22nd > February > 1999 Archive

The Register breaking news

i820 Camino pix thrash cyberspace

Intel Developer Forum -- Updated Not only has Japanese Web site Happy Cat posted pix of the infamous K6-III, it also seems to have quite a bit of info about i820 Camino as well as some other Intel trinkets. The latest news we had tonight was that Intel has slapped an injunction on the corner shop. Nevertheless, the site is still up and if Intel succeeds in its task, we have taken copies. If you go here to Happy Cat and scroll down the page, you'll see some pix labelled Intel SECRET. Plus there are Japanese words about Escondido, Calderon, the i742 and the i752. Escondido is Intel's codename for the next iteration of the Celeron, we can now reveal. Unfortunately, we did not pick up much Japanese during our trip to the country last year and we asked earlier on if someone could translate these words for us. And sure enough, a regular Japanese reader came up trumps. The source is the same one who gave us our K6-III scoop. And his translation of the words is as follows: "In addition to Intel's 810 (Whitney,VGA i742), Intel will disclose its Intel 815 which will support FSB133 SDRAM and integrated i752(Portola)." Camino will arrive in May, the translator said. But some of the dynamite is in a statement which said Intel would be forced to support PC133 memory, as revealed here only three days ago (see Intel forced to support PC133 DRAM). Intel representatives in Palm Springs tonight would only confirm that Escondido was one of their future codenames. Calderon is probably one of theirs as well. They attempted to persuade us that signing one of their famous non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) was in our best interests. But after examining the small print, we could not agree... ®
Mike Magee, 22 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

AMD K6-III is a go-go

Intel Developer Forum As expected, AMD will formally announce its K6-III processor today, a full three days ahead of Intel's official announcement of its Pentium III parts. If you are in the slightest bit interested in why The Register compares AMD to Tweedledee and Intel to Tweedledum, go here. The K6-III will initially be released at 400MHz, shipping immediately. AMD is promising that it will introduce the K6-III 450MHz in volume in March. The prices of the chips are expected to undercut Intel's Pentium III parts by a considerable amount, with pricing for the 400MHz just under $290 and the 450MHz part just over $470. But Intel is not likely to take this slash and burn effort by AMD lying down. Chip companies are notoriously aggressive and Intel will cut the price of its high-end Pentium IIs this week. It may also be forced to moderate prices on its Pentium IIIs. That will leave a bitter taste in Intel sales folks' mouths, if the decision is taken. It would have to be at the highest level of the corporation because shareholders would not be happy. As revealed here exclusively, the AMD K6-3, formerly codenamed Sharptooth, will now be re-named the K6-III, in an attempt to pitch the microprocessor family directly against Intel's Pentium III The real questions now hinge around whether or not the performance of the AMD parts compares favourably with the Pentium III parts. Intel has not yet released details of its benchmarks for the Pentium III, but is expected to do so on the day of its launch, Thursday. However, AMD cannot compete on the marketing and advertising side with Intel, which will spend $300 million promoting the Pentium III. The Great Satan of Haircuts (Compaq) is likely to announce support for the K6-III, as is Gateway, as revealed here. Dell is indifferent -- even though it is using Tandem non-stop stuff to support its supply chain. ®
Mike Magee, 22 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

S3 will be battleline between Intel, AMD

Chip company S3 patents are likely to be the raw piece of flesh in the battle between chip Pretender AMD and chip King Intel. This is like the film Elizabeth being acted out on the sub-micron level, if not necessarily in the Star Court chamber. But the intellectual property rights are likely to be thrashed out in court, according to observers and witnesses. The problems are complex. Intel, not long ago, struck a deal with S3 to license some of its rights, but as far as The Register can ascertain, some of those rights belonged first to AMD. That is likely to lead to a court battle in North America, where intellectual property rights are the crown jewels, libel is uncommon and slander practically unknown, in Common Law. For many years, chip companies have fought over what they regard as their crown jewels -- their patents. Intel's legal department has a brief to make a profit. This one should be interesting for the outsider to observe. AMD would also like to have a profit/loss department in legal matters, The Register is given to understand. AMD's chief clone rival, Cyrix, now part of NatSemi, managed to win considerable victories against Intel. Patent law is beyond us. If any lawyers are reading this, please email us on the issues but don't sue because the whole situation on the S3 patents is very confusing to us outsiders in Blighty. As is Internet legislation on libel, intellectual property and slander. ® Registroid You cannae get blud oot of a stone (Aberdeen Witches' Confession, 1591)
Mike Magee, 22 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

