23rd > June > 1999 Archive

The Register breaking news

Xeon erratum scuttles out of woodwork

A year ago Posted 24 June 1998 -- a year ago "It's not a bug - it's an erratum," said the Intel rep, keen to get us back on message, following our Xeon delay story yesterday. Sounds like semantic finessing to us. But we'll let that pass. Intel doesn't want to say what the erratumnotbug is, but it does say it will fix it quickly. IDC is more helpful. It says the erratumnotbug causes systems to reboot at random. Our Intel rep was on firmer ground when he pointed out the launch date had not been delayed - the company is holding the launch ra-ra on June 29, complete with three line -whip. This will ensure mass OEM support on the day. Silly old Register. We said the Xeon launch date had been delayed when we should have said the shipping date. But as our Intel rep pointed out, the company has not delayed - and could not have delayed - the volume shipping date -as it does not publicly announce the shipping schedule until launch date. This is Alice in Wonderland logic. IBM, Tiny and Viglen -exhibiting Xeon servers at this week's Networks Telecom 98 - said their shipping plans remained on track, according to Intel. And that mean four-way servers for sale by early autumn. Fiscally, the Xeon erratumnotbug ship slippage is a minor irritation for Intel. PR-wise, it's a pisser. ®
Drew Cullen, 23 Jun 1999
The Register breaking news

LCDs in elevators give news junkies a lift

Lifts in New England are being fitted with flat-panel displays showing news and other information from the Internet. The company responsible is the aptly named Captive Network, founded by Michael DiFranza. DiFranza came up with the idea when he was in a lift and noticed how uncomfortable people are not knowing where to look. He decided to make long lift rides more entertaining and valuable by providing information targeted at a business audience. Captive Network claims that installing these news screens will up the value of space in the office building. The company also points out that it provides advertisers access to a business audience at a time of day traditionally unavailable to them. Captive's partners in this endeavour include Reuters, Accuweather and Sidewalk.com along with city newspapers. The information is provided in 10 second bursts and is updated every 20 minutes. So it could get very annoying if you’re unfortunate enough to get stuck between floors. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 23 Jun 1999
The Register breaking news

UK extends buggers' charter to Net

Jack Straw, Britain's most illiberal Home Secretary since the last Home Secretary, wants to give Police snooping rights over the Internet. Internet service providers will have to design their systems for easy tapping by police and government spy agencies. The proposed "modernisation" of UK law is remarkably similar to recent moves in Russia, where ISPs must pay for the Russian Federal Secret Service(formerly known as the KGB) to spy on their clients. But the UK says the changes merely bring the country into line with most other countries. ISPs will be required to "take reasonable steps" to ensure that their email traffic can be intercepted by law enforcement agencies. The Home Office is unable to quantify what costs ISP will incur. Straw is presenting the legislation as an administrative tidying up exercise. Internet Service Providers and private telecommunications carriers lie outside the remit of the Interception of Communications Act, framed by the Government in 1985. Straw does not anticipate the new law "would lead of itself to an increase in the number of communications that are intercepted". Can he be serious? ®
Drew Cullen, 23 Jun 1999
The Register breaking news

ARM, Lucent and Pavlov's Dog

ARM Holdings' relationship with its investors has much in common with Pavlov and his Dog. The Cambridge-based fabless chip company is the master of the well-timed contract announcement. And it gets investors salivating every time. Yesterday, the company unveiled the first licensing deal for the ARM10 -- with Lucent, no less. No financial details, of course -- but the City still marked up shares 35p to 717.5p. This morning shares have already jumped another 17.5p to 735p. ARM hopes to announce an ARM10 win with a second major company in coming weeks. Note the foretaste, the expectation, the salivation. And watch those shares rise. ARM is now capitalised at £1.3 billion, against £265 million when it floated 14 months ago. This is Internet stock rating territory - the chip design house is valued at more than 100 times pre-tax profits. es rise. Lucent will embed the ARM10 processor core into its portfolio of system on a chip products. These are what ARM calls power communications applications and include -- take a deep breath here -- "cordless and digital cellularphones, personal digital assistants, high-speed computer input/output,enterprise data networks, wireless system infrastructure and broadband wide-area network infrastructure". ARM says it will ship ARM10 evaluation boards in Q4. ®
Drew Cullen, 23 Jun 1999
The Register breaking news

