5th > May > 1999 Archive

The Register breaking news

Storage is dead dull, right?

If you are running out of space to stow your garden mower or possibly you want to shove all your press clippings in a skip, storage suddenly becomes all important. Land fill sites are another storage dilemma, as monitors, fridges, PCs and the like are obsoleted, need to be put somewhere without spending billions on rockets. Plutonium also has its storage problems. But perhaps the bigget problem corporations have is data storage. This seems to be behind why Hewlett Packard has quite suddenly decided storage is important. Today, HP will book a whole section of 42nd Street in the Big Apple to show the whole world and its dog why it has a better answer to the solution than, for example, EMC and Compaq. EMC's share price slumped a whole $12 on news that HP was planning a storage push. The push is called "Stress Free Computing" and of course is aimed at corporations, worried about their data. The battle seems to be between the direct and the indirect nodel, one which we thought at La Registra was well dead. Data is one kind of storage but everyone knows that unless you've got enough cupboards, white vans, et al, to put your stuff, you are just gonna have to move, like it or not. Perhaps HP is being a tad opportunistic and fast on its feet, hoping to fox corporate buyers into believing it has the answer, while all the time pushing margins up. Compaq, for example, has the answer but no longer the CEO Pfeiffer to show a return on investment. But why should the corporate organisation suffer in this new storage war? The answer is, they pay the bill and it is noticeable, as one analyst pointed out to us today, that none of these big vendors ever try to explain the basic infrastructure and roll out servers, storage area networks and a corporation's policy in one big thing that will mean something to chief information officrs (CIOs). As Yorkshire people are apt to say in their quaint dialect: "Many a mickle makes a muckle" which, interpreted, seems to mean, storage solutions will keep shareholders happy. More later... ®
Mike Magee, 05 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Caldera claims MS emails proof of illegal competition

MS on Trial Court filings by Caldera earlier this week claim that Microsoft internal documentation shows that the company used a series of misleading and anti-competitive strategies to damage sales of DR-DOS. The rival operating system was a strong challenger to Microsoft's MSDOS prior to the release of Windows 95, and Caldera (which 'inherited' DR-DOS from Novell) is suing Microsoft, claiming antitrust violations. Caldera's claims are to some extent ancient history, but the company contends that in addition to blocking sales of DR-DOS prior to the launch of Windows 95, Microsoft simply packaged MSDOS and Windows together to create Windows 95. There is some degree of truth in this, and Caldera's case has been aided by Microsoft emails from Bill Gates (Bill's careless emails) showing that the Microsoft boss saw 'integrating' the two and widening the boundaries of Microsoft's Windows intellectual property as weapons that could be used to reduce Novell's (as then was) ability to compete. Gates' emails also help by pointing to the market share DR-DOS had managed to achieve, and musing loudly about how much more money Microsoft could have made out of MSDOS if it had used integration and intellectual property protection to a greater extent on it. Caldera claims, with copious MS email support, that Microsoft used misleading product announcements, scare stories about bugs in DR-DOS and possible copyright infringements, exclusionary licensing deals (MS $50k to buy out Vobis DR-DOS deal) and blocked Novell access to Windows information. One of Caldera's expert witnesses has estimated the cost of this as $1.6 billion - this would be quite a windfall from a product Caldera got from Novell more or less for free. ® Complete Register trial coverage
John Lettice, 05 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Windows 98 Second Edition to be released today

