13th > November > 2000 Archive
Geeks rushing to buy early P4s at marked up prices are going to look pretty dumb come January when Intel's Flagchip will hit 2GHz. The chip is not scheduled to launch for another week (at 1.4 and 1.5GHz), but a number of retailers are already offering the part for sale. Pentium 4 yields are 'excellent', Intel sources told The Register today and the chip will hit 2GHz in January - up to three months earlier than planned. "Things are starting to look up," said a senior Intel representative who requested anonymity. "Yields on P4 are excellent and there are going to be lots of parts available much earlier than originally anticipated. "Expect to see P4 much earlier than on the roadmap - we're aggressively going for AMD's balls on the speed front. DirectX 8 is ready and lots of apps and games have been optimised, many more than for the PIII launch, which was a real cockup." Asked if by 'much earlier' he meant January, the source grinned broadly and replied: "I couldn't possibly comment." He also confirmed that P4 will get support for DDR SDRAM in Q2 and added that earnings for the current quarter were 'looking good'. As recently as two weeks ago, roadmaps showed Pentium 4 at 1.7GHz or more in Q1, reaching 2GHz or above in Q2. ® Related Stories P4 set to bust 2GHz barrier in Q2 next year Pentium 4 to ship bundled with Rambus P4 launch now set for end of November Fastest ever rollout? Intel bets jobs, ranch on Pentium 4 850 chipset delays Pentium 4 launch Israel to make a million 1.7GHz P4s
Bill Gates didn't come up with a name for next year's Win2k upgrade last night in his Comdex keynote, but according to Microsoft's press release (which looks to have been written in something of a hurry) on the event he did. Sharp-eyed Paul Thurrott of WinInfo spotted the reference to "Windows 2001," although Gates in reality didn't say much about Whistler, and didn't use the term. According to the release: " Gates said that the next version of Windows, scheduled to be available in the second half of next year, will make the PC much simpler for consumers and business users alike, while featuring the rock-solid performance of Windows 2000 that businesses have relied on. He explained that cutting-edge hardware and software companies are excited and already planning for the Windows 2001 launch." Had Bill been going to do the grand naming ceremony, but decided to leave it for another time? Did the spinmeisters decide to hold off the easy and obvious name while they tried to think of something better? Or, considering recent products names, something worse? Anyway it might be called Windows 2001, or then again it might not. Watch for an evolutionary process taking place in the official Microsoft press release here. You'll note something else weird in the first sentence. Bill's Comdex keynote is now apparently "his annual 'state of the industry' speech". Steve Ballmer's currently president of Microsoft, but we hear there's currently a vacancy elsewhere. Go for it, Bill... ®
Italian coffee machine maker Lavazza, the Italian maker of iconic espresso machines, is branching out into the Internet - and it has a secret weapon. The humble coffee vending machine. Customers will sign up for Lavazza Espresso Point, a "personalized services portal", using a touch-sensitive screen on the vending machine. During their coffee breaks, customers can use the portal to manage shopping lists, obtain information on traffic conditions, or to monitor the weather. Lavazza expects to sign content partnerships to "enrich the portal offer" and put out a prototype sometime in 2001. Boring, but useful Yes it's mad, it'll never work etc. etc. More prosaically, Lavazza has dreamed up a new feature for coffee machines which will surely have legs - remote management over the Internet. The company recently demonstrated a new vending machine which connects to the Internet enabling the machine's distributors to management remotely in real time using a standard browser. The machine is also designed to send regular emails to distributors about the consumption habits of the users, and to notify service centres when it is time to refill, restock, or maintain the vending machines. Lavazza is to install 10,000 Internet-enabled coffee machines this year on a trial basis. Lavazza embedded the Internet using a single-chip modem from Analog Devices which runs an IP stack from French/US startup, eDevice. "Coffee vending machines are not our primary market," says eDevice CEO and co-founder Marc Berrebi. "Industrial controls, or automatic teller machines, or point of sales systems are typical applications." ®
Chimpzilla has brought out the humane killer for its planned Mustang processor. The company declined to comment on the specifics of its demise, but an inability to support a L2 cache bigger than 1MB had called into question its suitability for high-end server use. Mustang was planned as an enhanced version of the Athlon processor with reduced core size, support for mobile features, lower power requirements and a large on-die L2 cache. The 0.18 micron copper part was aimed at the high-performance server/workstation market, value/performance desktop, and mobile markets. "Mustang isn't currently on our roadmap," said an AMD representative. "But we think that the AMD-760 MP chipset, with its dual-processor capability, will be an excellent offering for the server market." Palomino, an enhanced version of Mustang, is now being positioned as both a desktop processor and as being suitable for single processor and SMP servers. ® Related Stories AMD to sell out of Athlons in Q4 AMD takes aim at biz markets
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, they say, so we can only assume that the move by sophisticated business journal The Economist to rip off one of our catchphrases is a sign of the deep admiration the mag holds for The Reg. See for yourself. On page 131 of the latest, 11 November issue, we see a featurette on Intel entitled 'Chipzilla takes a beating'. As, we hope, will the story's author for blatantly stealing a phrase we coined and have been using for ages. Worse, flip the page and you'll find a cartoon broadly similar to our own Chipzilla graphics, such as this one: Actually, we're quite fond of The Economist - it's nowhere near as brown-nosed to big business as BusinessWeek - and are inclined to see this incident as an homage to the Brotherhood of the Vulture rather than a cheap attempt to nick a rather groovy catchphrase... ® Related Link You can read The Economist's Intel article here.