Surcharge imposed on Y2K hoarders

Here's a good one from today's FT. Shipping lines working the Asia-Europe trade routes are to levy a millennium surcharge on freight carried before December 31. And European hoarders are to blame. They will stockpile "millennium related consumer items and computer equipment". This will feed through to a huge upswing in the numbers of containers" coming over to Europe. In turn this will stretch the resources of shipping lines, which will face extra costs in "repositioning empty containers". They will pass on these extra costs (and, no doubt, a little bit more)to the freight transport companies, through a millennium surcharge of $150 per 20ft container. The levy comes into force in the second half of the year. ®
Drew Cullen, 23 Jun 1999
The Register breaking news

Datatec mops up Anite Aussie ops

Datatec is extending its Anzac presence with the £10.8 million acquisition of the Australian and New Zealand networking integration businesses of Anite Group plc. The South African-owned IT company will fund the purchase through a private share placing. In November, Datatec paid "up to $25.9 million" for Aussie reseller CNI Group. Anite will receive £5.2 million cash on the completion of the deal, expected on June 29. And it will get the £5.6 million balance on loan repayment schedule. Anite has now sold all its networking integrator businesses. It now wants to be a pureplay IT services company. ®
Drew Cullen, 23 Jun 1999
The Register breaking news

"If you're not on the Internet, your company will be dead"

Intel's Craig Barrett spent an hour at the Dow Jones CEO forum yesterday iterating Intel's Internet strategy. He said that Intel will sell $15 billion worth of its kit through e-commerce this year, and that meant that predictions by both IDC and Forrester Research are likely to be underestimates. He added that 90 per cent of Intel business would be transacted via the Internet in two to three years time, and said that 100 per cent of the company's Taiwanese customers had already moved over to Internet transactions. "Tens of thousands of phone calls, faxes and paperwork have already disappeared," he said. But his next statement was a tad too enthusiastic for our liking. "In the next five years, every company will be an Internet company or it won't be a company." Having just eaten a delicious breakfast at the excellent Sunflower in Pollen Street, just round the corner from Szechuan Publishing, this is a trifle disingenuous. You certainly won't be able to get your hair cut, or shoe your horse on the Web although you might well get fleeced. Barrett, however, made some good points about the current method e-commerce is conducted. It was vendor centric, he said, and it should be customer centric. What he meant by that was that software should be smart enough to select exactly what customers need. Those considerations applied to customers too. At this point, Barrett snuck in one of the reasons why Intel is pushing the Net so hard. He said: "A lot of processing will be done offline, in the background, which means you will need more processing power." More processing power means more Intel-manufactured chips, of course. Barrett also believes that the cost cutting days where everying depended on the total cost of ownership are coming to an end. "Agility will replace efficiency will become the IT mantra. In the future, we'll be concerned about agility and speed in implementing applications." He said: "Over the next three or four years, effectiveness will be more important than efficiency." More later. Barrett said loads, as you've probably realised. ®
Mike Magee, 23 Jun 1999
The Register breaking news

Hard times force P&I out of hardware

A string of losses and a roll-call of unhappy creditors have forced P&I Data Services to pull out of the low-margin PC hardware market. The Hampshire-based reseller has appointed accountancy firm Baker Tilly to help it put together a plan to keep creditors at bay and the wolf from the door as it goes through a major restructuring exercise. According to this week’s PC Dealer, the weekly channel newspaper, P&I has laid off 45 staff and is severing ties with Compaq, Toshiba and Siemens Nixdorf – although it will continue to sell Compaq servers. Ian Summerfield, P&I managing director, told PC Dealer: “We have refocused on value-add areas and have effectively moved out of the hardware business.” Exactly how P&I will turn things round is unclear. According to the PC Dealer report, Baker Tilly has not yet formulated a recovery plan. Any such plan would have to get the backing of P&I’s creditors to avoid further problems. P&I has been languishing in the red for the last 18 months and for the year ending September 1997, made a £150,000 loss on turnover of £12.6 million. The company was named Reseller of the Year two years running at the PC Dealer Channel Awards ®
Sean Fleming, 23 Jun 1999
The Register breaking news

Potter bullish about Symbian future

David Potter, chairman of UK company Psion, said yesterday that the Symbian standard was under no threat from Microsoft's attempt to queer its pitch. Speaking at the Dow Jones CEO forum held in London, Potter said open standards were likely to prevail over proprietary solutions. He said: "With Symbian, we have the technology and the market, but it's a complex world and what matters in the long run is customers. He said that the partners in Symbian had a good opportunity to provide an open standard. "It will be difficult for Microsoft to compete," he said. "They're likely to use PR to undermine our position. But the ball is in Symbian's court to achieve market penetration." He said: "Bill [Gates] can use his money and PR to subvert operation, but the ball is in our court." ®
Mike Magee, 23 Jun 1999
The Register breaking news

