22nd > April > 1999 Archive

The Register breaking news

Intel close to completing overclocking plans

Updated Plans by Intel to prevent overclocking of its processors are nearly complete, according to sources close to the company. At the end of last year, we reported that Intel would introduce locks on microprocessor speeds which would prevent end users from increasing the clock rate on chips. But now, its manufacturing methods mean that Intel chips cannot be overclocked, the source said. "The general rule is if the thing is marked 'Intel confidential' it's an early sample and may not have multiplier locking enabled. If so, there is a utility for Intel mobos that blows a new clock speed into the flash,overrriding the chip's setting. If the chip isn't marked confidential, you're scuppered," the source said. Intel introduced the overclocking lock ostensibly to prevent re-marking of Intel processors, the company said at the time. However,a reader has said that whatever Intel attempts, it may be doomed to failure. He said: "Unless the chip itself has an absolute timer built in it must get its basic time codes from some place on the motherboard. If someone took that spot, identified it and then made a fake time code generator to insert a differnt time code the board would then run at a new high speed. "For example, if the chip has a counter built in and it counts clock pulses for 1 microsecond and has a limit of 500 MHz it will shut down it it gets more than 500 pulses in one microsecond, the 500 MHz rate. "It can be any fixed clock that the CPU can access and use to count pulses to a maximum limit. If you find that clock it uses and reduce the width of that pulse to 1/2 microsecond at 500 MHZ it would then count only 250 and you could then run the board at 1000 mHZ before that counter went over 500 counts. "What is needed is some detailed exploration of the board to figure out what it uses for the time base so that time base can be cracked. I am not a designer, however i feel my concept is valid, unless they have actually built a time base and counter right on the chip to forestall such cracks." Meanwhile, the Microprocessor Report is claiming that Intel has now backtracked on its clock stopping proposal. ® See also Intel says days of overclocking gone Tick, tock, it's overclock time again Intel warns against overclocking new Celerons Intel a white sepulchre on overclocking
The Register breaking news

Sub-$1000 Alpha Linux system close to launch

The first fruits of Eckhard Pfeiffer's removal as CEO of Compaq have started to fall off the tree. Compaq has now decided that its idea to make NT only ProLiant Alpha servers was not a good idea. Alpha is now being touted by the company as a so-called "universal platform". Next month, Compaq will introduce its DS10 WebBrick at around $3,500 for a 64Mb system, running Linux, according to Terry Shannon, editor of Shannon knows Compaq. But better still, Alpha Processor Inc will introduce a sub-$1,000 Alpha-Linux system in the next few weeks. ®
The Register breaking news

PairGain ‘mastermind’ faces huge PairLoss

Oh boy, is he in trouble. Gary Daile Hoke, the 26-year-old alleged mastermind behind the PairGain share ramp hoax has been slapped by a law suit by the Securities and Exchange Commission. This comes on top of the criminal case against the PairGain engineer, and a threat from Bloomberg to sue for unspecified damages. The SEC is also seeking damages from Hoke for his alleged stock manipulation. This could be the cue to sue for day traders who piled into PairGain on 7 April, following the Internet posting of a story purporting to be from Bloomberg. The bogus article "revealed" PairGain's imminent takeover by ECI Telecom from Israel for $1.35 billion -- twice its market cap at the time. PairGain soared 32 per cent on the day, but turned into a big fat PairLoss when the company and ECI issued statements denying any truth in the story. For someone so clever, the perpetrator is also spectacularly dumb. It was a simple matter for Federal Investigators to trace the story back to its origin, using the unique IP address of the scam merchant. And guess what, the trail led all the way to PairGain's North Carolina factory and to Hoke's PC. All that effort on maximising reward and so little on minimising risk. At least Hoke's still got a job. All reports refer to Hoke in the present tense as a PairGain employee. Presumably of the 'suspended on full pay, innocent until proven guilty or I'll sue you' type of employee. If found guilty, Hoke faces an exemplary prison sentence, bankruptcy, and the loss of his career. At his age, he should be able to pick himself up and start all over again. This young man displays a fine understanding of the psychology of markets and day traders. A job in Wall Street beckons. ®
The Register breaking news

