8th > October > 2000 Archive

Washington Roundup

The Congressional season had been scheduled to close on Friday, but a backlog of appropriations bills which have got to be cleared will keep legislators stuck in Washington and off the campaign trail for at least one more week. Appropriations bills typically become a vehicle for passing failed leftovers, the sponsors of which remain unable to get through the seven stages of legislative grief. The horse-trading sessions are enacted by ranking members and committees of both parties in backroom swap-meets, and take the general form of, 'we're going to block your pet measure if you don't pass ours.' It's at times like these that some of the most abysmal legislation gets on the books, the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) and the Child Online Protection Act (COPA) being two shining examples. IT-related items which might yet pass include a grab-bag of good, bad and ugly legislation: A bill to make Internet filtering mandatory in public libraries, sponsored by US Senator John McCain (Republican, Arizona) and US Representative Ernst Istook (Republican, Oklahoma). A bill to criminalize posting Social Security numbers on the Web for commercial purposes without the prior consent of their owners, sponsored by US Senator Judd Gregg (Republican, New Hampshire). A bill to empower the Feds to open snail-mail without a judge's warrant, thereby harmonising the pen-and-ink snoop standard downwards to the level of e-mail, rather than the other way round, sponsored by US Representative Spencer Bachus (Republican, Alabama). A bill requiring the Feds to obtain a search warrant before reading e-mail stored on a server, rather than the mere administrative subpoenas normally used, thereby harmonising the e-mail snoop standard upwards to the (now endangered) level of snail-mail, sponsored by US Representative Zoe Lofgren (Democrat, California). We're unsure what will happen if both the Bachus and Lofgren measures should pass, but expect to see US judges tearing their hair out if they do. A bill to regulate spam by prohibiting the spoofing of its origins and requiring it to contain a valid, return e-mail address to which the recipient may complain (or retaliate), sponsored by US Representative Heather Wilson (Republican, New Mexico). A bill to arm state prosecutors with federal muscle to fight direct retail alcohol sales, primarily via the Web, sponsored by US Representative Joseph Scarborough (Republican, Florida). Scarborough claims the bill is necessary to prevent greedy retailers from selling alcohol to innocent children over the Wibbly Wobbly, but Zoe Lofgren ridiculed him saying, "if a kid wanted to go out and buy alcohol, they're not going to get on the Internet, pay twenty bucks a bottle for wine... and wait a couple of weeks for it to be delivered to do their drinking. That's not how the real world works." Quite dead in the water is a bill to create a 17-member federal commission to study privacy issues related to Internet, medical, financial and government databases, sponsored by US Representatives Ara Hutchinson (Republican, Arkansas) and Jim Moran (Democrat, Virginia). The bill had to clear a fast-track hurdle requiring a full majority to stay alive this session, and missed. But it attracted enough votes to pass in 'normal' circumstances, and will likely come up again next session. ®
Thomas C Greene, 08 Oct 2000