PC card slot drive debuted by Iomega

Iomega has started shipping its Clik! PC card drive, worldwide. The new drive fits into the PC card slot on a notebook and accommodates 40MB Clik! disks. Jeff Jeter, MD of Iomega commented: "The Clik! PC Card is meeting with a positive response in Europe." Iomega says that as this drive comes without the fuss of extra cables, it eliminates the need for external storage backup. The company hopes that this new drive will be to laptop users what the Zip drive became to the desktop. Available now in the UK, the Clik! drive is expected to cost £179. It comes bundled with Iomega's Quik Sync and Copy Machine software. Both pieces of software are Y2K safe. Clik! disks cost £7.99 if bought in volume. The drive ships with a disk, a protective carrying case and software. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 23 Jun 1999
The Register breaking news

Wanna know which firms made your branded notebooks in 1998?

Everyone knows that Taiwanese companies make notebooks for big companies like IBM, Compaq, Dell and HP. But which company makes what? Here's the OEM list, courtesy of a Taiwanese wire. Quanta makes Gateway, Dell, IBM, Apple and Siemens products. Acer makes IBM and Hitachi products. Inventec makes Compaq notebooks. Compal makes Dell and HP notebooks. Arima makes Compaq notebooks. Twinhead manufactures for HP and Winbook. Clevo makes Hitachi notebooks. Mitac manufactures for Sharp. GVC manufactures for Siemens, Micron, Apple and Packard Bell. And FIC manufactures for NEC and Packard Bell. ® According to the survey, total notebook from the small (240 miles long) island amounted to 5,420,000 in 1998. ®
Mike Magee, 23 Jun 1999
The Register breaking news

NEC and Hitachi merge DRAM ops

NEC and Hitachi are pooling their DRAM operations into a new joint venture company. This will design, build and flog memory chips under a single, unified brand. The Japanese giants are committed to staying in the DRAM game. But they are too small to play on their own. By huddling together, NEC and Hitachi reckon they can ride out cutthroat competition and massive consolidation in The DRAM industry. The duo are gunning for a joint market share of more than 20 per cent. At the same time they anticipate significant cost savings. But will it be enough to stem their heavy DRAM losses? ®
Drew Cullen, 23 Jun 1999
The Register breaking news

HP, EMC get into store rage (geddit!?!)

After the public humiliation HP delivered at its Stress Free conference in New York a few weeks ago, the company has finally put the boot into EMC's goolies by terminating its storage agreement with the firm. HP said EMC will continue to work together on interoperability and that warrants and contracts for existing customers will remain intact. However, said Nick Dagg, enterprise storage marketing manager at HP UK: "The decision to part ways with EMC was a decision made in the best interests of HP customers." EMC customers may, however, demur. ®
Mike Magee, 23 Jun 1999
The Register breaking news

StrongARM safe in Intel's hands

Craig Barrett, Intel's CEO, said yesterday that it was happy with the StrongARM architecture as a building block for Web appliances and the like, and that it was not considering adopting any new chip architecture for the burgeoning market. Barrett, speaking at a Dow Jones Q&A session in London yesterday, was, however, unwilling to say at which point StrongARM chip volumes would surpass IA chip volumes. He said: "I haven't the foggiest idea when StrongARM will surpass Pentium. We'll push StrongARM into all these spaces where its characteristics are best." He said that the IA architecture still suited the high performance high power market, and did not suit the mobile areas StrongARM was good in. However, Intel will use low-powered 386 processors for some mobile designs, he confirmed. ®
Mike Magee, 23 Jun 1999
The Register breaking news

Intel will have several .18 micron fabs early next year

The CEO of Intel said yesterday that his company was on track with its plans to move to the .18 micron process in its fabrication plants. Craig Barrett, Intel's CEO, confirmed that an Israeli fab opened earlier this week will use the .18 micron process and will start production in Q3. "It will ramp to fill up the end of year 2000," Barrett said. He said: "It will be one of three or four fabs dedicated to .18 micron technology". At the Intel Developer Forum earlier this year, Pat Gelsinger, a senior VP at the firm, said Intel would have three or four .18 micron fabs running by February 2000. ®
Mike Magee, 23 Jun 1999
The Register breaking news

