18th > February > 1999 Archive

The Register breaking news

AMD admits K6-III called K6-III

Updated AMD has admitted its K6-3 is called the K6-III. Its own Web site had the information up but now the URL is returning a server error! (See AMD to call K6-3 the 'AMD K6-III'). If you went to AMD's FAQs about the K6-III you will have seen that AMD had finally admitted the fact. Many of you will have seen this page but see it no longer... Only a died-in-the-wool cynic would suggest that AMD has used Roman numerals because Intel's Pentium III has its "preview day" later on, today. More red faces at AMD, no doubt. The great advantage of making mistakes like this is that you can wipe them out at a stroke of the HTML writer's QWERTYUIOP. We invite emails from eye witnesses who saw the offending AMD URL... Not that it matters much anyway. A search on K6-III produced this URL about Digital Anvil, which AMD itself released on 11 February. Therein, the K6-3 is called the K6-III... You read it here -- first... ®
The Register breaking news

$399 PC outfit aims for $1bn sales in 99

Korean-backed low-cost PC operation EMachines plans to go public around the end of the year, and is aiming to become the first start-up to crack $1 billion in sales in its first 12 months. The company, set up in the US as a joint venture between Trigem and Korea Data Systems, sells PCs for as little as $399 through retail channels, taking advantage of lower production costs in Korea and turning the screws some more by coming in a couple of hundred dollars under rival lowest bids. EMachines is currently claiming to be on target to sell 1.7-2 million PCs this year, having managed 180,000 in the last weeks of last year. These numbers, it says, are coming from a new level of first time buyer market, rather than existing PC buyers. ®
The Register breaking news

Andreessen wasn't paying attention at key meeting – MS exec

MS on Trial Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen couldn't have taken accurate notes of the infamous 'browser carve-up' meeting of 1995 because he was doing his email instead, claims Microsoft exec Dan Rosen. Andreessen's notes of the meeting, where Netscape alleges Microsoft offered a deal whereby MS got the Windows browser market and Netscape the rest, are crucial evidence in the DoJ's case. Microsoft has hotly denied that it ever made such an offer, and has also denied (less convincingly, given Bill Gates suggests it in an email) that it offered to take a stake in Netscape. Rosen was at the meeting, and says no such offer was made. But he also says Andreessen's notes can't be accurate, because the feckless youth wasn't paying attention. He was sending, reading and replying to emails. If true, this is pretty rum conduct for a senior exec of a hot-shot company in the midst of a major summit with a rival/potential partner. And wasn't the meeting held at Microsoft premises? If so, Marc must have asked for access to a phone line, which is even more bizarre conduct. So a Register appeal. Any readers who received email from Marc Andreessen on 21 June 1995, please come forward. Alternatively, Microsoft can prove the truth of Rosen's claims simply by subpoenaing the relevant emails and comparing their send times with the meeting schedule. ® Complete Register trial coverage
The Register breaking news

Chase: AOL ships IE so it can hurt MS case

MS on Trial Despite its takeover of Netscape, AOL decided to continue its deal with Microsoft over Internet Explorer until 2001. But it only did this in order to help the Department of Justice win its antitrust case against Microsoft, says MS VP Brad Chase. Chase's paranoid reasoning is all too characteristic of senior Microsoft execs. As part of its deal with Netscape AOL has a commitment to develop a new generation of browser technology. AOL is the biggest ISP in the world by a long chalk, and so obviously is going to switch to Netscape-based technology, and away from Microsoft IE, in the long run. Up to this point, we're probably all with Chase's logic. But then he goes running off in a different direction. Normal people might reckon that postponing a switch from IE to Navigator makes sense for AOL because it needs to plan the move, and needs to avoid unnecessary disruption for users. A year would seem to make sense as a minimum period for delay, given that AOL also has to be careful in how it digests Netscape. Chase however may be too familiar with Microsoft's use of the Big Red Switch approach to software upgrades and migrations. He figures AOL could boost Netscape's share instantly if it wanted to, and if it doesn't want to, then it must have a more nefarious reason than mere customer care. If it switched to Navigator he figures its 15 million users would take Netscape's market share, which he puts as neck-and-neck with IE at 50 per cent, up to 70 per cent. Microsoft's would go down to 30 per cent, and that would severely hole the DoJ's case. Bizarre? Possibly. And note also how his claim boosts the importance of AOL, and maybe undermines efforts by MS to downplay the significance of its dealings with the company. His numbers are pretty well correct, as AOL does add something in the region of 20 per cent to IE's total market share, but that means that Microsoft's distribution deals must have been rather more important, and browser quality, less so, than Microsoft has been claiming. ® Complete Register trial coverage
The Register breaking news

Compaq to get EMEA shake-up?

