12th > July > 1999 Archive

The Register breaking news

Third party K7 mobos peek over parapet

A list of third party support for Athlon has arrived, including information about motherboard manufacturers. The information, listed at AMDZONE, shows that Gigabyte, Microstar, Asus, FIC and BioStar will produce motherboards for the K7. An AMD representative said this morning that full details are now on the Athlon (K7) FAQ at AMD's site. As revealed here earlier, K7 Athlons will become available in the first week of August, so many of these products are likely to arrive then, or soon afterwards. Gigabyte and Microstar are close to releasing their products, the report suggests. There is also a list of recommended manufacturers of power supplies for the K7. Last week, several hardware sites reported that it needs a hefty unit to power it, although that could change when .18 micron K7s become available. Meanwhile, Kryotech has demonstrated a K7 running at 1000MHz, using its cooling technology. AMD will have its own 1GHz K7 next year it claims. Meanwhile, JC is reporting on his site that AMD Japan has put pressure on stores in Tokyo's electronics district to withdraw K7s for sale later this week. And sources close to AMD told The Register that the K6-III/500 will be announced in the next "week or two". Look out for AMD's financial results during this week. ® Complete Computex 99 coverage
The Register breaking news

The Intel roadmap, according to Intel

As we speculate, talk to Intel OEMs and distributors, and pick up information from the world and its dog, let us never forget that Chipzilla does disclose some elements of its future. So, then, take a decko at this page to see how Intel sees its roadmap developing during the second half of this year and the first half of next year. The mid to high end workstation market is particularly interesting, because we see that Intel will introduce what it describes as Internet Streaming SIMD instructions. It says a Profusion eight way chipset is "on target" in Q3. The Internet SIMD instructions are just another name for the SIMD instructions, but with that extra Intel spinology. Merced is not mentioned for the first half of next year because that is due in mid-2000, which starts after the end of June, according to Intel. And .18 micron technology for all of the platforms is not very far away, according to this official Intel page. In the first half of next year, we will see 700MHz .18 micron Xeons and desktops. We'll return to this roadmap later on today... ®
The Register breaking news

Apple, Swatch to make e-mail watch

A Swiss site is reporting that Apple and Swatch have launched a watch that allows you to read your email. The report, which you can find in French and English here, reckons the watch will cost about £80. It comes with an ADB or USB port and will be out by the end of the year, the report suggests. There's a picture of a watch on the site too, but it isn't the Apple-Swatch beastie. Do you think Apple and Swatch got the idea from our Tony's headline earlier this year: Apple apes Swatch as iMac ships in multiple colours? And will Swatch OEM it for Tag? The world waits... ®
The Register breaking news

Complete Copper in IBM whopper deal

A year ago Posted 14 July 1998 -- a year ago A US company called Novellus said yesterday that it had signed a deal with IBM to manufacture integrated circuits using copper interconnections. Novellus said that it and IBM Microelectronics had been jointly developing manufacturing equipment needed to manufacture chips using copper, rather than aluminium connections. Electricity is conducted by copper far better than aluminium. The company said it has now shipped electro-plating kit to IBM Microelectronics as part of Big Blue’s manufacturing process, which will use sub .25 micron process technology. In return, IBM has licensed its copper electro-plate technology to Novellus, which will use the process as part of a manufacturing suite called Complete Copper. According to Novellus, the equipment it is providing will allow the creation of over 50 silicon wafers an hour with yields of over 90 per cent. But it is apparent that IBM Microelectronics is considering licensing its copper technology to other chip manufacturers. Novellus said that the announcement meant that global chipmakers will be able to accelerate their move to devices using copper wiring. That, the company said, will bring more powerful consumer and electronic devices with more power and longer battery lives. ®
The Register breaking news