Vanguard bites into Powerchip

Vanguard (VIS), the Taiwanese DRAM maker, is paying Mitsubishi (and other unnamed owners) $84 million for an 11 per cent stake in local rival PowerChip. Vanguard, Mitsubishi and Powerchip say they will work together on DRAM design and manufacturing. This will help them keep up with the Koreans and Micron, of the US. Mitsubishi, which retains six per cent of Powerchip, will license 0.18 micron technology for 64Mb and 128Mb DRAM technology to VIS and it will co-develop 0.15-micron technology. It's going to take VIS a wee while to gear up on the production front. So in the meantime Powerchip will OEM under the VIS brand 0.25-micron and 0.18-micron technology 8Mx8 SDRAM from August 1999 and February 2000, respectively. Vanguard is described as affiliate of foundry giant Taiwan Semicon (TSMC), which owns 26.7 per cent of the company. Earlier this month, TSMC took a 35 per cent stake in Acer Semiconductor. It plans to shut down DRAM manufacture at Acer Semicon and turn it into a pure foundry company. According to Taiwanese reports, VIS is negotiating to buy Acer's stock of 64Mbit SDRAM wafers to sell under the Vanguard brand. ®
Drew Cullen, 23 Jun 1999
The Register breaking news

Compaq to sell AltaVista to investment house

The investment company responsible for the collapse of the Lycos/USA Networks merger now looks set to take AltaVista off Compaq’s hands. According to US sources, investment firm CMGI is in talks with Compaq to buy a range of Web-based assets from the PC giant, valued collectively at somewhere between $2 billion and $3 billion. AltaVista would be part of such a deal. According to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), this is a U-turn on Compaq’s plan to put AltaVista up for IPO. If it goes ahead, CMGI will get its hands on its own branded Web presence. Sources have hinted that a deal could be finalised as early as tomorrow. CMGI has an 18 per cent stake in Lycos and has hinted that it might be interested in taking the portal over altogether. The WSJ said the AltaVista deal would not preclude any future plans CMGI has to buy up Lycos. Earlier this year, CMGI signalled its displeasure in the planned takeover of Lycos by USA Networks and the deal soon collapsed. ®
Sean Fleming, 23 Jun 1999
The Register breaking news

World+dog watching Intel share price

Share Tip Small investors are considering whether to put more money into the Intel Corporation (INTC) after a series of downgrades last week. But, as you know, The Register thinks Intel is a big buy at present. We also firmly believe Compaq is undervalued, big time. But we're not making any kind of connection between the two. We predict that the share price will rise to $70 by the end of the week and slump again, when AMD introduces the Athlon Monday. But what do we know about share prices here at The Reg? Or Intel? We've only tracked the company since 386 records began in 1983... ®
Mike Magee, 23 Jun 1999
The Register breaking news

Outsiders wonder about Motorola, inside

Share Tip, Share Loss As a consequence of having to attend the Dow Jones conference in London, yesterday, we also had to talk to other people besides Intel. You wouldn't believe it from our level of Intel coverage, but it is true... One very nice lass who worked for Madge Networks but neglected to leave her card in our tender care, told a guy from Motorola that her company was no longer interested in Token Ring. We'd been talking to the cellular guy before Madge arrived, so were able to talk to him after she left. The guy, at Motorola for thirteen years, confirmed the share price had risen by the $16 in the last 10 years but when we asked him why, he gave us some interesting facts. He said the semiconductor division has been forgotten by Motorola management. Instead, Motorola has some good mobile stuff which competes excellently against Nokia and Ericsson, at last. We said: "Why does the world and its dog think Nokia is a Japanese rather than a Finnish corporation?" He said: "When I joined Motorola, I thought it was a Japanese corporation..." ®
Mike Magee, 23 Jun 1999
The Register breaking news

