29th > February > 2000 Archive

The Register breaking news

Net appliance will boost PC biz, not kill it – survey

Opinion A US market research report released today claims that the anticipated boom in Internet appliances won't come at the cost of the traditional PC industry after all. Quite the reverse, in fact, reckons eTForecasts. Instead of decimating the PC business, the appliance market will actually drive PC sales. eTForecasts contends that while computer buyers will turn away from the PC toward cheaper, dedicated Net access machines, they are still going to want content and plenty of it. That content will be produced on high-end desktop PCs and served on PC-based servers, and companies will need more of both than ever before. The result: a buoyant business market for PCs, even as corporates and consumers buy into non-PC platforms. Servers in particular are going to do well out of the post-PC world, with sales growing from 3.7 million units last year to 11.5 million in 2005, according to eTForecasts' numbers. Overall, the number of PCs out there will grow from around 500 million to one billion over the next five years, during which PC sales will double in value each year to around $1.7 billion in 2005. ETForecasts' conclusion makes plenty of sense, but let's be honest it shouldn't really come as a surprise to anyone. What is surprising is the way some analysts have been predicting the death of the PC when such an outcome flies in the face of the way the PC business has evolved over the years. So while replacing a mainframe or a mini and, say, 500 terminal with 500 PCs made a great deal of sense financially, the cost savings of shifting again, this time to appliances - or 'thin clients', as we used to call them - while significant is nowhere near as large as before. In any case, there are plenty of tasks for which appliances aren't yet suited, and that means there's still room for the PC. As for the consumer space, we've yet to see any real evidence that, despite vendors' rabid desire to get into the market, existing PC owners and/or the great hordes who manage perfectly well without any form of standalone computer system are suddenly going to turn to appliances en masse. That's not to say there isn't a market there, rather that we haven't been convinced it's quite the next best thing since sliced bread. Will Net access increase? Yes, of course, largely through mobile devices like Palms or Internet-compatible cellphones. But are these appliances? You could say so, but then no one has really described them as such until now. And how many people buy - or will buy - these devices for Net access? Siemens, for one, expects to sell WAP phones primarily to existing cellphone owners who are upgrading, rather than new users buying into the so-called mobile Internet revolution. The die-hard Internet appliance pundit will at this point suggest the set-top box as the key Net access device. Again, where's the evidence? If anything, what evidence there is suggests the opposite of the pundits' predictions. WebTV hasn't done too badly, but it's hardly set the world alight. The simple fact is that, to date, PCs have dominated the Net access market, and indeed have pretty much created the consumer Internet business. Over 80 per cent of iMacs, for instance, were bought to get their buyers online, according to Apple's research. Again, we're not suggesting there isn't a market for Internet appliances, rather that, like notebook computers ten years ago, they are primarily going to find new markets and will only eat into the PC business a little. Internet appliances are a future of computing, not the future. ®
Tony Smith, 29 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Cash Register: 15-21 Feb 2000

21 Feb 2000 WebTV propels e-district into financial stratosphere
Team Register, 29 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Janet Reno dismisses central cyber-security agency

As part of a recent government-wide scramble to tame the Wild, Wild Web, Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Fred Thompson (Republican, Tennessee) and Senator Joseph Lieberman (Democrat, Connecticut) announced hearings planned for 2 March on legislation to improve government network security by creating a centralised oversight authority within the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The OMB works on behalf of the White House to evaluate the effectiveness of federal agencies, and to establish allocation priorities among them. Its oversight tends to be more pragmatic than political. Both Senators have in mind securing military and law-enforcement networks and essential civilian services such as banking, electricity and transportation from organised threats lurking abroad. "If we know some entity, some group, has got the ability to massively disrupt us, that's ample blackmail material. And I think that's the kind of threat we're going to be facing across the board -- whether it's cyber-terrorism or nuclear or biological -- from these smaller entities," Thompson said. Lieberman agreed. "I'm not going to be a doomsday prophet, but there have been tactical intrusions into our government systems.... We've been working hard to raise our defenses, and so far we've been successful -- and, I suppose you'd say, lucky," he said. "But let's face it, it's only a matter of time, and when it comes it will be a major problem," he added. Most heretical, Lieberman suggested that the FBI's National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC) could be made an independent agency focused exclusively on network security, rather than investigating cyber-crime and acts of terrorism. While we can't predict all that Thompson and Lieberman will put on the table later this week, one possible consequence of such a move would be to remove the NIPC from obligation to act at the FBI's pleasure. And regardless of whether that's a fair reading or not, the whole scheme smacks decidedly of placing civilian authority above military and federal law-enforcement authority, much to the horror of numerous vested interests in the Federal Bureaucracy. US Attorney General Janet Reno was particularly appalled by the Senators' proposal. "[Security] is not just a matter of centralizing a particular function in a particular office, it is a matter of developing technology to protect the technology," Reno commented during her press availability session last week. "We need the equipment, we need the expertise. We need cooperation from foreign governments to be able to trace these attacks. We need to cooperate with foreign governments to protect their infrastructure. We've got to design a system that....is secure, Reno said." At first glance Reno's statement might be mistaken for a wise admonition against rigid supervision and other elements of Big Government. But to read it that way, we have to answer the question of when, if ever, the Reno Department of Justice (DoJ) has acted to reduce government intrusions into the private lives of citizens. What Reno is responding to so strongly here is the horrifying thought that the FBI, and in some circumstances even the DoJ, might have to answer to ordinary non-combatants at OMB in matters of cyber-security. Furthermore, the cushy little partnership of mutual affection between the DoJ and the White House might find itself strained by a dour, skeptical chaperone. OMB oversight might also put a crimp in Reno's mission to limit the technical standards of communications devices to those the FBI knows how to bug. It will certainly subject both the DoJ and FBI to the nuisance of annual audits by OMB, any one of which would have the potential to unearth embarrassing factual data on the Justice Department's relative competency in this area of law enforcement. Both Reno and FBI Director Louis Freeh remain strongly attached to working in cyber-crime, in spite of a dismal record of prosecutions, and a humiliating backlog of evidence yet to be examined. This irrational attachment to an area where the DoJ is clearly outclassed most likely reveals a growing sense of insecurity that the Internet might develop into something that the DoJ and FBI can't patrol at all, instead of what it is now: something that they can't patrol very well. And certainly those annual OMB audits have got to be a worry. It's not hard to imagine that the DoJ's paltry number of prosecutions, taken in context of the vast quantities of taxpayer money the Department has spent to get them, might lead the OMB to conclude that there is little rational justification for the DoJ's continuing presence on the cyber-crime battlefield. ®
Thomas C Greene, 29 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Nvidia hides NV11, NV15 under CeBIT bushel

