14th > July > 1999 Archive

The Register breaking news

Intel's financials fail to excite

Chip giant Intel showed revenues of $6.7 billion for its second financial quarter with profits of $1.7 billion. That shows a rise of 14 per cent in revenues, compared to Q2 1998, while profits rose 49 per cent compared to the same period last year. However, Wall Street had expected Intel to post stronger results, and was a little disappointed by the results. Craig Barrett, Intel's CEO, said that the company had regained market segment share at the low end of the market, while it was moving to the Pentium III faster than any previous chip introduction. Intel forecast that its Q3 1999 revenues will be greater than Q2, with a strong second half of the year. Gross profits will rise from the 59 per cent it showed for Q2, and is expected to reach 60 per cent for the whole year. It will spend $3 billion on R&D in 1999, and the same amount on capital expenditure. ®
Mike Magee, 14 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Merced taped out

Intel has managed to tape out its design for the Merced IA-64 microprocessor. That means that samples are likely to be with customers within eight weeks or so. Paul Otellini, a senior VP at Intel, confirmed the news at a conference call following the release of its Q2 financial results. The completion of the design means that factories can start to produce first silicon samples of the microprocessor, which it will test and then send to customers. Because the Merced processor is aimed at the high end of the workstation and the server market, PC companies are likely to spend some time testing the design. Volume production is still slated for the middle of next year, Intel said. ®
Mike Magee, 14 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

What the Hell is…Geyserville

It's a small town in California chosen by Chipzilla to provide the codename for its forthcoming 0.18 micron mobile Coppermine processors - the first mobiles to bear the Pentium III brand. Due out at the end of this year (so don't hold your breath, folks, Q1 2000 would be a much safer bet) Geyserville technology is supposed to mark the point where the performance gap between desktop and mobile horsepower disappears. The plan is that new chips running faster than 633MHz will be launched in both desktop and mobile guises at the same time, simultaneously and together. Intel is proud of its boast that within two years it is moving from an installed base of 80 per cent desktops / 20 per cent notebooks to the opposite state of affairs, citing the increasing mobility of its workforce, linked with better remote management tools and increasing mobile power as the keys to reducing the TCO of mobiles. Indeed, Chipzilla is keen to point out that although laptops will still cost more to run and administer, the grand plan is that mobile workers will be able to work in otherwise wasted time - in the garden, on the train, in the toilet and at their children's school plays, so that they will be able to work 100 hours a week instead of a mere 80. But what of Geyserville, I hear you ask? It's a simple idea which is rather more complicated to make work. Traditionally, laptops have simply throttled back their clock speed in a bid to reduce power consumption. This works fine up to a point. To increase battery life by two times, you have to run the CPU at half speed, so your state of the art 300MHz notebook turns into a creaky 150MHz museum piece if you want double the battery life - it's a linear kind of a thing, you see. But Geyserville offers a clever combination of clock-throttling and core voltage reduction, both of which can be user-defined by a Windows Control Panel applet to achieve the desired balance between performance and battery life. Intel claims that a 60 per cent reduction in power consumption can be achieved with just a 20 per cent hit on performance - a 600MHz notebook will run at full speed when plugged in to the mains and only drop to 500MHz on batteries. And because Coppermine uses slinky new 0.18 micron technology, power consumption and heat generation will already be considerably lower than chips built on the clunky old 0.25 process, so cooling fans will use less power, extending battery life even more. Initially only available in the premium-priced Pentium III brand, Geyserville technology will (like the Katmai 3D instructions) eventually find its way into the budget Celeron space before too long - just about as soon as sales from the early adopters (aka people who feel obligated to buy things because they're new and exciting) begin to tail off - Mid 2000 would be a good bet. ®
Pete Sherriff, 14 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

