26th > April > 1999 Archive

The Register breaking news

Program released to counter remarking

A year ago From The Register No 74, 25 April 1998 A German magazine has released a piece of software which detects whether PII/266 microprocessors are remarked as 300MHz units. Andreas Stiller, technical editor of c’t magazine, told The Register he believed that the scam is rife in Germany and in other geographies. According to Stiller: "At the moment, the chip forgers concentrate on the Pentium II with 266 MHz. They deliver it as 300-MHz-version either remarked or with a counterfeit casing. The possible increase in value per processor is about 300 Deutschmarks. With the test program "ctP2Info", a user is able to determine by himself whether his computer is equipped with an overclocked Pentium II." The program ctP2info is downloadable from here and, so far, only detects the re-clocking for 266/300MHz. The magazine claims that the problem is underplayed by chip giant Intel, which delivers the line that counterfeit chips are isolated instances of fraud. But there are large-scale frauds happening. See the story in this issue, and also our breaking story earlier. c’t has made the program available in both German and English language versions at its site. ®
The Register breaking news

Win2k beta 3 – will MS ship a million copies?

With the third (and allegedly, final) beta of Windows 2000 due for release this week, some interesting numbers are starting to leak out. Major corporate customers, PC manufacturers and existing beta testers ought to get the code within the next few days, but Microsoft says it's producing 500,000 CDs of the beta software over the next month. So we can presume that 500,000 is intended to cover the Corporate Preview Program (CPP), whereby users will be charged $59.95 (or similar in local currency) for beta 3. How many copies of beta 3 are likely to go out? At Comdex Bill Gates was saying Microsoft already had 500,000 signed up for the beta, so if we take him at his word, and assume that all of the CPP copies will go out (we shouldn't necessarily assume they'll all be paid for), that would be a million copies. But that wouldn't be all, because 20 PC OEMs will be shipping machines with beta 3 installed. We - and indeed they - can't have any idea how many copies this is going to mean until the sales numbers come in, but clearly we have a potential number somewhat in excess of a million. Unless of course (as actually The Register suspects) Bill was talking projections rather than hard numbers at Comdex. Even so, 500,000 CPP copies plus corporates plus OEMs is perfectly likely to give us a number in the vicinity of a million. To get that into perspective, Microsoft claimed that Windows 98 sold 1.5 million upgrades (i.e. retail product, OEM sales would come on top of that) in the first two months after the product's launch. Right now the Win2k beta doesn't look like it will match that, but it's certainly going to achieve impressive distribution levels for a beta, and if you recall that it's rather more the successor to NT 4.0 than to Windows 98, penetration will look more impressive still. But here's some more numbers. Microsoft is quoting six to eight weeks delivery for delivery of the beta under the CPP, and that tallies with the month delay while the CDs are cut. If we assume a 90 day beta period from, say, early to mid June that gives us a targeted completion date of approximately mid-August. PC manufacturers generally need six to eight weeks after gold code before they go live with a new OS. They need to cut CDs themselves, test the software, print documentation and so on. Which takes us to October at the earliest, right? That's Microsoft's internal ship date target, but as we can see it's entirely dependent on everything going according to plan with beta 3. History, meanwhile, is against this. Beta 3 was supposed to be out at the end of last summer, with targeted ship date for gold code then being late Q1 99. So we have seven months slippage on the beta, and a substantial reduction (depends how you count it) in the planned period between beta 3 and gold code. If things go wrong, the ship date will go back towards the end of 99, which was where it was before this October stuff started going around, and Microsoft could be shipping beta code well into the autumn. Wonder how many copies that would be? ®
The Register breaking news

