30th > September > 1998 Archive

Roundup: Yesterday's markets

Wall Street was disappointed that the Fed cut in the overnight lending rate was only a quarter percent, so the market indexes moved just a little lower at the close, although the Dow fell 100 when the news was first known. Still, it was the first rate cut since January 1996, and the market hopes for a further reduction. Micron Technology lost 7 percent although its report of a Q4 loss of $89.1million was less than the Street expected was made after the market closed. Micron Electronics (60 percent owned by Micron Technology) made up for it by rising 7 percent after its Q4 beat estimates. The chip maker disclosed it has moved to 0.12 micron manufacturing, and that DRAM demand was up 63 per cent in the recent quarter over the previous quarter. The acquisition of the memory division of TI is expected to close in October, and financial analysts are saying this could put Micron in the top three DRAM producers, depending on how well the TI acquisition is integrated. In fiscal 98, Micron lost $235 million - compared with net income of $332 million last year. Microsoft's gain of just over 1 per cent was being attributed to an IDC report that Exchange did better than Notes/Domino in the first half of the year. But was this commissioned research? Lilly Software, developer of supply-chain software, has acquired Telesis Software, a developer of repetitive and made-to-stock applications. Terms were not disclosed. Michael Dell (who still has 32 per cent of his company) and other Dell execs have been selling some of their shares. Early Christmas shopping, or do they know something? PeopleSoft gained 7 per cent, for no valid business reason, on its entry to the S&P 500. Still, Mary Farrell, a Paine Webber strategist, predicted that "ultimately" US investors will judge US stocks by earnings and interest rates. She believes that Q4 results will be "significantly better" than Q3. ® Click for more stories
Graham Lea, 30 Sep 1998

Sage makes two niche buys

Sage has made two infill acquisitions, one in the UK and one in France. The accountancy software vendor is to pay £2.5 million upfront for the two companies: P.A.S.E. Ltd in the UK and Meteor SA in France. It will also pay up to £1 million for performance-related earnouts. The respective businesses are to be integrated into Sage Software Ltd in the UK and Sage France. Paul Walker, chief executive, said the companies were in line with "our policy of acquiring companies with substantial customer lists and products which can be linked to our accounting product ranges". P.A.S.E produces "simple Windows-based profit and cash flow forecasting software. It has more than 6,000 users and generated 800K turnover for the year to 31 March, 1998. Meteor is based in Paris and sells accountancy software to small to medium-sized businesses in France. It has more than 17,000 users and generated revenues of 900K for the year to 31 December 1997.®: Click here for more stories
A staffer, 30 Sep 1998

Psion Dacom joins Bluetooth

European PC Card modem leader Psion Dacom has joined the Bluetooth initiative. Bluetooth, led by Intel, Nokia, Ericsson, Toshiba and IBM, is being developed as a connectivity standard for local wireless communications, allowing seamless data exchange between devices within a ten metre radius. The first products based on the system, which has already gained broad industry support, are promised for the second half of next year. Bluetooth uses the 2.45 GHz ISM band, which is freely-available, and free, internationally, and isn't line-of-sight. It canalso support both point to point and multi-point connections, so could finally deliver systems that automatically communicate, and join and leave networks, when you walk in and out of buildings. Psion Dacom's entry points the way for other modem manufacturers, all of whom have been busily cramming more and more features onto PC cards. But once you've got network, modem and mobile phone, the extras you canput there get more esoteric. Psion Dacom now has ISDN as well, via a deal with Eicon, so wireless local comms is the logical next step. Psion Dacom's parent company, Psion plc, is already indirectly involved in Bluetooth via its Symbian joint venture with Nokia and Ericsson, and its relationship with ARM, which joined Bluetooth recently. ® Click for more stories
John Lettice, 30 Sep 1998

