16th February 2000 Archive
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Inner secrets of Screaming Sindie II
We were privileged this afternoon to have a round table briefing from Dr Albert Yu, a senior VP at the Intel Corporation, and the man who unleashed a 1.5GHz on the world stage earlier today. We had some of those pesky questions to ask him about the product, and in the process, unearthed some interesting anomalies. Dr Yu refused to say how much on-die cache was on the processor he introduced today, would not give a delivery date for the product and when we asked him about the die size and how many additional transistors were on the Willamette, he said the die size was "slightly bigger" than the Coppermine. However, he did say it was unlikely that when Willamette launches on the 1st October or thereabouts, it would reach such 1.5GHz speeds. He said: "It's unlikely it will launch at that speed. This is a very first raw look at the silicon." Further, said Yu, from one generation to the next you can expect a 30 per cent increase. As Intel will "very shortly" sample 1GHz Coppermines to its key customers, it won't be hard for those people with calculators to figure out what clock speed it will launch at. Willamette, unlike Foster, its next-gen server platform based on the same core, will be based on Rambus technology. Foster, the server/workstation version of Willamette, will go out of the door with DDR memory. The reasons for this so far remain unclear, but may be something to do with what Intel customers want. Yu said: "The current version of the [Willamette] chipset only supports Rambus. Synchronous memory performance will be mediocre. For the forseeable future, Rambus will be on desktops." The extra instructions in Screaming Sindie II will help give Willamette a strong position in the marketplace, said Yu. He also confirmed that the ALU (arithmetical logical unit) in the Willamette, runs twice as fast as other slabs of the microprocessor, and that meant the CPU had two different clocks. The Pentium brand will not go away, said Yu, but he declined to say whether Willamette will be called the Pentium IV. Nor would Yu be drawn on exactly how Intel will manage the transition between manufacturing Willamette in 100s of thousands by year end and millions next year, and how exactly Intel will manage that transition between the Coppermine processor and Willamette, given that its sixth .18 micron fab starts up in the second half of this year, and that Chipzilla will start to manufacture in .13 micron at the end of next year. Nor how the transition of wafers from eight to 13-inch will impact this whole process. ® Intel Developer Forum: Spring 2000 Full coverage
Business 16 01:41
So what's he got to do with it?
Chancellor Gordon Brown will tonight reveal plans to slash Internet access costs in half by 2002. Well, actually he won't do this tonight, as he's already spilled the beans in an exclusive interview with the FT. And he won't actually reveal any new plans from the sound of it. More accurately, he is to tell Britain where he stands on the metered phone bill debate.
Business 16 09:58
No pick-up until Q3
Spot prices for 64Mb DRAM chips have slumped below $7 and are not expected to bottom out in the near future, according to Taiwanese DRAM makers. Newswire AsiaBiztech cites US semiconductor sources who "quoted the average price of a standard 64Mb DRAM at $7 on 8 February". Some orders were going for as little as $6.79 on the day. On 9 February, things got even worse -- for suppliers -- with prices slumping to between $6.68 and $6.88. So will there be any respite for DRAM makers in the near future? Taiwanese manufacturerers don't think so. They see supply/demand coming into equilibrium sometime in Q3, and shortages to rear their beautiful head in Q4, as the PC manufacturers ramp up production for the Pre-Christmas Build-Out. ®
Business 16 10:14
And leaks new government accreditation scheme for SMEs
Datrontech UK yesterday launched a venture called The Hub, aimed at keeping its core market of SME system builders. Outlining the distributor's plans for the next 12-18 months, Datrontech MD James Morgan said the company wanted to get 1000 of its 4000 UK resellers signed up for the programme. It will offer bigger credit limits, outsourcing and the chance to get into the latest government accreditation scheme. Datrontech aims to get its 1000 resellers in The Hub accredited. Individual reseller credit limit will go up by 50 per cent per month as long as the amount outstanding is paid in full by the end of every month. This will have a limit of £75,000. Datrontech's outsourcing portfolio included network installation and end-user technical support. Other services on offer include Web-based training and sales tools. Although the Basingstoke outfit aims to hang onto all its resellers, Morgan said: "The majority of our energy and resource will go into this programme." SME system builders bring in £80 million revenue a year for Datrontech -– around 70 per cent of its business. ®
Business 16 10:29
...even though revenues jumped 12 per cent
Compel yesterday saw interim profits slump by almost 40 per cent, but expects customer spending to pick up in the first half of this year. The reseller blamed a Y2K sales slowdown as pre-tax profits slipped to £3 million for the six months ended 31 December 1999 in line with expectations. This compared to almost £5 million the previous year. Sales rose to £136 million against £121 million. "We are already seeing evidence of an upturn following the year 2000 date change and we are confident that expenditure levels in our customer base will increase materially during the first half of 2000," said Neville Davis, Compel's chairman and CEO. "The Group has recently seen a strong flow of substantial new contract wins with FTSE 100 companies." Drew Cullen writes: This is a peculiar sort of millennium sales lockdown: Compel sales actually rose 12 per cent during this reporting period (compared with 1998). The £1.9 million profit downturn looks more like the company got the sales mix wrong (too much product, not enough services), or a big one-off leap in expenses. ®
Business 16 10:36
Massive move by Birmingham's finest
