19th > April > 2000 Archive

Intel confirms major chip shortages

Demand exceeded supply for Intel microprocessors in the first half of this year, and that has led to an uncomfortable shortage of chips, CEO Craig Barrett conceded yesterday as the firm reported its Q1 financial results. That is leading Intel to spend more money investing in increased fab capacity, Barrett said. "While supply remains tight entering the second quarter, we are ramping our .18 micron manufacturing technology rapidly in five facilities, and expanding to eight facilities by year-end, which will substantially increase supply in the coming quarters. We are excited about our product introductions slated for the second half, when we will refresh our entire microprocessor line." Barrett claimed that Intel will have eight .18 micron fabs running by the end of 2000. Last week, as reported here, Intel notified many of its PC customers that they would have supply constraints until June or July, and those would be particularly tight for processor speeds of 700MHz and above. The firm's turnover rose to $8 billion in its Q1, a 13 per cent increase year on year, but a two per cent drop compared to the last financial quarter it reported. Net profit for the Q amounted to $3.1 billion, a rise of 52 per cent year on year, and 28 per cent higher than its last quarter. However, a slab of this impressive profit figure arose from Intel venture capital activities. The firm, over the last two years, has built up its Intel Capital portfolio. There are also tax advantages built into the figures. Barrett predicted that revenues and gross margins will be flat or even down a point or so for its next financial quarter, as a result of it "ramping" more .18 micron facilities. Nevertheless, many companies would give their eye teeth and much more for the gross margin of around 60 per cent expected for the next quarter. However high the gross margins, and however big the contributions made by Intel Capital, the company is finding it harder to disguise the fact that there have been problems supplying Coppermine processors since launch date on 25 October. Further, Intel has committed to major product launches during the second half of the year, potentially compounding its problems. At February's Intel Developer Forum, senior executives at the firm were predicting that the tightness in supplies would be over by the end of March. Its biggest launch this year will be of the Itanium 64-bit microprocessor, but it has also said it will introduce a low-cost system on a chip part, codenamed Timna, as well as Willamette and Foster, two high end IA-32 microprocessors. ® Related Story Intel CuMine supply problems a twisted complex tale Disaster hits Intel Coppermine supplies
Mike Magee, 19 Apr 2000

AMD intros mobile K6-2+, K6-III+

In a bid to further increase market share at the expense of its bigger brother, Intel, AMD yesterday announced availability of notebook chips with K6-2 and K6-III handles. In a press release, the firm said that the chips, which are processors made with a .18 micron process, includes its PowerNow (formerly Gemini) battery conservation system, as well as level two cache incorporated into the fabric. The AMD equivalent of Intel's Screaming Cindy multimedia extensions, called 3DNow, how uses digital signal processing technology. The K6-III+ comes in clock speeds of 450, 475 and 500MHz and uses optional L3 cache of up to 1MB, AMD said, as well as using a 100MHz system bus. The chips are made at AMD's Austin (Fab 25) fabrication plant. It seems that AMD has executed pretty well on these mobile parts. When we interviewed the firm in February, it would only commit to product "before June". ®
Mike Magee, 19 Apr 2000

Privacy-loving space aliens put the smack down on SETI

A SETI radio telescope has been destroyed and scientists fear that space aliens may be responsible, the Weekly World News reports. A "pulsating blue beam" streaked out of the sky and slammed into the 250-foot Rand Wilson telescope near Johannesburg, South Africa, lighting up the facility and a quarter-mile area surrounding it, witnesses reported to the paper. At daybreak, stunned researchers found that the multimillion-dollar telescope had been reduced to a tangle of twisted metal. "It looked as if it had taken a direct hit from a category five hurricane, but the weather that night was completely tranquil," chief astronomer Dr Nigel Van Hecht said in a phone interview with the WWN. "We are entirely at a loss as to what could have caused this. The damage is certainly not consistent with any known natural phenomenon, such as lightning," the professor is quoted as saying. "We have concluded that it is the result of sabotage, and because of the uncanny nature of the weapon, we are strongly leaning toward the theory that the attackers were non-terrestrial." The South African radio telescope was a key element in the international scientific endeavour known as the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, or SETI. Although radio waves occur naturally, SETI searches for characteristic radio patterns which could only be broadcast by alien civilizations. But Dr Van Hecht and his colleagues now fear that offended space aliens are about to retaliate in a big way. "It's conceivable that the aliens don't like us eavesdropping on them - and that this was their crystal-clear way of telling us to cut it out," the astronomer said. "Certainly they may have secrets they don't want us listening in on," he added. Naturally, The Register is most concerned with the implications of this diabolical development for PC owners who have volunteered their boxes for the SETI@home project. We shudder to think what mayhem an irritated and superior alien race might visit upon innocent, gui-dependent Windows lusers jacked in to an intrusive Web-based spy network. "The damage [to the telescope] is irreparable," Dr Van Hecht said in conclusion. "This is a real tragedy for science." And for SETI@home's future, we fear. ®
Thomas C Greene, 19 Apr 2000

Register jumps into bed with iSyndicate

iSyndicate, the Internet world's biggest content syndicator, has opened for business in the UK, with a launch-roster of 12 publications. The cream of content includes the Financial Times, The Guardian, ITN New Media and, of course, The Register. San Francisco-based iSyndicate aims to provide "sticky" content for Web sites. It acts as a syndicator of text news, weather reports and opinions, as well as photos, audio, interactive games and video. The company has 804 content providers in the US which distribute information to around 190,000 Web sites. Its London office aims to be the start of its expansion into Europe, with a second step planned for Germany. "High quality content is absolutely critical to driving Web site traffic and making sure that visitors keep coming back," said Allison Hartsoe, iSyndicate's co-founder. "The vast majority of Web sites do not have the capacity to create their own content or to negotiate multiple legal contracts with content providers, not to mention the necessary technical resource to manage multiple formats." In June iSyndicate will hold a series of seminars for content providers and potential customers. Details can be found here. ®
Linda Harrison, 19 Apr 2000