Merced the Celeron of IA-64 platforms

Reports that Merced is dead are highly premature, sources close to Intel's plans said today. Instead, the Merced is to future IA-64 architecture as the Celeron is to the Pentium II, the source added. Of course, the Celeron was a cut-down Pentium II. The source said that there are similarities between Merced and McKinley. Intel is on track to produce the Merced within its time scale, as faithfully reported here, but systems will likely only be used as evaluation platforms. That is part of Intel's long term plan for the IA-64 platform. According to the source, most corporations will take a suck-it-and-see approach to Merced, looking for future platforms to implement the technology satisfactorily. Now Intel has called us, and the representative was at pains to point out our metaphor is pushing the envelope a little. The representative said: "You can't cut down something which hasn't been made yet." But you get our point. ®
The Register breaking news

Why Coppermine is Aluminium-mine

Cunning marketing plans are behind Intel's decision to label its upcoming technology Coppermine, sources close to the company can reveal. Although Intel has committed itself to producing copper technology in future iterations of its IA-64 technology, it was determined that IBM, Motorola and others should not steal its thunder, we can reveal. After the IBM propaganda coup that it would be able to produce chips with copper-interconnect technology, Intel found itself wrong-footed. So much so that Albert Yu, a senior VP of Intel's architecture division, said at the Intel Developer Forum last September that even his mother asked him why IBM had copper technology and Intel did not. Yu and others at the corporation then decided to codename their future technology in such a way so as not to lose face. Coppermine uses aluminium technology. ® See also Yu: my mother asked me why we didn't use copper Katmai out of the bag
The Register breaking news

Dell at loggerheads with Intel

A year ago From The Register No. 73, April 1998 Dell licensing technology from Intergraph is definitely one for the department of weird coincidences. According to Intergraph, Dell is kicking-off a new line of Intel-based workstations tomorrow, and will be using Intergraph's AGP-based Intense 3D Pro graphics subsystems in them. The announcement has added piquancy in that advance details of Intel's AGP graphics bus and of future Intel products in the workstation arena are most certainly the kind of stuff the Alabama courts have just told Intel to give to Intergraph. Dell, meanwhile, is a known long-term beneficiary of 'most favoured nation' trading status with Intel, so on previous performance could have been expected to go with whatever workstation technology Intel said was a good idea, rather than with stuff from a company that seems to be at war with Intel. But times obviously change, and the Intel-based workstation market commands nice fat margins and is where companies like Dell want to be. Besides, if Intel is (under orders) being friendly to Intergraph, then it's OK for Dell to be, right? ®
The Register breaking news

