30th > March > 2000 Archive

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Via goes for dual-processor jugular

The dual-processor market received a boost today from third-party chipset manufacturer Via, which has announced support for paired processors for the Pentium III and Pentium II platform. The Apollo Pro 133A will support up to 4GB of PC-133 memory, Via said, with the chipset aimed at the workstation and server segment of the market. The chipset integrates the 133MHz system bus, includes AGP 4x and a 133MHz memory bus which can support both ECC PC-133 synchronous memory buffered and registered. According to Via, its dual processor solution will give both bandwidth and performance suitable for memory intensive applications. Via said the chipset is available now at a cost of $34. However, a number of third-party Taiwanese motherboard manufacturers are already working to bring product to market. Sources close to Via's plans said that Tyan and MicroStar already have dual mobos using the new chipset in production. Via is also expected to announce double data rate (DDR) versions of its technology in the next week or two. ®
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FIC gives Intel BX440 board hearty resuscitation

A dearth of BX chipsets from Intel at the end of last year caused quite a few problems for motherboard manufacturers and PC manufacturers, particularly given certain difficulties with the i820 (Camino) chipset. But that dearth of product was fixed in a month or two, although every Intel roadmap we've seen since indicates desuetude for the very fine 440BX chipset some time this year. First International Corporation (FIC), however, clearly thinks there's life in the old dog yet, and yesterday released its FB11 motherboard, which supports Socket 370 for Pentium IIIs and uses the 440BX set. The FB11 will support up to a gigabyte of synchronous memory, enables both the 100MHz and the 133MHz system buses, and, in addition, will also support the Via Joshua processor, FIC said. Gene Sheu, who heads FIC's PC division, described the FB11, in conjunction with Coppermine technology, as a "winning combination", giving chipset stability (Caminogate, cough) and raw power and performance (Caminogate, cough). The FB11 will take Pentium IIIs between 450MHz and 1GHz, Celerons from 433MHz to 633MHz (cough), and the Joshua running at 100/133MHz system bus speeds. It supports four DIMM memory modules, includes one AGP, five PCI and two ISA slots, and uses the ATX form factor. No prices were available at press time. FIC is a major supplier to a number of large PC companies including Compaq, and unfortunately finds itself in litigation with Intel right now. Intel had the idea for a flip chip configuration using the BX440 chipset last December, a month after Caminogate, as you can find out by going to this page. ® Related Stories FIC's motherboard roadmap
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Intel Labs to go 3D at NAB

The Intel Architecture Labs (IAL) is a set of people dedicated to pushing the boundaries of technology (for that, read 'selling more microprocessors'). Often the IAL folk are seen at Intel's Developer Forum but if they were there last month, they were hiding from The Register and the monstrous regiments of the US and international press. When we've seen stuff they've shown before, sometimes it's really wacky, like a fridge which regulates the lives of a middle class family in California, but sometimes their stuff is really good. Because it's an R&D group, IAL doesn't get the press it perhaps should. But if you hightail over to this Intel Labs page, you'll see that the girls and boys are developing some rather nifty 3D technology, which they will exhibit at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) show in Las Vegas starting 8 April. There's also a groovy download page here which provides more details of the 3D work Intel's doing, as well as another page, which you can find here which is the main page for 3D software. While you're at the main IAL news page, you might also like to take a gander at the main item there, which is Intel's Automatic Organizer software. You thought Intel didn't do software? Au contraire, as we've written before, there's an awful lot of Intel software embedded in them thar pesky Microsoft operating systems... ® Related Stories Intel says Web pad "just an idea" Intel thinks intelligent fridge will rule roost in 2005 Here comes Intel's Miramar
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More CuMine Celerons en route from Intel

We are grateful to First International Corporation (FIC) for pre-announcing the Intel Celeron 633MHz processor as it announced the introduction of its FB11 BX mobo. And we are even more grateful to Intel for letting us know, by the back door, so to speak, that it is migrating its Coppermine 0.18 micron technology to the 533MHz Celeron, which currently is produced on a 0.25 micron process. If you go to this Intel page and download the PDF, which contains Celeron datasheets, you only need to virtually leaf to page 23, where there is a reference to a 533A in the VccCore. On page 55, there is another reference to the 533A, this time relating to the thermal specifications of the processor and showing it is in an FC-PGA package. The long-toothed will remember that Intel first adopted the A suffix for its Celeron family after the initial release of cheapo processors was unable to cut it in the competitive microprocessor market. Now what all consumers must do is to make sure that when they buy a 533MHz PC using a Celeron chip that it is the Coppermine version with additional Screaming Cindy instructions, and not the old 0.25 micron jobby, which will be obsoleted by this baby, when it arrives. ® Related Stories FIC gives 440BX hearty resuscitation Celeron IIs arrive: Screaming Cindy is in tow
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Cybersquatter? Not me, says owner of Greatdomainrobbery

A Surrey man has spent £40,000 buying 5000 Web addresses even though he says his domain name business is "just a hobby". Asked whether he thought £40,000 was a lot of money, he said: "It's nothing in terms of business." John Pepin told The Register that most of the 5000 Web addresses are "innovative" domains that would appeal to businesses. But he's also registered some personal domains including tonyblaironline.com, ronaldbiggs.com and davidshayler.com. Pepin doesn't regard himself as a cybersquatter and believes those who accuse him of it are guilty of "sour grapes". "A quick thinking, fast moving entrepreneur is the term I would like to use," he said. "If I hadn't registered these domains then some American would." Pepin was contacted recently by Michael Biggs, the son of Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs, to see if he would hand over ronaldbiggs.com. "We're still in negotiations," said Biggs. "He [Pepin] is a very nice bloke." Events have happened so quickly Pepin is still setting up his own site, GreatDomainRobbery.co.uk, and, no doubt, he is hoping to cash in on the lucrative sale of domains. Only recently the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) paid £120,000 for Architecture.com. If Pepin only lands a couple of deals like this, £40,000 will be chickenfeed. ® Related Story RIBA pays $190,000 for Architecture.com GreatDomainRobbery
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Ballmer plays to gallery with message to MS troops

