17th > January > 2000 Archive

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Intel kicks out Rambus from Seven Dramurai™

Intel, Micron, NEC, Samsung, Hyundai and Infineon said yesterday they will work to produce a high end form of memory that will see PC platforms right from 2003 onwards. But Rambus Ink, formerly Intel's closest memory partner, and intended to provide such a platform for the future, has not been invited to the memory platform. An Intel representative confirmed today that while Rambus was not at the party, "it could participate" in the initiative. The company also confirmed that Intel is looking not only at double data rate (DDR) technology now, but that the future platform will include DDR and other memory technologies. At a press conference in Seoul yesterday, the six companies above put out a joint press statement to "cooperatively develop a high performance DRAM technology" for 2003 and beyond. The idea of the initiative is to produce a memory standard for architecture, electrical and physical design, together with an infrastructure needed for the technology. Specifications will be made available to all interested parties, although no details were given as to whether licence fees will be exacted from others for the privilege of participating in the initiative. Large memory companies, including Hyundai and the others, railed against licence fees they had to pay Rambus for using its design in memories they manufactured, given the slim margins available for the chips. The move suggests that Intel still believes that synchronous memory is not a good platform for the future, but also indicates a distancing from its long time partner Rambus. The announcement means that Rambus now only has two years to ramp up RIMM solutions for the PC market. That is bound to further dent its image in the industry. PC vendors, especially Hewlett Packard, are widely believed by observers to have put pressure on Intel not to adopt Rambus technology for Itanium (Merced) processors and future IA-64 chips. Although Rambus memory is beginning to appear in the PC marketplace, it is still much more expensive than synchronous memory. Yesterday, we reported that Rambus had offered to sell Hyundai 30,000 of its shares at a preferential rate of $10 if it would up its manufacture of the memories. Rambus memory will only become viable as a platform when the economies of scale kick in and most manufacturers churn out this particular type of memory. Last September, Intel put together a hastily convened consortium dubbed the Seven Dramurai, and which included Rambus itself, in a bid to give the memory technology a much needed boost. But only three or so weeks later, Intel was forced to withdraw motherboards and so called Camino (i820) chipsets which supported the Rambus RIMM "standard" because of unexplained defects in the technology. In recent months, Intel is believed to have made serious overtures to all sectors of the PC industry in an attempt to avoid future debacles such as Caminogate. Only Intel was available for comment at press time. ® See also Rambus offers Hyundai cheapo shares to make more chips Intel snubs Rambus Ink Intel cuddles up to JEDEC memory standards Rambus-DDR battle rages on Rambus Intel contract set to expire Rambus yields only at 50 per cent 1999: Annus Horribilis for Intel
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Intel takes axe to mobile PIII prices – 50% off

As a prelude to its announcements of SpeedStep (nee Geyserville) mobile technology tomorrow, Intel has taken drastic action and reduced prices on its range of mobile Pentium III Coppermine and Celeron notebook chips. We will preview the SpeedStep-Geyserville technology announcements here later on today, but in the meantime here are the details of the price cuts, which came into effect first thing this morning. The Pentium III Coppermine (.18 micron process) mobile in BGA2 packaging was $530 and is now $245, a 54 per cent reduction. The 450 MHz (.18) mobile was $348 and is now $187, a 46 per cent reduction. The 400 MHz LV unit at .18 micron process technology was $348 and is now $187, once again a 46 per cent reduction. The 400 MHz (.18) unit in BGA 2 packaging was $358 and is now $198, a 45 per cent reduction. On the Celeron front, in BGA 1 packaging, the 466 MHz (.25) mobile was $209 and is now $96, a 54 per cent reduction The 433 MHz (.25) was $159 and is now $75, a 53 per cent reduction. The 400 MHz (.25) was $106 but is now $70, a 34 per cent reduction, while the 366 MHz (.25) stays at $85, meaning this is now effectively a defunct chip. All prices are for units bought in quantities of 1,000. ® See also Geyserville due Tuesday
The Register breaking news