Big Blue Q1 beats Street

IBM revenue in its first quarter rose 15 per cent to $20.32 billion, and net income of $1.47 billion, was up 42 per cent on the year-ago quarter. Financial analysts were taken by surprise again, as their First Call consensus was $1.41/share, while the result was $1.55/share. IBM turned in hardware sales of $8.58 billion, showing 17 per cent growth and somewhat above the two per cent being forecast by the Street, with small and big iron doing well, but mid-level machines feeling the pinch from HP and Sun. Perhaps the biggest surprise was that the near-$1 billion loss in PC sales in 1998, announced in March, became a 50 per cent increase in sales in the first quarter. IBM credits the turnaround to ThinkPads (growth more than 50 per cent) and Netfinity server sales, and believes these products are sufficiently differentiated to give it an advantage. IBM's chip business was a disappointment, although hard disk drive sales increased. CFO Douglas Maine admitted that IBM's direct selling programme was "embryonic", but claimed that IBM does not expect to upset its resellers, who were "fully aware of the IBM strategy". IBM Internet sales were $3 billion in 1998 (with two-thirds from PC sales), and are expected to increase to $10-15 billion in 1999. Compaq of course alienated some of its resellers by its heavy-handed actions in direct selling, and appears to have lost sales to IBM. Dell is also believed to have lost market share to IBM. IBM's PC shipments grew more than 20 per cent in the US (compared with a 16 per cent market growth), whilst worldwide the growth was about 30 per cent. S/390 sales increased, but RS/6000 sales were down, although the venerable series was recently refreshed with new models, so that sales are not reflected in the quarter's results. Services remains IBM's best performing sector, with nine deals over $100 million being signed in the quarter. Sales of $7.55 billion were up 19 per cent on the year-earlier quarter. Services now accounts for 37 per cent of IBM's revenue. There is a services order book of $55 billion. Software sales grew 10 percent to $2.9 billion, driven by database and messaging middleware, and showing an improvement over the 6 per cent growth seen in 1998, and a two per cent decline in 1997. It is worth noting that IBM's margins on software are more than three times those in hardware or services. Maine said there was no evidence that Y2K issues were affecting IBM so far, and that corporate buying patterns remained the same. Geographically, Asia/Pacific sales were up 20 per cent, but Maine characterised sales in Japan as "still a crapshoot" with some corporate sales improvement, but poor consumer sales. Latin America was down ten per cent, but US sales rose 13 per cent, and EMEA 20 per cent. OEM sales were up just five per cent. IBM had $5.36 billion in cash and had repurchased $2.1 billion of its shares at the end of the quarter. Global financing revenue declined two per cent to $705 million. The gross profit margin was 35.7 per cent compared with 36.6 per cent a year earlier. All in all, shareholders will probably consider that Lou Gerstner deserved his considerable wages for the quarter reported. It appears that IBM has finally got its act together after the bad times. The market evidently thought so, because in after-hours trading, shares jumped $16.625 on the closing price of $171.875, which was up $2.125 on the day. The record high in January was $199, a tripling in three years. ®
The Register breaking news

Microsoft CFO to dash to RoadRunner

Greg Maffei, Microsoft's CFO, is believed to be trying to jump ship to join RoadRunner, the cable modem Internet service owned by Time Warner (the biggest US cable operator) and MediaOne. However, Bill Gates is apparently objecting to Maffei's departure on the grounds that as a ten per cent shareholder, the CFO has the right to veto who is appointed as Microsoft's CEO. Mafffei is one of the inner circle at Microsoft, and privy to all the secrets. Gates is always concerned about losing an executive to another company, although burnout and the fruits of financial independence have played their role in the past. Maffei has already done quite nicely from his stint at Microsoft, but there is an opportunity for him to lead an IPO for RoadRunner in which he could potentially make hundreds of millions. That's one theory, but it may not be the whole story. Being in charge of (or worse, being legally responsible for) Microsoft's financial statements is an unenviable job. The SEC has cast its eye over Microsoft's finances and promotional activity in the past, and it is a much tougher opponent than the DoJ, which has to play an outdated set of rules, with political interference thrown in for good measure. Politicians do not mess with the SEC, lest their own activities receive reciprocal investigation. It would not therefore be surprising if Maffei had two reasons for wishing to depart: money, and avoiding responsibility for accounting practices that might be questioned in the future. Along with Microsoft, Compaq also has a ten per cent stake in RoadRunner, putting up $212.5 million, and it would not be surprising if it wanted to realise its investment through a public offering. Time Warner's involvement is complicated: it has about nine per cent itself, and Time Warner Entertainment (through Time Warner Cable, in which MediaOne is a partner) will have an additional 20 per cent. Advance/Newhouse holds 26 per cent in conjunction with Time Warner Entertainment. MediaOne separately has 25 per cent. So that's clear. Earlier plans were rather different: Oracle and Intel were poised to be software and hardware partners in May last year, but Microsoft came along offering to take 20 per cent for $400 million. There was concern that Microsoft would be able to exert end-to-end control, so it was told that a hardware partner was needed, hence Compaq, with Digital being the systems integrator. In Hawaii, Time Warner uses Microsoft's Commercial Internet System based on NT, and Digital is also the integrator. Microsoft's interest would appear to be in the significant revenue stream that could be generated if the venture becomes successful. Last month, MediaOne and Comcast proposed a $48 billion merger, but Comcast (controlled by AT&T) itself controls the rival @Home service. One possible solution is that RoadRunner and @Home will try to merge, if allowed by the FTC/DoJ, which is where Maffei's negotiating toughness may help. ®
The Register breaking news

