9th > March > 2000 Archive

The Register breaking news

IT Network eyes up US market

The ITNetwork has outlined plans for expansion overseas and into other business sectors. Speaking yesterday, newly appointed CEO Rob Wirszycz said: "We aim to announce a new vertical market in the next few days for the IT Network". Which should continue to send parent company InterX's share price soaring. Wirszycz added that one of his aims as CEO was to bring the product to the US and the rest of Europe. He said there would be an announcement within the next six weeks on "international growth", though he refused to elaborate. As for InterX's other business, distributor Ideal Hardware, he said this business was still being "hived off". "It is on the market to be sold," he said, adding that in a "very short order" the IT Network would be making a profit. The company also launched its reseller programme. It has added hyper-linked banners to let resellers link directly to its product database. It claims to have signed-up 250 resellers in the first week, with a 72 per cent take-up rate from those approached to join. ®
Linda Harrison, 09 Mar 2000
The Register breaking news

Loki, Creative launch ‘OpenGL for 3d audio’

Linux games publisher Loki and sound card vendor Creative Technologies have co-released an open source 3D audio equivalent of SGI's 3D graphics standard, OpenGL. Called - surprisingly enough - OpenAL, the audio API will be offered as a cross-platform technology. So while it will naturally find favour among Linux users, who have long lacked a solid 3D audio infrastructure, OpenAL will be also made available in MacOS and Windows versions. Apple's SoundSprocket audio API already supports 3D audio, as does Microsoft's DirectSound, but so far neither of these have been opened up to the other, or further platforms, for that matter. Loki's efforts should provide games developers with a single reference point for 3D audio, no matter which platform they are developing for. With Windows the prime focus of PC games development and DirectX well entrenched there, the advantage here is really for companies porting titles over to other platforms, as Loki does for Linux. OpenAL's success, then, will depend very much on its adoption by the major PC games developers. It's not hard to imagine OpenAL finding success with the likes of iD Software, whose John Carmack is a vociferous OpenGL supporter and pretty keen on open source projects period. But will other, more DirectX-focused companies pick up on it? That remains to be seen. Much, we suspect, will depend on whether Microsoft gives the API its blessing. Though as we've seen with OpenGL, that support is not unconditional. It will also be interesting to see to what extent sound card vendors support the wannabe standard, particularly given Creative's role in its foundation. Like 3dfx in the graphics space, Creative has clearly begun to think about revenue streams beyond its traditional Wintel-based gamer market. Creative began a programme to court Mac users late last year, and it's possible its work developing drivers for the MacOS and Linux led to the conception of OpenAL. But is that openness enough to convince other vendors, such as Creative's arch-rival Aureal, to come on board? Again, we'll just have to see, but games developers may not take OpenAL too seriously until they do. ® OpenAL source code can be downloaded from OpenAL.org
Tony Smith, 09 Mar 2000
The Register breaking news

Silverberg heads clutch of MS defectors at VC outfit

Brad Silverberg, the top Microsoft exec who piloted Windows 95 to launch and then sat in his tent on "extended leave" for two years, has popped up again as head of Ignition, a sort of post-PC VC outfit specialising in wireless. The company, which has initial working capital of $140 million, is also backed by Qualcomm, Softbank VC and the Madrona Venture Group, and in addition to Silverberg houses a clutch of recently departed high-powered MS execs. On board we have Cameron Myhrvold, John Ludwig and Jonathan Roberts. Ludwig had been in IE development prior to drawing the MSN Death Card in the MS Consumer and Commerce Group. Myhrvold left last year after a particularly inglorious performance as a trial witness, while Roberts used to be Mr CE, before which he was involved in the IE integration loop. Silverberg himself must know where a lot of the bodies are buried, but although a number of interesting-sounding documents with his name on appear in the trial exhibits list, he was never hauled before the Beak by the DoJ. Whatever, Ignition seems to be an interesting group of former MS execs with a shared shady past, plus a couple of others from the US wireless business: Steve Hooper, former CEO of McCaw Cellular, and Kathy Iskra, former CFO of Nextlink. Cameron's brother Nathan also has money in Ignition, as has Rob Glaser of RealNetworks. Rob windmilled around on the opposing team for a little during the trial, but he and Nathan (who we think is currently on sabbatical from MS, but we've lost track) are both on Ignition's advisory board. Silverberg claims the company will be making big investments in key wireless technology startups, and rather than cashing and running will be in there "for the long haul." We'll believe that one when we see it. ®
John Lettice, 09 Mar 2000
The Register breaking news