Win98 Second Edition could ship within weeks

Spot the difference. Beta 3 of Win2k is rolling out this week, and the pre-release publicity strongly implies it's really, really nearly ready. The final, final (no, really) build of Windows 98 Second Edition RC3 (Release Candidate 3) went out in the past couple of days, and Microsoft's publicity machine has barely mentioned it. One of the differences is that MS is charging $59.95 for Win2k beta 3, but is just getting on with it with SE RC3. If you're paying for a beta, commercial realities dictate that you ought to have time to enjoy it before the real product ships. But with the SE beta, testers are being told this is the final one, and that they should give it a thorough going over. As we've mentioned before in these parts, SE's origins as a service pack mean it's a lot more achievable than Win2k, so the appearance of the final RC beta plus stern instructions to shake the last bugs out makes it pretty clear that gold code is close. Microsoft's determination to get it out can be gauged by the fact that there were actually two builds in the last seven days - RC2 build 2185 was posted and shipped around a week ago, and RC3 build 2222 followed it almost immediately. So what do you reckon for gold code? May? It could happen. How Microsoft is going to differentiate between the 98 service pack and SE is a tricky question though. As the service pack beta turned into the SE beta, they clearly have similarities, but while Microsoft says the service pack will be free, SE is going to be charged for. Something about them will have to be different - could some of you good people out there suggest what? Meanwhile, we note that MS has found more Y2k problems with Windows 98. The fixes are to be rolled into SE and, presumably, the service pack. ®
The Register breaking news

VIP goes Dutch with new office

VIP Computer Centre has revealed plans to open its first European subsidiary, spurning industry tittle-tattle that its head is on the block. The Manchester PC components distributor will open an office in Holland by the end of June. Stan Cookson, a director at VIP, said the office would open in Holland within two months. He said this was the first part of a considered expansion plan. He revealed that one person had been poached from a rival business to head up the operation, but refused to name them as they were still working at the competitor. Until now, VIP has traded in several European countries but has not had an office overseas. The distributor also hit out at the mood of negativity in the industry and a series of rumours that have surrounded VIP’s viability. "VIP is in a strong position financially. These rumours that we are in trouble are silly and they hurt. We’re actually growing and making new investments," said Cookson. VIP’s turnover last year was £84.2 million, with £100 million forecast for 1999. Although Cookson admitted the company would achieve this year’s figure "with difficulty", describing the whole industry as "not brilliant at the moment." Three distributors in the north-west of England have gone under in the last few months – Roldec, Memsolve and Pino. ®
The Register breaking news

Hooray, hooray, it’s CIH virus day

If you can read this -- then you're one of the lucky ones. One of the survivors. For today, Monday 26 April 1999, is the day the deadly flesh-eating Chernobyl virus is set to strike PCs all over the world, coinciding with the thirteenth anniversary of the infamous nuclear accident in Russia. According to the experts, it has the potential to erase hard drives and corrupt a PC's BIOS. Hopefully, the fall-out from today's viral nonsense won't be as devastating as the events in Chernobyl in 1986, but it could still give punters a few sniffles. If you're susceptible, this latest variation of the CIH Virus will give your hard drive such a kicking it may be kinder to trash it and put it out of its misery rather than trying to treat it. The official line from the virus vice squad at bug-busters Symantec is that CIH infects 32-bit Windows 95/98/NT executable files. "When an infected program is run, it infects the computer's memory, then infecting new files as they are opened," said a bug buster. "The virus attempts to modify or corrupt certain types of Flash BIOS, software that initialises and manages relationships and data flow between the system devices, including the hard drive, serial and parallel ports and the keyboard. "By overwriting part of the BIOS, CIH can keep a computer from starting up when the power is turned on. "The virus first infects by looking for empty, unused spaces in the file, then it breaks itself up into smaller pieces and hides in these unused spaces," he said. If you think you've been lucky today and escaped this Chernobyl misery, think again. While Chernobyl is active today, other strains of the virus could become active on 26 June -- or in some cases, on the 26th day of every month. Good grief, is there no respite from this despair? ®
The Register breaking news

Revealed: Intel’s most wanted

As reported here earlier, Chipzilla is always more than keen to get its mitts on some of what it so charmingly refers to as "imitator" products. The chip behemoth is also offering a reward, the size of which indicates the perceived threat from each rival part. Following our earlier story, a source at Satan Clara has kindly filled in some more details for us. Please find below Intel’s top ten most wanted along with their price tags. It has to be pointed out that some of these prices no longer apply as the pesky things are out -- but this is an internal Intel pricelist from only a little while ago. Intel, being the responsible company that it is, is at pains to point out that these parts must be obtained legally… ® 1. K7 (any speed) $2000 2. AMD K6-III 500 MHz $500 3. Cyrix MXi (any speed) $500 4. AMD K6-2 500 MHz $500 5. AMD K6-III 450 MHz $250 6. AMD K6-2 475 MHz $250 7. IDT WinChip3 $250 8. Rise mP6-II $250 9. 100 MHz mobile module $250 10. Merced $POA
The Register breaking news