Microsoft president and CEO Steve Ballmer has emailed the troops with a morale-boster on the settlement talks, but from the phrasing it looks written very much for public consumption. Microsoft has used this PR trick before, when supposedly confidential memos from Bill Gates to Microsoft executives have been specifically written for stage-managed 'leaks'. Ballmer's memo contains classic Microsoft remarks such as: "Any settlement must preserve our ability to innovate and improve our products," which is and has been the company line since time immemorial. Ballmer claims that Microsoft has "put more on the table than the judicial process would ultimately provide, even if we lost the case", and that "we have made, and will continue to make, substantial proposals to settle". Ballmer also said that five top executives, including Gates, were on the job, working "hard and creatively" to achieve a settlement. He adds that "While we're very sure of our legal position and we're prepared to take it all the way on appeal, we've learned that discretion is the better part of valour, so we're working very hard to resolve the case through settlement". The email does not detail any proposed settlement terms, but in a classic propaganda technique, it damns the media for "largely inaccurate" reports and makes the claim that it is not true that the DoJ regards Microsoft's proposed terms as "inadequate". But from leaked information from the plaintiff states' lawyers, it would appear that Ballmer's ideas as to what constitute "a fair settlement" remain far from those envisaged by most of his opponents. ®
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Acer casts adrift three disties

Acer UK has ditched three distributors in its push into the corporate market. Datrontech, Enta Technologies and SI Distribution all reached "an amicable agreement" with the manufacturer, said Scott Dodds, Acer sales director. The three will end their contracts with Acer at the end of March. This leaves the company with six distributors, including freshly appointed Ideal Hardware. "They weren't right for us," said Dodds. "We're moving into tier I and II [reseller base] in notebooks, desktops and servers." Acer also wants to expand its high end and big business client base, and said the dumped trio weren't addressing this market. The company is moving its head office and 50 staff from Langley, near Slough, down the road to Poyle this weekend. Its current distributors are Ideal Hardware, Northamber, Midwich Thame, Sphinx CST, Phoenix, and EMCEE in Ireland. In channel-related news, ATL Networks has made Richard Biggins MD. He replaces Mark Randall, who has launched a dot.com business - talknet.com - to focus on Internet telephony services. Talknet.com will launch on June 1.® Related stories Acer looks to Net for post-hardware profits Acer plans Ideal channel partner
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Nationwide and its most peculiar Net banking plans

Nationwide is putting Web terminals in its branches to let customers check their accounts online for free. The building society is splashing out £250,000 on the scheme to install terminals in 250 branches by the end of May. If the plan is a success, it hopes to extend the Internet banking facilities to all 682 branches. It is aimed at attracting existing customers who are not familiar with online banking, as well as those who regularly use the service but are away from their office or home PC. In reality, this is not so much a great leap forward from Nationwide, but more of a sideways shuffle. Nationwide first launched its Internet banking facility in 1997 and now lays claim to 130,000 e-banking customers. Brian Davis, Nationwide's chief executive, said: "Our Internet banking service is already free, and now members will be able to access it in over a third of our branches as well as at home. We are bringing the internet to the High Street for our members so that, if they are away from home or work, or if they haven't yet got online and want to see what finance on the internet can offer them, they can come in and simply serve themselves, with staff on hand to help them." ® Related Stories Net banking is for Scandinavians in anoraks Queen forced into online banking Online banking hits the right note Online bankers take off
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CDNow faces Cash Crash

CDNow's auditors say there is a "substantial doubt" about the online retailer's ability to "continue as a going concern". Arthur Andersen's warning, contained in a CDNow filing on Tuesday, says the company had suffered "recurring losses from operations, ahd a working capital deficiency and significant payments were due in 2000 related to marketing deals", the FT reports. But FT columnist Lex says the company's position "may not be as dire as all that". CDNow had sales from one million customers last month, it has reduced its cash burn rate to $15 million a quarter. And it still has access to $40 million. CDNow investors may not be so confident: yesterday shares fell $1 9/16 to $3 1/2. At its peak last year, CDNow stock traded at $23 1/4. ® Related Story Dotcoms deny they are running out of cash
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Sony to fold US music, movie wings into broadband unit

Sony's scheme to dominate the home computing and home entertainment markets through broadband content delivery moved another stage forward today. The Japanese giant is to fold its three key entertainment subsidiaries - Pictures, Music and Online - into a new operation, Sony Broadband Entertainment. The move will see the subsidiaries retaining their individual operational status - for now, at least - but as Sony's broadband plans develop, the will inherently come under tighter control from Broadband, according to a Bloomberg report. Broadband will initially focus its efforts on the three subsidiaries' US wings. However, a number of senior management changes recently took place within the International and European regional offices of Music, which may be as sign the ground is being prepared to extend Broadband's coverage across the globe. Given the rate at which European Net use and telecoms infrastructure is catching up with those of the US, Europe is clearly the next major broadband content market. That surely means Broadband's incorporation of Sony's European content divisions will happen next, and sooner rather than later. In the US, Broadband will come into being at the end of July. The next stage will be to seek out partnerships with US companies to expand the distribution of digital content. That means deals with telcos, ISPs and TV networks. Sony's strategy calls for the delivery of broadband services into the home by the end of 2001, so it's clearly decided the time has come to start putting the all the pieces in place. In Japan, for instance, Sony is partnering with Toyota and Tokyu to create a high-speed data network for entertainment and e-commerce. A test service will begin in May. It's not yet clear if this arrangement is a satellite-based network, but Sony certainly has a licence from Japan's Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications to operate such a network. The licence was granted last October. Ultimately, Sony wants all these networks to connection its PlayStation 2 console and the machine's successors to Sony's own e-commerce and content delivery services. It has already set up online stores for Japanese PlayStation owners, again through partnerships with music and video retailers, and this is likely to be extended to Europe and the US when the PlayStation 2 is launched in these territories in the autumn. ® Related Stories Sony sells 980,000 PlayStation 2 consoles in two days Sony to sell online via 9000 in-store terminals Sony to launch e-commerce biz to serve PlayStation 2 users Sony to become 'Web department store' says president Sony preps satellite digital content delivery service Sony puts PlayStation 2 at heart of Net strategy
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Intel's server board strategy to 2002

