4th > October > 1999 Archive

The Register breaking news

Middle-aged men dominate BritNet Spend

So what does your Big Internet Spender look like? Well if he (it’s probably a he) is British, he is aged 45-to 55, and spends more than £1,000 a year buying stuff online. Big Internet Spender gets to make some savings on his phone bills – as he has net access at work, according to BRMB Internet Monitor. And there’s not a whiff of pornography, in BRMB’s Net spend calculations; books, computer software and CDs are the most popular categories bought over the Net, it reports, followed by holidays, electrical goods and cars. Net banking is also beginning to make inroads, with 10 per cent of British Net users now accessing their accounts online. British shoppers spent £2 billion over the Internet over the last 12 months, ten times higher than the year before, it reveals. The numbers buying online increased by a third to 2.5 million -- a quarter of the British Net population -- in the past six months, while average annual expenditure rose 50 per cent in the same period to £690 per person. ®
Drew Cullen, 04 Oct 1999
The Register breaking news

States MS trial lawyer – was he pushed or did he jump?

MS on Trial The resignation last week of Steven Houck, a tough Microsoft opponent who led the antitrust case for the 19 states, was almost certainly forced upon him, for two reasons: one political, and one as a result of Microsoft's lobbying. Houck was chief of the State of New York's antitrust bureau, and was the leading lawyer for the states. In December, Democrat Eliot Spitzer displaced the Republican Dennis Vacco as NY attorney general, and Harry First replaced Houck, although Houck continued to lead the case. His replacement as the lead lawyer for the states is NY assistant antitrust bureau chief Richard Schwartz, who had been working on possible remedies. The poison pill had however been prepared last November when Lloyd Constantine, who had previously been the NY antitrust chief (and who guided Spitzer's transition), commented adversely on the participation by the State of New York in the case, especially since the states had abandoned their unique claim that Microsoft was leveraging the office suite market with Windows. Microsoft had entered a counterclaim against the states as a result of the claim, which was interpreted as arm twisting, if not blackmail. Constantine gave a talk at a conference arranged by Ralph Nader in which he said then that the government did not have the necessary weapons to attack Microsoft, and marches into the battle virtually unarmed because recent administrations have attacked and destroyed antitrust laws to thwart monopoly leverage cases - by not implementing them. Indeed, in some judicial circuits in the US, monopoly leveraging in not an offence, and a supreme court decision is necessary to clarify the position. Constantine observed that the recent economic theory in the few tying and Sherman Act section 2 cases (monopoly power cases) follow two "Chicago School" dogmata. The "optimum monopoly pricing (or single monopoly profit)" theory suggests that a monopolist can get no greater profit in both markets compared with maximising profit in the first market alone, so that under this theory, leveraging from one market to a second adjacent market (e.g. operating systems to browsers) whether by tying or otherwise, is not anticompetitive. The second dogma concerns the avoidance of "double marginalisation": the suggestion is that monopoly leveraging or tying somehow enhances consumer welfare, by allowing lower pricing for two co-ordinated products, which sounds a rather far-fetched idea. Constantine forecast that the Supreme Court, egged on by Justice Breyer, will demolish monopoly leveraging as a Sherman Act section 2 offence. But in a strange twist, Constantine proposed the restoration of monopoly leveraging to the Sherman Act by Congress enacting a minor revision of the law. It seems possible that Microsoft's lobbying effort in Washington, lubricated by a 50 per cent increase in spending money in 1998 compared with 1997, and no doubt even more this year, has played a role. Houck said earlier this year that although he was stepping down as antitrust chief, he would continue to stay on the Microsoft case until it was done, so one could postulate an element of unwillingness. Houck had some famous moments. Perhaps the best was when he accused Gates of not having the intestinal fortitude to testify in court. He questioned Gates for some hours of the videotaped testimony, and concluded that Gates' contentiousness was part of his personality. It was also Houck who examined IBM's John Soyring, although the result was not particularly enlightening. Houck was a hanger-and-flogger so far as Microsoft was concerned, which probably also contributed to his departure. He advocated a structural remedy - splitting Microsoft into Babysofts à la Standard Oil - as well as forcing Microsoft to surrender its Windows code. During the remedies hearing last month, Houck put he boot in, saying that Microsoft "encountered three problems: their own witnesses; their own exhibits; and their own client, Mr Gates". Houck's favourite "doggoned witness" Dean Schmalensee was teased by Houck to say that the companies offering the most viable competition to Microsoft were Linux and BeOS. The conclusion of Houck's oral argument was chilling: "The overwhelming weight of the evidence in this case thus establishes not just that Microsoft has substantial monopoly power, but that Microsoft has wielded its monopoly power to the detriment of consumers. If the market remains structured as it currently is, Microsoft will retain both the means and the incentive to do what it's done for many years now: to restrict consumer choices, to raise prices and to stifle innovation." It is expected that Houck will return to private practice, but it is still possible he will have a cameo role in an oral hearing on the findings of law, or proposed remedies. ® Complete Register Trial coverage
Graham Lea, 04 Oct 1999
The Register breaking news