Windows 98 Second Edition will be announced today, making it indisputably Microsoft's fastest ever operating system development. It goes into manufacturing this week, and is expected in the stores next month, with a US price of $89.95. But it will be possible for existing users of Windows 98 to buy an upgrade CD via Microsoft's Web site for $19.95. This isn't a bad deal for an upgrade to a new operating system, but of course 98 SE is nothing of the sort. Microsoft was able to move from first rumours of SE (Register predicts Q2 shipment) to production this fast because the company has essentially just added the odd bit of chrome and wire wheels to the Windows 98 service pack. The service pack will be available for free, one major difference between it and SE being Internet sharing technology, which will allow several machines on home networks to use the same Internet connection. Is that worth $20? Sometimes when Microsoft wants to push new features, e.g. IE or ISDN support way back in the early days of 95, they came as free downloads and on more promotional CDs than you could shake a stick at. But with Windows 2000 locked in development for months yet (despite recent beta attacks), and looking not entirely suited for home users, Microsoft needed a stop gap product. And some stop-gap revenue, we cynics reckon. And note something else. Microsoft has done free downloads, and despite vast file sizes is pretty well on top of the technology. But it hasn't done that much of selling from its Web site to large numbers of users, or at least what it hopes will be large numbers of users. The $19.95 a pop may come in handy for the war chest, but getting the sales mechanisms up and running is probably far more important to MS than that. Once the company gets it right, we predict MS will try to sell you lots more stuff direct off the Web. And, it says here, SE is also going to include new electronic commerce support. What a coincidence. ®
John Lettice, 05 May 1999
The Register breaking news

NatSemi to ‘announce Cyrix sale’

NatSemi is to sell Cyrix less than two years after buying the company, according to PC Week Online's Lisa DiCarlo. Quoting sources, DiCarlo reveals NatSemi will tell the world today that it's put its system-on-a-chip vendor on the block. The company has scheduled early morning calls with analysts to announce the move, she says. We will report developments as and when they happen. In the meantime, congratulations to Lisa for her scoop. In July 1997, NatSemi paid $550 million for Cyrix. How much does it think it will get now? Will it try to bundle its fab into any sale? And is there a buyer in the wings? NatSemi brought fab capacity and money to the party. Cyrix brought along the MII, a neat low-cost system on a chip design, and a good design team, and an insignificant market share. Cyrix lacked -- and lacks -- the bulk to compete head-on with AMD even, let alone Intel. It does not have the wherewithal to drag itself too far up the processor value chain. In the company's latest roadmap it is positioning new offerings against K6-2s and Celerons. But there is a serious risk of Cyrix becoming marooned at the low-margin low-end, just as competition is hotting up with the arrival of new kids on the block, Rise and Transmeta. In recent weeks, there has been much speculation over IBM's interest in buying Cyrix, but a Cyrix insider said the stories, tracked down to postings made by share rampers on US bulletin boards, were complete and utter mistruths. ®
Drew Cullen, 05 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Rolls-Royce emailers' jobs still in jeopardy

Fourteen staff at Rolls-Royce Aerospace Group are still waiting to hear whether they will keep their jobs after they were suspended more than a fortnight ago for allegedly sending email that contained "inappropriate material". A spokesman for Rolls Royce would not disclose the exact details of what constituted "inappropriate material" but said that the company took such allegations of misconduct very seriously. He said that the disciplinary hearings were "nearing completion" and in the event of an extreme breach of company guidelines, he confirmed that it was possible that an employee could be sacked over the affair. The suspended staff are among 5000 people who work at Rolls Royce's Patchway offices near Bristol. The story, which was leaked to the Bristol Evening Post last week highlights a growing problem of email and Internet abuse among companies and large organisations. With Net access commonplace in many offices keeping track of exactly what employees get up to during the day is becoming increasingly difficult. "It is a problem," said David Kerr, CE of the Internet Watch Foundation. "This is something where companies need to tighten up on their disciplinary guidelines to try and prevent this kind of thing from happening," he said. Earlier this year a man who was accused of sexual harassment after a colleague used his email address to send a saucy message to a female executive at a Bible society won his case for breach of contract. ®
Tim Richardson, 05 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Egghead.com loss narrows

US software retailer Egghead, reborn last year as an ecommerce-only operation, yesterday saw its loss fall by nearly two-thirds. For its fourth quarter 1998, ended 3 April, the company lost $12.8 million, compared to $35 million this time last year. Egghead notched up sales of $42.3 million, well up on the $26.6 million it made online last year. That said, at that point the company's bricks'n'mortar sites were still contributing sales -- it had yet to divest itself of its real-world operations. Wall Street anticipated Egghead would lose around $14.5 million, according to First Call estimates. Egghead cited a recent free delivery promotion as the likely cause of the boost to sales. It also said the quarter's gross margin reached 10.1 per cent, up from eight per cent from Q4 1997. ®
Tony Smith, 05 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Al Gore says Web violence had hand in highschool massacre