Two new lawsuits chase refunds for MS software users

Microsoft's lawsuits are heading for double figures (OK, we lost count) following the filing of two new actions against the company last week. Both suits claim Microsoft overcharges, and seek damages for consumers. One of the suits also names Compaq, Dell and Packard Bell-NEC as co-conspirators. The actions, one filed in California and another in Washington DC by a Texas company, seek class action status -- the claimants wish to act on behalf of the customers they claim have been overcharged by Microsoft, and to obtain damages for them. Microsoft described the actions as "plagiarism", and indeed class action suits in the US tend to have more than an element of fire engine chasing attached to them. The cost of Microsoft software has not, however, been a central plank of the DoJ's case against the company. The US states who united their case with the DoJ's had originally intended to focus on the price of Microsoft Office, but this aspect of the action was dropped before the case went to trial. But earlier this year the Consumer Federation of America issued a report (see Report calls for $10 billion fine) which claimed Microsoft had overcharged to the tune of $10 billion, and called for a fine of this level to be exacted as part of a remedy. If you were to share that out between, say, 100 million consumers it would still come to a fair whack. Still, the CFA's report was later slammed by a pair of economists as "poorly researched" and of highly dubious value (see MS pushes prices down, not up, claims study). That said Register readers, checking back over MS pricing as the economists claimed to have done, showed the duo's findings weren't entirely spot on either, at least on the Mac platform... ® Complete Register trial coverage
John Lettice, 22 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

Lotus insider trader gets probation

A man found guilty of insider trading during IBM's $3 billion hostile bid for Lotus has escaped with two years probation and 100 hours community service. Robert Cassano got off lightly because he co-operated with the investigation, but he seems to have been pretty small fry anyway. Cassano got early warning of the bid via a relative who worked at IBM's Armonk HQ. Lotus' stock price was $32 prior to the offer, and IBM bought at $64, but the handful of people Cassano informed netted $190,000, and Cassano himself only seems to have got a $4000 commission. Cassano also admitted buying stock in Spectrum Information Technologies after obtaining confidential information about its licensing plans. ®
John Lettice, 22 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

Intel to surrender to higher US authorities

A source told The Register this morning that the chances of Camino arriving in May were equivalent to winning in Las Vegas. As Las Vegas slots seem to be controlled by superhuman Quaker IBM S/390 mainframes, we therefore retract our earlier story. With apologies. But with reservations. The law suits initiated by the US Federal Trade Commission will delay all Intel developments when the case starts. If it ever does. Intel will suspend its roadmap, deliver its deliverables to the US Star Chamber, the Federal Trade Commission, bow its head and say: "You know best." -- according to our information, which is normally reliable. Intel has seen its software twin Microsoft being dragged through the courts and it don't want to endure it itself. Such a result would humiliate all concerned and software and chip companies have differing agenda. ®
Mike Magee, 22 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

UK Web TV programme isn't as unique as it claims

A bid to generate some PR puff for a new TV show devoted solely to the Internet has gone up in smoke. Andrew Bond, director of Genuine Web Technology, one of the companies behind the show, which will be broadcast on the Telewest cable network, boasts in a press release that .com will be the UK's "first dedicated Internet TV show". But The Register can confirm that .com has been pipped at the post by south coast ITV regional franchisee, Meridian Broadcasting, which has been running Cybercafe for the last three years or so. A spokeswoman for Meridian said she didn't know if Cybercafe was the UK's first dedicated Net show. A rather bemused and deflated Bond, who, coincidentally, will also co-host the show, said: "Oh..." With so much rubbish already talked about the Web, The Register hopes that the producers of .com improve their accuracy before the programme is broadcast next month. ®
Tim Richardson, 22 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

