2nd > March > 1999 Archive

The Register breaking news

Intel's Flash presentation

At Intel's Albuquerque fab last week, Curt Nichols, marketing director of Intel's Flash Group, presented a set of foils which we thought of interest to our readership. See in particular slides 10 and 11, which outline Intel's future packaging plans. These were supposed to be under NDA but somehow these slides made it into the non-NDA section. To save bandwidth, we have pointed to the foils rather than posted them directly.
Mike Magee, 02 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

Intel to back Linux hardware outfit

Intel is due this week to announce another one of its small investments in a Linux specialist -- VA Research, this time. VA produces Intel-based machines running Linux, and alongside Red Hat, which Intel put money into last year, gives the chip giant a matched set. Intel habitually downplays what you might call its pseudo-venture capital activities. The company puts quite a lot of money into promising young companies every year, but tries to avoid the investments being interpreted as strategic. If it talks about them at all, the company claims that all it's doing is helping grow small outfits whose activities will help Intel sell more chips. Intel usually manages to turn a neat profit out of its investments, however. With VA, the investment can to some extent be seen as an extension of existing activities. As an Intel-based manufacturer VA's relations with Intel are already close, and it uses Intel Financial as a leasing partner. It also co-operates closely with Oracle (so we shouldn't rule out an Oracle investment too), and its current backer is VC outfit Sequoia Capital. But despite the soft pedaling, the Linux investments have added complications for Intel, because the company has been quietly boosting Linux -- and Unix in general -- while trying to avoid destabilising its Microsoft-based business. Recent Intel comment that Linux would be massive, but wouldn't make it on the desktop (see Intel says Linux unstoppable) is an indication of the balancing act the company is performing. That too could be seen as an increase in Intel's enthusiasm for Linux, however -- does the company see Intel-based Linux servers as the engine that will push Microsoft back to the client? VA doesn't just produce servers, of course. It offers clients and Linux laptops as well, so by putting money into the company Intel will be encouraging the growth of Linux outside the server market anyway. Meanwhile Oracle's VC arm, the Oracle Venture Fund, is shortly due to announce that it will be joining Intel and Netscape as an investor in Red Hat. ®
John Lettice, 02 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

Merced chieftain outlines futures

At the Intel Developer Forum in Palm Springs last week, Steve Smith, VP and general manager in charge of the company's IA-64 programme, was pleasantly forthcoming about the Merced package he showed us. He even allowed us to take photographs, which we considered was something of a breakthrough. What follows are the verbatim notes from our discussion at the dinner table. The Merced cartridge photographs can be found here. Smith acknowledged that the package contained no silicon but said: "Everything is there apart from the silicon. This is a prototype of the cartridge, which [has connectors] like the pin grid array. "We're driven by the electricals," he said. "You can have two processors on top of the motherboard and two cartridges on the underside. We deliver the power through the edge connector. Next to the microprocessor there will be a power pod, DC to DC, feeding the cartridge through a copper connector. We have already provided samples to our OEMs, the changes [to the design] would be very minor." Smith said: "Level two cache will be on a small motherboard within the packaging. The Merced CPU will be built with a 0.18 micron process. The interface between the microprocessor and the L2 cache runs at full clock. We're using custom design SRAMs. "The cartridge has slightly smaller dimensions than a Rolodex -- it's the size of a US index card. We'll give clock rates and performance levels later on. The first samples will be in mid-99. "When you talk about Celerons, we know our intention is to go to volume very quickly. In the case of Merced, there's a much smaller number of OEMs. The cartridge has been through many design iterations. "We have a model on all levels and we're working on a workstation level. We run all these simulations on many hundreds of workstations. We've booted an OS on a gate level. "We're very far along with the Linux discussions. There are very few [designers] who are expert enought to port the kernel. We know Linus, we work with him and we've worked with him before.We have something to announce very shortly. "With the Alpha platform we know competitively what we face." ®
Mike Magee, 02 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