Vice President Al Gore is expected to pander to public pressure today when he delivers some choice words about the corrupting influence of the Internet on young minds. According to a report by CNet, a White House representative confirmed that Gore would deliver some carefully chosen words about the "Net, violence and parents" in an attempt to appease the growing outcry following the killings in Littleton, Colorado last month. Despite many people outside the US believing that the nation's liberal gun laws were to blame for the death of 12 students, a teacher and the two teenage gunmen, others place the blame squarely on the shoulders of the Net. They claim that easy access to violent and disturbing content is at the heart of a problem that has ostracised a generation of social outcasts and given them the means to feed their appetite for destruction. It is these people Gore will address today. He is expected to announce the creation of Internet-based resources designed to focus on ways of combating the problem, CNet said. One such initiative is believed to be called "One Click Away" and will include links to safe sites and others offering filtering software. There will also be a mechanism for children to report any material they find disturbing. Although any initiative that protects children from the more sinister side of the Net is to be welcomed, any form of legislation -- which was hinted at in the CNet report -- would be fraught with difficulty. ®
Tim Richardson, 05 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Unix creator lambasts Linux

Ken Thompson, co-writer of Unix, has gone on record to damn Linux as little more than a "backlash against Microsoft" that will ultimately prove to be unsuccessful. Interviewed by the IEEE Computer Society's house magazine, Computer, Thompson was asked for his thoughts on the Linux phenomenon in light of his own experience with the massive interest in Unix. "I view Linux as something that's not Microsoft -- a backlash against Microsoft, no more, no less," he said. "I don't think it will be very successful in the long run." Thompson added: "My experience and some of my friends' experience is that Linux is quite unreliable. Microsoft is really unreliable but Linux is worse. In a non-PC environment, it just won't hold up. "If you're using it on a single box, that's one thing. But if you want to use Linux in firewalls, gateways, embedded systems and so on, it has a long way to go." The Unix guru appears to feel the blame for Linux's poor showing (in his opinion) lies primarily with the open source community. "I've looked at the [Linux] source and there are pieces that are good and pieces that are not. A whole bunch of random people have contributed to this source, and the quality varies drastically." Thompson's open source points are perhaps understandable given his focus on commercial computing -- not from a money-making perspective but from the professional IT world's attitude to quality assurance. That's often missing from the open source world where the approach is more evolutionary than developmental -- glitches are eradicated over time, statistically, as more people modify the code, as opposed to focusing on bug fixing before shipping code. However, his wider claims about Linux are puzzling. In the same interview he points to Unix users' "total control over the whole system" and that fact that his project created "a very small, understandable OS, so people could change it at their will". That sounds remarkably like Linux to us, and while the open source OS has been helped by a dislike of the Windows family, that doesn't negate Linux's value as an OS. Linux does have some way to go, but it's only eight years old -- Unix is 30. Give it a change, Ken. ® The complete Computer interview can be read here.
Tony Smith, 05 May 1999
The Register breaking news

HP confirms Merced retreat

Sources at Hewlett-Packard today confirmed that it will skip supplying Merced to its customers and instead move directly to the McKinley platform, when that is released. When HP launched its upward-compatible version of its N Series a few weeks back, which includes a chipset for the IA-64 platform, it also said it would continue creating future versions of its PA Risc chip platform (see HP to debut Merced box). Now an informed source has confirmed that it will not introduce Merced, even as an evalutation platform for its customers. As reported here some months back, Compaq engineers who had worked on the Merced IA-64 platform were told to occupy their time more usefully. That means the Alpha platform (see Compaq Merced designers flee coop). At the time, senior Intel executives were infuriated by that report. ®
Mike Magee, 05 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Infineon exec damns DRAM glut feeding Koreans