Sony disputes PlayStation 2 Memory Card recall

Sony has denied claims that it is recalling all of the 8MB Memory Cards that have shipped with its newly launched PlayStation 2. That’s the story that emerged yesterday along with reports that duff MCs were corrupting the console's DVD driver software - stored on the card - and preventing the unit from working correctly. As we wrote yesterday, we were sceptical about the recall pending an official comment from Sony. And here it is: "There is no recall," according to a Sony US spokeswoman cited by console-oriented Web site Daily Raider. That there is an issue here seems to have been confirmed by the site, which found that the problem title Ridge Racer V stores saved games on the MC and that they overwrite the DVD driver. The question is, is this a fault of the MC or Ridge Racer? It could be either. At this point Sony isn't saying there is a bug in the MC. Indeed, the only problem with the MC that we're aware of is that Sony can't make enough of the things, and it's holding up PlayStation 2 shipments. Sony said this morning that it had shipped 720,000 machines during the first three days of the console going on sale on 4 March. Given it sold 980,000 units in the first two days, that's not something the company should be proud of. There are clearly a lot of people in Japan, having ordered the console online, are still waiting for their PlayStation 2s to arrive. ®
Tony Smith, 09 Mar 2000
The Register breaking news

Intel 840 chipset problem hits third parties

Problems with the i840 chipset are not just confined to Intel's own motherboards, it has emerged. Two days back we reported that system builders and distributors were very unhappy with Intel because of glitches in motherboards and the complete lack of any platform for the newer Xeons. When Intel introduced the i840 chipset (originally codenamed Carmel) on October 25th last year, it claimed that because it had been designed by a completely different team than the engineers who developed the i820, plagued with problems for practically the whole of last year, it was trouble free. The problems affecting the motherboards are related to the memory translator technology. Although Intel introduced the i840, motherboard support from the chip company was constrained, although shortly afterwards Super Micro introduced two motherboards based on the i840 chipset. But now it has alerted its customers to problems it is having with its own P3DME and P3DM3 mainboards. The letter said: "Intel have announced that the current stepping of Intel's 840 chipset has made the MRH's sensitive to noise generated by switching on the MRHS-I/O pins. In accordance with Intel policy, we must as a result, claim that the current Super PIII DME and SUPER PIII DM3 motherboards are not guaranteed to be 100% ECC compatible. Therefore, after 30 days from the purchase date, memory problems related to the chipset: "1. Can not be returned for credit "2. Can not be returned for RMA "3. Can not be exchanged for future stepping 840 chipset boards" Unless distributors sign up to these terms and conditions, Super Micro is refusing to supply these two models. Super Micro is also asking distributors to contact customers who have already bought these mainboards to alert them of this limited warranty. ® See also Channel furious about Xeon support, i840 glitches Three Intel mobos scrapped because of chipset probs New Intel 800MHz Xeon has no mobo support Intel confirms OR840 late Intel's i840 is a chipset that works
Mike Magee, 09 Mar 2000
The Register breaking news

IBM to test people-sniffing tech in UK supermarket chain

IBM is planning to unleash people-sniffing technology on supermarket shoppers, according to a report at beyond2000.com. The "Footprints" system equips the supermarket (or any other location you might fancy) with arrays of thermal sensors, which then track the movements of individual consumers throughout the store. Not a lot of people know it, but your thermal signature is aparently sufficiently individual for it to work as an identifier in this context. You can therefore be "followed" around the store, and it's manifestly clear that the store owners will be just gagging for extra information they can use to maximise the value of the data they're picking up. On its own, Footprints provides a picture of the routes people take when going round a supermarket, so the layout can be modified in order to make their shopping lives easier. Or data on standard movements can be used to predict an oncoming rush to the checkouts before it happens. But don't they want to know what people are buying while they're wandering around as well? Of course they do. Footprints is going into trial this year in an un-named British supermarket chain, but we bet it's Safeway. A while back IBM UK piloted a barcode shopping system in conjunction with Safeway, and combining that or something similar with the sniffer technology would leverage the store's info quite nicely. We're tottering on the brink of linking individual identities to shopping behaviour here, aren't we? But of course we wouldn't do anything like that, oh no... ® See also: SSupermarkets check you out
John Lettice, 09 Mar 2000
The Register breaking news

