28th > April > 1999 Archive

The Register breaking news

Compaq to spin off OEM group

Sources close to Compaq said that the firm will soon sell its OEM division, based in Shrewsbury, MA. The OEM group looks after Compaq PCI, embedded and single board computing products, with turnover of around $300 million. The deal was supposed to happen towards the end of last year but was delayed. There is no information as to who the buyer is, but layoffs are inevitable. ®
The Register breaking news

SCO boss climbs down over Linux assault

SCO boss Doug Michels has made a partial climbdown and apology over his apparent massive assault on Linux and Linus Torvalds. Responding to a query about the interview, Michels says he can't remember referring to the Linux community as "punk kids," and that it was by no means a complete report of his original discussion with Computerworld. "The interview represents a few selected questions and fragments of answers, leaving out a lot of context," he says. "The discussion of Linux represented only a small fraction of the interview and I spent most of that time talking about how good the open source movement was for the industry." Michels also claims to have expressed "my personal admiration for Linus and all of the others who contribute so much of their personal time to this worthy effort. I reiterated SCO's ongoing support for Open Source and our commitment to continue to contribute and adopt open source technology." Unhappily, the Michels response we have doesn't cover the published claims that seemed most inflammatory to us. The attack on Red Hat, for example, the claims that Linux doesn't scale well, or the bizarre stuff about "some kid from Norway." But there's a possible solution to this. In failing to recall saying "punk kids," Michels suggests that if he did say it anyway, "it is possible those words came out of my mouth in some context. [well, yes...] Most likely in describing how I thought a CIO of a large company might feel about open source." OK, so although Doug himself is all for Linux and open source, if he thinks himself into the part of the CIO of a large company he can describe fears about punk kids, uncontrolled roadmaps, inadequate scalability and cloudy intellectual property issues. But it's the CIO that thinks this stuff. Not Doug. Oh, no sir... ®
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Compaq gives online resellers thumbs up

It's all change down at Compaq since the Great Teufel of Haircuts left town. A little more than two months ago, the world’s most prolific PC vendor pulled the plugs on the growing army of online resellers selling Compaq kit. Now it looks set to incorporate some -- but not all -- of the spurned Web dealers into its channel accreditation scheme, according to US channel mag Computer Reseller News. The decision to revoke authorisation to sell its Presario PCs was due to Compaq's belief that the cut-price online operators were devaluing its brand with their cheap and cheerful attitude. But with Compaq the only big-name vendor to lose market share in Q1 99, perhaps a little bit of pile it and sell it cheap might not be such a bad thing after all. According to the report in CRN, Compaq is expected to unveil details of the scheme to bring online resellers into step as early as this week. Back in February, Compaq had said it would take around 90 days to put its plans together. Those online resellers wanting to meet the new requirements are likely to have to set up freefone support lines for customers. ®
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VA spins off Labs for ‘Trillian’ Linux IA-64 port

VA Research is splitting into two divisions plus a portal operation, following its acquisition of Linux Hardware Solutions and Enlightened Solutions earlier this week. The LHS deal will spawn a Linux systems division, to be known as VA Linux Systems, but the reorganisation of R&D under the name VA Linux Labs is probably of greater significance. VA Linux Labs' major project at the moment is Trillian, the 'official' Linux port to Intel IA-64. Engineering VP Gregg Zehr will head-up the Labs, but GUI specialist Geoff Harrison and Corel Netwinder architect San Mehat are also on board. Intel, which put money into VA earlier this year, signed a deal with the company to port Linux to IA-64 in March. Intel also has IA-64 Linux efforts coming from Hewlett-Packard and SGI, which will "contribute its skills and experience in large memory systems, high bandwidth I/O and performance computing." On the systems side, LHS president Kit Cosper "will become the primary advisor for VA's service and support organisation," which doesn't sound like a firm job as such to us, "reporting to VA vice president John Hall." VA also has the rights to linux.com, and intends to build a portal operation around it. But it says it doesn't want to over-commercialise the domain, which it acquired earlier this year. ®
The Register breaking news