Infineon Technologies -- the semiconductor business formerly known as Siemens -- has slammed South Korean DRAM manufacturers for pumping memory into an already glutted global marketplace. Interviewed by Semiconductor Business News, Infineon VP of operations Andreas von Zitzewtiz, said: "Korean companies supply 40 per cent of the global DRAM [market], yet sell only five per cent of their production to their domestic market. "This is a terrible imbalance that should not be tolerated." Zitzewtiz cited Samsung as an example of Korea's drive to boost DRAM production to increase export sales. Despite the world DRAM glut, he said, Samsung is adding a new Line 9 fab in South Korea even as it expands its Austin, Texas production facility. The Infineon executive was keen, though, to stress his company's positive role in dealing with the glut. "We closed a completely new DRAM fab in the UK, phased out DRAM production in our Regensburg, Germany fab and stopped Phase 2 expansion at our joint-venture fab with Mosel-Vitelic in Taiwan," he explained. "Our biggest DRAM dab in Dresden is moving more into logic and non-memory ICs." However, it's not clear whether Zitzewtiz coughed up to how many jobs have been lost in the process. At least 1000 staff were made redundant with the closure of the UK plant. See also Siemens to repay UK grant Siemens changes name to Infineon Chip market showed steep decline in 1998 German company Siemens owes Brits £50 million
Tony Smith, 05 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Xircom to take WinCE to enterprise

Portable connectivity specialist Xircom is hoping to give Windows CE -- and itself -- a boost with a new line of network connectivity devices for the platform. The products are designed to connect to WinCE 2.0 devices through a standard CompactFlash port, though Xircom said it will supply an adaptor for machines only equipped with a PC Card slot. The first device to ship will be a 10MBps Ethernet card, to be released under the CompactCard brand. Given Xircom's expertise in modem, wireless and GSM technology, it's not hard to see what kinds of products the line is likely to be expanded to contain. Xircom is clearly betting Windows CE's better support for handheld PCs will see it win out over the Palm platform, at least as far as enterprise computing goes. And the company reckons it will play a part in that corporate acceptance of CE, by providing the hardware IT departments will need to hook their handhelds into the network. The first stage of that plan will be to ship CompactCard products next month, primarily to VARs. Prcing for the Ethernet card is expected to be around $149 in the US. ®
Tony Smith, 05 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Comcast yields to AT&T over MediaOne

Updated Comcast has agreed to allow AT&T to go ahead with its $56.4 billion takeover of US cable company MediaOne, a 50 per cent shareholder in UK cellular provider One-2-One and owner of 30 per cent of UK local cable TV company Telewest. AT&T's bid for MediaOne was finally accepted yesterday, but the prospect of a raised bid from Comcast remained a clear possibility. That won't happen now. Instead, it will receive two million cable subscribers from both AT&T and MediaOne, and, in return, agree not to pursue its interest in MediaOne. In addition, Comcast will net a $1.5 billion termination fee for the ending of the original deal with MediaOne, signed in March. Comcast will pay a total of $9.2 billion for the subscribers -- 750,000 initially, followed by the remaining 1.25 million over three years. Comcast will pay AT&T in AT&T stock it owns and Comcast shares. It will also sell AT&T phone services. Meanwhile, Microsoft still remains a wild card in the deal. As reported here yesterday, the Great Stan, as a shareholder in Comcast, would be rather keen to have it win the deal, and was believed to be devising ways of ensuring that outcome. Comcast's agreement with AT&T would seem to put a lid on that plan, but Microsoft may yet attempt a bid on its own. ® See also Microsoft, AOL enter MediaOne bidding war
Tony Smith, 05 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Wicked3D breaks free from hardware biz