Sun to intro ‘open source chips’ licences

Sun is to take a step towards what you might call open source hardware. According to US reports, later today the company will announce that it will distribute its chip designs for free. They won't however be entirely free in the long term, as licensees will have to pay fees once they're actually selling product. But Sun's move could stimulate take-up of its chips considerably, as it will allow small design outfits to start with Sun blueprints and then design their own custom versions of the chips without their having to make up-front investment. Sun will release designs for its PicoJava chip first, in the next few weeks. This will be followed its 32-bit line, and then 64-bit UltraSparc by year end. But although Sun's initiative is being seen in some quarters as a massive innovation, it more properly represents a honing of what the company is doing already. Sun has allowed Sparc licensees to produce their own versions of the chip for years now, the initial idea having been that a loose coalition of workstation manufacturers could produce wider-ranging innovation and achieve greater mass than one company holding its cards close to its chest. To be blunt, that hasn't worked. In the low-cost market it has worked, for ARM rather than Sun. Sun will clearly be aware of this, so maybe (especially considering PicoJava is first) the move is directed at ARM. Sun has also introduced the 'pay us once you're selling gear, but not before' licensing model in its Java software operations, so there's a logic to extending it to hardware. Still, from the marketing point of view, 'open source chips' is a neat move. ®
John Lettice, 02 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

Compaq woos ISVs for 64-bit applications

Further details of Compaq's plans to leverage 64-bit platforms have emerged, with the company pumping marketing money into an application porting strategy. It will start five porting centres across the world. Documents The Register has seen, show that Compaq is pursuing a dual strategy in order to protect its customer base in the future. Jeff Kenyon, manager of software and systems engineering at Compaq US, outlined the plans to ISVs recently. According to the documents, customers have a choice of going with Compaq Alpha NT and its Tru64 Unix, or investing in IA-64 after the release of Merced. Compaq is instead suggesting companies partner with it, claiming that Tru64 Unix on Alpha has the longest heritage of full 64-bit Unix. It says it has the greatest porting experience of the vendors, with over 13,000 applications and 3,000 ports. As part of its porting programme, Compaq is creating an application directory database and catalogue, providing porting assistance, SDKs, demonstration and developer discounts, and forging member communities. It will provide support during the port including startup support, walk-in porting centres, engineering guides, on-site assistance, and remote access to systems. After an application is ported, it will provide SDK updates, technical notes and whitepapers, technical seminars and remote problem diagnosis. Its engineering resource centres will be based in Palo Alto, Houston, Marlboro, Reading and Bangalore, the document we saw suggested, and back that up with Internet access and engineering resources. Compaq says that it will help software developers cross the chasm, otherwise they might find themselves in a tornado. ®
Mike Magee, 02 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

Nokia pushes WAP into consumer market

Analysis Nokia's launch of its 7110, the world's first GSM WAP phone, and a related blizzard of news releases are making WAP seem suddenly a much earlier prospect than anticipated. The WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) standard is intended to allow low-resource devices to link to the Internet despite low bandwidth, but had recently started to look like an idea that would soon be overtaken by broadband wireless. Motorola, Ericsson and Nokia had been expected to unveil WAP products next autumn, with volume shipments by the end of the year. But Nokia is apparently now shooting for a second quarter release and has been able to drum up support from operators and other affiliates. A clutch of GSM operators in Nordic countries and Singapore is already pledging WAP support by summer. Nokia's WAP contract with France Telecom is also meant to provide French customers with WAP by summer. The 7110 offers new software that helps to compose text messages by anticipating which letters are most likely to be used in completing a word. This concept has aready been adapted by a small mobile phone manufacturer called Benefon and it has turned Io, the first phone using the feature, into a minor hit. The technology cuts down the amount of button-pushing needed to compose a message by as much as 50 per cent. Both Motorola and Ericsson plan to offer a similar feature in the future. Meanwhile a Nokia-CNN joint venture is aimed at easing consumers into WAP by providing content services like news headlines and stock quotes first via Short Message Service and then by offering expanded services with the help of WAP. Nokia also aims to introduce a GSM-1900 version of the 7110 for the US market later this year. This might help the embattled American GSM operators to fight back the advances of TDMA and CDMA by offering WAP technology before it is adapted by the competing standards. Motorola is trying to aid its proprietary iDEN standard by introducing WAP technology first in this standard. It makes some sense, because iDEN is aimed mainly for professional use. But one of the most interesting aspects of the 7110 launch is Nokia's apparent resolve to bring WAP into mainstream. The earlier 9000 smartphone topped a million units in sales, but never reached average consumers. Nokia's extremely aggressive pricing of the 7110 is aimed to prevent this from happening again. The model may ship for as little as 50 per cent below current 9110 smartphone prices and just 20 per cent above the launch price of the 6110. For a model that offers 80 per cent larger display than the 6110 while introducing much improved technological specifications the price would be notably low. It would actually undercut Motorola's new V-series phones and Ericsson's T28, the other frontrunners for this summer - even though they do not offer WAP technology. It is going to be highly interesting to see how strongly the GSM operators will embrace WAP. The early signs are good. The 1,000 per cent annual growth some Nordic operators are seeing in SMS use shows that consumers in countries with advanced mobile phone penetration are switching to using phones as data devices. In Nordic countries data already makes up more than 10 per cent of mobile network traffic -- among teenage users text messages have already surpassed voice calls as the most common way to use a mobile phone. These phenomena may be replicated by major European markets like the UK, Germany, France and Italy as their penetration rates close in on 30 per cent, the number most often associated with the initiation of exponential growth in mobile data traffic. ®
Tero Kuittinen, 02 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