It's in the paper so it must be true

Team Register reads The Times - its a pity that Times sub editors don't do the same. The Times reports what must be the IT acquisition bargain of the decade. In a story in both today's printed version (page 35) and on the web site here, The Thunderer reports that IBM paid just $810 for Sequent - the Sherriff's trusty calculator puts this at just a shade over 500 of your English pounds. Something of a bargain, in our humble opinion. At this rate, if IBM could just raise about 1,000 bucks they ought to be able to buy Compaq too. ®
Author, 14 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

SiS intros 128-bit graphics chip

Details about the SiS300 graphics chip have emerged. Hardware site Fullon3D says the graphic product will be integrated into new versions of SiS core logic sets 630/450. According to the site, which has prepared a set of benchmarks, the SiS300 is a standalone graphics chip which will supersede the SiS 6326. The 128-bit chip will support up to 64Mb of 166MHz SD/SGRAM and also implements environmental bump mapping, in a similar way to Matrox with its G400. The SiS300 will ship next month, and includes a range of DVD and video features, and different optimisations. ®
Mike Magee, 14 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

ClaraNet users to get free Web calls

London-based ClaraNet has joined in the free calls gold rush currently sweeping through the UK ISP market. Starting on 2 August, ClaraNet will begin operating four packages all offering free calls. FreeTime12 costs £5.99 per month and gives the user 12 hours of free calls; FreeTime35 costs £14.99 per month and gives 35 hours of free calls; FreeTime80 costs £29.99 per month and comes with 80 free hours and FreeTime Weekend costs £11.99 and gives free weekend calls to ClaraNet along with a 20 per cent discount off the BT local rate call charge. ClaraNet is claiming that subscribers to the FreeTime80 package stand to make an annual saving of £357 compared with standard BT call charges. A representative of the ISP claimed it could avoid falling into the same trap as companies like Screaming.Net and LocalTel, who have been so swamped with demand for their free call package they have found it impossible to provide a consistent service. "We don't anticipate people will be clamouring to join," he said. "This is a serious package aimed at serious users -– we're not marketing it as a gimmick." He went on to say that more ISPs would be forced to offer free calls to the Web. "It's the way the market is going." ®
Sean Fleming, 14 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Bristol demands $263 million as MS trial goes to jury

MS on Trial The closing arguments in Bristol Technology's antitrust suit against Microsoft were heard yesterday, with the Connecticut company asking for damages of up to $263 million. These could be tripled, if the jury concludes that Microsoft is guilty of anti-competitive behaviour, so the total tab could be as high as $789 million. Bristol's damages claim dwarfs the company's annual revenues, but the sum is based on projections of lost profits between March 1997, when its relationship with Microsoft started going bad, and December 2006. Specifically Bristol says it lost valuable OEM contracts with SGI and IBM because of Microsoft's actions. Bristol is also seeking access to Windows 2000 source code. During the trial the company has argued, with some success, that Microsoft engaged in predatory activities committed with the intent of winning a monopoly in the departmental server market. Bristol, whose Wind/U product is intended to act as a bridge between Windows and Unix, was collateral damage and - as is the way of things these days - the company produced copious emails indicating the Microsoft high command's shady intent. Microsoft jacked up the price of NT source code for Bristol, and started backing rival Mainsoft. Bristol attorney Patrick Lynch yesterday argued that "Microsoft engaged in a classic bait and switch, in which the bait was its monopoly power in the personal computer market and the switch was tearing down the bridge." The Microsoft email traffic covering this process makes the usual interesting reading: "So, would someone please explain to me why we would license WBEM to the 'enemy' and enable them to port and resell a competing version," says one, while another goes, nastily: "Can we proactively cement our competitors in a position where they are a year and a half behind in functionality by choosing the horse and making it unattractive for the others to enter the game." Bill himself was, of course, involved. He suggests "picking Mainsoft as our partner for Windows," thus tilting support away from Bristol, while later Bob Muglia reported to him that cutting royalties to Mainsoft had had the desired effect, and that it was no longer necessary "to further anoint Mainsoft." The Microsoft licensing programme is also well covered. One MS employee describes the deals as "limited in time to a very short horizon," so that "OEMs would always be very close to not getting any further updates from us." Another pointed out that the licensing programme wasn't about making Unix a better OS for application development (this is what Bristol thought it was about) but "killing Java and then Unix." Frankly, it doesn't look good, but then few of Microsoft's antitrust suits do, right now. Jury deliberations are scheduled to begin today. ® Complete Register Trial coverage
John Lettice, 14 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

