28th > January > 2000 Archive

The Register breaking news

Music.com endorses Windows Media, disses MP3

Online retailer Music.com has chosen Windows Media Technologies as the "preferred format" for music distribution from its Web site, the companies announced Thursday. "Windows Media provides the mission-critical reliability and quality our users are demanding, and will help us become an indispensable online destination for all music lovers," Music.com senior VP Adam Somers predicted. The company cites a ZD Labs study which it claims "shows that audio files in the Windows Media format sound more like CD-quality audio in half the size of MP3". "With Windows Media, music comes out sounding the way it was meant to," Music.com board member Ted Cohen added. "People want an emotional experience with their music, not a technology experience, and the quality of Windows Media makes the technology transparent." The Register was unable to discover what effect on the future of the MP3 format the companies expect this announcement to have. ®
Thomas C Greene, 28 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Transmeta Crusoe boards show up at show

The Platform 2000 held earlier this week in San Jose had some more information on Transmeta's Crusoe, together with some first information on which manufacturers will implement the processor, according to this report on Akihabara Pricewatch. The same report, which is in Japanese, also contains pictures of some boards which were displayed at the microprocessor conference. Our Lernout & Hauspie software has given us a reasonable idea of what Pricewatch reports. According to that report, most of the presentation was fundamentally similar to the Crusue launch content last week. But, at the Q&A, there were a couple of specific questions about support in Crusoe for MMX and Intel's Screaming Sindie extensions. If L&H's software is working properly, it appears that while Crusoe currently supports MMX extensions, so far there is no support for Screaming Sindie or 3DNow! However, there are plans to implement that in future. There were prototypes of Transmeta terminals, and displays of Mobile Linux, however, photographs of which are on the Pricewatch page. As far as we understand, the reporter from Pricewatch is saying that the Transmeta unit was running very coolly, and using Windows 98. And, at the same time, Quanta is one OEM involved in producing the mobos. Quanta is a Taiwanese manufacturer which supplies notebooks to a number of major PC vendors. ®
Mike Magee, 28 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Dell share price falls on bad Intel news

The price of Dell shares fell by nearly $3 on Wall Street yesterday after it issued a report the evening before that shortages of Intel processors combined with Y2K pressures would dent its profits. But that does not mean that Dell will start using AMD parts, according to reports on various news wires across the globe. Dell is following in Gateway's footsteps only to the extent that shortages of some members of Intel's processor family, coupled with a shortage of Rambus RIMMs, had a negative effect on its sales in the leadup to Yule. The company is insisting, however, that it has no plans to use AMD parts in its machines, despite the supply problems. It is the last of the big 10 PC manufacturers not to second source AMD parts. The Dell statement, however, had the effect of flushing out Intel. One wire reported official representatives of Intel in Santa Clara admitting there would be shortages of some members of the Pentium III family, and some Celerons, for the rest of this quarter. Intel, however, was unable to pin down the specific parts which are currently in short supply. Two days ago we reported that both US and European distributors had received notification from Intel that February backlogs of Pentium III processors were effectively cancelled. One distributor at a trade show in Birmingham told The Register that for the first time in recorded history, AMD was setting the agenda for chip introductions and that had thrown Intel's marketing and introduction plans into disarray. ® See also Intel cancels Pentium III supplies for February Intel Pentium II arises from the grave Rambus yields fall to 10 per cent, disties claim Dell last domino to fall to AMD Athlon
Mike Magee, 28 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

AMD will attempt to block Intel anti-Via moves

Reliable sources close to AMD's plans in Taiwan have told The Register that the company is making representations to the US International Trade Commission (ITC) to stop a move by Intel to ban Via imports into the country. Early last week, Intel, which is already engaged in fierce legal action against Via over alleged patent infringements, sent a letter to the ITC asking the regulatory body to block the Taiwanese firm from importing its chipsets into the USA. But now, we understand, AMD has stepped into the dispute and has made its own representations to the ITC, because its future roadmap will, in part, depend upon Via and other chipsets. As well as further extensive chipset support from Via, we understand that AMD will produce a dual Athlon during the course of this year, likely to be at the beginning of Q3, and has garnered support from other Taiwanese firms including UMC, SiS and ALi. AMD is concerned that these future plans may be compromised if the ITC accedes to Intel's complaint and blocks Via imports. ® See also Compaq could be affected by Intel Via action Intel extends Via legal action
Mike Magee, 28 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Avnet plans European invasion