SCH, Britain's second biggest reseller, is taking a huge leap onto the European stage, with the acquisition of Info'products Europe from Burhmann, the Dutch paper group. Info'products has annual sales of 1.6bn euros and operates as eight units in six countries. The company is the biggest reseller in France and the Netherlands, and has subsidiaries in Germany, Belgium, Spain and Italy. In October last year, Burhmann announced it had five potential buyers lined up for its IT business. The information systems division also comprises Bestware, a Dutch distributor and Staris described as an "Internet fulfilment organisation" aimed at SMEs. Through the deal, privately-held SCH more than doubles in size in turnover from £600 million to £1.4 billion, and in staff, to 4000. The group's reseller arm, Specialist Computer Centres, trebles in size. In a memo to SCH staff, chairman Peter Rigby said the company expected to take full control of Burhmann's information systems businesses at the end of March. It will operate the businesses through a company called Specialist Computers International and it will retain the trading names of each of the businesses. Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but Rigby sum its up, we think, when he said: "This is a major move for any business, let alone a privately owned business which generates and manages its own cash flow and investments and which has to deliver a profitable and well run business in order to survive let alone to prosper." ® Related story Former Info'P owner dumps more PC divisions
Business 16 10:44
Browser-based program neighbourhood system for MetaFrame
Citrix is to release NFuse, application portal software that allows users access to multiple server-based apps via browsers, as a free download from tomorrow. NFuse, which was developed under the codename of Charlotte, gives appliances of all shapes and sizes the ability to run remote applications on Citrix MetaFrame servers. Initially this will mean apps running on Win2k and NT 4.0 MetaFrame servers - MetaFrame for Win2k is itself being released tomorrow. But Citrix is also due to go gold with MetaFrame for Solaris shortly, and demos of Charlotte last year were actually running Solaris apps, so it will be feasible for appliances running Citrix ICA to access both Windows and Unix apps via a 'program neighbourhood' system fairly swiftly. On an EPOC smartphone or a Palm? Well, last year's demo did show a Palm simulator running a Solaris app on the other side of the Atlantic. NFuse will let ASPS and large enterprises publish access to their own applications simply, while at the same time letting users access them from anywhere. The next stage Citrix envisages is the delivery of personalised workplaces, where individual users or customers get access to their own personalised content and applications when they connect. So isn't it about time Citrix got itself a major deal with a cellular network provider to announce? ®
Business 16 10:55
Poison Pill, he quips
The MD of Alpha Telecom has launched a scathing attack on BT and its new discount telecoms operation voicing concerns that the monster telco is cross-subsiding Quip.
Business 16 11:28
PowerMac line finally makes it to 500MHz, too.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs this morning announced all the new much-anticipated new kit he'd been expected to unveil back at last month's MacWorld Expo in San Francisco but somehow managed not to. Taking up his now well-established role as public speaker, Jobs used his keynote at MacWorld Expo Tokyo to revamp both of Apple's portable lines, the consumer-oriented iBook and the higher-end PowerBook. And he was finally able to announce that Apple has brought the desktop PowerMac G4 line up to speed with an across-the-range megahertz boost that puts each machine back to where they were when Jobs unveiled the G4 family last August. So, the iBook line has been extended with a rather nifty looking Special Edition model that brings an iMac DV Special Edition graphite coloured case, a 366MHz PowerPC 750 (aka G3) CPU (up from the regular iBooks' 300MHz chip) to the table, all for an extra $200. The blue and orange iBooks continue to retail for $1599, but now include 64MB of RAM and a 6GB hard drive, as does the Special Edition model. The new PowerBook family is essentially an upgrade, simply speed-bumping the previous line, adding a couple of FireWire ports and integrating support for Apple's now across-the-range plug-in AirPort wireless networking technology -- all crammed into the existing model's bronze slimline case. The speed bumps take the baseline PowerBook clock speed to 400MHz and tops it off with a 500MHz version. Both ship with 1MB of L2 cache. The portable's new motherboard adds 100MHz system bus, finally drops SCSI in favour of FireWire, and brings 2x AGP graphics to the line, with a built-in 8MB ATI Rage Mobility 128 chipset. The new PowerBooks feature 64MB of RAM (128MB on the top 500MHz model), 6GB hard drive (12GB or 18GB on the 500MHz machines) and 6x DVD-ROM drives as standard. The PowerMac G4 speed bump takes three models in the line up 50MHz to 400MHz, 450MHz and -- at long last -- 500MHz. All three models -- and, indeed, the new PowerBooks and iBooks -- are said to be immediately available through Apple resellers and its own online AppleStore. However, in the UK at least, there's a 25-day wait on the new kit, suggesting the volumes aren't quite there yet. And with Motorola's 500MHz PowerPC 7440 (aka G4) believed to be still not quite up to spec., there could well be delays on shipments of the top-end PowerMac. ®
Business 16 12:00
Underperforms US parent
Dell has planted one of its top execs into Europe in an effort to resuscitate ailing European sales. Paul Bell was made European president this week, adding to his existing roles of senior VP and co-manager of the vendor's home and small business group. He replaced John Legere, who resigned, Reuters reports. Bell's appointment followed several quarters of disappointing results from the European division. In the fourth quarter, Europe reported sales up just eight per cent over the same period the previous year. This was well below the US giant's already lowered outlook for its overall revenue growth rates. Dell has already warned that sales growth will be around 30 per cent. Dell vice chairman Kevin Rollins said Bell had got the job due to home and small business sales growing at almost three times the industry rate under his supervision. ® Related stories Dell's power to drive profits slows to crawl Ding dong Dell, profit growing well Dell tops booming US PC market
Business 16 12:06
Utah outfit retained by both companies justifies respective, contradictory claims