US developer Metabyte is to transform its Wicked3D hardware division into a software only operation, the company said yesterday. The move will see the company discontinue its 3D graphics card and stereoscopic 3D system -- though support for existing customers will be maintained -- and focus on the software behind them. That's likely to see the company making a bigger deal out of its 3D card connection technology, PGP (Parallel Graphics Processing). As reported by The Register earlier this year, PGP will allow graphics accelerator cards to combine their rendering power, much as 3dfx's Scan Line Interleave (SLI) technology allows two Voodoo 2 cards to operate as a single, double-speed board. PGP, however, brings the same approach to other vendors' cards. Initially, it will support two cards from the same chipset developer -- two nVidia TNT 2 cards, say -- but eventually Wicked3D hopes to allow cards from different suppliers to be combined, and to support more than two cards. Unlike SLI, in which each card renders alternate video scan lines, PGP splits up the display into as many sections as there are connected accelerators, and allows each card to get on rendering its own portion of the scene. Wicked3D's business model for PGP will centre on licensing the software and required hardware modifications to the likes of Diamond Multimedia, Guillemot and Creative Technologies, much as nVidia, S3 and co. license their graphics chipsets. That allows Wicked3D to concentrate on PGP development without the need to sell graphics cards into a highly competitive market, one that's already hitting Diamond and Creative's profits hard. It also allows the Wicked3D brand to stand for a technology rather than cards based on someone else's products, in the case of Wicked3D's hardware, 3dfx's Voodoo 2 technology. Companies like 3dfx, nVidia and S3 are in many ways better known and certainly more highly rated than the Diamonds and Creatives who actually ship products based on their technology. Wicked3D clearly wants to be viewed in the same light. PGP might well put it there. ®
Tony Smith, 05 May 1999
The Register breaking news

NatSemi exits PC CPU market

National Semiconductor is getting out of the PC processor business, as predicted, but not quite in the way everyone had anticipated. Instead of selling off its Cyrix subsidiary, NatSemi will sell off its majority interest in its South Portland, Maine 0.18 micron fab, and make many of its x86 processor people redundant. Some 550 jobs will go, through a mix of early retirements, layoffs and not replacing staff who join other companies. That figure, the company said today, will include 165 jobs cuts being made at NatSemi's Singapore facility, announced last month. NatSemi said the job cuts represent less than five per cent of its total headcount. Meanwhile, the company will focus its CPU development efforts on the emerging information appliance market. NatSemi CEO, president and chairman Brian Halla has been rattling on about information appliances for some time -- he made it the subject of his keynote at last autumn's Microprocessor Forum, for instance -- and the demand it has for very low cost, ie. integrated, processors. And integrated processors are, of course, what Cyrix is all about. So, moving toward the information appliance market was been a part of NatSemi's stategy for some time, and presumably Hallapeno now feels it's time to kick away the support of sales to low-end PC manufacturers and target appliance vendors exclusively. It also leaves it free of the ongoing Slots and Sockets arguments -- now it needs support neither. The company said it will continue to develop its integrated processor line, including its MediaGX processor, suggesting its recently reveled roadmap still holds true. After all, what we're talking about here is a business shift rather than a technology one. NatSemi said it will take a $250-300 million hit in its Q4 results, which ends on 30 May, to cover the layoffs. The balancing effect of the South Portland plant sale is uncertain since NatSemi is still talking to potential buyers. More long term, the company said it didn't expect sales of processors to information appliance vendors -- and its parallel sharpening of its focus on analog devices -- to counter the loss of sales to PC vendors until next year. It then expects to see margin percentages return to the mid-40s, and growth to return to double figures. ® See also NatSemi to 'announce Cyrix sale' Cyrix pays Register a visit How Cyrix sees bus architecture Cyrix downprices current chips Cyrix, IBM rumour mill cranks up
Tony Smith, 05 May 1999
The Register breaking news

HP buys Dazel

Hewlett Packard has bought Dazel, an electronic software delivery company based in Austin for an undisclosed amount. Just a few days ago it bought a storage company, and it's got its big storage gig here in NY, NY in an hour's time. The company will become part of HP's LaserJet division. We just headed across 42nd St under HP balloons and past New Age stands offering to read your Tarot cards to see if we could see what it was all about, but they kicked us out, so we thought we'd do some work. HP goes New Age...what next...we'll see in an hour. ®
Mike Magee, 05 May 1999
The Register breaking news

