21st > January > 2000 Archive

The Register breaking news

Roy Taylor sort of abandons 3DSL ship, joins Nvidia

We heard that Roy Taylor, a staunch supporter of the The Register from day one, was going to join Nvidia. And now we have the confirmation. A letter from John Byrne, joint MD with Roy at 3DSL, to his customers says it all and we can't improve on it, except to say that we wish Roy and of course his old mates all the best, so here it is in its entirety. Ladies, Gentleman Roy Taylor is leaving us for pastures new. He will be joining NVIDIA at the end of February as European Sales Director. He goes with our blessing and we are sad to see him go. Roy and I first teamed up at Blue Micro and we became business partners 4 years ago when Roy joined me at what was then called VCM. Since then we have built up the business and grown the team to 9 people. We have also travelled several grillion miles by plane and car, made many new friends and learnt a great deal about this crazy industry. 3DSL will continue to represent NVIDIA and now has a new extended contract. We will therefore still be in regular contact with the old bugger and no doubt we shall continue to have the same fun whenever possible. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me. Whilst working his notice Roy will be helping to hand over the management of the web page and he will still be here to help any existing customers and suppliers. Lastly Roy will be attending CeBIT with the rest of the team here so please feel free to join us for beers then! Best Regards, John Byrne
The Register breaking news

Geoworks patent claim lobs grenade into WAP Forum

Geoworks announcement that it will be seeking fees and royalties from WAP phone manufacturers and sites because a patent it holds (US 5,327,529, also filed in Japan, and granted in July 1994) is used in the WAP protocol, has thrown a cat among the pigeons. There are several worrying aspects to this, the least of which is probably the fee that Geoworks is seeking for a licence. The WAP Forum anticipated when it was formed that intellectual property rights could be involved in the protocol that it elaborated, since its charter documents requires members to notify any essential intellectual property rights, which must then be offered for licensing to other members "on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms". Geoworks was the first to do this, drawing attention to the "Flex UI" part of its patent that it says is included in the implementation of the Wireless Application Protocol and the associated Wireless Markup Language. Geoworks also says that other members followed suit, although the information it sent last May was only posted in the members section of the WAP web site. It would be interesting to know just what discussions have occurred between Geoworks and the WAP Forum in recent months. Can any Register reader enlighten us? The WAP site notes that WAP is "an open, global specification that empowers mobile users with wireless devices to easily access and interact with information and services instantly", which may well need revision so far as the "open" aspect is concerned. In contrast to trademarks, patent owners do not have to go to the same lengths to assert and defend the intellectual property, which partly accounts for the delay in Geoworks doing anything. However, the possibility of raising some cash this way may have been in Geoworks CEO Dave Grannan's mind when the company hired Don Ezell as COO and general counsel last summer. If it wasn't, then Ezell must have realised the potential, since he had been given special responsibility for looking after Geoworks' professional services consulting business and wireless information services. Geoworks has not enjoyed great success in recent years, reporting a loss of $994,000 on revenues of $2,294,000 in its Q2 ending 30 September, although the loss was about half that in Q1. Geoworks had $14.2 million in cash and marketable securities at 30 September, and went public in June 1994. The loss for the last FY was $14.8 million on sales of $12.9 million. Amazon.com invested $5 million for a 7 per cent stake last February (paying a $1 million premium over the market price), although it was believed at the time that Amazon's real purpose was to get access to 19 software types employed by Geoworks. Geoworks says that it is in licensing discussions with several key WAP Forum members, but no licences have yet been announced. Geoworks defined in a white paper nine WAP sub-markets that it says are potentially liable for infringement: WAP-enabled wireless telecom services; WAP-enabled mobile devices; WAP microbrowsers; WAP-enabled servers; WAP development tools; packaged WAP applications; custom WAP applications and consulting; WAP ASPs; and WAP sites. It's a list that is likely to raise hackles. A sign of Geoworks intention to exert pressure to license is that licences executed after 1 July may have different terms and higher fees. Geoworks is offering an application licence or a platform licence, both with a fee of $20,000, with the latter also attracting a royalty rate of 10 per cent of the price or a minimum of $1 per seat. Organisations turning over less than £$1 million will apparently not be required to have a licence. Geoworks came to fame with its GEOS operating system, and for x86 with Geoworks Ensemble (but with 1Mb of RAM of course) which was superior to Windows at the time. Needless to say, Microsoft's marketing power triumphed over technology. GEOS was later used in Nokia's Communicators, but Geoworks disposed of Geos to NewDeal some years ago. It looks as though there will be a furore in the industry about the assertion of this patent, as well as the WAP Forum's lack of foresight. It is all very well having a procedure to recognise and require the licensing of patents, but developing standards that include patents that are not transferred to the standards body are not a good idea. After all, Novell did surrender the Unix patent that it bought from AT&T to what became the Open Group, although whether the Open Group was in fact a good custodian is a separate issue. It is an open question whether Geoworks patent application disclosed all prior art, and whether the patent is sufficiently novel and non-obvious to withstand a possible assault by the Nokias and Microsofts of this world. WAP is of transitional importance for a few years until we get broader-band wireless communication, when it will either have evolved or be replaced by mainstream standards. It would be a bad thing if IP rights assertion were to get in the way of WAP, but any aggravation does not auger well for Geoworks' future. If there's a lesson to be had, it is that all IP in industry standards must be surrendered. That of course is also the answer for Java, and if Java, why not the grandfather of all proprietary systems: Windows? Are you listening, DoJ? ®
The Register breaking news

