5th > October > 1999 Archive

The Register breaking news

Prague outfit prepares NetBeans development tools

With more and more attention being given to Java, tools developers have become very sexy. NetBeans, based in Prague, and founded in July 1997 by Roman Starek (previously with Sybase, Informix and PowerSoft) is one of the more prominent second wave Java tools developers. Its venture capital was arranged through EDventure Holdings ($1 million) and James Gellert of Woodcrest Partners. NetBeans is an object-oriented, visual programming environment for client-side development of Java applications. It is written in Java and is entirely based on JavaBeans components and Swing, so making it platform independent. JavaBeans is used as the component model for the development and deployment environments. NetBeans is written in Java 2 and runs on any Java 2-enabled platform, including Windows, Solaris, and Linux (the Red Hat Linux 6.0 is bundled). NetBeans has a Java integrated development environment (IDE) in three versions: Developer, Professional, and Enterprise, and is in public beta. So far, some 20,000 copies of Developer have been downloaded. The Pro version is designed for database work (with full JDBC - Java Database Connectivity - API support), servlets and XML support, while the Enterprise version has support for EJB, CORBA, RMI, and JNDI in a single environment, with wizards and templates helping to make development faster. There is also support for half a dozen leading Java ORBs, including JacORB which is widely used in the Linux community. NetBeans is using a mix-and-match approach to build additional capability into its products, and has integrated a debugger from Metamata's Debug, and Object International's Together/3 modelling tool. It has also partnered with EJB-vendor Gemstone. A recent relationship with Tendril makes it possible to use the latter's StructureBuilder as a plug-in to Developer, and to design UML (unified modelling language) models inside the development environment. The competition in this burgeoning field is fierce, with IBM's VisualAge, Borland's JBuilder, and Symantec's Visual Café for starters. Perhaps not surprisingly, NetBeans is rumoured to have caught the eye of Sun, and since Sun dropped Java Studio and failed to release the source code of JavaWorkshop, an acquisition is a strong possibility. Yet Sun must be concerned not to be seen to be competing with its partners, so however NetBeans were handled, there would be a need for it to be at arm's length. NetBeans has shown that even in Central Europe it is possible to move quickly and work at the state of the art. Starek was fortunate to have tapped the US VC market, since European VCs have historically been much more conservative, and only willing to pour in some cash for a few months before making a killing (they hope), when the company goes public. Starek says that a significant stumbling block has been European banks, none of which would offer terms for credit card processing that were even remotely close to those offered in the US. So far as e-commerce is concerned in the Czech Republic, Starek says it's so disappointing it's hardly worth trying. ®
Graham Lea, 05 Oct 1999
The Register breaking news

So how old is the Net, and did Sputnik invent it?