550MHz Pentium III has overheating problems

The new Pentium III is hot stuff. And that's for sure. Early reports from OEMs sampling Intel's stopgap 550MHz Pentium III (see Camino cockup panics Chipzilla) indicate that there are serious thermal issues with the new top-end desktop chip due for launch on May 16. "We've cooked several already," said one assembler who asked not to be named. Readers will recall that Intel introduced the new SECC2 package for the PIII in a bid to avoid the need for active heatsinks (fans to you and I). By removing the thermal plate from the original Slot 1 cartridge, Chipzilla reckoned that heat transfer from the processor die would be enhanced to the point where passive heatsinks would be more than adequate. But several PC makers have had their fingers burned (literally) by PIIIs and with the advent of the hot new 550MHz version, fans are back in fashion, big time. ®
The Register breaking news

No free upgrade deal for PCs with Win2k beta preinstall

As PC companies prepare to sell systems with Windows 2000 beta 3 preinstalled later this month, the vagueness of the terms and conditions of the Microsoft preview deal is slowly becoming apparent. What, precisely, is it you get if you buy a beta 3 machine? The best answer we can give right now is, not a lot, apart from beta 3 and some support. Despite a widespread belief that there will be some kind of coupon-based upgrade programme to the Win2k gold code when it ships, no manufacturer as yet seems to have committed to this - in fact, the reverse. At Comdex Microsoft said that 20 PC OEMs would be shipping beta 3 on their machines, but so far only Dell has stuck its head out above the parapet to any great extent. The company will be taking orders in May for shipment in June, but appears either to be viewing the beta 3 code as "free" on machines that will actually ship with a Windows NT 4.0 licence (so you have to buy the Win2k upgrade when the gold code ships) or is charging a $70 premium for machines that include the beta 3 code (yes, we know these versions are contradictory). Quantities of cold water also seem to have been slung over the notion that Microsoft is mounting a major marketing push to get beta 3 code into the hands of as many users as possible. Microsoft spokespeople are starting to intone that it's only a beta, and obviously not for use as a day-to-day operating system, and Dell is also downplaying beta 3. One Dell rep we heard from this morning was of the opinion that most customers would wait until the full code shipped in, he reckoned, Q1 of next year. So much for that Microsoft internal target of October, and the rumoured mega-announcement for November. But if nobody has committed to upgrade coupons, how come the notion got out in the first place, and got to be so general? We even had a Microsoft UK spokesman telling us last week that the beta 3 code would, as he understood it, go out with upgrade coupons. A little digging unearths some clues. Last November, when Microsoft announced the Windows 2000 Ready Program, Dell committed to shipping beta 3, and at the time we have a certain Michael Stich, Dell OptiPlex product manager, saying that Dell "obviously" didn't want to charge customers twice, so would probably charge the NT 4.0 price for the system then ship the Win2k gold upgrade later. More recently (last week, actually), PC Week Online wrote: "According to sources, users who buy machines preloaded with the beta will receive coupons allowing them a free upgrade once Windows 2000 ships." So what's happening, and why has Dell apparently abandoned coupons since last November? Here's our take. Dell probably wouldn't have spoken about coupons then if it hadn't thought some kind of deal with Microsoft was in the offing. The general view that there would be a coupon deal, and PC Week's very recent "sources" meanwhile suggest strongly that some kind of scheme has at least been considered by Microsoft, but that it's been nixed, at least for the moment. Historically however, when Microsoft's OEM customers want to ship more than one operating system, Microsoft gets awkward about who pays the tab. The machines that shipped after the Windows 95 launch with the option of installing Windows 3.x or Windows 95, for example, caused considerable financial wrangling between MS and the OEMs before that deal happened. Some kind of deal that involved shipping machines with beta 3 preinstalled, charging for an NT 4.0 licence and then shipping an upgrade to gold code could of course be done now without obvious significant loss of revenue to Microsoft, but you can see the problem here. This is, as they're all now saying, beta software that shouldn't be used on production machines. So maybe the machines should have a production OS with them as well. But if you did this Microsoft would lose a lot of upgrade revenue. And if you went ahead and shipped machines with just beta code on a 'buy now, get production code later' basis, then probably lots of people would go for it, and you'd be criticised for being irresponsible. We suspect that if the relevant Microsoft and Dell internal documentation ever got subpoenaed it would reveal a pretty mess. Still, Microsoft can no doubt console itself with the thought that at least it will be getting $59.95 out of the beta 3 Web sales - and for all we know, it could be getting a similar number out of the OEMs too. ® See also: Could Win2k beta 3 ship a million?
The Register breaking news