Forrester maps out Euro Internet futures

At an Executive Strategy Forum such as the one arranged by Forrester Research that has just concluded in Amsterdam, executives and dotcom practitioners should have been briefed on the event of the moment - the collapse of the world's tech stock markets. There were no charts analysing what had happened or how the collapse had varied regionally; no comparison with previous bear markets; no thoughts about what the possible outcomes might be, and how strategies should change as a result. It was a missed opportunity to produce an analysis of significant value in the 70 hours after the close of NASDAQ on Friday and the beginning of the presentations. Quite a few interesting ideas were presented, but with Forrester describing itself as "Europe's leading Internet research firm" the audience was entitled to expect an analysis of the lessons to be learnt. Once again, we saw a market analyst firm showing that business models that presumed that past was prelude would not work, and that a fundamental reassessment of customer relationship and corporate organisation was necessary for success. That's true, but Forrester had omitted to turn the spotlight on itself and realise that it would have to react faster than stock-market speed if it were to gain respect as an analyst rather than as a passenger looking out of the window. At the Forum, Forrester announced its intention to expand its research activity four-fold this year (its European HQ is in Amsterdam) in order to give an overview of Europe's wired customers. MD Emily Nagle Green commented that eCommerce "is evolving in ways very different from the US". Research director Cliff Condon pointed to free ISPs, WAP and interactive TV - and the fact that Europe is not a single market, giving daunting challenges for business. It is highly desirable that there is more research on national and regional differences in European online behaviour, and European online shopping preferences. The results will be frustrating for American companies that had hoped that Europe was going to be homogeneous, with one currency and one mind set, even if European consumers couldn't manage to work in one language. Of course, there's no reason to suppose that there isn't as much variation in North America, but we don't seem to hear much about the regional and ethnic variations there, so far as the IT market is concerned. Crisis? What Crisis The somewhat lacklustre presentations by speakers were complemented by the opportunity of seeing state-of-the-art products and services from some 18 invited exhibitors. We talked to some of those invited by Forrester to exhibit and found no signs of panic in the range of pre- or post-IPO players. There was a general feeling that venture capital market would be tougher, with the VCs looking much more closely at the propositions. A speaker aptly quoted Art Fry of 3M: "You have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince - but remember, one prince can pay for a lot of frogs". So far as future IPOs are concerned, the expectation was that it may take longer before going to market, and that making a loss wasn't compulsory any more. The fear that drives this type of conference is on the one hand the threat to traditional businesses, where incumbents could lose significant value, while on the other hand there is the opportunity for new e-entrants to gain market share and immense value for minimal investment. There were differing views on the future importance of brands. John Holme of Dutch startup Tridion, a specialist in managing constellations of websites, stresses the importance of brand management - the company helpsK LM ensure that its image is consistent across all its websites. Bruce Temkin of Forrester however considered that branding will not matter in five to seven years when e-business networks are fully formed. Temkin drew attention to Cisco's role as an online product manager - more than 50 per cent of the orders that it receives via the Internet are passed to partners for supply - so this is clearly a case of where the Cisco brand is important. Whether badging products will ultimately help users is another issue of course - certainly code-sharing by airlines does not work in the interest of passengers, where the same flight having three or even more flight numbers is a pain in the neck, because they each need a line on arrival and departure boards or screens, which take longer to scroll. Forrester's analyses suggest that consumer preference does not correlate with website traffic. Younger Internet users are not looking at famous brand sites so much as cool sites that have "utility and speed" - adding games, chat and sweepstakes do not help much, it seems. Indeed, banner ads and sponsorship may be more effective. SAP vp Peter Graf talked about what SAP is calling c-Business - (the "c" is collaboration), and he had in mind the 13th century Hanseatic League, a German-based trading association which had some similarities to the European Union, but that failed after trade wars with England. He gave a present-day example of the South African car assembly business: competitive firms have an interest in collaborating over the delivery of parts to South Africa, since this business process is non-competitive. As a consequence, SAP is setting up a collaborative system it calls SAPMarkets.com. Graf says SAP has 400 implementations of collaborations of this type. Didier Benchimol, CEO of iMediation, continued the collaboration theme and suggested that "digital collaborations between trading partners across marketplaces will fuel the new economy." He sees each partner in the chain being a value-added node, contributing content, knowledge and specialised services in a channel that was transparent and responsive to market conditions. Customer relationship management fails if old applications are used, said Forrester analyst Bob Chartham, because marketing, sales and service have different objectives, while business processes are narrowly defined: the consequence would be chaos. Chatham's approach was to deconstruct (build a consistent customer view to achieve data synchronisation), to reinvent (create customer-centric behaviour by behaviour synchronisation), and to breakaway (build continuous relationship management). Analyst Andrew Parker discussed how enterprises should set up a Dot Corp as an independent business to incubate net-based business models, or extend an existing business. He estimated a typical cost at 10 million euros. There is a serious need for some intellectual insight into trends and new strategic approaches, but the market analysts generally - not just Forrester - have become very obsessed with marketing themselves to the extent that timely analysis is wanting. ®
Graham Lea, 19 Apr 2000