ilion says no thanks to Landis bid offer

Troubled networking distributor ilion has rejected an acquisition bid by rival Landis, saying the offer undervalued the group. Landis approached the networking distributor with a cash offer for all ilion's issued share capital at 114 pence per share, according to an ilion statement. The offer was subject to pre-conditions including due diligence and the recommendation of the ilion board. The board said the price per share undervalued ilion, describing it as "totally unacceptable." "It pays no regard to the strong growth and strategic market position in Europe nor to the recovery potential of the UK," the company stated. "Accordingly, the board has rejected the approach." In last week's trading update, ilion said sales were "satisfactory" for the six-months ended 30 June. But UK revenues were down on the previous year, and the group said it was still in take-over talks with a number of parties. Earlier this year the ailing UK arm lost its prized possession, the Cisco franchise, amid allegations of fraud that may cost the group £500,000. ilion's share price rose 9.5 pence to 108 pence this morning. ®
Linda Harrison, 14 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Socket Eight to S370 convertors coming

Several Japanese sites are billing an adaptor which allows the conversion of Pentium Pro's Socket Eight to a Socket 370 configuration. (See for example, this site). The systems are set to arrive in early August, and will allow single and dual Socket Eight motherboards to take Celeron S370 processors at multiple speeds, again in single and dual combos. The Pentium Pro (mostly) came in speeds of 150, 180 and 200MHz, so the upgrade may give old systems a boost. No prices are yet available, but Intel said that it did not support such third party adaptors. At one time, Intel used to get additional money for its old processors by offering so-called Overdrive upgrades. But that business no longer exists. Intel did create an Overdrive for the Pentium Pro, allowing systems to be upgraded to a Pentium II/333 with full speed on-die cache, our Mr Sherriff points out. ®
Mike Magee, 14 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Baron Hard-Up alive and kicking & working for CHS

Margins are tight in distribution, so are the distributors… We suspected CHS Electronics might be experiencing a few cash-flow problems, but The Register had no idea things were getting so tight. On a recent trip to the distributor’s factory in Holland, the entourage of press and CHS management was sitting in the stifling heat of Eindhoven airport, waiting to return to Blighty. Baking in the departures lounge, one of the assembled hacks asked Peter Rigby, CHS group marketing director, if he had any Dutch change so that said hack could buy a drink and quench their thirst. No, came the reply. And as there were no CHS spin-doctors around to help out, the journos were forced to wait until they got on their plane for the re-hydration. We knew things were bad in the distribution universe, but we had no idea things were at breaking point. Don’t worry Peter, we forgive you. The Red Cross food parcel’s in the post. ®
Linda Harrison, 14 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

VIA to set up fab venture with TSMC

Asian wire Nikkei is reporting that VIA will set up a joint venture with the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) to produce chips. That will happen once VIA has concluded its negotiations to buy Cyrix, according to the reports. And the wire is reporting that VIA thinks it will have 10 per cent of the global x.86 market in two years' time. The Cyrix roadmap includes Gobi and Mojave processors, slated for this year and next. ® RegFactoid .13µ AMD's Jerry Sanders III is famous for his statement some years back that "only real men have fabs".
Mike Magee, 14 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Quill pen set to make comeback in channel