Part Three How long will Intel's different server platforms survive? The source at Intel Europe who showed us the roadmaps this series is based on revealed projections for the different platforms already existing and yet to be announced. However, he stressed that these only projections, and refused to be drawn on how specific the dates were. Intel categorises its server offerings according to whether they are one-way, dual, four-way or eight-way. The one-way platform, Nightlight, which uses the T440BX chipset, will reach the end of the road by Q1 of 2000 On the two-way front, Nightshade (N440BX) will last for the same amount of time, while Lancewood (L440GX+) will survive into Q2 of next year. Glen Echo, soon to be announced, will extend well into 2001, while Cypress (C440GX+) will make it up until the end of Q1 next year. On the four-way front, Sitka (450NX) is projected to last until the beginning of next year, and in Q2 of this year Intel will release the Koa SPKA4, which will last through until Q3 next year. Aspen will die at the end of this year, while Apsen K, a variation of this board, will likely last for the same period. In eight-way servers, the Ocotillo, introduced in September last year, will likely survive until the end of this year, but sometime in Q2 Intel will introduce the Palmetto, an eight-way server with a long lifecycle. Glen Echo will be succeeded by a fresh update at the end of this year. Colusa II and Astor will be announced in July, while Cabrillo and Cabrillo will be announced in Q3 of this year. Colusa III and Astor II will be announced in Q1 of next year. In Q4 of 2001, Intel is likely to introduce an integrated Palmetto/Cabot system, while there will be a Palmetto Cascades board announced in the same time period, along with a Tanner and Cascades board. Cascades is not validated with Intel's Cypress board, and 133MHz chips won't work on these products, while Intel maintains that a 100MHz front-side bus large cache Cascades board will not be competitive in two way systems. Nor will Intel be able to validate the Cypress board for its up and coming Hudson chassis. According to Intel, it has not yet found any third-party Taiwanese boards using the Reliance (ServerWorks) chipset, giving it a clear window of selling opportunity. Intel will introduce a 'Synergy' programme to help its PC customers compete in the market, with $1.5 million being spent to allow what it dubs emerging solution providers to compete in the market. It will just focus on the server market, and will provide training, support and maintenance, being available to PC customers with an existing server business. ® Contents: Intel Server Board strategy to 2002 Page 1 Brace, brace! It's codename conundrums Page 2 Classy chassis, Glen Echo and Raid options Related Story Bitter war breaks out inside Intel
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Intel's server board strategy to 2002

Part Two The Intel Hudson (SC5000) chassis will have three 5.25in device bays and one floppy, five hot-swap drive bays, two additional non-hot swap drive bays and support 10,000rpm drives. It has two power options, a 300W PS2 and a 350W 1+1 redundant hot swap option. It will include four system fans, two behind the drive bays and two in a redundant power supply. The Byrd (SR2000) chassis is a low profile system for 19in racks, includes a rail kit and a PCI riser card supporting two full length PCI slots. It includes one slimline IDE CD-ROM, a so-called 'flexible bay' which can be used for floppy, tape drive or a hard disk, up to four by 1in hard drives or two by 1.6in hard drives, and two by 1in Ultra 160 SCSI hard drive which is hot swappable. It will have two system fans, and a 275W PFC autosensing power supply. The Hudson will arrive mid-April, the Byrd SRA early April, the Lancewood ECO with a 10-pin connector in mid April, and a boxed board of the Lancewood with new cables also in mid-April. Glen Echo, the S440GE2 board, is dependent on support for the 850MHz running at 100MHz system bus speed. It uses the L440GX+, and will support 1GHz CuMines, have Ultra 160 SCSI, Windows 2000 SDG 2.0 full logo certification, and support for the ISC 2.x graphical user inferface, and Linux support. It will fit within the Hudson or the Byrd chassis. Glen Echo will support 0.18 micron (Coppermine) and 0.25 micron (Katmai) microprocessors, and will be enabled for 1GHz CuMines, eventually. Power will be similar to the Lancewood and Hemlock boards. Production is likely in June or July, but Intel will start shippping evaluation boards in the middle of April. It will support memory models up to 2GB. Four gigs of SDRAM memory will cost around ten times the system price. It will have two Intel Raid offerings. According to the documents we saw two days back, third-party board vendors using i840 designs are suffering from MRH-S (memory translator) difficulties, and the S440GE2 will not suffer from these difficulties, and so will be easier to sell (!). Intel's Raid offerings are codenamed Talo and Bonia, and are or will be validated across all server boards, with an aggressive price and will be feature and performance competitive. Talo is already shipping, but Bonita (SRCU31) will launch in the middle of Q2, which starts in two days time. Intel expects to validated these producs for the T440BX, N440BX and SC450NX chipsets very shortly. Bonita will include 64/33 PCI and Ultra 160 SCSI. In the first half of 2001, Intel will introduce its Chulito raid offering, with dual channel Ultra SCSI and 64/66 PCI, and also including battery backup. ® Contents: Intel Server Board strategy to 2002 Page 1 Brace, brace! It's codename conundrums Page 3 End of lines, dates, closures and $1.5 million in dosh Related Story Bitter war breaks out inside Intel
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MS, BT, AT&T strike global wireless broadband deal