Kodak and Intel launch digital photo service

Kodak and Intel launched PictureCD in New York yesterday, although market testing started in Salt Lake City and Indianapolis last week. What's on offer is the possibility of taking photographs with an ordinary camera, and having the results on a CD-ROM. The cost will be around $10 in the US. Kodak has, of course, been here long before with its PhotoCD system. It was launched in the early 90s as a consumer product, but the then relative paucity of CD-ROM drives in PCs and the cost of a PhotoCD player to install between TV and VCR nixed that idea. PhotoCD ended up a professional product aimed at phot libraries and medical archiving. This time round, Kodak has been collaborating with Intel on the project -- Intel provided help with the hardware. They plan a $150 million joint-marketing campaign over the next three years. George Fisher, Kodak's CEO, said he expected the product to generate "tens of millions to a hundred million" dollars a year initially, potentially rising to $1 billon, though it's not clear how that loot will be divvied out between the two companies. The roll out of Kodak's 13,000 photo-service kiosks will start next year. Intel's reason for partnering, according to CEO Craig Barrett, was to "fuel demand for high-performance PCs" -- which accounts for it being developed for Windows only (but not 3.x of course), and there being no news of an intended Mac version. The minimum spec is a 90MHz Pentium and 16MB of RAM. This is a tad disingenuous. PhotoCD (and there appears to be no significant technical different between PhotoCD and PictureCD -- at least, Kodak was unable to explain what such a difference might be) discs can easily be viewed on a PC circa 1990. In other words, it would appear Intel is keen to talk up the spec. Given consumers' love of making systems last long after any self-respecting IT manager would have bitten the bullet and upgraded, this policy may backfire. In any case, do consumers actually want it? Digital cameras have yet to set the market alight, but there's no sign that amateur snappers have passed them by simply because they didn't want to have to buy a new camera. And passing the holiday snaps around the office is a mite difficult when the pictures are on disc. Which leaves professionals, who have bought digital cameras and PhotoCD for archiving and so won't be particularly interested in PhotoCD either. ® Graham Lea contributed to this story Click for more stories
Tony Smith, 30 Sep 1998


Taiwan chips get further boost The Wall Street Journal reported that Philips has teamed up with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC) to build a $1.2 billion fab on the island. Yesterday, TSMC bought the DRAM division of Nippon Steel, as reported here. ® Mack joins Datrontech Alan Mack, ex MD of Ilion and a long time channel veteran, has joined Datrontech. He will be commercial director of the company, executive director Mark Mulford said today. ® Apple readies latest OS release Apple will release the next version of the MacOS, 8.5, on 17 October. The update sees the Mac's system software finally become fully PowerPC native (we've only been waiting four and a half years, guys...) boosting system performance by up to 30 per cent, and network performance by 300 per cent, according to independent tests made with the beta release. ®
The Register staff, 30 Sep 1998

Katmai outgunned by Motorola's AltiVec

Motorola is close to shipping its additional instruction set for the G3 (PowerPC 750) processor, codenamed AltiVec. The instructions will ultimately be included in the G4, sources added. The technology is likely to be unveiled at the Microprocessor Forum and according to reports will give Katmai a run for its money. The AltiVec instructions were, according to the same sources, the reasons IBM and Motorola fell out over the PowerPC earlier this year. AltiVec has similar additional instructions to Intel's Katmai but includes a vector permute instruction. There are over 160 additional instructions. Unlike Katmai, which has a limit of eight 128 bit registers, AltiVec has 32, which is understood to vastly increase performance. The product is likely to use a .18 micron copper technology but it will be pin compatible with the PowerPC 750 (the G3). ® Click here for more stories
Mike Magee, 30 Sep 1998

Informix becomes latest Linux recruit

Informix has followed rival database specialists Sybase and Oracle onto the Linux bandwagon. The company has pledged to ship a version of its Dynamic Server database for the freeware Unix-based OS early next year. Informix released a Linux version of its SE database back in July, largely to see what kind of reaction it would achieve. The high demand for that product led to yesterday's announcement. In fact, company bosses believe the OS is set to make major in-roads into corporate environments, where it is becoming a legitimite competitor for Windows NT. Dynamic Server for Linux is set to ship during Q1 1999. In the meantime, Informix will ship a Linux version of its Dynamic 4GL toolset. The company plans to support the OS throughout its product range. Other current Linux stories include: The Linux challenge to NT in the enterprise Intel, Netscape buy stakes in Red Hat Linux Intel puts its weight behind Linux - and Linus Click for more stories
Team Register, 30 Sep 1998