One nice thing about going to see Eckhard Pfeiffer, Compaq's CEO, whenever he makes an appearance at the gruesome Landmark Hotel, is that you get to chinwag with foreign journalists you only see at gigs like this. And so The Register found itself chatting to a colleague from other climes in the Great Western Bar in Marylebone Station, just a few yards from the Landmark. We certainly weren't aware that Joe McNally, managing director of Compaq UK, had responsibility for all the African markets, including South Africa and Kenya, with country managers reporting to him. Nor were we aware that Compaq was about to open up operations in Nigeria in the next few weeks, with the country manager there also reporting to McNally. Is this new? We don't know. But it does give a whole new meaning to EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa). The 'A' drops off the end, for instance. McNally, who started Compaq UK, is obviously a more powerful player in the structure of things than we had thought. ® RegOid 555 The Landmark Hotel used to be the Great North Western Hotel, charging a mere 15 shillings (75p) a night when Marylebone Station opened 100 years ago. A night at the Landmark will set you back several hundred pounds sterling.
The Register breaking news

1GHz Intel story takes on Alice-like dimensions

UK Journalists are cynical in the extreme. Be clear and firm about your arguments -- from Intel's internal publication Working with the European Press Intel is now denying that it will demo a 1GHz .18 micron chip by year end. Or should that first par read: Intel is not denying that it will demo a 1GHz .18 micron chip by year end? If it is denying it, that means that it will have to redraw its own slides. (Slides and story: Intel's plans for 1GHz microprocessors) The denial came in the shape of a comment to TechWeb by a US Intel spin paramedic, after the US online service read our story and saw our slides on the Wibbly Wobbly Web. But shortly after we filed our story this morning, we had a call from a source close to Intel's plans which suggests it will demo such a part. And it could be as early as next week, at the Intel Developer Forum in roadrunner land, Palm Springs. Only the paramedics survive... Pierre Mirjolet, an Intel EMEA architecture marketing manager, did tell around a dozen UK hacks, including some from chippy titles Electronics Weekly and Electronics Times that it would demo a 1GHz processor this year. Meanwhile, a source close to Intel US, tells The Register that Intel used Kryotech technology to achieve clock speeds of 700MHz at CeBIT in Germany, last year. ® RegOid 1865 "...you can have no idea what a delightful thing a Lobster Quadrille is!" Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, chapter X.
The Register breaking news

Videologic jumps into bed with Aureal

Aureal Semiconductor has recruited Videologic to the A3D sound chip camp, in a deal which will see the two companies pitch head to head in the European retail market against Creative Labs. Videologic has begun shipping the new Aureal-powered SonicVortex2 soundcard through its distribution and retail channels. This will retail in the UK for around £64.99. The Sonic Vortex Card is based on Aureal's Vortex2 audio processor with A3D 2.0 positional audio complete with the company's proprietary 'wavetracing' technology. This is a neat piece of software that delivers the aural equivalent of 3D graphics. Using Aureal wavetracing algorithms, games developers can automatically generate sound pictures in real time from the geometry of the games environment. According to Aureal veep Brendan 0’Flaherty, more than 200 games are already A3D-enabled. Videologic will join Diamond Multimedia in selling A3D-enabled soundcards in the European retail channel. At the same time, 3DSL, Aureal's Northern European sales representative, has appointed UK disties Boston and Real Time Distribution to seed Aureal technology into the system builder market. ® See also Aureal revenues up 16x Aureal sues Creative Technology VideoLogic boosts UK channel
The Register breaking news