Nvidia did not show at the world's biggest computer fair, CeBIT. We can only assume because the company is currently the graphical Chipzilla, and doesn't need to. When 3Dfx were asked why Nvidia wasn't there executives said: "They're scared of us" which definitely is not the case. In fact, Nvidia is stronger then ever and ready to go on the attack again. In Q3 1999, Nvidia had 46 per cent share following by S3 with 16 per cent, Ati with 15 per cent, 3Dfx with 11 per cent, Matrox with 10 per cent, and many others with one per cent or less. The fact Nvidia never sleeps and is waiting for competition to do something serious, is now proven. After its excellent GeForce 256 chips, Nvidia is already preparing something new. As the NV10 was the code name for the GeForce 256, now, following that tradition the new chips will be code-named NV11 and NV15. NV11 should be NV15’s derivate as the company said it will use 0,18 m technology, have a 160MHz core, a 183 MHz memory clock, T&L setup & rendering, 128 bit rendering engine with up to 64 Mb 128-bit SD RAM with support for 64-bit DDR too. This will be used in mid-range systems. There will be 32 Mb and 64 Mb versions of cards based on the design. The chip supports two independent display pipelines with up to 2048x1536 @ 60 Hz for primary and 1600x1200 @ 100 for secondary display. The graphics core will render two pixels per clock and two texture/pixel. It will be 100 per cent software compatible with GeForce 256, and will use AGP 4X. The chip will have approximately 30 per cent lower power dissipation than NV15, fully supporting HDTV and Digital interface for TV encoder. The other new thing is that as well as Transform and Lightning, cards will do some Clipping too. A new feature is ACPI power management, supporting four possible interfaces: LCD, CRT, TV or a panel with an external transmitter. Cards will also be used in mobile computers. The performance is likely to be 1.5 times better than the GeForce 256 with up to 50 per cent improvement on multitextured apps (ie. Quake 3) and up to 50 per cent improvement on T&L performance. All new Nvidia cards will use unified drivers. Creative, and many other companies are already working on new cards which should hit the market in early spring. ® Abazoviæ Fuad is the editor of Bosnian magazine Info
Fuad Abazovic, 29 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Intel jumps on WAP-wagon

Today's Jerusalem Post is reporting that market cap giant Intel has invested in Haifa company PassCall, which specialises in WAP (wireless access protocol) technology. According to the newspaper, no financial details of the deal were available, but Intel's money will fund research and development as well as expanding PassCall's presence in the US market. PassCall has a technology dubbed GateWave allowing people to use the Internet on their mobile telephones. But, according to the piece, GateWave is suitable not just for WAP-specific phones, but for ordinary mobiles and SmartPhones. The browsing capability does not need a Web site to be specifically WAP-enabled. You can find the entire Jerusalem Post piece here. ® See also Intel explains investment plans
Mike Magee, 29 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Big Q snaps up Kodak-man

