Samsung has started shipping the first of its 64Mbit parts using DDR (double data rate) synchronous DRAM at a speed of 266MHz but the move is unlikely to herald a rush of such devices. Next year, Intel will push for the Rambus standard in all PCs which will supersede the DDR standard and provide wider bandwidths for the faster processors expected in 1999. The DRAM manufacturers are forced to pay a licence fee of around two per cent to Rambus to use the technology, and had developed DDR as a cheaper alternative. Roy Taylor, joint managing director of Vanguard in the UK, said: “No DRAM manufacturers are happy about paying Rambus royalties, however although it’s great for PCs, it’s not so good for workstations.” He thought that Intel’s position was that it needed to have better technology for its high end processors. “Most people are saying that DDR is little more than a sideshow and manufacturers will be forced to adopt Rambus,” he said. He said his feeling was that Intel would push for Rambus to be adopted more quickly by the industry than originally expected. “I’ve a strong gut feeling it will be pulled forward,” he said. “Intel wants to put clear blue water between itself and its competition.”
After optimism that DRAM prices were on the mend last week, prices have again dropped during the course of this week, according to memory distributors and manufacturers. But there could be light on the horizon, as the manufacturers make a concerted attempt to keep prices up. Alan Stanley, MD of Dane-Elec, said: “We’ve seen a drop this week. US prices went down three or four per cent, two or three days ago.” He said: “We are still seeing shortages. Manufacturers are still committed to bringing the price up and they’ve got to be suffering.” Stanley said that some manufacturers were giving lead times for parts for which they actually had large stocks, in an attempt to bolster prices. Roy Taylor, joint managing director of Vanguard Microelectronics UK, said that the industry is currently going through its worst period ever. “This week DRAM prices have gone back down,” he said. “Everyone in the industry is very keen for recovery in the market to be true but demand has been crashing down again.”
Sources in the industry said today that the price of the Intel Celeron 266MHz part will drop to $55 when prices are cut on the 14th of September. But Intel has denied that the price will drop that low, and other sources said that the price is likely to be around the $85 mark. The confusion may have arisen because £55 sterling equates to around $86. Intel is, however, expected to announce pricing for its Katmai and Tanner chips on that date, according to the source. If true, that could mean that the processors will arrive into the market far faster than anyone expected. As the PC industry ramps up towards its busiest period of the year, AMD confirmed, as revealed here four weeks ago, that it is on target to release its 350MHz K6-2 next week. Rana Mainee, strategic marketing director at AMD, said that if the price cuts were as low as this, it was an indication that its Celeron strategy was showing strong signs of faltering. “How much do you pay for yesterday’s newspaper?” said Mainee. “I really believe the Celeron 266 has been the biggest nonentity this year.” He claimed that Intel had pumped money into the Celeron to persuade OEMs to use the part. “Mendocino is completely different,” he said. “If they had waited three months they would have had a useful strategy.” Intel will release two versions of its Mendocino Celeron processors on the 24th August. ® Neither Intel nor AMD are investors in The Register
Toys ‘R’ Us, which sells plenty of PCs here in the UK, has been accused of bullying tactics by a woman who owns a sausage company in Wallasey, Merseyside. According to a report in The Guardian, Theresa Heward, who was running a sausage shop called Sausages R Us, received a letter from Toys ‘R’ Us solicitors, ordering her to refrain from using the name. The report said that her customers were now calling Toys ‘R’ Us, Bullies R Us. She said the company’s solicitors told her that it was “highly likely” that the toy company’s success was the reason she called her banger shop Sausages R Us. Mrs Heward said she was shocked by the letter because she wanted to convey the idea that the only function of her shop was to sell bangers. She said the name of the shop doesn’t use the letter R back to front and has no apostrophes.
Steve Voller, formerly MD of Netscape Emea, has become vice president of Network Computer Inc in Northern Europe. Voller, who before then, worked for IBM Emea in a role which included implementing Lou Gerstner’s channel strategy in Europe, is an industry veteran. He was formerly MD of distributor Macro Micro and had a previous spell of service at Big Blue in the period before then. According to NCI, Voller will be responsible for expanding the company’s information appliance software business to European network operators, telcos and hardware manufacturers. He will have a channel role too, supporting NCI’s channel partners and distributors in Europe, including Oracle Emea.
US services giant Keane has bought Icom Solutions, a Birmingham-based workflow designer for £30.6 million in stock. The acquisition is the first in Europe by Keane which is looking to aggressively expand outside of the US. Icom - formerly IMI Computing - specializes in workflow software for the financial services market, with customers including The Halifax, Guardian Insurance and British Airways. The company was founded by an MBO in 1996 when MD Irene Brown and director Ray Davies bought Icom for £5 million. The acquisition by Keane means that 200 of the 320 Icom staff share a £16 million windfall. Keane is aiming for sales of $1 billion by 1999, and has mapped out an aggressive acquisitions strategy. President John Keane Jr. said that its goal was to become a global services company. Keane has already bought three US resellers this year.
Loss-making US book retailer Barnes & Noble is to follow rival Amazon.com and float its online book-selling division. Barnes & Noble said it would file for an initial public offering for its barnesandnoble.com offshoot, in an attempt to cash in on the Internet stock boom. A number of US Internet companies, most recently GeoCities, have seen stock values soar within hours of floatation. Barnes & Noble said that it would float 20 per cent of the on-line division within 30 days. Barnesandnoble.com - launched in March 1997 - lags behind Amazon.com in the online book wars. Amazon.com has a market capitalization of $6.4 billion, which is 14 times revenues. It has also never made a profit. In Q2 1998, barnesandnbole.com posted revenues of $12.5 million, barely a tenth of Amazon.com's $116 million. Overall Barnes & Noble made a loss of $5.7 million on sales of $675 million for its most recent quarter. US analysts pointed out that Amazon.com clearly leads the estimated 14,000 web sites that sell books, but said that the market was expanding at such a rate that barnesandnoble.com could expand without going head to head with Amazon.com.