Intel Profusion technology on time, shock horror…

You, and Andy Grove, might think this site is anti-Intel. We're not. We're just against paranoia. A couple of weeks ago we tried to firm up a story that Profusion (Corollary) technology was late but talked to an HP geezer and an IBM boy who told us different. Now the proof has emerged. Intel Profusion technology is on time and it must be so because Data General, the SMP majors, has announced it. Time was that DG used ALR to make its SMP machines and so we always got forward knowledge on Intel's plans. But that's all over now. We dunno who makes DG machines but it's probably some Intel outfit in Taiwan, for all we know... DG said its Aviion AV8900, a high end entreprise NT server is bang on time and it uses the latest Profusion chipset from Intel, which will support up to eight PIII/Xeon chips. There's also full fibre channel disk arrays. DG says it will be available late summer. That means early September, as IBM and HP told us four months ago... When we talked to HP three weeks ago about this matter, he said corporations will not be interested until September this year, anyway. Try a search on Profusion and see what IBM had to say, wayback. Intel's chipset is, of course late. But we're used to writing stories like that here on The Register... ®
Mike Magee, 23 Jun 1999
The Register breaking news

Palm sales give 3Com a helping hand

3Com's shares eased three per cent as it issued a profits warning, saying that the success of the PalmPilot had failed to bolster falling sales of older products. The company also said it will buy back up to 15 million of its shares -- that’s about four per cent of the total outstanding. 3Com reported strong fourth quarter sales for corporate networking equipment and the PalmPilot handheld computer...and profits were slightly better than analysts expected. Profits were $88 million, against $65.9 million last time around. Q4 sales edged up three per cent year on year from $1.38 billion to $1.42 billion. However revenue from modems and connector cards is plummeting. And 3Com is not introducing products fast enough in the immediate future to replace the shortfall. 3Com CEO Eric Benhamou warned that even reorganising the company was unlikely to boost revenue growth into double figures for fiscal 2000. He predicted "flattish or even negative" sales for the first and second quarters, compared to the same periods last year. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 23 Jun 1999
The Register breaking news

Music biz under fire from Web

The Internet is threatening to revolutionise the way the music industry does business, according to research from the City University business school. The study concluded that the digital music market will extend commercial opportunities to both the legitimate and criminal industries. Research by Jupiter Communications predicts Internet music sales will be worth £10.1 million this year, more than double last year’s figure of £4.8 million. The market is expected to grow even more rapidly in the next few years, will total online music sales in Europe rising from this years £54 million to £108 million next year, and over £600 million by 2003. Because of the accessibility of the Internet, many artists are already releasing material independently over the Web. One serious question raised by this trend is whether recording artists will need to distribute through record labels at all. If the music industry is to take advantage of this potential goldmine, it will have to answer what City University described as "soul searching" questions. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 23 Jun 1999
The Register breaking news

iMac notebook OEM tells all

So, when is the much hyped Apple iMac-based notebook going to make it onto the shelves? Apple won't say, but its OEM is a little looser of lip with the information. Taiwanese manufacturer Alpha Top -- for it is they -- says it plans an initial shipment of iMac notebooks in August. Named as the exclusive manufacturer in Q4 of 1998 when the notebook follow up was first planned, Alpha Top initially expected to launch in April. Deadlines were pushed back because product development took longer than expected. Alpha expects to ship 200,000 units by the end of 1999, equating to sales of $375 million, which should rescue it from a debt it has carried since it separated from GVC in 1997. Getting the price right is the key to success for Apple, according to IDC research analyst Terry Ernest-Jones. "The consumer notebook market is virtually insignificant in Europe, because of the high price differential between notebooks and desktops. If Apple price it reasonably, say in the same bracket as a high-end desktop, then there is definitely space in the market for it." However, the iMac showed that if a product is designed right, it will sell to a much wider market than usual. There was even a mention of the iMac in Elle, the fashion magazine. Can the notebook, possibly named iBook, pull off the same stunt? Ernest-Jones thinks it could. "Notebooks are much more personal than desktops to begin with, which should work in Apple's favour." Alpha Top plans to do a short test run in early July. As and when Apple grants its approval, mass production can begin, and fashion editors across the globe will be queuing up to get their hands on an iBook. Or whatever its going to be called. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 23 Jun 1999
The Register breaking news

Mike Magee receives x.86 org prize, proudly

Pictured below is Mike Magee, photographed by his wife and son, proudly wearing the Intel Secrets merchandise. Robert Collins, who runs the site, awarded Magee the prize after he pointed out that Intel had tried to register the loop, outside, as a trademark. (Story: Intel registers loop to stop people going inside)) Collins awarded the prize because that story amused him. Intel has tried to trademark the squiggly thing... Forgive Mike if he looks a tad loopy...he was trying to remain serious while wondering how the digital flash camera would look in Boots the Chemist... You have to admit, he looks better this way than in a Bunny Suit... ®
Team Register, 23 Jun 1999