Some people have decided that the Internet is 30 years old and are celebrating its trigesimus. Well, save the candles, because there are plenty of other anniversaries that are in many ways quite as important. In a strange way, the Internet resulted from a non-collaboration between the USSR and the USA, with the UK contributing two seminal technologies. The Russian contribution was Sputnik, in 1957, which kick-started a great deal of fundamental research in the US, including the formation of the US Department of Defense's Advanced Projects Research Agency. In 1962, JCR Licklider (known as 'Lick') joined ARPA from Bolt, Beranek & Newman and was given the job of setting up ARPANET. He named his group the Intergalactic Network, but it was not until 1967 that networking was discussed seriously, and SRI was asked to study possible specifications. BBN was awarded the main contract to develop a network switch, called the Interface Message Processor (IMP). Initially, UCLA, SRI, UCSB and the University of Utah were to be connected by the Network Core Protocol (NCP). A one-node network communications protocol was demonstrated at UCLA in September 1969 (hence the anniversary), but it was not until October 1971 that there was reasonable success communicating between different sites. Packet switching was independently developed at MIT, RAND, and at the UK National Physical Laboratory by Donald Davies. Indeed, the word 'packet' in this context (for 128-byte blocks) was first used at NPL. Fortunately, the planned line speed for ARPANET was increased from 2.4 kbps to 50 kbps. JANET, the UK Joint Academic Network, was linked. By 1977, there were 100 hosts connected; by 1984, 1,000; by 1987, 10,000; by 1989, 100,000; and by 1990, when it was retired, there were 300,000. The next step was TCP/IP, which was jointly developed by Bob Kahn of BBN and Vint Cerf (then at Stanford) and discussed at a meeting of the International Network Working Group (INWG, giving rise to the term "Internet" by 1983) at Sussex University in 1973. Ethernet was being developed by Bob Metcalfe at Xerox PARC, but a fundamental problem later arose because the 32-bit IP address was divided with 8 bits for the network and 24 bits for the host: it had not been anticipated that there could be more than 256 networks. After TCP experiments with file transfer and remote login, it became clear that with virtual circuits, packet losses could not be corrected, so IP became the protocol for addressing and forwarding packets. TCP/IP was adopted by MILNET (the military breakaway network) in 1980 and by ARPANET for academic research in 1983. The subsequent events are better known: in 1990 Brit Tim Berners-Lee developed HTML and the World Wide Web at CERN in Switzerland, although he'd proposed the basis in 1989. In 1991, the NSF relaxed the ban on commercial Internet traffic. In 1993 in Illinois, a fellow called Mark Andreessen and colleagues did some work on a graphical browser called Mosaic which resulted in its widespread adoption and modification, not least by Netscape and Microsoft. And who knows, the next major influence on the development of browsing may well be the US Department of Justice, but we shall have to see about that. So far as celebrations go, we'd vote for a lunch to celebrate the Sputnik launch (October 1957), a picnic in Sussex to celebrate the September 1973 meeting when TCP/IP protocol ideas were clarified, and some beers whenever there is Internet gridlock. ®
Graham Lea, 05 Oct 1999
The Register breaking news

MS-commissioned secret audit clears MS over Hotmail holes

Microsoft has been entirely exonerated over the ghastly cock-up that opened up the email of 50 million Hotmail users to all and sundry. The exoneration comes in a secret report of an audit that was carried out by a "big five accounting" firm which Microsoft won't name. One might of course speculate that this is the sort of thing that will torpedo industry attempts to self-regulate over privacy. In the wake of the discovery of the Hotmail security hole Microsoft and Web privacy overseer TRUSTe announced that Hotmail would undergo a voluntary review by a major accounting firm, and that the firm would not be named. Microsoft is one of TRUSTe's major funding sources, but then as Microsoft is a big software company, it would be, wouldn't it? TRUSTe also gets a lot from IBM and Novell. Nevertheless, by reacting to one of the biggest privacy screw-ups ever to hit the Net with a voluntary, secret audit TRUSTe was effectively, in the words of Junkbusters president Jason Catlett, saying "Trust me." Microsoft professes itself unable to name the auditors or release the final report because this would be prohibited under the guidelines set by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). We can think of some companies whose auditors might like to take the fifth in this way as a matter of course, but under the circumstances it's remarkably convenient, as it lets Microsoft say "trust me" too. Microsoft released what we have to take on trust as being the report's findings in a press release yesterday. "TRUSTe and Microsoft have confirmed that Microsoft effectively resolved the Hotmail security issue and that Microsoft is in compliance with the TRUSTe licensing agreement. Microsoft also has implemented several quality-control procedures to help prevent future incidents of this kind." What these are, and whether they apply to, say, IE5 (aka Security Hole Central), we know not. Microsoft then goes on to tell the areas the report "details activities conducted by the accounting firm in each of the following areas," without elaborating on the activities themselves. Briefly, they looked at documentation on the nature, extent and cause of the problem. Then they looked at documentation describing the solutions implemented, then they talked to the people involved. Then (grief…) they checked the code to see the fix had been implemented, and then (double grief…) they checked to see the problem was no longer there. Is it any wonder the full report isn't being released? Maybe that is the full report, and it just says that Microsoft fixed it, and promises not to do it again. Bob Lewin, executive director of TRUSTe, gave himself a hearty slap on the back: "The significance of this report is clear: Our oversight and automated dispute resolution mechanism is effective, and moreover, the self-governance process works… I am confident that this serves as a model for effective oversight with the TRUSTe program. Finally, this action underscores the proven credibility and robustness of TRUSTe's privacy seal program on the Internet." Great stuff, eh? Junkbusters, which has been harrying MS and TRUSTe over this and other issues, takes a different view. "Suppose a space shuttle exploded and NASA commissioned an independent engineering firm to investigate, then claimed the problem was fixed but refused to even name the engineering firm. They would be ridiculed, and so should TRUSTe and Microsoft." ®
John Lettice, 05 Oct 1999
The Register breaking news