Row over Y2K weakspots in City

Action 2000 is facing resistance to its name and shame campaign for companies not millennium compliant. The Financial Services Authority is fighting publication of its own list of City firms still at risk. It feels the information is confidential and could alarm savers, investors and borrowers, according to yesterday’s Mail on Sunday. An FSA representative said: "For banks, insurance firms and building societies it is illegal for us to disclose this information." However, Don Cruickshank, head of Action 2000, believes the public is entitled to know which banks and financial institutions are not yet de-bugged. He told a conference last week that he would be pressing for the most serious offenders to be named by July, adding: "I see no commercial or public interest in not naming them." The FSA disagreed, saying it was not willing to name names or take regulatory action until the end of the year. "In November we go from saying nothing to saying everything. The problem with announcing that a company is having difficulties is that it could lead to panic," it said. The City is understood to have some of the most serious cases of companies not being millennium compliant. ®
The Register breaking news

Cyrix downprices current chips

Our friends at Cyrix have sent us the latest prices for their Cyrix MII family. The prices are when you buy 1,000. You will note that this is the first official mention of the MII-366. This really is what you call keeping your head below the parapet... M II-300 US-$40 M II-333 US-$42 M II-366 US-$62 Err, that's it... ®
The Register breaking news

Intel thought police to wheel into action over ad

If we had green ink in our HTML, we'd publish the headline in that...however: Chipzilla takes itself very seriously. And when it comes to its brand names, 'seriously' is far too frivolous a word to use - something more along the lines of 'get it right or die horribly' is more apposite. This is the company that has a long list of official, legally-vetted abbreviations for internal use. Woe betide the Intel Insider who abbreviates the Pentium® III processor to PIII in an internal memo - the official moniker ‘P3P’ must be used at all times. Those of you who have seen a PIII - oops, sorry, P3P - in the flesh will no doubt have been surprised to notice that it doesn’t actually have 'Pentium® III' written on it at all. Reliable Intel sources say this is because PIII - damn, did it again - will move to a socket format with the arrival of Coppermine later this year and Chipzilla doesn’t want the Pentium® III brand to be associated with any particular form factor. Imagine then our surprise at the new Intel ads appearing in the UK PC trades showing a SECC2 Slot 1 package, complete with the words 'Pentium® III' in large white letters. Let’s hope the Intel Brain Police don’t catch up with the unfortunate ad man responsible for this heinous crime against the brand… ®
The Register breaking news

Nerds Army to defend Queen & country

Stand by your modems, you miserable lot... The British Army is spending £500,000 -- the same price tag as a Tomahawk Cruise missile -- on a Web site to recruit soldiers. One in four of all enquiries the army gets from potential recruits now comes via the Net, and with a ground war in Kosovo becoming more likely, it looks like the army's gonna need them too. ®
The Register breaking news

Profits arrive for Memory Corporation

Memory Corporation recorded its first pre-tax profit for the quarter ended 31 March. The Scottish semiconductor company saw pre-tax profit reach $6,482 for the first quarter. This was up on the $1.2 million loss for the same period last year. Sales soared to $36.1 million for the recently EASDAQ-listed company, from $6.05 million the year before. David Savage, Memory Corp CEO, said: "I am pleased to report that Memory has continued to make progress in the development of our business model, strategy and financial performance in our first full quarter on EASDAQ." He added: "We expect to continue this progress into Q2 and the outlook for the company remains very positive." Memory Corp is based in Dalkeith, Scotland, with sales and marketing offices in California and Taiwan. The company moved from its AIM listing in November 1998. Last month it bought out Datrontech’s 49 per cent stake in their joint venture company DTEC Memory Corp. ®
The Register breaking news