Rambus' Direct DRAM memory technology will account for 40 per cent of the memory market within the next three years, the company president has claimed. He also pledged that RDRAM, long one of the more expensive memory options, would come down in price, thanks to new development work carried out by Rambus. Speaking at the opening of Rambus' Taiwan operation, Rambus president Dave Mooring said the arrival of Chipzilla's Pentium 4 later this month would catapult RDRAM into the forefront of the memory market, where it would become a "core standard", according to Taiwan business daily Commercial Times. Mooring's statement comes just days after three Taiwanese contract memory manufacturers said they would no longer produce RDRAM. Last week, Winbond Electronics, Promos Technologies and Powerchip Semiconductor all cited their doubts over the future of the Direct DRAM market - largely thanks to the arrival of DDR SDRAM - as the main motivation for their decision to end production. Rambus' decision to open a Taiwanese office is part of an attempt to counter that shift toward DDR SDRAM. Mooring said his company will found a technology centre to help Far Eastern manufacturers implement Rambus in their products. He'll first have to persuade them that his memory technology if cost-effective. Certainly, sources close Asustek, one Rambus licensee, have said the company will not up RDRAM production until the second half of 2001 because the high price is limiting demand, according to CT. Mooring admitted that RDRAM is too expensive. "But Rambus has found some way to fix the problem," he added, without elaborating. Cheaper RDRAM will boots Rambus' marketshare, Mooring said, citing an IDC statistics that less-expensive RDRAM would give the technology 40 per cent of the market in three years. Of course, that still leaves 60 per cent of the business in SDRAM's hands, and it's hard to see RDRAM, already described by Gartner Group as "pretty much dead". "It only made it into some areas such as high-end workstations, but it is dead for the mainstream PC," said Gartner analyst Kevin Knox, t'other week. "It is probably not a wise decision to carry on supporting this technology." ® Related Stories Taiwan DRAM gang ditches Rambus Gartner jumps on 'RDRAM dead' bandwagon
Chipzilla's new Celeron processors debut today and are likely to be the last ever to use the slug-like 66MHz frontside bus. In 1000-unit quantities, the 766 and 733MHz chips are priced at $170 and $112, respectively. The 733MHz Celeron also becomes the latest addition to Intel's line of embedded processors aimed at products such as communications equipment, transaction terminals and industrial widgets. The processor has been validated with several chipsets, including the 810, 815, 815E and everyone's favourite, the 440BX. Celeron processors are now available at 766, 733, 700, 667, 633, 600 and 566MHz. Celery will hit 800MHz and 100MHz FSB in Q1 next year and 850MHz in Q2. At that time the entry-level Value 1 segment (under $700), will come with the 733MHz part announced today. ®
Kenwood, better known for its ghetto-blasting in-car hi-fi rigs, is making a dash for the hi-tech world of mobile comms and multimedia, courtesy of Symbian and Intel. The Japanese consumer electronics company said today it has joined the Symbian alliance, and will use the operating system developer's 32-bit Epoc 32 platform as the basis for a family of PDA-cum-cellular handsets. The smartphones will initially be aimed at the Japanese market, but won't ship until 2002 when they can take advantage of next-generation W-CDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) cellular networks, Kenwood said. Kenwood's Symbian chums include Motorola, Nokia, Ericsson, Psion and Matsushita, but its key partner here is Intel. Kenwood's phones will be based on Intel's ARM-derived XScale embedded CPU, and since Chipzilla is handling the XScale port of Epoc, Kenwood is probably getting processor and software platform as a job lot from the chip company. Kenwood's focus will be on mobile multimedia, leveraging the company's "extensive experience in the consumer market", according to Kenwood Director General Manager Masakazu Kaneko. Its products will be going up against smartphones from Symbian's mobile-phone making founders plus Sony and Sanyo. ®
Netpliance has pulled its I-opener Web access device from sale following disastrous third quarter results. In an attempt to stem the flow of money from the company bank account, Netpliance has said it will license the Web access device, which runs the QNX operating system, to other companies, most notably AT&T. In an attempt to improve the company's fortunes, Netpliance is trying to reposition itself as an infrastructure and managed services company. As part of that move it said it would continue to support the I-opener device. The company's CEO, John McHale, said that the Netpliance was forced into its current position by the investment community, which is increasingly unwilling to support subsidy based business models. He said that he hoped the proposed business model would change the company's fortunes. The company is shedding 93 jobs - 38 per cent of its workforce - after it lost $41.9 million in the quarter on revenues of $3.8 million in the quarter ending September 30. Netpliance had been selling its I-opener device for $99 and hoping to make up the shortfall with monthly service contracts. Of its $3.8 million revenue, only $230,000 was from sales of the device. The bulk of the income, $3.4 million, was from subscription sales. ® Related Stories NetPliance hobbles i-Opener $99 PC hack Circuit City shuts doors on i-Opener $99 PC hack