SCC admits it doesn't trust email - snail mail much better One of the great pioneers of IT reselling, SCC, yesterday revealed it didn't actually trust technology all that much. The Brummie-based reseller (now number two in the market, we gather) told The Register it never sends out press releases via email "in case they got tampered with." Not that SCC is stuck in the dark ages, but it prefers to fax or even post news, it told us. Anyone wanting the latest developments on SCC can send an SAE to The Register, 20-22 Maddox Street, London. News on any other technology companies can be found immediately on our Web site. ®
Linda Harrison, 14 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Motorola demands help keeping Iridium in orbit

Motorola yesterday issued an ultimatum to fellow investors in the troubled satellite-based cellphone service, Iridium: start supporting the company, or it will pull the plug on its own extra financial support. Issued alongside Motorola's Q2 results, the statement said the company "will not provide any further support beyond existing contractual commitments unless there is substantial participation in the Iridium restructuring from all parties with significant financial interest [in it]". Motorola's concerns are understandable: it formed Iridium in the first place, now owns 18 per cent of the company, but, more importantly, has guaranteed a good proportion of the satellite operation's debt. However, as Iridium struggles to stay in orbit, largely thanks to poor marketing and over-priced airtime and handset products, its backers have become increasingly worried that the company has little time left to it. Certainly if Motorola cut back its support, Iridium would have very real problems indeed, so presumably its tactics here are to force other investors, including Lockheed Marting and Raytheon, to cough up some extra cash of their own -- or face their investment going down the tubes. Motorola continues to defer recording the money it makes from its operations and maintenance contract with Iridium, and it will be interesting to see to what extent that covers the cost of Motorola's support for the company. This quarter it recorded a $126 million charge to write down the value of its Iridium bonds, and predicted other charges next quarter. These coming costs are likely to be significant, and balanced only by the sale of "several businesses and assets", the company said. ® See also Teledesic confirms Motorola support
Tony Smith, 14 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Channel mag claims week-old story to be exclusive

The Register plays Prince Naseem to paper’s Frank Bruno... When is an exclusive story not an exclusive story? Silly question – you’d think so, but perhaps it’s not as silly as you’d think. We enjoy reading our copy of PC Dealer when it comes in on a Wednesday morning, and today (Weds 14 July) we saw that its front-page lead story was about the collapse of the assembler PC Science. It was an exclusive story according to the PC Dealer strap line. We found this to be very interesting, especially as your super soaraway Register had not only covered this story on 8 July, updated it later that day and followed it up the next day, but we read about it in Dealer’s rival rag MicroScope yesterday as well. It was even on the VNU Newswire - run by the company that publishes PC Dealer - last week. Exclusive – they might think that, we couldn’t possibly comment. ®
Sean Fleming, 14 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Hard drives for the masses from Fujitsu

Fujitsu has announced details of a new product family of hard drives targeting a wider range of users. Fujitsu said the drives reflect the diverse nature of its customer base. The series includes low-cost drives, drives optimised for Internet and audio-visual applications, and for high-end performance desktops. All the drives feature third-generation GMR heads and range in capacity from 6.4GB to 27.3GB. The product family includes 5400 RPM and 7200 RPM drives with areal density of up to 6.8GB per platter. The three 5200RPM budget siblings have a capacity range of 6.4GB to 13.6GB, while the 7200 RPM performance models can store from 10.2GB to 27.3GB of data. These higher end drives have a 2MB buffer and an average seek times of 8.5ms. Aiming for the consumer electronics market, the last three drives have transfer rates of up to 30.4MB per second allowing fast access to large online audio-visual files. Seek time is around 9.5ms and they are also quieter, thanks to a new soundproofing cover. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 14 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