Dell hits No 1 in global PC market

The Dell juggernaut keeps on rolling, with the latest market share figures from IDC putting the demon of the direct sales model at the top of the worldwide PC hit parade. Both the desktop and portable markets are now Dell's, IDC reckons, with the fourth quarter of 1999 seeing particularly rapid growth in sales. In the portable arena, Dell saw sales to what IDC calls "medium and large businesses" grow by 57 per cent, compared with the same period in the previous year. IDC breaks the figures down to give details on the US market as well. Here, Dell saw sales up by 30.3 per cent, which was almost double the growth rate of its nearest rival. IDC, like most research companies, doesn't like to name names in its releases, but you can be sure Compaq ain't too happy about how well its bete noire is doing. Dell is also sitting pretty on the desktop, with global sales up by 40 per cent in Q4 99, to give the vendor 20 per cent of the worldwide commercial desktop PC market. In the US, that growth was 31.3 per cent for Q4 99, and 48 per cent for the full year. Again, we're talking about sales to "medium and large businesses". So, what next for the company that ate everyone else's lunch? Why, the server market of course. Dell claims to hold the number two spot in the server market, at least that's what Joe Marengi, Dell's VP and GM for relationships (and Burt Reynolds lookalike), told BusinessWire. "Delivering high quality products and providing a superior customer experience have propelled Dell to the leading position in notebooks and desktops. We're applying that same focus to the server market, in which we increased our market share from 10 per cent to 14.5 per cent last year and currently hold the No. 2 position worldwide," Marengi said. Although he doesn't say it, Burt, sorry, Joe, is referring to the PC server market, which - as any fule kno, and Sun and IBM would be only too happy to point out - is not the whole story. It's also not the same sales proposition with servers being inherently less commodity products than desktop or notebook PCs, but let's not take anything away from Dell here as it has good reason to be feeling pleased with itself. ®
Sean Fleming, 09 Mar 2000
The Register breaking news

Sony set to get green light on e-bank by 31 March

Sony should find out whether it will be allowed to set up its own e-bank by 31 March. That's the date by which Japan's banking regulator must announce whether it has granted the company a licence that allows it to offer consumer credit and savings services. The consumer electronics giant's plans to break into the Internet banking sector have been known for some time, but specifics have been few and far between. However, with a regulatory statement so close, more details are emerging. According to a Sony spokesman, interviewed by Reuters, the company expects to offer Japanese customers a full range of retail banking facilities, including bill paying, loans, savings and mortgage provision. Sony hopes to build up a whopping $9.3 billion in deposits over the next five years. The bank will operate solely on the Net. Sony is believed to be talking to Japanese retailer Ito-Yokado, which operates the country's Seven-Eleven franchise, to allow its customers to use Ito-Yokado's ATM network. Ito-Yokado too wants to set up a bank, though one with fewer facilities than Sony's, and will also hear whether it has been granted a licence to do so by the end of the month. The Sony spokesman told Reuters that speculation that Sony and Ito-Yokado are talking was unfounded. However, with Sony already working with Japan's Seven-Eleven chain to install Net access terminals through which customers can order PlayStation games, DVDs and CDs, it seems unlikely that some discussion of other areas of co-operation haven't taken place. The idea behind the Net-based order system is that customers collect and pay for their goods at their local store, so clearly some sort of financial co-operation has to take place between Sony, Seven-Eleven and the schemes other retail partners. Extending that co-operation to banking facilities is an obvious move. Japan's banking regulator is unlikely to reject Sony's licence application, thanks to the countries moves to deregulate the banking industry. Similar freedoms in other nations, such as the US and the UK, could see Sony quickly moving to extend its coverage overseas. ®
Tony Smith, 09 Mar 2000
The Register breaking news

World Online buys Localtel, launches unmetered service

World Online is set to offer flat-fee access to the Net following the acquisition of telco Localtel and its ISP, Screaming.net. Financial details were not disclosed. The deal follows hard on the heels of other UK acquisitions, including Telinco and bun.com (which gave the company a UK subscriber base of 400,000). Launched in April 1999, Screaming.net will add another 180,000 customers to World Online's UK customer base. World Online CEO UK Simon Preston said: "The Localtel expertise will help us refine our free subscription and free access model, thereby ensuring that we have a portfolio to suit every individual consumer." Elsewhere, The Times reports that BT is holding talks with Oftel and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in a bid to cut it loose from some of the regulation that prevents it from competing "more aggressively" with other outfits. Sounds like the monster telco isn't keen on competition. Squealing to Oftel like that just because it doesn't get its own way, I ask you... *Easynet today raised £51.8 million through a share placing organised by broker ABN Amro. The British ISP is to spend the dough on developing a new DSL network in Germany and beefing up its other networks. ®
Tim Richardson, 09 Mar 2000
The Register breaking news