Morita, architect of Sony, dies

Sony co-founder Akio Morita died yesterday, aged 78. Aside from building Sony, which started up in the ruins of Tokyo at the end of World War II, Morita was a (arguably the) major force in the construction of the Japanese consumer electronics industry, and in changing the image of Japanese products from cheap trash into the IT-savvy, 'zero defect' picture of today. Under Morita Sony became by design one of the most Western-facing of Japanese companies, willing to take risks and go it alone with new product lines and initiatives, and - largely - reaping the benefits. Transistor radios, VCRs, CDs and the Walkman all came out of Sony. On the debit side the company's Betamax tape format famously didn't make it as the standard, and its forays into film and audio have been hugely expensive. But the overall balance sheet clearly remains massively in Sony's favour, and although Morita hasn't been active in the company since a stroke six years ago, he was the man primarily responsible for building the giant we see today. ®
John Lettice, 04 Oct 1999
The Register breaking news

Crap HP sales reps get new cars

Carly Fiorina, the $90m Woman, is to let her top US salespeople choose their "own" cars, in a radical shakeup at HP. HP’s American Unix systems sales reps are performing like dogs -- and their (fleet) cars are to blame. They have to drive around in Ford Tauruses, poor things. This symbolises HP’s "plodding, conservative culture", according to Reuters (Pot calls kettle black?). Under the $90m Woman, more HP salespeople will get the cash to buy their own cars. More salespeople will get sacked too, Fiorina says. Nothing's wrong with the HP’s Unix server line, she says, so the sales reps must be to blame. Her comments accompany a profit warning, Friday morning. The Taiwan earthquake would limit the gains for a strong PC performance in the fourth quarter, Fiorina revealed. Group sales are now expected to come in at the low end of analyst expectations of the 10-13 per cent growth rate for the quarter. ®
Drew Cullen, 04 Oct 1999
The Register breaking news

Quake ripples and Rambus fiasco hit Dell, HP

Although Taiwanese production is now coming back on-stream after the quake, knock-on supply disruption is causing problems for some PC manufacturers. On top of this, the Rambus fiasco also looks like messing up the supply chain. Analysts think Dell has been hit by what you might call Compaq's Revenge. One of Dell's advantages against other PC manufacturers has historically been its build to order model and the short inventory tail associated with it. But go figure - if you don't have a large components inventory, and a prime source of components like Taiwan is knocked out of production for two weeks (the most conservative estimate) then you've probably got trouble. On Friday several analysts warned that Dell might not make its Q3 targets, because of the Taiwan problems, and also noted that the rise in DRAM prices would hit the company disproportionately, as it has several large customers on fixed price deals, and is therefore unable to increase prices to these. Dell itself says it's not yet sure what the quake impact is likely to be. The Register notes that according to a form 144 released by the SEC on Friday, Dell vice chair Mort Topfer had intended to sell 1 million shares on 27 September. HP president Carly Fiorina is more definite about disruption caused by the quake, and on Friday warned of "disruption and delay in some elements of our PC supply chain." At the moment HP is getting supplies, but it and its suppliers are worried about making targets over the next few weeks, particularly as regards ASICs used in HP notebooks. The company is also worried about memory supplies. As well it might be. The Register can't help noticing that the monthly pubs currently hitting the streets include reviews (jolly good ones, too) of HP's new box based on the er, Intel i820. Companies who'd had a commitment to Rambus (hello HP, Compaq, Dell) are having to make a handbrake turn over this one. Lucky old Via. ®
John Lettice, 04 Oct 1999
The Register breaking news