Intel runs private, compulsory licence regime – FTC

Intel has been running "its own privately administered compulsory licensing regime," says the US Federal Trade Commission in pretrial documentation released yesterday. The FTC is due to open its antitrust case against the chip giant on 9 March, and although its case is a lot tighter-looking than the rival attraction, DoJ versus Microsoft, this one should run and run as well. The FTC intends to argue that Intel is a monopoly, and uses it power to extract patents and deals from its partners. Spats between Intel and Compaq, DEC and Intergraph (currently running its own antitrust action against Intel) will be used in evidence will figure prominently, and Intel's practice of cutting-off access to technical data during disputes will be argued over in some detail. Intergraph, for example, which is claiming Intel tried to blackmail patents out of it, had its 'air supply' (which, aptly, is an expression Microsoft execs claim an Intel exec made up) cut off in order to encourage it to surrender. A judge last year seemed to agree, ordering Intel to switch the oxygen back on pending the outcome of Intergraph's suit. Intel, bless it for its plain-speaking approach to business, won't be denying that it does this kind of thing, but will be arguing that it's perfectly within its rights to do so. If somebody's suing you, it's unreasonable to expect you to help them, and Intel says the FTC is trying to prevent it "from using its intellectual property to barter in value-for-value commercial exchanges." Now there's a loaded expression, and refreshing, too - Microsoft denies everything, but Intel wants to prove it has the right to engage in 'you scratch my back' business arrangements. The FTC also argues that by suppressing innovation Intel has held the market back. But that's going to be a difficult one to prove, as the paranoid survivalists at Intel have habitually jammed innovation (Intel-scripted innovation, naturally) down the customers' throats far faster than the customers themselves have thought necessary or realistic. In its own filing yesterday Intel argued first that it wasn't a monopoly, second that the FTC's economist, Harvard professor Frederic Scherer, had failed to identify any harm done by Intel practices, and third that even monopolies have the right to intellectual property. The FTC wants Intel to licence its technology freely. If the FTC can prove monopoly, then Intel is in trouble, because monopolies only have rights to their intellectual property up to a point - restrictions on their use of that property are likely to be imposed. But if Scherer really can't figure out harm, he must be about as switched-on as the dismal economists who've been witnesses in the Microsoft case. Intergraph certainly looked harmed, and back in the early days of the Pentium you'll recall that Intel supported Dell, Gateway and PB, while Compaq, which was still trying to do its own innovations, was left with an embarrassingly low share of the Pentium market. Prof Scherer, if the FTC can show Intel was being a naughty monopoly when it did this stuff, you can demonstrate harm. ®
John Lettice, 02 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