The CIA is investigating up to 160 employees for posting "inappropriate" messages to a secret chat room, stored deep in the bowels of the intelligence agency's computer system. The chat room was invite-only and remained undetected for five years until "routine security checks" located it. Between five and ten employees have been suspended on full pay for six months. Apparently, the people behind the chat room were maverick types (aren't they always?) who have heavy technical knowledge and went to great lengths to hide it from senior management - although some senior managers have been fingered as members. So what were they discussing? How to destabilise a small country, set up native death squads, order assassinations, take a piece of drug trafficking profit for allowing passage? Don't be daft, you don't need a secret chat room for that in the CIA. No, they were sending smutty jokes and porn. You'd think that murder was more serious than a quick tommy, but what really got up de management's nose was the fact that they didn't know about it. CIA heads are the ultimate control freaks. Those involved with this "willful misuse of computers" have been given five days to respond to the top nobs - effectively precluding them from getting any legal help because lawyers have to be screened for months - and those found guilty face the boot. Something that the originators seemed only too aware of, judging by posted comments. Which is all a bit hypocritical when you come to think about it. By managing to conceal a chat room for years within its own organisation, those in charge should be applauded. If they'd done the same thing abroad, they'd be stooping from the weight of their medals. And of course there is the incredible irony of getting fired for making something so secret that no one could find it when former CIA director John Deutch was merely slapped on the wrist for writing top-secret documents on a Net-linked insecure home computer. There's one rule for them and one for us, I tell you. ® Related Stories CIA head slapped in Net porn exposé Former CIA Director apologises to Congress Hard drives with nuke secrets vanish from Los Alamos
Apple may indeed be preparing a full x86 version of MacOS X, according a source cited by Ars Technica. The Ars report's writer mentions bumping into a old programming chum who claimed that Apple recently approached him to join the team porting MacOS X over to the Intel platform. MacOS X's core OS, Darwin, derived from BSD Unix, is an open source project and Apple has noted in the past that it can be compiled for x86 systems. Running it is, of course, another matter, and in any case Apple has always said it's keeping MacOS X's 'crown jewels' - the Aqua user interface, Quartz 2D graphics system, and the Classic, Carbon and Cocoa APIs - to itself. Ars' trusted source claims Apple is taking all those components and migrating them to Intel. Of course, this shouldn't surprise anyone. It makes sense for Apple to run a research effort to see how portable its upcoming OS actually is, if only because the company needs to keep its options open, particularly given Motorola's ongoing problems shipping high clock-speed PowerPC processors. For the same reason, Apple might well want to get MacOS X up and running on Intel silicon simply to show its PowerPC partner that if push does indeed come to shove, it can ditch Motorola and move in with AMD or even Chipzilla itself. Intellectual exercise or carrot-and-stick for Motorola, this still doesn't mean Apple is actually going to ship MacOS X for Intel. There's certainly no indication of that here. Indeed, there are some very strong reasons why it wouldn't want to. The Mac maker would certainly need to be sure that MacOS X for Intel wouldn't cannibalise its hardware sales, as the availability of the OS running on a 1.5GHz AMD Athlon box might well do. Apple will only seriously consider shipping MacOS X on Intel if it generates an extra revenue stream (possible) or the combined sales of the two versions of the operating system create more revenue than the PowerPC version plus hardware (very unlikely). We say 'possible' for the former because MacOS X's key applications will all be PowerPC binaries, and thus MacOS X for Intel would be starting out with almost no third-party software support, making it of little use to Apple's traditional user base, but could would as bait for techies and corporate evaluators willing to buy an OS there's little practical use for. Again, that would provide a warning to Motorola, and if the chip-maker fails to deliver, Apple can migrate to x86, having provided a platform for app developers to work with in the hope that by the time it needs to move across, it can give its users a decent line in apps. Either that or fast enough x86 CPUs that it can make PowerPC emulation work well enough to its users to buy into to the plan, as per the 680x0-to-PowerPC transition. PowerPC is only one of Apple's product differentiators and - pace all the PowerPC proponents out there - it's the least important. Apple relies more strongly on its industrial design and the MacOS than it does on PowerPC. The former is platform independent and, if Apple is indeed porting MacOS X to x86, so is that factor. All pure speculation, we'd like to point out, but technically feasible. Is Apple porting MacOS X to Intel? Yes, we reckon it is. Is Apple planning to make it available to the public? No, we don't think so. Is it going to use the port to migrate to x86 hardware? No, but it's nice to know it has the option is it really, really needs to. ® Related Link Ars Technica's story is here