Although its share price was rumbling around at the $25 mark yesterday, Compaq had some good news for its shareholders. First, it recruited a former Kodak executive, Jesse Greene, to become its chief financial officer, after a lengthy delay in filling the job after Earl Mason left last year. And, perhaps more significantly for Compaq, last week it also secured a big contract with the French Atomic Energy Commission to build an Alpha based supercomputer. No financial details of the deal were available. Greene was a senior vice president at the Kodak Corporation and was involved in acquisitions and strategic partnerships. Compaq has been attempting to head-hunt a replacement for Mason since April last year. Mason left following Eckhard Pfeiffer's unexpected departure as CEO last year. Compaq is readying itself for a major push with large clustered systems based on its Alpha microprocessor. At the same time, it is committed to developing Itanium-based systems, based on the rival Intel 64-bit architecture. Tomorrow, The Register has an interview with a senior Compaq executive who will outline the company's enterprise strategy. ®
Mike Magee, 29 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

The NSA begs to differ with CBS

US National Security Agency (NSA) officials took the step of writing Congress with a few pointers of their own last week, in anticipation of considerable PR damage by CBS News, which aired a programme accusing the Agency of systemic abuses of power a few days later. The "airing of a CBS '60 Minutes' news magazine report may feature adverse information about the National Security Agency (NSA). We are providing the attached documents on the oversight of NSA and some answers to frequently asked questions in an effort to answer some of your questions concerning the allegations," the letter says. Well, they were right on the money with that prediction. Perhaps they are spying on Americans after all. But of course we jest. "NSA operates in strict accordance with U.S. laws...in protecting the...privacy rights of US persons," the Agency claims. By way of evidence, the Agency offers the following. "Since the 1970's, NSA's activities have been strictly controlled by...the Attorney General and the Secretary of Defense.... The Fourth Amendment [to the US constitution] transcends whatever technology happens to be involved in a particular form of electronic surveillance." The Fourth Amendment protects the citizenry against unreasonable searches and seizures by the authorities. It would not necessarily outlaw the electronic gathering of raw data so long as no one looks at any part of it that he or she is not authorised to view. This is probably the loophole that keeps ECHELON alive. "We do not unconstitutionally spy on or target Americans", the agency says flatly. Furthermore, in a preemptive answer to a charge made by CBS News, the Agency points out that it has been "prohibited...since 1978 from having any person or government agency, whether foreign or US, conduct any activity on our behalf that we are prohibited from conducting ourselves. Therefore, NSA does not ask its allies to conduct such activities on its behalf nor does NSA do so on behalf of its allies." "To ensure that everyone at the NSA remains sensitive to such responsibilities, each employee must read the laws and regulations and sign that they have read and will abide by them each and every year," the letter says. Backing up these high aspirations are numerous government oversight bodies. The President's Intelligence Oversight Board, the National Security Council, the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice are all charged with overseeing the NSA's activities. Certainly this is a list that very few Americans would trust blindly. The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence are the only two authorities directly answerable to voters which have oversight power. One would imagine that this would suffice, but last year the NSA flatly refused to surrender internal memoranda requested by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. The Committee got its documents, finally, after threatening to cut the Agency's budget. The decision was a poor PR move for the NSA, for which it will pay dearly for years to come. From this episode we may infer that the Agency considers Congress a lot of irritating civilian busybodies, and take away the distinct impression that the Agency considers itself above the law. We would like to trust that oversight works as the Agency claims. But the NSA does have a history of abuse which required an act of Congress to remedy. The recent contempt which the NSA treated Congress reminds us of its Cold War abuses, and makes it difficult for us to have faith in the oversight process. A spy organisation is only as good as its word, after all. ®
Thomas C Greene, 29 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

No easy Itanium-McKinley transition for Intel

Differences between the architecture of Intel's Itanium (Merced) and its future McKinley design mean that moving from one to the other is unlikely to prove a piece of cake. Sources said that McKinley will differ so radically from the Itanium that Intel is pushing further resources into Itanium to transform it from the development platform everyone was talking about last year to a real, live kicking platform. McKinley, which is expected to use .13µ technology and Intel copper interconnect technology, is not expected to surface until 18 months after Itaniums become available on the market. Most realistic estimates for when Itanium boxes become marketable are citing September or October this year. The 64-bit McKinley architecture is expected to iron out some architectural glitches which appeared at an early stage in the design of the Merced microprocessor. According to engineers, McKinley's bus structure differs from the Itanium, and Intel will provide additional transistor functionality as well as the copper technology to give far better performance than the first IA-64 chip will do. That increased performance is likely to compensate for difficulties with the IA-64 compiler. Additional work will be needed for system designs, compilers, tools and operating system support, although it is likely that at the application level things will pan out. All in all, that could mean the move from Itanium to McKinley, when it happens, may not be as smooth as current Intel roadmaps are suggesting. ®
Mike Magee, 29 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Bill's big deals go MIA – rolls out MSN Mobile 2 instead