Caldera update: MS condemned by its own emails

MS on Trial Microsoft is likely to lose its cases against the DoJ and Caldera for a number of reasons. High on that list is the contrast between Microsoft's internal communications and what its witnesses have said in evidence (or introduced in written testimony), and what Microsoft's lawyers have written in court-filed pleadings. All Microsoft's witnesses now have little credibility, especially Bill Gates. Any innocent company would expect its CEO to appear as a witness, but Gates has been persuaded, so far at least, not to appear. It is known from the Stack case, and of course from the present DoJ trial, that he makes a poor witness. An important precedent known to all law students was established in 1916, when Judge Learned Hand [really, that was his name] ruled in the antitrust dispute in United States v. Corn Products Refining Company, that the starch producer had engaged in illegal monopolisation. Corn Products had preserved evidence on typewritten memoranda from company executives. Judge Hand wrote: "The documents were never intended to meet the eyes of anyone but the officers themselves, and were, as it were, cinematographic photographs of their purposes at the time they were written." A witness's attempts to contradict the validity of these memos, Judge Hand wrote, "served only to affect the general credibility of his testimony". The parallel with Microsoft's emails is exact. As Caldera's court documentation says: Those internal communications tell the story of Microsoft's predatory actions, contradicting in every material respect the 'legitimate business justifications' put forth in Microsoft's various summary judgment motions. Judge Hand's conclusions over 80 years ago apply perforce today to a new industry dominated from its inception by Microsoft." Many of the legal documents in the Caldera v Microsoft case are unnecessarily under seal. Microsoft has resorted to making its filings as long and as contorted as possible. Where Microsoft has decided to file a document publicly, albeit redacted, it makes them into slide images so that each page (there are hundreds) has to be printed separately from very slowly-rendering pages. They cannot of course be searched since the text is an image. Another childish trick - particularly where Microsoft's legal ice is thin - is to record its argument as an "undisputed fact", as though anybody would be fooled about this sleight of hand. There is considerable new information revealed in Caldera's filings however, much for the first time. A sample of Gates' pronouncements about DR-DOS is of considerable interest, for it documents the intent of Microsoft from the beginning, and by virtue of Judge Hand's decision against Corn Products, Microsoft appears to have no effective defence. In 1987, Microsoft decided to drop MS-DOS. Microsoft realised its mistake, and Gates said on 6 June 1991: "We thought OS/2 would replace MS-DOS. We were wrong. We got distracted and didn't pay enough attention to the DOS standard." It was most unwise of Gates to have written on 22 September 1988: "You never sent me a response on the question of what things an app would do that would make it run with MSDOS and not run DR-DOS. Is there any version check or API they fail to have? Is ther [sic] feature they have that might get in our way? I am not looking for something they cant get around. I am looking for something their current binary fails on." Gates admitted on 6 August 1989 that DRI's version of DOS was developed legally, and drew attention to the financial effect on Microsoft : "DOS being fairly cloned has had a dramatic impact on our pricing for [MS-]DOS. "I wonder if we would have it around 30-40% higher if it wasn't cloned. I bet we would!" We know from BJ Bahk that on 9 August 1989 "Bill Gates ordered to all application business units to include checking routines of operating environments and if it is Microsoft DOS, nothing will happen. But if it is non MS-DOS (such as DR-DOS), application will display messages saying that 'This application has been developed and tested for Microsoft MS-DOS. Since you use different environment, this application may not work correctly.'" Gates knew where his money was coming from, since he wrote on 29 November 1989, "While DOS continues to be our most important and most profitable product over the last four years we have done very little with it technically." Gates privately admitted on 1 December 1989 that DR-DOS was a quality competitor: "DOS remains the backbone though of both our software businesses. It is under extreme attack by high quality clones like DR-DOS." By 6 March 1992, Gates was admitting that MS-DOS was behind DR-DOS: "I think to be successful a DOS update has to... match the garbage that DR DOS does." After Microsoft had been roughed up in the FTC investigation, Gates wrote on 21 July 1993: "Who at Microsoft gets up every morning thinking about how to compete with these guys in the short term -- specifically cut their revenue. Perhaps we need more focus on this... After their behavior in this FTC investigation I am very keen on this." With his own immortal words, Gates established the bona fides of DR-DOS, the intention to assassinate it, and issued orders to minions to do so. It would be foolish of Microsoft to go to a jury trial with these smoking guns (and there are many more from other Microsoft executives). The problem for Microsoft however is that it is most unlikely that Caldera would agree to anything but a full settlement of its claim. Let's hope the case does go to trial, and that we are not deprived of more juicy revelations about the business ethics of Microsoft, for that would be a pity. ® Complete Register Trial coverage
The Register breaking news

Bristol update: MS lawyers muzzle Compaq witness

MS on Trial Bristol's lawsuit against Microsoft is scheduled to go to the jury this week, and for the last few days Microsoft's final witnesses have been taking the stand. One, Compaq VP Tim Yeaton was blocked by Microsoft attorneys from answering questions about Microsoft intimidation of Compaq, among other things. Yeaton, who'd earlier revealed that he'd been asked to testify for Microsoft in response to a request from Paul Maritz, was nevertheless acting in a personal capacity, and therefore was not in a position to say anything that could be deemed Compaq confidential. Questions in this area resulted in a string of objections, and instructions by Microsoft's attorneys not to answer. But the questions themselves went into the record: Q. Did Microsoft threaten to retaliate against Compaq if Compaq took steps to port specific elements of Windows to Unix? Mr. Frawley: Objection. Mr. Remis: I guess from our point, one, we'd object to the question for a variety of reasons, including no foundation and the form. But, in addition, to the extent that it calls for an answer that has anything to do with discussions between Compaq and Microsoft and is subject to a confidentiality or nondisclosure, then we instruct the witness not to answer. Q. Did Microsoft offer financial inducements to Compaq to use MainSoft product instead of Bristol's product to port elements of Windows to Unix? Mr. Frawley: Objection. [etc.] Mr. Schiavone: So you're instructing the witness not to answer? Mr. Remis: That's correct. Q. Did Microsoft offer to reduce royalty or payments for use of its products to Compaq if Compaq used MainSoft's product? Mr. Remis: Same objection and same instruction. Q. Mr. Yeaton, did Microsoft encourage Compaq not to do a technical evaluation of Bristol's product last year? Mr. Remis: [etc.] Q. Did Microsoft's representatives contact Compaq about using MainSoft's product shortly after Bristol filed its lawsuit against Microsoft? Mr. Frawley: Objection. [etc.] ® Complete Register Trial coverage
The Register breaking news