UN proposes email tax

The United Nations wants email users to subsidise the extension of the Internet to Third World countries, according to a report released by the UN Development Programme earlier this week. Essentially, the report calls on governments to introduce legislation that would require Net users to pay a tax of one US cent on every 100 emails the send. Such is the volume of email that, had such a scheme been introduced in 1996, it would have generated $70 billion in that year alone. Given the quantity of spam we're now all being subjected to, the mind boggles at how much revenue would be generated now. Whatever funds were generated, however, it would be enough to give developing countries the help they need to catch up with developed nations and so "offset inequalities in the global community", as the report puts it. A worthy goal, for sure, but we can't help wondering whether the real winners here would be the telecoms companies who would be contracted to create all these extra connections. However, the report argues that leaving the expansion of the Net into the Third World to market forces will simply not allow the technology to spread far enough sufficiently quickly. Still, the report admits the UN can't enforce such a tax itself, and with most Western governments keen to encourage Net use in order to promote their countries as preferred territories for e-business, they're unlikely to introduce such a tax unilaterally. ®
Tony Smith, 14 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Taxman profits from computer foul-up

As if fate were rubbing salt into the wounds of the OAP's whose pensions were delayed, £20 million has landed in the lap of the Inland Revenue, thanks to the well publicised balls-up involving the new National Insurance computer system. The extra interest on money that should have been paid out in benefits amounted to a massive £58 million. £38 million of that goes on compensation, but the remaining loot all stays with the taxman -- for now. A spokeswoman for the Revenue said that it was reviewing the case, and may pay out extra compensation from the windfall profits. Flying bacon? Possibly. But the best bit is yet to come… This new complication may actually help Andersen Consulting, the computer firm that installed the heavily criticised system, out of some hot water. The Public Accounts Committee was slammed the NIRS II system in a report released over the weekend. It said that Andersen should be forced to pay compensation to the Revenue. However, Andersen is expected to argue that it can only provide compensation for losses incurred as a result of problems with NIRS II. And as the Revenue is showing a profit on the whole affair there is no need for further compensation. Andersen has already paid out £3.9 million to the Revenue, and had its fees reduced by £1.5 million for the first year. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 14 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Chips, phones boost Motorola Q2

Motorola yesterday posted profits of $273 million on revenues of $7.5 billion for its second quarter, ended 26 June, beating Wall Street expectations The figures show a marked turnaround on last year's Q2 results, in which the company recorded a loss of $1.3 billion on revenues of $7.0 billion. The company assigned the improvement to strong sales of semiconductor products and cellphone handsets. Last year's loss does, however, include charges -- without them it would have been in the black to the tune of $6 million. This time round, charges relating to Motorola's investment in troubled satellite-based mobile phone company Iridium pushed profits back to $206 million. It also admitted that its Q3 figures might be made signifantly worse by further Iridium-based costs. ® See also Motorola demands help keeping Iridium in orbit
Tony Smith, 14 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Datrontech to push Acer notebooks

Acer has signed up Datrontech to distribute its notebooks in the UK. The deal will be worth around £10 million in the first year in much-needed sales to the Basingstoke-based distributor. Taiwanese PC vendor Acer said the agreement would expand its laptop customer base. It wanted to use Datrontech for a push into the SME market. Last month broadliner Datrontech outlined aims to shift its product mix to an even split between components and its networking businesses in the medium term. It usurped its rivals to clinch a deal with networking vendor Novell. It has also been offloading its non-core activities, such as troubled re-cycling business RD Trading. Acer has around 120 resellers in the UK. Its other distributors include Enta Technologies, Midwich Thame, Mobile Planet, Northamber, Phoenix Distribution Services, SI Distribution and Sphinx CST. ®
Linda Harrison, 14 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

A year ago: Widespread support doubles Rambus profit

Posted 15 July 1998 -- a year ago Chip company Rambus has doubled its profits in its third financial quarter, boosted by support from the Intel Corporation and backed by a bevy of semiconductor manufacturers. The company turned over $9.2 million, showing profits of $1.8 million. That compares to a profit of $505,000 in the same period last year. Rambus, which designs high speed interface technology and licenses its designs to memory and other semiconductor companies, is expected to be a high flyer in the technology business. That is because next year its designs for fast DRAM have been backed by Intel, and will therefore be used by many of the larger PC vendors. Intel has an equity stake in Rambus. ®
Mike Magee, 14 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Jobs shed as PC Science pared to bone