Numerous dogs didn't bark when Bill Gates delivered his keynote speech at Wireless 2000 in New Orleans yesterday. A leaked memo earlier in the month had trailed a dazzling list of deals Microsoft was on the point of clinching, and which Bill could use for his keynote, but they seem to have been delayed. Microsoft has done deals with Nextel and Airtouch to support Microsoft MSN Mobile 2.0, which is intended to extend MSN services, including Hotmail, to wireless clients, but whatever happened to the really big deals? British Telecom, AT&T and Sprint didn't make it into Bill's speech, and as we expected, the Airtouch deal hasn't been converted into a much sexier, global deal with Vodafone-Airtouch. And that's not all. Microsoft has a stake in Nextel, bought last year, and has strong - albeit complicated - relations with AT&T and BT. But IBM announced a corporate wireless alliance with AT&T last week, and one with Nextel the week before. Big Blue had already done a deal with Sprint covering the same territory in December. All of these are in the same space as the current Microsoft-BT corporate wireless pilot occupies. Microsoft sees the provision of servers and BackOffice systems for corporate wireless users as one of the ways forward in this market, but it's becoming clear that the Suns and IBMs of this world are going to provide it with stiff competition. So what happened? Did Bill's speech writers get over-excited and over-optimistic about what could be achieved before February 28th, or was it all spin, a deliberate leak intended to bounce a few telcos into a deal? Whatever, as the big names weren't available to salute, Bill was forced to fall back on his old friends from Qualcomm to produce a Pocket PC-based reference design for CDMA wireless systems. Still a bit niche, this one, and then there's the small matter of the Symbian-Qualcomm deal announced yesterday as well... ® See also: Leaked MS email reveals deal plans with BT, AT&T, Airtouch
John Lettice, 29 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Gateway: no support crisis at firm

A senior executive at Gateway in Europe said today that the company's ability to field support calls was based on seasonal differences, and there has been no crisis at the firm. That follows an allegation from a Gateway insider that the firm's support staff was at full stretch last week after it pulled the plug on three of its outsourcing firms, on instructions from the US to slim down costs. Mike Maloney, senior VP of consumer business at Gateway in Dublin, said that suggestion is completely untrue. "The US would never dictate something like that," he said. "We're a separate profit/loss unit in Europe". That meant that Gateway Europe decided its own policy. However, Maloney said that the support lines had been very busy over the last two weeks, and explained the company's policy on outsourcing support. He said: "We use a number of outsourcers to help us and we use them for flexibility. Our business is very seasonally based." It would not be possible to maintain the same level of permanent support staff the whole year round, he explained. "Typically, most [support] calls come in January and February," he said. Gateway Europe switched off the outsourcing contracts when the call level began to fall. "It was planned to happen and there's no change in our policy," he added. He said that while Gateway Europe preferred to handle all of the support calls itself, the seasonal variations meant that was not always possible. "It's been very busy over the last two weeks," he said. ®
Mike Magee, 29 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Palm IPO stock price doubles to $32 per share

3Com yesterday upped the projected price range for Palm shares to be sold in its subsidiary's upcoming IPO from $14-16 to $30-32. The IPO is due to take place late tomorrow, with public trading commencing Thursday.
Team Register, 29 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

MS-owned Slate reports Gates as 1999's top giver

Microsoft-owned online magazine Slate has been getting into a pretty scrappy war with rival Salon over the past few months, but one of the former's current big stories is scarcely likely to help it. A report on America's top 60 charitable donations of 1999? Naturally the Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation tops the poll by a mile, clocking-up $2.4 billion worth of giving over the year. The number two giver, Jim Clark, only managed $150 million, and another famous giver, Ted Turner, contributed $100 million. Ted is of course engaged in a yen year programme to give a billion, but the annual spend this results in still makes him look cheap. The sheer distortion created by the Bill and Melinda (OK, we know she's really not called Melissa) Foundation is made more apparent by the fact that the bottom 15 of the 60 tied with donations of $15 million. Really, this is a pretty dumb story for anybody to run, and in the case of Slate it's seriously screwy. Slate labours under the disadvantage of Microsoft ownership already. It's a big target for rivals, like Salon, who already find it easy to tag it as a staid MS house journal up against hip and happening upstarts. And even at the best of times, it's never a good idea to put the proprietor on the cover. ®
John Lettice, 29 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Reports suggest 29 Feb clock trouble

Early reports from around the world suggest that 29 February has caused several problems with computer systems with inadequate programming mainly to blame. A number of Japanese sites collectively fell over after failing to correctly recognise that the year 2000 is a leap year and today is the 29th of February. Outfits such as Action 2000 had suggested there could be problems because some programmers had thought this year is not a leap year. The latest reports, reported to us by engineers which use the OS but so far unconfirmed by the company itself , are that SGI's operating system, Irix version 6.5.5, is losing two minutes an hour because of date problems. We are still awaiting a response from SGI at press time. Readers are reporting no problems with later versions of the operating system. Said Dag Lundervold, MD of SGI in the UK: "We have investigated this and found no problems outside the UK. In the UK we've had one query relating to one system so far, and we're investigating this." The problem may be less isolated than Lundervold suggests, however. Another reader has reported a problem with Irix version 6.5.7, which doesn't display a slowdown of the clock but is a leap year problem. The European end user, who declined to be named, said the problem was irritating -- and ran on an SGI box. Reports have also emerged about a minor bug in Lotus EasySync 3.0a (which synchronises Palms and Lotus Notes), which is easily fixable. Japan was rather more badly affected than the rest of the world when the clock ticked over into the year 2000, and it seems that once again it has had more problems than other nations. Action 2000 suggested on BBC Radio 4 yesterday that people should carefully examine bank and credit card statements for a month or two after today, just to check that everything was hunky-dory. ®
Mike Magee, 29 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Opera goes public with EPOC browser beta