MS readies witness list for DoJ Wars: Episode 2

Microsoft will depose Michael Popov of Sun on 30 April, and following a court of appeals decision to uphold the Publicity in Taking Evidence Act, it will be open to the public at the San Francisco federal courthouse. Popov, Sun's VP and COO of staff operations, was one of the architects of the complex three-way deal with AOL and Netscape, which became a $10 billion buyout after AOL's share price shot up. AOL's CEO, Steve Case, is also being deposed, and probably Barry Schular, president of AOL's interactive services, too. It is not known who will have to appear for Netscape, following Judge Jackson's order that Microsoft could take four depositions about the deal. At first, the deal was thought to help Microsoft by suggesting that Microsoft was faced with heavyweight competitors, but the feeling began to wane after AOL announced it would be sticking with IE as its default browser for a couple of years at least. The abysmal failure of Microsoft's video demonstration of how 'easy' it was for AOL users to switch browsers from IE to Navigator appeared to remove any advantage that Microsoft might have gained, and set back its defence further by bringing into question its integrity in the court proceedings. Next Monday, there will be another status hearing at which it is probable that the names of the rebuttal witnesses to be called will be made known. In the absence of any PR moves by Microsoft, it seems very unlikely that Gates will be called by the defence, and the DoJ has more to gain by leaving Gates' video depositions as the main record for the court. Case is a likely witness, probably for the DoJ. Another name being touted is Gateway CEO Ted Waitt. It seems inevitable that two more ill-informed economists will be given the chance to make fools of themselves. Microsoft has been inviting comment about the case at its trial site but it seems that the DoJ will not be given the chance to subpoena the responses, although Microsoft did this for the DoJ's invitation to comment. Meanwhile, Microsoft's political lobbying carries on: ten senior aides to influential congress members were invited to Redmond for a briefing recently. ® Complete Register trial coverage
The Register breaking news

S3 loss narrows

Graphics chip vendor S3 released its Q1 1999 results yesterday, and while the company failed to show a profit, it's loss shrank considerably despite only a small rise in revenue. S3's loss for the quarter totalled $13.6 million, a big improvement on the $70.3 million loss it posted for the previous quarter. Revenue remained broadly static, rising just under three per cent to $44.3 million. For the same period last year, S3 reported a profit of $4.1 million, but that was accounted for by a special one-off gain of $26 million. The small rise in S3's Q1 99 revenue suggests that the success the company is having in persuading PC vendors to bundle S3-based cards in the products has yet to affect the company's figures. Still, the collapse of its loss to a fifth of its previous level implies that the attempt of CEO Ken Potasher to turn the company round is working. The company continues to face some tough opposition, particularly from nVidia, which, flushed on the success of its high-end cards, is pushing hard to get its earlier generation chips, most notably the Riva TNT, into vendors' mainstream PC designs. Meanwhile, S3's arch-rival, ATI, continues to dominate the PC OEM market -- its Rage 128 driving its recently announced Q2 results that dwarf S3's figures: it reported profits of $39 million on sales of $297.2 million, up 45 per cent and 63 per cent, respectively. See also S3, Via confirm chip cooperation S3 takes time to check The Register out S3 to power Intel PC-on-a-chip's 3D graphics
The Register breaking news