More woes for Compaq as market share drops

Compaq, which carelessly lost its charismatic CEO Eckhard Pfeiffer just over a week ago, is not doing well selling PCs in the US market. Figures from IDC and Dataquest have revealed that Compaq, alone amongst other large PC vendors, managed to lose market share in Q1 1999. Its competitors, however, did OK. The IDC figures, which apply to the worldwide market, show that the PC market however, is far from sickly. Shipments rose by over 19 per cent in the quarter, said IDC. The usual suspects are in the top five: Compaq, Dell, IBM, HP and Gateway. ®
A staffer, 26 1999
The Register breaking news

466MHz Celeron, 810 chipset launched, at last

Updated Intel has now introduced its 810 chipset and a 466MHz Celeron today, as first revealed here a good while back. The processor will be supported by a large number of PC vendors. At the same time, Intel also announced a 333MHz mobile Celeron, as well as a low voltage mobile Celeron at 266MHz, as also anticipated here. The 810 rather mysteriously supports both 66MHz and 100MHz front side bus speeds – Celeron isn’t due to move on up to 100MHz FSB until early 2000 and there’s still a 500MHz/66MHz FSB Celeron due out later in the year. If it wanted to, Chipzilla could surprise us all and move this baby to the 100MHz FSB, if it wanted to. Intel has denied that the 810 will be able to support Pentium II processors so it’s not easy to see exactly why 100MHz is on offer right now, unless there’s a Socket 370 Coppermine waiting in the wings (something Intel’s Paul Otellini has denied). The 466MHz part will be priced around $170 in 1,000 unit quantities, the lesser Celerons having their price tags chopped in readiness on the 11th of April. The 810 can support up to 512Mb of SDRAM and uses Dynamic Video Memory for graphics. Intel has its own 810 motherboard ready, codenamed Cayman. This features the usual suspects of USB, AC97 audio and PCI expansion slots, but rather unusually for a board in this category, boasts LAN on motherboard too – perhaps recognition from Intel that large businesses are recognising the value for money Celeron offers over the Pentium II and III lines. Intel has now posted information about the mobile Celerons, the 810 and the 466MHz Celeron on its Web site. ® See also Intel's desktop roadmap until September 1999 Intel mobile chip prices
The Register breaking news

Intel's Gelsinger confirms S370 form factor for .18 micron

A report in Taiwanese trade paper Eurotrade has quoted senior Intel VP Pat Gelsinger as saying that Socket 370 will be the form factor for Celerons running at 500MHz on .18 micron technology. The magazine is also reporting that the 810 chipset, announced today, and aimed at the low-end market, will support Microsoft's up and coming Windows 2000 platform. Eurotrade was reporting Gelsinger's keynote speech at the Asia Pacific Intel Developer Forum. Earlier this year, at the Palm Spring Intel Developer Forum, his colleague, Paul Otellini, said that Pentium IIIs themselves would have a different form factor to Slot One, although at the time, he refused to elaborate on what this might be. An Intel representative said: "We'll continue to support the previous part in Slot One configurations. We're seeing demand from customers. The strategy is that the 370 pin configuration will allow our customers to save money. " See also Intel says new PIII socket on way for iMac look-alikes
The Register breaking news

Shock tactics used to publicise Y2K threat

A government advertising campaign is being planned to frighten people into believing the Millennium Bug will affect their lives. Action 2000’s latest plans mirror suggestions from a leading psychologist, who says using the threat of Y2K deaths might be necessary to convince people the Millennium Bug is dangerous. Elizabeth Allen, responsible for Action 2000 publicity, said: “We have been told we are frightening people. But I say we have not frightened them enough. We will use shock tactics.” The agency was given £50 million last year with most spent on advertising. Allen said this year's campaign depended on the level of funding. Last year the Cabinet Office moved quickly to stop a wave of panic buying among the public after Gwynneth Flower, head of Action 2000, told people stock up with long-life milk, tinned food and biscuits. She said people should buy “the sort of common-sense provisions you would automatically do to ensure against any potential emergency.” Dr Mark Griffiths, of Nottingham Trent University, said any government publicity should show “real life” deaths because it will be more successful in driving the message home. He said impending death and disaster affecting ordinary people would be blamed on large organisations and the public would then force those organisations to fix their Millennium Bug problems. Griffiths, author of Technological Addictions, suggested an advert of a woman dying from cervical cancer was a good example of Millennium Bug failure. In the advert he describes, the woman would die from cancer because NHS computer failure meant a reminder letter about a cancer scan was not sent out. Another suggested advertisement would show an elderly couple stripped of their pensions because a finance company collapsed. He said: “People will only take steps to address a problem if it is likely to disturb their own lives.” The brutal advertising campaign would snap the public out of a feeling of Millennium Bug denial similar to that which greeted early HIV/AIDS awareness campaigns. ®
The Register breaking news

