23rd > April > 1999 Archive

The Register breaking news

Auto-hardware Linux scheme launched

Mandrakesoft is push an open source project to make it easier for the Linux operating system to automatically detect hardware in a machine. The open source project, called Lothar, includes automatic hardware detection using the "detect" library and will pick up configurations of boards such as sound cards, SCSI cards and Ethernet cards. According to Mandrakesoft, many would-be Linux users are put off by the difficulty in detecting and configuring hardware. The company's software means that configuration files do not have to be manually edited, it claims. The Lothar initiative is an open source project published under the GNU general public licence (GPL) and Mandrakesoft is inviting programmers and others to participate. Go here for more information. ®
The Register breaking news

FTC strikes blow for Alpha

A year ago From The Register No. 74, April 1998 The US Federal Trade Commission will allow a deal between Intel and Digital to go ahead, but not without safeguards. A ruling released late yesterday means that a settlement between the two companies will go ahead but could be reviewed if other companies, including AMD, fail in their bids to license elements of Alpha technology. The FTC also wants IBM and other semiconductor companies to license the Alpha technology. But it is a moot point whether Big Blue is interested in so doing. Digital and AMD have been in discussions for some time about certain semiconductor payments. The latter’s K7 technology depends in large part upon licensing the fast Alpha bus, which will be included in its so-called Slot A technology next year. Under the terms of the Intel-Digital agreement last October, Intel will foundry Alpha processors for Digital, while the latter will continue to own and develop the technology. A statement from Intel said that both companies will now seek to complete the deal as quickly as possible. The FTC statement said that it was keen to ensure the continued existence of the Alpha chip and technology in the marketplace. The ruling will have little effect on other elements of the FTC’s investigation into Intel. These are expected to be broadened after a judge said its treatment of Intergraph was a possible violation of anti-trust legislation. Intel has said it will appeal against the Intergraph ruling. ®
The Register breaking news

Intel promises real GHz performance next year

Intel held its spring analysts' meeting yesterday afternoon in New York and rolled out a gaggle of senior execs to outline its plans ahead. Those execs included chairman Andy Grove, CEO Craig Barrett and VPs Sean Maloney, Mark Christensen, Paul Otellini, and Gerry Parker. Barrett said: "We're still looking at a billion computers connected together...worth trillions of dollars. He said by the year 2002 the e-commerce market in the US will be worth $800 billion. He said Intel will sell half of its products through the Internet this year. "The exponential growth here is a huge opportunity. Our goal is to be a building block supplier." That would apply to clients, servers and services, he said. "Intel's intent in the client platform is to have the most compelling platform for Internet access." Those included set top boxes and PCs. He said the Celeron processor was making "good progress" and Intel was aggressively driving the price down. At the very low end, whether it be pager computers or PDAs, Intel was actively pursuing all architectures, including x.86 and StrongARM. He said Intel would introduce details of its StrongARM family's direction early next month. "We are now in production at .18 micron technology and we'll ship our first products this quarter. This will rapidly ramp up to the year 2000." He said the .18 micron technology means Intel will have Gigahertz products next year, rather than the demos it had shown this year. ®
The Register breaking news

MS EU antagonist jumps ship – to Gates-friendly University

After the accusations of European Commission croneyism and mismanagement, Karel Van Miert, the Belgian acting European Commissioner for Competition (DGIV), will not take his chances and seek re-election to the Brussels commissariat. Bill Gates antagonist Van Miert has accepted the job as president of Nijenrode University, the only Dutch private university, which is essentially a business school for those able to afford the fees and who perhaps may not have sufficient entry qualifications to win a place at a state university. Van Miert took over from Leon Brittan at DGIV six years ago after four years at the Commission, and was previously boss of the Belgian socialist party. He steadfastly, if somewhat ineffectively, opposed Microsoft's ambitions in Europe, claiming that "It would be absolutely wrong to pretend that we take a favourable view of Bill Gates". So who's obtained a degree at Nijenrode? Why, step forward Harvard drop-out Dr Bill Gates, who was given an honorary doctorate three years ago for "Microsoft's contribution to IT education". The Dutch computer magazine Automatisering Gids opined at the time: "Microsoft is a software supplier that delivers unoriginal software products of mediocre quality. It's not one of the suppliers that removes problems in IT and education, but rather one of the main creators of such problems . . ." Our enquiry as to whether Bill was given a doctorate pecuniae causa rather than honoris causa was denied with such vehemence that it seemed clear the notion had crossed somebody's mind. Van Miert will teach a course on international competition policy -- perhaps he will call it Software, Bananas and Beef -- but we suspect Bill will not drop in to his Alma Mater. ®
The Register breaking news

