Media & Technology

Chipping in: American hardware giant Cyrix chooses Edinburgh games cafe as test ground

TECHNOLOGY Hold the chips

The future is bearing down on us with incredible speed, and nowhere is that more evident than in the computer world. Since the mid-70$, Intel has had a virtual monopoly on the microprocessors at the heart of a PC, but its domination is being challenged by other players, most notable among them being American outfit Cyrix Computers. The company has a reputation for producing industry-standard chips at lower prices, and its hopes for toppling Intel are pinned on a powerful new product called the M2.

This is good news for the Edinburgh games cafe Reality-X, which has been chosen as a testing ground for the new generation of chips. Reality-X differs from conventional cybercafes in that it is devoted to playing computer games (against opponents who might be in the next seat or in another continent), and was one of the first of its kind in Europe. 'Everything in here,’ says Reality-X's Paul Younger, 'will run like a rocket.

’Cyrix are so concerned about the entertainment aspect of the chip that they want to put it somewhere it's going to get hammered to death and see how it performs. They have a test site in Texas, but it's just a laboratory, whereas this is what is known as user testing. At the end of June, Cyrix are going to be flying

form of virtual pets. A variety of liqmd

and Japanese toy manufacturers are : hoping to make the same killing here I as they did at home. Originally aimed

3 at children, the key-fob sized pets have on its brand The Q ‘\ been snapped up by sober-suited Tamagotchi breed die 7.1- businessmen in Japan, who book their naturally after a

is that the v-rell-being of a pet is directly

GZMO Virtual pets

The latest ridiculous craze from Japan is heading towards our shores in the

crystal creatures wrll soon be available,

electronic charges into a creche when they go for meetings. The reason for this bizarre behavrour

month and can be reborn at

the press of a button, but Giga Pets live for a year or more If you find YOUTSle succumbing to the

all the software houses up to Edinburgh and put their products on our machines, and say "This is what your software can do on the M2.”

Reality-X has been 'beta-testing’ games for some time now, but this is the first chance it had to get its hands on developing hardware. It was Younger who approached Cyrix, and after a few e-mails and phone calls were exchanged, the company decided Reality-X would be an ideal guinea pig.

Brendan Sherry, of Cyrix's UK division, doesn't feel that Edinburgh is an unusually remote place to do this type of testing, though it is an ocean away from its head office. He also points out that the results will have repercussions far beyond the sphere of game-playing.

’The natural market for Cyrix processors tends to be in

the home and consumer marketplace,’ Sherry says. ’It

[gaming] is actually a very demanding environment; probably more demanding than many of the commercial applications. Once you get into 30 graphics and animation and the complicated rendering you see in games, the demands on a processor are exponentially different to a standard commercial application. If you can prove your chips work in that kind of demanding environment then you know you've got no problems.’ (Alastair Mabbott)

I Reality-X is 54 Broughron Street, 0737 478 7099

Virtual pets: nine out of ten geeks prefer them

; linked to the amount of attention it f receives Elaine Walker of Tiger Electronics, the company impOrting , Giga Pets to the UK, explains 'If you leave rt for a day you’ll look at the screen to find big piles of poo over rt as 3 you haven't been cleaning up properly , If rt does die, angel wrngs carry rt off to heaven and the process starts again.‘

The natural lifespan of a pet depends

combination of a cute idea and clever marketing prepare to be tough, or you too might find your life being ruled by an overly demanding piece of Iigtiid crystal

I Giga Pets are now (war/able from all good toy shops priced [ 9 99, Virtual pets from a range of other manufacturers should be invading stores soon


96 THE LIST 3O lrlay—lZ Jun 1997

Lowdown Games 0 Web Sites 0 CD ROMS


Speedster (PlayStation lPC CD-ROM £44.99)

Speedster is one of those racing games in which you view the action from above. The genre has been around for years, and was best exploited by the Micro Machines series. Speedster gives it the obligatory 3D makeover, but unfortunately does it few favours. The success of this particular format relies on the player feeling right on top of the action. Giving the graphics depth it only serves to distance the player from the action, something made worse in Speedster by the fact that the game

' doesn't move as fast as its name

suggests. Boy and girl racers will not be impressed.


Indie-Culture (http://www.indie-culturecom) Advertismg itself as the One-stop shop for everything independent, Ind/e- Cu/ture covers music, travel, films, fashion and books. What the Site's developers hope is that you read the review and then buy the product from there. The site itself, however, is not a great advert for independence. Tricky to navrgate and lacking a little in the design department, it could have done

with more of the free-thinking it so

boisteroust espouses The music section goes some way to making up for this, With a comprehensive range of TOVIC‘NS and release date schedules, but Indie-Culture wrll have to pull its socks up to be a commercial success.


Microsoft Bookshelf Reference Collection (Pc CD-ROM £49.99)

age i?

5 f" ht;

\ 't'tisiill "a" “s f300kshel

The aim of Bookshelf is to provide all

the reference works you'll ever need on a single CD-ROM lnc‘luded are

j (harnbers Dictionary, the Longman

edition of Roget, Hutchinson's

. Encyclopaedia, the Bloomsbury Treasury Of Quotations, a version of

; the Encarta t1’or.’e’/lrla.s and

f‘v’ilCrOSOff'S leternet dictionary These

can all be accessed from rnaior

applications With a simple point and (lick, but as is so often the case With t-.-licrosoft products, Books'hcn’f works at its best if the applicatiiiins you are usmg were also made by Microsoft PS The atlas is rubbish It shows only the capital city of each country and has a

general lack of detail.