Freeserve takes a piece of the music retail action

Freeserve is buying 15 per cent of UK online CD retailer InFront. The Dixon's ISP will splash out £2.6 million cash for its stake of the company, which trades as Streets Online and trades through the Freeserve portal. Freeserve said its existing business arrangements with Streets Online had been extended to September 2001. John Pluthero, Freeserve CEO, said: "Streets Online provides an excellent service to our CD and DVD buying customers. "This investment will enable us to profit directly from its growth and have an active voice in the development of its offerings." Last week Freeserve posted a pre-tax loss of £4.99 million on sales of £3.38 million. In September the company saw shares fall below the initial offer price to 135 pence. This morning the share price stood at 151 pence, one pence above its offer price. ® Check out our other Net finance stories at b>Cash Register
Linda Harrison, 05 Oct 1999
The Register breaking news

MCI WorldCom Sprints into telco mega-deal

Updated A dramatic day of bid and counter bid ended with upstart American telco MCI WorldCom coming up trumps with a $129 billion bid to buy US rival Sprint. The deal is the largest corporate takeover ever and completes the union of the three biggest rivals to AT&T in the long-distance telephony market, MCI, WorldCom (who merged last year) and now Sprint. The new company will be known simply as WorldCom. The $129 billion price tag values Sprint at 25 per cent above yesterday's closing market prices. But as late as last night, the outcome seemed far from certain. A rival unsolicited bid from BellSouth that had originally appeared last weekend disrupting talks between MCI and Sprint was raised yesterday morning -- only to be out-trumped. A meeting of the board of the Kansas-based Sprint yesterday evening is understood to have recommended the enhanced MCI WorldCom offer, although this has not been confirmed by any of the parties. The value of the offer is estimated to be around $123 billion in stock and debt. Either way its value sees off the previous world record – Exxon's $80 billion offer for Mobil. The deal also certain to face detailed regulatory scrutiny in a process that could drag on for months. The combined firm will have around 30 per cent of the US long-distance telephony market against a 48 per cent share held by AT&T. But it will have little direct impact on the UK as neither firm has substantial British interests. MCI will buy Sprint using a mixture of stock and cash but will retain a separate tracking stock for Sprint's successful mobile business. The move marks the latest step in the consolidation of the vast American telephony market, following the Clinton administration's deregulation of the industry. Contrary to government expectations, the deregulation has seen the growing concentration of the number of local players into the world's largest telecomms firms. ®
Tom Bland, 05 Oct 1999
The Register breaking news

One in three Brits owns a mobile phone

Almost three million UK punters bought a mobile over the summer - that's two phones sold per second. Which means that since you started reading this story, another 10 mobiles have been sold. Users were queuing up to swell the coffers of the mobile phone operators, with BT Cellnet beating off rivals by netting 923,000 subscribers in the three months to 30 September. Of these, only 74,000 were contract customers paying a monthly tariff. Vodafone AirTouch added 701,000 new users, and hung onto the largest piece of the pie with 6.84 million customers in the UK, beating BT Cellnet’s 5.95 million. Just 12,000 of Vodafone's new customers chose to have a contract. One2One brought 604,000 subscribers on board, making a total of 3.25 million users in the UK. The company, which was bought by Deutsche Telekom earlier this year, estimated that 51 per cent of its customers were on a pre-pay basis. Orange showed slowest growth with 520,000 additions, totalling 3.48 million users. However, it was the only company to make significant headway in contract customer growth. Over 20 million people now have a mobile in the UK - or one in three of the population. ®
Linda Harrison, 05 Oct 1999
The Register breaking news