The Linux challenge to NT in the enterprise

Intel's spinmeisters are no doubt well-satisfied that reports of its excellent Linux adventure have so far focussed on the Red Hat aspect, while failing to notice the significance of the Linux grenade Intel lobbed in, a couple of hours before Netscape started blabbing to the reporters about Red Hat. The reason they'll be happy is because although Intel wants to broaden its range of friends beyond the Wintel straightjacket, it wants its little deviations to have a certain amount of deniability. This doesn't stop them annoying Microsoft immediately, and probably won't stop a more overt breach ultimately, but so long as Intel can still claim its relationship with Microsoft is still strong, it can carry on playing footsie with the opposition and claiming to be neutral. Hell guys, we just make the CPUs, we don't want no trouble… The Red Hat deal obviously helps Red Hat a lot, but from Intel's perspective can be portrayed as not mattering much. The (undisclosed) investment is relatively small compared to the total amount Intel has invested as venture in smaller companies, and much the same goes for Netscape's investment. Netscape and Intel can talk about the growing importance of Linux in the enterprise, and Red Hat can use the investment to set up an enterprise sales operation. But a challenge to Microsoft? Linux shipments are healthy, but they'd have to increase by a factor of ten before they seriously started to hurt Gates' company. That of course didn't stop Microsoft's ever-watchful and ever paranoid execs noting that Linux was their biggest threat last week. But this time the execs are right, because Intel's plans for Linux will hit Microsoft right where it hurts - NT. Intel didn't say much yesterday about the Red Hat investment, but it did roll out a series of initiatives (Intel puts its weight behind Linux - and Linus) designed to support Linux in general and to boost its uptake. These, which included Intel joining Linux International, constituted the really important announcement from yesterday. They were in effect designed to place Linux in the same kind of advantageous position as Windows is on the Intel platform. The essence of the Wintel alliance is really that it produces a commodity platform. Intel pitches its hardware as standard, cheap to build in volume for a ready mass market, while Microsoft does the same for the software. So NT's assault on the corporate network is based on it running on standard, cheap platforms, easy application integration, and easy deployment (NB, this is the brochure - we don't necessarily believe this stuff). At the same time as pursuing a strategy of close integration of hardware and software with Microsoft, Intel has been trying to do similar things with the Unix market. Intel-based servers can be presented as cost-effective, maybe not as scalable as the big Unix boxes from Sun and IBM, but you can always achieve the power you need just by deploying more of them. Which means Intel sells more boxes. But there are problems. There's no standard Unix that can go onto an Intel box as readily as NT does, and although the UDI initiative will help by moving towards standardisation of drivers, it's obviously not a complete solution. Intel also has problems with the vendors, because although there are versions of Unix for Intel from enterprise server suppliers, these companies have their own Risc boxes aimed at the enterprise, so for example you'd hardly see Sun cannibalising its revenues by pushing Intel Solaris. Paradoxically, this means Unix is missing a trick. On the Intel platform so far the only real challenger for large-scale enterprise networking applications has been NT, so the corporations tend to look at their current systems, quite probably Unix and/or mainframe-based, then look at NT and then decide not to do anything right now. NT sales have gone up, sure, but enterprise customers prepared to bet the business on it are still in short supply. You can see how this frustrates Intel, even without taking account of the fact that NT deployment is now stalled for about another year until NT 5.0 is out. So casting its eyes around, Intel identified Linux as a logical candidate (possibly the only logical one) for giving a helping hand into the enterprise. Corporate perceptions so far have limited the uptake of Linux in business, but endorsement from Intel and Netscape will help, and note also how Intel pitched its announcement. It was talking about Linux being a good platform for ISPs, i.e., it was aligning it against big, enterprise-class servers from Sun and IBM. The route Intel proposed for Linux (in the really important announcement, that is) could perhaps be seen as a sort of distributed Wintel. Intel likes to work closely with companies in order to make the hardware and software combination closely integrated, fast and commodity. Linux itself isn't a company, but Intel reckons it can do a similar job by plugging itself into, and offering a high level of R&D and technical support to, that thing out there which is the Linux community, and which appears to be able to establish and adhere to standards without anybody owning anything. If it all works according to plan, it'll be possible to buy systems that are to all intents and purposes shrink-wrapped combinations of Intel-based hardware and Linux software, and as Linux will finally have established a legitimacy in the business end of the market, actually going out and buying them will become more and more of a no-brainer. The next move, trust us, will be for a major PC vendor to start pushing Linux actively. Watch Dell and Gateway. ® Other current Linux stories include: Informix becomes latest Linux recruit Intel, Netscape buy stakes in Red Hat Linux Intel puts its weight behind Linux - and Linus Click for more stories
John Lettice, 30 Sep 1998