Hardware Roundup Spitfire pricing pops up on Web

At AMD Zone, there's info on some mobo upgrades as well as more information about the firm's mobile offerings, along with links to its own benchmarks. The chaps have also pointed to this page which gives pricing for AMD's up and coming Spitfire chippie. At Hard OCP, the lad has a major preview of the Voodoo 5500 AGP. Kyle had the pix yesterday. Aargh! According to Ace's Hardware, Toshiba has released a water cooled portable. Ace's also has prices for the AMD mobile parts, mentioned elsewhere. Tom's Hardware has a round up of TV cards for your PC, which you can find at this page. Shell Extension, which we haven't been to for a little while, is offering prizes for people that come up with the best 2020 Internet dreams. Jonathan Hou has a good chipset article over at Fullon 3D. At Ars Technica, and on this page right here, there's a piece by a physicist about DNA Computing. ® 18 April 2000 Will the debate never end? We wish sometimes it would but y'know, these things have a habit of turning up again. Over here at InQuest, analyst Bert McComas compares DDR (double data rate) synchronous memory with Rambus dual channel memory. Here is what is described as an exhaustive performance analysis of the issues. RMBS fans, please do not send abusive emails to yours truly... Doctor Tom Pabst takes a look here at two muvvaboards from Epox and Asus. Elsewhere, on Tom's Hardware Guide, you'll see that he has also heard from system builders about Intel's incredible shrinking supply problems. There's a piece on Anandtech about overclocking the flip chip Celerons. Kyle Bennett at Hard OCP has some pix of the Voodoo 5 5500 AGP up there at the top of his overclockin' site. Oh no! It's SETI again. Here at Ars Technica there's a piece about the teams and how they're doing. And, in response to our piece about SETI being a waste of time, some kind dude has sent us information on another piece of distributed computing, this time all about prime factorisation with a prize of $100,000... ® 17 April 2000 At Gampeplay, there's an interview with UK Quake 3 player Hakeem. Interested in what Taiwanese mainboard manufacturer Abit is up to? There's an interview here at Fullon 3D. There's an update on the availability of AMD and CPUs over at JC's pages. Sharky Extreme has updated its monthly hardware guide and you can find the Web page here. Anandtech takes a look at a Via-based chipset from Elitegroup, a major Taiwanese mobo player. There's some discussion over at Ace's Hardware about packaging/yields on Intel's Coppermine processors. 14 April 2000 Mr K. Bennett, the man who put the word hard into Hard OCP has got some benchmarks of AMD's Thunderbird up. If you thought microprocessors worked in some miraculous fashion, you're wrong. It's just that you can get a lot more valves on a piece of silicon than on a 1500 square foot motherboard. And over at Tweak 3D, there is a piece about how the Athlon works. The air traffic controller over at Fullon 3D has some interesting words to say about market penetration... The cobblers at Anandtech are keeping to their last in this piece, which is part of the monthly hard drive roundup what they do. There's a review of Intel's Celeron 600MHz chip over this way at Sharky Extreme. ® 13 April 2000 This must have been a day AMD Zone has been waiting for and sho'enough, the site does a good job on summarising a Jerry Sanders conference call and pulling together the different threads for AMD's successful quarter. As well that summary, the front page points to wire stories reporting on news. There's a transcript of the conference call over at JC's site. Anandtech has a review of a 64Mb GeForce product over at this page. A good round up over at Tom's Hardware on how to upgrade that pesky machine that's sitting on your desktop. There's a guide to choosing the right PC at CPU Review. ® 12 April 2000 There's a very useful piece over at Tom's Hardware Guide today which is a kind of ready reckoner for people building their own systems and who want to know how to use the right chips and the right chipsets for the right result. Ars Technica is running a poll on whether Intel's recently released Cloppermine Celerons are too little, too late. And at Ace's Hardware, there is a story saying that HP will release an AMD K6-2+ in a notebook next week. There's a review of the Abit Athlon KA7 over at Anandtech. It uses the Via KX-133 chipset and that old Slot A stuff. It's a little while since we mentioned it, but Kenneth Ekman over at Kenneth's Tech keeps up to date on developments in the chip and component business, as well as linking to quite a few of our own stories here. ® 11 April 2000 August souls at share price newspaper The Wall Street Journal have woken up to the realities of overclocking and interviewed photograph and chip abuser Kyle Bennett of Hard OCP about the realities of making a PC sing sing. A piece written by the ravens (surely mavens, ed) at The Wally which you can find here provided you've paid your subscription, looks at the overclocking phenomenon and quotes Kyle, who rather optimistically claims that the life of a CPU is 10 years. We've seen the photos of chips you've blown up on Hard OCP Kyle, not to mention those of elderly gentlemen that work at The Reg... Lots about Via chipsets on the Web yesterday and today. At Tom's Hardware there's a very comprehensive guide to 21 Slot One mobos that use Via chipsets. The good doctor Pabst is using new lab facilities the site has just inaugurated in Germany. At Digital Web 3D there's also a roundup of motherboards using Via technology. Our hardworking friends at AMD Zone have posted a link to a place offering a competition to see when AMD's share price reaches $100. That place is here. There's a good piece over at Tweak 3D, which goes into detail about the technical aspects of 3D or surround sound. Following on from there, at Anandtech, there's a piece about Cambridge Soundworks Digital speakers. It's always worth flying by Ace's Hardware. There's a piece up about the AMD equivalent of "slotket" cards -- they're the jobbies that people currently use to bridge the gap between Intel Slot One and Flip Chip packaging. Of course, AMD is making the jump to Socket A, so there's a market there too. But excuse us, don't we remember both Intel and AMD saying they had to use slots rather than conventional sockets because of "technological issues"? Those technological arguments seem to have dissipated pretty quickly... Lastly, but not in the bit leastly, trying to make a jigsaw puzzle a little like Intel's IXA strategy? If so, get over to Hardware.com and take a look at this $58.57 variable speed orbital action jig saw kit. ® 10 April 2000 The i815 chipset is so nearly alive that Fullon3D has managed to link to beta drivers for it. The site also provides a link to this place, which has a picture of the DCS 370SMA, a mobo which uses the 815. Here at Ars Technica is an interesting piece about how the nearly impossible becomes probable. It's about Peltier (thermoelectric) coolers. Good stuff from Ars again. Our German friends at c't are indicating that AMD Thunderbirds will fly out of Fab 30 in volume in June at speeds of 1GHz and using Socket A. Tom's Hardware Guide takes a look at the Seventh Internet World. And if you think Tom's was a little harsh on Rambust, have a gander at this iXBT Labs comparative review on the current state of affairs. Thanks to JC News for the link. ® 7 April 2000 That's what Kyle "Metatag" Bennett reckons in a piece over at Hard OCP. He asks if they are as good as the 300A Celerons of hoary antiquity. Or something like that. Hardware Central attracted quite a bit of flak from its readers after we posted a link pro-Rambus piece here. If you look at the messages section, you'll notice that many folk have technical differences of opinion with what the chap has to say. There's a review of the Asus AGP V6800 Deluxe and Creative Labs Annihilator Pro combo at Tom's Hardware Page. Anandtech takes a gander here at the Nvidia 64Mb Geforce. ® 6 April 2000 A modification that transforms a Promise Fastrak card into a Raid card with more promise has led to Kyle Bennett at Hard OCP getting a letter from m'learned friends. Promise's lawyers told Kyle that he must remove metatags using the Fastrak word and told him to stop displaying the Fastrak mark on his site. Interesting. Is using a word in a metatag an infringement of a trademark? This would be an interesting legal case indeed. Kyle told The Register that he didn't think Promise had any kind of case but last time he (successfully) fought a legal case it cost him $6,000 and he doesn't feel like "winning" again. The article which Promise doesn't like turns a Promise Ultra 66 card into a very functional Raid card for the price of a resistor or two. And while the metatags may have disappeared from Kyle's site, the original article is still there. Of course, metatags are HTML elements which are, basically, text. Search engines find references faster in metatags than by searching articles on Web sites. Can it really be the metatags that are cheesing off Promise? Or is it the cheap mod to the card? At Tom's Hardware there's a piece about the 150MHz bus project. This is a very lucid piece about the infamous front side bus (FSB) and what the different speeds mean in practical terms. There's an updated FAQ here at AMD Zone which the boys have posted to answer all the questions they get about AMD's Athlonium... A French site which you can find here, is claiming an exclusive on the ATI Rage 6. Get your Babelfish or your Lernout & Hauspie software out. A site that's new to us, System Logic, has posted a review of iWill's ATA 66 Raid controller. There's an overview of the Asus S370/133 Slocket at PC Stats. A piece at JC's pages compares specs of AMD's up and coming Thunderbird to Intel's Willamette. Y'know, Anandtech is right -- good cases are important if you wanna build your own PC. Some of the cases we've used for our builds have left our little pinkies looking like little reddies. Here, Anandtech looks at a Fong Kai enterprise chassis. Anandtech, which seemed to be down when we looked at it yesterday, also has a good piece about PC-133 on its main page. ® 4 April 2000 An article at Ace's Hardware is there to follow up on its suggestion a couple of days ago that both the AMD and the Intel 1GHz processors have something of the snake in the grass about them. There are responses from both AMD and Intel to the original allegations. Over at Sharky Extreme there's another GeForce review, this time focusing on the GA-GF 2560. At Frosty Tech there's a look at 30 second slocket tweaks for those who have a hankering for the quick and the dirty. Chris Tom at Slot A has posted a review of the Soltek SL-77KV. He says it's more stable than the Epox 7KXA and has extra features. Our