One of the major deals Microsoft was hoping Bill Gates could announce in February was finally rolled out today - a triple alliance with BT and AT&T covering broadband mobile data. Microsoft's contribution will be its wireless data services platform, which will allow consumer and business applications to be deployed on AT&T's and BT's wireless networks. Effectively, the system will be a further development of the Microsoft-BT mobile data trials that have been taking place this year in the UK and Sweden. In Europe, BT and its partner networks will ultimately use UMTS broadband for the services, but in the run-up to this it'll use GPRS. In AT&T TDMA land, it'll use the existing Cellular Digital Packet Data (CDPD) network, or the higher speed Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution (EDGE). The net effect should therefore be, promises the announcement, "seamless global roaming capabilities and high-speed wireless IP services." Trials are intended to begin this Autumn. ®
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MostHateD to plead guilty in gLobaL heLL hack case

Patrick Gregory, aka 'MostHateD', has agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit teleconferencing fraud and computer trespass. The 19-year-old Texan is a founding member of a crew known as gLobaL heLL, previously known as total-Ka0s. The Feds accuse gLobaL heLL of causing $1.5 million in damage to numerous US corporate and government sites, including the White House and the Army. Such damages are often wildly inflated by prosecutors, and typically include such vague calculations as loss of brand-name confidence. Gregory will admit to stealing phone conferencing services from AT&T, MCI, and Latitude Communications and holding conference calls with other crew members. He faces up to five years' incarceration, and could be ordered to pay millions in restitution. Gregory has often stated publicly his view that network intrusions are a means of exposing security flaws, and therefore serve a public interest. He has also defaced sites to express displeasure over the Draconian sentences handed down to hackers in China. gLobaL heLL co-founder Chad Davis, aka 'Mindphasr', was sentenced to six months in prison earlier this month for whacking the US Army's Web site last June. Davis was ordered to pay US $8054 in restitution, to avoid other members of gLobaL heLL, to serve three years of supervised release, and to gain approval from future employers to use the Internet. An archive of gLobaL heLL's defaced sites can be found here, courtesy of Attrition.org. ® Related Story MostHateD in gaol for burglary
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Demon coughs up damages in Godfrey libel case

Demon Internet has agreed to pay £15,000 to a scientist after failing to remove defamatory postings on newsgroups it hosted.
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Bizarre language in Mattel ruling

The Register is more than a little concerned with the mental health of US District Judge Edward Harrington, who ruled in favour of the plaintiff, Mattel, in a copyright case involving a crack to decrypt a list of banned URLs in the company's Cyber Patrol filterware. We thought this was a straightforward dispute over intellectual property rights, but we were sadly mistaken. "This case involves more than a... legal issue relating to copyright law," the Judge wrote. "It raises a most profound societal issue, namely, who is to control the educational and intellectual nourishment of young children - the parents, or the purveyors of pornography and the merchants of death and violence." Excuse us? Making it possible to decrypt a file of banned URLs puts the merchants of death in control of the intellectual nourishment of children? But wait, there's more Apocalyptic terror. "Ideas bear consequences, fruitful and also destructive. The pernicious idea that all men are not created equal is the philosophic basis which incited the degradations of slavery and the genocidal slaughter of the [Nazi] Holocaust," His Honour wrote. Stunning. We now have to wonder if Judge Harrington's ruling can be overturned on appeal because of 'disturbingly odd citations'. Might be worth a shot... ® Related Stories Mattel sues hackers, wins injunction Mattel buys copyrights to Cyber Patrol crack
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ex-AMD Atiq Raza gets Infiniband job

A fabless semiconductor firm partly funded by Intel Capital has appointed Atiq Raza, who masterminded AMD's introduction of the Athlon chip, to its board of directors. Mellanox will design interoperable silicon in conjunction with the trade association Infiniband, and has raised funding of over $25 million in its second round of financing. Some of the funding for the technology comes from Intel and some from Atiq Raza Venture Management. Before Raza worked for AMD, he helped set up Nexgen, which was subsequently bought by AMD. Before he worked for AMD, he worked for Intel. He left AMD last summer, despite being tipped for the top job when CEO Jerry Sanders decides to retire. So what goes round seems to come round, unless this is a different Atiq Raza. And we don't think it is. The Infiniband trade association is working on specs for future IO technology, and was formed after a number of major industry players, including Intel, Compaq, Hewlett-Packard and IBM, swallowed their differences and decided to band together. ®
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Acer unveils ‘most competitive’ embedded Linux

Animeta Systems, one of Taiwanese giant Acer's numerous subsidiaries, claims to have whipped up the world's most compact - it only requires 2MB RAM - and most competitive version of Linux for embedded applications. More important, perhaps, is the fact the group plans to use its new OS to oust Windows in many of the company's products, according to its chairman and CEO, Stan Shih, cited in Taiwan's Commercial Times. Most of the discussion at the operating system's debut earlier this week centred on its role in embedded systems, which is clearly what it has been designed for. But if CT's reports are anything to go by, Acer certainly isn't ruling out the OS' use in its PCs. Shih said he expects Linux to replace Windows as the mainstream OS in the future, and that has to be conditional on getting it into desktop PCs as well as appliances - even if appliances come to dominate it IT market. Of course, Shih has an agenda here: he wants Acer to become a kind of 'Intel for the 21st Century', a scheme that underpins almost everything the company does these days. At the same time, Shih wants to minimise Acer's dependence on other companies, most notably Microsoft and Intel, and pursuing a Linux strategy is a clear way of achieving that. It's also a way of combating shrinking margins in the PC biz. And the Animeta name is perhaps no coincidence here. In January, a number of Taiwanese companies, including Acer, are believed to have begun negotiations with Transmeta, primarily to use its Crusoe chips in notebooks. Taiwan produces the vast majority of the world's portable PCs, including most of the kit sold by the big-name brands. An unnamed senior Animeta executive told CT that the company has already entered into partnerships with "many multinational corporations on a technology-transfer basis", and is looking to achieve revenues of $1 million this year and $40 million two years down the line, primarily through selling software development tools and proprietary code that sits on top of Linux to third-parties. ®
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Long fraud scam hits eBay

