23rd > February > 1999 Archive

The Register breaking news

Intel FlexATX motherboard to use 810 chipset

Intel Developer Forum At a technology briefing at the Intel Developer Forum today, the company showed its FlexATX motherboard and said it was 30 per cent smaller than the MicroATX design. The motherboard is intended to fit into a variety of different form factors, said Steve Whalley, head of desktop product group initiatives in the US. Intel will show some prototypes of those designs during a keynote speech tomorrow morning. They are likely to include systems which fit into flat screen panels as well as other machines bearing more than a passing resemblence to the Apple iMac. The motherboard The Register saw included the 810 "Whitney" chipset, while the design also included a 370-pin socket for the Pentium III. Whalley said it was a working board and Intel was at rev 0.9 for the design. It had sockets for PC100 memory and USB and modem ports. At the last Intel Developer Forum, the company's CEO, Craig Barrett, demonstrated two designs known as the Yaquina and the Toaster, but senior Intel VP Pat Gelsinger is expected to demo a whole raft of systems using FlexATX. In an interview, Gelsinger conceded that such systems did not lend themselves to Slot One. But he denied that Slot One was yet dead. ®
Mike Magee, 23 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

Intel says Linux unstoppable

Intel Developer Forum Pat Gelsinger, senior VP of desktop products at Intel US, told The Register today that projections showed that Linux is growing fast as a platform for the server market. But Gelsinger, who tomorrow will deliver the first keynote speech at the Intel Developer Forum, said he thought it was unlikely that the phenomenon would have the same effect on the desktop. He said that Windows NT server was projected as showing flat growth during this year, and Linux was popular with ISPs and others, while sales of other flavours of Unix were flat. Gelsinger said that on the desktop, Linux was a different matter, because of the lack of applications for the platform and because there was still no agreement on an interface which could match Windows' ease of use. Further, he said, Microsoft ruled the application market, and that there were few apps available for end users on the desktop. ®
Mike Magee, 23 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

Intel stresses four Ss in style counsel

Intel Developer Forum In a wide-ranging presentation covering the state of the PC market, Pat Gelsinger, senior VP of the desktop product division of Intel US, said that his company was focused on speed, security, simplicity and style. The "four Ss" will be the backbone of his keynote speech at the Forum tomorrow morning, he said. "We will argue that speed still matters," he said. "There's an incredible amount of MIPS used in business. Knowledge management will be important." Speech recognition is only one year away, he said, while quipping that for the last 20 years, it has been the becoming technology that is only two years away. Gelsinger, who masterminded the Pentium III ID number scheme, was unrepentant about the civil liberty furore it has fuelled. He said: "We're turning into an Internet economy. In an Internet world, the ID number is a little chip feature that's turned into a discussion." He said that the issues it had raised in the US about liberty were important. Intel has no hidden agenda, said Gelsinger. "We'll build trust into the Internet world and into that underlying platform," he said. "Any feature can be used properly or inappropriately. Our job is to make the building blocks and get people to use them properly." The last, "S" -- Style, was a necessary part of the future of the PC, said Gelsinger. "The fact of the matter is that the PC has become very dull and drab and we have to innovate style. There's many things we can do. We'll show you some interesting new styles [tomorrow]." He said that prices of PCs will continue to fall. "I don't expect the very rapid decline we saw last year," he said. So-called free PCs were here to stay. "The genie is out of the bottle. Intel will compete on every price point. When you get down to sub-$500 price points you can offer different things. We're going to compete on the $200-$300 level too and we can do that and still make a profit." The FlexATX motherboard design allowed many different types of form factor, he said. Some of the new designs were likely to appear in Autumn or at Christmas, while the bulk will appear by this time next year, he said. Gelsinger frankly admitted that Intel had got it wrong last year with its Celeron platform, allowing AMD to take market share at its expense. But he said that Intel now had it right and will continue to use an aggressive pricing strategy to compete with AMD throughout this year. However, Gelsinger said that new entrants into the marketplace faced a tough time. He said that while the Compaq Alpha chip, for example, was a fine architecture and the company a good one, he doubted whether it could possibly succeed. "Don't underestimate the difficulties of building a new architecture," he told The Register. Those difficulties included third party support at every level, he claimed. "Compaq's a great company but it's going to be very hard for Alpha to compete," he said. ®
Mike Magee, 23 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