IBM confirms Linux deal with Red Hat

Big Blue and Red Hat revealed today details of their business alliance, forged to provide, market and support Red Hat's Linux distribution on IBM's desktop and server hardware. As anticipated, the deal will see the two companies collaborate to offer what they term "enterprise-level" technical support, long seen as one of the chief barriers to the widespread adoption of Linux within corporates. Red Hat will also provide customer training. The systems themselves will be offered through IBM's Business Partners channel. To promote the operating system, the two companies agreed to conduct enterprise-targeted joint-marketing programmes, though neither offered details beyond making it clearer that various Red Hat Web sites are hosted on Netfinity kit. However, the key part of the deal is the agreement to optimise IBM hardware -- the official announcement lists PC 300 desktops and Netfinity servers, both expected to be part of the alliance, plus IntelliStations and ThinkPads, which are new additions -- to run Red Hat Linux better. Quite what these optimisations will be remains to be seen, but the goals are improved performance, reliability and security. It should also involve widening Linux's support of various types of hardware, such as PC Card slots and cards (vital for ThinkPad support, obviously), another area in which Linux has its limitations. If so, that could give Red Hat Linux a significant lead on other distributions, such as SuSE and Caldera's OpenLinux, beyond just being associated with the IBM brand. It's not clear whether these extensions to Red Hat Linux will only be available on IBM-sourced systems, and given IBM seems to be doing most of the work to create them, that seems likely. But if the deal gives Red Hat access to them too, it will certainly bring it nearer to becoming the de facto standard Linux distribution. ® See also Big Blue to ship Linux on x86, PowerPC systems
The Register breaking news

HP comes over all aggressive with direct PC sales

Hewlett-Packard (HP) plans to adopt a more aggressive sales approach which will see the vendor sell its Brio PC range direct over the Web. The vendor has said it will actively seek contact with its customers and that it will shift its emphasis away from PC product development to sales and support. HP’s critics have accused the company of complacency, alleging it had assumed it would easily take custom from a confused post-acquisition Compaq/Digital. This has not been the case. The Brio-over-the-Web scheme will run in the US initially, but HP has not ruled out introducing it to Europe. Jean-Jacques Ozil, Brio marketing manager, said: "We have no intent to go direct in Europe in the short term but we will be monitoring customer response in the US." Ozil said that by short-term he meant the remainder of this year. CSL analyst Clive Longbottom said HP is suffering from the problems effecting all indirect sellers. Longbottom said: "HP tried a misguided attempt to show the Compaq/Digital merger wasn’t going to work. It wanted to show it had improved margins, and to do this it cut off communications with customers and the channel to cut costs. Meanwhile, sales plummeted and the Digital integration into Compaq went much more smoothly than was expected." Longbottom said this put HP in a weak position at the start of 1999, and the company needs to get back on track. "They need to get back to their grass roots - encouraging corporate buyers to take HP against Dell or Compaq - the margins are still higher here, and the purchase volumes are 100s or 1000s, as opposed to the high cost 1-1 sell." Next month HP is expected to launch a personalised communication service for the channel - Electronic Solution News, or ESN - providing personalised electronic communication. ®
The Register breaking news

AOL names Andreessen chief tech officer

AOL has confirmed that Netscape co-founder and CTO Marc Andreessen will become its overall chief technology officer provided the merger between the two companies proceeds as planned. Andreessen will essentially become AOL CEO Steve Case's tame tech pundit. His role, said AOL, is not to oversee the company's ongoing technology development programmes -- whether under the AOL banner or Netscape's -- but to evaluate emerging technologies that will help the company extend its 'AOL Anywhere' strategy. The 27-year-old will also help formulate Internet policy, particularly in relation to Netscape's three-year technology and marketing deal with Sun. Proving what a bloody nice bloke he really is, Andreessen also wants to act as the merger's unofficial marriage guidance counsellor, bringing the different company cultures together. "I would hope to be a real catalyst... to splice those genes together," he said in an interview with the Reuters newsagency. ®
The Register breaking news

Japanese chip production investment stalls

Japan's five leading semiconductor producers do not intend to expand chip production during 1999, a report in Japanese business newspaper Nihon Keizai Shimbun has claimed. The manufacturers -- NEC, Toshiba, Hitachi, Mitsubishi and Fujitsu -- are currently preparing their spending plans for the coming financial year, due to begin after the end of March. However, investment in semiconductor plant and equipment is almost certain not to exceed last year's spending, and may well be some way below it, the report said. The paper blamed the manufacturers' investment hesitancy not only the massive level of spending in previous years -- most notably the Y890 billion the companies together spent on plant in 1995 -- and the operating losses all five companies' semiconductor divisions are set to report for fiscal 1998. The projected combined spend for 1999 is Y430-460 billion, around half of 1995's figure and the same as 1998's. NEC, Japan's largest semiconductor producer, is set to contribute Y130-150 billion to that total. This year it spent Y150 billion. ®
The Register breaking news