Novell’s third quarter results have beaten analysts' expectations, benefiting from the delayed release of Microsoft’s NT 5.0. The company points to the cost cuts and new products as significant factors in the success. Net income for the period ending 31st July was $26.6 million, compared with a loss of $87.7 million the year before. The networking software company’s revenue rose to $27 million from $90.1 million, as chief exec Eric Schmidt shifted the company focus to software tools allowing some network management to take place over the Web. This shift takes the company out of direct competition with software giant Microsoft. “Basing their new product strategy around the Web is paying off,” said analysts at Preferred Capital Markets. Novell saw its revenues and profits slide last year as many clients defected to the NT system, which is cheaper than Netware. The updated version of Netware is available from Sept 20, but NT 5.0 is not expected to hit the shops until the middle of next year.
LAN switches have driven the worldwide networking equipment industry in the second quarter of 1998 as revenues bettered $2.1 billion. This represents a 78 per cent increase over the same period last year according to preliminary figures from researchers at Dataquest, part of the Gartner group. Cisco still leads the LAN switch market with a greater than 40 per cent share. This time last year the company held just 27 per cent of the market. “The switch market has been driven by the demand for more efficient use of bandwidth,” said John Armstrong, principal analyst at Dataquest. “As an early entrant into the market, Cisco has benefited most from the rapid adoption of this technology.” The market itself grew 168 per cent in the second quarter, with the fast Ethernet segment performing especially well bringing in $1 billion in revenue during Q2. All segments of the router market did well providing evidence that the enterprise networking business remains strong growth engine in the market, said Dataquest. The media hubs market suffered in the quarter as prices fell. Despite shipments of shared media hubs increasing 13.8 per cent, revenue fell 33.5 per cent. All top vendors were hit by the price erosion, but 3Com held onto the market lead with a share of 23.5 per cent. Bay networks came in a close second with 21.3 per cent of the market, Dataquest said. Additional information about the report is available from the Gartner Group’s Web site. ®
It’s been an eventful summer for Sun Microsystems reseller Horizon. In the UK it has stepped up its level of accreditation with Sun by becoming a Sun ServiceManager centre, while its Ireland operation received a welcome shot in the arm when it snapped up Ingram Micro’s training division. The distribution giant had been expected to sell its training arm to Dutch firm CompuTrain, Holland’s largest Microsoft training house, when Horizon stepped in and pipped the lowlanders at the post. With only hours to spare before the sale was due to be completed, the dramatic turn of events came as a surprise to CompuTrain’s MD, Jeroen van Hilten, who said: “The only thing that was left to do was for me to put my signature on the contract. As far as I was aware, we had agreed the deal in the morning and were ready to sign. It was a sure thing as far as we knew.” Van Hilten went on to say that he was disappointed, while his counterpart at Horizon Technical Services, Patricia Fitzgerald, said: “Business will continue as usual.” Back in the UK, Horizon’s improved Sun service status means it can now boast a full range of products and services. UK MD Pete Deane said: “By achieving Accredited Sun ServiceManager status, we've demonstrated how committed we are to investing in the skills and infrastructure needed to provide a higher level of post-sales support.” ®
Intel has formally released details of its Mendocino based microprocessors, after they were leaked on US wires. The company is rolling out a 450MHz Pentium II and two Celeron chips which use the new Mendocino core – the 333MHz and 300A MHz. The chips are determinedly aimed at the low end of the market with prices to match and pose questions about whether Intel’s earlier Celeron strategy was sound. Intel is claiming that its 450MHz Pentium II will deliver a 10 per cent performance boost over the 400MHz PII. The new Celerons come with 128Kb of level two cache and were brought forward for release. They were supposed to be released later on this year, suggesting that Intel is now pushing hard at the entry level PC market. (See earlier story, Celeron 266MHz price slashing). When bought in units of 1,000 or so, the 450MHz, will cost $669. The Mendocino-Celerons are much cheaper, coming in at prices of $192 for the 333MHz part and $149 for the 300MHz part. ® Intel, Senor Mendocino, Madame Celeron and Monsieur MHz are not investors in The Register
Cisco is shelling out $56 million in stock for the purchase of the grandly-named American Internet Corporation, a developer of software that makes it easier to hook into the Internet. Not bad for a company set up in 1995, and currently employing just 50 employees. But at least AIC –unlike many start-ups in this sector – is something more than a R&D shop. The Bedford, Mass company even has two products, in the shape of Network Registrar and Access Registrar, and it has an OEM agreement already in place with Cisco. Using AIC’s products, Cisco can supply automatic Internet connections through set-top boxes and cable modems. Cisco plans to extend the product line into its Service Provider line of business. "Cisco is trying to transform themselves into an Internet company and so far they're succeeding," said Barry Hyman, an analyst at Ehrenkrantz King Nussbaum, in an interview with Bloombergs. "Speed and hookups are a most important part of the process." AIC CEO, Bob Brennan, will continue to run the company and will report to Herb Madan, vice president and general manager, in the service provider line of business. ®