Day of the robots is coming, says UN

Repeating a prediction that has been made incorrectly only a million times before, the United Nations said today that the market for domestic robots will take off in the next few years. The market for robots that can vacuum, scrub the floor, empty dishwashers and so on will grow to be worth a world-wide total of $3.3 billion by 2002 -- with some 24,000 units sold. (Do the maths: that's an affordable $137,500 each). The conclusions are contained in the latest annual report from the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and the International Federation of Robotics. Strangely the report documents that last year was in fact a remarkably bad year for robots -- another clear sign that their adoption is about to take off. Sales of industrial robots -- the largest robot sector -- fell by 16 per cent because of the economic weaknesses in the key markets of Japan and South Korea. Some 71,000 units were sold in 1998 with an estimated market value of $4.2 billion. The industrial market is predicted to grow at eight per cent a year to 2002 with the postal industry identified as one area for key area for delivering improved growth. Still the vision sounds good, which is probably why people keep making optimistic predictions. Robots will act as the interface between a range of domestic computers (fridges, washing machines etc) doing things like this, in the words of the report: "They could vacuum, scrub the floors, empty the dishwasher and place the china in the cupboards, lay the table, take out the garbage, guard the house against fire and intruders, mow the lawn, increase the mobility of old and disabled persons and much more." All while you're down the pub. ®
Tom Bland, 05 Oct 1999
The Register breaking news

New XML indexing engine

A new XML indexing, conversion and retrieval engine called XRS has been developed by Dongwook Shin, a visiting scholar at the US National Library of Medicine. It appears to have a few advantages over existing engines. XRS allows several retrieval options, including retrieving any elements, the weighting of elements, and a query building tool that can develop a structured query. It uses a BUS (bottom-up scheme) devised by Shin, which minimises the indexing overhead to between 20 per cent and 45 per cent. Another innovation is a Java component that converts XML to HTML, but without the need for an XML-enabled browser. If a search result is in XML, the query mediator servlets forces it to pass through the rendering component, or sends the result to the GUI. The GUI in XRS is programmed as a Java applet, so that a query can be formulated with the query-building tool which then communicates via the browser and so to a servlet on the server. Readers who have an aversion to XML, or IE come to that, may find this development useful for converting XML documents. ® Further information
Graham Lea, 05 Oct 1999
The Register breaking news

Jewish Web sites slug it out

The UK's youngest Internet tycoon is facing an online battle with a copycat Web site which claims he is too young to do the job properly. Benjamin Cohen, teen founder of jewishnet, is worth a cool £5 million. The lad featured as the most junior member of The Sunday Times' list of Web millionaires published at the weekend. Jewishnet.co.uk offers a business directory, a dating service and a chatroom. Rival Kosheronline, promising to be "the definitive online guide to everything Jewish", is expected to be valued at around £4 million when it goes on AIM this month. The group of Web entrepreneurs behind the challenge plan to offer Jewish business-to-business advertising, a dating service and a chatroom. Co-incidence? Cohen doesn't seem to think so. He was steaming off in today's FT about the similarities of the sites. "They have already attacked my site, saying a 17-year-old isn't a big enough force to attract a community. But their business model is a carbon copy of mine," stated an unhappy Cohen. Steven Burns, Kosheronline's CEO, was equally vocal. "There is nothing on Jewishnet which is going to get my mother, my grandmother or my seven-year-old niece to go online. "Kosheronline's breadth of content is what's going to make us different," he said. So far, all that is available on Kosheronline's site is an application form for a prospectus and a list of "coming soon" attractions. Rabbi Alan Plancy, Jewishnet's virtual rabbi, commented: "The Jewish community does not have Davids and Goliaths. Whoever provides the best service will win". ®
Linda Harrison, 05 Oct 1999
The Register breaking news