PC Science, the assembler that went into receivership last week, has laid off 150 staff. This leaves 30 workers to run the North Yorkshire company while a buyer is sought the receivers, KPMG, said in a statement today. Adverts have been placed in the national press and KPMG said it was talking to several interested parties with a view to selling the business as a going concern. Last week, the supermarket giant Asda – a key customer of PC Science – told The Register that the system builder was to be sold this week. This was an exclusive story. According to today's statement: "Peter Terry of KPMG was unable to indicate at this stage whether a sale of the business could be achieved." "The receivers anticipate being able to make a further announcement by the end of next week," it added. ® Other PC Science stories that have appeared in The Register: 8 July: Receivers go into PC Science 9 July: Buyer for defunct PC Science?
Linda Harrison, 14 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Lucent highlights laser networking system

Lucent today introduced a new laser-based optical networking technology under the WaveStar OpticAir brand. The system, which will ultimately see commercial light of day around March 2000, connects sites using lasers of a single wave frequency. That provides, claims Lucent, data throughput rates of up to 2.5Gbps. However, using what the company calls Dense Wave Division Multiplexing (DWDM) technology, the system will eventually operate at 10Gbps for distances up to five kilometers. The 10Gbps version should be released commercially in the summer of 2000. DWDM essentially means using multiple light frequencies to provide multiple data channels through the system. Lucent is aiming the technology at locations where standard fibre optic cabling is impractical, either through cost or geographical constraints. The system works in the open air, and Lucent is keen to stress its "environmental friendliness" -- birds and other fauna are presumably not going to get fried should they inadvertently pass through the beam. ®
Tony Smith, 14 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Intel grows up

What happens to Chipzilla's old processors? You know, the ones launched back in the dark ages over a year ago. Do they die? Do they shuffle off into the legendary chip gulag? No. They mature. Check out Intel's new web site for the older processor here. The use of the MIPS name for the site seems to indicate that a vestige of humour still lurks somewhere within Chipzilla's dark and forbidding demense...
Pete Sherriff, 14 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Just shut up about the goddamn Internet, willya?

Opinion When will companies like IBM, Intel and just about every other IT supplier realise that continually banging on about the Internet isn't the way to earn more bucks, writes Pete Sherriff. Promoting any individual company's Internet expertise is great publicity for the Web, but is just as valuable for the competition as for the company forking out for the ad. When I see yet another of IBM's damned eBusiness TV ads - 'if everyone on the Web bought just one guitar, I could retire' - not only do I want to puke, I want to find out which other companies could help our sixties throwback musician sell more guitars faster and cheaper than Big Blue. Don't get me wrong - the Web is undoubtedly fab and groovy - but when I hear faceless middle aged mega corporations like IBM and Intel try to use it in a desperate bid to look hip and trendy it makes me reach for my revolver. And a special plea to Chipzilla to stop droning on about how the Pentium III is the Internet Dream Machine - it's just a faster processor with a few extra instructions, guys. A few years back, those same organisations were spouting on about how they weren't hardware suppliers, oh dearie me, no. They were solution providers. Bullshit providers, more like. When was the last time you walked into a store and asked for a solution? Probably when you went into a bar, that's when. Computer stores don't have shelves stacked with soutions, they have shelves stocked with products. So please, all you marketing folks out there in IT land, stop throwing millions of dollars on promoting the Web in generic terms and for God's sake forget about solutions. Start spending your money on convincing people that yo r products and services are better than those of your competitors. Oh, and that you'll still be in business in a year's time. That would help too. ®
Pete Sherriff, 14 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Beans dished on Compaq-DEC deal by Shannon