Intel Geyserville due Tuesday

Back in July, in a rare accurate prediction, The Register's erstwhile seeress, Old Mother Chipton, predicted that Intel's Geyserville (aka Speedstep) mobile Pentium IIIs wouldn't arrive until Q1 2000 despite being billed for September '99 shipment. Tomorrow the little poppets are due to be born, initially in 633MHz guise and should set you back a not insignificant $750. That's not for a complete system, just for the processor, so these laptops are very firmly aimed at what Intel likes to call 'early adopters' - that's rich geeks to you and me. But Speedstep chips aren't that easy to label, because unlike boring old Pentium IIIs and Athlons, they have not one, but two speed ratings. In the past if you wanted to double battery life, you had to halve the processor's core frequency. The clever bit with Geyserville is that both clock speed and core voltage can be changed to match the user's requirements of processing power and battery life The deal is that the chips run flat out when connected to the mains, but slow down and reduce core voltage when running on batteries, so the 633MHz Speedsteps will run at around 500MHz when on the move. Battery life should be up anyway, due to the use of 0.18 micron technology which Chipzilla claims reduces power consumption. Intel research indicates that most notebooks are plugged in for 70 per cent of the time and this is how Chipzilla's marketing machine plans to position Speedstep-equipped notebooks - as high powered notebooks which offer performance comparable with a desktop when running on AC power, rather than as a notebook with extended battery life. Users will have the capability to fine tune the voltage and frequency scaling through the Windows control panel to 'choose the balance of performance and battery life that best suits their working style'. Celerons are not expected to have Speedstep until late summer at the earliest. ® See also Intel takes 50% axe to mobile Pentium III prices Geyserville slips a whole quarter in a day Geyserville delayed until post Mother Shipton period What the hell is...Geyserville
The Register breaking news

TurboLinux completes $57m funding round

TurboLinux bosses will today find themselves on the receiving end of cheques totalling $57 million, the result of the company's latest round of pre-IPO funding. The staggering statistic here is not the size of the investment, but the fact that it comes from a total of 20 companies, and you begin to wonder whether its got to the stage where investing in a Linux operation is as much about getting a foot in the door ahead of all the ordinary punters come IPO day. Some of them are old hands at the 'pump money into Linux start ups' game -- you can include Intel, Dell, Compaq, Novell and the VC folks here -- so their presence is no great surprise. Others. TurboLinux's strength in the Chinese and Japanese markets explains the interest of the likes of Fujitsu Support and Service, NTT-ME Information Xing, Toshiba and Toyo Information Systems. It's interesting to note the presence of Citrix and SCO. TurboLinux's proprietary clustering tools make its version of the open source OS of particular interest to application server specialist Citrix, and may suggest a strategic shift away from Win2K -- Citrix server software has always been Windows-based, but the company is far from best of friends with the Beast of Redmond. Quite what SCO is up to seems unclear. It's spent the last 18 months or so running round trying to persuade anyone who will listen that its Unixware is a far superior solution to Linux, so its motivation here is purely financial, or it wants to get its hands of TurboLinux's clustering technology. ®
The Register breaking news

Intel criticised over Q4 results

A report from online financial wire TheStreet has suggested that Intel used "discretionary accounting" practices to produce outstanding Q4 financial results last week. According to financial analysts at both Merrill Lynch and SG Cowen, investment income generated during the quarter was higher than expected, while amortisation from acquisitions it made during the quarter also contributed to the figures. The report said that Intel included sales of equities and accumulation of interest in its operating income figure of $508 million. According to one of the analysts, Intel had forecast that figure would be closer to $200 million. However, the way that Intel's financial figures are calculated are entirely acceptable, the company said this morning. An Intel representative said: "Our earnings results are presented according to generally accepted accounting principles." Intel (INTC) is considered a so-called bellwether stock on Wall Street. Its figures, reported last week, caused other technology shares to soar, along with its own, which closed at close to over $103 last Friday. It is also a very liquid company, with a low amount of debt and a treasure chest full of cash and other investments. ® TheStreet article See also Investor snaps up eight million AMD shares
The Register breaking news

Buy.com prepares assault on UK

US online superstore Buy.com plans to challenge the likes of Dixons and Jungle.com by launching into the UK market. Buy.com, which sells books, videos and music as well as PC hardware and software, is ready to start a UK version of its Web site, according to today's Financial Times. The launch is being handled by venture capitalists eVentures and is expected to receive a cash injection of between £5 million and £10 million. Murray Hennessy, VP of Tricon Restaurants, will be CEO of the UK venture, which will initially push computer goods before branching out into other products. With nine years developing distribution channels for eateries such as Pizza Hut and KFC under his belt, Hennessy said he was confident Buy.com would avoid the supply pitfalls suffered by rivals. "A lot of start-ups have had severe teething problems with fulfilment," he said. "What differentiates Buy.com is that we are not a start-up. We are building on a tested business model in the US, and benefit from the experience of handling thousands of orders." The California-based outfit currently trades in the US and Canada. In true Internet style, the company turned in pre-tax losses of $80.5 million for the nine months ended 30 September 1999, on sales of $396.2 million. It is currently readying itself for a Nasdaq flotation which is expected to value the company at up to $2 billion (£1.2 billion). ® See also: For other Internet and finance news, visit Cash Register
The Register breaking news