A Linux, Transmeta Web-enabled Diamond Rio for CeBIT?

S3 could show a Transmeta-based Linux appliance as early as next month, at Europe's CeBIT show. The company yesterday announced that it was working with Transmeta to produce a Crusoe-powered Linux Internet appliance. But yesterday's announcement wasn't exactly heavy on detail. It's to be part of "a larger family of planned Internet appliances from S3", which suggests that Transmeta is by no means the only partner the company has in the wings, and that maybe there's an element of me-too in S3's decision to go not very public now. It'll be "targeted at consumers looking for an x86 compatible, Linux-based Internet computing solution" which, pace our Linux readers, is something of an undefined market as yet. And it'll be "one of the first true Linux-based Internet devices", which is a pretty modest ambition, really. It, and the broader range of appliances planned, will however take S3 further into the own-brand area it's been expanding via Diamond and the Rio, and it's probably a reasonable guess that one of the things the company wants to/ought to do is to sever the need for a link between portable appliance and PC with Internet connection. Music's an obvious primary application, but there are others. And what about the next stage, wireless? ® Transmeta launch coverage A Linux, Transmeta Web-enabled Diamond Rio for CeBIT? Transmeta could face Intel legal challenge No home for Rambus at Transmeta Transmeta OS tweaking auction Transmeta chips to run Linux, Windows, attack Intel x86
The Register breaking news

Fujitsu Siemens PC sales don't shine

UK sales have failed to live up to expectations for Fujitsu Siemens Computers' first post-merger business quarter. Like many PC vendors, it saw a freeze in corporate spending for the last three months of the year as managers were too scared of Y2K to buy kit. In contrast to healthy European PC sales, which grew 20 per cent, the UK was hit by "unfavourable market conditions in the corporate segment", the vendor told journalists in Frankfurt yesterday. "Concerns over the possible impact of the millennium bug froze major roll outs, adversely affecting the comparison with Q4 98," it said. Servers, notebooks and workstations "saw some growth", though no figures were available. The rest of Europe fared better, with the Netherlands -- the newly formed company's HQ -- seeing a rise of more than 200 per cent in PC sales, and 12.2 per cent in servers. This compared to 23 per cent and 45 per cent in Germany, and 80 per cent and 23 per cent in Spain respectively. The total European server business grew at more than 33 per cent. In all, the company sold more than 1.1 million computers -- putting Fujitsu Siemens' total growth rate at 20 per cent for the last three months of 1999. Alan Norman, UK marketing communications manager for the company, said the suspension on PC spending had affected most IT vendors in the UK -- not just Fujitsu Siemens. "But activity is picking up in all segments now we are into 2000 -- especially on the corporate side," he added. "I believe Q4 will have strengthened our position in Europe and move us nearer to Compaq." Yesterday, IBM CEO Louis Gerstner admitted Big Blue had been hit hard by the Y2K bug in the fourth quarter. And last October, Action lost its proposed buy-out deal from US giant Insight Enterprises due to the bug eating into corporate PC spending. Andy Brown, IDC research analyst, said: "The general feeling is that slowdown due to Y2K in Q4 wasn't as bad as predicted -- although it did hit some of the larger vendors. "But we are expecting this just to be a glitch, and for spending to pick up again." Fujitsu Siemens also announced a stack of new desktop products, including two business PC ranges and its first "Easy PC" -- using the AMD EasyNow platform and with the unlikely name of Celvin. The products will be previewed next month at CeBIT. ® Related Stories Fujitsu Siemens launches first post-merger notebooks Fujitsu Siemens sign on the dotted line
The Register breaking news