Samsung to build ARM9 system on chip

Samsung Semiconductor is to develop system-on-chip products using the ARM9TDMI and ARM920T cores. The chips will combine ARM core, embedded memory and mixed signal technology, with the ARM9TDMI core being available from Samsung in Q2, and the ARM920T in Q3. Samsung will be aiming the system-on-chip products at PDAs, smartphones, set-top boxes, networking, storage and consumer multimedia. Samsung has also moved into the CE camp by joining the ARM Consortium for Windows CE, which aims to optimise CE for the ARM architecture. Other members include Cirrus Logic, Intel, LG and Texas Instruments. Samsung already sells ARM-based chips, but the latest moves suggest that the company intends to press ahead with finished products based on ARM, and using CE as the OS rather than Symbian. In the past Samsung has shown smartphone and PDA prototypes, but has been slow to bring finished product to market. But it will still be some time before the company gets near to shipping product, as it appears to be banking on the 920T's support for Windows CE-based MMU, data cache and instruction cache to produce a competent CE-based package. ®
John Lettice, 23 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

MS exec claims Gates was wrong – ex-MS exec?

MS on Trial Microsoft's latest defence witness apparently crashed and burned yesterday as DoJ attorney David Boies stopped cross-examination in mid sentence, and said he had no further questions. Dan Rosen, Microsoft general manager of new technology had been shot down already as far as Boies was concerned, and machine-gunning him in his parachute served no further purpose. Boies is of course now fairly confident that he has this stage of the case in the bag, and - not to put too fine a point on it - is sucking up to the judge by keeping his questioning short and to the point. Both he and Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson have other trials to deal with in the near future, and the judge yesterday said the court would recess for March, with the trial restarting on 12 April at the earliest. We at The Register told you this some time ago, of course (see Schedule prediction). Judge Jackson wants the final Microsoft witnesses out of the way by Friday at the latest though, so is going to get displeased with attorneys who interfere with this. Boies' easy dismemberment of Rosen was, however, a further ominous sign for Microsoft. Rosen's evidence was intended to help determine what went on at the Microsoft-Netscape meeting of 1995, where Netscape alleges that Microsoft offered a deal to carve-up the browser market between the two companies. But under questioning Rosen contradicted his own written deposition, other Microsoft witnesses, and even said he thought Bill Gates was wrong. He was then contradicted some more when Boies produced some of Rosen's own memos, which again differed. Basically, he was all over the place, and seemed to have been unable to fix on one consistent story. Rosen had written that a goal of the meeting for Microsoft was to "establish Microsoft ownership of the Internet platform." He then explained that in Microsoftspeak ownership just meant making things run better, so he hadn't meant Microsoft was trying to destroy Netscape or anything nasty. Judge Jackson was gobsmacked: "Ownership means delivering on something you promised?" Rosen also claimed, despite clear evidence that virtually the entire Microsoft high command from Gates down viewed Netscape as a deadly threat, that he hadn't seen the company as a competitor in 1995, 1996 or 1997. The testimony of Paul Maritz and Brad Chase, which Boies then referred to, made it clear that they thought Netscape was a serious danger, but Rosen said he hadn't talked to them about this. As the icing on the cake, he then dismissed Bill Gates' May 1995 Internet Tidal Wave document (see Bill Gates discovers the Web). "I remember at the time thinking I probably had a better perspective on it than Mr. Gates," said Rosen. He then got himself into trouble over a May 95 email of his own which did say Netscape was a threat, but which he said he hadn't sent. It was then pointed out to him that it had been. Rosen said he couldn't remember sending it, and that he was embarrassed about some of the stuff he'd written then, when he hadn't been with Microsoft long (eight months). You see why Boies gave up on him? But how come this stuff happens with the Microsoft defence? We at The Register are developing a theory that it's corporate culture that's to blame. Microsoft runs by chucking vast amounts of resources at problems. This expenditure tends not however to be co-ordinated, properly directed, or even properly thought out. This means its employees are overworked, and their output tends to be low quality and under-researched. A recent wise-crack we heard was: "It's so characteristic of them to not prepare their case meticulously, but rather ship first and try to debug in the field," which basically sums it up. Rather than boning-up on all of the trial exhibits and depositions first and then producing their own depositions, MS execs are tending to just knock-off the first thing that comes into their heads. Rosen doesn't even seem to have had the wit (or maybe the time) to check out what he'd said in the past, and what the DoJ was surely going to ask him about. And if MS thinks it's OK, because it can still ship the finished product at Trial 3.1 stage, it may well find itself out of luck. ® Complete Register trial coverage
John Lettice, 23 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