Register hacked but not cracked

Apologies to all our readers who tried to visit The Register last night but found us absent -- our server was brought down briefly by a mass attempt to hack the site. Fortunately, the hackers, who made over 1000 attempts to break in, caused no real damage. Apparently, hackers were rallied to action against The Register through a hacking-oriented Web site, though it's not known whether the attempt was made to avenge one of the many computer companies we cover or was simply malicious. Still, it keeps our ISP on its toes, so we weren't entirely pissed off with our would-be cyber-invaders. However, as one of the IT news business' underdogs, we humbly suggest next time they pick on a larger target, one more worthy of their hackery skills. ZDNet perhaps. How about TechWeb (soon to be taken over by the mighty IDG, we hear), or maybe Intel-investee CNET? ®
The Register breaking news

Silly email signature prizes awarded

The Register has awarded two prizes for top explanations of the surreal signature "The tire (sic) is only flat on the bottom." The judges said they were particularly impressed with the number and quality of the entries. Or something like that. "Having to make a decision was incredibly difficult," said one judge. "So the pin came in very handy." One entry that caught the eye of the judges was Jason Ozin's response - regardless of whether it's true or not. "Just to put the record straight and close this thing once and for all," he wrote. "The expression in question was first penned by my uncle Albert around 1957. He sent it in to Readers Digest where it was published. I believe he was sent one Shilling. Uncle Albert tells me he has no idea what it means and doubts that he had at the time either.” “To give you some background - Uncle Albert keeps frogs. His best friend is a Bull Frog called Albert (yes I know) and Albert (the non-reptile one) has been institutionalised on at least four occasions in his life." Let’s hear it for uncle Albert. The judges also awarded Brent McGee a special prize for the most pseudo-intellectual reply of the bunch. "This is the existential difference between a pessimist and an optimist (AKA ‘the glass is half-full’ syndrome)," he wrote. "The pessimist would say: ‘Damn, I've got a flat tire!’ An optimist looks at the same useless piece of rubber and says: ‘No, only the bottom part of it is flat, most of it is still round!’ I would tend to steer clear of this person." Each will receive an exclusive limited edition Register pin. ®
The Register breaking news

Sony wins second victory against PlayStation emulator

Sony yesterday successfully halted the shipment of Connectix's Mac-based PlayStation emulator, Virtual GameStation (VGS). US District Court Judge Charles Legge ruled that Connectix should suspend shipments of VGS, according to a report in MacWeek.com. It's not clear whether Legge's 28-page ruling, delivered to the San Francisco court, fully backs Sony's claim that Connectix infringed its intellectual property in the development of VGS, or he is simply bringing the Mac version in line with a Sony victory on 11 March when it was able to persuade the court to ban shipments of the upcoming Windows version of VGS. Back in January, Sony's first attempt to have shipments of VGS suspended was thrown out by the court (see PlayStation emulator wins first round against Sony). Connectix was quick to respond to the judgement, claiming that development of both Mac release and the upcoming Windows version of VGS would continue, that existing versions will still be supported, and that it intends to appeal against Legge's decision. Given the original court ruling, and the separate court decision on 11 April to allow rival developer Bleem to continue to sell its Windows-based PlayStation emulator, Connectix would appear to have a strong case to make at its appeal. However, it's also possible that the ban will be maintained until Sony's main case against Connectix is decided upon. ® See also Connectix to fight Sony lawsuit Sony to sue Connectix over PlayStation emulator
The Register breaking news