BSkyB boss says B off to Microsoft millions

Despite the promise of a golden handshake, megabuck salary and share options worth an estimated $100 million, BSkyB CEO Mark Booth has turned down the chance to head Microsoft's Internet operations, choosing instead to mind Mr Murdoch's new media outfit, e*partners. If working for the Dirty Digger is that much more attractive than taking a few hundred mill from Bill, then things at the Great Satan of Software must be worse than we thought. Factoid 666 Team Register is available for Internet consultancy for a sum considerably lower than $100 million. Hey, Bill, don't be a stranger - let us know if we can help... ®
The Register breaking news

Sony preps HiFD for PlayStation 2

Sony is preparing to have another go at beating Iomega at its own game, when it relaunches its HiFD next-generation floppy disk format later this year. According to a report on CNet, Sony will re-introduce the 200MB HiFD drive in the autumn, with versions for connection to parallel, USB and PC Card ports. A FireWire/IEEE1394 version will ship further down the line. HiFD was unveil back in 1997, and finally shipped late last year. Trouble was, the drives didn't work, and Sony quickly suspended shipments. In any case, the format had long since missed its chance to make any kind of impression on the PC market. Iomega's 100MB Zip format has dominated the floppy replacement arena, thanks largely to a clever marketing programme and getting there first. Imation's 120MB SuperDisk format and LS-120 drives, the first real Zip rival, has singularly failed to dent Iomega's marketshare, despite offering backwards compatibility with 1.44MB floppies. Imation's plan -- like Sony's -- was to persuade PC vendors to fit LS-120 drives instead of a standard floppy drive and a Zip. However, very few manufactures complied, and the format remains an option extra rather than the standard component Imation wanted to be. Sony probably had more of a chance here than Imation. HiFD is more capacious and faster than LS-120, and Sony has a long history of supply standard floppy drives. However, Imation's lack of success in signing up PC OEMs suggests that Sony wouldn't have much luck here, either -- Zip is simply too well entrenched. So why is Sony bringing HiFD back? The CNet report reckons it wants to have another go at attracting PC vendors and users, and it may well push some units in that direction, though it's clear from the Sony source the report cites that the company has yet to win any business in this area. No, Sony's real motivation here is to turn HiFD into a storage format for its forthcoming PlayStation 2, which is due to ship in the HiFD relaunch timeframe. Last week, Sega announced it plans to offer a Zip drive for its Dreamcast console, to allow players to save games, and download files from the Internet through the console's built-in modem. Sony, like Sega, realises that games consoles are destined to become the WebTVs of the future, which is why Sega chose WindowsCE as Dreamcast's OS. It's still unclear what PlayStation 2's OS will be -- something based on the compact Linux kernel seems a good bet -- but Sony is certainly looking beyond games. That's why the device will contain IEEE1394 ports (or iLink ports, as Sony calls them), to connect up digital cameras and other digital consumer goods. They all require mass storage media, and, guess what, that's just what HiFD offers. ®
The Register breaking news

Prudential fails to put all its Eggs in one basket

Egg -- the lifestyle-branded banking service from the UK's Prudential Corporation -- is taking a soft-boiled approach to ecommerce, even though it would like people to think it was a major player in the digital ballpark. From today if you want an Egg account you can only rustle it up if you apply via the Web. According to the hype, this makes Egg a "firmly established leader in the ecommerce market." So says CEO Mike Harris. "Of the 500,000 customers we have attracted so far we estimate around 30 per cent already have Internet access and with Internet growth in the UK running at around 11,000 new users a day, this proportion will increase rapidly," he said. But once customers have applied via the Net, there is nothing stopping them from ditching their modems and conducting their financial affairs by telephone -- or even by post. There's an eggy waft to this whichever way you approach it. This is not the cutting edge of ecommerce even though the PR window dressers would love you to think otherwise. On the face of it, Egg has done exceedingly well. In just six months it has met its five year target of £5 billion in savings and 500,000 customers and it now wants to cash in on two million Internet customers by 2004. But according to the Financial Times, despite this apparent success Egg is still expecting to make losses of £100 million by the end of the first year. Far from embracing ecommerce, it seems Egg is using it to block the number of new applications it receives to help stem its losses -- not dissimilar to what happens if you eat to many of the oval things. ®
The Register breaking news

