4th > March > 1999 Archive

The Register breaking news

Happy Cat posts i810 benchmarks

Standing up bravely against threats and dire Intel injunctions, corner shop Happy Cat in Hokkaido tonight has posted benchmarks relating to the 810 chipset. Happy Cat attracted the ire of Intel by posting pictures of previous products the chip Godzilla has not yet announced. Further down its pages, Happy Cat is still showing pix of the i820 chipset which drew down threats from the mammoth creature stalking the chip industry. The Happy Cat seems undaunted by such threats. ®
Mike Magee, 04 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

UK Phone changes to go ahead

OFTEL has defied the wishes of an influential group of MPs and vowed to continue with the planned changes to the UK's telephone numbering system. In spite of receiving stinging criticism from MPs the telecoms watchdog insists the changes are necessary to meet the huge explosion in demand for telephone services. David Edmonds, Director General OFTEL, said: "The Trade and Industry Committee asked us to review the proposed changes to the national numbering scheme, and OFTEL will submit a full response to the Committee in the near future. "However, it is clear that the scheduled changes to the numbering system must go ahead, and it is important for an early decision to remove uncertainty," he said. In a bid to placate MPs, OFTEL has said it will review its proposals for freephone numbers and numbering administration. From 1 June this year, old and new telephone numbers will run in parallel in six areas - London, Northern Ireland, Cardiff, Coventry, Southampton and Portsmouth - before the switch comes into force from 22 April 2000. Parallel running for new mobile phone numbers will begin on 30 September 1999. And changes to mobiles, pagers, local, national and premium rate numbers will take place over the next two years, OFTEL has said. Yet despite spending £20 million on a nation-wide publicity campaign only half of companies and organisations know that the number changes are taking place. ® See earlier stories London set to run out of phone numbers as row breaks out UK companies face chaos as phone numbers change
Tim Richardson, 04 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

Samsung Semi to push into retail market

Executives from Samsung Semiconductor said today that it was branding its DRAM as retail goods, first in the UK, and then throughout Europe. Adrian Elms, senior sales manager at Samsung Semi UK, said: "There's been a divergence of memory in the marketplace, some of which is not quality product. We've done a lot of market research and recognise that after market is a considerable business." He said that Samsung will supply a range of packages aimed at retail outlets and also for the corporate upgrade marketplace. "Why buy third party memory when you can use what the OEM does," he said. The memory will be fulfilled in the UK by Just Rams and will come in configurations between 32Mb and 128Mb SDRAM. Samsung will also take the same approach to memory for digital cameras, said Elms. He confirmed that Samsung is preparing a big push on the Alpha microprocessor front and that Microsoft will have Win2000 for the platform. "This [Alpha] will be an opportunity for us, particularly at the server end," he said. "Alpha can be clustered very efficiently." ®
Mike Magee, 04 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

PlayStation 2 development to be driven by Linux

Sony has selected Linux as the development environment for PlayStation 2 titles, according to a report in Japanese games-oriented Web site Gamespot. The report is in Japanese, which The Register has a bit of a blind spot, but the story essentially suggests Sony is to offer its development tools for Linux. It's not clear whether the next-generation games console will use Linux as its on-board OS -- Tuesday's launch focused more on the hardware specs. and the PlayStation 2's graphics engine -- but it would certainly be a good choice given the kernel's portability and the fact that the PlayStation 2's nearest rival, Sega's Dreamcast, is based on Windows CE. The PlayStation 2 also contains even more PC-style features than its predecessor, including PC Card slots, USB and FireWire (IEEE 1394) ports, Rambus Direct DRAM support, and a DVD-ROM drive. That too would make the choice of an existing PC-oriented OS, particularly one where so much of the hardware support is carried out by the open source community, more logical. A full list of the PlayStation 2's technical specs. can be found at SharkyExtreme. Sony said the console's 128-bit CPU, co-developed with Toshiba, was three times as powerful as the Pentium III and 15 times more powerful than the PII. Japanses gamers will be able to get their hands on the machine at the end of the year; it will go on sale in the US and Europe in the second half of 2000. ®
Tony Smith, 04 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