MS trial to recess over March

MS on Trial Judge Jackson has being doing his best to keep to The Register's timetable for the Microsoft trial. As we predicted, strenuous efforts are being made to complete the Microsoft witnesses' evidence this week. Judge Jackson has firmed up his commitment to hear a criminal case (at the moment, the Microsoft case is a civil case), and the DOJ's David Boies has long been committed to helping Unisys from 15 March in Philadelphia. Judges have considerable discretion as to when the court sits, and it is significant that Judge Jackson's Order yesterday said that the trial would resume after the criminal case and Boies' case have finished. This is now expected to be 12 April, a week later than we predicted, so the court will probably be in recess for six weeks. The court does not normally sit on Fridays, but to accommodate the timetable agreed privately with counsel, it sat last Friday and will do so this Friday if necessary. Yesterday, there was also a shorter lunch break, and from Wednesday, the court will sit earlier if it is running behind the private schedule. Boies' abrupt termination of his cross-examination of Daniel Rosen was a dramatic way of stressing the lack of credibility that Rosen had as a witness. Boies said outside the court that he had stopped his cross examination because he had demonstrated what he needed so far as Rosen's credibility was concerned. Rosen had "contradicted his own deposition, the depositions of other witnesses, his own documents, the documents of other people". There was a very interesting exchange at the end of the morning session at a bench conference to review timing issues: Boies: Your honour, I neither want to cut the witness off from an explanation that is necessary to explain what he is answering, nor do I want to cut the witness off if the court finds what the witness is saying useful. However, what the witness does is, with respect to question after question- The court: I know exactly what he is doing, Mr Boies. You have to make your judgment about it. The inference was clear: Rosen had little or no credibility with the judge. Michael Lacovara was unprepared for a redirect examination after Boies suddenly ended at 3:30pm, but since the court was rising at 4pm for the judge to undertake some other business, his redirect examination will be today. ® Complete Register trial coverage
Graham Lea, 23 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

Motorola readies semiconductor division spin-off

Motorola has confirmed it is to spin off its Semiconductor Components Group (SCG), part of the company's Semiconductor Products Sector (SPS) business group. The plan, first mooted in an internal memo leaked to US magazine Electronics Buyers' News, will see the SCG, which is based in Geneva and handles Motorola's discrete logic and integrated circuit products, separated from the SPS and renamed. Ultimately, Motorola hopes to sell the new, standalone division. The move is clearly part of Motorola's ongoing strategy of focusing on its core semiconductor products: its microprocessor line, including the PowerPC, micro-controllers and DSPs. These are the SPS' key products, and are sold through its various business units to specific vertical markets. The timetable for the spin-off process is not known. ®
Tony Smith, 23 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

Web-friendly phone unveiled by Nokia

Nokia today launched its first multimedia phone for Internet access. Based on the wireless application protocol (WAP), the Nokia 7110 Media phone can access everything on the Internet via a mobile computing device. The dual-band GSM 900/1800 handset was launched this morning at the GSM World Congress in Cannes, France. Nokia will start shipping in the second quarter, with the 7110 available worldwide from July. Current battery life allows the phone to access text information from the Internet, including news, email and wireless banking, for up to 4.5 hours at a time. Anassi Vanjoki, senior VP of Nokia's mobile phone division, predicted annual sales of Internet capable phones would exceed those of portable computers in the year 2000. He added: "We will also watch rather than listen to mobile phones. The Nokia 7110 spends most of its time in the hand and is used for sight." The model also contains a built-in dictionary to enable typewriting using five keys. Nokia was not able to put a price on the phone, but said it would cost around £100 or less, depending on the service provider. Sari Baldauf, Nokia Telecommunications president, said: "In the future we will feel very uncomfortable if we leave our mobile phone at home." The Register wonders if this was why she wore hers dangling from her neck on a piece of cord. Nokia today also announced CNN Mobile, a wireless news service that can be accessed and screened by the 7100. The service will cover sport, weather reports and breaking news as well as financial round ups and regional bulletins. It will begin transmitting by July, with plans to incorporate audio information next year. ®
Linda Harrison, 23 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

3Com nabs NTX for $90 million

3Com yesterday forked out $90 million for US-based network-based telephony systems specialist NBX. The deal brings to 3Com the small-to-medium sized business-oriented voice and data network integration products it needs to fill out its LAN telephony line. Last year, it teamed up with Siemens to develop and market high-end products for corporate organisations. According to 3Com, the worldwide market for LAN telephony will be approximately $5 billion by 2003 with more than two-thirds of the sales going to small and medium enterprises. The two companies will apparently continue to operate as separate entities, with NBX taking on and offering 3Com's current and future voice products. Its own solutions will be pumped through 3Com's worldwide reseller channel. ®
Tony Smith, 23 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