daily look at Hardware Com reveals the existence of the six cup Electric Granpappy Deep Fryer which will let you fry six chips at once, if you fancy overclocking them... ® 3 April 2000 Not content with references on Intel data sheets which suggested that two Intel 1GHz Coppermine processors would find it hard to tango together, Hardware Central decided to put it to the test. According to this lengthy piece, they managed to get the chips to tango with relatively little difficulty and suggest it's the constraints of overheating -- rather than anything inherently different about the 1GHz processors, that caused Intel to tender this advice. In between the beginning and the end, the site had to do some modifications which many will feel unable to attempt themselves. But to us, the most fantastic thing about this report was that the site actually got hold of two 1GHz Pentium III processors. There's a piece at AMD Zone which says that Tyan has released a BIOS update for its Trinity K7 muvvaboard. At AMD Extreme there's a review of no fewer than 11 devices to aid the hardy to overclock their Athlons. Over at Hard OCP, there's a review of Abit's Siluro GeForce, which your man thinks is a bit of alright. On the gaming front, Blue's News reports that it has its mitts on Black & White, Lionhead's new "god game". Finally, for all you overclockers, we'd like to refer you to one of our most visited sites, Hardware.com. Here you will find a nifty Lithium based smoke detector for only $19.95 that may be the first to let you know that your experiments have gone awfully awry... ® 31 March 2000 There's a very detailed account of what 3dfx is up to over at Penstarsys. The author, Josh Walrath, includes financial information, new info on the VSA-100 chip, Voodoo, Rampage, Sage, and an analysis of the firm's GigaPixel takeover. Johan over at Ace's Hardware is saying that there's a snake in the grass as far as the Intel 1GHz and the AMD 1GHz chips are concerned. He reckons they've achieved that by overclocking the processors in some kind of fashion.This may also explain why Intel 1GHz processors won't copulate properly, as we've written elsewhere today. The interesting piece looks at some technological conjuring tricks which seem to be happening at fabs. It also compares power requirements and looks at how the 1 Gigahype processors compare with other processors slated by the two firms. The boys at AMD Zone have updated a poll on what the industry would like like if AMD wasn't there. Bill Henning at CPU Review has been dabbling with that Mandrake unixy stuff again. ® 30 March 2000 Are Mattel and Intel an unlikely couple? Over at Tom's Hardware Guide you can find out what the boys think about Intel microscopes and the rest... Sharky Extreme has a large chunk of Intel roadmap up on its site today. Go here for more details. At Anandtech there's a review of the Tyan Trinity KX-133 motherboard. According to the boys, the real deal will be the successor to this particular baby. Here's a piece of self-referential doo-dah for you. This morning we noticed a report on a Real Estate news wire, and knowing that Chris Tom of AMD Zone lives in Austin, Texas, we thought he'd be interested in it. Sure enough he is. And if you go to his site you'll find a link to the Real Estate story... At Ars Technica, which you can find here, there's a very good piece about PlayStation II's Emotion Engine. Our Aussie friends at Overclockers have put up a piece about the Golden Orb Socket 370 cooler, plus some other devices. Want, need a temperature gauge on front of your PC? That Texan lad Kyle has some how-to stuff here, as well as a more ambitious project which we'll pass over... ® 29 March 2000 At ABC News, an article about AMD's William Jeremiah Sanders III by Michael Malone waxes so lyrical that apotheosis for Jerry seems like it's only a cat's whisker away. We don't know whether Mr Malone has ever read Inside Intel by Tim Jackson, which suggests there is another side to the man who heads up the Great Satan of Taperecorders. At Tom's Hardware, there's a brand new piece about an IDE Raid controller, as well as more information about storage. And so the Celeron IIs with Screaming Sindie extensions came to pass, and quite a few sites already have reviews of what Intel considers is an AMD-Killa. There's one here and another one at Anandtech. Doubtless more will appear at other sites over the next few days. Ace's Hardware has a link to a site which suggests that double data rate (DDR) memory has been...err...doubled again. There's a reasonable Buyer's Guide over at Anandtech. Internal Intel documents describing slot to socket converters have angered some of the manufacturers. Iwill, in particular, is incandescent. Over at Hard OCP, Todd Burch has something to say on the topic. By the way Todd, we've updated our original story to include your comments. Perhaps you could take Intel to task for its opinions? ® 28 March 2000 Sandpile! Why haven't we been there for so long? The site, which you can find at this unique resource locator (address) is here. This isn't a news site, but it does have some very reliable information on the IA-32 architecture. And if you need to get your facts right for a piece you're doing on older CPUs, there's even a museum section. Missed this a day or two back but there's a guide to buying PC hardware over at Sharky Extreme. You can find a guide to buying retail parts at another web site, PC Stats. Silicon News, which we haven't visited before -- sorry about that -- has a pricing comparison article between Pentium IIIs and Athloniums. PlayStations and PCs? Those interested in PC emulation may care to hightail it over to 3D Unlimited, where there's a review of Bleem! Ars Technica, which seems to be getting better and better by the day, is reporting that you can get the Be OS for nowt today. Go here for the story. Ars also has a link to this PC World article which appears to show that Windows 2000 runs faster than Windows 98. Today's top item on Hardware.com is an $8.99 bow/hacksaw combo, similar to the model we used to saw the plastic off our Acorn Atom because the Motorola chip was melting the case. This handy item can also be used to saw hacks in half. Over at Hardware-One, some poor chap has spent days messing about with a resistor and a Raid system. It's all paid off and he reviews the Promise Raid system versus the iWill Side Raid 66. ® 27 March 2000 A site to which we've linked a while back, Tomato Over Clockers, has gone down to Akihabara, bought an expensive 866MHz Pentium III (see below) and clocked it to 1006MHz. The page is in English. And, according to this Japanese page at Impress Watch, 900MHz and 950MHz Athlons have started shipping in Akihabara. So too, by the way, have Pentium III 866MHz parts (see above). Is Aureal in difficulties? Exactly right, says Fullon 3D, which reports in its scoop that a whole set of suits has left for pastures new. At Anandtech there's a roundup on Athlon mobos. Has the lad started paying his mum yet, we wonder? Young JC is on his latest availability of processors tour again. Ars Technica here takes a look at the fab superslim Sony Viao. The ultimate notebook accessory? Kyle Bennett, the man who overclocks pictures of aged Register journalists, has a super picture here of a Cyrix chip bursting into flames due to excessive application of energy. Need to trim your hedgehog or get rid of all those microns one thousandth of an inch the width of a human hair from sprouting out of your CPU? Hardware.Com has the answer. ® 24 March 2000 Ace's Hardware points to an article in the Denver Post. Apparently, Sun is taking legal action against old Kingston Technology over an alleged breach of one of its own memory module patents. That could be worth a fortune to Sun if it succeeds in the action. There is now confirmation of the official existence of Abit's Athlon KA7 board, AMD Zone says, so confirming earlier information the Web site posted. There's also an update on a Sledgehammer article at the same place. It's been a little while since we visited Fullon3D, with this page pointing to a review of a Tyan dual mobo. And also a while since we visited fine games site Blue's News, which has word of version 6.1 of the Counter-Strike modification for Half-Life. There's some thought provoking opinions at the Chip Geek end of Ugeek.com, concerned with the shenanigans that our dearly beloved and restless semi industry has seen in the last week. ® 23 March 2000 At AMD Zone, there's a piece about good old Motorola and its G4e technology. According to this, AMD will be able to use some super duper Moto technology in its Thunderbird core. Kyle Bennett at Hard OCP points to this thread here, which has some interesting info about SMP on flip chip Intel processors. This Sharky Extreme page has some info about PlayStation 2 with a hands-on look at the dinky, minxy little box. There's another look at the Japanese Playstation 2 at this German language site. The conclusion here is that USB, Firewire and the slot for PC-Cards being offered have no real use, that is, these do not work yet. These, say the reviewer, are options from 2001. This might also be true for the European launch. This site says that the Playstation 2 is a power hungry beast, and, at present, at least, does not challenge the PC market in any way. At Ars Technica, there's a piece on some clever cool morphing technology from our old friends at Hewlett-Packard. ® 22 March 2000 The boys at Anandtech have finally got their mitts on Aopen's KX133 based Athlon mobo. They tease us with the headline, was it worth the wait? The answer can be found here. Apparently, there are good and bad things to say... Over at JC's pages, there is a story saying the 815 will arrive mid-June. That's in line with Intel roadmaps but wethinks it had better get its skates on before then, if reports about sales of Camino are to be believed. And they are. Ars Technica, once more, has got some lucid stuff up on its site. This time they're looking at i820 and i840 chipsets and telling the world their findings. You can find the report here atArs' Wankerdesk. That fine chap BATTLAX has been up to his tricks again, this time reporting that 950MHz Athlons will go for sale in Japan on the 25th of this month. You can find the link, in Japanese, here. ® 21 March 2000 There's a review of the possibly very difficult to find Pentium III 866MHz processor here at Sharky Extreme. Tom's Hardware takes a butchers at overclocking AGP graphics at this place. Our friends at Ars Technica have posted a review of two Asus SDR cards, the V6600 GeForce Pure Sgram SDR and the SDR Deluxe. Not often we look at those awful LAN things in this space, but this piece over at Tweak3D will whet the appetites of those who want to have a LAN party (gruesome thought), and play those networking games. Kyle Bennett, out