Internet free call free-for-all

Net users in the UK are expected to run amok next week when they are given the chance to access the Net for free. London-based ISP, The X-Stream Network, is offering its 200,000 registered users the chance to access the Net using a toll-free 0800 number, instead of incurring the usual local-rate charge. Available on Monday, 8 March between 6pm and midnight, the promotion marks X-Stream's first year as a subscription-free service provider - a model that has since been widely adopted by companies such as Dixons and Tesco. And in a provocative move the company said it is "throwing down the gauntlet to Dixons FreeServe, Tesco and others" to raise the stakes in the provision of free Internet access. "As the first [ISP] to offer free access we stunned the market," said Paul Myers, MD of X-Stream. "Our innovation, courage and success forced the likes of Dixons, BT and Tesco to re-organise their Internet strategies and offer free Internet access. "Now we're doing it yet again and once again we are driving the market to another level entirely," he said. Unlike other subscription-free services which generate revenue from splitting the call charge with telecomms companies, Myers insists that most of The X-Stream Network's income is earned through advertising. ®
Tim Richardson, 04 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

Amiga future founded on Internet appliances

Further hints of what Amiga, inc., the Gateway subsidiary formed when the direct PC vendor acquired the cult home computing platform, is up to emerged this week. Hidden away on a release announcing the appointment of former Gateway senior VP of product development and management, Jim Collas, as Amiga's president, is a statement that the company is preparing not only a low-cost home computer of the kind that made the Amiga name when it was part of Commodore but also an Internet appliance. Amiga has been known for some time to be readying a new line of hardware products which will debut before the end of this year. On the software front, the company is working in the next major release of AmigaOS, version 5.0. Last year, it licensed QNX Software's QNX real time OS onto which it's building the Amiga OS' multimedia technology. That version of the OS is clearly what's going to sit inside the appliance, though whether we're talking a consumer-oriented set-top box for Internet access or a Team Internet-style home/office access device cum server isn't clear. However, it doesn't stop there. "The Amiga platform is ideal for Internet-ready, consumer-oriented digital appliance of the future," said Collas, who added that the company will use the Amiga platform to "enable products from hand-held Internet appliances to high-end graphics computers." Incidentally, the disparate Amiga, inc. and Amiga International are to be integrated under a single corporate structure. Collas' comments tie in neatly with conclusions drawn by an IDC conference yesterday, which suggested that PC vendors will need to start looking beyond their traditional markets as they enter the next century and Internet access begins to expand beyond the computer. ®
Tony Smith, 04 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

Update 2: Big Blue to team up with Dell

Dell and IBM have signed a $16 billion, seven year technology cross-licencing, deal which will see the direct seller using Big Blue products to bolster its high-end weakspots. It is thought to be the largest deal of its kind in the IT industry. Details of the deal came through at 3pm GMT (10am EST) after news about the tie-up began to leak earlier today. The BBC Web site's news service was one of the first sites to carry the news. Dell will use IBM high-capacity disk drives, network cards, flat panel screens, and SRam. It is also thought that the deal will extend to microelectronics, such as IBM's copper chip initiative - a move which could put Dell at odds with long-time partner Intel. Brian McBride, vice president Dell UK & Ireland, said: "Our rivals will find it hard to compete, if we're spending $16 billion with IBM you can imagine we're getting keen prices. I think Compaq will be quite worried - we're the nimblest player in the market." He stressed that any development involving IBM copper chip technology would not jeopardise Dell's relationship with Intel. "This is a future technology, we're keeping our options open. I don't think you'll be seeing Dell PCs based on anything other than Intel." Dell has enjoyed runaway success in the PC and low-end PC server markets but has a lot of ground to make up before major corporate customers will consider using it at the high end. This tie-up with IBM will, Dell hopes, plug those gaps. James Vanderslice, senior vice president and group executive of the recently formed IBM Technology Group, described the deal as: "Further evidence of our commitment to bringing IBM-developed technology to market quickly through a variety of channels and to a wide range of customers." It has been a long time since IBM was a big noise in the PC market and the company is focussing on software, services and high-end product technology as its best hope for sustained future growth. Both were caught short by last year's Compaq/Digital merger. Dell lost one of its key service partners and IBM found itself with an unexpected rival in the high-end arena. ®
Sean Fleming, 04 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