Sharp to launch EPOC communicator next year

Sharp is to build a wireless PDA using Symbian's EPOC operating system, according to weekend reports in the Nihon Keizai Shimbun. According to the paper the device will be released in Europe early next year. This is unusual, as so far the wireless data efforts of Japanese companies have tended to be aimed at Japan in the immediate future, with Europe and the US following at a later date. Japan will be going live with 3G broadband wireless services earlier than Europe, and this plus the Japanese consumer's traditional addiction to wacky gadgetry has tended to make it look more fertile territory. But high speed GPRS (GSM Packet Radio System) networks are starting to be deployed in Europe, and although these ultimately won't match the speeds of 3G systems, they'll make wireless data a lot easier to use, a lot sooner. Sharp may therefore be looking for an early advantage. The company intends to build EPOC into its Zaurus PDA platform (a source of some grim satisfaction to The Register, which has been comparing Sharp PDAs unfavourably to Psion ones since the Ark). According to the paper it is also - and here's an interesting bit - negotiating to supply low power, lightweight LCDs and dedicated ICs to Ericsson and Nokia, two of Symbian's founder members and prime movers. A useful bit of 'co-opetition' under the covers? ®
The Register breaking news

TFT shortage to push notebook prices up

Taiwanese manufacturers of TFT LCD screens said that demand for the parts means that their capacity is filled until the end of the year. Both Acer and Chung Hwa are struggling to meet demand, according to local reports, and there is still a shortage of TFT LCD screens from other Far Eastern manufacturers. That will mean an inevitable increase in the price of notebook PCs, said Bob Raikes, senior analyst at graphics market research company Meko. According to the Taiwanese reports, Chung Hwa makes 25K panels every month, while Acer's yield of panel is 15K a month. Both companies are booked solid. Raikes said: "This is part of an ongoing saga and has been foreseeable for eighteen months. The situation is only going to ease up next year. "For a product that's so difficult to make, it's amazing how commodity like it is." At last February's Intel Developer Forum, senior executives at the company forecast a switch in the desktop market from 80 per cent now to 20 per cent in the future, with notebooks taking over the 80 per cent figure. Said Raikes: "One of the big issues for Japan Inc is how to kick the notebook habit." He said the Japanese manufacturers, in the wake of their economic woes, had not invested enough in LCD manufacture, and that other manufacturers, from Taiwan and South Korea, were unable to fill the shortfall. He said that a TFT screen typically accounted for around $600 of a notebook's cost, and this was far more than any other component used in the manufacture. ®
The Register breaking news

UK lagging behind Europe on e-commerce

Survey A report by market research company Banner has claimed that the majority of UK companies risk losing business to European competitors because of slowness in implementing e-commerce. According to the survey, which approached 4,584 IT decision makers, only four per cent are implementing e-commerce, meaning that the UK lags far behind Europe. While net usage has grown in the UK over the last year, the main areas of growth are accessing the World Wide Web and e-mail, according to Banner. The report added: "European Monetary Union and the Internet should herald the arrival of truly global businesses and cross border commerce but it hasn't. There appears to be little development of using the Internet as anything other than an email system." ®
The Register breaking news

LocalTel restricts free Web calls to two hour blocks

Embittered users of LocalTel, the telco offering free calls to ISP Screaming.Net, have reacted angrily to their free access being restricted to two hour blocks. The service restriction is the latest in a long line of problems that have plagued the LocalTel/Screaming.Net service since it began, leading to users taking direct action and threatening to lay siege to the telco's Godalming HQ if improvements weren’t forthcoming. An announcement on LocalTel's Web site said: "We have introduced (10/07/99) a two hour timeout on internet connections to screaming.net. This is a trial to improve accessability to all of our customers." It goes on to explain that this doesn't mean you can only go online for two hours, but that you can only go online in two hour blocks. Either way, this is a major reversal on the 'free unlimited access' promise made to the many thousands of subscribers who signed up for the service. Complaints of poor service are nothing new to LocalTel, and while the company's MD, Jeremy Stokes, has promised that service levels will improve, complaints keep flooding into The Register from Screamers who cannot access the service. One Screamer emailed The Register over the weekend with comments he had made to LocalTel. His note said: "Congratulations are in order guys. I have eventually managed to logon after trying for twelve and a half hours! What a service. Wait until I tell everyone that it only takes 657 attempts and 65 reboots of my PC to access your wonderful service." Another wrote saying: "It is now impossible to connect to screaming net without re dialling at least 50 to 100 times and sometimes more." And yet another disgruntled Screamer emailed The Register with this: "This, on top of the complete lack of response by LocalTel to emails, faxes, letters and phone calls is the last straw. A 24 hour boycott has been organised (see here) and an online petition set up to gather customer complaints (see here)." The Screaming.Net/LocalTel service was hindered at first by the problems some customers had swapping their phone service from BT to LocalTel. Since then, a catalogue of problems and mishaps has dogged the venture. Last week, LocalTel said it would be seeking to gain compensation from BT for delays which stopped people getting on to the Screaming.Net service. Presumably, this means the telco will sympathise with those of its customers who now feel they are owed some for of financial recompense after this latest set back in the service. Despite trying to get through all morning, The Register was unable to speak to anyone at LocalTel about this latest setback, as the line was engaged. ®
The Register breaking news