Intel PIII number generator could aid psychic research

While The Register was out in Palm Springs, we had an email from an academic at the Department of Parapsychology at Edinburgh University. That department came into being because Arthur Koestler left money in his will to set it up. The academic said he was interested in Intel's hardware random number generator (RNG) because if it was truly random, it would allow proper testing of psychic abilities. We pitched this one to an Intel spin paramedic. He suddenly went all paranoid on us and said: "The RNG is a part of the Pentium III platform and is not yet available." We talked to the ghost of Mother Shipton and she told us that it is set to be available in Autumn this year. ®
Mike Magee, 02 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

HP to split in twain – WSJ

Hewlett-Packard is preparing to split itself into two separate companies, according to a good old-fashioned scoop in today's Wall Street Journal. The computer giant will make the announcement after the NYSE this evening, the paper reports. HP management recently hired posh management consultants McKinsey & Co to investigate "strategic alternatives", the WSJ reveals. HP shares have performed like dogs over the last two years, according to the paper -- it cites research company Baseline figures, showing HP share value has grown 17 per cent during this period, compared with 56 per cent for the S&P Index, and 137 per cent for an index of computer hardware How will the cookie crumble at HP post-reorganisation? The most obvious way to carve up the group would be to hive off the companies test and measurement and medical equipment, which collectively represents 11 per cent of sales. But that would not require expensive management consultants to come up with such an idea. The Register could have given that one away for free. It's difficult to see how such a demerger would unlock value in the company's core computer business, which represents 89 per cent of turnover. The WSJ quotes a "person close to the company (who predicts) HP will try to stress faster-growing Internet-related hardware, that could command a premium on Wall Street". HP shares will no doubt jump today and tomorrow. Aren't smoke and mirrors wonderful things? ®
Drew Cullen, 02 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

Real3D falls out with Intel

At the Intel Developer Forum last week, both myself and Markus Pfeffinger from Tom's Hardware Guide pressed Ron Smith, a VP in charge of chipsets, about his company's relationship with Real3D these days. Answers came there none. Just checking on our email on our return from Albuquerque, we noted an email from Jonathan Hou, who runs the Fullon3D site. Jonathan gets some good info. He got an interview with Jonathan Yi from Shuttle suggesting the K7 was late. Somehow we missed this information. Apparently, Real3D's next chip is called Cobra and is likely to be similar to nVidia's TNT-2 and ATI's Rage 128. It's a few months away, and will come with 32-bit, AGP 4x, Screaming Sindie enhanced drivers and multi-texturing. And this is the interesting bit: Real3D has had a split up with Intel regarding Portola 752. ®
Mike Magee, 02 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

IBM to support all major Linux distributions

IBM today said it will offer a global support service for corporate Linux users. The deal will take on board all the major Linux distributions, including Caldera's OpenLinux, Red Hat Linux and Pacific HiTech's version. The company also pledged to ship its WebSphere and OnDemand Server applications for the open source variety of Unix. WebSphere will ship in the third quarter. A ship date for OnDemand was not made available, but the product will enter the final testing stage in the next quarter. WebSphere provides transaction processing facilities, while OnDemand allows administrators to centrally manage server-based applications. IBM said it also plans to extend its Linux line with security software. ®
Tony Smith, 02 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

AMD fab plans leak out

A reader sent us some interesting information from a Japanese Web site and thoughtfully translated it for us too. According to this information, AMD will shift the manufacturing process of the K6-III from 0.25 micron to 0.18 micron in the second half of 1999, but has not yet decided whether to perform that miracle on the K6-2, as yet. The physical limit of the K6-III's 0.25 frequency is 550MHz and they already have 550MHz running on this process using a simulator. AMD will ship its mobile K6-III in the first half of this year but do not have a plan to reduce the consumption power, which will be 2.4 volts. Meanwhile, other Asian reports say AMD will produce a ball grid array (BGA) package later this year and will beef up its production facilities at its fab in Thailand. Does this chime with our report yesterday, we wonder (see K7 chipset reported delayed). The site is here. ®
Mike Magee, 02 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