Episode 39Episode 39 BOFH 2000: Episode 39 So I'm investigating a routine fault ("My machine won't work") in the Basement - which I usually avoid like the plague because of the weirdy types who are cellared there - when my enquiries result in forcing me to go to the basement Comms room for the first time. With some trepidation - having seen the rooms in other parts of the building - I open the door to the Comms Room, take a quick look, then slam the door shut. Well, TRY to slam the door shut. I slip a wedge under the door before any more cable can slop out the gap while I go to find The Boss. "What" I ask him, when he's wheezed his way downstairs, "the *HELL*, is THAT?" "That's a COMMS room!" he blurts, topping his previous personal best effort by reading the label off the door without sticking his tongue out. I open a door to reveal the horror of the room within. A rat's nest of cabling, thinwire, thickwire, UTP, some stuff that could be unshielded serial, and - oh dear - what looks to be a token ring experiment... "Obviously a little tidying is needed.." The Boss admits grudgingly. "A little?" "Well, not so much as to cause an outage or anything, but perhaps you could, uh, repatch them, a few at a time." A few minutes and one "Facts of Life" briefing later, The Boss is informed about of the infinitesimal chances of fixing this without a major outage. "I see. So it would be an overnight process then?" "Overnight would be how long it would take just to get the cables out of the hardware - if we used a gangmower and an axe. Outside of that, it's anybody's guess as to what's in there and what it's connected to." "So what do you suggest?" "Someone's going to have to go in there and fix it." "Someone?" "Someone with networking knowledge..." The PFY starts beating a surreptitious retreat. ".. A bit younger and more agile than me.." The PFY accelerates somewhat.. "..someone who could get lost for days without anyone knowing or caring!" "A CONTRACTOR!" The Boss and PFY cry in unison, both happy that they don’t meet the exacting criteria.. "Yes, and what better contractor than someone who KNOWS about the cabling firsthand, someone who perhaps, PUT it there in the first place," I cry, fingering a self-promotional label on the back of the door. "THE ORIGINAL CONTRACTOR!" The boss cries, enlightened. BINGO! . . . ONE DAY LATER . . It's been a several of hours since the cabling contractor went in - after some bad-mouthing of 'The current IT unprofessionals' to The Boss when he thinks he's out of our earshot. Still, after he'd extorted a hefty hourly rate from the boss, he was more than happy to sign on for the job. "Poor bastard," The PFY mumbles quietly, shaking his head, proving once and for all that he bears no grudges against people who disparage his good name. "But not so poor that you didn't wedge the door shut again once he was in..." "I was worried about.. uh.. loss of.. uh.. aircooling in the riser.." he adlibs. "We don't HAVE cooling in the riser.." "Oh. Oh well." . . . In the end we open the door in response to the complaints about a "loss of Internet" and discover that the poor sod's in a bit of a state. "Which of you bastards turned off the lights?" he cries, a bit on the hysterical side "Are you sure it wasn't a breaker tripping? - it happens all the time in this building!" The PFY suggests helpfully. "Apparently you installed budget electrical cabling too.." "Oh yes and it just SO HAPPENED that the handle on the inside of the door is missing AND a box of thinwire connectors just HAPPENED to fall down the comms riser.." "That's where they got to!" The PFY responds. "I was looking for those - couldn't find them anywhere! Course, it was dark with the lights not working in the riser, so maybe I accidentally knocked them down the cable gap.." "..Then I tripped on the floor ventilation grill which wasn't secured properly!" our contractor continues. "And my, you have made a bit of a mess!" "It was a mess when I started!" "Yes, but it was a WORKING mess. In fact, that's why the company always puts penalty clauses into its standard contracts - to recover lost income, etc, in an outage situation like this. I hate to think what this must be costing you!" "But this has nothing to do with me!" "The cables pulled themselves out of the patch panels and switch gear?" "Y-No, but it wasn't my fault!" "Of course it wasn't. It wasn't like you installed all the cables in the first place, charged a hefty premium on the top by selecting the longest cable length possible, didn't document your work, didn't label any of the gear, provided no strain relief, AND cut corners on the electrical cabling spec and circuit breakers. I'm sure the court will find in your favour." "COURT!?!" "Well, these things usually end up there after an outage of this magnitude. And the repatching's will probably take you days to complete, which'll mean even more mo.." "Well what can I do?" "Well, I s’pose you could hire a couple of contractors with intimate knowledge of the network structure to give you a hand... But then again at such short notice it's probably going to be expensive...." "I'll pay!!!" "Well, I think we can help you out. Course we'll need someone to feed all the broken fibre up from the sub-basement spool for resplicing.." So it's decided, he'll give us a hand. No sooner has he signed a large cheque than we promise to say it was a routine outage and he's installed in the sub-basement comms room with the fibre loom. While The PFY's placing the wedge and flicking the lights breaker, I'm popping up a couple of stories with five boxes of thinwire terminators. Just like clockwork. ® BOFH 2000: Kit and Caboodle That's right, the whole shebang BOFH is the Bastard Operator From Hell. He is the creation of Simon Travaglia. Don’t mess with his copyright.