Cyber police force comes to Britain

In the fight against online crime, the Home Office has assigned £337,000 to the UK National Criminal Intelligence (NCIS) to help police the Internet. As the Net population expands, "Criminals will make ever more use of Internet communications to organise their illegal activities," says an NCIS report. Operation Trawler will target fraud, money laundering, pornography, cyber-stalking, email viruses, paedophilia and hacking. This furthers the work of The International Web Police (IWP), which works in conjunction with law enforcement agencies and governments throughout the world to target online crime. Since 1993 the IWP saw complaints rise from 640 to 47,000 in 1998. ® See related items: UK at risk from pump and dump Operation Trawler The Web Police
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Coup de grace for lawnmower Web site

Cutting edge technology of a different kind has taken to the Internet in the guise of the Lawnmower Museum's Web site. With a collection of around 200 lawnmowers – one of which was donated by Prince Charles – the museum site has the tag-line "The British Lawnmower Museum – it's all you need to mow." And you thought The Register was the home of dodgy puns. The site offers you the chance to view mowers of the rich and famous as well as learn all about the fascinating sport of lawnmower racing. The museum is no laggard when it comes to adopting the use of IT. Back in July when it updated its site, the museum issued the following press statement: "10th July 1999 -- The Museum Researcher has finally updated the Museum Web Site. ..." Yes, that's it, in its entirety. We spotted this story coming out of Reuters – we're not sure why. The Internet – you gotta love it. ® See also: The British Lawnmower Museum
The Register breaking news

Hacker gang suspected over Virgin bust, others

Last week's Virgin hackers are believed to be part of a British gang trying to blackmail Visa for £10 million. The group is thought to have broken into the computer systems of at least 12 multinationals and stolen files. Scotland Yard is investigating the attacks, which last month culminated in Visa receiving a ransom demand understood to be asking for £10 million. "We were hacked into in mid-July last year," a Visa representative told The Sunday Times. "They gained access to some corporate material and we informed both Scotland Yard and the FBI." "We received a phone call and an email to an office in England demanding money." Last month, Scotland Yard's hacker search led them to a remote fishing village in Scotland. Officers from the computer crime unit flew to Hopeman and grabbed kit from the home of a 20-year-old computer worker. The man behind this furore, James Grant, was interviewed by both detectives and Visa security experts. But Grant was keeping shtum, even after the Sunday newspaper tracked down his mother, Rhona. "He is saying nothing at all," she said. "This is a situation that will not change in the future." Grant, who works for Elgin-based Data Converters, is understood to agreed with Visa not to discuss the matter. Meanwhile, detectives believe they have linked over 12 hacking incidents in major companies to the one group, including the email incident at Virgin last week. They have also not ruled out the possibility that the group is on the payroll of infiltration brokers who trade company secrets. "They are professionals and there is some evidence that suggests some of the activity was contracted and paid for," said one investigator. ® Related stories: Hacker penetrates Virgin Credit card Y2K bug could hit UK Popular online billing software hacked
The Register breaking news

Eccentricity meets electricity on the Net

What have pylons, mobile phone base stations, insulators and the traffic cone preservation society got to do with the Internet? Answer - they're all linked to an eccentric Web site dedicated to the 'sadly unappreciated' electricity pylon for enthusiasts. The 'pylon of the month' site includes photographs, facts and figures about 30 pylons from around the UK and an archive of pylons from July 1999. "Beautiful aren't they! Doesn't it just make you want to get out there and collect their numbers" says Bristol signalman Harvey Brant's site. Well no, not really but thanks for asking. Still, it seems 2000 visitors may disagree with us. This is starting to sound like part of a Monty Pylon sketch. One of Brant's colleagues told the Daily Mail: " It started off as a joke but I think he is secretly turned on by it… He does seem to be taking it all a bit too seriously now." If you too have a powerful urge to be turned on click here. ®
The Register breaking news