Wanted: Taiwanese to confirm Dell-AMD lovefest

UpdatedUpdated Industry sources today confirmed that there was "no plans", imminent or otherwise by Dell to use AMD chips. This evening, Caroline Wilson, corporate PR manager for Dell Europe issued us with a categoric denial, and on the record too. This news, or to be more precise, the absence of news, follows a report over the weekend from CTECH, a Chinese-language publication based in Taiwan which claimed Dell was to source AMD Athlons in time for Christmas. A second story, also Chinese-language, purporting to come from The Commercial and Industrial Times made the same claims. However, we are are unable to establish whether this article ever existed, which means it could have been a hoax. Well, we promised to make some calls, after several AMD watchers referred us at the weekend to a posting on the Yahoo! messsage board. But we ain't going any further - we are satisfied that there is no substance to this "story". And it ain't worth the bother establishing whether the Taiwanese article was a hoax or just wrong. However, we would like to thank all the Chinese readers who helped us in our chip chase. One way love Boy, do some people want us to write this story - Dell to use AMD for the first time. And not just us - in March this year, Forbes wrongly reported that "the number one PC maker in the U.S., is negotiating to purchase 100,000 chips from AMD for use in low-cost desktop computers". (There but for the grace of God... as we wrote, at the time.) As the last major Intel-only PC maker, Dell has assumed an almost totemic quality for AMD fans - and shareholders. If Dell succumbs to the no.2 chipmaker's' charms, then AMD will well and truly have made it... in their eyes. If not now Inevitably, one day, Dell will source a chip or two from AMD. But when, exactly (we wrote, Sunday evening. Imagine if that one day were tomorrow; what effect would such "news", coming so close to AMD's results (out Wednesday and expected to be a blinder), have on the chipmaker's share price? So what do we have here? a story doing the rounds, that Dell is to use AMD, this time high-end Athlons, for Christmas, because of Intel's inability to supply enough 1GHz chips. Unfortunately the story doing the rounds is in Chinese, which no-one at The Register reads. Also, it being a weekend, there ain't so many people at their desks for us to call. We will chase the story - if that's what it is - on Monday. Now to the source of the rumours, the AMD investors' message board on Yahoo! Here, a contributor called zhangxuelei, has posted links to two articles - both in Chinese, one from the Commercial and Industrial Times, Taiwan, and another from CTech, which state that Dell will use AMD because of Intel shortages. Update The CTech article says this: "Intel is clearly the underdog in the Ghz war, and it's future is still questionable. Intel plans to introduce 1.5 Ghz PIII with 0.15(???) micron next year(didn't say which quarter here). Also, the 1.4 and 1.5 Ghz P4 has been delayed from October to November that lead to "change of heart" by DELL, which thinks that its Ghz computers will be at risk. Therefore, Dell USES AMD's 1Ghz CPU." The tone is definite (as if it had already happened), but no sources are cited. And it is just one paragraph. CTech is a division of ChinaTimes, a major Taiwanese publishing house, and the consensus from our Chinese readers (there is one dissenter who says both "stories" are LIES) is that this article exists. But does the article have any more credibility than the Forbes piece? This is the point where we start making our calls. Expect a story from us sometime soon carrying Dell and AMD's denials - but seeing as how AMD is in pre-reporting purdah, it will probably be Wednesday or Thursday, before we get back to you on this. Chinese whispers The Commercial and Industrial Times link is much more problematic. The article is much more interesting than CTECH, but if it exists, it appears to live only in paper form. The reference was supposed to have been supplied courtesy of the press clippings service featured on microprocessor firm VIA's Web site (but in the Chinese-language-version only). That reference, if it ever existed - has now disappeared from the site. A VIA Technologies employee in Taiwan who we contacted at the weekend wrote back to us: "I'd like to help you, but I'm afraid that I need to say sorry to you. I can't find the story that you mentioned in your message on our Chinese-language website, so I can't tell you whether it's true or not. Maybe you can tell me the roughly time the story came out and I may try again for you". However, several readers say that they did see the reference to the Commercial & Industrial Times article on the VIA site at the weekend. So what possibilities do we have here: a. VIA culls the article quickly , because that's its custom b. VIA culls the article because it is a load of cock and bull c. VIA never references the article in the first place, and there is some serious DNS spoofing going on. RumourMonger Here is zhangxuelei's posting in full - but remember, what you are about to read could be injurious to your wealth. Furthermore, you are forbidden to read The Register ever again if you make investments decision on the basis of what you see on bulletin boards. Finally, even if/when Dell does decide to use AMD, it is impossible to see how such a move could or should justify a major jump in AMD's shares. Dell is huge - but it ain't that huge. AMD in Dell!!!!!!!!!!!!!! by: zhangxuelei 10/6/00 10:46 pm Msg: 315611 of 315933 Yes. I think there are two independent sources in Chinese said Dell has decided to use AMD today. The first source is VIA Technology's web site. VIA collects local news about PC industry everyday, and put it into its web site. I have followed this site for very long time. The information there is often accurate. http://w3.via.com.tw/ Today it collects a piece of news from "Commercial and Industrial Times", which I beleive is a major Taiwan local media, like Reuters or CNN in US. The article manily discussing the Taiwan chipset industry. Three Taiwan chipset companies, VIA, SIS and ALi owns 50%-55% global chipset market share totally. They said ALi can not keep their chipset sales level this quater, and possibly next quarter, because ALi's major client, Dell, just decided to use non-Intel CPU. I guess they are talking about AMD. http://www.ctech.com.tw/d-news/news/tech/89100607.asp Another source is an independent web site. It's first time I see this site, so I can't comment their accuracy. They clearly indicate that Dell has decided to use AMD CPU. They said the reason is Intel delays P4, so Dell has to use AMD 1G CPU to increase Christmas sales. If Dell wants to use AMD CPU, they need to contact Taiwan chipset and motherboard to prepare supply two or three months before actual shipment. So it's reasonble that Taiwan companies will know the news before hand. Dell is one of the largest PC company, and the most loyal client of Intel.Dell may be especially helpful for AMD to enter into enterprise market, which is AMD's current only weakness. I expect to see 50%-60% one-day jump of AMD stock if it is true Dell has decided to switch to AMD. Any comments? ®
Drew Cullen, 08 Oct 2000