Record year for C2000 as Lockie sets sail for the east

Computer 2000 has reported surging profit and sales for UK activities, citing the Web as the way forward for the distribution sector. The US distribution giant saw pre-tax profit more than double, to over £11 million for the year ended 30 September, against £5.5 million the previous year. Sales topped £597 million from last year's £468 million. The results followed a record year for Computer 2000, with the UK one of the main contributors to its profits. Overall pre-tax profit stood at £54 million, from £3.6 billion turnover. The company, owned by US giant Tech Data, said strong growth areas in the UK were networking, storage, peripherals and components. Graeme Watt, managing director of Computer 2000, was "delighted" with the figures: "These numbers have been achieved in a period when market growth has been slowing, where the considerable downward pressure on margins has continued unabated -- we are quite clearly bucking market trends in UK distribution." Watt said growth had continued at 20 per cent for the year so far and that he believed the Internet and ecommerce were the most significant factors driving channel changes. Computer 2000 also announced Steve Lockie's exit from Computer 2000 UK to join its Dubai office as MD for the UAE operation. Lockie has been general manager for the networking division for two years. ®
The Register breaking news

UK Web services getting worse – official

Complaints from users that service levels at Dixons' Freeserve aren't up to scratch have been confirmed in the first official benchmark of ISP performance in the UK. Freeserve is among five ISPs -- BT Connect to Business, Cable & Wireless Communication Services, NETCOM Internet and Telinco Business Communications are the other four -- to have performed worse than the industry average. Although Web monitoring company Inverse Network Technology looked at many different aspects of Net access, it is the call failure rate for dial-up access between 6pm and midnight -- the time most home users log onto the Net -- that is the most damning. According to Inverse, one in ten of all attempts to log onto the Net failed -- an increase of 50 per cent in the last three months. But this is just the average and Freeserve, now the UK's most popular ISP, and the four other named ISPs all performed worse than this. Unfortunately, Inverse refuses to say who only faired marginally worse than the one-in-ten -- and which ISP is likely to be engaged four times in every ten attempts to log onto the Net. The findings support anecdotal evidence from many disgruntled Net users that service levels in the UK simply aren't what they should be and, if anything, are getting worse. One of the reasons for the decline is that ISPs are unable to keep pace with the rapid growth of Net usage in the UK. Ironically, it is the very success of the subscription-free services such as Freeserve that have also contributed to the strain on ISPs making them, in effect, victims of their own success. "The higher call failure rates are largely attributable to the enormous growth of Internet take-up over the past six months in the UK," said Peter Dove, MD of Inverse's European operation. "This has undoubtedly put a lot of pressure on ISPs' network capacity," he said. At the other end of the scale, BT ClickFree topped the list of speedy providers closely followed by Virgin Net and MSN. Although asked to comment on the findings, no one from Freeserve was prepared to say anything until they'd seen a copy of the report, UK Benchmark Ratings -- State of the UK Internet. ®
The Register breaking news

New domain name admin takes off on Monday

On Monday, the monopoly to register domain names ending in .COM, .ORG and .NET, held hitherto by Network Solutions, will end and five new registrars will be authorised by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). These are: AOL, France Telecom, The Internet Council of Registrars, Melbourne IT, and register.com [no relation]. Network Solutions will be able to charge a fee to the other registrars to access its database, and will receive a one-time fee of $50,000 from new registrars, while ICANN will receive $5000 annually from each registrar. Further competition will be introduced in June when 29 additional registrars will open shop, including three from the UK: NetBenefit, Netnames and Virtual Internet, plus the Anglo-American InfoNetworks. The reason for the two-stage approach is to be sure that the software will be bug-free. There has been criticism of the efficiency and service offered by Network Solutions, and it will be interesting to see how the new registrars shape up. Competition on prices and added facilities is likely. ®
The Register breaking news