64Mb DRAM prices edging up

The price of 64Mb SDRAMs has shot up over the last four days but there seems little rhyme or reason behind the price moves. According to Alan Stanley, MD of memory company Dane-Elec, the price has risen by about 50 cents on a price of $4. John Byrne, joint MD of VML UK, said prices had risen further than that and stood today at around $4.60. Last week, Micron US dispelled any rumours that it had problems with its DRAM production and maintained its fabs were working normally. Said Byrne: "As far as I can see, there's no real reason for the rise -- there hasn't been a downturn in production nor have any really big orders been won." Some reports have suggested that Micron has had difficulty converting its TI fabs to its own technology, causing something of a shortfall in supply. But Micron told The Register last week: "We don't respond to rumours". Dresdner Kleinwort Benson in Japan is believed to have issued a warning on the matter. ®
The Register breaking news

Web giants team-up to combat legislation

Nine of the Web's top companies have formed a lobbying group to inform and educate legislators about the Internet. This will be done in Washington, apparently, as so far there's no obvious sign that the new outfit, NetCoalition.com, has heard of Brussels. The outfit claims sites run by its member companies are visited by 90 per cent of Web users at least once a month. Members include AOL, Amazon, Yahoo, eBay, Excite-@home, DoubleClick, Inktomi, theglobe and Lycos, but further information was hard to come by this morning, as www.netcoalition.com still seemed to be demanding user names and passwords for access. The absence of various other companies with major Web operations (e.g. Microsoft) from the membership doesn't however seem to be an accident, as the outfit wants to keep membership tight, and highly focussed on the major issues that concern current members, which are defined as online privacy, intellectual property and protecting children online. In pushing its views on these to legislators, it will be attempting to promote 'non-regulatory solutions.' So basically, it would appear that the big boys are banding together to try to stop Washington passing laws that will make their lives more complicated. In that case, they're bound to notice Brussels sooner or later. ®
The Register breaking news

Builder spills beans about AMD fab

Information from a builder about AMD's Fab 30 factory in Dresden provides some interesting facts about capacity, size and the loans involved. According to UK based M+W Pearce, Fab 30 cost DM500 million while investment over the next seven years will amount to DM3 billion. This figure consists of three separate investments from the Dresdner Bank, the German government and AMD itself, with the German government providing the lion's share. And, according to the builders, the class 100T cleanroom, which is nine thousand square metres, will be able to provide 5,000 200 millimetre wafers a week when it is at full capacity. Fab 30 started making its first wafers last February. We know, from sources at Compaq, that chips will be built there using copper interconnections later in the year. An AMD representative confirmed that Fab 30 was completed but was unwilling to comment on the facts and figures above. AMD will announce its financials late tomorrow evening. ®
Author, 12 1999
The Register breaking news

How much is that Freeserve in the window

Pre-float speculation on the final value of Freeserve is mounting with only two weeks to go before trading begins. Reports out today indicate that the UK's self-proclaimed No 1 ISP is likely to be valued at around £1.5 billion. This is substantially less than the claims of £2.5 billion that began to circulate when talk of a Freeserve IPO first came up. Nonetheless, it would make the Dixons-owned ISP the largest publicly quoted Internet business in Europe. A value in the region of £1.5 billion could reflect the need to discount the company’s shares by as much as 30 per cent to give initial trading the fillip it needs given the absence of a trading history. So, the final value of Freeserve could in fact be more like £2 billion. One of the financial houses working behind the scenes on the Freeserve float, Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB) has put together some impressive looking earnings forecasts for Freeserve. At the moment, the bulk of Freeserve income is generated from that portion of the call charge it retains. This is a fairly small amount as things stand, with Freeserve bagging only around 10 per cent of the money generated by its users going online. Ecommerce will change this picture though. CSFB reckons that: "Freeserve's ecommerce revenues will rise ninefold from £900,000 in 1999 to £8.2 million in 2000," according to today’s Financial Times. Kerrching! Freeserve has said that around one-in-12 of its users have applied to take part in the share offering. Around 18.25 per cent of Freeserve is being floated by Dixons. ®
The Register breaking news

Memory claims fastest flash controller

Memory Corporation has announced it is launching its Flash System Manager (FSM) later this month. FSM is described a new technology, which Memory says will improve the efficiency and reliability of file storage applications for flash memory. The new algorithms behind FSM are the result of research into data storage in flash memory, and Memory says that with up to 4.5Mb data write speed, the new controller is the fastest available on the market, and most useful to the emerging digital photography market. The controller, called FSC-2, is designed to work with standard flash devices like AND devices from Hitachi as well as NAND type from Toshiba, Samsung, AMD and Fujitsu. Other features include optimised flash address sequencing, wear levelling and error correction. Shipments of PC cards and CompactFlash cards will start in Q3 this year. ®
The Register breaking news