Compaq CEO sets time for Alta Vista IPO

Compaq CEO Eckhard Pfeiffer has given the company's Alta Vista subsidiary a six-month deadline to ready the Internet search engine for its IPO. Speaking to the French newspaper La Tribune, Pfieffer reiterated the grand strategy for Alta Vista he outlined in the UK earlier this week (see Pfeiffer to re-engineer Compaq as Internet company). However, while he previously gave no indication when the IPO would take place, this time Pfeiffer said the work preparing Alta Vista for its share issue would be complete in around six months' time. "All of this work, meant to make the site more attractive, should take less than six months," he said. That would suggest an autumn filing for the search company's IPO prospectus -- called an S-1 filing. The timing would be propitious: that timeframe would see the IPO taking place around the time of the first anniversary of Compaq's decision to buy Alta Vista (see Compaq wakes up to portal potential). Compaq's gameplan for Alta Vista emerged earlier this year when the company bought Shopping.com for $220 million, and was first reported by The Register (see Alta Vista set to go it alone). ®
The Register breaking news

NatSemi Cyrix licenses Rambus for Jalapeno

National Semiconductor's Cyrix subsidiary yesterday said it had licensed Rambus' Direct DRAM memory interface, and that it planned to support the technology in upcoming system-on-a-chip products. Cyrix executive VP Jean-Louis Bories said the decision to license Rambus memory technology was prompted by the bandwidth requirements of the company's high-speed x86-compatible CPUs. "As our integrated processors approach speeds of 1GHz, high memory bandwidth and low latency become ever more critical to achieving the optimum balance of performance and cost," he said. The technology will be added to Cyrix's forthcoming 600MHz-and-up M3 chip based on the Jalapeno x86 core, the speed of which is known to be highly dependent on memory performance because its design increases processing speed by handling instructions in sequence rather than running them in parallel. Today's announcement came as no big surprise. Last year, Jalapeno project manager Greg Grohoski told The Register that Jalapeno and the M3's on-chip memory manager would both require the speed and bandwidth only Rambus could offer (see Cyrix, IDT, Rise ready low-end PC processors). The Jalapeno-based M3 is due to sample in Q4 -- standalone Jalapeno chips should become available next year. ®
The Register breaking news

Hyundai exec admits Rambus shortage

Hyundai Electronics VP of marketing Mark Ellsbery yesterday added his voice to the chorus of memory producers and chip-set vendors predicting limited availability of Rambus Direct DRAM throughout the year. "There will be a shortage of RDRAMs in 1999," he said, words that echo the warning given on Tuesday by the head of Fujitsu's semiconductor division, Masao Taguchi (see earlier story). Said Taguchi: "1999 is not going to be a Direct Rambus year." Ellsbery's comments came as his company announced it would begin shipping 64Mb RDRAMs and 72Mb error correction and compensation (ECC) RDRAMs in commercial quantities May before ramping up production to full volume by July. By October, the company hopes to have moved up to 128Mb/144Mb-density part, followed by a 128Mb unit. 256Mb RDRAM will go into production in Q2 2000, said Ellsbery, though even by the end of next year, it will still account for no more than ten per cent of the product mix. ® See also Intel, chip-set vendors prepare for Rambus shortage
The Register breaking news

MS only decided to integrate IE in March 97

MS on Trial The Register can exclusively reveal that the actual decision to bundle Internet Explorer with Windows 98 was not made until at least 28 March 1997, contrary to many claims and thin documentation from Microsoft. The evidence is in an email to Microsoft witness and vp Brad Chase dated 27 March 1997 from Kumar Mehta, who does market research for Chase. Mehta noted that Bob Foulon was gathering data for a meeting Gates was having the next day, and "Apparently they are going to discuss whether IE and Memphis [Windows 98] should be bundled together." Mehta copied to Chase his email to Foulon in which he wrote: "My feeling, based on all the IE research we have done, is that it is a mistake to release Memphis without bundling IE with it." Boies did not use this bundling reference in his cross examination of Chase, although he did use the document, so perhaps he is saving the meat for a dramatic denouement during his closing arguments - unless it has been overlooked of course. Boies did prepare the ground earlier by asking Chase if "Mehta was a person of competence and integrity". Chase was unequivocal: "Yes, he is." This will make it very difficult for Microsoft to shoot the message sender, as it has been doing to dismiss documents it wishes were not on the record. The revelation that IE and Windows 98 "integration" was not decided until so late will shake the foundation of Microsoft's case that Windows 98 (which was targeted for 1996, Chase admitted) was always planned as an integrated product. It also harms the Court of Appeals decision that allowed Microsoft to combine IE and Windows, and will further undermine Microsoft's credibility. This email equates to a dozen coffin nails. ® Complete Register trial coverage
The Register breaking news

