13th > August > 1999 Archive

The Register breaking news

AMD Athlons on retail sale in Japan

The first retail versions of Athlon K7 processors have started appearing in shops in the Akihabara electronics district of Tokyo. At the same time, motherboards have also started making an appearance in the shape of the MicroStar MSI MSD-6167, according to this site. The article says, translated, that the motherboard is around ¥23,000. AMD has said for some weeks now that retail K7 Athlons would become available in mid-August. 500MHz, 550MHz and 600MHz parts are on display, while some shops are also stocking the parts, the article says. ®
Mike Magee, 13 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

RIMMs start to ship in volume

A year ago Posted 13 August 1998 -- a year ago South Korean conglomerate Samsung has started shipments of its 64Mbit modules based on Rambus technology. According to reports, volume production of the RIMMs (Rambus in line memory modules) has already started with production of 100,000 units a month. It is supplying the modules to Dell, Intel and also Compaq, the reports said. The Rambus technology will become the dominant memory architecture in years to come. Intel has said that machines using the fast 1GHz memory will start to be produced in volume at some stage in 1999. Samsung is expected to ramp up production of the RIMMs to one million units a month by this time next year. The Korea Herald reported that the US commerce department has delayed its decision on whether Hyundai was guilty of dumping DRAM in its territory by a month. US memory manufacturer Micron had alleged that Hyundai was selling memory at below the cost of production. ®
Mike Magee, 13 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Internet Explorer hit by fresh security scare

US site Bugnet is reporting a potentially dangerous bug in version 5 of Microsoft Internet Explorer. According to the report, when you use the browser to download a file from an FTP (file transfer protocol) site, user names and passwords are revealed. Bugnet points out people typically use FTP to download large files, so their user names can be displayed for quite some time. So far, Microsoft has not responded with a fix. ®
Mike Magee, 13 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Sony commits to online music sales

Sony will begin selling and delivering music via the Internet in December, the Japanese wing of the company's music division said yesterday. The first batch of tracks, including new releases and back catalogue material, will be offered to Japanese customers, but it's going to be difficult to prevent overseas buyers from using the service. Prices will range from Y200 to Y500 ($1.70 to $4.40) per track. Sony didn't say which format it would use to encode the tracks it will offer, but it did say it would deliver CD-quality audio. That rules out MP3 and ought to rule out Microsoft's MSAudio, but since Sony said in May that it will support that format, it's probably the one the company will offer in December. Whichever format Sony selects, it will work within the framework set down by the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI). "We have to start selling music online, considering the prospects for an explosion of Internet usage and a proliferation of distribution technologies," a Sony music spokesman told newswires. "But we still face the challenge of protecting our copyrights and intellectual property." That's a telling statement. For all the music companies may dislike the Internet -- primarily because of the copyright issue -- they clearly realise they have to deal with this new distribution medium. In any case, Sony has two levels of interest here. Sony Music wants to make the most of the music distribution opportunity, and the company's hardware division wants to break into the player market. Earlier this year, Sony president Nobuyuki Idei as near as damn it announced the company's entry into the digital music player market, and while these two sectors of Sony's business aren't directly connected, launching both products together would clearly make a great deal of sense. A December launch would also put Sony ahead of consumer electronics rivals Philips and Matsushita, both of which are readying digital music players for release next year. Matsushita is also preparing its own music distribution service, so again, since Sony is doing the same, it's a good idea to get there first. ®
Tony Smith, 13 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Time to feed the World (Wide Web)