IBM, StorageTek extend agreement

IBM and StorageTek have struck a further deal in a bid to head off opposition from competitors. The companies said that they will improve the IBM RAMAC Virtual Array next year, providing four times the number of addressable columes, from 256 to 1024. Other enhancements include the planned introduction of 3390-9 device emulation. IBM and StorageTek will also improve cache memory from 4Gb to 6Gb, coupled with faster microprocessor technology. The additions to the technology are prompted by customer need, said IBM. Over 50 per cent of SnapShot users, according to research from the Evaluator Group, have increased their online windows by four or more hours a day. ® Click here for more stories
A staffer, 30 Sep 1998

LG rolls out $899 super-CE machine

LG this week rolls out one of the first CE machines ready for Microsoft's new 'Jupiter' version of the OS. The Phenom Express is going on sale in the US price $899, and includes a built-in software modem, IRDA port and claimed 12 hour battery life. It runs CE 2.0, and the ROM is flash upgradeable. The machine has 32 megabytes RAM and a 256 colour 640x240 screen, together with a VGA out port for use in presentations. At the price and the spec, it's effectively one of the most obvious manifestations of CE devices starting to blur into the Intel subnotebook space. In the US LG will be presenting it as the "ultimate mobile email device," and is including sign-ups for a large number of ISPs. Earlier this year at CeBIT however LG demonstrated a range of wireless Phenoms that were GSM-capable. So another ultimate mobile email device ought to be along RSN. ® Click for more stories
John Lettice, 30 Sep 1998

CA and SGI take enterprise management to the Web

Computer Associates' Unicenter TNG enterprise management software is moving into the Web site provisioning market, following its adoption by SGI as its only optimised management component for its Internet platforms. The Unicenter TNG Web Management Option (snappy name, people) can be used by SGI customers to monitor business-critical Web functions and to automate Internet/intranet functions. SGI is using the software as part of its drive for market share in ISPs and large-scale Internet sites. "More and more companies are deploying sophisticated Internet services as critical components of their sales, marketing and operations functions. And with the growing popularity of the Internet, the constituencies of these sites are often very large," said Mike Apker, director of marketing, Internet Systems Division for Silicon Graphics. "The incorporation of Unicenter TNG management technology into our high-end Internet services platform gives customers the facilities they need to assure that their technology investments deliver business results and that ongoing ownership costs can be kept to a minimum." Unicenter monitors Web site activity, giving data on CPU usage, hits, traffic load, disk space use, status of services, and other different server- and URL-specific parameters. It also reports on URLs receiving the most hits, URLs that users could not access because they couldn't be found, and the number of times users abandon attempts to download pages. We think we want one. ® Click for more stories
John Lettice, 30 Sep 1998