WH Smith to launch Web portal tomorrow

Reassuringly familiar high street newsagent and bookseller, WH Smith, is launching its new UK-focused portal tomorrow, in a bid to tap into the burgeoning demand for the Internet. Among the standard services and content you'd expect from a portal, including subscription-free Net access, whsmith.co.uk will also become a "living library of educational and entertainment material." Perhaps it was this creative use of words in its press release that mislead one UK Sunday newspaper to claim: "Smith opens Net library" adding that it will "unveil a comprehensive electronic library" at its Web site. Now that would be novel. People queuing up to have their Web pages date-stamped and told: "Sssshhhh -- be quiet," if they got a bit rowdy while waiting in cyber-line. It may also be a great place for tramps and drunks to slope off to when it's cold or wet outside and all they want is somewhere warm to have a kip. But the idea was dismissed out of hand by WH Smith. "God knows where the Mail on Sunday got that idea from," said Tim Blythe, a spokesman for WH Smith. "Don't believe what you read in newspapers," he said. Quite. ® See also Free Web access war between the bookworms Web-based bookstore for UK from Bertelsmann WH Smith sets sights on becoming portal
The Register breaking news

Diamond MP3 plan still to pay off

Diamond Multimedia's latest results, for its first quarter 1999, suggest the company's attempts to improve its performance and successfully shift away from its add-in card vendor heritage aren't quite going to plan. For the quarter, ended 31 March, the company posted a profit of $1.3 million on revenues of $144 million. For the same period last year, the figures were $7.9 million and $186.2 million, representing falls of 83.5 per cent and 23 per cent, respectively. The latest numbers are down on the previous quarter too. Revenue for Q4 1998 totalled $163.7 million, generating profits of $5.1 million (before one-off charges; after dealing with Q3 reorganisations and redundancies the company posted a loss of $17 million). Still, a downturn after the Christmas period was to have been expected. Diamond president and CEO William Schroeder blamed the results on the companies loss-making multimedia products division, which experienced lower gross margins than the company had anticipated. That's not surprising given the cutthroat nature of the graphics card business, particularly at the low end. Schroeder's solution is to pull away from that arena, primarily but supporting fewer acceleration architectures. That strategy was outlined earlier this year when the CEO was reporting on higher than anticipated sales of the company's Rio MP3 player. The RioPort division, plus the company's professional graphics and comms units, were all profitable in the quarter, suggesting Schroeder's plan is correct. The snag is, the loss-making part of Diamond's business accounts for over 60 per cent of its revenues. Reducing that won't be hard, but ensuring what the company loses there is balanced by gains elsewhere will be. ®
The Register breaking news

Tempo hijacks free ISP service bandwagon

Tempo -- which claims to be the UK's fastest growing chain of electrical and computer superstores -- has pledged that all off-peak calls (6pm to 8am) made from a modem will be free when it launches its screaming.net service later this week. The fledgling ISP -- which has 44 stores up and down the country -- is providing the service in tandem with BT reseller Localtel, which already offers its consumers calls that are 10 per cent cheaper than BT. A spokesman for Localtel said the shortfall in revenue will be made up by advertising and a number of companies -- including IBM -- have already signed up for their share of banner space. "The Internet is the fastest growing medium in the nineties, just as Tempo has been the fastest growing independent electrical and computer superstore chain," said Michael Kraftman, deputy chairman, Tempo. "We don’t believe in letting our competitors have the upper hand… screaming.net proves it," he said. Delivered with all the subtlety of a cruise missile attack on Belgrade, Kraftman believes anything electrical retailer Dixons can do Tempo can do better - Dixons is behind Freeserve, the UK's number one ISP. Tempo's move follows a similar decision by X-Stream Network earlier this year to offer limited Net access using a toll-free number. The service proved so popular that a number of Net users complained that X-Stream failed to deliver the goods, although a spokeswoman for the ISP said today that many of the early teething troubles had now been sorted out. Ironically, X-stream was the first ISP in the UK to offer a subscription-free Net access service, although it wasn't until Dixons entered the market that the model really took off. ®
The Register breaking news