The latest edition of a newsletter from industry analyst Terry Shannon, who does the Shannon knows Compaq site has highlighted an interesting Compaq phenomenon. According to Shannon, an acknowledged expert on the Digital-Compaq platform, the company is going through "the mother of all re-orgs". Shannon says in his latest edition of the newsletter, that Compaq is a true believer in the Alpha. He reports on the DECUS conference, an assembly which seems to consist of corporate users of the Alpha platform, none of which necessarily believes that Merced is good. Perhaps that is because of their background... You will have to read it for yourselves. Unfortunately, Shannon's newsletter costs money and Mr Shannon only gives us a glimpse of his insights on his Web site. Two months ago, the same newsletter reported that Compaq had insisted Shannon put the words: "this is not associated with Compaq" on his newsletter. That has irritated a whole spate of Compaq and Digital corporate users who support Shannon's flagstaff. Even Register readers have emailed us about this legal point. According to unconfirmed reports, the end users were, as The Register reports from time to time "up in arms". ®
Mike Magee, 14 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

What the Hell is… a tapeout?

We thought it was probably worth writing one of our irregular series about the chip companies' term "to tape out" because we received loads of letters from our many readers asking what the hell it meant. Some of them were very worried about a new verb being formed with the word tape inside, and they weren't thinking about earthworms, or any other members of the very large worm family. Five years ago, we found ourselves in Richardson, Texas, where then CEO Jerry Rodgers of Cyrix (an ex-TI guy) was at pains to tell us what the verb "to tape out" meant. His facility was small, at that time. Said Rodgers: "Look, you have this heap of chip designers working with software algorithms and when they feel it's right they can deliver this tape to the factory." (He didn't exactly say that, but that was the very tall Texan's meaning). The tape is actually a tape. It is a way the architects and designers deliver something to the famous fabs of semiconductor companies that can start in manufacturing. Today, Intel delivered its reasoning on the famous "tape out" verb, follow news it had taped out the infamous Merced IA64 processor, albeit a few weeks late. Said Intel: "Tapeout signals the completion of the initial processor design. Tapeout is a sequence of multiple steps. It indicates when the database that contains the design information is sent to begin the preparation of masks. Masks can be thought of as a template that is used in the semiconductor manufacturing process. Previous the database was a paper tape, which today has been replaced by an electronic carrier." We suppose then, that Intel has gone Internet wise on the Merced tape out. AMD could not be reached for comment because the insider told us at press time: "We are still double checking the financial figures". The figures will be out at 21:30PM UK time, tonight... ®
Mike Magee, 14 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

E*Trade swoops on Irish firm

Electronic trading took a step toward becoming more commonplace as online brokers E*Trade bought Irish clearing and settlement company, TIR Holdings for $122 million in stock. It is a daring move for the US company and, according to today's FT, marks an important step in building a cross-border electronic trade network. While E*Trade does have offices outside the US, they have thus far focussed on local markets. The alliance with TIR will allow an international trading network to be established, subject to regulatory approval. E*Trade is planning to make the US stock market accessible to its foreign customers inside 12 months, with all its operations linking up in the next three to five years. If approved, the deal could win a slice of the territory mostly inhabited the big institutions. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 14 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

AMD thoroughly undervalued…

The entire world and its dog is waiting for AMD's results at 21.30, UK time. It predicted a big loss, as usual, but has more ammunition this time than last year. Will IBM buy it? It should. AMD's share price has languished in the so-called US term "boondocks" for the last two weeks at seventeen bucks a share. As we have consistently maintained over the last two weeks, AMD is thoroughly undervalued ( a bit like Compaq) Them that bought at $17 per share will be pleasantly surprised over the next weeks and months, particularly as AMD has practically every PC OEM in its grip apart from Dell and Gateway, the Intel distributors. ®
Mike Magee, 14 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Rambus gets dead bullish about results…