Sun and Oracle team to pilot subscription app delivery

Oracle has chosen Sun and its Solaris operating system as the platform for its initial excursion into the ASP (Application Service Provider) arena. The notion of an ASP, a version of an ISP which provides access to applications across the Internet, is seen as a Next Big Thing for the Web, and Oracle is pushing it hard via its Business OnLine application hosting environment. Oracle envisages the approach as being used by businesses to give secure access to corporate information and applications such as Oracle Financials and Applications, without the business necessarily having extensive internal IT resources or its own global network. The company also sees it as providing a route for a sort of Web-based outsourcing - Websourcing, where some of the company functions such as payroll or human resources could be outsourced to Web-based operations. There's a peculiar paradox associated with Websourcing "human" resources, isn't there? According to the terms of the latest deal, Sun will provide Oracle with the systems and services to move its applications to a new delivery model, and will provide core systems and services as the ASP market grows. The Oracle Business OnLine pilot will be hosted in an Oracle data centre in the San Francisco Bay Area, and will include a complete suite of Sun servers, storage and software for Business OnLine's deployment. Oracle intends to be using it to try out the provision of "applications for financials, manufacturing, distribution and human resources on a subscription basis." Subscribers will simply connect to the Internet in their usual way, and collect their appraisal, pay rise or downsizing via their browser. Well, we think that's what they mean. ® Click for more stories
John Lettice, 30 Sep 1998

Muth ‘the mouth’ accidentally boosts Linux

Somebody in Microsoft legal circles should speak to Ed Muth, enterprise marketing group manager for NT. He's been talking to ZDNN (Microsoft has many business ties with Softbank, ZDNN's parent) and his remarks could be used against Microsoft. Muth was reacting to the Intel/Netscape investment in Red Hat Software, and he clearly saw Linux as a competitor to NT. Referring to the investment and the fact that Linux itself is "free" (the fee charged for the CD-ROM is essentially a media and marketing charge), he said "It's a difficult business model to make work." But the comparison between the "free" "integrated" IE and Windows 9x was just too close for this argument. So why did Microsoft give IE away (when Netscape was charging for its browser) if that would make it a hard business model to follow? Muth then said that the "announcement" (Microsoft does not like to name Linux distributors such as Red Hat and Caldera, lest it publicises Linux beyond the trade press) would more likely affect other Unix vendors rather than NT. This suggests that Muth already believes that Linux is entering the corporate space (which is hardly the case on any scale - yet), because home users are extremely unlikely to have any other Unix flavour installed (and at home, it is mostly being used in a dual boot with Windows, or as an alternative to Windows). Muth evidently finds it hard to see Linux as a movement that owes much of its success to a reaction against Microsoft's hegemony. He sees Linux as a company competing with Microsoft when he says: "Companies need to protect their IP territory. Otherwise, there is no reason to stay in business." The Ziff piece also dug out a lawyer, a certain Rich Gray, to suggest that the Linux model may not last because "Linux could be co-opted by an applications maker. If a company invented a killer app for Linux and didn't use the code, you could corner the market by controlling access to that application." That could make two people who might soon be pursuing other interests. ® Click for more stories
Graham Lea, 30 Sep 1998

Judge hastens Oracle vs Microsoft

Both Oracle and Microsoft claimed victory last night after Judge Jackson issued a two-page order limiting the information that Oracle must disclose to Microsoft as a result of Microsoft's 9 September subpoena. Judge Jackson narrowed Microsoft's demand to actual agreements, which Oracle said was narrower than it had offered as a compromise to Microsoft, so it looks as though Oracle has won this facet of the case. Nor will the trial be delayed if the Judge has his way: he gave Oracle until 9 October to produce any documents to Microsoft, and said that "there would be no further delay". Donald Falk, for Oracle, said the order was very narrow, reflecting Microsoft's "pattern of overreaching in the trial, as elsewhere". Mark Murray, a Microsoft spokesman, said the order did not give either side what it wanted. In an extraordinary claim, Murray added that "our major competitors, including Oracle, are doing everything the government accuses Microsoft of doing, and then some". If this is true, Microsoft should clearly open up its records and provide the appropriate evidence to the DoJ. Microsoft revealed its defence strategy for one of its major problem areas in which it is alleged that Microsoft tried to carve up the browser market with Netscape by agreeing not to compete with Netscape in non-Windows markets -- if Netscape kept out of the Windows market. Microsoft wants to claim that such agreements (also known as illegal monopolisation) are commonplace in the industry. This is why Microsoft asked Oracle for "actual, proposed, discussed, possible, abandoned, suggested, contemplated and considered" agreements about an Oracle-Netscape deal for Netscape's browser (foolishly, Microsoft made an error with its logical operators: it should have said "OR" considered instead of "AND" considered, but the lawyers seemed to miss this point). Oracle agreed to drop development of its own PowerBrowser, just as Sun had dropped the development of its Hot Java browser, in favour of Netscape's. Other areas being probed by Microsoft for its defence include what happened at an alleged 1994 meeting at which IBM, Oracle, Sun and others schemed up a "convoluted set of transactions" that would result in Lotus being sold in part to Novell in exchange for Novell offering Unix to Oracle. ® click for more stories
Graham Lea, 30 Sep 1998