Gates TV to return next week

MS on Trial Another wave of Microsoft trial testimony is to be made public next week, in accordance with a US appeals court ruling earlier this year. The testimony, almost 100 depositions, will consist largely of material collected but not used in court, but will also include three days of interviews with Bill Gates. Were we bored with Gates TV, or do we miss the lad squirming, failing to remember things and not understanding questions? We'll see. The appeals ruling also means that rebuttal evidence being taken prior to the trial resumption will be taken in public. At least one of the earlier witnesses due to make his public debut next week is an odd case. The DoJ evidently forgot to tell Scott Vesey of Boeing that he had been chosen as a witness in the Microsoft trial, and the first he knew about his being called was when he read it in a newspaper. Vesey had said in his deposition that Boeing thought it could save $5 million on support costs by using the Netscape browser rather than IE for its 170,000 PCs. In the event, Vesey was not called because the DoJ decided that witnesses from Sun and Apple were more important than Vesey and another economist. However, extracts from his videotaped deposition were shown to the court. Peter Currie, formerly executive VP of Netscape, will be the remaining person to be deposed by Microsoft. This will be next Wednesday in Washington. Microsoft is claiming on its web site that Judge Jackson "had granted Microsoft the right to examine documents from [AOL, Netscape and Sun], declaring that the deal could have a significant effect on the current antitrust lawsuit brought against Microsoft by the US Department of Justice and 19 state attorneys general". Apart from omitting to mention that the District of Columbia is also a party, it was unwise of Microsoft to put a spin on the judge's words. ® Complete Register trial coverage
The Register breaking news

Merced samples slip from June

In a little noted remark at Compaq's Innovate conference in Houston last week, Intel CEO Craig Barrett acknowledged some slippage in shipping samples of Merced. Intel has said all through this year and last that Merced samples will ship in June, but in a worst case scenario for the chip giant, "three or four months" could mean the industry won't see samples until August. Barrett said: "Just a comment about Merced. It's in its final stages of design. We're going to see samples in the next three to four months. We have seven OSs running and booting on the simulator as we talk today. It's going to have very competitive TPMC benchmarks, floating point capability and encryption performance." The statement will foster reports from a number of sources that Intel is slipping because of a lack of trained engineers and infighting between engineers at different design centres. And we also reported that Compaq engineers had been taken off the Merced project, earlier this year, with that information coming from an insider at the company. An Intel representative said: "We are on-track for 'mid 99' samples - and have not committed a specific month, engagements with our customers is an ongoing program including sample delivery through to product delivery." ® See also Compaq Merced designers flee coop Merced project in utter disarray Our exclusive pix of Merced Compaq to snub Intel at Innovate Deep schisms mar Compaq's 64-bit plans Merced seeks 70 babes in the wood
The Register breaking news

Intel retreats on Hamidi case

Kourosh Hamidi, who runs employee ginger group Face Intel, has forced the biggest chip company in the world to drop two charges it made against him. Intel's lawyers, Morrison & Foster, moved earlier this week to strike two of their claims against Hamidi for financial damages and for causing a nuisance. Now, Intel is pinning hopes of winning the case on the grounds of "email trespass", a concept that has not really had an airing in the cosmos so far. Intel claims that the very act of sending emails to its employees, even given that it has now conceded that it is not a nuisance, is equivalent to Hamidi stalking the spacious halls of its offices in Satan Clara. A decision is likely very soon. ® See also Hamidi forces Intel to argue Spam case
The Register breaking news