It's one of the oldest tricks in the fraudsters' book and it's got the LAPD sniffing around eBay. According to CNET, police in Los Angeles are investigating claims that dozens of people handed over money for computer equipment advertised on eBay but have never received the goods. The seller in question is understood to have sold via eBay prior to the alleged sting and had built up a reputation for being trustworthy. There's nothing new about this, it's called the long firm fraud - you conduct yourself as any law-abiding individual would. You win the trust of the people you do business with and then you hit them hard. The investigation will be carried out by Los Angeles and Orange County High Tech Task Force and will involve the FBI and the US postal service too. The CNET piece said that when the police arrived at the seller's offices they found them empty. LAPD detective Terry Willis said: "It was a plain old-fashioned bust out. I think these guys are long gone. But you never know, you may get lucky." You never know, indeed. The long firm fraud was an old favourite of the London criminal fraternity in the 50s. You set up as a building firm and order small amounts of materials and equipment from small suppliers - being sure to always pay cash up front. When they feel they can trust you, you ask for credit, being sure to always pay your bills on time. Before long you claim you have just won a massive deal and will need a generous extension on your credit - you get it because you always pay your bills on time, only this time you don't. Instead you disappear. There wasn't much the law could do to prevent this sort of activity fifty years ago - it's nice to know that, even in the fast moving world of IT, some things never change. ®
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Ugly Web site finds curry and beer for Brits

A self-confessed ugly Web site has launched to help Brits find their evening pint and curry anywhere in the country. The somewherenear.com site will locate your nearest public house, B&B or Indian restaurant online. Punters simply click on an area of a map of the country, say what kind of establishment they want, and up come the site's top recommendations.
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S3 chip team sale: the potential buyers lined up

While S3 continues to remain tight-lipped as to the identity of the mystery buyer of its 3D graphics chip development operation (ie. that part of the merged S3/Diamond that isn't... er... Diamond), a nice little chain of logic has emerged that leads to a possible buyer. The links were uncovered by Web site Tech Report, and following it through, it makes a lot of sense. Tech Report rules out 3dfx because it's just engaged in the purchase of Gigapixel. To that, we'd add the point that 3dfx is far from wealthy right now, and while it might buy a company to get its technology - hence the Gigapixel deal - it's unlikely to get anything juicy from S3 that it isn't working on already. It might want to by S3 to eliminate it as a competitor, but it's questionable whether it could afford to do so, and such an act would in fact simply strengthen Nvidia's hand. After all, who else are S3's customers going to go to? Not 3dfx, that's for sure. So look to Nvidia, says Tech Report. The case for the prosecution rests on Nvidia's recent technology licensing deal with S3, but mostly on Nvidia's move to sell $400 million worth of stock this week (though, we note, you'd expect a purchase to be funded not by cash but by a stock-swap, especially since S3 would presumably want to buy Nvidia chips for its own boards). Nvidia has also said it's in the market for acquisitions. To Tech Report's argument, we'd add that S3 owns S3TC, the texture compression scheme that's now part of Microsoft's DirectX, and with Nvidia now chums with the Beast of Redmond, thanks to its involvement in the X-Box project, it might well want to strengthen that role by taking charge of S3TC. At the same time, S3's Savage 2000 competes directly with Nvidia's GeForce as a rival 256-bit chip with an integrated transform and lighting engine. Unlike 3dfx, Nvidia would gain by eliminating this competition. Nvidia is certainly the most likely candidate, but there are others that shouldn't yet be ruled out. First, ATI has been very acquisitive over the last 18 months, and as S3's erstwhile arch-rival would be very highly motivated to buy it up. After all, it was S3's cock-up of its product line a couple of years back that allowed ATI to rise to prominence in the OEM market and become the biggest 3D graphics company. ATI is sitting on plenty of money, and could easily afford whatever S3 is asking for its chip division. Again, acquiring S3 would also neatly eliminate ATI's main competitor in the OEM and mobile spaces. We'd also like to chuck Intel into the ring. S3 has had a very strong partnership with Chipzilla for some time now, largely by leveraging its purchase some years back of the patent portfolio left behind when processor developer Exponential shuffled off its mortal coil. Intel wanted access to them, and traded its own 3D graphics patents to S3 in return. 3D graphics is the one area of semiconductor design at which Intel has neither excelled nor built up a solid business. So it might very well like to acquire one in order to relaunch its own 3D operation, built out of the bones of Real3D, in which it once invested and now owns (Real3D shut down last year, and Intel bought up the bits). Finally, as we reported a little while ago, that Via has its eye on S3, and while the rumours suggested it would like to buy the company outright, we suspect what it really wants is the chip business, to help it compete in the integrated chipset business with Intel and Acer Labs. ® Related Stories S3 readies graphics chips hive-off 3dfx to grab Gigapixel for $186m S3 and Nvidia kiss and make up Via to buy S3 outright? Real3D dead - Intel buys bones Link You can read Tech Report's analysis here
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Inprise lawyers seek to block opposition to Corel merger