Opera Software has gone into public beta with Opera for EPOC. According to Opera EPOC lead programmer Keith Hollis the software is equivalent to Opera 3.62, and includes the same features as the Windows version, including SSL version 2 and 3 and TLS version 1. At this stage it doesn't have Java support, primarily because built-in Java is a relatively recent addition to shipping EPOC machines. Hollis says Opera will ultimately support built in Java version 1.1 on these. The beta code however supports all Psion and EPOC machines from the Series 5 upwards, including the GeoFox. Opera is considering adding email in conjunction with the built-in Psion/EPOC application, and Hollis says the software is twice as fast as the existing application. The speed gain is made possible because Opera draws graphics directly, and doesn't relay on the Psion libraries. Hollis points out that this could be an advantage for implementations on smartphones, as the libraries are more word-processor than browser related, and on smaller devices in the future, some of the libraries may not be available. Currently the look and feel of the browser is fairly Windows-like, but a future rev based on Opera 4.0 is intended to be more EPOC-ised. Opera is adding staff busily to the project, as well it might, given that the field for smartphone and communicator browsers is still pretty much wide open. ® Download Opera for EPOC here
John Lettice, 29 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

BT Internet is cheaper than BT Surftime

BT Internet has cut the cost of its subscription service and increased the amount of time its users can spend online without running up a massive phone bill. As of tomorrow, BT Internet users will be able to get unlimited Net access every evening (from 6pm to midnight) on top of the current weekend offer. It has also cut its monthly subscription by 15 per cent, from £11.75 to £9.99. Ben Andradi, MD of BT Internet and e-Business, said: "This new offering demonstrates our commitment to get everyone in the UK on the Internet. "It supports our strategy to become the leading consumer ISP and portal, and is the first in a series of Internet initiatives building the Net generation." However, a spokesman for BT was unable to say what those "initiatives" were or when they would be made public. BT Internet also claims today's announcement makes it one of the "most competitive ISPs available". It's not wrong there. It's so competitive that this retail option even undercuts BT's Surftime wholesale proposal for unmetered Net access announced in December. Under BT Surftime - unmetered evening and weekend access would cost £13.98 - almost £3.99 more expensive than BT Internet's offer. Related Story BT intros unmetered Net access
Tim Richardson, 29 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Qualcomm does smartphone deal with MS – and Symbian

The announcement of a Microsoft-Qualcomm joint effort to produce reference designs for mobile devices yesterday may have been big news as Bill Gates' keynote was concerned, but Qualcomm would seem to be playing fast and loose. Because the company made two remarkably similar announcements, both tagged "New Orleans, February 28."
Team Register, 29 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Sun tie-in to push Palm as wireless thin client

Sun and Palm will today shake hands on a co-operative development program to improve the Palm handheld's utility as a wireless mobile Internet terminal for corporate users.
Team Register, 29 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Lycos comes to US market with free Net access

Lycos has delivered a massive boost to the free ISP model in the US by announcing its own subscription-free dial-up access service.
Team Register, 29 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Pick up the phones, your boss is on the screen

NEC aims to have a PDA with three-way video-conferencing on the market from 2002, it said on Saturday. The Twin Leaf prototype, exhibited at CeBIT 2000, will be a third-generation mobile phone that folds out to show two LCD screens for three-way phone conversations. It will also have a built-in digital camera, while the company plans to use Bluetooth technology for data communications. According to Andy Press, head of UK marketing at NEC, the company has one of the contracts to supply infrastructure and handsets for third generation mobiles – CDMA - to Japan from next year. Twin Leaf, which will be reliant on CDMA technology, will be in Japanese shops by 2002, and in Europe the following year – depending on how quickly other networks catch up with Asia, the company estimates. NEC also had a Bluetooth demonstration on its CeBIT stand. Two laptops, about one foot apart, were communicating via Bluetooth adapters. Press said it was hoped the technology would be available from next Spring, but it still faced many hurdles. "Bluetooth is not competitive or stable enough yet," Press said. "The problem is partly the technology, but also partly getting the products cheap enough to make it into the marketplace," he added. ® Related Stories Palm plans GSM wireless access in Europe this year Smartphones, Palms to dominate mobile market
Linda Harrison, 29 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Chip team applies Linux approach to CPU design

Can open source chip hardware shake up the embedded processor market the way Linux is changing the face of the operating system business? That's the question a gang of chip designers called OpenCores will attempt to answer when it launches its free 32-bit Risc CPU core later this week.
Team Register, 29 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Cheapzilla: I'm a gonna get you Chipzilla