Connectix plans Windows launch for PlayStation emulator

Connectix president Roy McDonald yesterday confirmed the company is developing a Windows version of its controversial Mac-based PlayStation emulator, Virtual GameStation (VGS). Ever since VGS was launch back at the beginning of January, there has been much speculation that Connectix would follow up its Mac release with a Windows version. However, until now the company has refused to say that a Wintel release was in the pipeline, probably as much out of fear of further antagonising Sony, which is currently preparing a lawsuit against it, as for commercial reasons. That will put VGS up against Bleem, a little-known commercial Windows PlayStation emulator currently in development. Speaking in a chat session hosted by Web site World Without Borders, McDonald said that VGS development was continuing despite the imminent legal action, and that Connectix was focusing on improving not only VGS' compatibility with PlayStation games -- so far only around 100 titles out of over 350 will work with VGS -- but its anti-piracy technology. Allegations that VGS in fact promotes the illegal copying of PlayStation CDs lie at the heart of Sony's case against Connectix (see Dissecting Sony's Game ). Moving ahead, McDonald said work on VGS would seek to add more features, including support for more game controllers, support for multiple players on the same host computer and ultimately Internet multiplayer capabilities. ®
The Register breaking news

Woman has virtual affair on Internet

A man who stabbed his wife nine times after she had "cybersex" with another man has been found guilty of causing grievous bodily harm by a West Australian Supreme Court. Father of three Barry McCormack stabbed his wife with a 22cm steak knife but said he did not intend to kill her, although he had thought about it at the time, he said. McCormack was acquitted of attempting to murder his wife, Alison Garton, but Justice Owen said he could still expect a lengthy prison term when he is sentenced. Although McCormack initially encouraged his wife to flirt with lecturer David Van Heurck "for a joke" he became suicidal and depressed when she became caught up in the online affair. She even made a tape recording of she and her husband making love before sending it to Heurck, according to a report from the Australian News Network. Justice Howe said the case was not about the appropriateness of their Internet activities or whether the cybersex affair had provoked McCormack to stab his wife. ®
The Register breaking news

NT4 not Y2K safe thanks to delayed patch

Microsoft is attempting to play down allegations that the CD version of Service Pack 4 (SP4) for Windows NT 4 might not see the light of day for another three months. SP4 is the missing link in making NT 4 year 2000 compliant, any delay in its release could have dire consequences for anyone planning to install it and then run Y2K checks on their systems. The SP4 CDs had to be re-cut after a ruling in the Java court case prevented Microsoft from shipping any products with Java technology for another 12 weeks. SP4 is available as a download from the Microsoft Web site. However, at 32.7MB, this is not an option for many users who will still be waiting for the file to finish downloading as the year 2000 kicks in. The Register was contacted by one Microsoft customer who said he had been told that the CD was not available for at least 12 weeks. To verify these claims, The Register contacted the Microsoft Connection customer services helpline and was given the same information: "It's been delayed because of the Java court case and won't be available for around three months." Letters should be sent out this week informing customers, according to the Microsoft Connections personnel. But Microsoft UK's official representatives –- and assorted doctors of spin -– were at pains to silence such claims. "There is no delay. Not at all," said Francis Reay, Windows product marketing manager in the UK. "All the modifications have been made." But what about the customer advice from the customer advisors? "There has been an internal communications breakdown," came the reply. Ain't that the truth. Anyone doubting that a delay in the release of SP4 CDs could be serious, should direct their gaze to the Microsoft's own Web site. According to the site: "SP4 prepares the Windows NT 4 platform for year 2000 compliance by providing critical year 2000 system updates in a single source." The Web site goes on: "When Microsoft designed Windows NT 4, it did so with the year 2000 problem in mind. When developing software as complex as Windows NT, however, a few year 2000 bugs may creep into the product." There's more: "Microsoft has identified the following problems with Windows NT 4 and the year 2000:
The Register breaking news

Gladiator enters storage arena

Storage vendor MTI Technology will ship its Gladiator 6700 fibre channel device next week, targeting the storage area network (SAN) market. The scaleable RAID storage system allows customers to start at 218Gb for $149,000, and extends to 1Tb for $459,000. It also has a volume-mapping facility which allows a large storage array to be segmented off to different servers on a fibre channel-based SAN. California-based MTI said features such as volume-mapping, which protects against data corruption and storage wastage, are necessary tools for the SAN market. In addition, Gladiator 6700 is scaleable, so customers do not have to buy additional controllers to increase the number of hard drives. Claus Egge, IDC analyst, said the product had some good features, adding: "It shows that MTI is keeping up with the competition in this market." MTI’s UK office is in Godalming, Surrey. ®