WD junks SCSI as HDD wars take toll

Seagate is issuing redundancies to 2900 workers in Thailand, and smaller rival Western Digital is putting 420 staff on the job scrap heap. Seagate says the staff cuts are the latest round of the reorganisation last year which will see the company reduce its 77,000 headcount by ten per cent this September. As an indicator of financial health, Western Digital’s lay-offs look more serious -- the company is throwing in the towel in the SCSI disk sector, citing declining share and increased competition in what it calls the enterprise storage market. WD will concentrate all its efforts now on building HDDs for desktop PCs. The company today announced that its net loss for the quarter ended 31 December, is expected to be in the range of $67-70 million, compared with Wall Street forecasts of $100 million "before special charges". It looks like WD did well out of the consumer PC sales rush, if not enough to actually make a profit. Seagate also beat analyst predictions in its most recent fiscal quarter, but it says the hard drive market remains very competitive. Meanwhile, Quantum's hard disk drive group announced its figures for its third quarter ended 26 December 1999. Sales were $889 million on record shipments of 8.7 million units. Net income was $5.2 million. The company attributed the sequential improvement in gross margins (Q2: 2.9 per cent; Q3: 11.7 per cent) to better industry conditions and improved execution. The HDD group generated $71 million in cash from operations in the December quarter and achieved a record 34 inventory turns. Adaptec, a company that knows how to make money from SCSI, also posted some rosy results yesterday, announcing net income for its Q3 up 27 per cent to $31.7 million. The company has laid off 975 staff in the past two years. ®
The Register breaking news

Y2K spending freeze fails to chill Sun

Sun cocked a snook at rival hardware vendors hit by a Y2K-inspired downturn in hardware spending when the it announced its Q2 2000 results yesterday. The smug server company posted profits for the period of $353 million, up 35 per cent on the same period last year. That translates to 21 cents a share, a smidge above the 20 cents a share Wall Street had anticipated. The quarter, which ended on 26 December 1999, saw revenues reach $3.55 billion, a 27 per cent increase on the $2.784 billion Sun posted for Q2 1999. Sun CEO Scott McNealy attributed the double-digit increases in profits and sales to continued spending on equipment for Internet applications -- sales made in spite of fears that customers would rein in spending on new hardware in order to deal with Y2K issues. Y2K has had its effect on the industry. Fujitsu Siemens certainly blamed customers' Millennium Bug preparations on its downturn in sales. McNealy claimed Sun saw no slowdown in sales during the quarter. The only exception proved to be sales to UK financial services companies, which probably was a Y2K-related issue. ®
The Register breaking news

Lucent posts 23 per cent profit plunge

A disappointed Lucent yesterday posted a 23 per cent fall in profitability yesterday when it announced the results of its first quarter of fiscal 2000. The comms company said it made $1.25 billion during the three months to 31 December 1999, though after one-off items, that figure falls to $1.18 billion. This time last year, it posted an income before charges of $1.52 billion. Revenues for the quarter totalled $9.9 billion, up on Q1 1999's $9.8 billion. And the quarter proved to be the three-year-old company's second best ever for income and revenue. Lucent blamed the downturn on weak software revenues, delays in customers' network roll-outs and the company's own inability to meet demand for high-performance fibre-optic equipment. The company's chairman and CEO, Richard McGinn, said he expected to have fixed its manufacturing and shipment problems by the end of the current quarter. ®
The Register breaking news

ALi bridges S370, Slot One gap

Acer subsidiary ALi announced a chipset which supports both slot One and socket 370 PC systems and also includes multiple memory support for both PC-133 and PC-100. The Aladdin-Pro 4 chipset is claimed to offer high performance at a cost-effective price but may indicate uncertainty by chipset manufacturers as to where the market is heading. Intel's Slot One architecture will be completely phased out by the middle of this year, and it is thought that the ALi chipset will help overcome incompatibilities with previous socket 370 architectures. It will also help vendors cover their backs by allowing them to use old stock as Slot One heads for the chip gulag. The chipset was developed for both the desktop and notebook market and supports industry standards such as UDMA 33/66, USB and integrated 3D audio. ®
The Register breaking news