First it was Live Aid -- now brace yourself for NetAid. Top artists including Bush, The Corrs and Robbie Williams will join rock legends Jimmy Page and Pete Townsend to take part in a global gig broadcast simultaneously over the Web, TV and radio. Cisco and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) are behind the monster rave which has been launched to raise cash to combat the growing problem of extreme poverty in the world. Three concerts in London, New York and Geneva will overlap to create one long mega gig on 9 October. The entire programme will be Webcast live on two channels -- one carrying the concert, the other showing what's happening backstage with the stars. Organisers claim NetAid will draw the largest audience ever for a live music event. "NetAid is a new Internet model for social change that will combine cutting edge technology with the world's best artistic talent and poverty-fighting expertise," said Chris Dedicoat, MD of Cisco's UK and Ireland operations. "Just as the Internet has revolutionised business, the Internet can help lift the hopes of communities in need by bringing ideas, people and resources together in ways never thought possible. "NetAid will use the largest scale Internet technology ever deployed to tackle one of the world’s largest problems," he said. The NetAid site will be launched on 8 September, and will have the capacity to handle 125,000 simultaneous live streams, 10 times more than any other site. It will also be able to handle 60 million hits per hour -- ten times more than the peak for the last Olympics and the soccer World Cup in France. Ex-Boomtown Rat Sir Bob Geldof, who was so instrumental in the organisation of Live Aid in 1985, is not involved in this project, yet his sentiments about fund raising are just as valid today as they were then. "Just give us you fucking money, will ya," he said famously during Live Aid. No doubt the organisers of NetAid will wish the same, if not quite so eloquently. ®
Tim Richardson, 13 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Seagate U8 HDDs aim for bargain basement

Seagate had extended its 'U series' of hard drives with the new U8 models. Volume production is set for September with evaluation models currently doing the rounds. They will be available in capacities of 17.2, 13.0, 8.4, and 4.3GB. The company says that the U8 will provide real value to the sub-$700 PC market. The drive boasts GMR heads, G-Force protection and the Ultra ATA/66 interface. Seagate says that the drive has been engineered to perform well in the consumer market too, in the form of set top boxes and other information appliances. The U series has some heavy hitting fans -- Compaq and Acer are both customers. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 13 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

E-bank promises easy money online

The entrepreneur behind discount airline EasyJet and a new chain of super-cybercafes is planning to open an Internet only bank next year. Stelios Haji-Ioannou -- who is also just about to launch a discount online car rental business -- wants to harness IT to cut the price of traditional banking services. It's too early to say exactly what the e-bank will offer but reports suggest it could start life as a fund management operation before becoming a pukka bank. Although the e-bank has no official name as yet it's believed Easy Money and Easy Bank are both in the frame. The story in today's Financial Times was confirmed by Tony Anderson, marketing director of the Easyeverything cybercafe who said the story was "factually correct". He also told The Register that the Easyeverything cafe in Victoria was "profitable in its own right" attracting 5000 paying customers a day. A further two Easyeverything cybercafes are due to open in central London later this month and another is due to open on Oxford Street in November. The planned Tottenham Court Road cafe is set to be even bigger than the Easyeverything cybercafe in Victoria, which has already been dubbed the "biggest cybercafe in the world". ®
Tim Richardson, 13 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Computer Associates teamz up with UMC

Updated We reported here early yesterday that Computer Associates was to team up with Taiwanese local foundry United Microelectronics Corp (UMC). And the reports are now confirmed. The deal, according to UMC, will leverage its foundry knowledge and CA's engineering know-how to produce a "next generation" of global positioning system (GPS) applications. The initiative is called Omnitrack, and according to Charles Wang, CA's CEO, the joint initiative is set to produce a whole new family of "location aware" apps. The joint venture will have its headquarters in New York, USA. Financial terms were not disclosed. It is CA's fifth investment in Taiwanese firms. ®
Mike Magee, 13 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Judge dismisses ATI Real 3D ‘nuisance suit’ claim