Like every other US listed corporation, Rambus was forced to file its financial results today. The company, which has an Intel investment, said it had Q3 revenues of $10.6 million, a mere 16 per cent rise year on year. But in a telling statement, Rambus said the company's revenues included half a million bucks of deferred revenue, "recognized on a contract terminated by Rambus due to the nonperformance of a licensee." Rambus did not say which licensee was the culprit, but the shareholders will want to know, for sure. However, Rambus did announce some wins, including VLSI and PixelFunction. And it said that during the quarter Micron shipped samples of 128Mbit and 144Mbit memories. So it must be doing OK then, by and large... ®
Mike Magee, 14 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

Apple doubles profits year on year

Apple today announced profits of $203 million on revenues of $1.56 billion, making its most recent third quarter, ended 26 June, its seventh consecutive profitable three-month period. For the same time last year, the company made $101 million on revenues of $1.4 billion. Of course, this time last year, Apple had yet to launch the highly successful iMac, so it's no wonder sales were up. Unit shipments were up 40 per cent year on year, which isn't bad considering the current IDC forecast of 21 per cent growth for the PC industry as a whole, but no great shakes given how poorly Apple was doing until it launched the iMac. And the company's performance wasn't all down to computer sales -- continuing a trend established over the last three quarters, Apple dumped a pile of its stock of ARM Holdings shares, this time raking in $89 million. That's a hefty amount, and Apple would only have made $114 million profit if the stock sale hadn't been made. Again, this performance inflation manoeuvre is consistent with recent quarters and suggests Apple isn't doing quite as well as it might like everyone to think. Sure it's selling more kit, but the bottom line is it's making less money per sale and so has to buoy up the books some other way. We wonder what the Street's reaction will be when the ARM shares run out. This time, Apple met expectations, but whether analysts actually banked on a $89 million sale of ARM shares remains to be seen. That said, the company's stock price continues to rise, so presumably someone, somewhere is happy with the results. The company claimed margins were up year on year from 25.7 per cent to 27.4 per cent, so presumably it's banking on further improvement here to cover its rear-end when the ARM shares dry up. The company once again claimed an ending inventory of one day, less than Dell's but no surprise given the way US channels appear to have been squeezed of kit in the run up to 26 June. Lest anyone assume we're being particularly negative about Apple, the results are by no means bad. Equally, they're hardly as spectacular as the company itself -- and the Mac media -- have made out. Still, if Apple can move up as Compaq plummets, maybe there are grounds for optimism after all. ®
Tony Smith, 14 Jul 1999
The Register breaking news

AMD Q2 results not too bad but Atiq Raza leaves

AMD has posted its biggest ever quarterly loss and at the same time was hit by the departure of one of its senior executives. Totally unexpectedly, Atiq Raza, who has masterminded the company's move to develop its x86 strategy, quit, for "personal reasons". That will be a big loss for AMD. Raza became the day-to-day manager of AMD only a few months back and was credited with instilling more discipline into the firm. He also inspired confidence, more significantly, with AMD's customers. The sudden departure of Raza has led to speculation that a bitter power struggle broke out between him and Sanders over the company's future. He had been seen as Sanders' heir apparent. Although W.J. Sanders III, the company's chairman, said a week or two back that AMD might deliver a $200 million loss for the quarter, the final net loss was only $162 million. That is the biggest quarterly loss AMD has ever made, however. Revenue for its Q2 was $595,109,000. Compared to the same quarter last year, sales rose by 13 per cent and last year's loss was $64,560,000. AMD's sale of subsidiary Vantis to Lattice helped bouy the figures. Sanders maintained the Athlon K7, was the key to growth in the future. Although AMD has other, profitable, business lines, these have been put in the shade by Sanders emphasis on its loss making X86 chip business. Some have suggested that for Sanders, the fight against Intel is personal. At one time, both he and Andy Grove, Intel's chairman, worked for Fairchild. It appears Sanders, a flamboyant salesman like figure, is betting the whole farm on the K7. ®
Mike Magee, 14 Jul 1999