Micron crows over Rambus roadkill

Here's a puzzle. US PC manufacturer Micron didn't commit to Rambus, and so has seen orders for its PC-133-based machines climb since Intel announced its unfortunate 820 accident. A Micron 21-day backlog on some models is reported in today's WSJ, but at the same time Micron looks set to make matters worse by kicking off an ad campaign chuckling at its rivals' woes. All in the best possible taste, apparently. "Dell and Gateway missed the bus (the 133MHz system, that is)" says the ad. Well, yes indeed they did, and they're going to have to switch their testing and manufacturing accordingly. But as Micron will find itself filling the gap while they and other 820-fanciers get their act together, it's already going to be having more orders than it had previously planned on needing to fulfil. And so, likely, is Via, which makes the chipsets for Micron's PC-133 machines. The problems this will cause in the market will depend on how fast Via and the PC manufacturers who already have PC-133 designs on the stocks can ramp, and depending on which way the Rambus roadkill decides to jump, a chequebook war could ensue. Some of them may have had 'skunkworks' Via designs in the labs just in case, and any company smart enough to have done this will be ordering hard now. Companies who didn't, of course, will still find themselves having to book production, because as yet they've no idea if or when Intel will bounce back to save them. Boomtime for Via, it seems, and for Micron, provided it's got adequate supply booked already. ®
John Lettice, 04 Oct 1999
The Register breaking news

K7s cheaper than PIIIs ‘at all speeds’

AMD's Athlons are cheaper than the P3 at all speeds, following today’s price cuts. K7+ mobo combinations are cheaper than P3+BH6 at 550 & 600MHz. And no we haven't cranked the numbers through RegMark, our famous/infamous benchmarking standard. This time it's CPU Review’s William Henning, who's getting out the bangs per bucks slide rule. You can see the fully monty here. Related Stories Athlon price cuts confirmed for 4 October Mesh shows off Athlon 700 systems ahead of launch K7/Athlon 700s: official launch date
Drew Cullen, 04 Oct 1999
The Register breaking news

Ecommerce in the Palm of your hand

Wireless buying, bidding and broking using Palm pilots kicked off in America yesterday with the US roll-out of the new Palm VII, the first wireless capable product in the Palm range. Using a cut down version of HTML, e-businesses are able to offer services direct to Palm users whether in their tractors or cappuccino bars. 3Com, which owns Palm, has stock broker Fidelity, on-line auction house eBay and e-tailer Amazon.com as its first three partners providing services. Europeans will have to wait until at least next year for anything similar however, as the Palm VII is grooved into American wireless protocols, not compatible with Euro-standard GSM. At present content providers are not being charged for the service although this may change next year when Palm Computing, 3Com's handheld unit, is being spun off with 20 per cent floated under the guidance of an independent management team. The Palm VII retails at $499. Price cuts for some existing products were also unveiled -- the Palm V down $80 to $369; Palm IIIx down $70 to $299 -- and special editions of other products -- including a memory enhanced Palm Vx. ®
Tom Bland, 04 Oct 1999
The Register breaking news

It's jocks away for Motorola

Motorola is to create another 1,000 jobs in Scotland, making it one of the country's biggest employers. The company will add the jobs to its mobile phone plant near Edinburgh as part of a £50 million expansion. This will bring its number of employees at the facility to 4,000 and in the whole of Scotland to 7,500. It will boost production from the Easter Inch factory by 50 per cent. Motorola said the move was due to surging world demand for its handsets. According to Donald Dewar, Scotland's first minister, Motorola contributes £549 million a year to the country's economy. The phone giant claimed its three factories in the area accounted for 10 per cent of Scottish exports and was worth more than four per cent of its economic output. It described the investment as: "A testament to the quality of our workforce here in Scotland". ®
Linda Harrison, 04 Oct 1999
The Register breaking news