Microsoft has made another attempt at beating Novell in the directory game, but has tripped itself up again in the process. This time Microsoft chose a Utah testing house called KeyLabs that Novell had used in the past, and asked it to carry out some tests so that Microsoft could have third party verification. Novell corporate strategist Brad Anderson told The Register that he thought it probable that Microsoft had found some non-real-world cases in its labs where NDS eDirectory (as NDS 8 is now called) could be beaten by Active Directory, and then asked KeyLabs to verify the tests independently. Novell was incensed, and also commissioned KeyLabs to run some real-world tests that, perhaps not surprisingly, show NDS performance in a very different light. While Microsoft referred to KeyLabs as a "Novell Authorised Testing Site" in its release, Novell countered that KeyLabs was a "registered Microsoft Certified Solutions Partner". You get the picture. Credit is due to KeyLabs for mentioning in its report commissioned by Microsoft that SSL security was switched off for its tests, and that IIS was not installed (increasing performance of course) - something that Microsoft forgot to mention in its release. Microsoft made a big issue of 96 scenarios being tried, but they were hardly realistic ones. The Novell tests, with more realistic configurations, included security and some searches not attempted by Microsoft for reasons that will become clear in a moment. An important issue not mentioned in the tests is that Active Directory only works with Windows 2000 (and not even NT), whereas NDS is happy with Solaris, NetWare, NT, Windows 2000 (and Tru64 this summer). There is something of a problem with Linux and NDS, since client connectivity with SAMBA does not yet support NDS authentication, but we digress. With multi-faceted, simultaneous searches, KeyLabs found NDS outperformed Active Directory by 250 percent on average. But worse was to come. Microsoft did not do any LDAP "contains" searches (completing a search across a sub-tree after a few characters are typed) when it defined the tests that KeyLabs was to run. Microsoft evidently knew that if more than one client workstation were used, Active Directory would not return any results at all: so much for Windows 2000's reliability. Where Active Directory was able to produce results with one workstation, NDS was 1250 times faster (yes, that is "times", and not "per cent"). Another example of Active Directory's inability to perform was seen in a mixed search test, where NDS returned results in 100 percent of cases, but AD failed to return results in 715 out of 6,000 cases - so that one in eight searches with Active Directory failed. Another scalability test showed that in a scenario with 10,000 searches - 100 clients performing 100 searches - NDS produced 250 results/second, but Active Directory failed to produce a single result after 60 seconds. Two different and important issues arise from these tests. The first is concerned with the ethical problems that are posed when a test organisation appears to bend both ways in endorsing test results from clients with horns locked. However scrupulously they perform their work - and there is no suggestion that KeyLabs did otherwise - such organisations are effectively muzzled by their clients from making any useful comments. Instead, we find the absurd situation of Matt Mace, director of quality at KeyLabs, being quoted by Microsoft as saying: "In each of the 96 LDAP-based tests we performed, Active Directory running on Windows 2000 Server exceeded the performance on Novell's NDS Version 8 running NetWare 5.1". But just three days later, he was quoted by Novell as saying that "In each of the LDAP-based tests we performed, using simultaneous different search types, Novell's NDS exceeded the performance of Active Directory running on the Windows 2000 Server." Mace had not returned our call inviting comment at press time. It seems that benchmark testing, which has been used in the industry since the days when big iron was compared, has not resolved the problems that were manifest nearly forty years ago. The other issue concerns the truthfulness of marketing messages. Yes, it is marketing, and of course there will be hype, but facts are supposed to be facts. Novell has been a little too quiet about its multiprocessing capability, promised for the next iteration of NetWare, and how this might affect present performance. Microsoft has been making excessive claims about the performance, scalability and reliability of Windows 2000. Yesterday, CIO Jim Yost of the Ford Motor Co told the Windows 2000 meeting in San Francisco that "Windows 2000 was chosen [by Ford] for both its scalability and reliability". He's not the only one who needs to dig deeper than the hype. ®
Business 16 12:27
Too obvious to be true?
Microsoft's entry into the games console-cum-internet appliance market, codenamed X-Box, has made another appearance in the rumour channel, this time courtesy of a leak to UK games publishing trade title MCV. Like most X-Box scuttlebutt, the various elements of the leaked spec. are tantalisingly plausible -- bloody obvious, if you think about it, possibly too obvious -- but too vague to draw any real conclusions. According to the report, we're looking at machine with DVD drive, 56kbps modem, "up to" 1GHz CPU, 64MB of RAM, 4GB hard drive and "Windows-derived OS". In other words, it's a low-end PC with a high-end chip. Curiously, the spec. doesn't include a 3D accelerator. In previous reports, Nvidia's GeForce 256 was said to be the candidate. And back then, during last autumn, the machine was said to sport a 500MHz CPU. One other interesting extra detail: the target price is said to be $149. So does this get us anywhere nearer to Microsoft's plans? Not really. Given the kind of products X-Box will have to compete with and at what kind of price point, anyone and their dog could have come up with such a broad-line specification and have a reasonable chance of getting it (equally broadly) right. It's rather like saying Rover's closely-guarded successor to the Mini will have four wheels, an engine, a compact body and a boot. With a prediction like that you're going to hit the nail on the head. What it does suggest, however, is that X-Box is a moveable feast and that the spec. won't be finalised until it gets darn closer to production -- if it ever does. It's still not known whether Microsoft would offer X-Box as a reference platform for PC vendors to use, or would sell it exclusively under its own name. It's not even clear whether the device is anything more than a PlayStation 2 stalking horse, or just a potential that Microsoft is touting to see what the reaction is. Bill Gates was rumoured to have signed off the X-Box spec. just before Christmas 1999, with the planned unveiling to take place early January 2000 at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Needless to say, X-Box failed to turn up. Late last month, Paul Whipp, a producer at Virgin Interactive, told Total Games Network, the X-Box could blow the PlayStation 2 out of the water if Microsoft put their whole weight behind the console. You'll note the 'if'. In any case, we still prefer Computer Exchange's cheeky X-Box concept design. They've got it spot on, we reckon... ®
Business 16 12:54
But why emulate when you can have the real thing?