Falling prices squash Fujitsu profits

Fujitsu has issued a profit warning in the face of falling PC prices and disappointing mobile phone sales. The Japanese vendor warned that it may fall short of both its profit and sales forecasts for the financial year ending this month. "Our hardware equipment did not sell in Japan and overseas as much as we expected," said a Fujitsu representative. Fujitsu's semiconductor business had performed well and Fujitsu expects it to continue to do so. But the company's sales of communications equipment in North America were less than expected, while mobile sales were damaged by a parts shortage, Bloomberg reported. "Japanese makers including Fujitsu and Hitachi will continue to be in a tough fight with IBM in the international computer market," said Masashi Ichikawa, an analyst at Kokusai Securities. Fujitsu did not disclose how big the pre-tax profit shortfall would be, but Takashi Mimura, a Societe Generale analyst believed it could be as high as 50 billion yen. In October, the vendor predicted consolidated earnings for the year of Y60 billion (£354 million) on sales of 5.5 trillion yen. Pre-tax profit was forecast at Y140 billion. The company said it would continue to pump money and management resources into "Internet-related businesses". ®
Linda Harrison, 09 Mar 2000
The Register breaking news

Janet Reno would curb press freedom on line

Constitutional protections of the press are getting in the way of cyber-crime prosecutions and may have to be reconsidered, a White House committee chaired by US Attorney General Janet Reno believes. "With the advent of the Internet and widespread computer use, almost any computer can be used to 'publish' material. As a result, the [Privacy Protection Act of 1980 (PPA)] may now apply to almost any search of any computer," the committee's report laments. The act in question protects the freedom of American journalists, scholars and writers to publish freely by prohibiting all law enforcement agencies from searching for or seizing "any work product materials" or any related "documentary materials....possessed by a person....with a purpose to disseminate to the public a newspaper, book, broadcast, or other similar form of public communication," [42 U.S.C. §2000aa]. Under those circumstances, the Feds would be forced to find some gizmo or technique to copy only those portions of a suspect journalist's hard disk which might pertain to a crime, and do it without interrupting the work in progress; or, failing that, rely on the suspect himself to turn over the relevant files. It's a formidable technical challenge, as the Feds must not seize, or even examine, data meant for publication and its supporting, documentary information such as notes, transcripts and related research materials. The Reno Department of Justice (DoJ) apparently finds this an intolerable burden, especially while the precious life of an innocent child kidnapped by rogue chemistry professors could hang in the balance. "Because computers now commonly contain enormous data storage devices, wrongdoers can use them to store material for publication that the PPA protects while simultaneously storing child pornography, stolen classified documents, or other contraband or evidence of crime," the report warns. We may joke about rogue professors, but we're only covering up the chill we feel in contemplating the way Internet superstition and Reno's relentless child-protective hype might give the Feds the excuse they've been waiting for to do an end-run around the PPA. It appears that this is exactly what Reno has in mind. "Features of the Internet that make it different from prior technologies may justify the need for changes in laws and procedures that govern the detection and investigation of computer crimes," the committee notes ominously. We note that the current text offers no factual or even statistical basis for any of its claims, but disseminates only Reno's standard blend of inuendo and gross generalisation to exploit the fears of a technologically innocent populace to gain greater powers of on-line intervention. The committee's report, "The Electronic Frontier: The Challenge of Unlawful Conduct Involving the Use of the Internet" is due to be released in final form this week. A draft copy obtained by Wired News is available on line here. It's a disturbing read. ® Related Stories Reno, FBI feast on bad network security Janet Reno proposes on-line police squad Congress clarifies spy warrant legislation Janet Reno dismisses central cyber-security agency Law enforcers the 'absolute worst people' for Net security - former Fed Crypto must be controlled -- FBI director How the FBI can r00t your hard drive FBI seeks to apply RICO laws to hackers FBI phone-snoop regs challenged by Net privacy groups US anti-smut bill may go too far Clinton's Big Plan against cyberterror US crypto plan aims to bug PCs
Thomas C Greene, 09 Mar 2000
The Register breaking news