HP slips as profits dip

Top Hewlett Packard salesmen will not be forced into driving a standard issue Ford Taurus, the company's chief executive Carly Fiorina said on Friday, in a trading update that led to a fall in the company's share price of nearly five per cent. This freedom to choose policy is part of a move to shake up an under-performing Unix sales force in North America, that -- in conjunction with memory parts shortages in the aftermath of the Taiwanese earthquake -- means that the company will come in at the low end of forecast sales growth. The printer-to-Unix giant had forecast earnings growth of 10 to 13 per cent for the fourth quarter. But, in a teleconference with analysts, Fiorina warned: "With the Taiwan disruption, which effects, most especially, our PC business, we don't think we'll achieve the high end of that range and are more likely to come in closer to the low end." Last month's Taiwanese earthquake, Fiorina said, would lead to "some disruption and delay in some elements of our PC supply chain. DRAM availability also may become an issue, but it's too early to tell." The delivery of chipsets, particularly for notebooks, is the key problem. HP stock prices fell $4.81 on Friday's trading to $87.19. As for the Ford Taurus, sales executives will be given 'an entirely new' incentive scheme to correct the North American Unix sales operation, while "poor performers have been removed". Part of this includes choosing their own company car rather than the corporate standard Taurus. ® See related stories: Crap HP sales reps get new cars Quake ripples and Rambus fiasco hit Dell, HP
Tom Bland, 04 Oct 1999
The Register breaking news

Taiwan to get big Hitachi chip contracts

Hitachi is to outsource around 10 per cent of its chip production to companies in Taiwan, it announced today. Starting from April, its next financial year, the manufacturer will farm out production to two Taiwanese companies - UMC (United Microelectronics Corp) and Episil Technologies, according to today's Dow Jones. This will be the first outsourcing of chip production to Taiwan, said Hitachi. The Japanese giant will receive application specific integrated circuits from UMC Group, and transistors from Episil. It said it had decided on the outsourcing to conserve resources to pump into more advanced, higher value products. In conjunction with ST Microelectronics, Hitachi is also expected to announce the completion of the latest design in the SH series of chips, according to today's Wall Street Journal. The Japanese and French companies will jointly manufacture the microprocessors, which are used in consumer electronics products. The SH-5-series chip will begin shipping by the end of next year. It will run at 400MHz, giving at least double the speed of performance of the SH-4 200MHz, Hitachi said. ST Micros said it was aiming to use the component in multimedia-heavy devices such as video game consoles and hand-held computers. ®
Linda Harrison, 04 Oct 1999
The Register breaking news

E-millionaires cash in big time

The UK has more e-Midases than you can shake a stick at, according to a survey by The Sunday Times. The nation's top 100 cyber millionaires were said to be worth a combined £4 billion. Yorkshireman Paul Sykes, founder of ISP Planet Online, netted first place with a hefty personal worth of £500 million. Steve Bennett, founder of online retailer jungle.com, took 20th place and was said to be worth a cool £40 million. And he's only 33. Also included in the Top 20 were easyEverything entrepreneur Stelios Haji-Ioannou, and MD of ISP ClaraNET, Charles Nasser. They beat traditional IT tycoons such as Dixons chairman Sir Stanley Kalms. The youngest cyber-Croesus was Benjamin Cohen, the 17-year-old founder of Jewishnet.com, estimated to be worth £5 million. The UK was said to have more e-millionaires than any other country except the US, though most of the companies mentioned had yet to break into profit. ®
Linda Harrison, 04 Oct 1999
The Register breaking news