Emulation software developer Connectix is to ship a version of its Mac-based Virtual PC application with Red Hat Linux as the emulator's bundled x86 operating systems. Connectix actually said it was planning to offer Virtual PC, now at version 3.0, with Linux back at the start of January, at MacWorld Expo. At that time, it hadn't decided which distribution it would provide. Connectix already offers Virtual PC with Windows 98 and 95, and DOS, and has a Win2k release in the works. Since Virtual PC emulates the x86 architecture and support hardware, not the whole system, users have been free to install whatever x86 OS they've fancied on top of it, and Linux has proved a popular choice. Of course, while there's no PowerPC version of Windows, using Virtual PC to support legacy Windows apps on a Mac or software that is only available on Windows and not under the MacOS, makes some sense, but when a version Red Hat Linux is already available for the Mac in the form of LinuxPPC, this week upgraded to LinuxPPC 2000, there's seems little point in emulating the OS. After all, it's not as if there are bucketloads of Linux apps out there that don't have MacOS equivalents. Still, for those who want to try out the open source OS, Virtual PC does at least allow you to do so without repartitioning your hard drive, and switch between the two without rebooting. The Linux bundle will ship next month, Connectix said. ® Related Story PlayStation-on-Mac developer Connectix gets sales ban lifted
Business 16 13:15
Easy... don't answer the phones
Irish airline Ryanair has come up with a novel way of turning itself into an e-commerce business -- it's stopped picking up the phones. After starting its online booking system rynair.com just one month ago, the no-frills airline boasts the site is already responsible for about 23 per cent of its traffic (does it mean bookings?). Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary claims £3.7 million in online sales since mid-January –- that's 35,000 bookings a week. However, online sales have been propelled by glitches in the Dublin-based company's new telephone system, according to today's FT. Apparently, customers have had to endure delays of 15 minutes or more in trying to get through to the recently installed central reservation service by phone: they turned to the Web site in frustration. ®
Business 16 13:31
The usual suspects
The rising stars of the British Internet industry gathered at a gala awards ceremony in London last night to celebrate the achievements of the last year. E-commerce minister Patricia Hewitt spoke of the progress the country was making and of the "major strides that the Net industry had made in only a few years". Despite her captive audience, she failed to mention chancellor Gordon Brown's bid to cut the cost of Net access in Britain, that was splashed on the front page of the big pink one today. That aside, the ISPA (Internet Service Providers Association) Internet Industry Awards are known as the Oscars of the industry. Thankfully, no one burst into tears as they made their acceptance speech, although the chaps at ISP Totalise got rather excited when they found out they won. ® The Winners of the ISPA Internet Industry Awards 2000
Business 16 13:45
Germans and French join forces to conquer Web
T-Online, the German monster ISP, is today joining forces with a smaller French counterpart, Club Internet. Deutsche Telekom is merging its ISP subsidiary with magazine publisher Lagardere's Club Internet, to deliver a combined subscriber base of nearly 4.6 million. The stock-swap deal entails T-Online buying Club Internet. In return, Deutsche Telekom will give Lagardere a 6.5 per cent stake in its ISP, which is due to float in mid-April. T-Online has an estimated value of between £9.2 billion and £10.5 billion, and Club Internet of around £600 million, according to the FT. The deal is the latest example of telecomms and media companies clubbing together to cash in on the Internet.T-Online gets more material to play with, while Lagardere has its content distributed to a larger market. It should also make T-online more marketable in its quest to float 10-15 per cent of the company before the summer. ® Related Stories Deutsche Telekom parades Net flat fees AOL demands flat fees for Germany
Business 16 13:57
All about Willamette, Foster, Timna et al
Senior Intel executives are, rather doggedly, in our humble opinion, sticking to the line that when Willamette launches this autumn, for the desktop at least, Rambus will be the way to go. They are also saying, by the way, that if Willamette makes it to the server level (which it will), it will use DDR (double data rate) memory and that Foster, practically the same architecture as Willamette anyway, will use DDR memory too. But the whole exercise of pushing the Rambus platform for Intel's up and coming P7 architecture, may not make any difference anyway because third party vendors are likely to offer synchronous memory and DDR memory for both architectures anyway. Peter McWilliams, an Intel fellow who presides over memory issues, said yesterday evening: "Some Willamettes, at the server end, will support DDR, some will support Rambus. Willamette on the desktop will support Rambus." He said: "Rambus is the right technology for the desktop, and gives a substantial amount of bandwidth. DDR is an evolutionary technology and has a place on the server. For the desktop, DDR would be a very expensive option." The Six Dramurai, a consortium of memory manufacturers and Intel, announced several weeks ago that it was actively looking at new memory technologies including DDR and synchronous DRAM (SDRAM), but McWilliams did not rule out the possibility that Rambus could make the six seven again. McWilliams said: "There's no reason why a future Rambus technology could not be the basis for that." Rambus is already actively exploring how to cut down the price of its RIMMs by creating modules that cut out some of the costs, both on a manufacturing basis and on a technical and thermal level too. There is also a possibility that Rambus might re-vamp its royalty model, although no executives commented on this phenomenon yesterday. However, McWilliams did acknowledge that Intel would supply Caminogate i820 motherboards in a two plus two configuration, which would support SDRAM and also Rambus, as reported here some weeks ago. Peter Glaskowsky, senior analyst at Microdesign Resources, said that in some respects the argument is academic, and that he understood why Intel was pushing the Rambus argument. He thought that when Willamette launched later this year, there would be third party solutions for the chip which would support synchronous memory, DDR and Rambus. Now what exactly is the difference between a Willamette and a Foster? No one seems to want to answer that one... ®
Business 16 15:21
Last year it was USB 2.0 - now it's Serial ATA
Intel's dislike on the IEEE 1394 (aka FireWire) continued unabated at this week's Intel Developer Forum (IDF), despite an agreement with Sony to work on a wireless version of the technology.