Nvidia has licensed UK-based Sensaura's 3D audio technology for a series of "new audio processors" - another sign the chip company is looking to break out of the 3D graphics niche. We reckon that said "audio processor" - the quote's from Sensaura's terse press statement on the deal - is the upcoming Media Communications Processor (MCP) Nvidia is working on. MCP is an off-shoot of the development work Nvidia is doing for Microsoft's Xbox. It provides the console with networking, I/O and audio processing functionality, alongside the box's Intel CPU and Nvidia graphics chip. Nvidia will provide a custom version of the MCP for Microsoft and a more generic release for OEMs. The latter is expected to ship early 2001. The deal will see Nvidia incorporate Sensaura's 3D Positional Audio technology into the MCP. Sensaura claims its technology has been licensed by companies who together hold over 80 per cent of the global PC audio chip market, including Yamaha, ESS Technology, ADI, Crystal Cirrus Logic and C-Media. ® Related Story Nvidia to take X-box South Bridge to PC OEMs
HP brought home $13.3 billion in its fourth quarter, but decided to can negotiations with Price Waterhouse Coopers to buy its consulting division. The figure represents a 17 per cent rise on the $11.4 billion it turned over in the same period last year. Earnings per share fell short of the company's targets and only rose by 14 per cent to 45 cents per share. Company president, Carly Fiorina, said that she accepted full responsibility for the shortfall. Of the $13.3 billion, $6 billion was generated in the US, and $4.5 billion in Europe. The remainder was spilt between Latin America and the Asia Pacific region. Over the full year, HP reported net revenue of $48.8 billion - up 15 per cent on the year before. Within the company, the most improved section was notebooks, which grew 164 per cent in revenue terms on the year before. In the computer systems division as a whole, HP grew revenues by 29 per cent year on year. UNIX server revenues rose 23 per cent and orders of low and mid-range servers were up 43 per cent. PC revenues grew by 40 per cent. Revenue from scanner and printer sales rose six per cent on last year. Nearly 12 million units shipped during the quarter. IT Services gained 15 per cent on last year's figures. The consulting business's income went up 46 per cent. On the decision to halt negotiations with PwC, Fiorina said that although she still believed it was a sound business proposition, the protracted negotiations were a distraction from HP's main business. She was not confident that the company would be able to "satisfy our value creation and employee retention objectives."* ® *Especially if she keeps shrinking the cubicle sizes - see story by Andrew Thomas. Related Stories HP walkout threat to PwC HP broker gets 11 years for illegal server upgrades
A new team of 80 full-time cybercops are to be recruited and let loose on the UK's Net structure as part of a £25 million plan to stamp on Internet crime, the Home Secretary announced this morning. According to Jack Straw, this move is "in line with our objective of making the UK the best and safest place in the world to conduct and engage in e-commerce". Forty investigators will be pulled in from the police, customs, the National Crime Squad and the National Criminal Intelligence Service and put into a new National Hi-Tech Crime Unit based in the criminal intelligence HQ in London. Another 46 will be placed in local forces around the country. John Abbott, Director General of the National Criminal and Intelligence Service said: "Cybercrime ignores borders - be they regional, national or international. Our approach therefore has to be holistic. A national unit must co-exist with comprehensive local strategies and abilities." For this reason, the new force will also have a 24-hour hotline to foreign intelligence agencies. Obvious targets for the new squad will be paedophiles, nazi-type organisations, financial fraudsters and the like. On top of this, £37 million is to be spent linking the IT systems of police forces in England and Wales together. It seems Mr Straw is quite serious about tackling Internet crime in the UK and of course with the catch-all RIP legislation, he has the power to do a very good job on it. Just a shame that in his rush to make the Net safer he has trampled all over the rights of your average law-abiding citizen. A very good description of Jack Straw was given in a national newspaper last week: he's an enforcer, not a reformer. That, sadly, is spot on. Of course, if you've done nothing wrong, you've got nothing to worry about, have you?* ® *NB. This, to us at least, is one of the most terrifying uses of "fake logic". Please note those people that use it. And warn your friends about them. Related Stories Europe to get tough on cybercrime G8 on cybercrime: jaw jaw or war war? Europe to investigate legality of RIP
Yava, the business bringing Internet access to our pubs, has raised £20 million to fund its nationwide roll out. The full network will consist of 750 devices across the country which are forecast to generate more than 14 million page impressions a month - which is pretty close to Reg levels of performance. As a trial Yava installed more than 100 screens in boozers and Naafi canteens. These generated more than 700 page impressions a day each. The Yava terminals offer full net access as well as its own content which includes chatrooms, news, sport and betting. Surfers will pay for access by using a coin slot in the Net connected machine. Former Mirror group chief exec David Montgomery heads the business. Bridget Rowe, ex editor of the Sunday People, is director of content. Former Mirror editor David Banks is editor in chief. Backers of the business include Carphone Warehouse, Punch Taverns, Victor Chandler and the 3i Group. ®
You're a clever bunch out there, you really are. Several Reg readers have finally cracked our fiendish code. However, due to an incomplete understanding of the rules, there are currently only two winners. Those who have broken the code but haven't heard back from us should check theoriginal competition, and reads the rules carefully. The entry deadline is 5.00pm GMT on Friday 17th November. With 18 copies of The Code Book still up for grabs, there's everything to play for. Anyone still wandering the badlands of crypto-confusion should check out our clue.