Let it be Thus, Scottish Telecom decrees

Scottish Telecom, owner of Demon Internet, one of the UK's biggest ISPs, is changing its name to Thus, in a bid to save this fine Old English-derived adverb from the dustbin of new English archaisms. These days, most English speaking people use the words so or therefore, rather than thus. But it could soon change if language revivalist Scottish Telecom gets its way. Scottish Telecom thinks Thus is go-ahead and modern, or at least that's what its corporate design agency told it to think. And it gets to have jokey/ memorable websites like Letitbethus.com. But how will this play overseas? The 'th' sound in 'Thus' is notoriously difficult for non-native English speakers to wrap their tonsils around. Scottish Telecom is keen to change its name, because research shows that most people south of the border think of it as the equivalent of BT north of the border. Which wouldn't do at all. The company is plotting a £1.5 billion IPO before the end of the year, although the national newspapers last week were full of reports that a trade buyer might get there first. ® Register Fact:(borrowed from last Saturday's Guardian) American sitcom Joannie Loves Chachi was banned in Thailand, where Chachi means penis.
Drew Cullen, 04 Oct 1999
The Register breaking news

Chip sales soar as PC market balloons

August saw a massive 22 per cent jump in chip sales, way ahead of the 3.5 per cent growth seen in July. Latest figures from the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) value the 22 per cent hike at just shy of $12 billion. The Japanese and Asian markets saw the strongest gains, rising 31.7 per cent and 30.1 per cent respectively against last year's sales. Europe and North America recorded more modest, yet steady year-on-year growth of 9.9 per cent and 18.1 per cent respectively. George Scalise, president of the SIA, said: " This acceleration in growth is another strong indicator that the industry is sustaining the upturn that started in mid-1998." The growth figures seen this summer were among the biggest since 1995, Scalise went on to say. The PC industry remains the semiconductor industry's number one customer, and with demand for PCs set to rise by 25 per cent in the third quarter of 1999, according to figures from IDC, this is a trend which looks set to continue. ®
Sean Fleming, 04 Oct 1999
The Register breaking news

Merced now called Itanium

So the brand name for Merced is Intel Itanium, as revealed --sort of -- by The Register back in May. Still billed for launch in the middle of next year, the first IA64 chip is already sampling to a select few OEMs. And with the chip behemoth smarting from the Camino debacle, let's hope this one appears on time. Itanium processor-based servers and workstations will be available in the second half of the year 2000, the company says. So why announce the brand name today (October 4). The cynical may think Intel was doing a Grace Archer on AMD. (Sometime in the 1950s, The BBC torched beloved radio soap character Grace Archer in a barn fire, ensuring the launch of new television station ITV was relegated to the inside pages of the next day newspapers). People of a less dyspeptic disposition would say the Itanium announcement has nothing to do with stealing AMD's thunder, on the day of the Athlon 700 announcement, and everything to do with the build up with this week's Microprocessor Forum. ® Register Factoid no.64: Merced never was late, despite press reports. When the original design was put together, the techy folks said it would be ready in mid 2000. The monstro Chipzilla marketing department thought this was too late and pulled in the official launch date by three months. However, as the design came together it became clear that the marketing launch date was about as likely to happen as a successful Camino chipset, so the original launch date was hurriedly re-adopted. Related story Intel's Itanium and Intel Pla Y make trademark debuts
Pete Sherriff, 04 Oct 1999
The Register breaking news

Psion rubbishes Palm, aims Revo at wireless, ‘lifestyle’