The significance of the AMD keyring shaped like a boxing glove which it was giving away at CeBIT last week became clear today as the company delivered a sock in the jaw to Intel on pricing. As we revealed last week, the price of the Athlon 700 is now around the $270 mark, really piling the pressure on Intel. The other prices are very much in line with the story we published last week, which you can find here. Note that these prices are very different from 1K published prices that AMD makes public. The reasons are because the distributor channel and the OEM channel get better deals, because they need their margins. Confusing? Not really, as long as you stick to one or the other. For example, the 700MHz Athlon, AMD's sweet spot, has a published price of $389/1000 -- vastly different. An AMD representative said today that it would not give public details of prices to distributors or to large OEMs. The news comes just a day after Intel lowered prices on its processor family, in a frantic bid to keep up with the contender. Intel's 700MHz Pentium III Coppermine costs $417. That, again, is a published tray price for 1,000 of the beasties. It will be interesting to see whether Intel will take drastic action to match AMD, or whether it will hold its corporate horses and sweat it out. It still has, after all, capacious pockets full of wads of greenbacks. ® Intel confirms price slides
Mike Magee, 29 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Swedes claim world's first Bluetooth mouse

The Swedes were claiming the development of the world's first Bluetooth mouse at CeBIT 2000 this week.
Team Register, 29 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Refunds for SurfVeryLimited customers

Telewest has started refunding its SurfUnlimited customers because the service is so poor.
Team Register, 29 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Microsoft and Caldera – dispelling the myths

As the dust settles after Caldera's defeat of Microsoft and the Caldera Systems IPO gets nearer, it's perhaps worth dispelling some of the myths that have arisen. The first is that Caldera Systems - the one that filed for the IPO - is closely-related to Caldera Inc, the winner of the settlement from Microsoft. Not only did Caldera Systems not know about the settlement in advance, as luck would have it, the announcement of its IPO - which had been in preparation for months - was planned for the day that Caldera Inc happened to announce the settlement. Here's the real situation: Caldera Inc, formed in 1994, now has no employees, and when it split in 1998, spawning Caldera Systems (the Linux distributor run by Ransome Love) and Caldera Thin Clients (run by Bryan Sparks), Caldera Systems paid a licence fee to Caldera Inc for the use of the Caldera name. An important reason for the split was the desire to separate the lawsuit from the operations of Caldera Systems, but the turf was also divided with the thin-client outfit based on system size. There is not even a financial link between Caldera Systems and Caldera Inc, although we'll know more about the finances of the company when the IPO details are published. Last year, Caldera Thin Clients was split into Lineo and the lawsuit, with only Sparks and Lyle Ball (PR) looking after the lawsuit. Caldera Inc owns 70 percent of Lineo, as well as DR-DOS and the lawsuit. So here's another myth: the settlement from Microsoft did not go to Caldera Systems, but to the shareholders of Caldera Inc - chief amongst whom is of course Ray Noorda, former CEO of Novell and Microsoft foe who provided the start-up funds, although there are around 20 minor shareholders who have also benefited. But here's the next myth: Ray Noorda was not the prime mover in bringing the case against Microsoft. The person Microsoft must thank for the opportunity to put right the wrongs it inflicted on DR-DOS is Sparks. Noorda wanted to remove his name from the lawsuit, so that he too could concentrate on his work of supporting start-ups. This was an important reason for his changing the name of the trust he established (the Noorda Family Trust) to the Canopy Group. So nearly all the Microsoft settlement money has ended up with Canopy, with some for the lawyers of course. We'll be watching Novell's accounts carefully too, because as part of its deal to sell DR-DOS to Caldera, for which it received $400,000, it also retained an interest in any award or settlement of the case, but we do not yet know how much. Novell's announcement of NDS for Linux is also amusingly related to all this, because who was the original Linux flag waver at Novell? Step forward Bryan Sparks. Lineo has been busy on its own account in the Far East, with the latest deals for its Embedix Linux product being with Insignia (for distributing the Jeode platform in the Embedix SDK), as well as some Korean activity with Samsung to use it for embedded Internet appliances (and there are rumours of a deal with Daishun too). Don't be surprised to read about a major Japanese deal soon (perhaps with Toshiba) and possibly a deal with Acer in Taiwan (where Lineo has a sales office). So far, there's no sign of WinCE in the marketplace. The Spyder browser developed for DR-DOS has been re-badged as the Embedix browser for x86 developers. It's a fair bet that there will be a Lineo IPO announcement before long, but that's enough myths mispelled for today. ®
Graham Lea, 29 Feb 2000
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Ericsson polices CeBIT bootleggers

Ericsson has slapped at least ten vendors with legal action for exhibiting pirate products at this year's CeBIT. The Swedish company said it has "a handful" of spies policing the halls at the Hanover Messe, searching for companies using its name on phone accessories. It has so far handed out at least 30 cease and desist letters to companies using the Ericsson brand in copied products - including on mobile phone batteries, front panels and cases. These vendors have to report to a German court within days of receiving the letters, where they will be ordered to halt production or fined. As a result of Ericsson's vigilance, three injunctions have been issued to stop exhibitors at CeBIT 2000 showing and selling Ericsson-branded kit. Bo Albertson, MD of information and events at Ericsson Mobile Communications, refused to reveal the names of the companies involved. "This is our third year of walking around CeBIT, and it has been very successful. The number of companies exhibiting counterfeit products has declined." CeBIT is not the only show where Ericsson patrols stands hunting for counterfeiters. But according to Albertson: "We are more organised at CeBIT." ® Related stories Software pirates still at large in UK Microsoft piracy buster trashes software and reputation
Linda Harrison, 29 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Barclays swoops on porn-at-work staff