AGP party bit of a puzzle

At Intel's six-monthly jamboree, last week, every delegate+dog got an invite to an AGP party held at the aircraft museum in Palm Springs. Everyone got a drink ticket and much fun was had by all. But it must have cost the AGP lot a fortune. And none of the journalists, nor, for that matter the Intel spin paramedics, could figure out just why they were doing it...Can anyone explain? ®
Mike Magee, 02 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

Netscape ramps up ISP-oriented Linux efforts

Netscape yesterday extended its strategy of winning the hearts and minds of Linux-running Internet Service Providers (ISPs) with the release of three key server products. The company unveiled Directory Server 4.0 and Messaging Server 4.0 for Linux and promised the preview releases would be followed up with final versions within two months. At the same time, Netscape said it had begun shipping its Delegated Administrator management console software. All three applications -- and other version 4.0 server products which the company said will begin to appear in the coming months -- are aimed primarily at ISPs in an attempt to shore up such users' support for Netscape products in the face of increased competition from the likes of IBM and, in particular, Hewlett-Packard. HP too has made Linux a key part of its strategy to target its PA-RISC and Intel-based servers at ISPs (see HP finalises Linux, open source plans). Following the developing trend of vendors' getting their names attached to leading Linux distributors, Netscape said it intends to work with Red Hat, Caldera et al, though it didn't say precisely how. Some kind of bundling and support product seems likely, given IBM's moves in that direction (see IBM to support all major Linux distributions) and Netscape's comment that it would also be working with Linux-supporting PC vendors, such as Compaq, HP and VA Research. ® See also Intel to back Linux hardware outfit
Tony Smith, 02 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

Big Blue goes green with recycled PC release

Big Blue yesterday unveiled its first commercial PC made from plastic stripped and recycled from junked computers. The IntelliStation E Pro will ship in the US for a whopping $2155, so IBM clearly reckons that if bog roll manufacturers can charge a premium for recycled product, it can too. The PC is based on 450MHz and 500MHz Pentium III processors, but other specs. were not forthcoming. Big Blue reckons the machine will do particularly well in Europe, and the Nordic regions in particular, because "environmental policies are extremely important in the marketplace". IBM was keen to stress its enviro-cred at the launch, pointing out that IBM Worldwide Materials Recovery Centers process millions of pounds of plastic waste -- though given the IntelliStation is the first recycled PC, we wonder what they've been doing with it all -- and that last year it won the Society Of Plastics Engineers' Recycler of the Year Award. The company also pointed out that, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency, plastic makes up ten per cent of landfill. So presumably we can expect IBM's recyclers to figure out how to use the remaining 90 per cent. PCs made from old banana peel and crisp packets, anyone? ®
Tony Smith, 02 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

Compaq fails to deck French, German DEC staff

French and German Digital staff members who Compaq wanted to lay off before Christmas are still in place, The Register can confirm. The labour laws in two of the largest European countries are preventing them from receiving their P45s (pink slips), according to an informed source. "It's like Michael Caine in Zulu, holding the thin red line against the invading hordes," the source said. "Every time you think you've got rid of one, another pops up to take his place." He said that Compaq wanted to rid itself of the DEC people because they were acting as an irritant to its corporate plans. At present, Compaq is negotiating with work councils to see if a way can be found to resolve the situation. ® Related Stories Zut Alors! Compaq France still in talks Now France gets Santa Pfeiffer treatment
Mike Magee, 02 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

Intel, Sun schmoozing for a chip cruising

Reports are reaching The Register that Sun's Scott McNealy and Intel's Craig Barrett are in preliminary talks over the future of chip technology. According to our source, Barrett is going behind the scenes in an attempt to persuade Sun to adopt some elements of Intel technology in its product line-up. Although Microsoft is understood to be furious at the discussions, the reports suggest that Intel is prepared to weather that particular storm. And in other sheer speculation, some folk are wondering if Sun and Dell might not cosy up together... ®
Mike Magee, 02 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

HP Merced chipset to arrive next month

Sources close to HP's plans said today that the company will release its chipset supporting the Merced platform next month. For the time being at least, HP will maintain its dual strategy of selling HP/UX boxes at the high end and Windows NT servers at the low end. But the sources added that the long-term commitment is to the IA-64 platform, with HP's roadmap, which stretches five years ahead, consistently moving towards that goal. The issue at present, the source said, was that there were still some members of the "old guard" who could not be wrenched away from their attachment to HP/UX and PA-RISC. ®
Mike Magee, 02 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