on parole after being sentenced to 10 for defacing pictures, has paid a visit to 3DFx and took his Kodak Brownie with him... ® 20 March 2000 A preview of AMD's Sledgehammer 64-bit with backward 32 bit compatibility can be found at this page. The author is an engineering major at the University of Austin and previews what we are likely to see from AMD next year. He makes the point that even though we may hear the marchitecture term "OS optimised for Itanium" over the next nine months, there is still room for AMD to have a bash at the 64-bit market. Today is Coppermine 866MHz, 850MHz day, and sho'enuff, here at Anandtech, there is a look at how these two pieces of the Intel jigsaw will compare. There's a Pricewatch availability comparison here at JC's pages. The lad has been doing the legwork on how easy it is to get Copperwhines and Nafflons over the last month or so and presents his latest survey here. And Bill Henning at CPU Review has updated his comparison of AMD and Intel processors to take account of the latest introduction of microprocessors from the chip equivalents of Tweedledee and Tweedledum. ® 17 March 2000 Zengine has a piece about Diamond's new Rio and a picture, to boot. There is now a total of 69 mobos for the Athlon CPU. Go here to see the list. Over at Frosty Com there's a piece about 350 watt power supplies...that will keep your waffles warm. At Sparkling PC there's a guide to choosing motherboards. And Insane Hardware takes a leaf out of HardOCP's book and overclocks an FC-PGA Intel Copperwhine chip. A good read, this one. Finally, over at this German PC Welt site, there is a story claiming that Intel's 1GHz processor is just a gimmick, with real systems late to arrive. ® 16 March 2000 Chris Tom at Slot A has posted a review of the Soyo K7 motherboard, which he says displays solid characteristics. Anandtech has posted a review of the ATI Rage Mobility 128, which you can find at this page. Sharky Extreme has visited Abit in Taiwan and has much to say about the company and its future strategy. Johan, at Ace's Hardware has posted a sensible and informative piece about the 1Gigglehurts nonsense that happened last week. There's also a piece, also by Johan, all about overclocking Athlons which is well worth a read. ® 15 March 2000 There's a useful piece over at Ars Technica called 3½ SIMD. The piece looks at what PlayStation and Motorola's G4 have in common, and also has a decent waltz around Sun's MAJC architecture, which is up and coming. At Tech Review there's a weekly update on CPU pricing. Thanks to JCs pages for the link. Prices, as the piece points out, depends on whether you're an enthusiastic end user, a system builder, or a reseller, and there are many variables to consider aside from that. JC also points to some Japanese Intel roadmaps on Pricewatch Japan, which we may well return to later in a separate story. JC also points to a Silicon Investor post. The Great Satan of Software is, apparently, already talking about an X-Box II. Why not an X-Box XIII while it's at it? Can't now see it on JC's current page, but noticed that he had an interesting piece on when our friend Andreas Stiller from c't visited Transmeta. There's a round up of ATA 66 hard drives over at Anandtech which is worth a look. ® 14 March 2000 At this On 24 video sort of place place it was interesting to see that AMD logos were everywhere. The X-Box site itself was showing info about an x86 compatible chip which seemed, on the face of it, to be an AMD processor (now stalinised, alas). While Microsoft in Australia was so convinced that an AMD chip was in there that it announced it to the Sydney Morning Herald, which has printed a funny story about the goof. Well, last week was gigglehurts week, after all... This site has an interview all about Nvidia and the X-Box. Away from that nonsense for a while to this story in the local Austin newspaper, telling a tale about Intel's attempts to build a sizeable presence in the area. It's a good read. The engineers want a pool table... There's also more information on AMD Zone about these shenanigans. To hardware matters. The Tech Report has published a review of Matrox's 32MB Millennium G400 card which you can find here. Slot A points to this Asus page, with formal announcements of the K7V and K7V-RM. Slot A says its surprised by the lateness of the formal announcement. We're still hearing that there are some, shall we say difficulties, with the Via chipset. Lastly, no thanks whatever to Hard OCP for printing an incriminating photograph of a Register journalist :) . In fact, the picture was taken at SnoBIT 2000, as part of a feature our colleagues at CHIP magazine are creating about online journalists.... ® 10 March 2000 CPU Review has revised its comparison of Athlon and Cumine processors in its latest update. Bill Henning shows that the Athlon is around 43 per cent cheaper than the equivalent CuMine at the popular 700MHz rating. Go to his pages for more info. At 3D Hardware is a word of a little device helpful to the overclocking fraternity and which allows the use of old Celeron heatstinks. And more on the popular overclocking front. The boys at Overclockin.. have reviewed something called the PowerCharger which they say gives extra flexibility when you want to heat your Athlon up to the limit. Quite a few sites, including JC, Anandtech and Ace's Hardware have taken a decko at the AMD roadmap chart at Pricewatch down there in old Akihabara. The news is about socketed Athlon processors, which we anticipated would arrive in April/May, and which these pages seem to confirm. A quick run through of the quite lengthy Japanese pages with Lernout & Hauspie's Japanese-English translator indicates the following. Power consumption has gone up to 65W with an Athlon 1GHz processor, but that better process technology and the introduction of Thunderbird will lower that to 60W in Q2. The pages say AMD will be able to supply several hundred thousand 1GHz processors by end of Q2, quoting Shunsuke Yoshisawa, of AMD Japan. There could even be as many as between 500,000 and 2.5 million, if L&H software translates properly. If so, we at The Reg would expect AMD to significantly lower the price of its 1GHz offerings and pretty early on (April?). The same Japanese AMD guy said it was possible that 1GHz Athlons would be available for general sale by early April. Thunderbird, its on-die Athlon, will ship in May and start at speeds of 1GHz, the article appears to say. Mr AMD Japan won't say whether the Thunderbirds will use .18 micron technology. But OEMs may not ship until the end of Q2. Last month, AMD successfully migrated the Athlon to copper interconnect at Dresden, but is still predicting Q3 for mass ramp of these chips. It produced the first copper core for the Athlon last November. In Q2 (round about nowish), AMD will shift Athlon to its HiP6L process, and that's why it won't ramp in full volume until Q3. Thank you to the two Belgians for helping us out with this translation. ® 9 March 2000 When you want to know whether there are supplies of processors and machines available, the best thing to do is call the vendor, and that's exactly what JC did yesterday. Some nice Big Blue chap told him it would have a grand total of 39 1GHz processors. JC also contacted other vendors...well worth a look. And, on the same topic, one of our readers sent in the following joke which makes a telling point. "I write to you today in order to relate a favorite story of my deceased mother. It serves as acid commentary on Intel's announcement, this day, of their $900.00, 1GHz Pentium processor. A woman walks into a butcher shop and asks, "How much are you selling your chickens for today?" The butcher replies, "99 cents per pound." The woman responds, "But the supermarket on the next block is selling chickens for 79 cents per pound." The butcher responds: "So why don't you go and buy your chicken at the supermarket?" The woman replies, "They don't have any chickens in stock." The butcher takes a long, hard look at the woman and replies: "Lady, when I'm out of chickens, I charge 49 cents per pound!" Away from headless chickens and 1GHz processors, AMD Zone points to a roadmap posted on a Japanese site which contains more info than we've already received. Kyle Bennett at Hard OCP points to this overclocking FAQ on Athlons. CPU Review has a piece up about the race to a gigahertz, and Bill Henning also posts some Linux bits and pieces now he's been bitten by that bug. Been a little while since we visited our friends at Geek.Com, and notice that they have posted a look at the Apex 600A DVD/MP3 player. These folk also have a chippy site, called Chip Geek, which has some interesting explanations of all of them thar slots and sockets. ® 8 March 2000 Here's a fine piece of work over at Ace's Hardware, which goes into detail about the UltraSparc III Riscy chip and Solaris software, and also may explain just why Intel and Itanium folk are so worried about Sun Microsystems. AMD Zone has an interesting little snippet on its site. Apparently the New York Stock Exchange asked AMD to explain its unusual share activity yesterday....has it asked Rambus about its share activity recently :) ? At JC's page there's some discussion on when the 100MHz barrier was breached, and also an interesting discussion about the future of memory technology. Tom's Hardware has posted a second piece about the gunfight at the 133MHz front side bus corral... And at Anandtech, there's a piece about the 1GHz Coppermine. As we've pointed out elsewhere today, IBM is already advertising an Aptiva using the 1GHz chip... ® 7 March 2000 We watched Mr Jerry Sanders III looking pretty happy on CNN last night but decided that we'd give the hardware sites a day's grace before we pointed to their reviews. But now it's time. First, to Anandtech, where the folk take a look at the beast, which they give a rating of eight out of 10. The site makes the point that if clock rates sell, the Athlon will go, go go... Now to Sharky Extreme. The Sharkyites make the point, which we've also mentioned here, that on cache die is an important issue, and one which is somewhat overshadowed by the raw speed. And, to the credit of the site, it says that if graphics companies released their cards in 5MHz increments, everyone and its dog would be well confused. At Ace's Hardware, the boys haven't looked at a system yet but have a gander at the available benchmarks, and, once again, point the finger at the matter of cache. Our old sparring buddies at ZD Net take a look at Gateway and Big Q systems using the 1GHz Athlon Powers. The Presario gets four out of five blobs, and the Gateway three out of five blobs. Not as many as we first thought...the jury is still out and there will be more. If we've missed your site out, drop us a line and we'll add it in... ®
Mike Magee, 19 Apr 2000