Avnet ACC was among the companies making announcements at this year's Computer Trade Show in Birmingham. The US giant shipped over its president, Ed Kamins, to tell journalists the company was looking to buy companies in Europe to expand its empire, which now includes UK distributor Flashpoint. Flashpoint has been renamed Avnet Applied Computing Components (ACC), and Avnet's PC component business in Stevenage is being merged into Flashpoint's Slough offices. Former Flashpoint MD Sukh Rayat has been promoted to Western European MD for Avnet ACC and will head the operation. The takeover added Intel to Flashpoint's product list for the first time. Kamins said Avnet would be setting up a second section of the company in Europe called Applied Computing Solutions. It will be scouting for distributors or Vars to buy over the next year -- preferably companies involved in the server or commercial PC business. When asked if he had his eye on anyone in the UK, Kamins replied: "Yes, but we are not on the verge of an announcement. We are in very, very preliminary conversations." According to Kamins: "We expect to be in Europe by the middle of this year, and to be a pan-European company within 18 months." The company has spent over $1 billion on acquisitions in the last two years. AMD was out in full force for the announcement yesterday, and presented Flashpoint with its "UK PC Distributor for 1999" award. However, AMD top management laughed off claims that they were worried about Intel now being included in Flashpoint's offerings. ® Related stories Flashpoint marshalled by Avnet troops Flashpoint's Rayat upgraded to MD
Linda Harrison, 28 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Disney forced to remove Go Network logo

The Walt Disney Company's Go Network hit a red light yesterday when the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ordered the company to cease using its green traffic light logo. Why? Because it looks too much like GoTo.com's own green traffic light logo. GoTo.com's logo has been in use since 1997, the Go Network's since 1998. GoTo.com sued the Go Network's joint owners Infoseek and Disney in February 1999. Disney, of course, bought up Infoseek last year, so took on the full weight of GoTo.com's suit. Last November, Disney won the right to continue using the Go Network's logo until the case came to court. GoTo.com appealed against that decision, the result of which was yesterday's order to Disney to cease using the contentious graphic. GoTo.com's case against Disney will come to court later this year. ®
Tony Smith, 28 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

When Crusoe met Speedstep

Transmeta's Crusoe chips represent the first serious technical challenge to Intel mobile processors, but can the company overcome Chipzilla's market dominance, the IT Network asks. Crusoe could end up "like Betamax -- leaner, meaner, arguably better -- and a long long way from widespread adoption", author John Sabine argues. He compares and contrasts the low-power consumption approaches of Intel Speedstep and Crusoe -- and comes out in favour of Transmeta. Unfortunately, he warns, "measuring the real benefits this reduced consumption will offer to battery life is something of an inexact science. Accordingly, Transmeta has fallen back on the old standby of generating its own benchmarks that seek to combine power consumption and performance. "Predictably, these results show Crusoe in a favourable light as against a (non-SpeedStep) PIII-500, with the new chip claimed to be between two and six times as efficient depending on the tasks performed. A pinch of salt may be needed -- but such claims won't last beyond the first chip availability if they are overly exaggerated". ® The full article is here. Webmasters, We recommend you use this URL for linking - http://www.itnetwork.com/solution6043. It will save you time.
Drew Cullen, 28 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Fresh Intel i820 chipset close to completion

Intel's embarrassment over the i820 chipset looks set to be resolved at last. Maybe. Sources close to the company's plans have informed us that Intel will ship an updated chipset for sampling to mobo vendors in mid-February which will, at last, support both Rambus memory and synchronous DRAM memory on the same planar. The boards will have support for two Rambus sockets and two additional SDRAM sockets, and also will include a revised, B2 stepping of the memory translator hub (MTH) which is now called the memory conversion hub (MCH). Reviews of machines using the existing MTH on i820 mobos have revealed a dramatic slow down on performance. Intel's decision and ability to include the two sets of sockets on the same mobo, rather than two separate boards, one of which supports RIMMs and the other DIMMs is bound to please hardware manufacturers. Many, including major Intel customer Dell, have complained about an inability to source sufficient Rambus parts, at a reasonable price. How does all of this work? Our information is that the boards will work with PC-133 memory, but the exigencies of practicality mean that its effective speed will be equivalent to PC-100. The two RIMM sockets will act as normally, while the MCH will show that the DIMMs appear to the PC as if they are on the same memory bus as the Rambus modules. This means that the performance of the RIMMs will be degraded, but does have the side benefit that you can populate the i820 with DIMMs and then upgrade to RIMMs if you wish to. It is so far unclear whether this method will drag the speed of the RIMMs down to the speed of the DIMMs. Intel first experienced difficulties with the i820 chipset last February, when it said it would have to put the launch back until autumn last year. However, after announcing the two different versions of the chipset, manufacturers were forced to stop their launch of Rambus-flavoured machines based on it because of technical problems. Intel was unavailable for comment at press time. ®
Mike Magee, 28 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Seagate hands over $45m for FDD patent