Nvidia has unveiled the chip it hopes will wrest control of the notebook graphics market from ATI, the GeForce 2 GO. The new chip is essentially a modified version of Nvidia's low- to mid-range GeForce 2 MX part. The modifications address the prime consideration of any chip aimed at the mobile market: minimising power consumption. The GeForce 2 Go's contribution is the ability to put unutilised parts of the chip in stand-by mode. Like the MX, the GO is fabbed at 0.18 micron. While the MX draws around 5W of power, the GO draws 2.9W flat out, dropping to 0.9W in stand-by mode. ATI's Rage Mobility 128 draws about 2.3W, but then it's a less powerful chip. GO contains a version of the GeForce 2 engine, but unlike the GeForce 2 GTS contains on two rendering pipelines, instead of four. That's the same spec. as the MX, but the GO works out slightly slower, rendering just over 17 million polygons per second to the MX's 20 million. It can pump out 286 million pixels per second. GO also offers the MX's multi-screen TwinView display mechanism, allowing, say, a notebook to use its own display and drive an OHP screen or a regular CRT monitor. It also offers DVD decoding and playback. AGP 4x fast write mode is supported. Nvidia said that GeForce 2 GO is already in volume production, but its interesting that the first design win, with Toshiba, won't ship until next Spring. However, it said other companies will announce GO support soon, some of whom may ship sooner than Toshiba, but not before the end of the year. That gives ATI time to get going on its own Radeon-based mobile chip to replace the aging Rage Mobility 128. ATI controls some 57 per cent of the mobile graphics market, so Nvidia has some catching up to do. Then again, it has managed to overtake the market leader in the desktop space, so it's feasible that it can do the same in the notebook market. ® Related Stories Nvidia takes market lead from ATI Nvidia GeForce 2 MX targets mobile market
Microsoft is to introduce its long-anticipated "annuity" model for software sales in the middle of next year, the company announced today in Las Vegas. But although renting out software as a service is a key part of the .NET strategy, the software the company will be renting first will be exactly the same as the packaged version you buy (well OK, license) outright. Essentially, when Office 10 ships "towards the end of the first half of 2001" Microsoft will be testing out the mechanisms before it's actually shipping the product. Office.NET, which presumably will be the real thing, is a separate development track to Office 10, which to all intents and purposes will be a traditional packaged product. The new rental model will work like this. You'll "subscribe" to Office 10 at a "lower initial cost" which Microsoft has not as yet specified. You'll get product upgrades during your subscription at "no additional expense," and you'll have to renew your subscription annually, via phone, Internet or by buying "a new subscription product" at retail. Although the subscription Office 10 will be exactly the same as the non-subscription, i.e. not Office.NET, Microsoft says it's taking "a significant step toward our vision of an Office.NET subscription service." Until Microsoft comes up with pricing and some clearer definitions it will be impossible to tell whether or not the 'software as a service' initiative will be a good deal. If the 'free upgrades' include whole new revs of Office, then it might turn out to be a good way of keeping pace with developments. But on the other hand, the upgrade path will likely be along the Office.NET track, and under that regime you'd surely expect whatever you were renting to be current. Although Microsoft is pitching the new scheme as a kind of prelude to .NET, it has some similarities to an approach it has used in the enterprise market for years. There, customers are offered substantial discounts in exchange for signing up their users for a number of years, and for agreeing to take the upgrades made available during the term of the contract. This of course locks the enterprise into Microsoft software for the period of the contract, and makes it more difficult to switch away again, because of retraining costs. If Microsoft offers extra discounts on the subscription for signing up for longer periods (a la MSN), then a similar lock in factor could start to apply to the home and small business markets. ® Related Stories Microsoft's plan to levy annual rental fee for Windows MS to ship new Win98 in May - annual rental here we come? MS squeezes out free service pack distribution
The Queen has issued an edict banning Buck House courtiers from carrying mobile phones on duty. Apparently the sound of Colonel Bogey trilling from some lackey's tailcoat pocket while he's serving the Japanese ambassador proved too much for Her Majesty. Quite right too, although the idea of the footman's mobe playing The Dambuster's March while Gerhard Schroder's tucking into his roast beef and yorkshire pud is not unnatractive. ®
Pioneer New Media Technologies has unveiled the first combination CD/DVD recordable drive for the PC at the Comdex exhibition in Las Vegas. The drive reads and writes in four formats: DVD-R, CD-R, DVD-RW and CD-RW, has up to 4.7GB capacity per DVD side and records on DVD-R at twice the normal speed. Andy Parsons, senior VP of product development and technical support said that: "interchangeability between recorders and players is the most important attribute any recordable DVD format can offer," and that the driving force behind both DVD-R and DVD-RW was compatibility with standard DVD playback systems. The new unit, which has been designed for digital video editing and archiving in particular, will begin shipping to the OEM market in Q1 2001. Pricing has not been announced yet. ® Useful Link Pioneer's home page.