Cisco deal boosts ITG service

Internet technology Group (ITG) has signed a $6 million deal with networking giant Cisco that should help it service more than two million Net users in the UK. The company claims that the expansion will make ITG one of the UK's largest Internet Service Providers (ISPs) with a total 33 points of presence (POPs) throughout the country -- more than any other provider. The deal follows yesterday's announcement that ITG is to focus on the wholesale supply of Internet services, including subscription-free services, enabling companies and organisations to offer customers branded Net access. The Ministry of Sound, the youth music movement popular for it's thumping bass beats, is the first such tie-up. Others include Micro Warehouse, one of the world's largest catalogue and online computer retailers, and NASCR, the National Association of Specialist Computer Retailers. "The market dynamics of this sector have changed radically," said Laurence Blackall, CEO of ITG. "We are entering an era in which major brands will dominate Internet access at the consumer level. ITG intends to be a major supplier to those brands," he said. ®
The Register breaking news

Intel “disappointed” by AMD's K7

Impeccable sources at Intel have described AMD's floating point (FP) performance as disappointing. Last week, an engineer at AMD told us that a K7-500MHz scores an FPU Winmark of 2767, compared to a Winmark of 2562 for a Pentium III/500. (See story) That is if these figures are true. A senior figure working at Intel Israel who wishes to remain anonymous today said: "I really am disappointed with the K7 so far. AMD has made us a better company and I don't want them exterminated." He said that AMD had galvanised activities at Intel. But he also had some words of criticism for AMD. "They really should blab less and work on their process more. I am convinced that their problems aren't because they only have one fab, or we [Intel] have more money. No Intel fab has ever halted dead in its tracks the way AMD's Fab 25 did." ®
The Register breaking news

AMD samples isotopically pure wafers

Isonics Corporation, which has a licence with Yale University to intellectuall property rights for isotopically-pure silicon-28, said it has shipped wafer samples to AMD. According to Isonics, AMD will test the performance of wafers using the technology on device performance, evaluation of overall chip yield and speed sorting, comparing that to ordinary silicon epitaxial wafers. Lab tests by Isonics show that silicon-28 has a 50 per cent higher thermal conductivity than natural silicon. Silicon-28 allows for higher density integrated circuits (ICs) with better performance and improved chip yields. Isonics also has a licence from Yale for other isotopically pure substances including germanium, gallium arsenide and other semiconductors, typically. Or topically. ®
The Register breaking news

ATI move on chipset market targets Intel

PC graphics specialist ATI yesterday signalled a move into the chipset market. The announcement marks the latest stage in a strategy hatched last year, which led to the acquisition of PC-on-a-chip developer Chromatic Research last October. ATI is well known for its graphics acceleration products, such as the Rage Pro and Rage 128. That positions the company against the likes of S3, nVidia and 3dfx as a provider of graphics cards sold into the add-ons market. However, the majority of ATI's business comes through selling graphics chipsets to computer and logicboard manufacturers who then integrate them onto their motherboards, along with chipset components from other vendors. The trouble is, the chipset vendors are increasingly trying to find ways to compete with Intel, and that has led SiS and Via to add graphics to their core logic products. Even Intel is getting in on the game, with the 810 chipset it announced earlier this week. That worries ATI, not least because Chipzilla is getting its graphics technology form ATI's erstwhile arch rival in the graphics chip market, S3. Yesterday's announcement was a direct response to Intel's challenge, but this is clearly an issue that has been bothering ATI for some time. Last year's takeover of Chromatic positioned ATI to move into the set-top box market with a mix of Chromatic's system-on-a-chip products and its own 2D/3D graphics and TV/DVD decoder products. However, that mix also allows ATI to attack the low-end PC market, a move turned from a sideline into a necessity by the chipset vendors' moves into graphics. Even processor vendor Cyrix is getting in on the act -- its upcoming MIII chip also integrates graphics acceleration on the die, and will be aimed at the same sector. ATI's sales pitch centres on its Shared Memory Architecture (SMA), which integrates North Bridge and graphics acceleration chipsets, and hooks them in to the PC's main memory bank, eliminating the need for dedicated VRAM. The company promises a "full family" of SMA-based products. Samples will come on stream in the second half of the year. ®
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Secrets of Intel's IA-64 roadmap revealed