Music industry anti-caching letter

20 April 1999 European Parliament Committee on Legal Affairs and Citizens Rights VIA EMAIL Re: Proposal for a European Parliament and Council Directive on Certain Legal Aspects of Electronic Commerce in the Internal Market Dear Member, The International Confederation of Music Publishers, which has contacted you in the past on issues concerning its members, would now appreciate the opportunity to facilitate and contribute to your decision-making process during the Committee on Legal Affairs and Citizens Rights’ discussion of the Proposal for a Directive on Certain Legal Aspects of Electronic Commerce in the Internal Market. At present, there are certain points that have yet to be resolved, especially as regards provider liability, caching and hosting, issues upon which ICMP/CIEM has consistently stressed the need for strong protections and clear definitions. Article 12. ICMP/CIEM is particularly concerned about the misconception that access providers are “mere conduits” of information. In reality, access providers can and do monitor the passage of information through networks, and are always more than “mere conduits”. To remove any liability from these operators is to risk creating a preferred piracy zone in which a few unscrupulous operators, known for ignoring the passage of infringed works through their networks, will attract pirates. While the Commission text only requires action on the part of a provider under a prohibitory injunction, we believe that a provider should be liable for take down and removal if it has any reason to know of illicit activity. This is similar to the standard we suggest for Article 14. Article 13. As regards caching, it should be remembered that this process is much more than a “transient or incidental” copy which is an “integral and essential” part of “a technological process for the sole purpose of enabling use to be made of a work”, which is the exception to copyright found in the Parliament’s approved Amendment to Article 5.1 of the Proposal for a Directive on copyright and related rights in the Information Society. The caching process should therefore be subject to a license which allows this use of the work. Moreover, copyrighted works must not be included in the exception granted in the Electronic Commerce Directive; if they are, what you have achieved in the Copyright Directive will be put at risk. Article 14. The subject of “hosting” also poses specific concerns. We cannot agree with the “actual knowledge” standard used in this Article. ICMP/CIEM instead supports a change in the text to impute liability when the provider has any “reason to know” of illegal activity. ICMP/CIEM does, however, fully support Paragraph 2 of the Commission text. In light of our concerns, we ask you to please support the Amendments we have indicated as favourable in the attached annex. We would also ask you to express your support for our members, the European composers and musical creators, by voting against unfavourable Amendments, also indicated in the attached annex. We would also like to indicate our support for Article 22.2, which excludes from the application of Article 3 copyright and neighbouring rights which are referred to in Directives 87/54/EEC and 96/9/EC. Thank you again for your continued support and willingness to consider our opinion on this Directive. We cannot overemphasise the fact that the future of musical creation in Europe depends a great deal on the support that we hope to find in your committee. I am at your immediate disposition should you wish to contact me at my office prior to, or after, your vote to discuss our position. Very best regards, Jenny Vacher-Desvernais
The Register breaking news

Music industry fights dirty to ban cacheing

Lobbyists from the music industry are sending out half-baked propaganda to European politicians in an attempt to influence a key vote on cacheing. The Register has received a leaked copy of a letter sent by The International Confederation of Music Publishers (ICMP) to MEPs, which warns of the consequences to the music industry in Europe if cacheing isn't outlawed. ICMP is "particularly concerned about the misconception that access providers are 'mere conduits' of information. In reality, access providers can and do monitor the passage of information through networks, and are always more than 'mere conduits'." Really, well that's news to most ISPs. The letter continues: "To remove any liability from these operators is to risk creating a preferred piracy zone in which a few unscrupulous operators, known for ignoring the passage of infringed works through their networks, will attract pirates." Jenny Vacher-Desvernais, the head of the ICMP and the author of this unashamed piece of scaremongering, was unavailable for comment. However, if you want to see that letter in full, click here. ®
The Register breaking news

Yellow Dog brings Linux to blue Power Macs

Yellow Dog has become the first Linux distributor to officially support Apple's latest generation of Power Mac, the blue'n'white G3. Though the company warns that the modified PowerPC Linux kernel is in development and may not yet prove fully stable. Yellow Dog Linux, released earlier this month as Champion Server, is aimed specifically at PowerPC 750-based Macs. However, the blue'n'white G3 version has remained unusable thanks to its use of ATA is its primary hard drive chain. Support for that chain comes from a port to PowerPC of the CMD646 driver and its integration into the PowerPC Linux kernel. Meanwhile, fellow Mac Linux distributor LinuxPPC is offering an in-development version of its kernel which works with blue'n'white G3's equipped with external SCSI drives and the Adaptec 2940 SCSI add-in card. The next race will be to add support for the G3s' FireWire ports. The Yellow Dog kernel currently supports only the machines' USB connectors. Yellow Dog's updated Champion Server installer is available here, the blue'n'white G3 kernel here. LinuxPPC's modified kernel can be found here. ®
The Register breaking news

Supermicro launches Whitney mobos

US company Supermicro said it will shortly release four 810 (Whitney) motherboards in the near future. Intel officially releases the 810 chipset on April 26th. (See story: 466MHz Celeron, 810 chipset due April 26) Two of the motherboards support Slot One, while the other two offer support for the 370-pin PPGA Celeron. The motherboards have dual support for 66/100MHz front side buses, and also include the audio modem riser technology. They also come with Wake-on-Lan, modem repote wake up and better system management, said Supermicro. Three of the boards include an on-board 4Mb display cache. No prices were available at press time. ® See also Intel 810, 810e and 820 chipset spex leak out Celeron Slot Ones dead
The Register breaking news