IBM points Power4 ‘Gigaprocessor’ at 2GHz

IBM will flesh out its next generation Power4 line of PowerPC processors at the Microprocessor Forum in San Jose later today. Power4, which IBM first started talking about as Gigaprocessor at last year's Forum, is aimed for 2001 (won't it be busy then, friends?), will have 170 million plus transistors and will consist of two chips. It will, as reported here earlier, run at 1.1GHz and deliver 11,000 MIPS at launch, when it will be fabbed in 0.18 micron. IBM however intends to shift it to the dream combination of 0.13 micron, copper and silicon-on-insulator (SOI) by 2002-3, which is expected to kick clock speeds up in the direction of 2GHz. That alone should be enough to make Power4 a monster, but IBM argues that its design, which places a great deal of emphasis on the routing of data within the CPU and on smart caching, is inherently more efficient. Power4 will execute up to five instructions with each clock cycle. ®
John Lettice, 05 Oct 1999
The Register breaking news

iMac II to show its face today

Apple is today expected to launch the next versions in its range of iMacs. The company is keeping mum about the launch – or C2 revision as it has been named - but has been unable to stop reports popping up all over the Web. It is believed that the colourful computers will be announced by interim CEO Steve Jobs at a press conference in San Francisco today, news service TechWeb reported. The machines are expected to have similar styling to the existing iMacs and to come in the five familiar translucent colours. One Web site, Appleinsider.com, had been displaying what it claimed to be press shots of the new products – codenamed Kihei - since last month. But it was forced to remove them as Apple started threatening legal action. The new iMacs are expected to be available in different configurations, with faster PowerPC G3 chips at 350, 400 and 450MHz. The 400 and 450MHz machines are said to include Apple's new wireless technology – AirPort. Apple refused to comment on the launch or the Appleinsider.com Web site. Watch this space for more developments. ®
Linda Harrison, 05 Oct 1999
The Register breaking news

US firm previews 140GB media disk storage

C3D yesterday showed off new storage technology which it says can offer over 100GB of storage on one disk. The US company demonstrated fully-working prototypes of a 140GB, read-only CD-sised disk and a 10GB read-only credit-card sized card (in other words less than half the width of a PC card). C3D now needs manufacturing partners (which will also supply the capital) to help it develop the technology and get it to market within 12 months, according to Patrick Moloney, C3D business development manager. The products are compatible with existing manufacturing processes, so partners need a minimum of retooling to get production off the ground, Moloney says. C3D technology works by using the properties of fluorescent incoherent light -- or light in which the waves are out of step. This affords much better resolution than current optical disk technology which is based on the properties of ordinary light. Effectively, only two reflective layers of information can be packed on existing CD/DVD technology -- any more and the signal to noise ratio ( and hence interference) becomes too great. With C3D's prototype technology, up to 10 layers of information can be read at once. In future, the sky's the limit as far as FMD and multi-layering are concerned. The technology compares well to other storage devices. One side of a 120mm digital versatile disk (DVD) holds about 4.7 GB of information – enough for a two-hour film. CD-ROMs hold just 650MB of information. Dr Eugene Levich, C3D CEO, said: "This technology will spawn a whole new breed of data storage-intensive information appliances capable of replicating today's PC functionality on a palm-sized PDA or mobile phone." Levich said activities such as fast downloading from the Internet, as well as consumer devices such as High Definition TV – which demands up to 7.5GB per hour recorded – and the e-Book, were driving up the need for multi-Gibabyte storage. The Fluorescent Multi-layer Disk (FMD) drives will be backwards-compatible, so users can play their old disks. ®
Linda Harrison, 05 Oct 1999
The Register breaking news