Apple to ape Sony PC product strategy

Apple interim CEO Steve Jobs yesterday reiterated his plans to strengthen the company's brand image by following the example of Sony. Jobs' comments appeared in interview with Japanese business newspaper Nihon Keizai Shimbun. His specific interest in Sony centres on the way it has offered PC products that are not only well-designed from an aesthetic standpoint, but can be easily integrated with consumer electronics products. Apple has been pushing this idea itself of late, most obviously with its switch from SCSI as a peripheral interface to FireWire (aka IEEE 1394). Last year, the company bought video editing software from Macromedia. It renamed the product Final Cut and has been working on it ever since. Many Mac users wondered what the heck Apple was up to, since it was perceived Final Cut would compete with Adobe's popular professional video editing tool, Premiere. Now we know: just as Sony bundles video editing software with its consumer oriented Vaio notebooks, Apple will apparently do the same with its own consumer machines, the forthcoming P1 portable and probably the next revision of the iMac, due this summer. Certainly if Apple is to push FireWire into the consumer computing space, providing users with software to encourage them to make use of it will be essential. Apple clearly sees considerable consumer opportunities for FireWire. Almost all other PC vendors see 1394 solely as a high-end connectivity system -- in the consumer space, they believe, USB is sufficient. That argument ignores the fact that the most common use of FireWire right now is in digital camcorders, and Apple clearly wants to make the most of that market before anyone else can. Jobs' use of Sony as an example of well-designed computing products is particularly ironic, since Sony gained much of its notebook expertise from Apple itself. Apple's PowerBook 100, part of the company's first, award-winning and arguably market-defining, notebook line, was co-developed with and manufactured by Sony. It's worth noting, too, that the two best-selling computers in the Japan over the last six months were the iMac and the Vaio line, though the latter sold rather better than the former (see iMac, Vaio drive record Japanese PC sales). The Japanese giant was also one of three or four companies most frequently suggested as a buyer for Apple. It was certainly the most popular candidate for an Apple takeover. Maybe Jobs' interest in the company suggests it still is... ®
Tony Smith, 23 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

Ideal wins Alpha configuration award

Ideal Hardware’s sister company, UniSolve, has been awarded accreditation from the Compaq Certified Integration Programme (CIP) - a Unix system channel configuration scheme. It follows the launch of True64 Unix and means UniSolve is able to configure Compaq Alpha Server Unix and OpenVMS systems to Compaq factory standards. There are only 14 CIP accredited Compaq partners worldwide. UniSolve claims to be able to offer resellers a 48 hour turnaround on Unix and OpenVMS system configuration - existing Compaq configuration schedules require a 21 day lead time. It also offers support from pre-sales to installation on customers’ premises. UniSolve is the services and configuration arm of the recently reorganised Ideal group. The new holding company, Inter-X, presides over three separate companies - Ideal Hardware, the product distribution company, UniSolve, the services company and ITNetwork, the one-time online news service which is about to be reborn as a product information database. Chris Webb, managing director of UniSolve said: "Being awarded the Compaq CIP accreditation means that we can now compete effectively with organisations such as Sun Microsystems, Hewlett-Packard and IBM. The CIP accreditation process is one of the toughest in the industry and we are delighted to further strengthen our partnership with Compaq." Ken Surplice, Compaq European Alpha Server marketing manager, said: "UniSolve will offer customers the same high quality of systems that they expect to come from our own manufacturing plants but being closer to the customer, UniSolve is able to provide a greater service and further cement its relationship with resellers." Meanwhile, Ideal Hardware has bolstered its relationship with Compaq by signing up to distribute the entire Compaq product range. Prior to last year’s Compaq/Digital merger, Ideal had been a Digital distributor. Mark Walker, Compaq business unit manager at Ideal said: "This was a common sense decision for Ideal. In a few short months we have established ourselves as a leading player in Compaq Classic distribution and now, together with CIP, we are taking this opportunity to become the market leader across the entire Compaq range very seriously." &reg:
Sean Fleming, 23 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

RealNetworks releases Linux content tool

RealNetworks has released a beta version of its content-creation application RealProducer Plus G2 for Linux. The company also announced today the final version of the software for Compaq's Tru64 incarnation of Unix, and the final release of the more advanced RealProducer Pro G2 for Windows 95/98/NT. RealProducer Plus is RealNetwork's entry-level tool for creating streamable versions of audio and video files, and integrating them into Web pages. The Pro release adds timelining and synchronisation features, plus the ability to worth with SMIL (Synchronised Multimedia Integration Language) and handle batch processing tasks. According to the company, the Unix versions of RealProducer Plus have been optimised for live audio and video encoding, and support the OS' remote control and administration facilities. RealProducer Plus costs $149.99 from RealNetworks' Web site; RealProducer Pro costs $499.99. ®
Team Register, 23 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