Disk drive giant Seagate has coughed up $45 million (£27 million) to settle a seven-year-long row over patent infringements with one-time drive maker Rodime. Rodime claims it pioneered the development of the 3.5in drive in 1983 and that Seagate had used it without paying royalties. A Californian District Court dismissed the case in 1997 but an Appeal resurrected the claims. Despite issuing denials that it had infringed any patents, Seagate settled out of court yesterday after the Supreme Court rejected a petition to quash the case. Throughout the case Rodime has been running as a shell company with four employees living off intellectual property, patent incomes and a $34 million overdraft. The company said they would invest some of the money in pursuit of its digital servo patents. ®
The Register breaking news

AOL 6.0 details leaked on Web

Executives at AOL are in a frothy lather after a teenager published details about the company's yet-to-be-released software on his Web site. AOL 6.0 -- which is still on the drawing board -- isn't even supposed to be beta tested until May. It's scheduled for general release in August. According to CNET, the youth has already been slapped with a notice from lawyers to remove the unauthorised material from the site or face the consequences. They claim he must have obtained the information from an illegal source. It seems the confidential information was either hacked or leaked. But a message on the site reads: "All information was gained legally without the use of a third-party source, and without breaking any laws. The information was posted in a public file library on AOL." Unfortunately, no one from AOL was available for comment by press time so there's no way of knowing whether AOL has egg on its face, or whether it has a genuine case. Either way, as of 12:35pm (GMT), the offending site was still available. If you get a thrill out of seeing under-the-bonnet developmental screen grabs of new software -- including AOL 6.0's tool bar and Instant Messaging service -- then have a sneaky peak here. ®
Tim Richardson, 28 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

NTT DoCoMo to offer digital music via cellphone

Japanese mobile phone company NTT DoCoMo yesterday said it plans to launch a cellular wireless digital music distribution service in partnership with consumer electronics giant Matsushita. NTT DoCoMo first mooted such a service back in November when it began hawking a reference platform around consumer electronics companies. Clearly Matsushita has taken the plunge, and the two have formed a jointly-owned subsidiary, Air Media, to commercialise NTT DoCoMo's technology. Air Media will be 51 per cent owned by NTT DoCoMo, the rest by Matsushita. Air Media is expected to begin offering music to the public in the autumn following a trial run commencing in April. Air Media will initially use NTT DoCoMo's 64kbps Personal Handyphone Service, upgrading to CDMA next year, following the cellular technology's roll-out throughout Japan. Matsushita will contribute the EMDLB music distribution, copyright protection and compression system it's currently co-developing with AT&T, Bertelsmann Music Group and Universal. The Air Media system will download tracks and samples to Secure Digital Cards (SDC), the copy-protected Compact Flash-style memory card format devised by SanDisk, Toshiba and Matsushita. The move sets SDC head to head with rival format Secure Multimedia Card (aka MMC) from Sanyo, Fujistu and Hitachi, which is also being touted as a system for storing cellphone-downloaded music tracks. The MMC guys' approach uses Fujitsu's UDAC-MB (Universal Distribution with Access Control -- Media Base) content delivery and protection system, which can support any compression scheme, including MP3. Sanyo's contribution is to manufacture phones that support the cards, while Hitachi will produce Secure MMC units. ®
Tony Smith, 28 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Doubleclick sued over alleged cookie abuse

The largest advertising company on the Internet, Doubleclick, is being sued by a Californian woman over its use of cookies. The suit alleges that the Doubleclick cookies -- programs that store information about visitors to Web sites -- have been culling personal information from PC users without their prior knowledge or consent. The suit also claims that this information, which includes names, addresses and financial status, has been sold on in some cases. While cookies have become a common-place part of life on the Net, Doubleclick stands accused of using its direct marketing arm -- Abacus Direct, which it bought last year -- to turn the innocuous cookie into something altogether more powerful and more intrusive. Abacus is said to hold personal data relating to some 90 per cent of US households. The suit -- Judnick vs Doubleclick -- was filed yesterday in the California Superior Court, Marin County by the Rothken Law Firm, acting on behalf of Harriet M Judnick. It alleges that Doubleclick claims that no personal data is collected via cookies. According to Ira Rothken, one of the plaintiff's lawyers, Doubleclick has a duty to tell Net users what information about them might be collected in this way and that this consent must be gathered in an open and obvious manner. The lawsuit hopes to prevent Doubleclick from collecting personal data via cookies unless users have given prior consent. It also wants a mechanism set up whereby users can destroy any personal information about them gathered in this manner. Rothken was quoted by the news wire service Business Wire as saying: "Doubleclick has an obligation to the General Public using the Internet to truthfully and adequately inform them about what Doubleclick is taking from them, namely, their personal, private information." He continued: "Internet users have a right to privacy and to be free from false and misleading advertising, protected by the laws of the State of California." ®
Sean Fleming, 28 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Register stars in The Matrix II