Cyrix, IBM rumour mill cranks up

A Cyrix engineer, who wishes to remain anonymous, has sent his thoughts on the story we carried yesterday about IBM buying the business. He said: "As of now the rumor that has causied the stock to inflate three points is.... well... in my humble opinion a complete and utter mis-truth." He claimed that Cyrix would only be sold to IBM in a linked deal with selling the fab to them too. "Hence, Cyrix parts are the only thing that is filling the fab and IBM is seriously NOT in the market to buy a fab... thus making this a non possibility. But he did say that layoffs were likely to occur. "Word from above has not come down in terms of numbers. I would put my money on this one. It's pretty much common sense -- the company is doing bad --- time to trim." He said rumours about CEO Brian Hall being ousted are unconfirmed, but "seeing as though NSM has posted negative earnings for about four to five straight quarters... it is quite likely that he will get the boot." Cyrix engineers are not organised in different factions, he insists. "There are no factions here at Cyrix who are trying to create a start up company of their own as a result of the poor performance of National as a whole. Again, another mistruth." ®
The Register breaking news

NEC delays PowerVR 250 – again

NEC's PowerVR 250 PC 3D graphics accelerator, designed by UK firm VideoLogic, will now not make it to market before the summer, according to the Japanese chip maker. The delay marks the second time NEC has had to put back shipment of the long-awaited VideoLogic part. Last year, it was forced to abandon a summer 1998 release schedule and bring volume production back to the first quarter of 1999. And last autumn NEC was forced to admit problems with PowerVR production had scuppered Sega's release plans for its Dreamcast games console -- its graphics engine is driven by the PowerVR 2 chip (see NEC admits it delayed Sega Dreamcast) which also forms the basis for the 250. According to an NEC spokesman, the company has had problems casting a production-worthy design, and that will effectively push volume shipments of the part to June. NEC reckons the PowerVR 250 will still be highly competitive so far down the line, but it will be much harder to establish the superiority the company claims the part has. Following the recent release of 3dfx's Voodoo3 accelerator, rival graphics specialists nVidia, S3, ATI and Matrox are readying the next generation of 3D chips, and PowerVR is going to hit the market pretty much as they do, offering broadly the same features. Meanwhile, MaximumPC magazine reports claims from unnamed sources that PowerVR staff at NEC are being moved away from the project, with many of the US-based division that works with games developers and hardware vendors having quit or been laid off. Fortunately, VideoLogic no longer has to rely exclusively on NEC, thanks to a major deal with STMicroelectronics, which has licensed PowerVR for a series of 3D accelerator add-in cards of its own. That agreement gives PowerVR the opportunity to get to market ahead of rival boards, but VideoLogic will still need to pull something pretty impressive out of its R&D hat if it's to gain the lead it would have had if PowerVR has shipped last year. ®
The Register breaking news

AMD buys breathing space with Vantis sale

Trouble chip company AMD has sold its programmable logic device unit Vantis to Lattice for half a billion dollars in cash. AMD spun off its PLD division some time ago and it was always on the cards that it would sell the unit after that happened. Last week, AMD turned in very poor financial results and it is saddled with debts of over $1 billion. The sale of Vantis will take some of the pressure off AMD. ®
The Register breaking news

Psion Computers MD quits

Psion, the British maker of palmtop computers and modems, and the provider of much of Symbian's operating system technology, today announced the resignation of Harold Goddijn, MD of its Psion Computers business unit. Godson was made MD less than a year ago, but appears to have tarred his brush earlier this year when the company was forced to admit that the upcoming successor to the ill-fated Series 5 organiser would not begin making Psion money until the second half of the year. Psion hasn't said why Goddjin's going, but it's hard to imagine that didn't have something to do with it. Clearly the Pfeiffer Factor is catching. Goddjin's replacement is Psion CEO David Levin, who took over from company founder and chairman David Potter on 22 February (see Psion founder steps back). Given the poor results Psion's other business unit, Psion Dacom, is expected to show this year -- it issued a major profit warning back in February -- we wonder if MD Gareth Hughes would care to resign in favour of Levin, to allow him to complete his hat-trick. ®
The Register breaking news

Who will follow Eckhard out of the door?