MS aims for e-education leverage via $25m MIT deal

Microsoft has struck an interesting and unusual funding deal with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Under the terms of the agreement Microsoft will fund joint research into new teaching technologies to the tune of $25 million, over five years. So far so clear enough, but the project, dubbed "I-Campus," is a little out of the ordinary from the points of view of both partners. Microsoft has an uncanny knack of ending up with rights to most technologies it 'co-develops,' but in this case it doesn't, entirely. And MIT, being one of those business-savvy US universities, ordinarily keeps close rein on anything it develops; but in this case, Microsoft will have first option on some of the technology. For the sake of perspective here we should point out that British universities are frequently perfectly happy to work for free equipment, and then to let the nice sponsor wander off clutching the results of the research. But you know how feckless we Brits are. Anyway, although on the one hand it's claimed most of the fruits of the research will go into the public domain, on the other the deal (which seems to have involved some considerable discussion between lawyers) gives Microsoft a royalty-free licence to technology developed at MIT but funded by MS, and first refusal on the patents to technology jointly developed by the two. Which would appear to limit the amount of technology that would obviously be eligible to go into the public domain. I-Campus is intended to be a combination of new teaching techniques using technology and distance learning, and the National University of Singapore is being cut in on the project to help design a "global education system." Historical scholars will note that MS is in deep, and wants to get in deeper, with Singapore's plans for becoming the world's most wired country. Bill himself scored a major deal covering the whole shebang - set-top boxes, e-commerce, home banking - in Singapore back in 1998. And, significantly, one part of the deal involved co-operating with the Singapore government to build the "Singapore IT Master Plan for Education." Which might give you an idea of what Singapore Uni will be contributing. The reason who owns the I-Campus technology and who gets first access to it is important is neatly identified by Microsoft's own release: "The technology and methods the two organisations develop are expected to set the pace for university education over the next five to ten years." And they'll obviously provide the basis for products that Microsoft will intend to sell into the education market during that period. The timescale of the deal is interesting too. Apparently Microsoft and MIT have been negotiating since January, and along the way to the announcement today, charitable Bill in April gave MIT $20 million towards the construction of a new Gates Building for the MIT Laboratory for Computer Science. Gates also donated the blueprints for Altair Basic, which were to be put into a paper bag made out of lead. ®
John Lettice, 05 Oct 1999
The Register breaking news

Sex shame at 30,000 ft exec puts Nortel tagline into practice

Yesterday, the tabloids were crawling all over two strangers arrested for having sex in front of other passengers on the Dallas to Manchester flight. Ignoring pleas from cabin crew, the married execs were "engulfed with lust and stripped off after downing free booze in Business Class", The Sun reports. "Nothing and no-one could have stopped them. It would have taken a bucket of cold water, " an American Airlines rep said. The two passengers, greeting cards exec David Machin, 40, and computer company exec Amanda Holt, 36, were arrested when the flight touched down on Saturday. They were charged with being drunk on an aircraft, outraging public decency and behaviour likely to cause harassment or distress. Amanda Holt works for Nortel Networks, whose advertising tagline and (and theme song on its TV ads) is "come together". ® Nortel Come Together tagline has pulling power
Drew Cullen, 05 Oct 1999
The Register breaking news

Cut-price Nissan on sale via Web

Special offer for fast moving Register readers: buy a new Nissan car worth £14,000 for just £180. Well, almost. The problem is that you can't actually buy the £180 car from the catalogue site, new-car-net, displaying the comfortable Nissan Primera 1.6 available in 'five door-hatchback, estate and four-door saloon versions'. A pity because we were rather keen and kindly asked Nissan if they would sell it to us. They said they couldn't: "This site is not known to us," a spokeswoman said and promptly emailed new-car-net to warn them. Prices are somewhat more accurate on Nissan's own site, it seems. New-car-net's site editor Massimo Pini admitted there had been a mistake and that the price "would be corrected by the end of the day" but sadly told us that the site did not take orders for cars on-line. It is simply a manufacturer independent catalogue that flogs a few motor services such as insurance. Last month, retailer Argos mispriced a Sony television for £2.99 instead of £299.99 and attracted a large number of orders. It promptly attempted to refuse all the £3 orders until enterprising law firm Taylor Johnson Garrett said it would take Argos to court. Unfortunately for Argos, one of its employees reckons to have received an email confirmation of their order for a TV priced at £2.99. The publicity shy Register had much the same idea in mind, plus setting up a car lot over here in Mayfair. Email us with any more bargains; we always thought, recalling our days as shop assistants, that goods had to be sold at the price offered. Surely consumers deserve equal treatment on-line. ®
Dan Sabbagh, 05 Oct 1999
The Register breaking news