Fujitsu has put together a line of 2.5in mobile drives, with 10GB capacity per platter. The new series come in 10, 15, 20 and 30GB sizes. The drives manage a data transfer rate of 28.7MBps and have an average seek time of 12ms. They have an Ultra ATA/66 interface, 4200rpm spindle speed, and an increased buffer of 2MB. The drives are available in heights of 9.5mm and 12.5mm depending on the capacity point. The series also offers up to 700G of non-operating shock tolerance according to Fujitsu. The drives are currently shipping to OEMs for evaluations and began shipping into distribution in Q4 this year. ®
Oftel has responded to BT's "concessions" on the number of exchanges to be opened by July with scepticism, and by talking of expecting "further improvements". This is surprisingly stroppy behaviour from the winged watchdog and it looks as though Oftel may finally be justifying its existence. On Friday, Oftel held a meeting attended by all those operators with an interest in local loop unbundling. As a sweetener, BT announced an amazing plan to get the system working faster - an interim order process and provisioning system ahead of the planned system. Careful, we warned, BT is good at making something simple and bland sound like a huge step forward. But, incredibly, Oftel picked up BT's plan, sniffed it and sat on its haunches. "BT has today committed itself to clear timescales for the preparation of exchange sites where its competitors can install their equipment to take over loops. However, Oftel has made it clear to BT that it expects further improvements to be made and we will ensure that no resources are spared in preparing its exchanges as quickly as possible," it said. There's more: "BT has proposed a Service Level Agreement incorporating financial payments for late delivery. Oftel will consider whether this is satisfactory and will require changes if not." Feisty. Still more: "Oftel will also publish criteria shortly which it expects BT to use in identifying suitable space. Oftel does not anticipate that space will be a significant problem in most exchanges" - going against BT gripes and stalling tactics. And then - my god! - recognition and understanding of how telecoms' business models work: "This progress, together with the Oftel draft determination of prices, published last week, should give operators the confidence they need to invest and roll out their services." It looks as though Oftel has finally realised what everyone else has been saying for years: BT lies. Through its teeth. If would sell its own granny if it meant competitors were kept at arm's length. ® Related Stories BT makes concessions on LLU Oftel publishes cost of LLU
Tesco will start selling cars online from early next year. It is in talks with several car manufacturers and hopes to match the success it has had with its online electrical department. Sainsbury's already sells cars through its Sainsbury's Bank. Gerald Ratner is going to flog jewellery online. You might recall he had to leave the Ratner family jewellery business a few years back because he described some of its wares as crap. With his new business he's not going to punt out diamond rings, but he'll offer basic chains and watches. Online car insurer ironsure.com is closing down. Its new parent, QBE Insurance group, is getting out of the private car insurance business and is withdrawing motor policies from both its on and off-line businesses. Policy holders have got about five weeks to sort out their insurance with another company. QBE bought ironsure.com earlier this year. ® For more dotcom financial flim-flam visit Cash Register.
There is somewhere new to chat in Hardware Land thanks to that Thomas Pabst. The good Doctor has forsaken the charms of a Delphi forum in favour of running the whole thing himself. Click here top read all about it and here to sign up. And if you want to try out your THG BB voice, where better to start than adding your views to Tom's head to head between Intel's 766MHz Celeron, launched today, against AMD's 800 Duron. You want the conclusion already? OK, here it is. "The Duron doesn't merely smack the Celeron here and there, but pounds it into the dust in almost every benchmark. What makes this massacre even uglier is that the 800MHz Duron is available for under $100, while the 766MHz Celeron has been announced to sell at $170 in lots of 1000." So who should think about purchasing the 766MHz Celeron? In a few words, no one right now. Potential system buyers would find significantly greater performance at considerably lower prices by going with the 800MHz AMD Duron. Owners of Socket 370 motherboards wishing to upgrade to a faster Celeron would find a much better bargain in opting for Intel's 733MHz Celeron. Oh dear. Sharky also checks out the Celeron 766MHz, this time running it against a bunch of Athlona. Much prodding poking and benchmarking later, the fishy ones were ready to pronounce judgement on the slightly beefier offering from Chipzilla. Go here, and you'll see that even Sharky finds it hard to be positive about Intel's latest. Arstechnica is not taking this whole election business to seriously, I don't think. But then managing to combine politics and Quake. Not bad. Click here to get frag counting. Who would have thought that Al Gore and George Dubya could have made politics interesting. Even if it is only temporary. But, getting back to the point, Chicks Hardware has taken a peek at the Soltek SL-75KV2-X motherboard. Based on the KT133 and uses the new VIA 686B South Bridge. But is it any good? You know what you need to do to find out. And last but by no means least, another look at the A7V. Described as the most overclockable Duron/TBird board out there, it will probably still be being reviewed in fifty years time. So, to get in early on that sort of timescale, check it out here. ® More stuff of silicon can be found in the archives, where it will sit, growing dusty and gathering cobwebs unless you read it. So check 'em out.