Compaq cuts off Web resellers

The world’s number one PC maker has hit out at online resellers, saying they offer the customer "no value-add." In an unprecedented move, Compaq has severed all links with resellers who sell its Presario range of home PCs over the Web, but who do not also have a real-world outlet. In this week's Computer Reseller News, Mike Pocock, Compaq vice president of channel sales is reported to have said the manufacturer has received in excess of 40 requests from online resellers looking for Compaq accreditation. But no such blessing has been forthcoming; according to Pocock: "They bring no value-add." This decision has surprised some channel watchers, one of whom reacted by saying: "Surely the notion of value-add is that it is in the eye of the beholder. If the customer likes the idea of buying over the Web and they can do so cheaper, then there’s the value." Some of the heavyweights of distribution have been supplying kit to these sites, including Ingram Micro and Tech Data, but they have now been told by Compaq to stop. In the UK, Compaq would be prevented from taking such action by laws governing restrictive trades. A Compaq US representative said the motivation behind this move was to try and bring some control to the rapidly expanding market for online PC sales. Shopping.com, recently bought by Compaq, is one of the sites affected by the shut down. ® No such thing as a free PC Onsale sells PCs at zero margin Free-pc.com locks aim on UK
Sean Fleming, 23 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

UK handset start-up sets sights on Chinese market

The UK's only mobile phone vendor, Sensei, said today it would launch its first digital cellular handsets later this year. The company was set up last June to break into this already saturated sector. Aiming at this year's anticipated premium markets, China and Europe, it will bring out mobile handsets for the corporate market in August, and entry-level phones for price-sensitive users by the end of 1999. Sensei has two main distributors: European Telecomms for Europe, Middle East and Africa, and Express Fortune for Asia Pacific. It has factories in China and Europe. Michael Camilleri, Sensei president and CEO, acknowledged the difficulty of breaking into this mature market. But he said Sensei has no hopes of taking away market share from the top three players: Nokia, Motorola and Ericsson. "The market is growing so quickly that there is room for many smaller players to compete for the rest of the market space which is increasing every year. Sensei wants one per cent of this part -- or 1.5 million units shipped from August to December this year." Camilleri ought to know the market, having served his time at Ericsson, Phillips and Alcatel. In addition, Sensei is not being swept along in the tide of Internet/mobile phone integration that seems to be on everyone's lips in Cannes this week, he said. "A handset is fundamentally something that people buy because they want to make calls. If any added Internet features take away that mobile capacity -- for example, reducing battery life -- we're not interested." ®
Linda Harrison, 23 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

Intel's Otellini teases world with PIII benchmarks

Intel Developer Forum Senior Intel VP Paul Otellini kicked off the Intel Developer Forum this morning with claims that the Pentium III will deliver vastly higher speeds. But Otellini did not go into great detail, reserving real benchmarks for the official release of the Pentium III this coming Thursday. Otellini said that three different software packages showed speed boosts. Naturally Speaking, a speech recognition app, showed a 37 per cent performance boost, Photoshop delivered 64 per cent better performance and Netshow Encoder is 20 per cent faster using the Pentium III, he claimed. He said that while Dataquest predicted double digit growth in the microprocessor market over the next couple of years, Intel had still not found the magic formula to sell as many products as it wished. He said that in the US and Western Europe, 25 per cent of the market was represented by sub-$1000 PCs. "The sweet spot currently is $1900," he said. "We have not yet found the recipe to generate significant growth," he said. "Across all segments repeat buyers in the US represent 80 per cent of sales this year." He said that Intel wanted to bring new users into the industry. "A lot of the buying has been cannibalistic," he said. Otellini said that while desktop products currently represent 80 per cent of end user sales and notebooks 20 per cent, by the end of the year 2000 Intel intended to invert those figures. The company, tomorrow, will demonstrate a notebook technology dubbed Geyserville, he said. In the server market, Intel architecture is now dominating the market, claimed Otellini. Intel will also push price performance, with other vendors not keeping up on either metric, despite recent trends. The server market is being driven by Web sales and Intel will focus on application tuning, and different form factors. "What's next for Intel will be the IA-64 architecture. We need to get the applications to be ready when the chip comes out," he said. ®
Mike Magee, 23 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