Motorola claims alcoholic PC breakthrough

A fuel cell technology developed by Motorola is to use alcohol to deliver longer life for mobiles and notebook PCs. And the so-called "fuel cell technology" uses alcohol and requires refills when the battery goes flat. That means that at the end of a long day, just like your common or garden Register staffer, your laptop will need a swift half before carrying on with its daily tasks. The technical challenges involved mean costs are currently high, so it could be three to five years before we see the battery technology, which, Motorola claims, powers a mobile phone for a month or a laptop for a day in the shops. Motorola, working with researchers at the Los Alamos Laboratory said the battery works by converting chemical energy from methanol and ethanol over a platinum catalyst. The chemical reaction creates water vapour which means your laptop or phone may start steaming. Just like your regular Register staffer might. Director of Motorola's Material, Device and Energy Research Bill Ooms told The Times: "Manufacturers are constantly developing new features for portable electronic devices that require more power and longer operating life." Whilst new chip designs reduce power consumption of portable devices Motorola believe this new technology will speed up developments in cheaper gadgets. ®
The Register breaking news

Big Blue ships extra ThinkPads

IBM today started shipping more members of its ThinkPad family in the UK. The ThinkPad 600X, an expansion on the existing ThinkPad 600 series, uses Intel's Pentium III in three basic model configurations. The first has the 450MHz chip, with 64MB, 13.3in XGA TFT and 6GB hard drive. It is priced at £2750 (Windows 98) and £2826 (NT) exc. VAT. The WorkHorse models have a 500MHz Pentium, 64MB, 13.3in XGA TFT and 12GB hard drive, at £3078 and £3153. The final model is based on the 500MHz chip, with 64MB, 13.3in XGA TFT, 6X-1X DVD and 12GB hard drive. It costs £3214 and £3289. Also available from today is the ThinkPad 390X, based on the mobile Pentium III in two configurations. The WorkHorse model runs at 450MHz, with 14.1in XGA TFT, 12GB hard drive, 64MB, 24X CD-ROM, 56Kbps modem, at £2420 (Windows 98) and £2496 (NT) ex VAT. The second uses the 500MHz Pentium III, with a 15in screen and similar speck to the WorkHorse. It costs £2723 and £2799. Big Blue also unveiled additions to its iSeries notebooks, aimed at home and small business users. The four models use 466MHz Intel Celerons, with Easy Launch Internet buttons. The iSeries 1500 comes pre-loaded with Microsoft Office 2000 Small Business. Pricing for the models ranges from £1020 to £1701 exc VAT. ®
The Register breaking news

Sony to launch e-commerce biz to serve PlayStation 2 users

Sony is to set up a new subsidiary to sell content, software and hardware to PlayStation 2 owners via the Web. The company, PlayStation.com, will be formed at the start of February -- one month ahead of the Japanese launch of the console-cum-information appliance. Not surprisingly, PlayStation.com will sell consoles, hardware add-ons such as memory packs and extra controllers, and games. However, Sony is clearly looking beyond gamers, since the online store will also take on the likes of Amazon.com to offer music CDs and DVDs. Ultimately, Sony plans to offer all these items as downloads or realtime streams though the timing isn't yet right, the company believes. It's so-called 'e-distribution' service for PlayStation 2 owners is set to go live mid-2001. In fact, PlayStation 2 is more about providing homes with the front end to network-based digital media services than simply being the successor to the world's leading games console. Sony wants to become the supplier -- a "Web department store", as Sony's president put it -- of digital content and the equipment consumers use to access it. PlayStation.com will be capitalised at Y480 million ($4.5 million). ® Related Stories Sony ties in with Sun to drive CE kit Sony preps satellite digital content delivery service PlayStation 3 to ship 2002 Sony puts PlayStation 2 at heart of Net strategy Sony confirms Linux to be PSX2 development platform
The Register breaking news