Updated Reliable sources said yesterday that a future Intel IA-64 chip called Northwood would hit 3000MHz at its release. At the same time, it emerged that McKinley is likely to launch using P858 aluminium technology. The source who requested anonymity, works at Intel's R&D centre in Israel. He said that all generations of microprocessors following Deschutes are developed in pairs: Katmai-Tanner, Coppermine-Cascades and Willamette-Foster. Northwood, like Madison and Deerfield will be X60 compactions of the IA-64 but for the Willamette architecture. Northwood, further, is missing a Xeon counterpart and that suggests that Merced, McKinley and Madison are likely to replace IA-32 server chips. Deerfield is likely to be the first IA-64 chip aimed at the consumer market with a launch date in the 2003 timeframe. Meanwhile, the source said there is "practically no way" that Willamette and Foster will use copper technology. According to another source at Intel Germany, the Merced platform was originally laid out for .35 micron technology... ® See also Intel's copper to come sooner rather than later Hard facts emerge about Willamette
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Creative profits plummet 60 per cent

The Great Satan of Sound Cards, Creative Technology, yesterday reported its profits slumped by a massive 60 per cent during its third quarter while revenue rose by just over five per cent. For the three months to 31 March, Creative notched up sales of $313.7 million, up from the $298.4 million it recorded in the same period last year. Profits, however, fell from $45.2 million in Q3 1998 to $18.3 million this time around. Last quarter they fell too. Creative has essentially been hit by the same intense competition, leading to lower prices and, more importantly, lower margins in the PC add-on market that has hurt rival companies like Diamond Multimedia. Diamond's response was to begin to reduce its dependence on that arena -- a difficult task, given it's responsible for 60 per cent of Diamond's business -- and focus on more lucrative products like its Rio PMP300 digital music player. And Creative is doing pretty much the same thing. It recently launched its own MP3 player, Nomad, and a Web site to back it up. Creative CEO Sim Wong Hoo announced the company is spending $15 million on building up its Internet audio business. ®
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Aureal posts Q1 earnings

Audio company Aureal said that its Q1 1999 figures showed a rise in revenues of 250 per cent compared to the same period last year, amounting to $12.6 million. The net loss for Q1 1999 was $4.1 million, compared to a net loss of $5.5 million in Q1 1998. Gross margins rose to 34 per cent in Q1, a rise of 22 per cent for the same quarter last year. According to the company, demand for its sound card products fuelled the rise in revenues. ®
The Register breaking news

Statue of Turing spurned by US IT giants

Skinflint US computer companies that have made trillions out of the industry are too stingy to find a measly £55,000 to erect a humble memorial to the father of computer science, Alan Turing. Sculptor Glyn Hughes has sent letters to all the major IT companies requesting donations so that he can complete the bronze work. But Hughes has been given the cold shoulder so far and believes part of that is because Turing -- the inventor of the computer -- was English and gay, rather than a red-blooded American. "This man deserves remembering," said Hughes. "And bearing in mind how much money computer companies have made on the back of his discovery you'd think they would be only too happy to stump up the cash." The bronze statue of Turing sat on a park bench in Manchester has already been given the go-ahead by Manchester City Council and has the backing of the UK's Culture Minister Chris Smith. Asked why the government didn't fund the statue instead of the likes of Microsoft, IBM or Apple, Hughes said he hadn't even asked for its support. "I didn't think I'd meet such resistance from the IT industry," he said. A spokesman for the Great Stan of Software said an application for the cash had been received and that they were thinking about it. The same goes for Apple. Big Blur, on the other hand, had already dismissed the application and said it would not be parting with any cash. "IBM doesn't normally sponsor this kind of thing," said Andrew Goldman, corporate communications manager for IBM in the UK. But erecting a statue to a man such as Turing, a man to whom the industry should pay more than lip-service, is hardly a normal sort of request. ®
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Flat screen monitors will poison the planet