Equanet delivers sales/profits growth

Equanet, the privately held corporate reseller, increased sales and profitability by nearly half for the year to June 30.
Drew Cullen, 30 Sep 1998

STORAGEsearch.com helps you search for… er… storage companies

A UK publisher has set up a web directory designed to help resellers and end-users quickly find manufacturers of storage products. Called STORAGEsearch.com, the directory goes live in incremental stages from October. Publisher ACSL said the content would focus mainly on manufacturers that specialise in third party storage, or which have significant business units that provided storage systems for computers made by a third party manufacturer. ® Click for more stories
Team Register, 30 Sep 1998

Hyundai, LG still at loggerheads

Desperate last minute negotions for the large family conglomerates (chaebols) have failed to resolve difficulties between Hyundai and LG. According to local English language paper The Korea Herald, that means that third parties will now be pulled into the discussions. The newspaper reported that President Kim and the South Korean government will now instruct local banks to target subsidiaries which are not liquid. That move could precipitate the chaebols to stop dragging their feet and complete the negotiations which have become something of a joke for the rest of the world. ®
A staffer, 30 Sep 1998

Transmeta letters to the editors

An unprecedented flood of emails arrived after our Transmeta stories this week. Some of them were hate mail which was interesting. Exactly why do people get so wound up about this, we ask ourselves? Anyway, the replies were so interesting that here's a selection of the ones that didn't use obscene language! The silicon chips run underground... The rumor around here in Silicon valley, is that Transmeta is building an x86 clone that internally uses VLIW techniques (ala Merced). The rumor is that they got prototype silicon some months back. It was running at 375Mhz , however this was considered too slow (remember that the chip has to convert x86 instructions into native vliw instructions so it might need very high frequencies to be competitive). The guy's name is Dave Ditzel (not Dinzel). He's somewhat of a joke among the microprocessor design community. Appeal for psychotherapy What part of "Gestalt" don't you understand? Welchen Teil von "Gestalt" verstehen Sie nicht? Burden of ancient instruction sets Transmeta's new chip shouldn't be burdened with an instruction set that's more than 15 years old. By concentrating on an efficient, modern design they should be able to make a chip that can emulate x86 code in software at a respectable speed and race ahead when running native code. Look at Acorn: when they came to design the next machine after their very successful BBC Micro, they could have looked for a speedier processor compatible with the 6502. Instead they weren't afraid to start again from scratch and build their own 32-bit RISC chip, at a time when everyone else was getting started with 16-bit CISC. They bundled a BBC Micro/6502 emulator (actually two) with every machine to run the extensive catalogue of educational programs available for the Beeb. The result? A decade on, you don't hear much about 6502-compatibles, but you can hardly have failed to notice the ARM and StrongARM. A soft answer averteth wrath I think you're full of shit. I think you're making this up to get hits. This is the last time I will visit your site. Irresponsible journalists can suck my left nut. Lord have Merced on us I doubt that anyone but Intel can get Merced compatability: too many of the architectural features are covered by patents. What they have to be hoping for is Merced-like performance. That may be possible, even with a 386-instruction set (derivative?). I'd be surprised if anyone but Intel could introduce a new instruction set at this stage. Twas brillig and the Alpha wabes Well, even Alpha-based NT systems have to run "DOS software" in the form of peripheral-card BIOSes; video cards in particular. They use software emulation, which is OK, because that's mostly a boot-time operation, and not a performance issue. Still, writing a PC emulator is not trivial. If Linus made it, I'll buy it... I don't think it really needs to run legacy DOS apps.. ONLY if it's going to be mainly a server chip. There are still a lot of DOS games out there that run better than their windows equivalents.. So its not going to be a "legacy" gamer chip. As for Linux..... I'm almost positive it'll run it. And Speaking for the linux community. I know I'll probably buy one just because Linus helped make it. When you're cleaning Windows (George Formby) Simply put. All the windows applications are compiled and built for x86. Porting to a new arch is not going to happen quickly or readily. Unless Transmeta's plans are WAY out in years, there won't be anyone for them to sell to. Leaning on the Linux on the corner of the street (George Formby) Actually, it makes no difference whether the transmeta chip supports dos, win 3 or even windows "nt'. The most important OS it needs to support is Linux - The moot is moot Any new hardware product should be able to easily run 16bit x86 code at 486 DX/50 speeds by using 100% software emulation. The question is moot in todays (sic) environment. Eek, it's the PowerPC Well... IMHO x86 compatibility is kind of like the VGA mode of your graphic cards... slow, somewhat inefficient (compared to other graphic mode), and limited in feature... I think maybe a processor with a translation chip either inside or outside the die, and with the ability to be turned off so it can run native RISC code, it might be a good idea... But take a look at NT, they abandoned MIS and PowerPC, now only x86 and DEC/Compaq Alpha are really supported... if Transmeta is not shooting for x86 compatibility, what are they shooting for? DEC/Compaq Alpha? I don't they they'd have the illusion of draming that Microsoft is gonna port the thing over for them... (AFAIK IBM did the work on PowerPC porting of NT...)
Spam of Birmingham, 30 Sep 1998