One-2-One to spend £50m on expansion

Mobile phone company One-2-One will create 2,000 jobs around the UK through a £50 million investment plan. The first area to benefit will be Scotland, where a new call centre in Greenock will produce 800 new jobs. In addition to the Greenock centre, due to open in August, the mobile phone company will add 500 jobs to its existing call centre in the Dearne valley, South Yorkshire, and another 300 to its Doxford centre in Sunderland. The remaining jobs will be outsourced to specialist service providers, according to today’s Financial Times. Tim Samples, One-2-One MD, said the staff expansion formed part of a three-year customer services investment in the country. Greenock was chosen out of eight possible sites due to its committed staff, good training facilities and close location to Glasgow airport. Donald Dewar, leading light of the Scottish Labour Party, said the jobs showed Labour’s commitment to raising employment in Scotland, which was already at an all-time high. One-2-One currently controls around 15 per cent of the UK mobile phone market. ®
Linda Harrison, 05 May 1999
The Register breaking news

New body to end cyber squatting

The owners of domain addresses that have been hijacked by porn sites could be among those to benefit from the introduction of new rules governing trademark abuse on the Internet. The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) published its report last Friday setting out a series of recommendations aimed at curbing the abuse of trademarks on the Internet. In particular, it is looking to clamp down on cybersquatting – a practice involving unscrupulous Net users who register a trademark or recognised name as a domain name. Often it's done in the hope that the domain can be sold to its rightful owner for a premium, or to attract additional traffic to a site as people stumble across it by mistake. Both the HTML validation service, WebTechs, and the UK's biggest cancer charity, Marie Curie, are among a number of organisations that have had their domains taken without their consent by companies operating porn sites. In both cases, this has lead to protracted disputes with domain registrars Network Solutions. Both WebTechs and Marie Curie maintain they never received any notification for renewing their domains. Network Solutions is adamant that it did issue the correct documentation but received no reply. Unfortunately, even if the proposals are adopted at a meeting in Berlin at the end of May to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the new body responsible for domain names, it will be some time before either organisation gets any redress. Francis Gurry, the WIPO official who has spent the last year drawing up the proposals at the behest of the US government, told The Register that the new guidelines would not apply to organisations that already were in dispute over domain name infringements. Only when someone tried to renew a domain name would they then have to prove they were entitled to it, he said. ®
Tim Richardson, 05 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Ingram to up its prices

Ingram Micro will join the ranks of distributors raising prices, blaming restructuring and channel service improvement costs for the move. Investments are being made in ecommerce, sales training and white-box assembly lines. Ingram said it needed to fund these measures, but believed resellers would benefit in the long run, according to US channel mag Computer Reseller News. Phil Ellet, Ingram executive VP and president of North America, said: "We have to pay for those investments, and we will price accordingly. But the end result is the reseller enjoys more cost-effective solutions to their business issues." Ellet would not give exact details on the price hikes, but added: "Will there be price increases on certain products? Yes, over time. But overall, Ingram will provide the best value in the business." The moves follow Ingram’s announcement in March that it would slash its workforce by 1,400. Net sales for the 1999 first quarter were also expected to fall short of analyst expectations, dropping around $6.5 billion. This week, Computer 2000 also admitted it had increased delivery prices across the board by an average nine per cent. The distributor said the measures were forced on it by its freight company TNT, according to this week’s PC Dealer magazine. Last month US distributor Pinacor also said it would raise prices. ®
Linda Harrison, 05 May 1999
The Register breaking news

AOL tees up toll-free call service

AOL UK has finally buckled under the pressure of the UK ISP market and has admitted that it is testing a new pricing package which would give users toll-free telephone calls to access the Net. AOL refused to confirm any details but a Reuters' story published earlier today said it had been conducting trials of 0800 freephone numbers in the UK with a number of different pricing policies. AOL is currently assessing the findings of the trials and it's expected that more information will be released next week. In February Andreas Schmidt, president and CEO of AOL Europe said high telephone call charges were smothering the development of an Internet-based economy in Europe and he called for a radical overhaul of the telecomm pricing structures in Europe. Until now, AOL has resisted all calls to cut its subscription fees and has come under heavy fire from many industry watchers and customers for maintaining its subscription-based service. AOL's decision to trial the use of toll-free Internet access shows just how much pressure the service provider is under in the UK. Only last week electrical retailer Tempo and wholesale telecomms reseller, LocalTel announced that their new subscription-free service would also include toll-free calls during off-peak times. Back then The Register said that war was about to break out in the UK ISP market although that was believed to be between Dixons and Tempo. If AOL's trials have any substance to them, then a separate front could open up. Looks like it's time to dust off that tin hat and duck for cover. ®
Tim Richardson, 05 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Building firm makes more money from Web stocks than from stock-in-trade