Singapore NatSemi staff get chopped

National Semiconductor has laid off 165 people at its plant in Singapore, Asian wires report today. That is around 10 per cent of its workforce at the facility. Yesterday we reported that redundancies at National Semiconductor were inevitable, because of a string of poor quarters. A Cyrix engineer also speculated that CEO Brian Halla's job was under review. But he discounted that Cyrix would be sold off to IBM in a separate deal. ®
The Register breaking news

Crashing losses in Poland hit Datrontech’s bottom line

Unexpected losses in Central Europe have been blamed for a breathtaking fall in profit at Datrontech. For the extended year ending 4 January, the company recorded a pre-tax profit of £2 million, compared with £6.1 million the year before. Turnover for the year stood at £248.8 million, slightly up on last year’s £220.5 million. The Datrontech Group saw its net debt rise from £8 million to £18.1 million year-on-year. Interest payments shot up from £940,000 for the year ending 31 December 1997, to £2.5 million. It has secured a £6.4 million loan with NatWest bank, spread over five years and has £23 million overdraft facilities in total with four different banks. Its Polish and Czech subsidiaries let the side down by turning in a combined loss of just under £2 million, which Datrontech chairman, Ray Way, described as “a huge disappointment.” The general manager and the financial controller of the Polish division have both now been replaced – discrepancies between the management accounts and reality were commented upon in the Datrontech statement. Way described his first year as Datrontech chairman as “eventful” but said the Group had experience strong sales in its networking businesses, which it was hoping to capitalise upon in 1999. Once heavily reliant upon memory distribution, Datrontech is now moving out of this market. In 1997 memory accounted for 32 per cent of Datrontech’s turnover. This fell to 13 per cent in 1998 and is expected to be less than seven per cent in 1999. ®
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Iridium CEO breaks orbit

Iridium CEO Edward Staiano has quit the troubled satellite phone company -- the second senior executive to leave it in the last two months. According to the company, Staiano resigned after falling out with Iridium's board over the company's strategy. Over what part of the company's gameplan CEO and board disagreed is not yet known, but it's hard to imagine it didn't have something to do with how the satellite phone provider can improve the performance of its network sufficiently to begin attracting customers. Certainly the reports reaching The Register suggest Iridium is having a very tough time persuading mobile phone users to buy into its expensive global service. Back in February we were told to expect some major announcements on the shipment of Iridium phones, made by Motorola and Kyocera and distributed by Brightpoint, into the UK and Europe. We've heard nothing from the company since, and have yet to see any real evidence that phones are shipping over here. Another problem facing the board is the upcoming deadline on its $800 million debt. At the end of March, the company was given a 60-day waiver on its debt repayment, so Iridium will have to stump up some money by the end of May. Iridium's gameplan predicted the company would be turning over $4 million through sales of subscriptions to 27,000 users. All the signs are it's no way near those targets. No wonder Iridium's CFO, Roy Grant, bailed out last month. No wonder, too, that Staiano has chosen to do the same. ® See also Iridium losing some protons Tri-band Motorola phone fit for a secret agent
The Register breaking news

SGI “disappointed” with Q3

SGI -- the computer company formerly known as Silicon Graphics -- was yesterday forced to admit its recovery programme was not going as smoothly as planned when it posted "disappointing" Q3 results, dispite a marked reduction in the amount of money it lost. The company posted a loss of $40 million for the quarter, ended . That's nearly a quarter of the $153 million it lost in the same period last year. However, revenue for the third quarter was $619 million, compared with $708 million in the same quarter a year ago. "These shortfalls mask the progress that we are continuing to make in other areas of our business, including strong new products, improved quality and operational efficiency, and lower expenses. We are focusing our efforts on generating demand in growing markets," said SGI's chairman and CEO, Richard Belluzzo. And, responding to analysts' predictions that SGI would make a profit in the current quarter, senior VP for corporate operations Bill Kelly told US newswires: "That's not going to happen." "Third quarter is not what we wanted it to be," he added. Still, the company continues to own 85 per cent of Risc processor manufacturer MIPS, and plans to divest itself of a good proportion of that stake. It had already planned to take its shareholding down to 65 per cent, but the latest figures may persude Belluzzo to sell more. It's a strategy working quite well over at Apple -- its recent profitable quarters have been boosted by ditching chunks of its stake in AMD Holdings. Apple and SGI, as companies long associated with creative computing, have much in common. Both ran into real trouble by failing to keep up with wider industry developments and, in many ways, relying on their userbase to stick with them and not opt to migrate to cheaper platforms. Both are now targetting more entry-level customers with designer hardware, and both are looking to the open source world to improve their software support. In SGI's case, that means adopting Linux, initially alongside its Windows NT-based offerings, launched earlier this year, and perhaps replacing NT as the company's core operating system. ®
The Register breaking news