Barclays Bank is interrogating 50 staff at its Glasgow-based stockbroking operation after hardcore porn was found on computers. The images are thought to have been distributed by email, according to The Sun. A Barclays representative said: "We have strict rules on porn. Our disciplinary procedures will depend on the circumstances and the nature of the images found." Wonder if any employees will be sacked? If the bank is too strict, it could leave a big hole in Barclays Stockbrokers. With 700 workers, it operates the UK's biggest trading floor. ® Related Stories Smutty emailers sacked at New York Times Xerox fires 40 in porn site clampdown You can't get smuttier than a Kwik-Fit Fitter IT manager fired for lunchtime Web surfing Five sacked by Rolls Royce for porno emails Rolls-Royce emailers' jobs still in jeopardy
Drew Cullen, 29 Feb 2000
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Martha Lane Fox hedges bets with Sale of The Century

Lastminute.com queen, Martha Lane Fox, is trading her clicks and mortar crown for a more traditional way to make money. She's named as a non-executive director in a new bricks and mortar venture to create an exclusive club in the heart of London's West End. Called Century, it is due to open in June with a restaurant, bar, and conference and meeting facilities for members and their guests. Membership will be drawn from those luvvies working in the "media and leisure industries in Soho", according to the rather gushing prospectus. "There isn't a lot of space in the West End. There's even less which is light, airy, full of character and overlooks trees and grass. And that's why Century will be no ordinary club. "The Architect's brief, then, is to use these attributes as inspiration, create a space which feels timeless and not 'over-designed', and simultaneously make sure the air quality inside it stays high. "Outside, a roof terrace with its own bar will overlook the leafy tranquillity of St. Anne's churchyard and mile upon mile of some of the most frenetic human activity on earth. The company behind the venture is looking to raise £1.5 million to develop the club but has extended the deadline for applications for at least another week or so. Surely, if it's not drumming up the interest, then it should turn to board member, Miss Lane Fox, and take a leaf out of her digital book; slap .com after the name and they won't be able to keep the investors away. Miss Lane Fox is currently working on the float of her own .com. ® Related Stories How meaningful are Lastminute.com registration numbers? Float announced for Lastminute.com The wit and wisdom of Martha Lane Fox
Tim Richardson, 29 Feb 2000
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Rambus Ink goes through the roof

Crash Register Rambus (RMBS) Even hard pressed Rambus executives must be wondering what is happening to its stock price. The last time we looked, while writing this piece, the share price stood at $281, notwithstanding the Phlegm of the Week we received this morning. A very large memory manufacturer, who declined to be named, asked us if we understood what is happening in the market. We re-iterated our view that this was a day trader phenomenon, and we heard from some rather more sympathetic souls this morning that what was happening was an awful lot of short buying in the morning, followed by a lull as other day traders tipped in, and a quick sell before the evening close of play. We all know the song See Saw Marjorie Daw well enough, but surely this has gone far enough, especially, as the memory exec pointed out to us on the blower, that Rambus will only sell around 10 millions of its famous RIMMs to the end of Q2. Can it all be due to the PlayStation? Non. As one colleague pointed out, the bigger the bubble gets, the bigger the pop will be when the share price is lanced. As we revisited this story at 1700H, the share price stood at $286 but had wavered at around $295. OK. Let's revisit this. What does Rambus have? It has intellectual property and has no fabs. It imposes a royalty on memory manufacturers who make its chips. Although in theory it is a future technology, even Intel (INTC) says that it will use double data rate (DDR) memory in its Foster (nee Willamette) technology, while someone of the stature of Peter Glaskowsky, at Microprocessor Report, told us at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) that there will be SDRAM solutions for Willlamette at launch time. Meanwhile, a white paper from Intel, as we reported accurately yesterday, suggested that DDR could give equal bandwidth to Rambus RIMMs... Lucent (LU) The firm with the famous Ring of Fire logo (ticker LU) is currently trading at $58.9375, but that share price is set to soar, according to our moles. It is investing a wedge of dosh in UK company Cambridge Silicon Radio (CSR) which is set to float...maybe in Autumn. Given the ambitious targets CRS has set itself, and notwithstanding the poor Q the Ring of Fire recently reported, this has got to be some kind of a bargain. Compaq (CPQ) The Big Q opened at $25.5 on Wall St this morning, obviously unmoved by stories of a new chief financial officer from Kodak as well as a massive deal with the French nuclear agency. But this has got to be one that's worth something for the long haul. Its share price has doldrummed since Eckhard Pfeiffer and the Pfeifferettes baled out of CPQ last year. More enterprises are on the way, we are given to understand. AMD (AMD) AMD edged up a couple of bucks from its yesterday closing price of $37.75, with markets apparently unmoved by the aggressive stance it is taking against the Great Satan of Chips (ticker INTC). However, we understand that estimates of AMD's sales as compared to INTCzilla's since the beginning of the year show that the little teeth are beginning to sink into the flanks of the big dinosaur...we'll be interested to see what happens at close of play, later today. As with all of our views of the market, the punters will probably go contrariwise... ®
Mike Magee, 29 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