A campaign to derail the Corel-Inprise/Borland merger has attracted the attention of Inprise's learned friends, probably because of some interesting revelations rather than as a result of the campaign seriously threatening the deal. The reason for the aggro is that Corel's share price has dropped dramatically since the announcement of the merger on 7 February, thanks to Corel's disappointing results and warning of two poor quarters to come. Consequently, Inprise shareholders will find that the value of the Corel shares that they are to receive is likely to be considerably less than when the deal was announced. The $1.1 billion in shares that the merger was to have cost Corel has now shrunk to $567 million at yesterday's closing price for Corel's shares. Don Magie, a Toronto-based investor who holds 40,000 Inprise shares, has started a Web site to rally support for renegotiating the deal. He discovered that Inprise had signed two deals before the proposed merger was announced, but that Inprise did not announce them, which could well be a breach of SEC rules. The first deal was signed with Ericsson before Christmas (but announced 23 February), with Inprise being chosen to supply its Visibroker CORBA technology for Ericsson's operation support system, for managing GSM and CDMA networks. The other deal, with TurboLinux, was signed in January (and announced 16 February, around the time that TurboLinux received $57 million of second-round financing) and is a strategic alliance whereby the companies would collaborate on the certification, integration, enhancement and marketing of Linux products worldwide. The implication is that Inprise's share price might have risen before the merger was revealed, had the deals been announced earlier, and so Inprise shareholders might have received a better offer from Corel. Magie claims to have the support of some ten per cent of Inprise's shareholders, including Robert Coates, a former member of the board, who resigned in opposition to the merger. Merger opposition Magie's efforts to enlist Inprise shareholders to vote against the Corel merger resulted in a letter from Inprise's lawyers, but the letter was addressed to the general counsel of his employer rather than to him personally. Here's where the situation becomes murkier. According to an article in the Ottawa Citizen, Magie works for CompuWare in Canada, a US company that is currently the number five software vendor, and which sometimes competes in the same marketplace as Inprise. Although the Inprise letter says Magie is "currently engaged in a very public campaign to derail the proposed Inprise/Corel merger" and that Inprise it is reviewing "whether Mr Magie's statements and actions are in violation of the US federal securities laws" (especially the proxy rules of the 1934 Securities and Exchange Act), the clear intention of the letter is try to put pressure on CompuWare. The flimsy excuse given for writing to CompuWare is that the company is named in the Ottawa Citizen's report. A further implication is that CompuWare should consider its own position, and whether Magie should remain an employee if he refused to stop his campaign. It is not known whether Magie has some puts against Inprise, to lock in profits. There is considerable negative sentiment in the newsgroups against Corel CEO Michael Cowpland, whose personal trial on allegations of insider trading by the Ontario Securities Commission has been moved to Ottawa from Toronto, and will not now take place before the end of the year. Of course, when the Corel share price took off following the Corel Linux release, the protests were nowhere to be heard. At the same time, if Corel's share price rises (it has happened unexpectedly before), all would be sweetness and light. The snag is that this is not likely until much later in the year. Corel's share price closed yesterday at $10.562, down from $20.00 the day before the deal was announced. Merger benefits For Corel, the deal is a sweet one since it gets its hands on Inprise's $197 million in cash (as of 31 December), of which $100 million came from Microsoft when it took a stake in the company as a result of what was suspected to be a settlement for having enticed Borland executives to leave, by offering golden sunrise awards if they quit Borland and went to Microsoft. The payment was supposedly for "a one-time licensing fee", though it's not clear what technology was supposed to be licensed. For Inprise, the present situation is one of very bad news, with its share price effectively tied to that of Corel as a result of the merger deal, when it was agreed that Inprise shareholders would get a fixed rate of 0.747 of a Corel share for each Inprise share. Should the deal not go through and Inprise shares continue to drop, Inprise could momentarily find itself in the strange position of its cash being worth around as much as its market capitalisation. Inprise's share price was around the $4 mark until last October, when it shot up to $16 in December. When the deal was announced, Inprise's shares were valued at $14.94 as a result of the deal. They have now drifted down in tandem with Corel's fall to $7 last night. Newsgroup messages have been very much opposed to the deal, with the arguments being focused on the significant cultural differences between Inprise and Corel. It is true that Corel has no significant experience of enterprise market products, but the criticism seems to ignore the fact that there has been no indication that Inprise's marketing staff are being terminated. Indeed, the merger creates a broad software company that has the potential to increase its present turf quite considerably. As is usual in such mergers, there are tough sanctions in the event that either side unilaterally decided to pull out of the merger. The SEC Schedule 13D filing shows that if Inprise terminates the deal, Corel would receive a termination fee of $29.5 million, while Inprise would receive $44.5 million if Corel terminated the deal. At the moment, Inprise probably has the reluctant support of most of its shareholders, but this could change as the termination fee is not so great. However, the consequences to Inprise as a result of withdrawing would probably be considerable, and make it an immediate target for a takeover, resulting in further instability. Indeed, both Corel and Inprise are vulnerable to a hostile bid at the moment. Merger merits There is merit in the Corel-Inprise deal at the right price, and so a renegotiation would appear to be a sensible possibility. There was a report last week in globetechnology.com that the companies were having talks about adjusting the terms of the deal. Inprise chairman William Miller of Stanford University was quoted as saying that there were "a lot of conversations going on" between the companies. So far as Inprise's lawyers' clumsy intervention is concerned, as one commentator put it: "The best way to incite a real revolution is to try to suppress it." ® Link Don Magie's Inprise meger site is here
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Leak! Intel's server board strategy to 2002