A leading UK recycling company has warned that the current trend for flat-panel monitor screens may turn into an environmental disaster for future generations. Technical Asset Management, (TAM) said that no one really knows which chemicals and compounds are used in the manufacture of flat-panel screens which means no one knows how to dispose of them safely. Traditional cathode ray tube monitors contain a number of poisonous compounds such as cadmium - a known carcinogenic - and lead. They are still, all too often, just dumped and not disposed of in an environmentally sensible manner. The same dangers could lurk in flat-panel screens, according to TAM. TAM commercial director, Jon Godfrey, said: "The advantages of buying flat screen displays is clear. They use far less power, take up less space and look good. It is known that flat screens including LCD's (liquid crystal displays) contain a number of chemicals and gases to enable them to perform. What little we do know has suggested there may be some very unfriendly substances." "Because the technology is in its infancy, manufacturers are not releasing details about the constituents. The recycling industry therefore has had no chance to prepare suitable recycling processes." Claire Snow, director of Industry Council for Electronic and Electrical Recycling (ICER) - said: "In order to recycle flat screen displays and dispose of any hazardous substances they contain safely, it is essential to know what these monitors are made of. This is often a closely guarded secret." ®
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AMD confirms Raza to ramp up activities

An AMD spokesperson today confirmed that at a board of directors meeting on the 29th of April, it will be proposed that Atiq Raza will become president and chief operating officer (COO) of the company. (See story: AMD's Sanders to take back seat) That effectively means that Jerry Sanders III will stay as chairman of the company but the day-to-day running of the company will be under Raza's control. Raza, as reported here earlier, was the CEO of NexGen, the company which developed the technology at the heart of the K6-III. He also made sure he brought ex-Digital engineers on board to help with the development of the K7. ®
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What the Hell is… an Endian?

Updated When The Register first started as an email newsletter nearly five years ago, our motto was "The only good Endian is a dead Endian." But readers keep asking us questions such as "What is an Endian"? One of our readers has been good enough to provide us with a clear explanation of the topic. And another reader, has added his comments, which we've now put at the end. Reader Number Three has tipped in too. Thanks David. Er... that's it. Reader One Big Endian and Little Endian refer to how multi-byte operands are laid out in memory. Something like left-to-right versus right-to-left. Either scheme works fine, but any given combination of operating system, application sources, and application data files tend to want only the scheme they were initially programmed for. This is a historical accident of which chip, minicomputer, or mainframe the OS was initially written for. The term comes from Gulliver's Travels, where two warring societies can't stand the fact that their neighbors open up their hard-boiled eggs from the other (wrong) end. Like other recently-designed instruction sets (eg Mips, PowerPC, and recent Alphas), IA-64 supports both big- and little-endian memory conventions so that no OS communities are repelled and locked out by that issue. The hardware is neutral. But the software on top of it, the OS and compilers and utilities and file system and applications and data files, are still all one flavor or the other. PA-RISC's software base is all big-endian, whereas most other announced users of Merced are all little-endian. A side effect of this is that HP won't be sharing any software (even compilers or applications or Unix) with the rest of the Merced-based industry. SGI is now switching from MIPS to IA-64, with IA-32 as a stepping stone, and is consequently forcing its user base to switch from big-endian software conventions to little-endian (or to switch from SGI to HP or Sun). Merced's support for both forms of software endian-ness is important for HP, but this is technically trivial. Reader Two The phrase "endian" comes from a fairly well known (and amazingly short and lucid) paper titled "On Holy Wars and a Plea for Peace" by Danny Cohen of USC. It was published as Internet Engineering Note IEN137 on 1-April-1980, and was in IEEE Computer in October 1981. It was originally written for one of his graduate classes; twenty years old and still relevant. here is the text BTW - you didn't mention that Sun (the great satan of Solaris) is porting to Merced, too, and that Sun is traditionally big endian. Reader Three I can't believe that neither of the readers who sent you big endian/little endian descriptions actually described the difference! It's simply this: If the computer holds a number that's too large to be recorded in one byte, the question is whether the bytes are stored in linear memory with the most significant bits at the beginning and the least significant bits at the end, or vice versa. It's the difference between remembering the number "three hundred twenty-one" as 321 or 123. Each method has certain advantages and disadvantages. Whew! And I thought I'd only use my computer science background on Jeopardy :) ® Other What the Hell is... What the Hell is... Camino and Rambus?
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Lycos/USA Networks deal in limbo, VP says