3D graphics specialist Real 3D has won the first round in its patent infringement case against graphics giant ATI. US District Court Judge Sue Robinson this week threw out a countersuit filed by ATI claiming that its Rage product line doesn't infringe Real 3D patents and that those patents are invalid anyway. ATI's suit essentially alleged that Real 3D's legal action was simply about forcing it to cough up money to avoid the cost of a trial. Real 3D's case against ATI centres on allegations that not only do the latter's graphics products infringe two Real 3D patents, but that ATI poached "key Real 3D engineering staff" in order to gain access to its trade secrets and thus compete with it unfairly. Of the patents, one is highly specialised, but the other defines what any graphics chipset will do, so technically affects not only ATI but everyone else in the business, including S3, 3dfx, Matrox, 3DLabs and so on. That said, these other companies may well have licensing agreements with Real 3D -- or simply gave in to Real 3D's demands. Real 3D is part-owned by Intel -- it designed the i740 graphics chipset on Chipzilla's behalf -- and SGI. SGI, of course, is now great friends with nVidia -- having settled a patent row of their own -- and who is one of nVidia's main rivals? Yes, that's right, it's ATI. Not that there's a connection between these events, of course. ®
Tony Smith, 13 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Rambus officers offload over 50,000 shares

A number of directors and officers at Rambus sold thousands of shares in the company yesterday. The shares closed on Wall Street yesterday just short of $87. In mid-July, Rambus shares stood at around $117, but the price fell after Intel appeared to waver over its support for Direct Rambus. According to Web site InsiderTrader.com, David Mooring, Paul Farmwald, Subodh Toprani, Kevin Donnelly and Mark Horowitz all disposed of shares yesterday. The total number amounted to 51,000. Insider Trader describes these individuals as officers and/or directors of Rambus. Under the terms of a licence agreement between Intel and Rambus, the former is obliged to help Direct Rambus be a success. However, Intel can terminate this contract at any time. ® See also Intel attempts to grab PC-133 spex
Mike Magee, 13 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Palm blocks daVinci PDA sales

Palm Computing was granted this week an injunction preventing Olivetti's US subsidiary importing, exporting, distributing or selling its Royal daVinci PDA. Palm's action centres on allegations that the Olivetti PDA's operating system, Nexus, developed by Hong Kong-based software company Echolink Design, contains huge chunks of PalmOS source code. Palm has already filed a copyright infringement case in Hong Kong against Echolink, and won an court order preventing Echolink from distributing Nexus in any way until the case is settled. The 3Com subsidiary filed similar suits against Olivetti Office USA and CompanionLink, the distributor of the daVinci OS software development kit, in July. In granting the injunction against Olivetti and CompanionLink on 10 August, the court said the Palm had "made a showing of likelihood of success on the merits" of its claim that the daVinci OS contains portions of the PalmOS copied verbatim. ®
Tony Smith, 13 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

AltaVista takes on US market with free service

Less than a year after Freeserve changed the face of Net access in the UK, AltaVista could be about to do the same thing in the US. The monster search engine has launched a subscription-free ISP that could give the whole US market a massive jolt. Called AltaVista FreeAccess, it provides dial-up access to the Internet without charging monthly subscription fees. But unlike many of the subscription-free services in the UK, AltaVista's new service is funded by advertising. A small window called the AltaVista MicroPortal is displayed on the desktop complete with rotating ads and content. According to AltaVista, it only takes up five per cent of desktop space and can be moved around wherever users want it. The service is supported by San Francisco based 1stUp.com, a privately held company that specialises in ad-based ISPs. And it seems Rod Schrock, president and CEO of AltaVista, is not afraid to rock the boat. "Why continue to pay $240 per year or more when a totally free service easily meets your needs?" he said. If the UK example is anything to go by, he should be able to answer his own question by Christmas. ®
Tim Richardson, 13 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Red Hat stock heads skyward on second day's trading