A small Hong Kong building company specialising in ceramic building materials has made a small fortune by selling its shares in an Internet company. According to a report by Bloomberg, Companion Building Materials Holdings (CBMH) Ltd made more money in a single day selling its holding in an Internet company it bought last year, than it ever did in any of its past six years selling marble worktops. CBMH made a profit of around HK$100 ($13 million) as shares in Tricom increased 13-fold following news of an imminent buy out by Pacific Century Group. Good grief, whatever next? ®
Tim Richardson, 05 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Chipzilla speaks. What you will be using in 2001

Those awfully nice people at Intel have decided what we all should be doing with our hard-earned cash in a coupla years’ time. And, surprise surprise, it involves handing over loads of cash for shiny new IA64 systems. Despite HP’s ‘McKinley or die’ approach, Merced still looms large in Chipzilla’s own road maps. In the middle of next year, Intel aims to supply 8-way Merced servers at a price tag of around $17K – or at least it aims for OEMs to supply them. But hey, Intel supplies almost ready-to-run systems for the server marketplace today, so next year maybe it’ll bite the bullet and put an Intel badge on the outside. These 8-way Merceds will feature 8Mb of L2 cache and have the delightfully-named Double Pumped 133MHz FSB. Maybe someone should tell them that in the UK, pumping is a polite term for farting. Intel’s concept of Double Pumping is a tad more prosaic – the bus sends two packets per tick instead of one - so two farts for the price of one. Intel also expects these systems to use NGIO and address up to 64Gb of RAM and these will be BIG systems with an expected power consumption of 2KW. For a mere $10K, you should be able to become the proud owner of a 4-way Merced server (again with Double Pumped Fart Side Bus) using Intel’s own 460GX chipset. More mundane features of these systems will include PCI 64/66, SCSI Ultra3 LVD and IDE ATA-66 disks, RAID and mega fans to clear away the stink from the Fart Side Bus. ®
Pete Sherriff, 05 May 1999
The Register breaking news

New high-end Intel systems coming your way

Through the mists of time comes swimming a whole bunch of new Intel codenames for Xeon, Foster and Merced systems. For low end servers in late Q3, expect to see the single processor Mimosa and dual CPU Pine and Hemlock boards using 133MHz FSB and the 820 chipset. Higher up the scale come the Willow 2-way and the Koa 4-way, both using the 840 chipset. Moving into the second half of 2000 we should see the Tumbleweed uniprocessor board and the Juniper 2-way, while at the high end, the Lion quad Merced board should appear in systems costing up to $20K. In early 2001, two boards for Foster (the IA32 successor to Coppermine) are scheduled – the 2-way Hickory and the 4-way Shasta. Meanwhile, workstation users have a choice of new motherboards too. The dual processor Pentium III Outrigger and the Dual Xeon Brigantine will both use the 840 chipset, while the first 2-way Merced board, codenamed Big Sur, should sample sometime in Q2 2000, with the 460GX chipset, PCI 64/66, 16Gb memory, AGP 4X and AGP Pro. Further out it gets a bit more hazy, with boards scheduled for Coppermine dubbed Lewis and Clark appearing towards the end of 2000. Nice to see Chipzilla is moving away from volcanoes and rivers for its product names and using comedy duos instead. Lewis and Clark? Don’t they mean Martin and Lewis? Tom and Jerry, anyone? ®
Pete Sherriff, 05 May 1999
The Register breaking news