Business 16 16:08
Not a niche but a very cunning plan
John Miner and Mark Christiansen, senior VPs of Intel's burgeoning network division, have outlined their plans to provide Internet infrastructure by providing services and products intended to keep firms up and running. Intel today introduced a branding scheme called eightseconds, aimed at keeping online businesses going. According to Miner, those eight seconds can make the difference between someone staying on your Web site, or clicking onto a competitor's site, perish the thought. The strategy and product rollout is so far sevenfold, said Miner, and include data balancing products based on iPivot products. Other components of eightseconds include cacheing, e-commerce acceleration products, e-commerce director, and services and solutions. Miner said the services and products are aimed at ASPs, ISPs, and are just the beginning of family of services. He also said that as far as he was aware, this was a part of the Internet market which has not so far been addressed, and that Intel did not compete here with Nortel, Cisco and the rest. In fact, and reading between the lines, Intel has quietly diversified in the networking business over the last couple of years, and now finds itself in a position where substantial revenues will accrue from a growing business. This cunning plan includes vast server farms using IA-64 and IA-32 server technology, deals -- such as the one it struck with Symbol earlier this week -- and straightforward takeovers. Just look at Intel's Capital site for evidence of this. Further, Intel has brokered deals with seven top US universities including the People's Republic of Berkeley and MIT to advance its plans. Ericcson, Nokia, Marconi, Phobos and Radisys all love IXA to death, said Miner. He added that Intel will continue to invest in companies to make its portfolio just that little bit fatter. He said: "If we told you who those companies are, we'd have to take you out and shoot you." In Intelspeak, that's execution. It also leads us to speculate that although Intel wants to blanket the world with its silicon, as Pat Gelsinger put it so evocatively the other day, its core microprocessor business is becoming less and less important as time goes on. Both Christiansen and Miner declined to give any idea whatever of how much revenue will accrue from this "building block" stuff, but the graph they showed looks a bit like that Moore's Law thingie that we've all seen so many times. The fruits of the mycelium are beginning to blossom, and so it's wild mushrooms and toadstools all round. ® Intel Developer Forum: Spring 2000 Full coverage
Business 16 16:25
Basis of US economy is Intel. Next the world
Paul Otellini, senior VP of Intel's server architecture group, this morning demonstrated the depth of the cunning plan Internetzilla is developing to secure its place in the coming revolution. Otellini claimed that a new class of killer applications was emerging, based on XML, which he said formed the basis of the Third Generation of Web Sites. (These killer applications are probably a little like Tasmanian Devils, which can bite you on the ankle and reduce you to tears. Perhaps a better metaphor is the piranha). He said that the basis of the growth of the US technology was PC technology. "The bulk of the growth of the US economy is down to PCs," he said. "Europe has decided that productivity gains have been based on information technology and Europe has decided to move, country by country to that model." Intel now accrues fifty per cent (a half) of its revenues online, and already does 100 per cent (a whole) of its business over the Internet in some countries of the world. The server technologies Intel is developing, including four way and eight way servers based on IA-32 and the future Itanium platforms, will provide the mid tier infrastructure of the rush to the Web, said Otellini. He claimed that Intel now had a leadership position on eight way server technology, and that this technology was beginning to meet the performance of non-Intel architectures. "The real challenge for us is moving up to the back end," said Otellini. By this he means engaging the SAPs and the like of this world. Otellini said that Intel had 30 designs for the Itanium in progress, and is already shipping 1000s of prototypes to operating system vendors, application vendors and others. Intel Capital is continuing to invest in companies to help it achieve its aim of recruiting the SAPs and Baan users of this world. ® Intel Developer Forum: Spring 2000 Full coverage
Business 16 16:50
Connectix jubilation premature
Top marks to Sony lawyers for one thing at least: these guys really know how to spot an opportunity and mine it. Last week, the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal reversed a judgement made by the San Francisco District Court which banned the sale of emulator developer Connectix's Virtual Game Station (VGS) PlayStation-on-a-Mac software. The ban followed claims by Sony that Connectix had infringed its copyrights in the development of VGS. However, the Appeals Court ruled that the copies Connectix made of the PlayStation BIOS while VGS was being written were legal under fair use law. The shipping version of VGS contains no Sony-owned code, something that Sony has never contested. The basis for the Appeals Court ruling, made by Circuit Judge William C Canby, Jr., was that the PlayStation BIOS contains elements protected by copyright law and other parts that are not. So while the actual sequences of instructions are Sony's copyright -- ie. how tasks are achieved -- many of ideas and concepts embodied within it -- the tasks themselves -- are not so protected by copyright law. That, said Canby, is the province of patent law. However, since Sony sought the preliminary injunction using copyright law, patent infringement issues could not be taken into consideration. So Canby lifted the preliminary injunction. Following Canby's lead, Sony lawyers have now charged Connectix with patent infringement in an attempt to get VGS banned again. The Mac developer has already begun selling VGS from its Web site, and last week bullishly announced it would soon begin shipping a Windows version. Maybe Connectix should have read the ruling a little more carefully before blowing the victory trumpets. In fact, this is just smart lawyering from the word go. Sony reckoned it could win using the copyright argument alone, so why use the patent argument too? This way, it still has a weapon with which to fight Connectix, despite losing the appeal. The patent argument is weaker than the copyright consideration, but it still brings with it the possibility of a fresh preliminary injunction blocking the sale of VGS -- which is really all Sony cares about. And Sony still has its allegations that VGS encourages piracy to call upon should this latest challenge fail too. ®
Business 16 16:54
...and IR35 and anti-fox hunting etc., etc.