UK printer market targeted by Samsung

Samsung has poached staff from its rivals to start a new printer division in the UK, coinciding with today's launch of its laser printers. The Korean manufacturer aims to knock competitor Kyocera from its number two position in the country's laser printer market. It will invest £8 million in the project throughout 1999, aimed at securing 10 per cent of sales by the end of the year. Today Samsung showed three printers models. The ML 5100A, with USB and parallel ports, 4 Mb memory and 33Mhz RISC processor, which prints eight pages per minute (ppm). Estimated street price £169. The ML 6050, 4Mb, 33Mhz RISC, 12 ppm, with an estimated street price of £288. The ML 7000 range goes up to a 12 Mb memory and 100 Mhz RISC processor. The ML 7000P is priced at £509, and the ML 7000N at £630. Ali Demin, Samsung sales and marketing director, announced the start of the company's printer division today. Currently with seven staff - all culled from competitors including Panasonic and Minolta, Demin said that number would grow to 11 by the year 2000, confident that by this time Samsung would take the number two position in the laser printer UK market. "The laser printer market is a strategic goal for our company," said Demin. He added, "We can compete with anybody with our products, and will take market share away from competitors, including market leader Hewlett-Packard." HP currently has over 50 per cent of the market. Samsung's freshly poached general manager for the printing division, Clive Huntingford - who has joined from Minolta - said: "Samsung is ready for a fight. We can offer an alternative to the market leader, whilst giving better margin to the channel." Samsung's £8 million campaign will kick off next week with adverts in trade titles and the national press. Mail shots will follow. In addition, a printer-like Samsung hot-air balloon will soon be seen floating over the UK. The Korean threat to Japanese printer-vendor Kyocera did not fall on deaf ears. Phil Murphy, Kyocera general manager, admitted to The Register: "We are number two. But we're actually only keeping the spot warm for Ali Demin." ®
Linda Harrison, 04 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

UK banks lag behind Europe in online services

There's little appetite for on-line banking in the UK either among banks or their customers. What's more, UK banks are apathetic about any possible fall-out from not offering on-line services and can't even be bothered to ask their customers if they're interesting in electronic banking or not. These are just some of the damning conclusions published today by French IT company, Bull, which claims that UK on-line banking lags behind its European counterparts. Undertaken by independent research company Infratest Burke InCom, Bull found while 70 per cent of UK banks believed electronic banking would increase revenue, few were prepared to do anything about it. In what's believed to be the largest and most in-depth study of its kind, Bull found that less than half of all UK banks currently offered on-line banking. "The fact that the UK is lagging behind the rest of Europe in providing electronic banking services should be worrying UK financial organisations," said Stephen Meyler, marketing director at Bull. "If I was a bank who hadn't thought about this I'd be worried about the future," he said. But the research has riled one leading UK bank and goes against its own experience of the online marketplace. "I do not support this view at all," said Nick Johnson, manager of NatWest Online. "We have strong demand from our customers for online banking and have trialed many different technologies over the years. "Bearing in mind the quality and range of products and services on offer, I would say the UK was a leader in Europe," he said. Bull's research was published on the same day it launched its new online banking product iQ Banking. ®
Tim Richardson, 04 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

CHS swallows up peripherals disties

CHS Electronics' subsidiary CHS UK Holdings today bought the UK distribution business of Appropriate Technology, including Aptec and Paperlink. Aptec and Paperlink will continue their current main businesses of distribution and services for high-end peripherals, under the name CHS UK Enterprise Systems Distribution. Aptec distributes peripherals for colour and graphics, including scanners, large format plotters, colour laser printers, high-resolution printers, high-end monitors and projectors. Paperlink, bought by Aptec in 1993, is a distributor of DIP, document management/workflow peripherals and software. The two London-based companies will trade under DNS Aptec and DNS Paperlink. Miami-based CHS said the acquisitions would expand its high-end product line. Ali Baghdadi, Aptec UK MD, said: "We anticipate doubling our sales in the first 12 months. CHS is a fast-moving and exciting environment and I am pleased to be part of the organization." ®
Linda Harrison, 04 Mar 1999
The Register breaking news

Intel steps up PII price slashing game

On April 11th, Intel is set to make further price cuts in its PII product line up by around 10 per cent. Although no chips are expected to disappear on that day, sources close to Intel's plans confirmed that the cuts are being made as a way of introducing the 550MHz part at the end of May. But another source told The Register that distributors will sell a two pack boxed Pentium II/400MHz with 512K cache for $302.55 on April 4. This latter one puzzles us. If it is true, it means that each chip costs $150.28 and that doesn't seem to fit into any of our information, whatever. ® Intel Developer Forum coverage
Mike Magee, 04 Mar 1999