As exclusively (and to be honest, almost entirely fortuitously) revealed here on Thursday (Revo escapes early) Psion unveiled its latest consumer palmtop, the Revo, in London earlier today. But more important, the company unveiled a new strategy that makes it clear it's been paying attention to its mobile phone buddies in Symbian. From an initial look at the product and the strategy, it starts to seem possible that Psion was doing more than whistling in the dark when it said a few weeks back that it expected sales to pick up towards the end of the year - the Revo was intended as a secret weapon, and that's what it could turn out to be. Spec-wise the Revo has a great deal in common with the original Psion Series 5, and it has a certain amount in common with the more recent 5mx as well. Some sport can be hand in asking Psion reps if they'd just like to explain the different target markets of the Revo and the 5mx. Answer: the 5mx is aimed at "upper management with lots of money" and the need to have the top technology, the Revo is more "soft-collar," more "lifestyle." Psion CEO David Levin (top management, lots of money) then kind of blew it by saying he liked the Revo. But he rescued himself (and this would have been more obvious if the audience had been more consumer electronics) by suggesting that people might actually have more than one personal organiser. This is of course a retread of the strategy Nokia has been beta-ing in Finland, and is starting to release on the rest of the world - overlapping product lines, different sizes, different functions, market penetration of 150 per cent plus. For Psion buffs it's heartening to hear the company has been paying attention. What it means is that Psion is ramping-up its product launch frequency, dumping the old 'once every two years whether it needs it or not' approach, and along the way going wildly wireless web. For the moment it's not going for one-box products like the Nokia Communicator, but is expecting (reasonably enough) most users to have a mobile phone to match their Psion box. In sharp contrast to the original 5 launch (which Psion people now tacitly admit was a leap too far) the Revo comes with immediate support for IRDA phones from Motorola, Siemens, Ericsson and Nokia. Levin says there will be a one box product when the ergonomics are right, and we take this to mean when you can run it with a Bluetooth connection to a headset. But even so, the extra weight of combining a PDA and cellphone will mean that's only one of a number of Psion products. The Symbian-cellular connection is also something Psion seems to be expecting a lot of. Levin freely admits that the company is banking on Symbian's EPOC (the Revo runs EPOC 5, as do Psion's other new machines) being the default OS for wireless, and he also expects broadband wireless to show up fairly soon. GPRS in Europe next year will be the first stage of that, and it's likely to make mobile devices like Psions instantly more usable. And rather than worrying about CE as a contender, Psion seems to be more focussed on Palm, which is fair enough, considering how badly CE and how well Palm has done in this space. Psion used to argue that Palm and the Series 5 were in separate sectors, but now Levin comments that "Palm does a third as much [as the Revo] for a great deal of money - we've leapfrogged." Palm, popular and wireless-enabled ahead of Psion, might seem to have a lead, but its US roots show. Psion's connections with the European mobile outfits and with GSM arguably give it a massive advantage. Psion's current gamble with the Revo is that it will be able to sell the machine into a wider market that wants a lighter, slimmer, mobile phone aware PDA and is going to be attracted by the Web-based mobility services Psion is setting up. It comes with a free subscription to Psion's free Internet service, psion.net, which will give access to Psion-friendly internet services, and backing it up (again, a heartening change from the Series 5 launch) Psion Dacom has launched an IRDA 56k plus GSM travel modem to go with it simultaneously. What's it like? We have one right here. The keyboard's smaller than the 5mx keyboard, but the machine's slim (weighs 200g), comes with comms and phone synchronisation, and the screen, although not backlit, is extremely sharp. It has a cutesy little base station with a charger unit (the batteries are rechargeable, rather than the usual removables) and PC comms cable, so the general idea is that you put it in the base station when you're by the PC and it syncs and recharges at the same time. At UKP300 including tax it's pricey, but Psion is banking on it being seen to be a better value and more functional package than rival devices. The company may be right - more anon, when we've had a proper play. There will also be a US model, incidentally, but Levin says Psion won't be supporting non-GSM cellular until such time as the US gets its standards act together. So there. ®
John Lettice, 04 Oct 1999
The Register breaking news

Different strokes for cellphone folks

Forget brain tumours -- it could be strokes that mobile phone addicts will have to worry about. The Bristol University team of academics that revealed earlier this year that mobile phones heated up the brain (but couldn't find anything wrong with that) have now begun a new research project to examine a link between mobile phone use and higher blood pressure. High blood pressure is believed to cause 70 per cent of all strokes in Britain. Lest we get overexcited, there is actually little evidence for such a link yet and team leader Dr Alan Preece, a reader in oncology at the university, went to ground today because he had nothing to say. After all the study has hardly started. Preece is following up German research which last year tentatively showed that while a phone was switched on a user experienced higher blood pressure. Whether this leads to any long term impacts is not clear from the Sunday Mirror, who ran the story over the weekend. But already the Stoke Association are warning against the overuse of mobiles, in case you weren't getting worried. While the link between health problems and mobile phone use has yet to proven conclusively, back in August a German mobile phone user was beaten to death with a beer bottle after refusing to switch off his phone in a pub. ® See related stories: Mobile phones fry your brains Mobile phones are a pain in the neck Mobile phone tumour link is tenuous, says Motorola
Tom Bland, 04 Oct 1999
The Register breaking news