Irish cut-price email to snailmail service launches

A small Irish outfit is trying to muscle in on the might of traditional postal suppliers by offering people the chance to send electronic mail to someone who doesn't have an email account. The Dublin-based service said it will turn email into a letter and deliver it anywhere in the world for just 99 cents. "We see it as snailmail for the Internet age," said Dr Donal O'Mahony of Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, the brains behind letterpost.com. "It's a perfect way to bridge the current gap between people who use email all the time and those who don't have email access yet. "It's speedy, friendly, private and cheap. It is also ideal for reaching the large numbers of people who only read their email once every few weeks, or cases where the sender simply can't remember the email address," he said. No, we’re not entirely sure what he’s talking about either. To send a message users simply compose it at the letterpost.com Web site, then buy a 99-cent stamp online using the iTransact ecommerce service. When they hit the "send" button, the message is automatically sent to a mail centre, printed out as a letter and put into an envelope, then posted to the addressee. But the concept of transforming email into paper mail is not new. The Royal Mail set up a similar service in tandem with MSN a year ago. The big difference for users is that the Royal Mail service starts at £1.50 ($2.40) per email/letter -- almost two-and-a-half times more expensive than letterpost.com. ®
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Porn site squats in cancer charity domain

Britain's foremost cancer care charity has been dealt a massive blow because of an administrative cock-up by domain registrars Network Solutions. The Marie Curie charity, which helps thousands of people each year cope with the disease, has lost the domain www.mariecurie.com to the Hardcore Cafe porn site after Network Solutions failed to inform the charity that its renewal was due in February. "We registered mariecurie.com three years ago exactly to stop this kind of thing from happening," said Miguel Fiallo of Marie Curie. "Network Solutions didn't notify us that the renewal was due. The first thing we knew about this was when someone else told us about it." Despite sending four emails, the charity has heard nothing from Network Solutions and is deeply concerned that such a site could damage its reputation especially among people who want to know more about cancer. The plight of Marie Curie echoes a similar case when WebTechs, the first Web-based HTML validation service, found its domain had been sold to a Danish porn site. Network Solutions were contacted to comment on the story but failed to return the call before press time. ®
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Hyundai to take apart business model

As reported here yesterday, Hyundai is to go through a massive restructuring, following the decision to take a 60 per cent share in LG Semicon. (Story: LG Semicon-Hyundai strike deal) The Korean press is reporting that the chaebol (family concern) will be divided into five different spun off groups by the year 2003. The divisions will be cars, electronics, finance and services, construction and heavy industry. Each Baby Hyundai will be forced to exist in its own right. ®
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LG Semicon in Wales mothballed

Sources close to LG Semicon's plant in Newport, Wales, said today that its entire DRAM plant has been mothballed over the last few weeks. The reason was the impending deal between Hyundai and LG Semicon, reported here yesterday. (Story: LG Semicon-Hyundai strike deal) But worse is to come. According to our source in Newport, its hiring scheme has been put in hold. He said: "A lot of people have been told, after they were hired, that they will have a job. But it is unlikely they will have a job." No-one from Hyundai's DRAM plant in Scotland was available for comment at press time, but our understanding is that that plant is mothballed too, and under construction. The whole issue raises questions of the UK government. Through the Welsh Office and the Scottish Office, British taxpayers subsidised the building of the fabs. Yesterday, Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II returned on a trade mission from Seoul, in South Korea, as reported here earlier. ®
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Buyers of Intel notebooks, beware