Meet me on the holodeck

Tequila is a subject close to our hearts here at The Register, so we immediately warmed to the announcement yesterday that new Sun collaborator Trimension Systems had developed a 'virtual tequila environment', complete with worm. UK-based Trimension builds exotic display systems allowing car designers and geophysicists to collaborate in high resolution virtual reality environments. Top of the range is the Cubic Tracked Environment which allows a user to work in a 360 degree VR environment which can react to them by touch. A less laudable use of the technology enables crazed senior executives to produce Cecil B deMille-style PowerPoint presentations that could kill folks with weak hearts. Sun's new Expert3D graphics card is aimed squarely at Silicon Graphics - a company mentioned almost as many times Sun itself by senior Sun suits at the London launch. Sun claims that, at a cool $3495, the Expert3D is still only a tenth the cost of the SGI equivalent. Multiple cards can be used to drive up to three hi-res displays which can either perform singly or linked to produce a single widescreen projected image. Sun's workstation VP, Ken Okin, claims that graphics performance is doubling every six to nine months and the Expert3D can 'almost display more triangles on screen than the human eye can see' - that'd be around ten billion triangles. With 136Mb of onboard texture and frame buffer memory, the new card can also display stereo images at a 112Hz refresh rate. That means each eye sees images refreshed at 56Hz, which Sun claims allows users to work in 3D for considerably longer than is possible with current 3D offerings which cause users to stagger cross-eyed for the coffee machine after 30 minutes or so. Even so, any display in the 21st Century that causes that kind of eye strain should surely attract the attention of the health and safety lobby. At the moment, stereo graphics are obviously just beyond the capabilities of hardware. Maybe in six month's time... ®
Andrew Thomas, 19 Apr 2000

Ananova speaks… cyberrubbish

Cybernewsreader Ananova uttered her first words today in what can only be described as the most over-hyped, anti-climatic waste of computational power since the flotation of lastminute.com. "Hello world, here is the news," is hardly the stuff of legends, as the PR junkies hoped it might be. Nor is the fact that it took so long to download, the morning bulletin almost ended up as the lunchtime news. Even BT's superfast broadband ADSL service hooked up to the the latest geewhiz machine from Hewlett-Packard failed to connect wth this cyberanchorwoman, who one reader descibed as the love child ofMax Headroom and Lara Croft. Like Tamagochi, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and deely-boppers, this is one gimmick that should an extremely short shelf life. If you don't believe us, check it out yourself. Don't say you haven't been warned. ® Related Stories News Avatar speaks! (But what will be Ananova's first words?)
Tim Richardson, 19 Apr 2000

Intel backtracks on mobo recall

What a difference a day makes. Intel yesterday officially informed the Register that the troubled Cape Cod mobos were set for recall. Here is an extract cut and pasted from the email: "Regardind CC820, they all are reworked or called back for rework. We will do a stepping on the MTH, but this is the normal errata process. Nothing unusual. You could check the spec update for the chipset on the web." The phrase "they are all reworked or called back for rework" certainly suggests a total recall to us, and following our story a number of participants on the Intel mobo support forum posted messages asking Intel for details of how they should go about getting their faulty boards fixed. But support personnel on the forum flatly deny that a recall is planned. This morning we received another email from an Intel Europe spokesman saying: "I was wrong in two cases. We haven't done any recalls of boards in EMEA and US. The MTH stepping might come later this year. As of today, we don't need to [do a MTH stepping]." While it is refreshing to see that there are some people within Intel not afraid to admit to their mistakes, it would be good to see the i820 design team following their example. And there are a large number of dissatisfied CC820 users who are still waiting for Intel to tell them what's going on. Cape Cod may not have been recalled, but it damn well should be. ® See also Intel recalls dodgy Cape Cod mobos
Andrew Thomas, 19 Apr 2000