Linux distributor Red Hat saw its market capitalisation soar from $3.48 billion to nearly $5 billion on the second day of trading in the newly-IPO'd company's stock. Red Hat shares began trading on Wednesday, and by close of play had more than tripled their value, rising from an initial price of $14 to just over $52. Yesterday, the increase continued and Red Hat's stock closed at $72.625. This despite the fact that for all Red Hat's soaring revenues it has still to turn in a profit. In the three months to 31 May it sales of just $2.8 million but lost $2.1 million. For that reason, one analyst, David Menlow of the IPO Financial Network, based in Millburn, New Jersey, said the rise of Red Hat's stock is "totally unsustainable". "These levels are nosebleed territory," he told Reuters, "and the stock does not belong at these levels." It's certainly going to be interesting to see how long the stock continues to rise -- or even, once it stabilises, how long that will last. In the run up to the IPO, most of the interest in the stock appeared to be coming from the Linux community itself. That interest could well push Red Hat's stock way up, but since many of these buyers are likely to be into the stock for the long term -- they're stating their support for Linux as much as making an investment -- that could well bring the stock down again as demand quickly slackens. Certainly, while Linux is making rapid inroads into the server market, and possibly soon the desktop PC arena, it's not going to push its distributors into serious profitability in the immediate future. And while companies like Red Hat will want expand into the rather more lucrative services business, they're quickly going to come up hard against some real tough rivals, such as IBM. ®
Tony Smith, 13 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

OS-9 developer set to battle Apple's Mac OS 9

Apple's decision to call the next release of its operating system Mac OS 9 could see the company hauled through the US courts by a small real-time OS developer that has already trademarked its 'OS-9' product. Microware's OS-9 is aimed at embedded applications and, ironically enough, runs on the same Motorola 680x0 and PowerPC processors Apple has been using all these years. According to Apple-watching Web site AppleInsider, Microware has approached Apple and threatened the Mac maker with legal action if it continues with its plan to ship something called 'Mac OS 9'. Version 9 is due to ship in the Autumn, but was originally numbered version 8.7 -- that changed when it was decided to ship the update as a major new release of the software. Given Apple has been using that naming scheme since it eliminated the old 'System x' branding back in the post 7.5 days, it's unlikely to want to comply. And it appears that Microware lawyers are now preparing their suit against it. That said, since the original name for it was 'MacOS', not 'Mac OS' -- note the space, added more recently with version 8.5 of the OS -- it will be easy for Apple to fix the problem simply by returning to the older version of the nomenclature and claim there's no infringement of Microware's trademark. Equally, since 'OS-9' contains a dash, it could be argued it's not at all like 'OS 9' (no dash) and, again, Apple is safe. ®
Tony Smith, 13 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Stop the madness, Quantum boss pleads

Disk drive manufacturer Quantum, is calling for an end to "unsustainable" price cuts across the industry. Mike Brown, chief executive at Quantum said that Seagate was one of the worst culprits. Quantum accused its rival of pricing its products below its costs, which forced others to do the same. Quantum said that it would not cut prices to gain market share, and he asked the rest of the industry to follow suit. He commented: "We can’t go on with everyone losing money." Seagate's financial officer, Don Waite, denied Brown's accusations, saying that Seagate was not deliberately losing money. Prices in the industry have been falling at three or four times the usual rate, illustrating a significant slump even in an industry famous for its ups and downs. But analysts are divided about who is to blame. John Donovan, an analyst at Trend Focus, told the Wall Street Journal: "The game now is who can make things cheapest, and that is Seagate's strength." He pointed to the U-series of drives. He said that Seagate was able to make these cheap, but still make money. Quantum said that it would not cut prices to increase market share, but it would do so to defend it. Seagate was unimpressed, and Waite finished: "We have a strategy, and we don't intend to change it just because our competitors are losing money." ®
Lucy Sherriff, 13 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Y2K bug eats London's electricity

A botched attempted to fix the millennium bug left over 2,000 Londoners without electricity last week. London Electricity was graded 'blue' by the government watchdog Action 2000, indicating no material risk of disruption. A spokesman said: "Our Powerkey meters don't recognise the date change. They would keep supplying electricity, but would not register any price changes." The new software was to be installed when customers re-charged the meters. Of the 8,000 fixes attempted, 2,000 did not work. London Electricity said that the majority were reconnected within 24 hours, and that no one had to wait longer than 48 hours for power to return. A further 400,000 Londoners must now wait for their millennium fix until the new bug has been exterminated. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 13 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Fraud row lands EDS in yet more hot water