Facts and figures exclusively obtained by The Register demonstrate why buyers should be chary of spending money too soon. As reported here last week, the entire notebook market using Intel chips is going through a type of revolution and that means cautions for buyers, whether they come from the corporate market, the medium sized market, or even end users. (See story: Don't buy notebooks this Summer) The figures we obtained show that Intel, which leads the market in PC notebook sales, as well as desktops and servers, is planning drastic changes to its chip technology. This June, Intel will introduce a Pentium II/mobile at a speed of 400MHz, and the chip will cost $500 for the high end .18 micron processor. Intel has not yet succeeded in moving its entire technology to the newer process so it will sell the same thing at $475 to PC companies like Compaq, Dell, HP, smaller OEMs and the rest, including IBM. At the same time, it will cut and slash prices on existing models, meaning that the PC companies will be forced to follow suit. Although chip rival AMD has notebook chips, and in many cases they are less expensive, Intel will have the marketing lead on the new platform. But worse is to come. Only a mere three months after a desperate price slashing exercise, the 400MHz mobile Pentium II will drop in price to $350 for the better technology and $310 for the less good technology. As exclusively reported here, in September Intel has a whole new raft of mobile Pentiums in store. The Coppermine mobiles will come in speeds of 450MHz, 500MHz and 600MHz, and will perform and outclass Intel's mid year offerings. ®
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Wall Street Journal develops sense of humour

When we broke the story about Silicon Graphics changing its name to SGI, little did we know that New York local paper Wall Street Journal had developed a sense of humour at the same time. Today it is reporting that Silicon Graphics famous SGI actually belongs to a Japanese Buddhist outfit called Soka Gakkai International. Hare Om. ®
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New Red Hat COO could signal major Linux IPO

Red Hat Software has hired a start-up veteran as Chief Operation Officer, in a move that strongly suggests the Linux developer intends to prove Linux's potential via an IPO. According to Red Hat CEO Bob Young, Tim Buckley "brings tremendous experience with emerging companies that will help Red Hat to effectively handle the growth and demand for Red Hat Linux offerings... His insight will help Red Hat continue accelerating the adoption of Linux and the expansion of our business, service and support operations." But Young could equally be beefing-up the company's management prior to a public offering. Buckley has plenty of experience in that area; his previous post was as senior VP of worldwide sales at Visio, but he was involved in Aldus at start-up stage, and also in Approach, which was later sold to Lotus. Buckley simply says he's "excited by the opportunity to fundamentally change the landscape of the computing industry." Which is fair enough, but we think we can see other opportunities in there too. Will investors vote for Linux with the same enthusiasm as they have for Internet stocks? We may soon be able to find out. ®
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Linux already running on Merced, says Intel CEO

Linux is already up and running on Merced, according to Intel CEO Craig Barrett. And putting further flesh on what Microsoft might interpret as some kind of pincer movement strategy, Barrett adds that he expects the low-cost, low-resource StrongARM chip to become optimised for Linux and other (i.e., non-Microsoft) operating systems. Barrett let both of these slip during an Intel analysts meeting earlier this week. It's not clear how much of the Linux optimisation for StrongARM Intel itself is getting involved in, but it seems likely that Merced partner Hewlett-Packard is doing at least some of the leg-work on Linux for Merced. Barrett claims Merced already has support from eight operating systems, but his putting Linux up there indicates something of a change in Intel's previous stated policies for the OS. When Intel put money into Red Hat and started making positive noises about Linux last year it seemed to envisage Linux and Intel as an ideal combination for smaller, high volume servers. But by giving it early support and encouragement on Merced, Intel will be helping position Linux further upscale, in the direction of large enterprises. Another Intel announcement from the analysts meeting however makes it clear the company has an immediate interest in robust, highly-scalable server operating systems. It's planning a series of Internet data centres at $50-100 million a pop. These will house between 2,000 and 5,000 servers, the idea being that Intel will provide content hosting and management for ISPs. The first centre opens in June, with Excite as the customer. The chosen software has not as yet been revealed, but it should be worth looking out for. Also worth watching for will be Intel VP Sean Maloney's keynote at ISPCon in Baltimore on Tuesday. He's due to announce a "major sales programme for ISPs," which is no doubt related to the one Intel just told the analysts about. But Intel chose ISPCon last autumn to make several Linux-related announcements, so watch this space? ®