Kryotech takes K6-III to half a gig

Super cooling technology will make the AMD K6-III run at half a gigahertz, a company claimed today. Kryotech, a US company which uses cooling techniques, said it had managed to clock 500MHz using a 400MHz AMD K6-III chip. And a press release from the company said that the Pentium III, when released, will also achieve clock speeds of around one third more. The company's system is proprietary but as an AMD system in league with a Kryotech box goes to minus 40 degrees Celsius, it should give you an idea of how important cooling systems are with modern x.86 chips. We remember how when we had a plastic Acorn Atom box running a 6502 it overheated so much that the casing melted and we had to buy a hacksaw to give the beleaguered chip access to the outside world. A reader has pointed out that the 6502 was not a Motorola chip, as we originally said. In fact, Motorola tried to sue the company that made the 6502. But then we are old and also remember the 6502 advanced pipelining instruction set too. Another reader pointed out after we filed the original story that it did not have an advanced pipelining instruction set. He's probably too young to remember eight bit assembler programming. But if he's not, then we apologise. It was certainly more fun than programming the Zilog Z80... Kryotech claims it can flog a barebone K6-III system for around the $1,500 mark. The company is wrapped in mystery, not to say dry ice, and seems to be a start-up. Our understanding is that its technology is used by plenty of chip companies, to say the least. Ex-NCR engineers, possibly formerly based in Augsberg, Germany, could be behind the technology. But we cannot be sure here at The Register. Kryotech also seems to be able to make fast Digital Alpha chips run faster as well. Try a search on this site on Kryotech. ®
Mike Magee, 22 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

Citrix debuts latest software

Citrix has bolstered its product offering by bringing out two new systems management applications - Citrix Installation Management Services and Citrix Resource Management Services - and updating some old favourites. Installation Management Services is designed to enable IT managers to install an application on a server just once and then roll it out across the entire client network via a server farm of WinFrame or MetaFrame servers. Individual users will be notified of freshly installed applications by the appearance of a new icon on their desktop. This process is designed to save on the time involved in running application set-ups in order to publish new software applications across an organisation. Prior to the launch of this package, it would have been necessary to install any new application on all the organisation’s individual servers. Citrix Resource Management Services allows full system monitoring and application audits to be carried out in server environments. Such monitoring can be done in real time while WinFrame, MetaFrame and Windows Terminal Server can continue to be run at their optimum. It also works with most ODBC-compliant databases and other widely used analysis tools. In addition to the two new tools applications, Citrix has also refreshed WinFrame and MetaFrame - both are now in release 1.8. MetaFrame 1.8 offers better bandwidth performance, server redundancy and availability, along with improved multi-media capability. It also includes new ICA clients for Linux and SCO Unix users. This is intended to open up the use of Windows-based applications to users on a variety of different platforms without the need for additional hardware or software enhancements. A 15-user MetaFrame 1.8 licence has a list price of $5,995. WinFrame 1.8 is aimed at users operating in Windows NT 3.51 environments. The latest release contains Seamless Windows - a feature that allows users to access multiple Windows-based applications. It also has audio support, a tool to allow one user to shadow other users and ALE Wizard, which automatically generates HTML when deploying Windows-based applications via the Internet. It is also priced at $5,995 for a 15-user licence. ® Citrix and ASPs to build on Microsoft licensing changes Microsoft Terminal Server policy collapses
Sean Fleming, 22 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

Government to target jobless with vacancy Web site

More than a year after the Employment Service (ES) launched its Web site, it has finally decided to use it to publicise jobs. Working in partnership with the outsourcing and services giant EDS, ES hopes that the site will eventually hold around 5,000 vacancies including hard-to-fill jobs and positions in Europe. At the moment, the site simply publishes information and is of little practical help to jobseekers. The new service is due to be launched on 1 April but according to a spokesman from the UK's third largest advice agency, it is no laughing matter. "This is an area where resources should have been directed sooner," said a spokesman for the Merton Unemployed Workers Centre, one of a network of advice centres around the country devoted to helping the unemployed. "Like most large organisations it appears reluctant to invest in technological innovation," he said. The apparent failure by ES to adopt the technology sooner appears to conflict with the government's much publicised support for the use of such technologies. Gary Parker, an ES project manager said: "We deliberately decided not to publish vacancies on the site because at the time, we didn't think we could do it well." He said there was some doubt whether enough unemployed people had access to the Web to justify the cost, a situation he now says has improved since Net access is more widely available through libraries and Job Clubs. Any suggestion that the unemployed could gain access by using machines in government-run Jobcentres was quickly quashed. Only a handful of the 1,000 or so Jobcentres scattered around the country has Net access, and this is restricted to Jobcentre staff. ®
Tim Richardson, 22 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