AOL hits out at BT

AOL UK has taken off the gloves and given BT a bloody nose over its new pricing policy for its wholesale SurfTime product. Speaking exclusively to The Register, Matt Peacock, director of corporate communications at AOL UK, explains why BT's latest offering will be rejected by ISPs in Britain. Peacock's statement to BT: "This proposed product only covers the cost of half of the Internet call -- as far as the local exchange. It does not cover the other half of the call, from the local exchange to the regional exchange (DMSU), which is the point at which the connection to an ISP begins. In other words, contrary to BT's headline in their press release that this is "unlimited Internet access with no hidden charges", there are additional charges -- payable to BT -- for connecting from the local exchange to the DMSU. BT isn't paying for this bit of the call, it expects the ISP to do so. BT has not yet told the industry exactly what those additional costs will be -- so ISPs have no way of working out how this business model will affect their plans. And of course ISPs have not had a say in how they feel about this proposal in advance of today's announcement. So, BT wants to charge the consumer an unmetered fee of £20 per month to connect to the local exchange -- and it wants to charge ISPs an as-yet-undisclosed tariff (but probably metered on a per-minute basis) to connect from the local exchange to the regional exchange (DMSU). There is no competition in this offering -- BT is the sole supplier. That's bad news for the industry, and ultimately bad news for consumers. How can ISPs negotiate for the most competitive offering on behalf of consumers when there is no open competition amongst telcos at this level? This proposed product is available only from BT, which controls the connection from the doorstep to the local exchange of 85 per cent of the UK residential market. The connection from the local exchange to the regional exchange is also owned by BT. Competing telcos can lease capacity here, but at great cost and with limited viability. If ISPs don't like these options, they can of course buy modems in the local exchange. Er... from BT. There is no wholesale tariff for competing telcos. Competing telcos cannot take up this pricing structure and better it -- thereby denying ISPs the ability to leverage competition in the telco marketplace to the benefit of consumers. This proposed product has been announced even though the regulator (Oftel) is still considering it and has yet to pass judgement. This is the third time in five months that BT has announced the delivery of unmetered access. In that context, we would expect the regulator (and the industry) to examine this new proposal very carefully.
Tim Richardson, 09 Mar 2000
The Register breaking news

DRAM spot, contract price gap grows

The gap between DRAM contract and spot prices continued to widen last month, according to a survey by ICIS-LOR. The contract 30-day rolling average for 64MB DRAM (PC-100 8x8) chips between 20 January and 18 February was $7.97 in the US, $8.27 in Europe and $8.39 in Asia. When compared with the previous week's 30-day rolling average up to 11 February, prices dropped 5.3 per cent in North America, 7.6 in Europe and 7.5 per cent in Asia. Memory industry researchers ICIS-LOR found the average price on the spot market was $6.42 for Europe, $6.38 for the US, and $6.22 for Asia. Regarding memory modules, spot prices fell 8.8 per cent from the previous week to $52.4 in North America. In Europe they dropped 8.5 per cent to $53.2, and 7.9 per cent to $51.5 in Asia. ® Related Stories DRAM spot price slide continues DRAM prices rocket on spot market
Linda Harrison, 09 Mar 2000
The Register breaking news

RBR founder leaves to start new ventures

Rory Sweet has left RBR Networks to start two new networking businesses. The founder and chairman of Cisco distributor RBR -- this week renamed Comstor -- has set up a networking reseller in Cirencester called Zycko Ltd. Profits from Zycko will be used to start a company called E-cable.com, which will sell networking accessories online. E-cable.com is planned for launch within the next five months. Comstor has not replaced Sweet. According to Paul Cunningham, the company's marketing director, Sweet's role is redundant now the company is part of the larger Comstor business. But it looks likely that Sweet's influence will not entirely disappear from Comstor. "He will still work closely with us, but the ventures will work independently of Comstor," said Cunningham. Sweet was unavailable for comment. ® Related stories: How much is a Cisco distribution franchise worth? Datatec buys US Cisco distie
Linda Harrison, 09 Mar 2000
The Register breaking news