Blueyonder suffers curse of free ISPs

Telewest is suffering the curse of the free ISPs after it admitted that the launch phase of its blueyonder high speed Internet service is being slowed down because of "technical teething problems". According to the cableco's ISP, cableinternet (as blueyonder used to be called), Telewest expects its installation plans to return to normal within two weeks. No one from Telewest was available for comment today but a statement issued by the company read: "We are sorry for any delay. It will be as short as possible. "We want to ensure the stability of the system and we are working round the clock to do this," the statement said Anyone who been inconvenienced by this latest problem will have their installation fee waived. ® Related Stories We're so sorry, says SurfVeryLimited firm Telewest goes tits up in Bristol Refunds for SurfVeryLimited customers
Tim Richardson, 19 Apr 2000

Banking giants spend $1bn on UK Net venture

Two of the biggest name's in the global financial sector, Merrill Lynch and HSBC, are to spend $1 billion (that's more than £600 million) on an online banking division. The new venture, as yet unnamed, will be aimed at providing a range of banking and investment services to anyone with a spare $100,000 to invest – described by Peter Toeman of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter in today's FT as "private banking for the mass market". Based in London and owned 50:50 by the two financial heavyweights, the new venture will allow HSBC and Merrill Lynch to lean on each other's strengths. HSBC chairman Sir John Bond said: "By combining resource, our two companies are able to serve customers in more markets, quicker and more effectively than either one could on its own." The services will all be accessed via the Net boosted by a series of kiosk-style branch facilities. Elsewhere in online banking land, Smile – the Co-op's Net bank – announced it had netted 120,000 customers in its first five months. The Pru's Egg also announced some customer stats – another 42,000 people joined it during the first three months of the year. ® For more Net finance news, check out our Cash Register section
Sean Fleming, 19 Apr 2000

Apple to buy DVD processors from C-CUBE

Semiconductor company C-Cube will next week announce a major deal with Apple to supply the Mac maker with DVD processing chips, according to a report by CBS Marketwatch. Dan Scovel, a semiconductor analyst at Needham & Co, told CBS Marketwatch that C-Cube has been dropped hints over the last few months that it's been talking to Apple. The deal appears to centre on chips that will enhance Apple's Power Mac G4 line, which ships will DVD-ROM and DVD-RAM drives as optional extras. Both drives ship with a software DVD decoder. That's fine as it goes, but with the G4 CPU looking (not the same thing as 'being') increasingly underpowered in comparison with x86 processors - the PowerPC maxes out at 500MHz, the x86 at twice that - Apple may be looking to free up CPU cycles by throwing in DVD decoder hardware. C-Cube's chips should also provide accelerated DVD encoding, allowing professional or amateur video makers to produce real DVDs, rather that treat the disks as just another high-capacity storage medium. Certainly that's how Apple is promoting its DVD-RAM option at the moment. Neither company will comment on the claim, but it certainly ties in with Apple's most recent manoeuvres, which have had a distinct DVD feel. Last week, for instance, it said it had bought German company Astarte's DVD production and mastering software, along with the team of engineers that developed it. It's not yet known - Apple has said very little about its acquisition - whether Astarte's DVD editing software will be made available as a standalone application or as an adjunct to Apple's Final Cut digital video editing software, but by bringing the engineers on board, Apple is pretty clearly saying this is a strategic acquisition, and that suggests a merger with Final Cut and iMovie, the cut-down version for the iMac DV. Apple is certainly pushing desktop video hard, but editing movies on your Mac is only part of the process - you also need to store then, ideally in a way that allows others to view the results too. Home movies wouldn't be home movies, if you couldn't torture a captive audience of neighbours with the things. Apple's support for FireWire and offering Final Cut/iMovie only provides the basis for half a modern consumer digital video system. DVD authoring and encoding tools will turn it into a mature product. And not just for consumers, but professionals too. Apple's recently announced partnership with Matrox over the latter's Final Cut-oriented RTMac real-time desktop video input, editing and output card, plus its work with Pinnacle to develop the Targa Cine, a high-end uncompressed video solution, shows the company working hard to get the Mac back into markets that its waning relations with Avid have allowed it to slip out of. The clever part is that Apple can first take advantage of the DVD authoring market then, as broadband Net connections and pipelines become the norm, it's in a position to leverage its digital video tool users into the high quality streaming media world. Finally, while the discussion regarding Apple's deal with C-Cube has focused on beefing up the video capabilities of the Power Mac G4 and possibly the iMac, don't forget that Apple has another DVD platform in the works: its Internet appliance and/or set-top box. How far down the line the device's development has reached isn't known - Apple has certainly told analysts that it's thinking about one - but DVD playback might well be part of the machine's spec, and again that shows the importance of building business relationships with a company like C-Cube. It might also explain the real significance of Apple's now largely forgotten acquisition of 3D graphics chip designer Raycer last year. DVD and 3D are certainly seen as two key components of Net appliances. ® Related Stories Apple mulls info appliance launch Apple's Raycer takeover 'all but done' Apple dashes to buy Raycer
Tony Smith, 19 Apr 2000

Satellite pics of US alien base hit the Web

"The truth is out there, Scully."
Kieren McCarthy, 19 Apr 2000

Mulford quits as Datrontech CEO to start ASP

Mark Mulford has quit as CEO of UK distributor Datrontech to launch an Application Service Provider (ASP). The departure was announced as the company recorded pre-tax losses of £8.2 million for its year ended January 2 2000. This compared to profits of around £2 million the previous year. Sales were down 10 per cent or to £200.7 million from £223.3 million. Industry newcomer Ray Peck replaces Mulford. Datrontech said it was unable to say at present which company Peck was joining from "for commercial reasons", but that he had a distribution background linked to IT. Meanwhile, Mulford's three years leading the Basingstoke distributor are over and he is working on a freshly formed Datrontech subsidiary called Portableplace.com. He will be CEO of the ASP, but will not be a board member of Datrontech. The venture, expected to be launched this summer, will be aimed at business to business applications in mobile computing and remote access. Datrontech has a majority holding in Portableplace.com, while Mulford and partner John Tonnison also have a stake in the company. The company's disappointing results were due to the shedding of loss-making companies in Eastern Europe and the sale of PC recycling business RD Trading, Allan Mack, Datrontech COO, said today. Exceptional costs of £7.9 million included a £3.6 million goodwill write-off for the disposal of RDT, plus a tangible loss of £2.7 million on the shutting of subsidiaries in Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary. The relocation of storage business Summit to Colchester also cost the group £1.7 million. Mack told journalists that the selling-off of the company's non-core business was "now virtually complete" and that there would be "no more surprises" for this financial year. Regarding profit, Mack said he would be "happy if we could maintain the current run-rate", while he expected sales to grow. Mack rubbished rumours that he was leaving his position at Datrontech, even though he had curiously run out of business cards at today's event. Last year Datrontech issued profit warnings in June and March, as well as the previous August. The board aims to get Datrontech's share price to £1 over the next two years, and to £2 within three years. Today Datrontech's shares were unchanged at 20 pence. ® Related stories Datrontech issues profit warning as share price falls Polish shortfall may take shine out to Datrontech results Computacenter snaps up RD Trading
Linda Harrison, 19 Apr 2000