Kingston and Action team up to sell memory over the Web

Kingston Technology is selling its memory on-line through UK reseller Action. The memory manufacturer is using a direct link from Action’s Web site to allow end-users to order memory modules. Customers can search via manufacturer, part number or specifications for the items needed. Kingston claims its entire memory range is available over the Internet. However, there are still a few hiccups in the system. For example, a search for a Fujitsu ErgoPro e365 proved fruitless for 32, 64 and 128 Mb modules, bringing up the message: "Sorry, Kingston part number D464001 is not in the current online catalogue." It was the same story for the ErgoPro e366. The Register asked Kingston if it wasn’t easier and less frustrating just to call your usual reseller direct, especially as most resellers offer next day delivery and the Kingston/Action site can only offer delivery "within three working days." Alison Heath, Kingston UK sales and marketing director, said: "We’re trying to take some of the complexity out of ordering. Memory isn’t easy to configure. Customers can now go into the site, select the memory, see if it’s available and order it. A reseller may not be able to provide all that information in one phone-call." Heath admitted that if Action didn’t have the required item in stock, and the order went in late and missed the shipment, memory could take up to three working days to arrive. But she added: "Some customers prefer to use e-commerce, others prefer the telephone. Action and many other mail-order companies are trying to show on-line ordering is a more efficient way of doing business for both parties." Kingston is looking for other resellers to take part in the scheme. It was unable to provide figures on the popularity of the selling tool. ®
Linda Harrison, 22 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

Compaq unveils channel configuration scheme

Compaq is reshuffling its channel in a scheme where resellers will be able to order online and have kit configured and shipped from selected distributors. Due to be unveiled in the US next month, the configure-to-order (CTO) pilot scheme will be part of the vendor’s wider PartnerDirect programme, according to US reports. It is expected to only include distributors that have started joint configuration operations at Compaq’s Houston base. Resellers will be able to order and design direct from Compaq over the Web. But the fulfilment and configuration will be handled by selected distributors. At present there are only two US distributors with the necessary qualifications - Tech Data and CompuCom Systems. Ingram Micro is expected to get the go-ahead. Mark Walker, Ideal Hardware business unit manager, said: "The practise of distributors doing the final configuring on orders has been talked about a lot over the years. That it has not been implemented in the UK is down to geography. In this country, Compaq can assemble kit in its factory in Scotland and have it shipped the next day. This negates the necessity for this type of scheme in Europe." Compaq UK was unavailable for comment as The Register went to press. ®
Linda Harrison, 22 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

3Com ships Palm V, Palm IIIx

Palm Computing ended months of speculation today when it released the long-awaited Palm V and the Palm IIIx. The Palm IIIx is the essentially a Palm III with and extra 2MB of memory (for a total of 4MB) of memory and a new internal expansion port which appears to be just the III's internal RAM slot, possibly with modified voltage lines to support devices that need more power than RAM does. The device also features an enhanced LCD that offers better image contrast than its predecessor. The Palm V contains the same screen, but features the much anticipated slimline, case, all done out in brushed aluminium. The reduced thickness is down to the Palm V's built-in Lithium Ion battery, which is recharged via the device's cradle, but it comes at the cost of memory: just 2MB in total. It's still not entirely clear whether the Palm V is the much-rumoured device code-named Razor -- too many pundits have offered too many possible specifications to say accurately what's inside it -- but, broadly-speaking, the specs. match up, such as its Dragonball EV processor, slim case and clearer screen. The most notable absence is a colour display. In the US, the IIIx and V will retail for $449 and $369, respectively; UK pricing is £349.99 for the V and £279.99 for the IIIx. ® See also WinCE catches up with Palm
Tony Smith, 22 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

Mirror Group offers portal services

The Mirror Group has set its sights on becoming a major Internet portal after it announced today that it was entering a strategic partnership with US Internet Service Provider (ISP) Zip2. The Mirror Group's regional division, which includes the Birmingham Post and Mail, Coventry Evening Telegraph and 34 weekly titles, will help provide customised local material for users of this new online newsagent. The announcement exceeds earlier speculation that the newspaper group was to offer branded subscription-free Internet access similar to those services offered by Arsenal FC and Toys R Us. But the company has also signalled its interest to become an ISP in the future. With traditional newspaper circulation falling as part of a structural decline in the industry, the Mirror Group's move could be interpreted as a bid to compensate for the drop in sales. But well-briefed spin doctors were quick to stamp out any speculation that this was a significant shift towards online publishing by the Mirror Group. Instead, John Allwood, CEO of Mirror Group believes this move will ensure that the group will stay ahead of its traditional competitors. It will help the Mirror Group establish a sustainable market leadership over the new generation of digital competitors, he said, before they gain a foothold in local UK markets. "This strategic alliance is central to our strategy of providing a range of integrated media and communication services at local and national level that compliment and build on each other," he said. Zip2 hosts and maintains nearly 200 consumer Web sites in major US metropolitan areas, including the New York Times and Knight Ridder Morris Communications. ®
Tim Richardson, 22 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