SEMI to survey copper chip whoppers

Trade organisation Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International (SEMI) said it will survey the tae up of copper interconnect technology at Semicon West, held in San Francisco this week. According to SEMI, the purpose is to identify the factors that limit or have impact on the industry's ability to deliver the benefits of copper interconnect technology. The survey, the results of which will be presented in October, will look at .18, .13 and .10 micron so-called "technology nodes" for logic and memory devices. Philips Analytical will aid SEMI in its research, which will canvass opinions from manufacturers as well as industry figures and designers. ®
The Register breaking news

SEMI says chip industry on rise

Survey Industry body SEMI said today that worldwide growth in the semiconductor chip industry showed optimistic signs. Over 80 member companies in the US, Europe and Japan were surveyed in the bi-annual report. Those respondents account for 80 per cent of worldwide revenue in the market. The survey looked at equopment companies which predicted a nine per cent growth for 1999, compared to only 6.7 per cent this time last year. Further, the survey shows that growth in 2000 is expected to be 18.3 per cent and in the year 2001 21.8 per cent. Total value of the equipment market in 1999 is expected to be $23.7 billion. ®
The Register breaking news

Y2K to bring local authorities to their knees

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. The government has been nagging us all about it for ages now, but the Y2K watchdog, Action 2000, has revealed that eight UK councils have totally failed to deal with the problem of the flesh-eating millennium bug. Of the remaining 98 per cent of town halls in the UK, only six per cent have been given a clean bill of health, meaning that with only five months to go, the vast majority of councils are unsure about meeting the deadline. The question that has to be asked though, is will it make any difference? Action 2000 says that the bin men might not show up, that computer failures could disrupt schools, and the councils' employees might not get paid on time - if at all. But lets face it, councils do not have a reputation for being the most efficiently run places to start with, and as we have seen with the recent farce in the passport office and new systems for benefits payments (two cheers for EDS - Ed), you don't need a millennium bug to throw a spanner into the works. Of the UK's police forces, only one has been given a blue light indicating total compliance, the rest are all at amber, just like the councils. Robin Guenier, director of Taskforce 2000, and independent bug-squisher, commented: "Amber status is little better than red with five months to go." A spokeswoman for Action 2000 said that it would not be "naming and shaming" those with red light status, and that it was up to the relevant government bodies to disclose this information. According to another report out today, the financial sector is likely to be hit hardest and abroad, British embassies may have to be closed temporarily if local services are not up to scratch when the clock strikes twelve. ®
The Register breaking news

Prospro prospers with Intel ASP gong

Yorkshire-based reseller Prospro, has been named as an Intel Authorised Solution Provider (Intel ASP), effectively a stamp of approval from Intel indicating a high level of knowledge and a wide range of desktop/server solutions. Chris Rawson, Prospro's MD commented: "Qualifying as an Intel ASP demonstrates our commitment to… meeting the high level of service out customers demand. We expect the increased information flow from Intel… to enable us to deliver the latest technologies to our clients IT infrastructures." This is the second Intel badge that the company has won, and it is currently working towards becoming an Intel Advanced Network Reseller. ®
The Register breaking news

US-EU wireless trade war: TDMA group joins in

The sabre-rattling between the US and Europe over third generation (3G) broadband wireless standards has been getting louder over the last few days, with the TDMA mob climbing on board the US FCC bandwagon late last week. TDMA, which is a kind of cousin of GSM, has tended to be neglected during the long-running arguments over 3G, but it's actually the number two world standard, as its trade body, the Universal Wireless Communications Consortium (UWCC), frequently points out. The latest salvoe from the UWCC offers support for a menacing letter from US secretary of commerce William Daly and trade rep Charlene Barshefsky to EU commissioner Karel van Miert. This letter "reiterated their support for the International Telecommunications Union third generation selection process for multiple 3G standards," and "clearly affirmed that the US would oppose European Union member state licensing procedures that limit approved 3G wireless systems the opportunity to fairly compete in the marketplace." Gripping stuff, no? No. But it gets more interesting when you grasp what it means. Europe is already fairly well advanced in the definition of a 3G standard for Europe, UTRA. Europe intends to follow the GSM precedent by having a single standard validated for Europe. The FCC take on this is that one standard in Europe will shut US competition out, and Brussels will be hauled up in front of the World Trade Organisation if it goes ahead. The standard being defined globally is the ITU's IMT-2000, but although this is where the FCC is currently getting its ammunition, it's positively misleading to categorise the ITU as being ranged against Europe. At the moment the ITU has, in response to pressure, endorsed a multi-technology solution for 3G globally, and made hopeful noises about multi-standard handsets. But here's what the ITU said about the adoption of this policy: "Several countries… urged the group to agree on a single IMT-2000 standard, ideally based on one technology. That view was endorsed by many operators. Several others [our italics] however stressed the need for operational flexibility to meet the varying situations around the world. "The flexible approach represented the only option on which consensus could be achieved and work could proceed." So it would appear that an intransigent minority succeeded in derailing a single standard. And while the FCC and UWCC are attempting to co-opt the ITU as a supporter for the US policy of chucking the standards out there and letting the market decide, the ITU actually favours the reverse: "The meeting nonetheless agreed to strongly encourage the various operators fora in their efforts to achieve a minimum set of radio interfaces." While this interesting little battle has been gathering pace, ETSI, the European Telecommunications Standards Institute, has been coming under fire from the US Congress subcommitte on technology. ETSI has salvoed back to chairwoman Constance Morella, complaining about "misrepresentations of ETSI," and restating the European position on standards (i.e. the one diametrically opposed to the US position). The body stresses its independence from the EU, and gives its take on IMT-2000, describing it as a "family concept" where the ITU would "work on network interface specifications needed for global roaming, while regional standards bodies will work on specifications internal to a specific family member system." That is, 'bog off, congress - Europe's nothing to do with you.' There's some more dumb insolence to follow: "Europe in its construction of the single market has a strong requirement for harmonisation. Standards are a useful means for achieving this harmonisation… GSM has brought about a pan-European service with roaming extended to different countries and this has led not only to an end of the fragmented and incompatible systems but also to an increased level of competition… as well as cheaper communications." So there, and the war continues to loom. ®
The Register breaking news