Part One Sources working within Intel in Europe have leaked comprehensive details of the firm's strategy for server boards which reveal plans the chip giant currently has up until the year 2002. Documents seen by The Register show that the firm is scrambling to ensure that its lucrative server business carries on being the cash cow to fuel future growth. As we revealed yesterday, internal rifts between motherboard and chipset divisions in the firm have caused bitterness, with heads rolling as those at the top try and sort out difficulties in the middle and the bottom of the firm. The roadmaps we have been shown are internal Intel documents and the firm is stressing to its customers that these are "preliminary" and "subject to change". In Q2 this year, Intel will release two important revs in its future plans. The S440GE2 board will use Ultra160, fast CuMine technology, have a 100MHz spin and will use either a Hudson (5U) or Byrd (2U) chassis. In Q1 next year, Intel will release the Juniper board, using Serverworks (Reliance) chipsets and supporting a dual Foster (Willamette) processor, and using the Hudson II chassis. Also in this quarter, Intel will introduce the Tupelo, again using Serverworks chipsets, and using the Hudson or the Byrd II chassis. The third Q1 intro will be the Ginkgo, once more based on a Serverworks chipset, and using the Hudson (5U) or the Byrd-II (2TU-TBD) chassis. As we revealed yesterday, Gingko will be followed by the Gingko-II using Tualatin, and again based on the Hudson or Byrd II chassis, during the first half of 2001. In the first half of 2002, Intel will introduce the Hickory board, based on two-way Gallatin technology, and using the Hudson II chassis. Juniper-II will tip up in the first half of 2002, again using a two-way Gallatin chipset. Intel has to perform quite a few conjuring tricks to make the transition from Lancewood L440GX+ technology. It has to move the Lancewood to the value segment, and add Hudson and Byrd chassis support to existing Lancewood motherboards. It will shift Lancewood out of the value segment to the performance segment by introducing its Glen Echo (S440GE2) board. That has to come in two stages, the first of which is to change the Hudson and Byrd chassis to support existing Lancewood boards, while minimising changes in the existing baseboard design. The second phase will be to add extra features to the Glen Echo S440GE2 board including U160 and faster processor support to the Lancewood design. Intel's board division is vastly increasing its motherboard factory capacity. The Lancewood factory has already increased support. In week ten of this year, Intel will have managed to double the output of the factory from week four. It may increase capacity after week ten, and expects to fix its backlog by week 13 because of the increase in capacity. Glen Echo will take over this increased support for the Lancewood production. But there are still severe material constraints on other products Intel is manufacturing. Sitka will be fully recovered from its backlog by around now using the P0CH SKU, Cypress boxed boards using the C440GX+ chipset were expected to recover by week nine. Cabrillo II and Astor II will recover from their backlogs by weeks ten and 14 respectively. However, Intel's Polar, Bear and Saber systems have constrained deliveries through to week 11, while key customers can expect full recover between weeks 12 and 14, in other words, round about now. To increase Lancewood capacity, Intel had to convert existing test equipment, and in week ten of this year added an SMT line to its factory and completed the installation of its test equipment. Lancewood will support all 100MHz system bus Pentium IIIs processors on Intel's roadmap, apart from the CuMine 850/100, where support for the product is planned. The 1GHz processor, however, does not seem to be part of these plans. ® Contents: Intel Server Board strategy to 2002 Page 2 Classy chassis, Glen Echo and Raid options Page 3 End of lines, dates, closures and $1.5 million in dosh Related Story Bitter war breaks out inside Intel
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Emulator puts arcade classics on digital cameras

After yesterday's news that Nintendo plans to offer a cellphone with a built-in Gameboy Color, you'd have thought go-anywhere gamers would be sated with opportunities to play arcade games on the move. Not so. We now learn there's a project underway that has developed a console emulator for... er... digital cameras. The motivation is clear: why use your LCD viewfinder for taking holiday snaps when you can take on a host of virtual villains instead? In a way, it's a surprise no one has figured this one out before. Modern digital cameras are remarkably good for gaming since they're inherently designed to be held in two hands with controls in easy reach of the user's fingers. Two emulators are currently available: Mamed (based on the well-established Mame (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator) and Messd (derived from Multi Emulator Super System). Both applications run under cameras' Digita OS, which is built into a wide range of cameras and runs either on a PowerPC processor or a MIPS chip. Cameras using Digita include models from Kodak and Minolta, and HP's C500 Photosmart. ® Related Story Nintendo preps cellphone with built-in Gameboy Link The Mamed Web site Know about any other weird and wonderful gaming platforms? Then let us know
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Seagate MBOs HDD business at rock-bottom price

Seagate is to bow out as a corporate entity by divesting itself of all non-operating businesses and offloading its disk drive division in a deal valued at $20.4 billion. The HDD business is going in an MBO for a paltry $1.2 billion, even though it's valued at more than twice that amount. The Seagate HDD business will now, as the only remnant of the former colossus of the storage sector, be in private hands - a move those close to the deal say will protect it from the vagaries of the investment community. The last couple of years have been tough on the low-end storage sector and this has taken its toll on Seagate's share price. The MBO is being backed by three venture capital firms - Silver Lake, Integral Capital Partners, and Texas Pacific Group - and gives Seagate management control of the disk drive and digital tape divisions. The price tag of $2 billion on the MBO is offset thanks to $800 million working capital sweetener. On an earnings per share basis, analysts reckon the division to be worth something in the region of $3 billion. Last year Seagate made $1.2 billion profit off revenues of $6.8 billion. In Vitro Veritas The rest of the mega-deal centres on Veritas' involvement in Seagate. Veritas bought Seagate's software business in a stock-swap deal last year, it left Seagate holding a 33 per cent stake in Veritas. Seagate shareholders will receive $1.2 billion in cash and $19.2 billion in Veritas stock. In return, Veritas gets all Seagate's non-core business and investments, including holdings in CVC, Dragon Systems, Gadzoox Networks and SanDisk. It also gets $2 billion in cash and secures the return of the 128 million Veritas shares held by Seagate. Veritas will issue 109 million shares to Seagate shareholders as part of the deal - a reduction in available stock which will increase earnings per share by some seven per cent. It's a sad but profitable end to Seagate (the corporate entity) which at its height employed around 120,000 people. It was founded by Al Shugart, one of the IT industry's more interesting characters, but no longer involved with Seagate. In 1996 Shugart put his dog Ernest up as a candidate for election to the post of senator in California. Ernest's campaign manager was another of Shugart's canine companions - Higgins. ®
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Ticketmaster calls for ban on linking rejected

