-monitor gaming feature was a little disorienting, as I tried to adjust to the larger field of view.  After a while, I was able to accustom myself to the three screens.  However, I would definitely say that surround gaming is much better suited for the steady pace of Flight Simulator, than hectic first-person shooters.  Although I wasn?t allowed to photograph the actual hardware, I was able to discern that the Parhelia boards are pretty thick (8-layers?) without any traces from the BGA memory modules present on the surface of the board.  In order to achieve better signal integrity, it looks like Matrox paid special attention to shielding the board from interference.  Parhelia boards should initially be in the neighborhood of $400, but there also appears to be plans for a lower cost variant.



Anyone with a GeForce4 Ti 4600 would have found NVIDIA?s conference room pretty boring.  The only real topic for discussion was the newly released GeForce4 Ti 4200, which will compete with the RADEON 8500 from ATI (and ensure sales of the GeForce4 MX 460 will most likely never take off).  Like ATI, NVIDIA was focused on their GeForce4 Go, Xbox, and of course, the GeForce4 Ti family.



After damaging their relationship with NVIDIA, Guillemot has resourcefully turned to ATI for graphics processors.  Guillemot was showcasing an entire line of boards based on the RADEON 8500 and RADEON 7500 products.  Given their past proclivity for tweaked hardware, plans were also discussed for even faster versions of the 128MB RADEON 8500 card. 

We also snapped a shot of a PC packaged in what seemed to be a stereo component box.  Coupled with an All in Wonder RADEON 8500, it might make an interesting addition to a home theater setup!



In Retrospect

We peeked into 3DLabs? private stall to see a P10 demonstration, but wasn?t able to stick around long enough to get the full bore introduction.  Also, I noticed Analog Devices showing off their SoundMax technology that can be found on many of Intel?s reference motherboards.  Finally, Altec Lansing gave me the rundown on a new line of well-priced speakers for console enthusiasts who tire of TV audio.  By the end of the show I felt like an F1 car in desperate need of a tire change.  Marching up and down the show floor was physically exhausting, but it was definitely rewarding to see the host of DirectX 8 games that will finally put some stress on the latest wave of graphics hardware.  Start saving your pennies, folks, this Christmas is going to be an exciting time to be a gamer.


Are you talkin' ta me?  Get into the HotHardware Conference Room!




Tags:  E3, AP

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