BT free ISP customers find sting in the tail

Telecoms industry watchdog Oftel is snapping at BT's heels in a bid to get the telecoms giant to fix teething troubles with ClickFree, its new subscription-free Internet access service. A report in today's Daily Telegraph revealed that a software glitch in BT ClickFree could be responsible for users running up enormous phone bills simply because they would be unaware that they were still logged on to the Net. But a spokesman for BT Internet and Multimedia denied that it is a problem. "The story has been blown out of all proportion," he said. "The first we heard of it was when the Telegraph ran the story. No one has reported the problem to our helpdesk -- although we recognise it could potentially be an issue." He claimed that it would be technically quite difficult to get a warning box to come up every time a user logs off. Yet a spokesman for independent service provider Claranet said that most -- if not all -- ISPs provided such a facility. "It sounds a pretty easy thing to do -- especially with BT's resources," he said. And James Cronin, a director at Virgin Net -- which has just announced its plans to provide a subscription free Net access service -- also took a sideswipe at BT, although he conceded that the oversight was probably not malicious. "They [BT] have simply gone for a lightweight service which is easy to download, but it's still a little bit irresponsible," said Cronin. "This is not a nice thing to do to new users," he said. ®
Tim Richardson, 23 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

Yu demonstrates 1GHz chip, talks roadmap talk

Intel Developer Forum Albert Yu, a senior VP at Intel US, demonstrated a microprocessor running at 1GHz. We said he would in our story 1GHz Intel story takes on Alice-like dimensions. But attendees at the Intel Developer Forum were not permitted to peep behind the scenes to see whether or not it was using Kryotech temperature-reduction technology. Yu also sketched out details of the Intel roadmap over the next year or two. He said that there will be a performance desktop running at 550MHz in Q2 of this year. In the second half of the year, Intel will take 0.18 micron technology to over 600MHz. In the same time frame, Intel will introduce technology delivering a frontside bus speed of 133MHz. On the mobile front, Intel will deliver a 0.18 micron part running at 433MHz with die on cache in the middle of the year. "This is hot technology but it's really cool," said Yu, as he demonstrated a system running. Later on in the year, Intel will deliver PII/mobile frequencies greater than 500MHz. Geyserville technology will not arrive until next year, said Yu. Intel's mobile Celeron platform, first revealed here in The Register will come at speeds of 300MHz, 333MHz and 366MHz, with a 400MHz system later on in the year. On the server front, Intel will deliver its PIII Xeon chips next month, starting at speeds of 450MHz and 500MHz, with 550MHz parts shipping soon after. He said: "All indications are that performance will be significantly higher than the PII," he said, without specifying by exactly how much. Yu also demoed a 12 foot, eight megapixel screen, powered by 12 Pentium III Xeons. While Yu mentioned future Foster technology, rather significantly he neglected to mention Willamette. Intel is keeping remarkably silent about this. He said that Intel was on track to deliver Merced samples by the middle of the year. He said: "We're in the final stages of circuit design and layout. We have seven operating systems running on Merced including Win64 and several versions of Unix." Intel is also working with the OSS to port Linux to the Merced architecture, said Yu. McKinley will have twice the performance of Merced with samples late in the year 2000, and production in 2001. ®
Mike Magee, 23 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

UK ISP buy-up sees CIX gets its kicks

Compulink Information eXchange (CIX) the ISP beloved of so many UK journos, has snapped up the customer base and hosting assets of Connect 2Internet, another UK ISP. The deal, for an undisclosed sum, is one of a number of acquisitions planned to boost CIX's presence in the UK ISP market. Graham Davies, CIX sales and marketing director, said: "We are pleased to announce the first of a series of acquisitions in the UK ISP market, which is part of our strategy to expand and grow our business in the UK." Davies went on to say that the Connect 2Internet deal would give CIX a robust NT-based backbone. "It is imperative that we are able to meet the ever increasing needs of our customer base for both Unix and NT web server hosting," he said. CIX was set up in 1984, its email service began in 1987 and it first offered Web services in 1992. It was recently the subject of a management buyout, backed by Legal & General Ventures. It will continue to operate and maintain the Connect 2Internet servers at the new addition's London headquarters. ®
Sean Fleming, 23 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