Gateway profit falls – don't have a cow, man

Gateway saw profits fall but still managed to meet revised (downward) forecasts for Q4. The direct PC vendor, set up by the son of a cattle farmer, posted pre-tax profit at $126 million, down five per cent on the previous year. Excluding charges connected to its deal with AOL in October, Gateway clocked up earnings of $139 million. This was on sales of $2.45 billion for the last three months of 1999. Figures were in line with forecasts, and followed the company's profit warning earlier this month. At the time it cited supply problems with Intel chips and a slowdown in spending due to Y2K. Unit shipments increased 18 per cent for the quarter to 1.36 million. Full year pre-tax profits were £428 million on sales of $8.6 billion. Gateway said it expected to reap financial rewards in 2000 from its Internet agreement with AOL – which saw the ISP take over Gateway's online service gateway.net. It signed up 400,000 new users to the service in the fourth quarter – double that of the previous quarter and taking its total subscribers to one million. ® Related stories: Gateway to use AMD because of Intel chip famine
The Register breaking news

InterX share price goes through roof

There's no stopping those Internet investors once they get an idea into their heads. But InterX doesn't seem to be doing too badly out of it. Since we all got into work this morning, the company's share price has jumped over £1.20 to £13.87. This is more than a £3 hike in a week. The share price increase stems back to 29 November, when the company announced plans to spin off Ideal Hardware -- the distribution part of the business -- and stick to cybertrade. The dot.com stock marketeers wasted no time, and the company waved goodbye to its £2.50 share price. Today InterX was forced to issue a statement to the stock exchange over the price rise – but merely re-iterated its strategy from November. "The Board continues to progress the implementation of this strategy and will make further announcements when appropriate," it said. According to James Wickes, InterX CEO, it takes "time for the word to get round. We are still on course for the split, but we are no nearer towards it." Wickes said the share price now valued the company at £280 million, compared to £60 million in November. In his words: "We are very, very pleased". ®
The Register breaking news

Excite@Home escapes Usenet Death Penalty

The fatwa against spam tolerant Excite@Home -- which threatened to excommunicate the company from Usenet -- has been lifted. Although Excite@Home will be relieved that the nuclear option was avoided this time, it's been warned that if levels of abuse and lack of response return to their earlier levels within the next month, the Usenet Death Penalty (UDP) will go into effect "without notice". Faced with a UDP, it appears Excite@Home had little option but to meet the demands of the Usenet community and get its own house in order. According to early estimates, spam infringements originating from Excite@Home are just a tenth of what they were a week ago. A statement from Usenet read: "The response from Excite@Home, Rogers@Home, Shaw@Home, their affiliates and partners, to this call for an Usenet Death Penalty action has been outstanding. "Because of the rapid and positive response from the people at @Home Network, the Usenet Death Penalty...has been lifted." Aaaahhh, isn't it nice to have a happy ending just once in a while? ® Related items: Usenet Death Penalty issued for Excite@Home
The Register breaking news

E-envoy can't surf

Britain's groovy e-envoy Alex Allan is at it again, this time with a splendid array of photographs on his personal Web site. The site -- already a home for the lyrics of all the Grateful Dead songs -- shows four pictures of Allan in the 1980s in an ingenious attempt to get into work at Her Majesty's Treasury during a train strike. Sporting a bowler hat, pin-stripe suit and brolly, Allan can be seen windsurfing down Old Father Thames with the Houses of Parliament in the background. Sadly the windsurfing exploit does not go according to plan and Allan can be seen falling off his board and well and truly into the drink. Alert readers looking for metaphorical significance might care to ponder that clearly Allan's track record at transplanting Californian culture into Britain leaves a lot to be desired. Or that more simply that surfing is a mite too tricky for our own e-envoy. But at least his Web site has been endorsed by Prime Minister Tony Blair, who in appointing Allan last year described him as "one of the very few senior civil servants with his own Web site - and certainly the only one whose Web site has a comprehensive guide to the lyrics of the Grateful Dead!" ® Related items: Follow the links to find the pics… Surf's up Going… Going… Gone Allan's site
The Register breaking news

£40m fibre optic network to link London & Liverpool

Telewest is to plough more than £40 million into a high-capacity fibre optic network linking Liverpool and London, the company disclosed today. The announcement was made in association with Worldwide Fiber Inc and will bolt on to Telewest's existing 2,200 mile fibre optic network in England. Telewest will build the 700 mile network connecting Worldwide Fiber's trans-Atlantic cable station in Southport, near Liverpool, with Worldwide Fiber's point of presence in the Docklands in London. The network will run via Manchester, Sheffield, Birmingham, Nottingham, Cambridge and Bristol, and will be used to carry digital TV and Internet services as well as national and international telephony traffic. Greg Maffei, CEO of Worldwide Fiber, said: "We are developing one of the largest and most advanced fibre optic networks in England. This infrastructure will be at the heart of our network that connects our trans-Atlantic cable to Europe via our gateway in London. It represents a critical leg of our growing international network." Worldwide Fiber is currently completing a 24,000 mile fibre-optic network in North America and Europe, and constructing a trans-Atlantic network connecting Boston and Halifax with Liverpool and Dublin. ®
The Register breaking news