Intel's move to sockets causes warehouse woes

Chip giant Intel is now likely to face fire from its distributors and dealers after senior executives confirmed today Celeron Slot Ones are being dumped. We still wait to see whether or not Intel will move all of its Pentium IIIs to Socket 370, although the giant is still denying that. Pat Gelsinger, a senior VP at Intel US, told delegates at its Developer Forum in Taipei, Taiwan today that there will be a big move to 370 Socket Celerons starting very soon. But that means a huge amount of Celeron Slot One inventory remains in the channel, according to distributors and dealers. The official Intel distributor, who did not wish to be named on this occasion, said that press coverage of the S370 futures would leave him with some problems. "We're already committed to large stocks of Celeron Slot One," the distributor claimed. An Intel representative said: "We'll continue to support the previous part in Slot One configurations. We're seeing demand from customers. The strategy is that the 370 pin configuration will allow our customers to save money. "®
The Register breaking news

Gateway goes a-gunning for Dixons

Gateway yesterday promised to give UK high street king Dixons a run for its money over price and performance. The US home PC giant said Dixons had got away with selling what it called high cost, low performance PCs for too long, according to yesterday’s Mail on Sunday. Goran Mannerstrale, Gateway retail director for Europe, said: "Off-the-shelf computers are usually not the most up-to-date. Dixons is dear and customers can buy 25 per cent more performance from Gateway for ten per cent less. "I don't know why Dixons have been getting away with it, but this will change soon." Gateway's threat followed plans to increase the six shops it currently has in the UK to 60 by the end of 1999. This is expected to lead to cheaper PCs and threaten Dixon’s stranglehold. Gateway, which last year claimed the title of the US' biggest consumer PC seller, hopes to eventually have around 100 shops in this country. Dixons has around 350 shops in the UK. ®
The Register breaking news

Now's the time to protect copyright – Diamond exec

Diamond Multimedia today announced it is to incorporate InterTrust's rights management technology into its Rio MP3 player -- or at least future versions of the device. Diamond already has an agreement with Liquid Audio to support the latter's music format -- and presumably the rights management technology that goes with it -- in a future version of Rio, believed to be scheduled for release this summer. The Liquid Audio deal was announced some months ago, with nothing new discussed in the interim, so Diamond can hardly be said to be rushing to sign up new formats and technologies for Rio. That suggests the InterTrust deal is more strategic. Either Diamond's line on the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI) is telling it that InterTrust is in the running for support, it's worried about a tailing off of support for Rio while everyone waits for the SDMI to unveil its own system or it wants to ward off further action from the record industry over Rio's support for MP3 files from any Tom, Dick or Harriet. "We believe that now is the time to embrace the broader issue of security in our devices," said David Watkins, head of Diamond's RioPort division, signalling the company's interesting change of tune. Why now? Diamond has yet to answer that question. Certainly, further action from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) seems unlikely since it lost the case last time and it would hardly wish to prosecute a member of the SDMI. More likely is the concern over third-party support, particularly with Sony's entry into the game through the announced (sort of) Netman solid-state Walkman. Sony, of course, has its own copyright protection system, to be built into IBM's major record label-supported Electronic Music Management System. If music producers and publishers are hanging back from Diamond's RioPort portal, set up to promote the device with content users could download, because they're concerned they will be left in the cold when the SDMI finally reports, that might well persuade Diamond to stress its support for secure music with a deal with a company like InterTrust. And don't forget Diamond is very eager to make RioPort pay, not least because it's losing money in its traditional graphics card market (see Diamond MP3 plan still to pay off). So why choose InterTrust? Well maybe it's winning converts among the SDMI's committees and members. And one of InterTrust's "core partners" is one Reciprocal, also a rights management software specialist, and in the news recently for its work with Microsoft on the latter's digital music management system (for which it received a $15 million investment). In addition to the SDMI, InterTrust sits on the MPEG Forum (one of whose technology leaders is Dr Leonardo Chiariglione, who is now... executive director of the SDMI), the Open Platform Initiative for Multimedia Access (OPIMA) and the DVD Copy Protection Technology Working Group. Those are some major pies it has its fingers in, which would again suggest it has more than a little influence on the SDMI. This little-known company clearly has some impressive connections. Whether they will ultimately do much for Diamond too remains to be seen -- or indeed whether they will even help InterTrust. Connections like these don't mean success -- we'd never suggest there's an old pals' network operating here -- but they will smooth the way a little. ®
The Register breaking news