Intel says Direct Rambus delayed

Intel Developer Forum Senior Intel VP Pat Gelsinger said this morning that the delivery of Direct Rambus memory was undergoing something of a hiccup. In his keynote speech at the Forum, Gelsinger said there were "slight delays" in the platform. That means that supplies of Rambus Memory are not likely to arrive until Q3 of this year, said Gelsinger. As reported here before,Direct Rambus has problems with yields. That has led other chipset manufacturers, including Via, to push the PC133 standard. Intel is likely to have to use PC133 as well, according to our sources. Gelsinger said that Intel will deliver its hardware random number system later on this year and will add an IP security protocol to its platform. First ease of use systems will arrive in the second half of this year, as reported here yesterday. He said that Microsoft had committed itself to significant enhancements to Windows 98 to assist the ease of use push. "The task of making things simple is not easy," said Gelsinger. "We have to get together with the hard task of making things simple." At the end of his presentation, Gelsinger conducted a "fashion show" with models dressed up in bunny-people suits carrying around various slim designs using the new motherboard we reported yesterday. Has Intel gone completely bonkers? This is part of Intel's so-called "style" initiative. ® See also Intel says Direct Rambus delayed Intel forced to support PC133 SDRAM Hyundai exec admits Rambus shortage 1999 not Year of Rambus, warns Fujitsu exec
Mike Magee, 23 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

Pentium III serial number hackable

Germany's c't magazine is reporting that the Pentium III ID serial number can be cracked. Andreas Stiller, a senior journalist at the magazine, has figured out a method to do it. In his news story, Stiller is reporting that Intel has confirmed his method works. ®
Mike Magee, 23 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

Microsoft's OEMs could strip out IE shell, says MS exec

MS on Trial The man who pays the rent at Microsoft spoke today -- and curiously, one of his suggestions was that Microsoft's OEM customers might care to install Caldera's DR-DOS on their machines. It's an interesting notion that may come back to haunt veteran Microsoft OEM boss Joachim Kempin, but we'll get back to it later. He also suggests a way OEMs could use their own shell rather than IE, and actually, this looks to us like a procedure some of them might care to investigate. Kempin has been running Microsoft's OEM sales operation, the one that secures something in the region of $50 for the OS licence for each and every PC that goes out of the door, for 11 years, and with the possible exception of the slightly bizarre DR-DOS excursion, his testimony, which was released today, is about as coherent and solid an argument of Microsoft's case as you're likely to get. It's also readable, and fairly concise -- regrettably, this is a dramatic departure by the standards of Microsoft written testimony. Kempin argues with impeccable logic that Microsoft has a right to defend the integrity of its products, and somewhat more worryingly, he points out that any changes in Windows configuration an OEM may make must be expressly permitted, otherwise it's forbidden. Prior to today we'd no idea that Microsoft OEM contracts drew heavily on the Wizard of Id. This means that OEMs can't change the initial boot sequence of the PCs they sell, and can't remove icons and features that Microsoft deems to be part of Windows. You'll note -- Kempin's testimony fails to do this directly -- that the boundaries of what Microsoft has defined as the integrity of its product has widened somewhat over the years, and that Kempin (trial stories passim) has played a key role in widening them in the teeth of OEM opposition. But Kempin makes two basic points that aren't quite as contradictory as they might appear, and that are worth examining in detail. First, he is insistent on the integrity of the initial boot sequence, what plays as the OS installs for the first time and what the customer sees on the first boot after the installation is complete. So after this first boot the customer should get the IE icon on the desktop, and IE as the shell. Other standard icons that Microsoft wishes to appear also have to appear. But in addition, Kempin points out that OEMs can install any software they like on the machine, including, if they wish, some kind of magic button which could be pressed after that first boot, and which gave the customer the option to go the whole Netscape hog, and to use an entirely different shell. Kempin argues that OEMs shouldn't be allowed to alter the initial sequence because the various items which appear are part of Windows, marketed by Microsoft as part of Windows, and hence expected by the customer to be there. If OEMs changed Windows willy-nilly for their own ends, it mightn't work properly, but would still be perceived by customers as being Windows, and so Microsoft would catch the flak. He also suggests that Unix-like splits and incompatibilities would ensue. Still, we'd just love to hear from an OEM prepared to include a 'Nuke Windows' button on the desktop, for use post initial boot. One of the trickier things Kempin has to deal with in his testimony relates to the introduction of this initial boot restriction, particularly as he was the man who had to execute it. OEMs had been attempting to differentiate their products by introducing their own initial sequences and even their own shells, but the changes made by Microsoft forbade this. Kempin cites a Packard-Bell innovation which "hid the Windows Start button-the most basic way of invoking the functionality of Windows-and disabled the many useful functions performed by right mouse clicking... Because the Packard Bell shell-and others from Compaq and Hewlett Packard-launched automatically by default during the Windows startup sequence, customers who thought they were buying a personal computer running Windows would not in the first instance even see Windows as the operating system was intended by its creator". Tricky one that, isn't it? The crux of the matter is whether the customer thinks they're buying a Microsoft product or, say, a Compaq one running Microsoft software. Kempin obviously reckons they're buying a Microsoft one, but that's what he's paid to think. He brings up DR-DOS in this context. He assumes that OEMs want to brand their products differently, so points out that, as they're allowed to do anything they like before the Windows boot process is initiated, they could put their logo into the BIOS so it flashed onto the screen. "In fact, it would be open to the OEM to run a small operating system such as Caldera's DR-DOS from the BIOS before Windows starts, and launch all sorts of programs from that supplemental operating system, including advertisements promoting Netscape's web browsing software or America Online's online service." This doesn't address the concerns of some OEMs, however. Hewlett-Packard, for example, regarded its outlawed boot sequence as making its PCs easier to operate, and claimed support calls climbed once it was forced to remove it. Kempin is essentially saying that OEMs can use the edging of the Windows Experience to market themselves and their partners, but that Microsoft defines what is going to make the computer easier to use. But he's not bad, all the same -- he's actually nearly convincing, and the weak points in his case are harder to find than in the testimony of his fellow MS execs (not that this is saying much). But here's one worth thinking about. Says Kempin: "The technologies in Windows 95 and Windows 98 referred to by the name Internet Explorer were included in the very first version of Windows 95 made available to OEMs in July 1995. There has never been a version of Windows 95 or Windows 98 supplied to OEMs that did not include Internet Explorer." This is sort of true, although what you might term the first real Internet Explorer, version 2.0, wasn't available for download until November 1995. Nor did these technologies ship with the retail Windows 95 upgrade pack. The technologies Kempin is talking about were those in the Plus! pack, which was sold at retail, so Microsoft did once charge for "the technologies... referred to by the name Internet Explorer". The Plus! pack, announced in April 95 and intended to ship at the same time as Windows 95, was then described by Microsoft as including desktop themes, sounds, fonts, colour schemes, wallpapers, screen savers, icons and animated cursors. And Explorer technologies? We quote a Reuters report of the time: "As a bonus, Microsoft is also throwing in an Internet Jumpstart Kit that provides easy sign-up and one-button access to the Internet." From such humble afterthoughts great integrationist empires grow, apparently... ® Complete Register trial coverage
John Lettice, 23 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