Disney to buy Infoseek

Disney today confirmed that it will buy Internet portal Infoseek, merge it with its own Web operation and build the whole lot into Go.com, the portal joint venture between Disney and Infoseek. Disney signalled its interest in Infoseek last month. Clearly its talks with Infoseek finally bore fruit, no great surprise since Disney already owns 42 per cent of the portal. The final deal would see it own 72 per cent of Go.com, with the remainder being held by Infoseek shareholders -- Go.com shares will be swapped for Infoseek stock at an exchange rate of 1.15:1. That arrangement, however, must first pass muster with Infoseek's current shareholders. As predicted, the final Go.com company will be publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange, presumably to allow Disney to get the whole thing moving smoothly then begin to cut back on its majority shareholding and make some money on the deal. ®
The Register breaking news

Teledesic confirms Motorola support

Motorola has been selected by Teledesic, the $9 billion satellite-based global data network developer, as its prime hardware supplier. Motorola remains a major stakeholder -- and debt guarantor -- of the troubled Iridium satellite-based cellphone network. That company's recent rough times had persuaded some pundits that Motorola might want to distance itself from similar projects. That said, the company does appear to have had some concerns about Teledesic, an operation backed in part by Bill Gates. Motorola's appointment as prime contractor follows its suspension of work on the project to hammer out technical differences, and it has raised concerns that the project will cost rather more than the $9 billion Teledesic is predicting. Indeed, the prime contractor deal will not become final until the two companies have completed a joint report into new cost projections and technical issues. Motorola has already pledged $750 million, in exchange for a 26 per cent stake in Teledesic, though that stake has since shrunk thanks to the arrival of other investors. Motorola clearly wants Teledesic to get it right and not make the same mistakes as Iridium -- primarily over the final cost of the project and its technology, both of which ultimately resulted in the service's poor subscriber figures. ® See also Iridium fires 80 staff Iridium to cut call charges Iridium granted 30-day reprieve
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Amiga seeks to pacify community over Linux

QNX Software Systems has pledged it does not want to get into a fight with Amiga following the latter's decision to drop support for QNX's eponymous operating system in favour of Linux. Meanwhile, Amiga has been moving fast to pacify its supporters over that decision. Last Friday, QNX CTO Dan Dodge posted details of the company's upcoming beta programme for its QNX real-time OS. The open letter to the Amiga community appeared mere hours before Amiga president Jim Collas announced his company would use Linux as the core of the upcoming next-generation Amiga Operating Environment (AOE). The timing of Dodge's letter appeared more than coincidence -- in it he pledged ongoing support for the Amiga, and called for Amiga developers to try out QNX and advocate its use. In short, what sounded like a plea for help. In a second open letter, Dodge stressed the "significant" resources QNX had placed behind the project following Amiga's initial decision to go with the OS. "We had a team of people in place working on our part of the Amiga NG soon after the alliance was announced. Over the next few months we involved more and more of our engineering resources towards making QNX an advanced multi-media platform. Our investment so far has been significant. These are costs we have born ourselves," he said. Dodge added that "I don't want to split the community, nor do I wish to engage in a war of words". However, that may well be the result of Amiga's decision. Amiga users who have contacted The Register about the move have had problems with it. "In many parts of the Amiga community, we think that QNX Software are very much influenced by the classic Amiga OS," wrote one. "It's very clear they [Collas and Co.] know nothing about where the Amiga came from or its values as the real community and long-time developers know it." That said, Collas himself has been in a conciliatory mood of late. "People don't have a good understanding of our plans for the next generation Amiga. This is my fault and we are working to rectify this with the upcoming technology brief. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do not to judge the Linux decision until you have a chance to read the technology brief," he wrote in an open letter of his own. "You will more clearly understand this once we have released the technical brief in the next few days. Whether we use QNX or Linux, the new Amiga will be exciting, elegant, easy to use, incredibly efficient and yes, truly revolutionary!" Collas even claimed he was not an early supporter of Linux: "I was adamantly against Linux when it was first suggested in March. It took several months of intense research to convince me that it was the right decision. "QNX is a good technical solution for the OS components but poses a significant market and industry challenge. Linux is sucking up the mind share and resources of most of the major component manufacturers and technology suppliers. I simply don't believe we can gain enough momentum without tapping into the Linux momentum. Linux will give us continuous access to new technology and components as they are released. With QNX we could get out a new platform but I don't believe we would keep up with the rapid technology changes in the computer industry." All fair points, but will they be enough to satisfy the Amiga community? ®
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IBM has bought Sequent – as expected

