31st > December > 1999 Archive

The Register breaking news

Intel plays poker with Flash card sale

When bits of its business don't fly or have outlived their purpose, Intel has no hesitation in getting rid of them. Yesterday, the chip giant sold its tiny Flash memory card business to Centennial for $16 million, while reiterating that will have no effect on its Flash memory production, which is a lucrative money spinner for the firm. Centennial will pick up the PC card and mini-card section that Intel made, which many people will have forgotten that the chip giant was even involved in. The Flash card unit has probably served its purpose for Intel. Some years back, Intel took a big interest in the PC Card market, with senior executive Steve Nachtsheim being regularly seen at industry forums. One executive of Psion Dacom met Natchtsheim at a PC conference in Nice, France and was surprised to be told by the Intel suit that his own company had better get out of the PC Card business and fast. The reasoning behind Nachtsheim's advice was that the future of PC Cards wasn't in cards at all, but in modem software stacks. Intel did not say how many jobs would be affected by the sale of its unit to Centennial, which paid $6 million in cash and around 16 per cent of shares in the firm. ® See also Intel tells PC Card vendor to get out of slots
The Register breaking news

Millennium Madness: eBay takes no chances with Y2K bug

Huge US auction house eBay will pull the plugs on its Web site between 3.30 PM Pacific Standard Time today to 6 PM PST today, and again at 11PM PST in order to perform what it describes as "Y2K verification". Ebay says it will open for business tomorrow, Saturday the 1st of January 2000 at 3 AM PST. Throughout this year, eBay has been plagued by downtime, leading to complaints from its users and some criticism of the Sun hardware used to run its system. In a statement on its Web site, eBay says that attempting to connect during the downtimes may lead to users being unable to connect. That makes sense. A letter to its customers on its Web site apologises to users for problems they may have experienced during this year. However, Sun is insouciant about the Y2K. Its site shows no problems with its kit...so far...although it says it will update customers on a regular basis through the midnight hours... ® See also Scott McNealy uses Tardis to reassure customers about Y2K bug
The Register breaking news

1GHz nub of Intel, AMD, Compaq question next year

Well, my lovelies, if the world still exists tomorrow morning, you can be sure that the question occupying most people's minds will be which chip company will be first to market with a 1GHz processor. My runes show, unquestionably, that Advanced Micro Devices, headed up by that nice Jerry Sanders III, will definitely be the first, with .18 micron Athlons already available and copper interconnect technology in the works. The next company to deliver a 1GHz processor is likely to be Compaq, with an air cooled Alpha appearing in June or July of next year, if there is a next year. And then Intel will manage by some miracle to produce a 1GHz IA-32 processor soon after that. I predict that we will see something of a change in Intel's marketing and we may well be invited not to take clock speeds quite as seriously as before. Prices Intel will get into its stride early next year, if there is a next year, with some price cuts and rationalisations of its Pentium III lines. It will hang onto its famous disappearing BX chipset for far longer than any ever anticipated, and will also start its year by telling the world just how good PC-133 and double data rate (DDR) memory is. It will cut, cut and cut prices again, believing that as it ramps up its Coppermine technology, many PC manufacturers will want to bite the Intel bullet simply because of the extra margins and high availability of the parts when the ramp starts. AMD will keep its prices on Athlons as high as it can, for as long as it can, while it has a fair wind behind it, simply because of the additional margins that are needed to make it a company that makes a profit. Compaq, with Alpha, will keep its prices pretty high, as it now does not seem to believe that it can compete in the high volume biz with its 64-bit chip. Via, the Taiwanese contender, said recently that it will sell 15 million processors over the next year. This is not a huge amount of chips but more than enough to nibble away at Intel's margins and to induce that familiar feeling of paranoia at Emission Boulevard, Satan Clara. Notebooks Intel believes that its mobile technology on notebooks is better than the world+dog, and will intro its Geyserville (SpeedStep) technology just as soon as it can, along with high speed mobile Coppermines. Like the desktop parts, these will be in short supply at first but as the factories go into overload, they will be available a-plenty. AMD, too, has a similar cunning plan to Geyserville but is unlikely to make too many inroads into Intel's market share during 2000, because it has so much more catching up to do. Compaq has few if any plans to incorporate Alphas into notebooks, although when Digital owned the processor, it had plenty of plans along these lines. Intel, I believe, has also many a cunning plan to use its ARM technology to take market share and to strike deals where and when necessary. 64-bit processors While Alpha still is the cock, a-crowing on the 64-bit dunghill, Intel will indeed succeed in showing the world its Merced Itanium in systems, and while many large companies will try out these boxes, there will not be Intel IA64 volume next year. AMD is a tad behind with its Sledgehammer system, my tealeaves tell me, and has lost a number of its key executives when Atiq Raza decided he'd had enough of the company and all of its works and trumps. We will hear so much about out of order execution, big endians and little endians that we will wonder why our heads are a-reeling with all of these terms when all we want is a faster and faster chip that performs better and better when Quake IV is released. Finally my lovelies, I must insist that reports in The Register that I ever said the world was to end in 1999 were a gross misrepresentation of my views, and taking my views totally and completely out of context, that is if the world doesn't end at the witching hour tonight. If it does end in the year 1999, then all I can say is that's what I said would happen... Happy new year! ® See also Mother Shipton discredited by Intel
The Register breaking news

Gateway sells Amiga to ex-Amiga employee

Gateway has finally rid itself of the legacy of its acquisition of Amiga with a close-of-year sale of the Amiga hardware spec., system software and brandname to Amino on undisclosed terms. And who do we find runs Amino? Step forward, Bill McEwen, the former Amiga, Inc. marketing chief who quit the company earlier this year just before ex-president Jim Collas was given the boot. McEwen is well respected by the Amiga community, so his acquisition of the Amiga is likely to be received postively -- doubly so since Gateway has long been viewed as the Amiga world's chief bete noire, responsible not only for giving Collas the push but for masterminding the software-only strategy pursued by his successor, Tom Schmidt, a move that for many Amiga users was a tacit admission that Gateway was never really interested in reviving the Amiga brand. In fact, it may well have been interested in doing just that but to use it as the basis for its own Internet appliance line. The snag here is the brand's poor level of recognition outside the community, and the company may have felt that a new brand, one not sullied by years in the IT wilderness, is probably more appropriate. The work on the next-generation software technologies begun under Collas and continued under Schmidt will be folded into Gateway's own Net device product development operation, the company said. Not surprisingly, the deal doesn't include Amiga-related patents awarded since 1997 -- Gateway is hanging on to those. Given Gateway's lack of interest in the 'classic' Amiga, the sale should at least see its continued existence as a computer platform. As yet, Amino hasn't said what its plans for the classic Amiga, but a move into the open source world seems a likely move. The Campaign to Open Source the Amiga (COSA), has been negotiating to open up the classic Amiga OS for some time, so far without success (though Schmidt did seem broadly receptive to the idea). COSA's argument is that the Amiga platform only has a future if it expands its user base, and the best way of doing that is to open it up in the hope of winning the same kind of broad support that Linux has achieved. Certainly, the influx of new talent that such a move would encourage if the Amiga platform isn't to dwindle further and become nothing more than a refuge for die-hards and 80s retro fans. ®