What a difference a Dot makes

A Birmingham reseller plans to increase the value of his business by almost ten times through adding a dot net to the company name.
Linda Harrison, 29 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Channel feasts on live Athlon processors

Are you a system builder? Are you clappy-happy with your supplies of Intel Pentium processors in different flavours? UK firm SMC's direct pages illustrate, rather neatly, how the famine is effecting the marketplace. While the channel may have difficulty getting stock, on the other hand, as several tier two OEMs told us at CeBIT last week, they have never had any problem getting hold of Intel processors, because they're part of the Chip Direct programme. A quick click of the button to this SMC Intel page, reveals that it is hoping to get supplies of all sorts of INTC chips come the 17th of March. But the numbers are far from huge and there are "temporary shortage" figures all over the place. Go, on the other hand, to the equivalent AMD page,and you'll see their supplies are reasonably good, although the 850MHz has yet to appear at all. The 600MHz Athlon, of course, will disappear real soon now. So what does this tell us? First of all, it seems to imply that the channel is no longer as important to Intel as it was, secondly that the channel is far more important to AMD and thirdly, and it's a possibly thirdly, that Intel wished it didn't have a channel at all. After all, dealers and distributors are pretty leaky, aren't they? Meanwhile, the price of SDRAM is beginning to edge up again, suggesting that the famine of CPUs, as Intel insisted at its Forum two weeks ago, is beginning to end. ® Check out this 'song' about Intel's chip shortage (requires RealPlayer)
Mike Magee, 29 Feb 2000
The Register breaking news

Autumn leaves will fall before ADSL rolls out in Britain

BT has extended its ADSL trial until the end of June to enable the telco to continue testing the service and appraise its launch procedures. Oftel confirmed today that BT had asked for an extension to June 30 for its ADSL trials. Curiously, BT says it plans an activation of its service to end-users on 29 June, one day before the trials are supposed to end. The company expects to start taking orders for ADSL, barring any unforseen problems on 20 April. The trial was due to end next month prior to the service being launched in ten cities in Britain. It means BT Interactive - the division of BT offering the consumer ADSL service - will not make the service available until the summer at the earliest. Bearing in mind that anyone signing up for the service will also have to wait for a survey and line test before installation, it could be September before the roll-out of ADSL gets underway with any degree of momentum. A spokesman for BT Interactive confirmed that the trial had been extended. "This is a mould-breaking service - the product has to be right," he said, explaining why BT Interactive had delayed the rollout. Although BT Interactive is still keeping mum about pricing, it is becoming more and more likely that it will settle at £49.99 a month for its 512KB service. BT Interactive is one of a handful of outfits planning to offer an ADSL service to consumers. Others include AOL UK and Freeserve. Earlier this month Freeserve launched its trial some three months later than scheduled. It also won't be in a position to offer its broadband service until the summer. ® Related Stories Freeserve ADSL trial springs into action How much is that ADSL in the window?
Tim Richardson, 29 Feb 2000
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An MS-friendly president? Candidate Bush blinks

Republican presidential candidate George W Bush has become the first to blink, as far as the Microsoft case is concerned. Campaigning in Microsoft's Washington home state this week, Bush delivered a heavy hint that as president, he'd come down on Microsoft's side. Bush said he thought it was important, "when there is innovation taking place, to understand the consequences of litigation." He went on to express his worries about the consequences for growth if Microsoft were to be broken up, and said that as president he would be "slow to litigate." While this is not exactly a matter of Bush standing up, backing Microsoft to the hilt and vowing to throttle all government action against the company, it's pretty clear he's tilting in that direction. By the time he gets into the Oval Office, if that's what happens, it could turn out to be too late for him to be able to do much to help Microsoft (and it's by no means a simple matter of the president being able to pull the plugs on his own, anyway), but he's definitely presenting himself as the Microsoft-friendly candidate. Washington senator Slade Gorton, who is also prominent in Bush's Washington campaign, is a dogged defender of Microsoft, and intepreted Bush's remarks as meaning he wouldn't have brought the action in the first place. Not, of course, that the DoJ action was brought on the personal command of William Jefferson Clinton, but you know what he means. If Bush makes it to the candidacy, his stance may help him against Al Gore (if of course, he makes it). Gore negotiated a tricky visit to the Microsoft campus a while back, but if Microsoft becomes an issue in the final campaign, he's pretty much stuck with backing the government, given that he'[s part of it. ®
John Lettice, 29 Feb 2000