IBM today paid $810 million to pick up Sequent, as predicted here. (Story: Will IBM buy Sequent, will Compaq use Merced) The reason, explained a spokesperson, was to extend its grasp in the network server area. The takeover will be through an $18 share swap. For the last 10 days, IBM's share price had been riding high on the rumours. Once the takeover has been agreed by US authorities, IBM will merge the technologies, according to a statement. High end server hardware and equally high end software will give IBM any excuse it needed. Ever since Compaq acquired Tandem, the rumours have been on a roll. ®
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Meta Smalltalk patent spat assumes Merced meaning

Correction Since we filed this story yesterday, we have heard from the ILDF plaintiffs who now inform us that the patent in question, below, has now been assigned to Techsearch. Val Scott, representing ILDF, said that she is filing another motion for the judge to reconsider. MM New factors in the ongoing patent case between ILDF shareholders and other parties, including Intel, have emerged. The patent in question, as reported here earlier, relates to a putative Mac founded company, International Meta Systems, which created the idea for a processor called the Meta 3240, a Smalltalk-based system. Now it appears that Intel may have wanted the patent because the Meta 3240 and its later rev the Meta 3250, could have helped the chip giant bridge things for its up-and-coming Merced processor. According to the IMS patent filed with the relevant US authorities as docket number 5,574,927, in 1996, the chip was: "A RISC architecture computer configured for emulating the instruction set of a target computer to execute software written for the target computer, e.g., an Intel 80X86, a Motorola 680X0 or a MIPS R3000. The apparatus is integrated with a core RISC computer to form a RISC computer that executes an expanded RISC instruction. The expanded RISC instruction contains data fields which d esignate indirect registers that point to emulation registers that correspond to registers in the target computer. The width of the emulation registers is at least the width of those in the target computer." ® See also Intel,Telesearch, IMS case takes further twist Intel bang to rights on questionable business ethics
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CHS president outlines Trigem deal details

CHS Electronics today outlined its plans with South Korean vendor Trigem to supply low-cost PCs to Europe. Through the newly created company The PC Way, Trigem has started to operate a production and assembly plant at CHS’ distribution facility in Helmond, the Netherlands. CHS is providing the logistics and distribution services to resellers. The joint venture is initially shipping three PC models under CHS’ existing brand-name Yakumo, starting from $550. The Y1 - ic400 has Intel Celeron 400, 32Mb SyncDRAM and 4.3Gb hard drive. The Y2 - ic433 has Intel Celeron 433, 64Mb SyncDRAM and 6.4Gb hard drive. The Y3 - ip450 has the Pentium III 450,64Mb SyncDRAM, and 10.2Gb hard drive. All three come with 56kbps V.90 PCI fax/modem and Windows 98. Claudio Osorio, CHS president and CEO, said the deal was spawned after the distributor experienced big supply chain problems. It was waiting up to one month for products from its vendors. Now CHS had its own manufacturing facility, there should be no such hitches, he said. "The fact that products were coming to distributors very slowly drove the Trigem agreement. With this deal, machines can be assembled in a few hours," said Osorio. He denied suggestions that CHS was taking its eye off the ball in Europe by moving into manufacturing. He stressed that Trigem would act as a normal supplier to CHS. "The PC Way is a vendor for us - a separate company. "We didn’t want the facility to be managed by CHS," he said. "We did not want to re-invent the wheel." Paul Lee, president and CEO of Trigem, said Europe’s move to free Internet usage would result in rocketing lower-cost PC sales. "The sub-$500 PC is a revolutionary movement. Europe is heading towards free Internet usage. This will boost PC sales. "The IT industry is going to be turned upside down, and Trigem strongly believes there is a market for the entry-level system," said Lee. The lower-cost products will aim at home users, first time buyers or small businesses. According to Osorio: "The dependency on distributors is increasing, and on pan-European distributors even more." "No single manufacturer produces all the necessary components... This is a distributor’s market," he said. Trigem formerly made PCs for Olivetti Europe. ®
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Gameboy-based book outsells Stephen King, John Grisham

A report at a Gameboy site has illustrated the threat that conventional chip manufacturers face from console companies. According to the report on US Today the popular (amongst children) book The Official Pokemon Book has outsold authors like Stephen King and John Grisham in the USA. The Pokemon Handbook came in at number 21 in the US charts last week, easily beating a plethora of better known authors. The book is based on a game called Pokemon, which messes around on childrens' colour Gameboys worldwide. There is no equivalent childrens' game on an x.86 platform, in terms of popularity, as far as we are aware. Barny the Dinosaur don't come near... ®
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CHS press conference starts with CAOS