IDC adds VA Linux Systems to server survey elite

A red-faced IDC has admitted that VA Linux Systems is indeed one of the top five Linux server vendors, and that it's recent report to the contrary was... well... wrong. IDC released its report on the state of the Linux server market during Q4 1999 last week. It put Compaq in the lead, followed by IBM, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Fujitsu Siemens. VA was consigned, along with a number of hardware companies more associated with the open source OS than the top five, into its catch-all 'Others' category. VA immediately cried foul, pointing out that its numbers showed it clearly ahead of Fujitsu Siemens. It also said it had reached an agreement with IDC under which the market research company would "clarify its earlier statement". It's taken a week or so for IDC to make that clarification, but finally overcoming its embarrassment it has, and today issued a released stating that it will "will re-categorize and track VA Linux Systems as a 'brand-name' vendor in its Commercial Systems and Servers program". That's good news for VA, but it does raise a degree of concern over IDC's research procedures here. The statement implies it's only tracking what it considers to be 'brand names'. The fact that it didn't consider VA a brand name in this sector itself suggests that it wrote off VA without first checking the vendor's sales figures to see whether its assumption was correct. And if IDC is only tracking "branded" companies, what else is it missing? In any case, the Q4 1999 Linux server market now looks something like this: Compaq, 25 per cent; IBM, ten per cent; HP, seven per cent; Dell, seven per cent; VA Linux Systems, five per cent; and Fujitsu Siemens, three per cent. However, one thing still puzzles us. IDC puts VA's unit shipments during the period October to December 1999 at 3645 servers. The only trouble is, that's exactly the same figure VA cited as its unit sales for the period November 1999 to January 2000, its second fiscal quarter, which suggests VA experienced exactly zero sales growth during between the two periods. Either that or, to save time (not to mention face), IDC simply cut and paste the figure out of VA's email without realising it covers a different period from its own numbers. And surely IDC wouldn't do that, would it? ® Related Stories VA Linux Systems disputes IDC server market findings Linux server market dominated by IT giants
Tony Smith, 19 Apr 2000

Virgin Net stops the clock – at £15 per month

Virgin Net is to trial 24/7 unmetered Net access for a flat fee of £15 a month, the company said today. Called Stop-The-Clock, the service is to be offered to 10,000 existing Virgin Net subscribers. If you're a Virgin Net user, expect to be contacted within the next couple of days - or not, as the case may be. The package features no call connection charges, no Internet call charges, no bills, no set-up forms and no hidden costs, sad Virgin Net. In a statement Alex Heath, Virgin Net MD, said: "We will deliver free Internet access 24/7 with a single flat-rate monthly fee with no hidden costs. "We are extremely confident that this package will deliver a commercially profitable, high quality and consumer friendly Internet package," he said. Well, that is nice, isn't it? ®
Tim Richardson, 19 Apr 2000

Staff at Murdoch new media arm attack lack of leadership

News Network -- the new media arm of Rupert Murdoch's News International -- has spent an arm and a leg in an internal exercise to find out what its employees think of the e-outfit. The results aren't good. A leaked internal memo from News Network's MD, Alasdair MacLeod, suggests all is not rosy in the Wapping e-garden. Employees say there is:
Tim Richardson, 19 Apr 2000

Canadian Feds charge Mafiaboy in DDoS attacks

Canadian authorities have charged a fifteen-year-old boy with two counts of "mischief to data" for taking part in the distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks which shut down popular Web sites such as Yahoo!, eBay, CNN and Amazon in February, and which finally brought a healthy scepticism of Internet security into the mainstream consciousness. Royal Canadian Mounted Police Inspector Yves Roussel said they were tipped off when the lad boasted in Internet chat rooms about what he had done. Police obtained a warrant and searched his Montreal home, seizing computers and software and placing the lad under arrest on 15 April, he said. Mafiaboy appeared before a Montreal Youth Court judge on Monday and was released, but with strict conditions. "Considering the seriousness of the charges, and consequences derived from the alleged actions, and in order to prevent further attacks, bail conditions were imposed. Hence, Mafiaboy is prohibited from the use of a computer except at school for academic reasons; and he must be under the direct and constant supervision of a teacher or another [adult] supervisor," Roussel said during a Wednesday press conference. "They liked to show off that they were good at it, and that, you know, they are the best; but it is our evaluation that Mafia boy is not that good, actually. He had a good knowledge of computers; however, he wasn't what we could call a genius," Roussel added. The on-going investigation is a joint operation of the RCMP's Computer Investigation Unit, the FBI and US Department of Justice. More arrests could be made, Roussel indicated, but offered no further details. "Wherever they are, [malicious] hackers will be investigated and arrested," he warned. ® Related Coverage TFN author 'Mixter' sentenced FBI Web site hacked Feds charge Coolio while DDoS attackers remain at large Congressional study rejects Clinton's IT security Czar, FIDNET The Mother of all DDoS attacks looms Hacking hysteria invigorates insurance industry Law enforcers the 'absolute worst people' for Net security - former Fed Janet Reno proposes on-line police squad Dot-Com firms are hacking each other -- expert Reno, FBI feast on bad network security New hack attack is greater threat than imagined Hacking credit cards is preposterously easy
Thomas C Greene, 19 Apr 2000

Computer games award ceremony tonight

You're not an industry these days unless you have your own back-slapping awards ceremony, but the computer games industry has gone for a different approach. Billed as the industry's Oscars, the winners will actually be the ones that deserve the award (Hollywood will be turning in its designer grave). How come? All awards will be based on volume sales. Now while awards for the biggest grossing movies would never fit with the Oscars' high regard for style, talent and finesse (Eh? - Ed), this is a pretty fair way for computer games to be rated. It is fairly unlikely that there are any hidden gems in the games industry - if it's good, a thousand websites will tell you so. Of course, the only downside to this is that there is a complete lack of suspense since the winners know who they are well in advance of the day. The 16 awards will be split into three categories: Platinum, for 300,000+ sales; Gold, 2000,000+; and Silver, 100,000+. Sadly, the ceremony wasn't able to rid itself of PR nonsense - even though the winners are pre-determined (the company behind the selection admitted manufacturers already knew which of their games would win what), we were told we couldn't have the list (even if we promised to only publish it after the event was over). What can you do? If you're really interested, email us and we'll tell you tomorrow. Despite this, we can virtually assure you that Gran Turismo and Fifa 2000 are in for platinum awards.®
Kieren McCarthy, 19 Apr 2000

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