At a conference call held in the US yesterday, Compaq was at pains to insist that it was not planning a re-structuring. But our information is that a re-structure is definitely on the cards and some more redundancies are inevitable. According to a source close to Compaq in the US, there will be layoffs which will hit both DEC Classic and Compaq Classic workers alike. Last month we reported that a deep schism existed within Compaq between the original enterprise server division and the DEC enterprise server division. Meanwhile, the same sources report that a 1GHz Alpha chip will sample in the middle of the year. ®
The Register breaking news

Data Fellows to bolster channel with UK HQ

The Fins are underestimated as a nation and are hatching a plan to move into the UK channel. So went this morning’s message from Helsinki anti-virus company Data Fellows, due to open its first UK office in Cambridge next month. The Melissa-busting Fins were keen to point out to that there was more to their home country than raindeer and fjords. Data Fellows’ new UK country manager, Jason Holloway, told journalists: "Finland has more Internet connections and more mobile phones per capita than anywhere in the world. It is a little known country, but very technically minded." The company, which makes encryption and anti-virus software, will open its UK base on 1 May. Holloway is the sole employee to date, responsible for developing channel business, recruitment and raising the company profile. Not to mention making the coffee and opening the post. Data Fellows also used today’s press conference to launch its F-Secure Workstation Suite 4.0, which combines anti-virus protection with encryption software. It integrates the company’s F-Secure Anti-Cirus, F-Secure VPN+ and F-Secure FileCyptio applications. "We operate through the channel wherever possible. Anything we can do to help resellers, we want to hear about," Holloway said. He added that the Data Fellows name was not as well known in the UK as the company would like. Data Fellows supplies its 200 resellers in this country through distributor Unipalm. The company said there were no plans to change this. Data Fellows also has offices in the US, Canada, Japan, France and Germany and is looking to expand into Scandinavia and Australia. ®
The Register breaking news

AMD promises 550MHz K7 at launch

At launch, the K7 will be released at a clock speed of 550MHz and Intel will face pressure at the high end. That information is available at JC's pages and is a translation of an interview with Kazuo Sakai, president of AMD Japan. The introduction of the 550MHz K7 will precipitate a gladiatoral battle between AMD and Chipzilla, Sakai predicts. According to the report, Intel introduced the Celeron because it faced a threat from AMD. Although the fight was tough for AMD, the intro of the K7 will push Intel's pricing on the midrange to the limit. As reported here at the launch of the K6, AMD believes that Intel's manufacturing model means they have to capitalise on large margins at the midrange and high end. ®
The Register breaking news

UK telecomms industry is Y2K safe

Oftel today proclaimed 90 per cent of UK public phone networks to be Y2K safe. The industry watchdog said it expected all stragglers to reach compliance by September, following an independent assessment of the country’s telecomms industry. A government statement revealed Oftel had adopted what it called "Action 2000’s ‘traffic lights’ system" to describe the different stages of compliance. "This means that 90 per cent of telecomms networks are ‘blue’ – the Y2K programmes have been monitored and no material risk of disruption identified. "All the major fixed networks, all providers of 999 service and the four mobile networks are assessed as ‘blue’," it said. The remaining 10 per cent of the public networks were said to be at "amber." David Edmonds, director general of telecommunications, said: "Today's report reinforces public confidence that network operators will continue to deliver consumers business as usual into the new millennium." The Register has every confidence in this promise, though has yet to see a blue traffic light. ®
The Register breaking news

AMI intros 64-bit PCI, quad PIII/Xeon mobos

American Megatrends (AMI) said it has shipped its MegaPlex II motherboard which gives 64-bit PCI support using the 450NX chip set. According to the company, the board will appeal to system builders because it outperforms Intel's own board and implements the full 450NX PCI set. That means the board will support four peer-to-peer buses, including a "true" 64-bit PCI bus. No price details were provided. ®
The Register breaking news