AMD takes SledgeHammer to beat Intel's Merced

AMD is today poised to build on the buzz surrounding the Athlon by announcing its 64-bit successor, SledgeHammer. It's scheduled to ship in 2001, after Intel's H2 Merced/Itanium target, but it appears AMD has been reading Intel's roadmaps diligently, and has an ambush planned. For over a year now Intel has been talking down prospects for Merced/Itanium (we'll decide what to call the renamed chip once the market decides). The company says it expects Merced (screw it...) to be important as a development platform for 64-bit systems, but that it's going to be a while before there's sufficient 64-bit software around for customers to derive major benefits from it. With the OS vendors all not going much further than promising shipping software by the Merced launch, that's a pretty reasonable take. Some developers will be running with beta 64-bit OS software, but development won't gather momentum until a fair while after Merced ships. Intel therefore points people gently in the direction of Mckinley (or "Ickel," as it'll no doubt be known) as the first high volume Intel 64-bit processor, and in the meanwhile the company will continue to develop and sell higher speed, high volume IA-32 (there's something you can pronounce with confidence) chips. But if Intel expects 32-bit to remain king through 2001 and maybe beyond, what should AMD do? It's currently collecting 32-bit speed trophies for Athlon, and if it can build on this up to the Sledgehammer rollout then it might just be in a commanding position. SledgeHammer, marketing VP Dana Krelle tells us in a blatant leak to the WSJ this morning, will be 64-bit, but will be designed to run 32-bit apps at blisteringly high speeds. Alongside that AMD's x86-64 architecture is intended to be simpler to deal with than Intel's. So here's the script, as we see it. AMD sees a possible window whereby it can carry and increase current Athlon momentum through 2000, and then capitalise on that with what will in operation effectively be a faster 32-bit chip in 2001. The possible gotchas here are first, that the Athlon mo gets blunted (it is a long way to run, and AMD doesn't usually manage to stay ahead for long), and second, that any delays in SledgeHammer would give Intel the opportunity to establish its own roadmap instead. If AMD avoids these, and manages a seamless Athlon-SledgeHammer transition, then the mindshare it can capture with the latter will help it with the big one - use SledgeHammer market momentum to establish the AMD 64-bit architecture while leaving Intel floundering. That's superficially plausible as a strategy (this is not the same as saying it's achievable), but we can see another gotcha. Whether or not AMD 64 is easier to develop for than Intel 64, the Intel architecture currently has scads of software development resource going into it. Solaris, Monterey, Linux, Windows 200x (no, really), and by 2001 at least three of these will be shipping. So what's AMD doing about getting development going for Sledgehammer? ®
John Lettice, 05 Oct 1999
The Register breaking news

Chipzilla takes bite of Net business

Intel is to buy IPivot for $500 million, its third Internet acquisition. The chip giant said it had entered into a definitive agreement to acquire the Californian, privately-held company which designs and makes "Internet commerce equipment". Its products make traffic between servers and the Web faster and more secure. IPivot has 100 employees and forms part of Intel's $1 billion plan to reap the higher margin rewards of helping businesses run Web sites. "Customers will return to the ecommerce sites that deliver the best performance and service," said John Miner, Intel Communication Product Group VP. "Because information must always be available and response times instantaneous, new devices are needed to manage ever larger workloads securely and efficiently. "IPivot's line-up of Internet commerce equipment, combined with our current communications product portfolio, help service providers meet these expectations." The move is Intel's eighth networking and communications related acquisition so far this year. Intel bought Internet companies Shiva Corporation last year and Dayna Communications in 1997. ®
Linda Harrison, 05 Oct 1999