31st > December > 1998 Archive
We were slightly amused yesterday to see that Reuters told the world that Intel had quietly cut prices on its existing Celerons at the beginning of the month. Its story was picked up by both the Wall Street Journal and CNET today.
If you thought that the Web was sad enough already, think on.
Taiwanese giant Acer is set to throw in its lot with Qualcomm, Nokia and LG Electronics to construct a combination personal computer and mobile telephony device, according to reports in Taipei. Acer Peripherals and major Compaq OEM Inventec have co-operated in the design of the devices, the first of which is scheduled to appear in 2000. The pair seem to be envisaging an integrated device, probably based on Acer's low-cost XC designs, which handles Internet, email and mobile telephony functions. It is also intended to use third generation (3G) cellular technology, so the choice of partners is significant. Acer has built mobile phones itself, but needs access to WCDMA technology in order to make the leap to broadband wireless. LG and Qualcomm are CDMA companies, while the presence of Nokia in the list might just hint at somee kind of impending Qualcomm-Nokia rapprochement. ®
In 1994 Microsoft was planning to bundle a form of 'personal ATM' with Windows 95, according to the testimony of Intuit executive William Harris, which was released yesterday. The WinATM project never flew, but according to Harris Microsoft had in that year been involved in a series of planning meetings with MasterCard and CheckFree. Harris says that Intuit didn't know of this project at the time in 1994 when Microsoft was planning to buy Intuit, but that Microsoft hinted at it. "Mike Maples of Microsoft had informed us that Microsoft had another deal very close to consummation with MasterCard that they would need to delicately unravel as a result of the agreement to acquire Intuit." Intuit found out about the WinATM project shortly after the acquisition plan was abandoned, when CheckFree CEO Pete Kight told Harris about it. WinATM was to be essentially a cut-down version of Microsoft Money with the added ability to connect to MasterCard's national ATM network for electronic data access and to CheckFree for bill payment. It would be bundled with Windows 95, and although it clearly wouldn't be possible to download electronic cash Mondex-style at this stage, the name of the project makes it pretty clear where Microsoft anticipated it going. At this stage of the planning it was also an obviously useful adjunct to the Microsoft Network, which in 1994 was being envisaged as Microsoft's own-brand version of the Internet with electronic billing included. Microsoft has on numerous occasions over the last few years insisted that it doesn't want to be a gatekeeper levying a toll for every single electronic transaction, but the WinATM project makes it clear how close it came. Harris says negotiations between Microsoft, MasterCard and Checkfree took place in Redmond, and names Nathan Myrvold and Steve Balmer as being involved - i.e., it was as one might expect a high-level project. In its 'prebuttal' yesterday (Microsoft attacks Intuit exec's testimony) Microsoft dismisses WinATM as a project that never got off the drawing board. It certainly didn't make it, but the high level negotiators plus the need to disengage carefully after an Intuit takeover suggests it was a little bit more than just a couple of Redmond boffins shooting the breeze. There will be plenty reasons why it didn't fly. Microsoft's proprietary attitude to the Net was severely modified over 1995, and the company also probably discovered that there were a hell of a lot more issues associated with connecting to financial networks than it had anticipated. And of course, smartcard technology wasn't there yet, so the logical progression of moving on to personal readers couldn't happen. But didn't Microsoft start making noises about smartcards a little earlier this year? ® Complete Register trial coverage
Sources close to AMD said today that future plans for the K7 are already well in place, after its Dresden fab comes onstream next year. AMD has always had designs to use copper, as first revealed by The Register when it talked to senior VP Dana Krelle at the introduction of the K6-2 in Versailles 15 months back. But now sources at the company have revealed that it will launch a 1000MHz K7-Intel buster early in the year 2000. They say it will have an even faster bus than the 200MHz on the second iteration of the K7, expected in the second half of 1999. Last July, The Register exclusively revealed that the K7 was taped out. At the time, a source told us that its Dresden fab will use copper interconnects in designing its chips. Earlier in that month, AMD and Motorola struck a cross licensing deal on the technology. Copper technology was invented by IBM Microelectronics in cooperation with Motorola. IBM is currently helping AMD to produce enough parts to support demand. Hopefully, when AMD can stand on its own fab feet, it won’t have to pay a huge amount to IBM to sever such an arrangement, as Cyrix-NatSemi did earlier this year... ®
Letters written by an Intel microprocessor designer to an Internet overclocking site have revealed that the practice is set to become a thing of the past.