Free Net calls trial extended at X-Stream

The X-Stream Network has decided to continue offering its users 24/7 0800 dial-up access to the Net once its trial finishes at the end of the month, The Register can reveal. The rapidly expanding British ISP was due to call time on the trial at the end of January, but has decided to extend it "indefinitely" to its 550,000 users. Although news of X-Stream's decision is likely to be welcomed by users it's clear that the trial has not been all plain sailing for the ISP. Although X-Stream says the trial has been a success, fears that the service would be swamped -- especially during peak hours -- have proved correct. One user said that he tried to access the service for two days without any joy dialling up to 600 times in one hour alone. Another reportedly redialled continuously for 25 hours only to be able to connect for four minutes. But frustrated users shouldn't be surprised if the service hasn't lived up to their expectations. When the trial was launched in December Greg Sukornyk, CEO of X-Stream, made it clear that the service had limited capacity and that it would be available on a "first come first served" basis. Paul Myers, MD of The X-Stream Network, admitted today that the capacity made available for daytime access was less than off-peak hours, although he claims the ISP is working to improve the service. "We've gone beyond what we promised to deliver," said Myers. "There were never any guarantees that people would get on in the first place," he said. ® Related stories: Second free call trial kicks off at X-Stream
The Register breaking news

Gates discloses 5 per cent stake in Avista, stock rockets

Bill Gates has had to disclose that his private Cascade Investments holds 5.01 per cent of Avista Corporation. It's a strange percentage to hold - one wonders whether he, or his investment manager Michael Larsen, particularly wanted to exceed a 5 per cent holding, and so had to make the disclosure. But, as we pointed out recently, Gates' Cascade investments haven't been doing too well at all, so it would be a foolish punter who followed His Billness' investment examples. Avista is a utility company in the US Northwest that is doing work in fuel cell technology. It also is into receiving payments for power through the Internet, and it would be no surprise if it used Microsoft software to do so. Avista put on 30 per cent yesterday, and has more than doubled since 4 January. The filing at the SEC was made yesterday, but it was not disclosed when Gates bought the shares. Merrill Lynch tipped them on 12 January, when they were about half yesterday's price. It is curious that the SEC allows high-profile investors to keep smaller holdings confidential, but leaves scope for follow-the-leader manipulation of the share price. Some people might think this to be little unfair. ®
The Register breaking news

Spice Girls cash in on Web – big time

The Spice Girls stand to make over £1 million an hour performing in cyberspace. The figure came from today's Daily Mail, which revealed the group signed an exclusive three-year deal to perform a series of shows online for subscribers.
The Register breaking news

Journalists to meet in pub shocker

Computer Weakly, the UK's best IT publication (Eh? -Ed), is stuck out in the wilds of Surrey on the 110th floor of the Ministry of Magazines, so can claim with some justification that it is somewhat detached from the throbbing heart of the Metropolis.
The Register breaking news

What, no MSOffice? US DoJ re-equips with WordPerfect

Corel's winning streak continued today with the news the US Department of Justice has signed a three year deal with the company for WordPerfect software for its 55,000 staff. But before you ask, no, Windows is the platform - the software is WordPerfect Office 2000 Standard and Professional, rather than WordPerfect 8 for Linux. But we can still speculate about what might happen the next time the DoJ needs to do a wholesale platform upgrade. Look at it this way; if the DoJ had at this juncture decided to equip all of its staff with Microsoft Office 2000, we would have had something of a massive PR own goal for the outfit that's busting Microsoft, would we not? So you could say that it's a pretty soft target for Corel, which ought to have been a shoe-in even without the traditional preference of legal outfits for WordPerfect. The same sort of thing might of course happen the next time the DoJ needs to upgrade its PCs, but don't count on it. Its trial pitch was that Microsoft holds a monopoly of PC operating systems, and very little time was given to consideration of an apps monopoly, so if it finds itself buying Win2k a year or two down the line, well, it can always claim 'told you so,' and bitch about having no choice. ®
The Register breaking news