High school gunmen Web name registered

Updated Redhorn Inc -- a small Internet service provider based in New Hampshire -- has registered the domain trenchcoatmafia.com. It was registered on the same day as the horrific shooting in Denver, Colorado, when two masked pupils -- who belonged to an extremist gang calling themselves the Trenchcoat Mafia –- shot and killed 15 high school students, and left a further 16 injured before turning their guns on themselves. The Register hopes that Redhorn took this swift action to block anyone else from registering the domain and creating a sick and morbid shrine to these murdering bastards -- and not for any other reason. At 17.17 BST we received this reply from an anonymous author at Redhorn. "I registered it to beat anyone who would want to make a profit at it. What happened in Colorado was a very sick and twisted thing. I knew there would be some bad people out their that would register it and put bad things up on the site. Im going to make it a site for people to get info on support for the people of colorado and thier sorrow and would appriciate any help or links to sites to help others. I do not plan on profiting from the site and wish to help others. Thank you." ®
The Register breaking news

Hyundai-LG Semi deal on

Friday's edition of English language newspaper The Korea Herald said that Hyundai and LG are close to agreeing their long awaited merger. The newspaper quotes the government regulator of the deal as saying Hyundai will pay $2.15 billion for LG Semicon. for a 60 per cent stake in the company. And, as a precursor to the deal, Hyundai will tomorrow say it will sell 20 of its affiliates, the Herald said. If the report is true, and both parties are denying it, it could well have an effect on workers at LG Semicon's fab in Wales. ®
The Register breaking news

Intel to face assault, libel and slander suit

Updated An aggrieved US company has filed an assault, libel and slander suit against chip giant Intel. Techsearch LLC filed suit against Intel earlier this week. The case is connected to allegations that Intel, under the guise of a shell company set up in the Cayman Islands, blocked the acquisition of a patent Techsearch was attempting to acquire. See our story last week: Intel bang to rights on questionable business ethics We spoke to a representative of Techsearch LLC today and he confirmed his company had started a defamation suit against Intel. He said: "That suit is based on remarks made by an Intel representative in the Wall Street Journal article." The original patent suit against Intel was filed in June 1998, he added. An Intel UK representative confirmed the details of the litigation. He said: "Clearly there is a litigation case and Intel will defend it vigorously. We strongly disagree with aspersions that our business has been conducted unethically in any way whatsoever." ®
The Register breaking news

Forget spam mail, how about chain mail?

Leave work early enough from Szechuan Publishing and you find yourself in a welter of suits all leaving the City of London looking stressed and wanting to return to their respective bastions big time. Except, tonight, we couldn't help notice a chap travelling on the Metro Line with two pairs of pliers and a heap of iron bits. He was making chain mail. The young lad explained to two elderly people who enquired by showing a piece he'd made earlier. He makes a reasonable living by putting together chain mail for those Brits who have to go around wearing the authentic thing in pageants.... ®
The Register breaking news

End users to be burnt by drops in Pentium III pricing

End users contemplating buying Pentium III processors should watch out for relentless price drops over the next five months before they spend their hard earned cash. That became apparent when we exclusively published Intel's desktop roadmap last weekend. The Pentium III 450 and 500MHz, which dropped in price last April 11th, as predicted here, will be almost half the price in September 1999. And better technology is soon to arrive anyway. This is a slow buying season for PCs and Intel wants to brief dealers and distributors about price changes between now and September. Our roadmap shows that there will be steady price cuts throughout the Summer, with Pentium IIIs falling in price. Other considerations, such as how end users upgrade their machines, is likely to be an issue. Intel is committed to phasing out Slot One technology and is pushing PC manufacturers to introduce "fun PCs" as early as August, as also reported here. One games analyst said: "There's going to be a fast and integrated Celeron out next week and prices need to be watched, especially as Sony rolls out its future platforms. AMD is committed to supporting PC gamers. Intel is not particularly interested in games." ®