Nine new PIII flavours revealed

Intel is due to launch nine more versions of its Pentium III chip this quarter. The chip giant is on track to add 733 and 667MHz versions of the processor, with SECC2 Package, .18 micron process technology, supporting 133MHz system bus, by the end of 1999. They will come with 256KB on-Die full speed L2 Cache. These will have the same specifications as the 600EB and 533EB versions of the Coppermine family, which is due to launch on 24 October. Sources have revealed that there will be 700, 650 and 600E versions of the PIII using a 100MHz system bus. They will have the SECC2 Package, .18 micron process technology and 256KB on-die full speed L2 Cache. The 550E and 500E will use the FC-PGA370 package, with .25 micron process technology, 100MHz system bus and 256KB on-die full speed L2 cache. The E, B, and EB naming conventions are to be used to distinguish the processors from current PIII Slot 1 processors. The new naming conventions were first revealed by The Register last month. Last Monday, Intel launched the 600B and 533B versions of the Pentium III, each supporting the 133MHz bus. The range is currently available at 600, 550, 533, 500 and 450MHz. Last week, Intel also spectacularly canned the long-awaited launch of the i820 chipset. ®
Linda Harrison, 04 Oct 1999
The Register breaking news

Cyber narcotics to outwit police

Virtual reality narcotics are, err, just around the corner and the elite police forces are already worried about them, national newspaper The Observer reliably informed its readers this weekend. Users will soon implant silicon chips into their bodies and activate high-inducing hormones with radio waves or the Internet, or something. This likely possibility emerges from the fusion between technology savvy national newspapers and a rentaquote with a plausible job title -- Kevin Warwick, professor of cybernetics, Reading University. Warwick is quoted as saying: "The question is not whether virtual reality narcotics can be created, but how soon they can be put on the market." (What on earth is this man talking about? Has he been at the virtual drugs cabinet? - Ed) Fuelled by that, The Observer, in the wake of a briefing on new trends in cybercrime from elite police force the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS), concluded: "Law enforcement officials are bracing themselves for the introduction of virtual reality drugs which, because they are transmitted across the Internet or using radio waves, can be taken without anyone ever needing to actually possess them." Scary. NCIS -- which is currently drawing up plans for Britain's first specialist national computer crimes unit (and, so The Register hopes, knows better) -- was quick to point out that battling science-fiction was not one of its priorities. "I have no idea where that came from,' a spokesman told The Register." ®
Tom Bland, 04 Oct 1999
The Register breaking news

Pentium-killer PCs are go

Evesham Micros, Panrix, Carrera and Mesh were among the UK PC builders launching systems with the Athlon 700 today. Evesham launched four systems with the AMD Athlon 700MHz. These range from £1,409 + VAT, with 128MB DRAM, 12.9Gb hard drive, 16Mb graphics and DVD, to £2,039 + VAT, with 256Mb DRAM, 20Gb hard drive and 19" monitor. Carrera launched its Octan M700, adding to its existing Octan range, which uses all five versions of the Athlon chip range. The machine, priced at £1,999, with 128MB DRAM, 34 Gb hard drive, DVD and 19" monitor, will start shipping by the end of this week. Mesh launched its Matrix 700T at £2045 + VAT with 128MB DRAM, 22Gb hard drive, 19" monitor and 56kbps modem, which it advertised as early as last week with the tag-line 'Pentium Killer'. Panrix also launched two systems today, but was this afternoon still clarifying specks and prices due to yo-yoing DRAM memory prices. ®
Linda Harrison, 04 Oct 1999