615 it still alive in a Transmeta way

We almost hesitate to write another Transmeta story after the barrage of mails and hate mails we got. (Now see the updated story: Microsoft killed the 615 -- information from inside IBM Micro.) B
Mike Magee, 30 Sep 1998

SCO release UnixWare for IA-64

SCO has begun shipping its version of UnixWare for Intel's forthcoming 64-bit Merced processor to selected SCO OEMs and ISVs. UnixWare for Merced Build Level 2 (BL2) is a full 64-bit UnixWare kernel and utility set, and features the IA-64 dynamic library linking. The OS ships with a full SDK, which can be hosted on IA-64 or current 32-bit environments. Full 64-bit addressing is supported, allowing UnixWare BL2 to access over 1TB of RAM and up to 8EB (1024GB) of disk space. The company has also announced a new software architecture that will allow 32-bit applications to run in the IA-64 environment. ISVs can simply recompile current 32-bit software without the need to change the structure of their applications. According to SCO, it will "allow ISVs to ensure the developments on IA-32 are fully upward compatible [with] Merced". &ref; click for more stories
Team Register, 30 Sep 1998

How to Drop DOS (and still play games)

Recently, a number of big players have started exploring how they might drop legacy support from their new systems. Examples include Windows NT, Merced, and now Transmeta. Technologically, this is a good move, as it makes it possible to discard the 20-year-old x86 architecture and all its bizarre quirks. It also allows potential independence from legacy DOS and Windows APIs. But, there is a problem: how to guarantee a smooth transition for current computing environments to a completely incompatible system? And just how important is this? It is critical to maintain backwards compatibility, but with one major proviso: DOS/Win95 compatibility becomes irrelevant in the presence of a complete DOS/Win95 emulator. Before exploring the solution, let's examine the problem. Computer gaming is arguably the major driver for consumer upgrades of both hardware and OS. This is illustrated by recent successes with short-lifecycle, 3D graphics cards, where gamers have been persuaded to update their graphics capabilities (and often their CPU) two or three times in the last two years. Computer gamers are also most resistant to changes in the support of legacy software, and with the most reason. Where large corporations continue to use old desktop operating systems purely on the basis of monetary concerns, for gamers migration to an incompatible system makes it impossible to play their old favourites, for which they still remember paying hard-earned money. The corporation will, at some point, upgrade their software to the latest and greatest. Gamers will never have this option, as a game written for DOS and a 386 will never be updated to Windows 2000. This would appear to be an irreconcilable impasse. But examination of certain communities on the Internet suggests a viable compromise. In a word, the answer is an emulator. On the Internet, there is a thriving community of emulator users. Complete, cycle-accurate emulators are available for the Commodore 64 and Apple II, amongst others. These run at reasonable speeds on 486-generation computers (some better than others). They are programmed by hobbyists, often individuals with no support beyond the emulator community. At a slightly different level, emulators of Windows 3.1 are available that run on UNIX-based systems. Here, the complexity has greatly increased, but the level of emulation has also changed, since emulation of hardware is no longer required. If these emulators can be written in people's spare time, a large corporation should have