The Register has been given a bit part in a remake of sci-fi movie, The Matrix. In one of the tense climactic scenes of the gripping photo-strip web movie, The Register can clearly be seen in the background. One critic said it was a powerful performance of immense talent. Another said it was wooden. The whole flick is available at detonate.net entitled cr0bar's bastardization of The Matrix. To see The Register's walk-on role, grab your popcorn and head here. If you think The Register could feature in any other movie re-makes, why not post us your suggestions. We've already got: Two Vultures for Sister Sarah The Maltese Vulture Reservoir Hacks One Flew Over the Vulture's Nest The Vulture Strikes Back Carrion Up The Khyber ®
Moo V Goer, 28 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Semico sees little future for Rambus memory

Presentations from market research company Semico and Hyundai have cast further doubts over the future of Rambus memory as a successful PC platform. At this week's Platform 2000 conference, Sherry Garber, a senior vice president at Semico Research, claimed that Rambus would only achieve two per cent of the market during this year, and that by the year 2004, that will shrink to a minority share of 0.1 per cent, along with EDO RAM. Slides shown by Semico give DDR memory a 57.4 per cent share of the market in 2004, with SDRAM still maintaining a 42.4 per cent of the market. At the same conference, Fahrad Tabrizi, VP of strategic marketing and product planning at memory major Hyundai, left little doubt that his company was of the same opinion about DDR and about Rambus. His presentation started with a slide titled "DDR moves forward aggressively". At a panel meeting later in the conference, only Samsung was still maintaining that Rambus would achieve any kind of dominance in the marketplace. ® Related Stories Rambus offers cheapo shares to Hyundai Rambus yields drop to 10 per cent, disties claim Analysis: AMD, Via invited to post-Rambus gig
Mike Magee, 28 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Yahoo! and Man Utd linked in £40m deal

Yodelling portal, Yahoo!, has distanced itself from speculation that it is to splash out £40 million to sponsor the shirts of the world's biggest football club, Manchester United. A report on Friday claimed that as part of the deal, Man Utd would use Yahoo! to help market its merchandise on the Internet to its global grandstand of fans and supporters. Iliane Vanees, head of marketing at Yahoo! in Britain, said: "The story is just rumour and speculation." Speculation that online bookseller, Amazon, was on a shortlist of companies eager to win the lucrative sponsorship deal were also dashed. A spokesman for Amazon.co.uk said that any involvement with Man Utd was "pure speculation". If it goes ahead, the deal would be the biggest in British football and would replace Man Utd's previous shirt sponsor, Sharp, which runs out later this year. No one from Man Utd was available for comment. Elsewhere, a report in today's Metro claims Yahoo! is set to pay £15 million to sponsor the Prost F1 motor racing team. ®
Tim Richardson, 28 Jan 2000
The Register breaking news

Ex-USR Hudson back to modem roots

Clive Hudson, perhaps best known for his days heading up US Robotics' UK operations, has dramatically reappeared in a new job. He's taken on the role of MD with Britain's one remaining modem manufacturer, Psion Dacom. Former Dacom MD, Gareth Hughes, has moved onto head Psion's 'nursery group' for new projects such as the recent alliance with Vodafone AirTouch. The announcement follows hot on the heels of Psion Dacom's launch of a USB based product range. Although Hudson's last public role was at USB specialists, Entrega, before its recent acquisition by Xircom, Hudson maintains the USB connection is pure co-incidence. He says that while Psion Dacom views USB as an area in which it should be playing, it's not a strategic technology. Hudson revealed he's more interested in wireless than USB as a new product direction. The main reasons Hudson gave for Psion's decision to get him on board are his long experience with the channel plus his ability to forge deals on a European - not purely UK - basis. The Register enquired just exactly how Psion had lured him back into the modem market. Was it the usual trick of offering disgustingly large amounts of money, we asked? "People tend to throw large amounts of money at me, anyway. I don't know why," Hudson replied modestly. "I've got beyond that, though. It's really the chance to do some amazing new things with a really great brand name. The one thing people always say about Psion [Dacom] is that it's a great product name they've got." ®
Tony Dennis, 28 Jan 2000