Powerleap throws hat into K6-III upgrade ring

And the winner of the race to produce the first AMD K6-III upgrade kit is -- not Evergreen for once -- but fellow US upgrade specialist Powerleap. To be precise, Powerleap is not the first to market, merely the first to announce product, something altogether different. Powerleap K6-III upgrade CPUs are priced according to speed and will retail from around $100 to $349. They will ship sometime over the next three months. Powered by the 400MHz Sharptooth processor, Powerleap upgrades soup up performance for former K6-233MHz-powered kit, by up to 200 per cent, according to ZD Winstone and Winstone 3D benchmarks cited by the company. According to Powerleap, the upgrades are appropriate for the "10 million-plus K6-2-based systems sold during the past 2.5 years". Pentium systems suitable for upgrade include those using 75, 90, 100, 120, 133, 150, 166, 200, and 233MHz processors. The upgrade kits utilise some Powerleap-owned power technology. This means the processor upgrade can be used as a "direct replacement for the existing processor, regardless of the system's original motherboard and voltage". There are some exceptions from the Intel and Cyrix catalogue that will require a BIOS upgrade -- check out Powerleap for compatibility information. ® See also Evergreen introduces 370-pin upgrades
Drew Cullen, 23 Feb 1999
The Register breaking news

Lion roars because of Intel chip pricing

Intel Developer Forum German distributor Lion said today it was forced to sell AMD chips because of channel conflict which Intel has failed to resolve. Karl-Heinz Muller, general manager of networks and systems at Lion, said that large shopping chain Aldi was selling systems using PII/400 and PII/450 systems at a price Intel would not give his company. Aldi's prices for so-called performance systems were so good that even his dealer customers were buying from Aldi. They are stripping down the machines and re-using the components including the Intel motherboards and chips. While Muller said that Intel had offered him a good price on Celerons, much of his business was concerned with SCSI workstations, which required PII/400s and PII/450s. However, Intel's inability to offer him a good price or provide him with any explanation means that he is being forced to use K6-2s. Lion is one of Intel's 25 Tier Three distributors in Europe and says it is one of the top five channel players. It buys something like 40,000 chips a month. Aldi sells the performance PCs at irregular intervals throughout the year, typically selling 200,000 units a time, which go like hot cakes. But Paul Otellini, a senior VP at Intel US, said: "Our pricing policies have stood the test of time. It is a level playing field. "Our discounts between large customers and smaller customers in single figures. Our pricing is very fair." ®
Mike Magee, 23 Feb 1999