AMD K6-III ships

AMD today launched its latest K6 processor, the K6-III, mere days before the company's arch-rival, Intel, begins shipping the Pentium III. And the company kicked off its announcement of the new chip with the claim that it outperforms the PIII. As reported by The Register previously, the K6-III will ship initially at 400MHz, with 450MHz parts available as samples. Prices are $284 and $476, respectively, per 1000 chips. As anticipated, the K6-III is the first of the K6 family to offer on-die L2 cache -- 256K of it. Unlike L2 cache memory installed in a backside configuration -- as is the case with the K6-2, and Pentiums II and III -- the K6-III's L2 operates at the full clock speed of the CPU. To compensate for the much smaller on-chip L2 -- it's a quarter of a typical K6-2 or PII backside L2 -- the K6-III supports a frontside L3 cache, operating at 100MHz, the same speed as the host PC's system bus. That, says AMD, gives the K6-III a significant speed boost. Based on AMD's figures, a K6-III with 512K of L3 cache is four per cen faster than a 450MHz PII under Windows NT and 6.4 per cent faster for Windows 98. Increase the L3 to the maximum of 2MB from no L3 cache, and performance goes up by around eight per cent said AMD's European marketing director, Robert Stead. AMD claims the mix of more cache and a much faster L2 make for major speed improvements, not only over the K6-2 an PII, but the PII too -- the 450MHz K6-III is faster than both 450MHz and 500MHz PIII's, it said. Still, there's an important caveat: the tests apply only to "mainstream business applications". Just as well -- benchmarks made by hardware site SharkyExtreme on the 400MHz K6-III show there's barely any difference between the 400MHz PII and the K6-III when it comes to games (a good test of the raw performance of a CPU) even with AMD's 3DNow! Technology engaged. Intel has said it will release its own PIII benchmarks later this week. And these are likely to show the effect of the PIII's Streaming SIMD Extensions (SSX), Intel's answer to 3DNow!, and which AMD clearly avoided mentioning. Indeed, Stead admitted there probably won't be much difference between the raw performance of 3DNow! and SSX. But he said the AMD technology has and would continue to garner far more support from software developers, thanks to the long lead it has had over SSX. "By the end of last year there were 13 million 3DNow! enabled PCs out there, and by the end of this year, we believe there will be over 30 million," he said. "Software developers will want to adddress an installed base before tackling something new." Beyond the modified cache architecture and greater clock speeds, the K6-III appears to be little different than the K6-2. Stead told The Register the company would use the chip to gain a foothold in the performance and business desktop PC markets, while the K6-2 will continue to be aimed at low-end consumer boxes. And he denied that the arrival of the K6-III -- or that of the forthcoming K7 -- would hasten the demise of the K6-2. ®
Tony Smith, 22 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

Intel, partners to push digital video interface

Intel Developer Forum End users can expect to plug their monitors into a new digital interface in the future. At Intel's Developer Forum tomorrow, the company will announce its digital video interface, said Steve Whalley, head of desktop product group initiatives in the US. Monitor manufacturers, including Samsung, are supporting the move. The move is part of Intel's plans to remove legacy technology from PCs. But Whalley said the new connector is likely to be slowly phased in before it completely replaces the VGA interface. "It will take some time before the interface is diffused through the market," he said. "You'll see VGA and the digital video interface together for some time," he said. But Intel, together with Microsoft, do not yet feel the market is ready for the Firewire 1394 interface, said Whalley. "1394 is not the mainstream market," he said. The cost of USB is practically nothing, while he claimed that adding 1394 to a PC will add between $7 and $12 to the cost of a system. While both Microsoft and Intel have set themselves the goal of waving goodbye to ISA sockets by early next year, the PCI bus is still good for some time, Whalley said. "The next wave is removing parallel and serial ports and replacing them with USB," he said. While he would not confirm or deny that future chipsets will support more than one USB channel, he conceded that the idea made sense. ®
Mike Magee, 22 Feb 1999