11th > March > 2000 Archive

The Register breaking news

Nvidia's Virtual AGP design…

Virtual AGP design is also one of the many features that have emerged from Nvidia’s laboratories. This is one of the basic proofs that this company wants to have its fingers in all categories, from the lowest to the highest. Virtual AGP is designed for older computer systems without any AGP slot. Specially targeted machines are the many i810 mainboards which do not provide any AGP slots. The i810 chipset just has integrated VGA, with practically no 3D features, as well as many PCI, slots which means that there's no AGP 3D gaming power available. Besides this, for many i810 and i810e mainboards on market this will be a very useful feature, particularly for Socket 7 which doesn't have an AGP port. The solution for this problem is a patent from Nvidia called “Virtual AGP”. It provides high performance AGP style graphical options for Non AGP slot systems. It's based on unique NVIDIA texture management technology – Virtual AGP. Believe it or not, it provides AGP style texturing in standard PCI slot. The benefits from this technology will mainly be AGP functionality on the PCI bus followed with better performance and higher resolutions. Products based on it will enable very large texture memory support on all systems. It will provide full speed DVD decode with no increased CPU utilisation. One cool thing for Graphiczilla is that it currently doesn't have any competition in the market with similar solutions and it's much more affordable to upgrade, than to buy a new AGP based system and card. Nvidia's close partners will offer two basic models of this cards: a TNT2 M64 PRO based VAGP card with 64-bit 133Mhz chip with 166 Mhz memory clock and with 16 and 32 MB of display buffer and a more powerful TNT2 PRO based VAG-P card with a 128-bit, 143Mhz chip with 166 Mhz memory clock with 32 MB of display buffer. Both cards are likely to support Open GL ICD, large textures up to 2048x2048 and will work with 32 bit color and 32 bit Z/stencill buffer. According to Nvidia’s tests these other cards are faster than Voodoo 3 2000 and 3000 PCI. Expect this technology later this this quarter or early in the next quarter. We are expecting first products very soon. ®
Fuad Abazovic, 11 Mar 2000
The Register breaking news

AMD claims Intel giving away chips for X-Box

The head of AMD's investor relations made a statement yesterday about Microsoft not using its technology in its sort of up-and-coming X-Box. Thanks to AMD Zone and Ace's Hardware for pointing us to this post on Silicon Investor and to some other useful information. Toni Beckham, from AMD Investor Relations, said: "Microsoft will NOT use AMD processors for its XBox product. Although we are always looking for opportunities for a closer relationship with Microsoft, AMD was not prepared to give the processors away to gain the XBox business. "Although it might have been desirable incremental business, participating in that market is contrary to our strategic goal of gaining market share in the high-end of the PC market where we can achieve higher margins with the industry's complete line of high-performance PC processors. This development does not change AMD's expectation of reaching $1 billion revenue in each quarter of this year, nor does it change our goal of reaching 30% unit market share by the end of 2001." This, of course, implies that, as we suggested yesterday, there were some frantic negotiations earlier in the week which left AMD and its Athlon out in the cold. And, for sure, once Intel gets its yields right, it will certainly have plenty of spare Coppermines lying around doing not very much. Others are suggesting that the earlier spat between Intel and Corel this week was part of some quid pro quo between Chipzilla and the Great Satan of Software. Ah, the geopolitics of IT. Ace's Hardware, meanwhile, is suggesting that Intel is sacrificing some of its yields in order to get higher grade processors out of the door. The Web site suggests that Intel may have sacrified some of their .18 micron fabrication facilities to produce higher performing 1GHz chips, in the process sacrificing output of the lower grades. Getting confirmation of that type of information from Intel is, we suggest, as close to impossible as you can get. The same site now suggests that Intel's 866MHz and 850MHz Pentium IIIs have now been put on some kind of back burner until the 20th of March, delayed from the 27th of February last, as reported here at the time. If Intel is really playing some kind of weird 1GHz yield game, it is going to make a whole heap of its customers even more unhappy than they already are. ® See also Intel snatches X-Box business, eats AMD's lunch X-Box unleashed: MS snubs PC OEMs, dumps AMD Athlon Analysis: Intel Europe "centralised puppet on a string"
Mike Magee, 11 Mar 2000
The Register breaking news