Japanese economic decline continues to hit PC makers

Toshiba has issued a statement revising forecasts for its financial year, ending 31 March. It expects turnover to stand at Y3,400 billion, with no recurring profit and a net loss of Y20 billion. Last year, Toshiba forecast that turnover would stand at Y3,500 billion, with Y15 billion recurring profit and Y12 billion net income. Toshiba blamed the problems on "the recent appreciation of the Japanese yen and lower demand in Japan for information and computer systems." In a separate announcement, Fujitsu has warned that full-year sales and profit would be lower than expected. Falling domestic sales were cited as the reason and are expected to fall by 25 per cent to Y455 billion. This would be offset by an increase in overseas business by 18 per cent toY310 billion the company said. ®
Team Register, 02 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

FTC girds taffeta for Intel action

How ready is the US Federal Trade Commision for the start of its antitrust sauit against Intel next week? Well, judging from its web site, not very. Yesterday it filed its opening shots with the court, but today's "latest release" on ftc.gov doesn't seem to have quite caught up yet. It's headed "What Every Bride-to-be Should Know." This, the big news from last Friday, could be interpreted as having some relevance to pending major antitrust actions, but - given the few days before the show goes live - doesn't quite make it. For example, the FTC says it is "trying to make sure brides-to-be get what they pay for when they buy a wedding dress - including all the information federal law requires on wearing apparel." Unfortunate grist to Intel's defence here, surely - if the United States has federal law dictating how you're allowed to wear apparel, then clearly this is Big Government that's got too big. Says Jodie Bernstein, FTC consumer protection bureau director: "Brides are telling us they want the 'inside' information and that it's missing from some garments." Well, when one thinks of Intel, one does tend to think of "inside" as well, doesn't one? Again, you can see the FTC is getting there, but remains low on focus. The FTC adds: "The emergence of discount ordering services - either through toll-free telephone numbers or the Internet - has spurred some retailers to remove disclosure labels from their gowns." This isn't against the law, apparently, and may also help Intel - didn't the Great Stan remove Intergraph's disclosure labels? So maybe it wasn't illegal. But giving a taste of what's going to happen to Intel once the long arm of the law has brought it low, Bernstein adds sternly: "We hope that bridal gown businesses will refer to our business education brochure to make sure they're complying with the law and providing brides-to-be with the information they deserve." You listening, Craig Barrett? Read the goddam brochure or you're toast, OK?
Hugh Edding, 02 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

Vendors vie for No 1 slot in cheap PIII chart

Less than a week after the introduction of Intel’s Pentium III chip, PC sellers are falling over themselves to provide the cheapest machines based on the new processor. A whole host of PCs running on the PIII are available in the UK high street and from PC builders. The choice ranges from PC World's £899 machine and - at the high end - a £2099 offering from Evesham Micros. But industry observers remain sceptical about the merits of putting this ultra-fast chip in Joe Public’s home computer. Andy Brown, research analyst at IDC, said the basic business or home user would not make much use of a Pentium III chip. "In lower-end, cheaper PCs, you often don't need that much power. It is really just an extended Pentium II, but still priced at a premium." Luke Ireland, a director at PC assembler Evesham Micros, was also sceptical about the cheaper machines. He said: "Most people who want Pentium III systems won't buy these cheap PCs - it's more for enthusiasts. If someone spends £900 on a computer, they shouldn't allocate one third of this price to the processor." Evesham Micros has 31 different models of the PIII, ranging from the Evesham Vale, PIII 450, with 64 MG, 6.4 GB hard drive at £929 + VAT, to Pentium III 500, 128 MB, 12.7 GB hard drive with in-built satellite receiver card at £2,099 +VAT. But though most useful for games, surfing the Internet and downloading graphics, the PIII will no doubt be in demand. IDC's Brown said: "It's like buying a new car - people want the latest. And Intel has such an enormous percentage of the market that people will increasingly request its Pentium III." Direct vendor Gateway has also put the chip in its PCs, but says its direct model means there will be little price difference between the PII- and PIII-based Gateway systems. "Our low overheads and limited inventory enable us to sell this technology at current Pentium II processor prices," said Mike Swalwell, Gateway UK & Ireland MD. Anyone wanting to buy a Fujitsu PIII-based machines in the UK will have to take a trip to Tesco - the Japanese PC company is using the supermarket as its only PIII channel for the Myrica multimedia PC, which retails at £1180 inc. VAT. It includes a PIII 450Mhz, 128 Mb Ram and 10Gb hard drive. It will be introduced in other stores in the next few weeks. Frank O'Brien, Fujitsu sales director for UK & Ireland, said demand for PIII systems had been phenomenal. "The advertisement went in the paper on Thursday, and by 10am Friday 1,000 phone calls had been taken," he said. The arguments against putting such a powerful chip in cheaper PCs didn't wash with O'Brien. He added: "At £1180, including free installation and one year warranty, you'd be nuts not to buy it." Pentium III-based PCs are also available from Compaq, IBM, Dell, Tiny, Viglen, Dan Technology, Carerra, Time, and Mesh Computers. ®
Linda Harrison, 02 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