High bandwidth with old technology

A former division of electronics giant Motorola claims to be developing technology to provide high-bandwidth speeds of 40Gb per second, using technology that dates back to the early 80s. Details are patchy, but On Semiconductor claims that it can already provide speeds of 6Gb per second using Emitter Coupled Logic (ECL), usually used for testing Integrated Circuits. The not-so new approach is based around CMOS technology, which – On Semiconductor says – has been ignored by most people because it is too slow and too noisy. Two generally good reasons to ignore old technology, but there you go… On Semiconductor's marketing manager Geert De Vuyst told The Register: "There has been great interest in ECL technology for ASDL, networking and telecommunications." On Semiconductor's main customers are currently ADSL card manufacturers like Alcatel. ®
The Register breaking news

AMD to massacre Intel on St Valentine's Day

Reliable sources have told The Register that AMD will release an 850MHz Athlon processor in mid-February, just in time to put a damper on Intel's up-and-coming Developer Forum. The AMD product, which will be available in volume shortly after the announcement, is likely to force Intel to up the ante. Intel may well do so during the week of the Developer Forum, which The Register is attending. Currently, both Intel and AMD are both selling 800MHz versions of their Pentium III and Athlon processors. The Intel Coppermine parts are beginning to arrive in quantities, the company said when it announced its financial results last week. The 850MHz Athlon that AMD will announce shows that the firm is making the running in the clock speed wars. Sources in both the channel and at PC manufacturers have repeatedly told The Register that AMD is capable of rolling out the big one -- the 1GHz Athlon -- at a time of its own choosing. According to one source, AMD has already successfully produced 1GHz Athlons, and is just biding its time. Intel's official roadmap is still positing a 1GHz IA-32 microprocessor the second half of this year. ®
The Register breaking news

Windows 2000 OEM prices leaked

Microsoft sources today confirmed OEM versions Windows 2000 will ship from distie warehouses on Monday 24 January. They also confirmed that yesterday’s CRN.com’s scoop on OEM prices was accurate to "within a couple of dollars". So here are the prices, as posted by CRN: *Windows 2000 3-pack $386 *Windows 2000 Server $725 The Windows 2000 3-pack is around $100 cheaper than its Windows NT 4.0 equivalent -- a useful price break for hard-pressed system builders; however Windows 2000 Server is $66 more expensive than NT 4.0 Server. Microsoft system builders will welcome the early availability of code which will enable them to ramp up marketing and production plans well in advance of the Feb 17 retail launch of Windows 2000. ® CRN article in full
The Register breaking news

Crusoe robs ARM of chip wunderkid status

ARM Holdings, the fabless wonder, has seen its share price falter on uncertainty over the impact that Transmeta’s Crusoe chip will have on its business. This morning, ARM shares fell 158 pence to £28.60. Merrill Lynch has "repeated its 'buy' rating and £54 stg price target for ARM Holdings, advising investors to pick up the stock on any weakness, dealers said" AFX reports. Crusoe prolongs battery life and reduces power consumption through software, and Transmeta claims this is more efficient and much cheaper than doing it through silicon (which is the ARM way). Transmeta isn’t specifically gunning for embeds -- ARM’s speciality -- but there's has to be an opportunity or two here. ARM is a classic momentum stock, and is by, most orthodox criteria, wildly overvalued (the company’s market cap peaked last month at £7.5 billion). But why should Transmeta cramp ARM’s style? For every dollar Transmeta has spent on developing Crusoe, it’s going to have spend eight or nine in building OEM channels, promoting the technology, and developing a worldwide infrastructure. An IPO would easily take care of Transmeta’s cash requirements, but all the money in the world won’t get it customers in a hurry. ARM, by contrast, has dozens of major OEM contracts in place. And these are not going to unravel overnight. If at all. ®
The Register breaking news