EDS has made it into the headlines again, but not for the right reasons. The latest instalment in the blighted history of managing council finances in the UK concerns over one thousand computer generated letters accusing housing benefit claimants of fraud. The letter, which reached 1,400 people in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, informed them that: "Your overpayment has increased because you have cashed a cheque that has been reported as missing." A spokeswoman for EDS said that the error occurred in a commonly used piece of software. She said: "The important thing is that no one has been materially harmed. We have apologised profusely for our mistake." She could not explain how the problem had happened. Although the company's director, Tony Knight, sent out apologies immediately, Wyn Evans, the policy spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, was infuriated. "This is the final straw," he said. "It's time to accept that Kingston's poorest residents have suffered enough due to gross incompetence from the council." EDS said that it was a unique situation, and should not re-occur. It also said that it was in discussions with the supplier of the software over the issue. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 13 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Euro-market for clever handhelds to soar this year

Survey Tthe Western European market for smart handhelds was worth over $1 billion last year. And this year, even more growth is expected, IDC says. The market was fuelled in 1998 by the Palm III and future growth will come this year because of the Palm V and small CE devices, IDC thinks. Growth in Europe is mostly because of professional business users wanting Internet access including email, light weight, low cost and access to other information, said research manager Alison McKenzie. The market for WinCE in 1998 was less than expected because of the slow rollout of devices, but is beginning to take off because companies like HP, Compaq and Sharp made inroads, she said. Smart phones, however, did not perform well in 1998. Vendors are cautious and slow to enter the market, but WAP enabled and EPOC based handsets from Ericsson and Nokia will gain market share as they appear at the end of this year and through next. ®
Team Register, 13 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Athlon fire resistant, graffito resistant and aesthetically sound

Regular readers will remember that at our first year Register party, one staffer was taking a leak between an AMD PR and an Intel PR, and invited them to shake hands across the divide. Well, little did we suspect what the divide was. Enter, then the Athlon panel, which is fire resistant, Adamson Rust proof, and easy to maintain. Strangely enough, it is the Intel body that was standing at the urinal who drew our attention to this picture of the Athlon.... Ahem. ®
Adamson Rust, 13 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

AT&T sues Intel

Mighty corporation AT&T has sued mighty corporation Intel in what US law describes as a statutory action. The suit was filed on 11 August in the US District Court in San Jose, and is referred to judge Edward A Infante. The statute number is 28:1331. This refers to cases where sums claimed are less than $10,000, according to pages at the law department at Cornell. Sure enough, AT&T is seeking some $5000 in cash from Chipzilla. Surely Intel can afford to pay its phone bill? No one from Intel was available to comment on the litigation at press time. ®
Mike Magee, 13 Aug 1999
The Register breaking news

Intel attempts to grab PC-133 spex

Intel is attempting to queer the pitch of other PC-133 memory players by introducing its own standard in 10 days time, according to US wire Electronic Buyers' News Earlier this week, we reported that Intel will introduce a so-called "Vancouver" motherboard next month that will allow system builders to switch between Direct Rambus and PC-133 modules. (Story: 133MHz FSB plot to thicken sooner than thought) According to EBN, Intel wants to get control over the qualification stage of PC-133 parts, which will start to appear in volume from memory manufacturers in Q4. It will announce its plans at the Intel Developer Forum at the end of this month, the magazine says. The Register will, once again, be attending the IDF. Other companies involved in promoting the PC-133 spex, including Via -- involved in litigation with Intel -- are likely to take a dim view of this move, if true. Intel dominated the qualification procedure for the former PC-100 memory standard, but is late to the game with PC-133 after it was forced to do a humiliating u-turn because of problems with Direct Rambus. ®
Mike Magee, 13 Aug 1999