The Government has stirred up a hornet's nest over accusations of censorship on its new Web site. The Number 10 Web site was earlier this week accused of letting offensive remarks slip through the net and onto its public discussion forums. Today, the site is littered with cries of censorship, with people protesting that messages are being moved or deleted because they are anti-Labour, or pro-Red Ken. One contributor, known only as 'Sylvia', suspected the site was being used subjectively by Labour to influence the London Mayoral elections. Sylvia had posted an email on the 'Countryside' forum objecting to hunting. "I responded by detailing my objections to hunting with hounds... I also asked if government time would be provided for Ken Livingstone's private members' bill to ban fox hunting, as it is a government promise and I pointed out hat Ken knows a vote winner/loser when he sees it." "Could you tell me where my email is?" asked a perplexed Sylvia. "Have they been removed/deleted?…A friend of mine's email on IR35 has also gone, now I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but he mentioned Ken as well." Another contributor, going under the name 'Anonymous', scolded the site's handlers: "By all means move them, BUT DO NOT DELETE THEM. The media are monitoring this site and it will not look good in the press if you continue doing this." Further additions by other angry writers included: "This site is a joke, you can't discuss anything here due to it being deleted. This is pants! Not a single reply posted from a minister anywhere." Ten Downing Street must have its hands full filtering and monitoring comments to the forums, but it still found time to issue the following statement on the many gripes aired on its site: "Many people have commented about censorship on this site. The vast majority of postings are not deleted. However, in some cases it is necessary to do so: 1) Language policy: This is very simple: We consider swearing inappropriate, because we would like people of all ages to be able to take part in the discussions, and for parents to feel comfortable about their children having access to the site. 2) Postings in inappropriate headings: To facilitate discussion we are encouraging users to post their comments under the relevant headings. This means postings in inappropriate places will be removed." This caused havoc on the site, with one "IT Contractor" stating: "If this rule [appropriate headings] is applied selectively it could be used to remove postings which embarrass the Government, or to hide them under a subject few people will view. "This is censorship." The debate continues. ® Related Story William Plague defaces Number 10 Web site
Business 16 17:26
ArtX acquired for $400m
ATI, the market leader in the 3D graphics acceleration market, has bought chip developer ArtX for $400 million, to be funded by a mixed of stock and options. ArtX emerged out of Nintendo's partnership with SGI to develop the graphics sub-system for the N64 console. SGI's interest in the deal -- it soon decided it would rather be associated with 'serious' servers than mass-market games devices -- cooled, leading staff to clear off and form their own company, ArtX. The connection with Nintendo has never been lost, and ArtX is working on the graphics technology that will form the basis for Nintendo's next-generation PowerPC-based console codenamed Dolphin. Dolphin is likely to be closer to the PlayStation 2 than previous Nintendo consoles in that it will be as much an information appliance as a games machine. ATI has been attempting to move into the info appliance market for the last year or so, through its acquisition of system-on-a-chip specialist Chromatic Research and its promotion of a reference platform based on its DVD playback technology and Rage 128 3D graphics chip. The purchase allows ATI to claim the Nintendo Dolphin as its key information appliance partner, and gain access to ArtX's own system-on-a-chip expertise. That project has seen ArtX working with Acer Labs to build ArtX's Aladdin graphics engine into Acer's North Bridge chip-set. Aladdin sports a full transform and lighting engine, which ATI could use to provide its next Rage chip with features only found in rival graphics vendor Nvidia's GeForce 256 chip. In short, it's a damn smart move on ATI's part, and given it's a stock-swap acquisition, a cheap one, too. ®
Business 16 17:29
He won't cut charges -- but will he e-tax .com companies?
Chancellor Gordon Brown is not about to "cut internet costs", as reported today by the FT, The Register can confirm. Nor will he announce plans to "halve the cost of Internet access by the end of 2002", not unless what has already been agreed and is in the public domain can be "announced". The FT may have led with the large headline on its front page, but it simply doesn't correspond with what the chancellor will actually say tonight when he delivers this much-talked about speech. What he's expected to say is that high Net access costs are inhibiting Britain's e-conomy. He'll call for the unbundling of the local loop (ULL) to increase competition -- something that is happening already, although not before time. He'll echo OFTEL's hopes that ULL can be brought forward from the current absolute deadline of July 2001 -- but then OFTEL's always said that. He'll also say how competition has already helped bring down the cost of Net access, and he'll quote TeleWest's launch on Monday of its unmetered access package. Interestingly, he won't crow about how it has been the Government's policy to let competition drive down the cost of Net access -- something which Downing Street could argue has worked and is working. But, he will not say anything about how he will cut the cost of Net access -- that is, as long as he sticks to the text of his speech. He could pull a rabbit out a hat and announce something none of has been expecting... but then again. The truth is, Gordon Brown will simply present an overview of the Net access debate and lay out the timetable for further telco deregulation as already agreed by OFTEL. He'll throw in a fair lashing of rhetoric about how Britain will be a wired world beater -- how the future is "e-shaped" -- but that's all. There's little doubt that Gordon Brown's intervention will do wonders for those campaigning to introduce unmetered Net access in Britain. But to presume that a quick chat yesterday with OFTEL's head honcho, Dave Edmonds, now makes the chancellor the leading advocate of British Net users is simply laughable. And in light of the publicity the story received today -- and will receive tomorrow in the dailies -- Gordon Brown's spinmeisters have done a cracking job. But while people (wrongly) slap him on the back for "saying" that he'll cut the cost of Net access, a true champion of the cause, spare a moment for all those who have campaigned, lobbied, negotiated and fought so their way to the current position. Come on Gordon, credit where credit's due. Unfortunately, you ain't due any -- not for this, anyway. ® Related Stories Brown to slash Net charges
Business 16 17:30
All the major assets in the servers, and browser-based apps everywhere. It's not just great artists who steal...