Hyundai hedges bets on Rambus production

A report in Semiconductor Business News is confirming earlier reports that Samsung is to boost its production of Rambus memory. But at the same time, Hyundai seems to be dithering over whether to put its stake into this particular piece of the memory turf. Samsung will ramp up production from two million units a month to 10 million units a month in Q2, and will mostly manufacture 288Mbit chips, the report says. But Hyundai is adopting a wait and see approach before committing more of its manufacturing clout to the memory technology. Currently it makes around five million Rambus pieces a month. Adoption of Rambus memory production has been slow to date because the RIMMs (memory modules) have been expensive compared to synchronous DRAM (SDRAM). Further, problems Intel had in shipping its Rambus i820 chipset at the end of last year put a dent in consumer's expectations. But Intel, which has investments in both Samsung and Rambus, insisted at a bi-annual developer forum last month, that it was still committed to the memory technology. It has publicly stated that it believes Rambus will be the best memory option for the Willamette processor it will introduce this autumn, while the server version of Willamette, codenamed Foster, will use double data rate (DDR) memory. The Rambus share price (ticker RMBS) has seen some extraordinary fluctuations over the last year. Its 52 week low happened on April 23rd last year, when it stood at $51.5. Its high was at $379 just yesterday but fell by over $4 by close of trading. ®
Mike Magee, 09 Mar 2000
The Register breaking news

Stephen King publishes novella on Net only

Horror writer Stephen King is to put his next book exclusively on the Internet. Riding The Bullet, a creepy tale about a hitch-hiker who gets in the wrong car, will only be available in online text when it released on Tuesday. Fans will be able to download the 65-page story for just $2.50 from publisher Simon & Schuster's Web site, as well as a clutch of e-book vendors. It will also be formatted for use in handheld devices such as Palm Pilots. A free excerpt is already available on the site. It starts: "I've never told anyone this story, and never thought I would - not because I was afraid of being disbelieved, exactly, but because I was ashamed... and because it was mine." Chilling. King, whose classics include The Shining and Misery, said he was curious to see what sort of response the Web venture would get. Riding The Bullet is said to be based on an incident in the 52-year-old author's own life. Last June, a runaway van crashed into King when he was out walking, leaving him semi-conscious in a ditch. Part of his scalp was torn away and he needed seven operations. Luckily the resulting writer's block was not permanent. ® Related Story Warner threatens Harry Potter sites
Linda Harrison, 09 Mar 2000
The Register breaking news

Redbus Interhouse washes its smalls in public

Redbus Interhouse is to reverse into former textile company Horace Small Apparel. Once complete Horace Small will change its name to Redbus Interhouse before joining Britain's hi-tech stock market, techMARK, in a bid to raise some £20.4 million, net of expenses, for further development. The company will be valued at £130 million, following the transaction. Redbus Interhouse gives Net and communications companies access to multiple data and voice networks. It is looking to set up more Neutral Internet Colocation Facilities (NICF) across Europe. Redbus Interhouse is the first of Redbus' companies to go public. Redbus Investments provides financial, operational and management support to British companies and individuals with new and innovative ideas. It was formed by Cliff Stanford following the sale of his company, Demon Internet, in 1998 for £66 million. ®
Tim Richardson, 09 Mar 2000
The Register breaking news

So now Lastminute is worth £526 million

What a difference eight days makes. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter has settled on a new indicative IPO pricing for Lastminute.com, ranging from 320p to 380p per share. At the mid-price this values Lastminute at £526 million. On March 1, MSDW announced Lastminute's pricing range would be 190p to 230p, valuing it at £414 million at the mid-price. On Sunday (Mar 5), several national newspapers cautioned readers against the speculation bubble around Lastminute.com: the new pricing shows that retail investors are ignoring the warning. Just goes to show that you can't keep a good IPO down. ®
Drew Cullen, 09 Mar 2000
The Register breaking news

Intel becomes Ford of microprocessor market

One barometer of how well Intel is executing is by looking at Web sites that sell components. At the end of last month, we checked out UK firm SMC Direct, which has a convenient page for Intel processors and a similar one for AMD chips. At that time, it appeared that the Intel shortage was to be fixed by the 17th of March, but a look today shows that date has been put forward to the 24th of March. The Intel page in question can be found here. There are more 733MHz Intel processors around than last time, but still not a great deal. One large European system builder which supplies machines with both AMD and Intel chips said: "Intel appear to have become the Ford of the Microprocessor market. You can have any processor you like as long as it's a Pentium III 600 Coppermine with 256K cache and now they are starting to go short." He suggested that large manufacturers, especially the Dell Corporation, were getting priority for Intel's chip deliveries. "Boy I am glad we didn't submit to Intel pressure and went with Athlon," he said. As we also reported recently, Athlons are also now in somewhat short supply. The AMD page, which you can find here, shows a temporary shortage for 700, 750, 800 and 850MHz Athlons. ®
Mike Magee, 09 Mar 2000