You turn up in Holland and things start getting weird… CHS Electronics seemed to be distributing more than its usual PCs this morning. Journalists waiting in Holland’s Eindhoven airport for their lift to today’s CHS press conference were met by a flustered woman waving a sign marked "CAOS". The group brushed her away, assuming there could be no connection between any such disorganised state and the great colossus of the distribution world, CHS. However, the assembled hacks were alarmed to see her marching back some minutes later accompanied by Peter Rigby, CHS group marketing director. The "CAOS" vision was indeed our driver. Rigby assured us there was no connection between the sign and CHS’ channel strategy. ®
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IRA prisoners' details leaked on second-hand PC

A second hand laptop is at the centre of two inquiries after it was found to be holding confidential records on some of the UK's most dangerous prisoners. The records are said to catalogue details from monitored phone calls from inmates at Belmarsh prison in south east London. The Home Secretary, Jack Straw, has ordered immediate investigations by the director general of the Prison service and by the Metropolitan Police into the leaking of the documents, according to a report in today's Times newspaper. The file contains details on IRA terrorists interned in Belmarsh, most notably Patrick Magee, given eight life sentences for the Brighton bomb in 1984. He is reported to have said that he would "see to" Gerry Adams if the IRA was defanged and that he had "a lot of scores to settle". Magee was released last month under the terms of the Good Friday agreement. The Home Secretary said he was very concerned about such sensitive data being found on a second-hand laptop, and that the Met was carrying out an urgent investigation. ®
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C&W gets bullish about UK cable reorgs

Cable & Wireless is starting to throw its weight around over the restructuring of the UK cable industry. It says the multibillion dollar process must now be completed by the end of the month, with C&W chief executive Graham Wallace adamant that the talks not drag on into the summer holidays. C&W controlled Cable and Wireless Communications and Telewest have been in conference since last year, with no sign that either company has made any headway. Meanwhile, the third player, NTL, has been trying to get a foot in the door for the last three months, and there is speculation over offshore interest from Deutsche Telekom and France Telecom. C&W is looking to fund its expansion into the data and Internet services arena, and is likely to settle for a deal involving part payment in cash. ®
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Wafer foundries fight back

A report from NECX today claimed that major foundry manufacturers were telling customers that there are shortages, across the board. Accoding to NECX, IBM Microelectronics, TSMC, UMC and a number of other fabs have suspended volume discounts on six and eight inch wafers. That is the first time such a situation has occurred in some years and is due to increased demand in the market for semiconductors of all types, including, smaller low margin integrated circuits. The shortage coincides with reports from SEMA, Dataquest and other bodies that demand for silicon is rising this year. ®
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MP3.com upgrades IPO details

Online music seller MP3.com has upgraded the price of its shares to be offered in its upcoming IPO, the company has told the US Securities and Exchange Commission. The shares will now be offered at $16-18 each, up 70 per cent on the $9-11 it originally filed. That values the company at a staggering $1.2 billion. MP3.com will also issue 12.3 million shares, up from the nine million it first said it would offer. However, all the extra shares -- 27 per cent of the total -- will go to French investment company Groupe Arnault. As part of the deal, Arnault will spend $150 million advertising on MP3.com's Web site. News of MP3.com's changes comes on the first day of trading after online music technology company Liquid Audio made its own IPO. It sold 23 per cent of the company's total stock for $15 a share. By the end of trading, shares were exchanging hands for $35.56. This despite the company's claim it will not see a profit before 2002. ®
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Intel, SAP, Cisco to back $13 billion Korean site

The South Korean government will announce Thursday some of the fruits of foreign investment in the country. A major science park is being built at Inchon, South Korea, using reclaimed land. In 2001, Asia's biggest airport, Inchon International will open close to the site. It is already under construction, a representative said. According to a representative for Inchon Metropolis, the total project is worth over $13 billion. Intel, SAP and Cisco are all investors in the science park. Daewoo will move its HQ there, a representative said. Yongjong Island, near Inchon International will be a free trade zone and the area has already attracted foreign investment in terms of infrastructure, the representative added. In addition, foreign and local investors will create a so-called "Media Valley" aimed at attracting talent to the area. The South Korean government is also offering aid to the Inchon project. ®
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eBay server falls over again

Anyone with a troublesome server (and that hardly narrows the filed) will have some sympathy with online auctioneer eBay, which has had more server trouble recently than most. In fact, over the last four weeks or so, eBay's servers have developed the unfortunate habit of turning themselves into three-legged donkeys. The latest incident came at the weekend – it being a bust period and all. According to eBay, its database server opted for an early bath leaving punters stymied as they attempted to access the service. Said users found themselves greeted with the following message: “"Our engineering staff continues to investigate to determine the source of the problem. We'll provide an update as soon as possible." This, the latest in a long line of crashes at the auction site, has prompted some wags to suggest it would be quicker and easier to put out messages informing people of the occasions when the site was fully functional. IT news satirist, Bob Hirschfield, posted an item on his site suggesting that eBay was about to auction off its wobbly server. ®