At least one senior executive at Lycos doesn't hold out much hope of the proposed merger between Lycos and USA Networks going ahead. In a frank exchange about the turmoil that has thrown Lycos into the spotlight for all the wrong reasons, VP Bo Peabody touched upon the difficulties of the last two months. "We've had a little hiccup in the ranks," he said referring to the open dissent of Lycos' major shareholder, CMGI, which pledged not to support the deal. "The deal is still in limbo," he said. "The market will decide if it will go ahead, but it's clear that the market doesn't like it," he said. The Register found out back in February that the deal was waiting to be put out of its misery. Things soon got worse when Lycos was hit with a class action lawsuit in March. Lycos stock is currently trading at around $100 15/16 -- after plummeting to the mid $80s in the wake of stockholder unrest -- some level of confidence has returned but it's still a way off the high of $145 3/8 experience earlier this year. Peabody's frankness is in sharp contrast to Lycos' spin doctors' abrasive defence of the whole affair, but his assessment of the situation does not detract from his belief that the deal with USA Networks is a good one. "I think this is a brilliant strategic deal," he said. "And one that is valuable for the company." Last week Lycos became the Web's fastest growing portal dislodging Yahoo! from the top spot with an audience reach of 51 per cent and almost 32 million visitors. Part of Lycos' success is down to its acquisition of Tripod -- the Web community network with more than 3.3 million members -- which was founded by Peabody in 1992. ®
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Quantum's 1999 revenues decline

Hard times in the hard drive industry have caused Quantum to turn in reduced revenues and net profits for its 1999 financial year. But its Q4 financial figures show a dramatic and sensational turnaround, with the company turning in net profits of $56.7 million, compared with $2.7 million in the equivalent quarter of 1998. That is on turnover of $1.31 billion, compared to $1.29 billion for Q4 last year. Quantum said its financials for 1999 showed revenues of $4.9 billion, compared to revenues of $5.8 billion for 1998. Net profit for 1999 was $127.8 million, compared to $250.3 million for 1998. Michael Brown, Quantum's CEO, said that Quantum had a diversified business model and its DLTape and storage system business did well in the period. The hard drive business has suffered from massive price cutting over the course of the year. ®
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Cisco buys Amteva

Cisco's acquisition spree continues -- today it snapped up privately held US operation Amteva Technologies. Amteva develops software that brings together voicemail, email and fax data over IP networks into a single user access point, and that's bang in the centre of Cisco's vision of what the network should offer. Ameteva's technology will be rolled into software from other Cisco acquisitions, such as Selsius and GeoTel. Cisco bought Amteva with a mix of cash and stock, all of which valued the purchase at $170 million. ®
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Direct Rambus shows no gains over current memory technology

A paper that will be presented at the 26th International Symposium on Computer Architecture next month will claim that Direct Rambus memory has no performance advantage over 100MHz SDRAMs. The paper, titled A Performance Comparison of Contemporary DRAM Architectures and written by university professors, can be found in PDF format here. Professors Cuppu, Jacob and Mudge examine the performance of standard fast page, EDO, SDRAM, ESDRAM, SLDRAM, RDRAM and direct RDRAM for high end desktops. They conclude that 800Mbps Direct Rambus devices, which are already suffering yield problems as reported here earlier, cannot beat 100MHz cas latency three SDRAMs. The paper is bound to increase pressure on Intel to support the PC-133 and PC-266 SDRAM standards espoused by bitter chipset rival VIA, especially given the fact that the Camino chipset is late. Major Intel customers, including Compaq, are counting on Intel to square the circle on the Rambus dilemma. ® See also What the Hell is...Camino and Rambus
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US service companies to clean up in Europe

Europe is set to provide rich pickings for US service providers, according to market analysts, IDC. The European market for services is blossoming like never before, thanks in part to the euro and the general increase in links between European countries. The market is growing at an annual rate of 10 per cent and IDC reckons the overall European services market could be worth $129 billion by the year 2003. That growth rate could be as high as 40 per cent but the market is being stunted by a shortfall in supply. In its report, The Western European IT Services Industry Markets and Trends, 1998-2003, IDC says the market is being held back in Europe by a shortage in skilled staff, a lack of industry knowledge, poor technical awareness and weak project management. The net result of all this is that US service companies should find winning new business in Europe about as difficult as shooting fish in a barrel. IDC senior analyst Philip Winthrop said: "The European IT services market is poised to become one of the largest services markets in the world and now is the time to enter the playing field. While there are many strong service providers based in Western Europe, the demand for services is far exceeding supply, allowing new companies to enter the market." The UK market looks like the best bet, with a compound annual growth rate ahead of the European average at 14 per cent. By 2001, the UK is likely to displace Germany as the biggest market in Europe. The service markets in Sweden, Denmark and Norway are all expected to grow ahead of the average. ®
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Samsung MP3 player goes global