AMD's Sanders to take back seat

Updated Influential Silicon Valley newspaper the San Jose Mercury News reported over the weekend that AMD's CEO, Jerry Sanders III, is likely to pass day to day operations at the company to Atiq Raza this week. Since the story we posted at 0800:17 this morning, AMD has declined to tell us what is happening, although one insider said: "Haven't you heard about the conference call?" We hadn't and haven't. According to Silicon Valley, Atiq Raza is likely to be appointed as the firm's president and sole chief operating officer by AMD's board of directors during the course of the week. That will give Raza day to day control of the company at one of its most difficult periods in its history. The company is poised to introduce its K7 chip in July and turned in bad financial results recently. Although Sanders, who formerly worked with Andy Grove at Fairchild, will keep his position as chairman, the situation is analagous to Intel's Grove turning over day-to-day running to Craig Barrett. In the last few weeks, AMD and Sanders have received a blizzard of class action suits, as reported here earlier. Raza formerly worked at NexGen, the company AMD acquired in 1995. Technology from NexGen is at the basis of K6-III and K7 technology. Last weekend we reported an AMD engineer as claiming that while the technology of the firm is sound, the same could not be said of its management. (Story: AMD K7-500 beats Pentium III/500). ®
The Register breaking news

Avnet and Arrow team up online

Rivals Arrow Electronics and Avnet are to team up with a Web site to distribute chips and other components. The on-line semiconductor supermarket, ChipCenter LLC, will be developed with software maker Aspect Development and up-for-sale publishing house CMP Media. An announcement is expected today, and the Web site should be up and running by July, according to today's Wall Street Journal. ChipCenter will include vendor product information, distributor pricing and availability, as well as news and advertising. The report said the joint venture by the two US distributors may become a public company, but no details of funding were released. The site will list offerings by other distributors and was described as a joint effort to fend off new, online competitors from outside distribution. ®
The Register breaking news

Red Hat unveils Linux 6.0

Red Hat has unveiled the latest version of its eponymous Linux distribution, 6.0. The new release brings the company's implementation of the open source OS up to date with version 2.2 of the Linux kernel. The new kernel's most touted feature (at least by Red Hat, whose official release mentions it three times) is its support for four-way symmetrical multi-processor support. It also offers full RAID support at all levels. Red Hat Linux 6.0 also marks the company's first Linux distribution to offer the Gnome GUI. It will also include the latest versions of the numerous applications, utilities and development tools that Red Hat bundles with the OS. The new release also includes a CD of Linux applications, including Applixware, StarOffice and ViaVoice. Many of the changes in version 6.0 focus on simplifying the installation of the open source OS, part of Red Hat's plan to attract less technically inclined users. The software ships with a full installation manual and a Getting Started guide, and Red Hat will offer 30 days' free unlimited telephone and email tech support for installation enquiries. The installer can also be set to pull more recent installation components from Red Hat's Web site. Version 6.0 is available now from Red Hat's FTP site. The retail edition will become available on 10 May for $79.95. ®
The Register breaking news

Coppermine taped out and real copper on way

Intel taped out Coppermine samples last week, a very well informed source told The Register today. Two megabyte of cache on die is the ultimate aim, we understand. Select OEMs have just received samples, we are given to understand. Yield, when it ramps up, is likely to start at 667MHz but move to 733MHz shortly after intro. The 256K Level Two cache will be far more integrated into Coppermine than either Dixon or Mendocino. It will have 32K of Level One cache but there two Level One caches, also integrated into the die. Sixteen K of that are instructions, and 16K is data, said our source. P858 will achieve more than 1GHz without any problem whatever, we can also reveal, without the benefit of Kryotech technology. Tomorrow, we will tell you all about Intel's copper technology, which comes with .13 micron technology, as already revealed here. ®