Steve Ballmer has been trying to rally Visual Basic enthusiasts in San Francisco, and in doing so he's opened up a little more on the project Bill Gates allegedly went off to supervise - Next Generation Windows Services (NGWS). As Ballmer tells it, NGWS a strange cocktail. It seems that it will consist of Windows 2000 ("the cornerstone of Windows DNA," but in its Blackcomb future rev), Visual Studio 7, which will incorporate Web Services, ASP+Web Forms, and language innovations for Visual Basic. The Web development tool will have "deep XML support" and "complete object-oriented programming capabilities", supposedly eliminating the need for using VB script, which will be mixed news to those who have wrestled with it. This doesn't seem a totally clearly thought through vision. The smoke-'n-mirrors demo didn't work properly either, but Ballmer dismissed this as "extra drama". Visual Studio is to include VB7, with new ASP technology called Web Services to link applications, services and devices using HTTP, XML and SOAP. ASP+Web Forms is to be based on XML and COM+ in a drag-and-drop environment, and since all the programming is to take place on the server, "applications run on any browser and platform". This bit is well thought out - it confirms what we've been telling you about the way the latest rev of Windows Everywhere is going to depend on client browsers, not operating systems. Ballmer outlined what is planned for VB7, and its relationship to NGWS. Language enhancements are to be added, including features that will make it "a full object-oriented programming language. Object-oriented programming is the most-popular way to build large-scale, robust applications that are easier for their developers to understand, debug and update", we are told. Microsoft's enthusiasm knows no bounds, it seems, for suddenly object-oriented programming has become its flavour of the month: OOP "overcomes the weakness of traditional programming systems that separate data from the instructions... objects can be used as tried-and-true building blocks for the faster creation of applications." Alleluia! But why has it taken Microsoft twenty years to wake up to the well-understood advantages of object programming? Microsoft stopped beating any drum for object orientation when it quietly dropped the intended object-based filing system for Cairo (the original code name for Windows 2000, announced in March 1993 for delivery in 1994). [Editor's note: Graham Lea is an object nazi - go easy on him, he can't help it] Nor has Microsoft been championing the Object Management Group, or making plans to link non-Windows 2000 applications to applications on other platforms. At least existing CORBA applications can port to Windows 2000, and the COM-to-CORBA interworking spec will enable COM+ applications to interface with CORBA-enabled applications. For Microsoft to claim, as it does, that "with object-oriented programming, Visual Basic will now deliver all the power of languages such as C++ or Java" is mind boggling, and utterly impossible. As might be expected. there's no date for all this, except that it had been expected this year. Some of it may come in March 2001 at the same time as the next iteration of Windows 2000, but Microsoft has pegged Blackcomb for full NGWS implementation, so don't hold your breath. ® See also: Bill's big adventure: Windows as the universal Web platform
Business 16 18:18
Vapour phase, up in our brain
Steve Smith, who heads up the Itanium-Merced programme for Intel, was in expansive mood about the future of the platform when we talked to him last night. But he's not yet ready to give us a prototype Merced so we can use it as a paperweight, even the dummy one we photographed two IDF's back. Nor was he prepared to talk about the exact nature of the metal alloy which acts as a dispersal heatsink for the device, despite the close interest several metallurgists had in this question when we last raised it. He did, however, say that the sink, which spreads the heat straight from the die, uses a technology called vapour phase. That might give a clue to someone but boffins at The Reg are pretty thin on the ground. He confirmed that the prototype systems running at the forum were clocking at around 500-600MHz, and said that there was, theoretically no limit to the number of CPUs that can be clustered together. SGI, for example, will support up to 512 processors using local memory and broadband interconnect, and we know from our own conversations with HP that it has similar plans for its platform. Typically, however, the first Itania will come in four, eight and 16-way configurations, he suggested. Smith said that the Itanium platform had a different set of requirements than those which IA-32 platforms offer. He said that Intel was aiming to leverage the chip as a suitable platform for Internet servers, given that there is a 20 per cent anticipated growth over the next four to five years. He said that for these type of machines, Intel was ensuring that the whole industry support structure was there. He said: "We don't expect anyone to be running a 32-bit operating system on Itanium," although he added that Quake for Linux had run successfully on the platform. He said: "As of today we have disclosed the Itanium system architecture." There will be a more aggressive implementation of Streaming SIMD on Itanium which will deliver something like ten times the security of current Pentium IIIs, and "several times" more than Willamette/Foster. He said that, Itanium's 64-bitness will allow it to employ similar but more advanced techniques for moving code around, in a similar fashion to that which engineers have done with Willamette. CERN, he said, has already ported a program called Cactus to the IA-64 platform, a simulation which shows black holes colliding. The US National Security Agency (NSA), has also shown "a very strong interest" in the IA-64 technology. He was also prepared to dilate on Intel's relationship with Sun and the 64-bit Solaris operating system. "What we haven't seen from Sun is its willingness to bring the ports on," he said. "It's not just the technical reality of porting the OS, but also the business reality." He compared the Sun approach to that of HP. "HP has made a commitment to make it happen," he said. "We don’t see it as wise to pour our energies into something when it's not reciprocated." (As a sidenote to this, Paul Otellini this morning confirmed that the Sun-Solaris relationship would end with the Itanium processor). Most of the other details Smith outlined, we already know. For example, the size of the on-die cache, a cache which has a direct connect to the processor. Prices of the first Itania, said Smith, would be comparable to those of the Pentium III Xeon. Smith, who was responsible for the creation of the 386SX processor, said he felt a sense of satisfaction that he had brought this project to life. ® Intel Developer Forum: Spring 2000 Full coverage g