Ticketmaster has had its call for hyperlinking to be banned by law rejected by a US federal judge. The ruling follows a row between rival ticket sites Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch and Tickets.com over the practice of deep linking to parts of competitors' Web sites. Ticketmaster had complained that Tickets.com was sending surfers to deep linked parts of its site and in so doing was helping traffic to bypass its front page. Bypassing the front page and accessing the information they wanted in a quick and easy manner stopped users from viewing top line banner ads, Ticketmaster claimed. Increased traffic and the potential for increased sales from people clicking through from other sites is, seemingly, not good enough for Ticketmaster. Unauthorised linking to other sites should be banned, Ticketmaster's lawyer Robert Platt said. "If we spend substantial money to build up a site, why should they be able to take that and build their business on the backs of our hard work?" This is, of course, nonsense. Linking to other sites is one of the fundamentals of life on the Net - to argue against it is to miss the point of the wired world altogether. The judge presiding over the case, Harry Hupp, thought so too. According to reports he said hyperlinking could only be considered illegal if the perpetrator was seeking to duplicate someone else's site. Who said the law is an ass? Not this time it isn't. Ticketmaster is said to be appealing - which is ironic, given how unappealing its attitude to the Internet seems to be. ®
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Quios looks to extend global reach

An Internet startup which acts as a channel to send SMS messages to 400,000 users says the firm is ready to sign a series of deals with a number of different content providers. Marc Vanlerberghe, CEO of Quios, said today that his firm, which got its second round of financing this year, provides instant messaging, communities and mobile email addresses to a large number of individuals across Europe, Asia and the US, using over 150 carries to route the calls. Two days ago, said Vanlerberghe, his firm signed a deal to provide slashdot.org to his geekish customers who use his Web page. The firm is looking to strike similar deals with others over the next weeks and months. Vanlerberghe said that his company was initially funded by the Flanders Valley consortium, initiated by Lernout and Hauspie last year, but that the second round of financing, more recently, included Silicon Valley firm Kleiner Perkins. He admitted that the lion's share of Quios' users - 70 per cent - came from Europe, and that US users were reluctant to adopt the short messaging system (SMS). Most people who do use that service are aged between 17-24 he said. For these and other reasons, Quios will look to extend its reach into the consumer rather than the business markets, he said. The three types of partners he was trying to find are co-branding, content like Slashdot, and services including auction and travel. ®
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Apple to ship 800MHz Power Mac G4 by year end

Motorola sources have told MacUser that Apple should be able to release an 800MHz Power Mac G4 by the end of the year - and follow it up with a 1GHz machine sometime during Q1 2001. It's worth pointing out that this is Motorola's schedule, not Apple's, and while the source - and we're pretty sure we know who the fellow is, so it's a safe bet it's based on an official timeline - reckons Apple will have chips available to announce the 800MHz beast at next September's Seybold Conference, that doesn't necessarily mean it will. After all, Apple unveiled the first Power Mac G4s at last year's Seybold, and look how long it's actually taken the company to ship the most powerful machine of the three. To be fair, the delay does appear to have been the fault of Motorola, which now has some honour to rebuild, and pulling out the stops to get the 800MHz chip out for September may be part of just such an exercise. Of course, getting chips to Apple so it can launch a machine is not the same thing as shipping them in volume, so it's best to assume the machine will appear no earlier than mid to late October. And that timeframe neatly meets our own predictions, made last October, of when Motorola's 'G4 Plus' CPU will ship. The spec. described in MacUser closely matches that of the Plus, which is a completely new PowerPC core featuring a deeper instruction pipeline - up from four stages to seven - to allow it to attain clock speeds of 700MHz and up. The Plus will feature 256KB of on-die L2 cache, connected to the L1 cache across a 256 bits wide data channel (up from 64-bits wide). The chip also supports up to 2MB of off-chip L3 cache in backside configuration (in other words, just like the current G4's L2 cache). The architecture will support up to 64GB of main memory thanks to a new 36-bit addressing mode. Chips will be fabbed on a 0.13 micron process, and run at 1.5V for a typical power consumption of 10W (ie. good news for PowerBook buyers). When the G4 Plus was unveiled last October, design lead Naras Iyengar said the chip was geared toward "700MHz and up" operation with "significant headroom for where we want to go", so a 1GHz part is by no means out of the question. That should leave the G4, with the PowerPC's inherent architectural advantages, equivalent to a 1.5GHz Pentium, which is what it's likely to be sold against. Indeed, with not one but two AltiVec vector processing engines on AltiVec-enabled the G4 should fly like the proverbial off a shovel. AltiVec optimisation of MacOS X now taking place in earnest. With January 2001 set as Apple's deadline to ship all Macs with X, the combination of the 1GHz G4 and a well-optimised OS, should leave Apple with a very fast box indeed. Assuming, of course, Motorola can deliver... ® Related Stories Motorola speeds PowerPC to compete on clock speed Apple hit by 'PowerPC G4 can't reach 500MHz' bug Second-stage PowerPC G4 details emerge Motorola, IBM - cold warriors Motorola slammed with PPC G4 supply limitation allegations