AMD K6-III mobile may trash Transmeta on thermals

The K6-III microprocessor is in desperately short supply, we can confirm, leading to speculation that the desktop version of the microprocessor is, as we suggested some time back, not long for this world. Instead, AMD will position the K6-III, with level two cache on board, as a very cool embedded processor. When we say cool, we are talking about the thermals on the part, and AMD is almost about to give away these parts for practically nothing. NexGen and technology also licensed from Digital could turn the part into a virtual give-away. The fabs are running and AMD confirmed to The Register two weeks ago that the K6-III has a future, but in the mobile market. PC manufacturers said yesterday that they were still receiving supplies of K6-IIIs, but that was only because they were regular customers of the company. The current K6-III part is almost unobtainable if you try to source it from the usual component suppliers, according to several frustrated readers, who have been trying to find the part all week. It spells the end to the Super Socket Seven, if AMD and its customers are to believed. AMD itself will neither confirm nor deny that the future of the K6-III processor looks bleak. According to AMD's European market analyst Rana Mainee, "Everyone who wants a K6-III is satisfied". A source at a major European distributor said the product has, effectively, been shelved. "The situation is somewhat confusing even to us as a distributor," he said. "The K6-III does not really feature in AMD's plans this year. We have a very small amount of units in stock, and have no place to replace them when those are sold." He said: "The price drops that are happening this week follow AMD's roadmap, which is the Athlon, the K6-2+ and the K6-2. Eventually, the K6-III will price itself out of the market anyway, as AMD introduces new products." This differs from another version we have now on board, which is that the cache-on-chip die is going to become the SpeedStep killer, very soon. A source tells us that AMD has now so far reduced the voltage on the parts that the Texas-based chip company can beat Transmeta, hands down. Transmeta is selling two versions of its Intel mobile Pentium III killer, although prices for the part are hard to get. Sources tell The Register that behind the scenes, there are very low thermal K6-III microprocessors using copper interconnect technology being developed and perfected at AMD's Dresden part, in Germany. When the Dresden part ramps up, we are given to understand, AMD will be able to ramp up any number of K6-IIIs for mobiles. There are back room boys in an area of the fab in Dresden, working on mobile communications, we understand from our visit there last August. Some of them might even work for Motorola. AMD was unavailable for comment at press time. ® See also AMD K6-III not dead, merely resting
The Register breaking news

Russian wannabe Merced-killer claims Transmeta credit

Elbrus International, the Russian chip design outfit that says its E2K chip design would be a Merced-killer if only it could raise the money to build it, is claiming Transmeta's Crusoe family of chips owes a lot to its designs. Crusoe, which was publicly unveiled earlier this week, is intended to combine high performance, low power and low cost with multi-chip compatibility via what Transmeta terms "revolutionary technology." But there are signs that maybe Elbrus reckons some of this might be its revolutionary technology. In a phone interview with our good friends at Dow Jones Newswires, someone referred to as Elbrus director Sergei Babaian is quoted as saying "Transmeta has proved that our idea works." It's maybe early days to be quite so sure about the "works" bit of this, of course, and as Elbrus' own site doesn't seem to mention a Sergei Babaian, we can't help wondering if maybe this mightn't be the rather better known Elbrus director Boris Babayan speaking. That's not of absolutely vital importance, however. Babaian/Babayan says that he's happy for Dave Ditzel, but sorry that he and Transmeta contrived to roll out Crusoe without acknowledging that "he had also learnt a lot from us." This might just be hint at fighting talk. There is at least a connection between Ditzel and Elbrus, as the Russian company worked with him while he was at Sun. Elbrus also lists Transmeta as one of the companies it has co-operated with, although it isn't specific about the nature of this co-operation, and Transmeta is not listed as one of Elbrus' "partner" companies, where the relationship, one presumes, is likely rather stronger. Elbrus announced some details of its E2K processor almost a year ago now, and since then has been seeking, unsuccessfully, funding to take it even to prototype stage. Since Elbrus is only in pursuit of $60 million initially, and Transmeta has already run through several hundred million in startup money, a little envy might be understandable. Elbrus doesn't seem to have made much headway since the E2K announcement, but it may be significant that in November it said: "The work to secure the IP rights for the E2K has been done." At that time Babayan also noted that the disclosure of the "basic parameters" of Merced/Itanium and Transmeta confirmed that Elbrus could still be ahead of these competitors for "a substantial period of time." What happens next may depend first on whether Elbrus' luck turns on the investment front, and second on how securely it has managed to secure its E2K IP. In the first department, the Moscow office of UK outfit Robert Fleming has been on the case without obvious success for a couple of months now, while in the latter..? ® See also: Ex-Soviets seek $$$ for Merced-killer - Transmeta linked? Babayan outlines Elbrus future