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Chipzilla suffers monster new year hangover, plink fizz

Intel finally filed its response to the European Commission’s formal anti-competitive charges this week only to find the state of New York adding its squawky voice to the row.

The office of New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said both Intel and AMD, which last year signed a tasty deal to build a $3.2bn chip fabrication facility in upstate NYC, have been served subpoenas seeking documents and information regarding Intel's pricing strategy.

AMD reckoned the latest probe into Intel's business methods was "good news" for computer buyers throughout the US.

Big Bill kicks off swansong in Las Vegas

But it wasn't all bad news for Chipzilla, which kicked an already-down AMD by celebrating the arrival of 16 new chips across its laptop, PC and server lines at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

The fresh chip dump marks the arrival of Intel's first laptop chips manufactured with a 45nm process that allows for faster, more energy efficient products.

We made a few nice little films for you at the show too just to demonstrate we can do that thing called broadcasting pointing a camera at some bloke, y'know.

There's the Lenovo rep doing a poor impression of Luke Skywalker with the firm's new ultra-light little laptop, the IdeaPad U110.

Elsewhere RoboSapien looks set to throw away his bachelor status and settle down with FemiSapien, courtesy of a nice little demo from WowWee.

Oh, and Bill Gates said something and nothing and something and nothing at the event, and he even found time to jam with some bloke called Slash.

What's that you say? You want yet more coverage of CES? No problem, we've bundles of stuff on the world's biggest electronics jamboree from Tony Smith and the Hardware Reg boys here.

Green nuclear giant, ho ho ho

Carbon UK gov this week committed itself publicly to the continued use of nuclear power in Britain, shrugging off the orthodox green lobby's calls to eliminate the technology completely.

Business secretary John Hutton gave the go-ahead, saying the government hoped for the first new nuclear station to come online "well before 2020", that the arguments in favour of nuclear were "compelling", and that there would be no cap on the number or capacity of nuclear plants that could be built. The government's view was that nuclear was the cheapest source of low-carbon electricity.

HP had its own ideas about doing its bit to save the planet, crowing that it would reduce energy consumption in its PCs by a quarter by 2010. But the industry gave the world’s number one computer maker's rather ambitious aim a somewhat lukewarm response.

Microsoft turns on search light

Over in the Redmond corner, the software giant announced the retirement of Jeff Raikes, head of Microsoft's Office software business, who leaves the firm after 26 years.

He'll call it quits in September and will be replaced by Juniper Networks chief operating officer Stephen Elop, who in a previous life was CEO of Macromedia, and then head of sales of Adobe after it bought the company in 2005.

Microsoft also said this week that it had plugged a critical hole in Windows Vista.

It coughed up two security updates, one of them rated critical, which fixed nasty bugs in the firm's latest operating system. Said beasties could allow an attacker to gain complete control over a user's machine.

And, perhaps not content with seeing those chaps at Google lording it over the search engine biz, Microsoft told the world that it planned to buy Norwegian business search engine company Fast Search and Transfer for 6.6bn kroner ($1.23bn).

Crunchy squeeziness

You may have heard reports that the world's economy has been taking a bit of a hammering of late, all of which you would be forgiven for thinking might well be bringing tech firms out in hives.

But a glorious wave of confidence - or perhaps collective denial - continues to bubble through the UK tech industry at least, with the likes of Computacenter batting talk of a potential economic downturn to one side.

The systems giant spat out a trading update and effectively shrugged off any suggestion that it could be hit by the credit crunch crisis, even as evidence mounted that the contagion is spreading from the financial sector to the High Street.

Meanwhile, our cousins over the other side of the pond appear to have adopted a different take on the whole thing.

Xerox boss Anne Mulcahy has jumped on the crowded bandwagon, adding her voice to a lengthy line of US tech firms that have grumbled about how the credit crisis was starting to bite.

The CBI painted a slightly different picture for fortunes in Blighty. Although it reckoned "the credit squeeze has delivered a sharp shock to business volumes over the past three months", it found that the financial sectors had continued to invest heavily in their IT infrastructure, with plans at their strongest since September 1997.

Refreshingly, IT distie Horizon was among the few firms not to mention the c-word once in its trading statement this week.

Instead it said orders had "slipped" in December and admitted that revenue for the last quarter would be down as a result. Oh, and a stricken UK customer didn't help much either. The unnamed firm has gone into administration owing Horizon €800,000. Ouch.

But y'know, all this talk of global financial crisis must be true, 'cos it’s even reached into the realms of Sadsville. Second Life operator Linden Labs said it is to ban virtual banks from the virtual playground.

Apparently, the problem is that the virtual money-lenders operate rather too much like their real world counterparts.

How rude, boy

IBM reckons its major rival HP and chip maker Intel will be waving goodbye to the Itanium processor in the near future due to basic economics.

EU stones Apple

Apple agreed to cut the price UK punters pay to download music for their iPods, bringing the costs into line with the rest of Europe.

The decision followed a probe by the European Commission into anti-trust accusations. It said that it welcomed Apple's change of heart regarding the UK market.

Competition commissioner 'Steely' Neelie Kroes said: "The Commission is very much in favour of solutions which allow consumers to benefit from a truly Single Market for music downloads."

Meanwhile, Apple has popped fresh four-core chips from Intel into a new Xserve and new Mac Pro. The eight-core, dual processor machines may not count as Big Iron at, say, SGI or Sun Microsystems, but they do at Steve's house.

EMC SMB SAN

EMC is reinvigorating efforts to win the hearts and wallets of SMBs with a new storage area network (SAN) array.

The Clariion AX4 SAS/SATA disk array is heir to EMC's AX150 and CX300 in its low-end storage lineup. The box sports a capacity well above its predecessors, and puts new emphasis on the iSCSI protocol.

Joined-up technology

IT contractors were up in arms about government legalisation that will overhaul income splitting arrangements among individuals, following a landmark case that Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs lost.

The Brown government said that every parent of a secondary school pupil will have online access to real-time data on their child's behaviour by 2010 under new targets set today by schools minister Jim Knight.

David Hanson, minister of state at the Ministry of Justice, told the House of Commons that the over-budget project to link prison and probation IT systems is being canned.

Elsewhere, the government turned up the heat on internet providers, warning that laws to force disconnection of illegal filesharers are already being drafted for a parliamentary debut in November.

Cracks in Shell

Shell union members stoked up talk of legal action against the oil multinational over the terms of its redundancy package a week after staff at the firm were told that more than 3,000 IT jobs were to be outsourced.

Unite union rep Graham Tran told El Reg: "Guys that have done nothing other than deliver profits to the company have been dumped in the water."

And finally...

FBI wiretaps used to eavesdrop on suspected criminals have been repeatedly cancelled by telephone companies because the bureau failed to pay their bills on time.

According to an audit conducted by an inspector general at the Justice Department, the disconnected wiretaps were the result of the FBI's lax oversight of money used in undercover investigations. Poor book-keeping also resulted in the theft of more than $25,000 by a single agent.

So dear soggy readers, we hope your new year totally rawks. We'll be back with more next week. ®

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