Congress subpoenas damning DoJ report

Netizens worried about the US Justice Department's swashbuckling entry into cyber-space might take some comfort from the past week's fiasco in which a report excoriating Attorney General Janet Reno and implicating her in a cover-up of President Clinton's alleged campaign finance abuses was leaked to the Los Angeles Times. The report, written by DoJ Task Force Supervisor Charles LaBella, criticises Reno for assigning independent counsels to investigate low-level Administration staff while handling senior White House officials in-house when the President's campaign finances were brought into question in 1997-98. Both LaBella and FBI Director Louis Freeh made it clear at the time that all White House staff under suspicion -- including the President, the Vice President and the First Lady -- should be investigated by independent prosecutors. Since receiving the LaBella report two years ago, Reno has kept it sealed within the DoJ and defied congressional pressure to release it, even under threat of contempt citation. To compound matters, House Committee on Government Reform Chairman Dan Burton (Republican, Indiana) issued subpoenas for memos by LaBella and FBI Director Freeh on Friday, the day when the LA Times leaked the LaBella report. If Reno gets in the way, as she did in 1998, Burton says he is prepared to file a contempt motion against her. We think the timing is good for America to be reminded of Reno's numerous abuses of power and lapses of judgment now that the Department is making such strident efforts to colonise the Net in the name of Truth, Justice and the American Way. Congress has not been in much mood to cooperate with DoJ since Reno managed to get 22 children incinerated at the Branch Davidians' Waco, Texas compound in 1993 with some moronic doomsday play urged upon her, she says, by someone she can't recall. If the current controversy -- in which the contents of the memos or Reno's refusal to turn them over have equal chances of fanning the flames -- should re-ignite popular outrage against the Department, it is all but certain that any legislation DoJ seeks will be passed over until the 107th Congress sits, and a new President is in office. That could be good or bad for Internet freedom and privacy, but it can't be much worse than what Reno and her Department have in mind. ®
Thomas C Greene, 11 Mar 2000
The Register breaking news

Council shuts nude cybercafe night under ‘decency law’

City authorities have shut down a nude night at London's newest cybercafe, following complaints from neighbours. Nutopia last month opened its doors in Covent Garden with an evening of naked Web surfing, the first in a series of regular theme nights. The idea, which Nutopia representative Roz Arratoon says was dreamt up in the pub the night before, went down a storm with naturists in London. Punters paid £5 a pop to shed their clothes and inhibitions at the door and get down to some serious surfing. Last night, The Register decided to bare all and check out Nutopia's second nudist evening. But residents in the building above the cybercafe had got there before us. So unhappy were they to learn of nudity in their vicinity that they grassed on the Bohemian antics to Westminster Council, according to Arratoon. Nutopia owners were forced to abandon plans to repeat the nudist evening, after Council spoilsports last week issued a warning under a decency law. In fact, council officers were so disgusted with the theme night that they felt it necessary to visit the venue twice more -- once in the wee hours of the morning -- to check they'd got their facts straight. "The only way we could have done it would have been to make it private members only. But that would have defeated the point of this place," said Arratoon. The Council's action has not dented Nutopia's passion for alternative Net nights. With sponsorship from a certain vodka company, the cyberloungers plan to run a film night, as well as Absolut Muff and Absolut Queens evenings. Nutopia, which styles itself as a "cyberlounge" and aims to attract style-conscious clientele, takes its name from a John Lennon pamphlet. While angel fish laze around in aquariums, lighting is diffused through translucent walls to reflect off high gloss surfaces, creating the illusion of being submerged in a pool of tropical water. ® Related stories Nude surfers gather in London cyberlounge Tesco to launch cybercafes Cybercafe domain wars all a storm in a teacup
Linda Harrison, 11 Mar 2000
The Register breaking news

Hacktivist group jumps on the DDoS bandwagon

A new distributed denial of service (DDoS) tool which will enable socially-conscious crusaders to attack offensive Web sites without breaking into intermediate clients has been developed by hacktivist group Electrohippies. A victim Web site associated with genetically-modified crops will be chosen and attacked some time next month, the organisers say. Because client servers will not be commandeered as they are in most DDoS attacks, the campaign's success will depend on persuading a large enough number of sympathisers to fire up the script, dubbed DoS Action Stand-Alone Control Program 2.0, simultaneously. We were unable to obtain an evaluation copy by press time, but based on the group's description we believe it to be a Java script designed for Windows lamers. Further information is posted here, for those who can stomach the group's high sanctimony and summer-camp circle of goodness rhetoric. Be forewarned, the page begins with an epigram from John recalling Our Lord clearing the temple of sinners, and deteriorates rapidly from there. ®
Thomas C Greene, 11 Mar 2000
The Register breaking news

MIT grade changes not caused by hacking

When it transpired that 22 student test scores had been changed on a computer system at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology last week, the mainstream press immediately cried "hackers". The Register did not, and all for the best. As it turns out, a teaching assistant accidentally altered the grades of 22 students in an MIT biology class by sorting them incorrectly on a spreadsheet, Biology Department Chairman Robert Sauer announced yesterday. Biology Professor Harvey Lodish last Thursday announced to his class that he had uncovered a cheating/hacking scandal. "The lesson that I hope was learned here is that you have to move slow and be cautious in these kinds of cases," Sauer said in an interview with the local Boston Globe newspaper. "The initial interpretation was the wrong one. And that interpretation was shocking." Institute officials said they discovered the true cause after determining that the biology department's computer system had not been compromised, MIT spokesman Ken Campbell said. MIT officials have declined to identify the teaching assistant, whose mistake was entirely innocent. Professor Lodish, who jumped to accuse his students of cheating, will take the heat. And rightly so, we might add. ® See also Email 'cheating' students face mass expulsion Email 'cheat' to sue university Oxford University President 'cheats' by PC Software sniffs out cheats on the Web
Thomas C Greene, 11 Mar 2000