Business 16 19:02
Some have crossed it, Sun, other's ain't yet
Paul Otellini, general manager of Intel's architecture group, was in classical mood when he hosted a question and answer session in the desert today. Otellini said that companies, such as IBM and HP, had crossed the Rubicon by wholeheartedly adopting Itanium as their future, despite having Riscy platforms. Readers with a classical bent will remember that the Rubicon is a small stream (geddit?) that separated Gaul from Italy in the Roman republic, was crossed by Julius Caesar in 49BC, so breaking the rule that generals could not lead armies out of the provinces where they were supposed to stay. Sun, however, he seemed to be suggesting, had no intention of crossing said Rubicon. He said: "A number of leading Risc-Unix vendors have made a very solid decision to move to Itanium. I'm very comfortable that some have crossed the Rubicon. For their own reasons, Sun didn't." This naturally posed the question of whether Compaq has crossed the Rubicon, given that its first Wildfire systems using the Alpha microprocessor are beginning to spawn. Otellini responded by saying that Compaq is "certainly committed" to IA-32 and IA-64, underlining that by saying it is one of the companies at the forum which is displaying Itanium boxes. But, he added, the company's decision to drop the development of NT for the Alpha platform, put the firm in an interesting position. He said that while he would never say never to the idea of Intel selling branded servers direct, his company certainly had no intention of doing so in the foreseeable future. He also talked about the introduction of Foster (Willamette) technology and its impact on the market. He said: "You'll see two and four way systems and a number of eight way systems." But the products would not compete with the IA-64 platforms. The "sweet spot" for Itanium would be four way and some eight way systems, he said. "We would like to see Itanium move early into that market. We should be able to be successful in a three year period." That market would be in the mid-range initially, because of the "compelling price-performance" features of the Itanium. Adoption of IA-64 for back end functions would be slower, he suggested. Intel was attempting to ensure that it bridged the legacy systems to what he described as the new world. ® Intel Developer Forum: Spring 2000 Full coverage
Business 16 19:20
You've gotta laff, init?
There's a big exhibition area over at the convention centre and Hyundai America has a jolly big stand near the front. On one side of the bothy there's them thar RIMMs and on the other side there's them thar DIMMs. So we asked some chap whether he thought Hyundai would sell more DIMMs than RIMMs this year. He looked thoughtfully at our badge for a few seconds and replied: "I'm sorry, I don't know anything about that, it's not my area." He cheerfully handed us a magic ball that lights up when it's bounced, and we glanced at his badge before we left. Hmm….director of strategy at Hyundai… And on the corner of the alley there were a couple of prototype Itanium systems, with a small clutch of people looking at its innards. Chap before us asked, "what memory is used in this machine". Answer, synchronous memory. Just readying our camera to snap the four way system when we noticed tall chap looks thoughtfully at our badge, then leans over to colleague near four way system. Fortunately our hearing is excellent and we're sure we heard him say: "Don't say anything while this guy is around". We smiled wryly and wandered off somewhere else. Dancing Dan Francisco, the pleasant Intel PR chappie with the amazing name, is not at the Forum this year. Hi, Dan, anyway. After he did his journalist major, he wrote about sport for a local newspaper, then left to be replaced by another guy called Sam Antonio (honestly), we learn. Editor of said journal got an irate letter from reader demanding that people not use pen names when they were writing…. That reminded us of our own experience on a PC weekly, when we talked in rapid order to a guy from Adobe called Ravi Holi, and then to one Norman Ireland. This topped, however, by a nice lass called Alison who got married to a Dutch chap called Van der Lande. Alison Vanderlande. Would you Adam and Eve it? ® Intel Developer Forum: Spring 2000 Full coverage
Business 16 19:38
But where's Intel's PC-133 solution?
Chip manufacturer Micron was demonstrating two working systems of DDR (double data rate) memory using the Samurai chipset at its stand in the exhibition section of the Intel Developer Forum. All during the week, senior Intel personnel have told us that Willamette, when it launches, will be positioned as a Rambus solution, while Foster, its server equivalent is likely to use DDR memory. But, according to Micron, Samurai will not be sold as a chipset, but instead is more like a proof of concept idea. One system was a single unbuffered solution, with one 128MB DIMM inside, while the other system, using two North Bridges, was a dual channel DDR solution. While Intel is prepping a PC-133 chipset, for use with synchronous memory, this week we have seen neither hide nor hair of the chipset. ®
Business 16 23:38
This chip is full of surprises
Intel said today that there are two arithmetical logical units (ALUs) within its up-and-coming microprocessor codenamed Willamette that each run at 3GHz. The rest of the microprocessor runs at 1.5GHz, Intel representatives said. Yesterday, Intel demonstrated a Willamette processor which was apparently air cooled and which clocked over 1500MHz. We were not allowed to lift up the presentation's skirt and exactly see what was going on. At the time, Dr Albert Yu, senior VP in charge of desktop architecture, said that one ALU had been specially optimised to run faster than the rest of the microprocessor. But Intel was chary of saying that Willamette will run at 3GHz, and, in fact, kept describing the microprocessor as 1GHz/500. The reason for this, according to representatives, was because end users and consumers would be confused by describing the chip as 1.5GHz. Meanwhile, Daniel Wolff, editor of Chip, managed to find two shots of the Willamette die. You can find these pictures here. ®
Business 16 23:47
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