Mini ThinkPad's a-coming today

IBM will announce its WorkPad z50 today, a Windows CE-based handheld PC. The long-awaited 2.6 pound device is a 'Jupiter'-class clamshell design. This means it looks like a dwarf version of the IBM ThinkPad notebook, yet is bigger than most typical CE handhelds. Its size can be compared to Hewlett-Packard's Jornada 820 and LG Electronics Phenom -– both CE devices. The gadget has an 8.2in LCD screen, with an NEC MIPS chip at 133MHz and up to 48MB of memory. It will begin shipping in the US this week, priced at $999, but IBM said there were no plans at the moment to bring it to Europe. Mario Brandao, IBM EMEA mobiles launch integrator and product manager (couldn't he find a longer job title? Ed), told The Register: "The market for this type of product in the EMEA region is not strong enough yet, so we will not launch the z50 here immediately. But demand is growing, and Microsoft is investing substantially into making CE a good operating system." So if it's not yet a good operating system, what is it? Answers on a postcard, please. Brandao said US companies were more likely to equip staff with a companion device like the z50 to accompany their desktop. In Europe, companies tended to stick to moving from desktop-based systems to laptops. Although the Windows CE operating platform has yet to set the world on fire, it offers many advantages. Its "instant on" feature cuts down the long boot-up time of most PCs, and it has an extended battery life to most typical laptops. These devices are also often lighter than normal notebooks. The z50 will run for about eight hours on a single charge and 16 hours with an optional high-capacity lithium-ion battery. IBM claims the keyboard is 95 per cent the size of the current standard ThinkPad keyboard. ®
Linda Harrison, 05 May 1999
The Register breaking news

EMC and HP: war declared

The full extent of the rift between HP and EMC in the storage market emerged today at a press conference in New York. Describing EMC's technology as an ageing and proprietary technology, Marilyn Edling, general manager of the enterprise systems group at HP, also confirmed it had struck a partnership with Hitachi Data Systems and rolled out products and strategies for "open" storage management in the future. Edling said: "We believe [EMC's] Symmetrix will be an ageing architecture. We believe HP's new product will do it better and we have real doubts whether Symmetrix can achieve the highest level of reliability." HP sold EMC Symmetrix technology and HP accounted for about $1 billion of its $5 billion turnover in the last financial year. Sources close to HP said that the company had approached EMC to OEM its product but was refused permission. Now HP will push an open architecture which will include support for multiple operating systems and platforms, said Edling. Alea Fairchild, managing director of Greiner International, a market research organisation specialising in corporate infrastructure, said: "It's a wise move for HP. Its strength is in systems management. Corporate customers are looking for choices in the storage arena. EMC will have to look at its business model and whether it wants to continue selling direct." That could mean EMC will now be forced to strike deals it has not contemplated before. ®
Mike Magee, 05 May 1999
The Register breaking news

HP to pour $50 million into storage Eurochannel

As part of its initiative to grab leadership in the storage market, HP said today it will spend $50 million on a European initiative. And the company confirmed it will allow some, at least of its channel to resell the MC256 enterprise box. Patrick Bonelli, sales and marketing manager of the storage group Europe, said that HP had convened a meeting with its channel partners in Nice this Friday to explain its position. "We will allow our channel partners to resell the high end box but they have asked us to make it [the accreditation] tough," Bonelli said. "There will be between one to three in the major markets." He said HP will have three levels of accreditation for storage, non-certified, silver and gold. Only gold partners would be able to resell the box, which will compete with EMC's Symmetrix. Comparex, which operates in Germany, Benelux, Austria and South Africa was likely to receive a gold accreditation. In the UK, HP is talking to Morse Data, Hamilton Systems, Computacenter and Acumen, he said. On the distributor side, it was talking to PSI. ®
Mike Magee, 05 May 1999
The Register breaking news

ARM intros DSP chip

UK company ARM has introduced an addition to its chip line which supports DSP and control software. The ARM 9E, said the company, is aimed applications that need a mix of control and digital signal processing (DSP). Typical applications include DVD drives, voice over IP, hard disks, mobile telephones, modems, PDAs, Internet appliances, MP3 digital audio decode, voice recognition and others. The process is rated at 220 MIPS at 200MHz using .18 micron technology. The chip is backward compatible with ARM 7 Thumb, ARM 9 Thumb, StrongARM and ARM10 Thumb. First samples will arrive in the second half of this year. ®
Mike Magee, 05 May 1999