Does 3Dfx really support Linux?

In our story on 3Dfx's marketing-led Linux support announcement we pointed out that most of the developments the company had highlighted were actually programmes already in place within the open source community. However, some Register readers kindly got in touch to detail the extent of that development work. In particular, reader Paul Komarek informed us that Glide for Linux has been available for at least 12 months before 3Dfx's Monday announcement. "Daryll Strauss [the guy who's done the port 3Dfx is promoting] has been working by himself for at least one-and-a-half years," apparently with only "occasional help from 3Dfx". That suggests that, like various other companies who've hitched a ride with the open source community, 3Dfx has essentially used Strauss' work to spare itself R&D dollars. To be fair to 3Dfx, it did credit Strauss in its announcement, but it would be interesting to see if he got any real reward for his efforts beyond a pat on the back. "About releasing the 3D specs for the Banshee," adds Paul, "nVidia gave the Xfree86 project code for drivers for the Riva 128 and TNT. This code is open source, of course, as Xfree86 wouldn't take it otherwise. "In my opinion 3Dfx is releasing this info so Linux users can buy a Banshee for Windows games but use it for their desktop under X in Linux. That way they [3Dfx] can still avoid committing driver-writing resources to Linux but have Linux users buy their cards." Where, asks Paul, is the real change in 3Dfx's attitude to Linux in that? ®
Tony Smith, 02 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

Microsoft to ship beta 3 of W2000 on 21 April

Highly reliable sources said today that Microsoft will ship Beta 3 of Windows 2000 to 100,000 end users on April 21st. And the beta will come with support for four way clustering, we are given to understand. A Microsoft executive said at the Intel Developer Forum last week that Win2000 will be ported to the Alpha platform. We understand that NT ProLiant servers in two way and four way Alpha configurations are on track. The same highly reliable sources say that an 800MHz EV67 will arrive sometime this month or early next, while EV68 is to clock at 1000MHz by the end of the year, in real systems. Liquid nitrogen, in the shape of Kryotech support, will not be required. But can Microsoft ship Win2000 on time? This is the conundrum currently plaguing both Compaq and bitter rival Hewlett Packard. The old guard, at both companies, have their own Unix interests, with high margins and high prices. As previously revealed here, there will only be two more revs of PA-RISC, while old timers at Compaq say that the Alpha running Tru64 is yesterday's box. However, Compaq and Microsoft are betting on NT, with the former giving the latter support, as also revealed here earlier. ® Related Stories Compaq promotes Alpha as high end server Intel anxious about Compaq Alpha threat
Mike Magee, 02 Mar 1999
Intel headquarters, Santa Clara

Intel Developer Forum Feb 99

Once again, Mike Magee represented The Register at Intel's Developer Forum in the heart of a desert. Here is some of the coverage...
Mike Magee, 02 Mar 1999