no trouble writing an emulator for DOS or Windows 95. But it still remains to examine the viability of an emulator, so let's examine the DOS situation. The last games written for DOS alone mostly ran fine on a Pentium 60 (in fact very few needed more than a 486DX2/66). The standard, high-end, consumer CPU is currently a Pentium II/350 (roughly). This runs approximately 24 times faster than a Pentium 60 (I'm guessing x4 for two generations, x6 for clock speed -- bus speed is irrelevant, as nothing extra is happening on the bus). Hence, it shouldn't be difficult to build a complete, cycle-accurate, DOS emulator that runs on Windows NT at faster than 1/24 the speed of native DOS on the same machine. All we need is for someone to build it. (And Microsoft is best placed to do so, but how does one let them know?) If you add a year to the equation, the same can be done for Win95. Naturally, one could argue that an emulator is unnecessary, as you can simply install a second operating system. Even ignoring the issue of hardware dropping legacy support (eg: Merced), this is not a truly acceptable solution. The goal is to make it unnecessary to reboot the machine (since we all know how annoying and lengthy a process that can be). Rather, we want to be able to store all our old games on the same system and run them at the click of a button. Of course, given the probable processing demands of the emulator, it would help if most other operations of the OS could be suspended during the operations of the game (or other applications). Gamers tend to be early-adopters for new releases of hardware and software, yet they will often play old favourites from their youth(when 8-bit computers were all the rage). If Microsoft, Intel and other companies expect this important market to upgrade to incompatible systems in the near future, they will have to make provision for the legacy requirements of these users. It took a while for Microsoft and Intel to realise the size and strength of this market segment. Perhaps it's time for them to re-examine their legacy-support strategies -- if they wish to stay on top of the game.® Click here for more stories
Paulius Stepanas, 30 Sep 1998

IBM Java business apps reach version 3

SanFrancisco, IBM's application business components for Java, has now reached version 3 with the addition of accounts receivable/accounts payable, multiple currency support and additional platform support. IBM's approach differs sharply from components for specific industries, the route adopted by most other vendors including Microsoft. It is perhaps an order of magnitude more difficult to write frameworks for general use, and indicative of IBM's focus on conglomerates that may wish to use its components across different industries to give more uniform financial control. Apart from AIX, NT and OS/400, the additional platforms supported are Solaris, HP-UX and Siemens Reliant Unix using Oracle. There are some 750,000 lines of Java code and 800 components. Next year, SanFrancisco will migrate to Enterprise Java Beans, as will all IBM's middleware and server products as the EJB spec matures. IBM plans the migration by means of native interfaces. IBM says the components can run on any EJB-compliant server, which shows just how far IBM has changed since its proprietary days. IBM's purpose in developing SanFrancisco is -- apart from making money -- to make it possible for developers to mix and match server-side components to build electronic business applications. IBM's VisualAge for Java has wizards that were designed to work with SanFrancisco to help developers extend the frameworks to applications. Some 700 ISVs have licensed the technology. ® click for more stories
Graham Lea, 30 Sep 1998