One in four tax bills will be wrong

Up to two million British taxpayers face paying the wrong tax bill thanks to Inland Revenue bungling. With less than two weeks left to submit Self Assessment tax returns for the 1998/99 tax year, the Inland Revenue still has three million forms outstanding. Civil servants will be rushed off their feet trying to cope with the flood of forms. What's more, it will be unlikely to meet its own target of 75 per cent accuracy, published in the Revenues Operating Plans for 2000-2001. So claims VirtuallyAnywhere.co.uk, an online tax advisory company. "The Inland Revenue is targeting and expecting to get tax bills wrong for one in every four Self Assessment taxpayers – some two million people," it trumpeted. "The worrying thing about this is that it is likely that taxpayers, without professional advisers, will not know if the Inland Revenue has got their tax bill right or wrong," commented Nigel Duke, the company's MD. VirtuallyAnywhere charges £80 to help people fill out their returns. It is currently pressing for the government to offer online facilities for tax returns - something it plans to offer on its site for the next financial year. ® Related stories: Taxman at risk from Y2K bug
The Register breaking news

PC prices creep up in US

Increases in component prices are pushing up PC prices in the US market. For the first time in nine years, in the last quarter of 1999, prices went up rather than down. This mimicked the behaviour of the DRAM market, where a lack of supply saw prices rocket. According to the research firm PC Data, the average price of a PC in the US rose from $790 in September to $844 in December. These averages were illustrated with the following examples. Hewlett Packard has increased the price of its bottom of the range PC from $549 to $649, and Compaq slapped $150 on the price of its entry-level machine, bringing its price up to $699. Prices are for PCs without monitors, and don't include any channel rebates or discounts. ®
The Register breaking news

One hundred year old babies found in UK

Doesn't time fly! British Millennium babies are now 100 years old after the Y2k bug struck computers at the National Office of Statistics. After all that campaigning by Action 2000 a government organisation gets hit by the bug. Poor show, chaps. Birth certificates issued by the Registry Office surprised parents with birth-dates in 1900. Hand-written documents will be issued until computer systems have been debugged. A spokesman for the government stats body told Reuters: "We have found a problem with the software which is affecting the date." Err, that'd be the Y2k bug then? ®
The Register breaking news

Recruitment firm woos contractors with share offer

Recruitment firm Spring IT Personnel announced today it will aim to attract contractors by offering 5,000 shares in Spring to professionals at a knock-down price. Applicants for the scheme must apply online before 9 February to take advantage of the offer price of 190p a share or the closing mid-market price on last dealing day before the date of Spring’s shareholder meeting. The offer runs until 9 February 2001. Successful applicants must work through Spring at one or more customer location in two out of the next three years and must update their skills and availability through the site within six-month periods. Some 250 million shares are on offer which is 173 per cent of the current issued share capital. Spring chief executive, Karl Chapman, said in a statement: "We believe the launch of Spring.com combined with the mould-breaking share participation programme gives Spring a competitive advantage in attracting IT professionals to find assignments… This bricks to clicks business model will change the way we do business in the future." ®
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Ads watchdog snarls at HP, cocks leg at Dixons

Dixons' sour grapes over Tiny's free PC offer were ignored by the ASA this month. The high street giant lashed out at Tiny, objecting to the "free PC" headline in an advert because of a £39.99 delivery charge. It also questioned whether the machine, sold without monitor, was suitable for use with a TV - claiming that flickering could cause eyestrain or epilepsy. The ASA did not uphold the complaint, saying the delivery charge applied to an alternative offer and that Tiny had provided a TV output card to make the PC safe. Tiny also came under fire from another company over its claim to the country's "first free PC" offer. Would-be rival Logitext said it had been offering similar deals on its Web site since May. But the ASA pointed out that these computers were only loaned, not given away by Logitext. Surbiton-based reseller Tech Direct Europe found itself caught out by the ASA on chip pricing. Its advert priced a 168 Pin BX memory module at £44.99, but when the claimant called the company he was told the price had tripled. Tech Direct blamed the price change on memory price fluctuations, saying it had expected prices to fall when they had actually risen. After the ASA became involved, the company offered to supply the chip for free. But the complaint was still upheld. The third IT company to get carpeted by the Authority was Hewlett-Packard. In an advert HP claimed customers could "save a bundle by putting together your own package", and pictured cut-price software in the relevant boxes. But customers received the software stuffed in cardboard envelopes and unboxed. The ASA decided not to condone this cheapskate behaviour, especially as HP failed to respond to the complaint. ®