Korean combine Samsung has finally launched its Yepp MP3 player to the rest of the world. And it is promising an entire line of MP3 devices, including in-car systems and a standalone hardware-based CD and cassette ripper. The 58mm x 85mm x 17mm device emerged last year round about the time Diamond Multimedia was being taken to court by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for failing to add a copy protection mechanism to its own MP3 player, Rio. The ongoing controversy over Rio and MP3 persuaded Samsung to release Yepp domestically, but hang fire on on overseas sales. However, following Creative Technologies' launch this week of its Nomad player, Samsung has decided to follow suit and ship Yepp worldwide. The close timing of the launches shouldn't surprise anyone: Nomad is simply a rebadged Yepp, as these piccies, pointed out by a Register reader show. Yepp will be made availble in two versions: a silver standard edition and a gold deluxe model. Both contain 40MB of memory, expandable through the use of plug-in Flash cards. The deluxe model also contains an FM radio tuner, recording capability and personal phone number list. Samsung claims Yepp will hold up to 500 names and 160 minutes of recorded sound, but we suspect that wouldn't leave much room for MP3 songs. The Korean giant reckons the global market for MP3 players will be around 1.2 million units this year, of which Samsung hopes to have sold 500,000. It claims the MP3 market will reach 30 million by 2005. That's some way ahead of Diamond's sales, so the company is clearly betting on a major surge in the availability of Net-distributed music. That assumes the recording industry can come to some consensus on copyright protection, and that will depend on the Secure Digital Music Initiative coming up with a working system. It's due to offer a draft specification this summer, in order to issue a final spec. in time for devices based upon it to ship in time for Christmas. For its part, Samsung has equipped Yepp with its own system, SecuMax, which "protects users from pirating unauthorised songs", which presumably just means you can't port tracks from Yepp to Yepp, rather than from PC to PC. Samsung didn't release pricing for the players, but Creative is offering a 64MB Nomad for $249. That's way above the average price of a basic Walkman, so Samsung is going to have to push the cost down some way to achieve its goal of making Yepp "the Walkman 2". Assuming, of course, Sony's Netman doesn't get there first... ® See also Sony president announces Netman digital music player Creative profits plummet 60 per cent Diamond to copy-protect Rio
The Register breaking news

Intel's Barrett's spoof diary

30 April 1999 Some bastard disturbed me in my cubicle while I was having a nap and said that punk cybertrash rag The Register is publishing lots of future information about our plans. Goddamn. Thought I'd taught them a lesson three years ago when I authorised Intel to sue them for breach of intellectual property. Called Dunlap. He said Brit law different from US law. Goddamn those limeys. Next time I'm in London I'll call Blair and tell him to change the laws. Albert Yu pops round to tell me that his mother is still complaining about our progress in copper interconnects. Sheesh. Why can't they leave me alone and let me get on selling those designer log cabins? 29 April 1999 Execution. That's obviously important. And the due processes. Especially here in Hong Kong, now part of the greater republic of China. Goddamn, ten years ago in Tianamen Square the Reds showed how they could kick butt. Just left Taipei in Taiwan, which is obviously a part of China too and watched Pat Gelsinger kicking butt and telling those motherboard people what they need to do. Be flexible, said Pat. He's got my entire support. Will fly to Korea again and talk to Samsung and try and tell them they are not executing well enough. Why does that benighted country still allow trade unions? Goddamn. Don't they realise that the price of a bullet in Hong Kong is that of a Celeron 466MHz part. That's what we call execution at Intel. You don't need thought police for that, just the due processes. Or processors. ®
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Hamidi loses to Intel

Local US newspaper The Sacramento Bee reported today that Ken Hamidi has lost his fight against Intel. Although Hamidi, as reported here earlier, had forced Intel to back down on sueing him for money, or for being a nuisance, a judge in Sacramento said today that he was not allowed to bombard Intel employees with email. Intel said that Hamidi was virtually stalking the halls of Santa Clara and trespassing on its property by sending many of its employees unsolicited emails. Sacramento judge John Lewis upheld Intel's claim that Hamidi should not do so in the future. Lewis said in his judgement that Hamidi had trespassed on Intel territory. The case is likely to be pursued in higher courts and could become a test case. ®
A staffer, 28 1999