E-tail giant Amazon has designed an amusing Web page enabling surfers to determine whether their hand/eye coordination would be up to the challenge of getting Palm Beach County's controversial butterfly ballot right, albeit using a mouse instead of a hole-punch. Amazon's joke ballot carefully recapitulates the PBC ballot's layout, substituting Amazon merchandise categories for political candidates. In the centre is the same vertically-aligned selection mechanism, with active links. All one needs to do is choose a category, select the corresponding link, and check to see if they end up on the page they wanted. One can easily imagine an elderly person with Coke-bottle specs and a bit of a palsy shake having some trouble with the set-up, as alleged by Florida Democrats. The page is the work of Amazon's Web development team, which apparently contains one or two loyal Democrats. While not exactly officially sanctioned, Amazon management intends to leave it in place. "It lends itself to a whimsical treatment of the ballot confusion," the company told us. ®
If a new Oftel report, out today, is to be taken at face value, the UK may soon have real unmetered Internet access. The report may be 72 pages long, filled with yet more tedious acronyms and as interesting as reading the phone book, but the report appears to indicate that Oftel has insisted upon BT extending the FRIACO unmetered Net access system into something practical. The flat-rate fee that other operators pay for Net access will be extended to cover the entire journey from consumer to ISP and not just stop at BT's network. BT will have to open its switches and move traffic along its main voice network, and not charge a per-second fee like before. This effectively means that ISPs can build reliable business models. It also means cheaper access for UK consumers. Some people are claiming a £10 a month fee, but we reckon this is a little over-optimistic. The plan will be implemented in stages starting 1 February next year. For those interested in the figures, BT will initially have to offer 13,500 ports at 2Mbps each for £17,692.32 a port (where the hell does Oftel get these figures from?). It's a first-come, first-served system. If you'll remember, the initial Flat Rate Internet Access Call Origination scheme was knocked up in June because MCI Worldcom got very angry with BT and started a court case. Under this super scheme, other operators (now known as OLOs - other licensed operators) would be entitled to a flat rate for Net access. This sparked a hundred and one unmetered packages, all advertised heavily to consumers and all dead within a few months. Most famous of course was AltaVista, whose MD left after he was no longer able to lie about having 120,000 subscribers. It actually had, er, none. The demise of the unmetered model was, as usual, down to that self-protecting monolith we all know and love as BT. Yes, operators could buy flat-rate access from a customer's home to BT's local network, but once there, well, charges started to vary and performance got a little shaky. Why? Because poor old BT wasn't able to handle that kind of traffic - that's why it had to charge more and keep control of the lines, see? Oftel didn't know whether to believe BT or not (not is usually the best bet) and so it set up an expert panel to check out the situation. And, d'you know what, BT wasn't lying. Well, not entirely. According to the experts, if things go on as they are, BT's network could be full to capacity by 2001. That is, of course, if BT do bugger all to improve the network. But this - gasp! - is where Oftel has finally finally proved its worth as a watchdog. It has told BT that, yes, its network could become overloaded and that is why it will put ceilings on the traffic its trunk will have to carry for the next year. After that, tough. It's not really what you'd call an incentive for BT to get its act together, but it the best that Oftel has ever come up with. Unfortunately it looks as though Oftel will give BT control over how and how much traffic will be re-routed during the year. Of course, ole David Edmonds, Oftel head honcho had his usual self-aggrandising set-piece: "Oftel's proposals will give a major boost to the availability of unmetered Internet access for consumers. These measures should allow millions of people to have unlimited access to the Internet without running up high call charges. "There was plenty more but it wasn't very interesting to be honest. But, this is good. Oftel for perhaps the first time since Edmonds took over has ignored BT's pathetic, obstructive comments and decided itself what it possible. It has then told BT what's going to happen and left it to make its own route there. If only this had happened even a year ago. Coincidentally, the resident cynic at Vulture Central wonders if Oftel's sudden change of heart has anything to do with the fact that David Edmonds is due to take a major roasting tomorrow at the hands of the trade and industry commission. MPs have been less than impressed with Oftel's record, talking of "deep-seated problems". Today's announcement could be seen as a significant spoiler. We shall see how often David refers to today's announcement with regard to his year-long failure to get BT moving. ® Related Stories FRIACO hit by telco stalemate Unmetered access just a few weeks away, says BT Oftel laughs at BT LLU concessions
Jack Straw looks set to be named Britain's Big Brother over his handling of email snooping powers. The Home Secretary, nominated for the 3rd UK Big Brother Awards, is in good company - other nominees that "have done the most to invade personal privacy in Britain" include BT, the TV Licensing organisation and Tory MP Anne Widdecombe. The Big Brother-watching event, organised by human rights group Privacy International, dishes out muddy-coloured trophies in the shape of a boot stamping on a human head. This year there will be five categories: Most Invasive Company - shortlisted are I-CD Publishing, which created the reverse directory CD UK Info Disk, Visionics Corp, which masterminded the new generation of CCTV automatic face recognition software, and Envision Licensing Ltd, behind the country's TV Licensing system. Also in the firing line is the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (RIP) Bill - the government's email snooping law falls into the category of Most Appalling Project. It has strong competition from landlordsdata.com, which provides a blacklist of tenants online. Most Heinous Government Organisation - a toughie, but so far a toss-up between the Home Office, Customs & Excise, and the DTI (it's crime: giving bosses staff-snooping powers). Shortlisted for The Worst Public Servant award are Widdecombe and Charles Clarke (who helped push RIP through Parliament). While the Lifetime Menace boot award looks set to end up on Mr Straw's mantelpiece, though other nominees include BT "for a litany of privacy violations reaching back more than twenty years". The Big Brother Awards, which have also made annual appearances in the US, France, Austria, Germany and Switzerland, will take place on December 4 at the London School of Economics. The trophies, including some "Winston" awards for privacy protectors, will be presented by Channel 4 TV presenter Mark Thomas. More details can be found here. ® Related Stories Look out! Here come the cybercops Blair gets RIP thanks to a few sleepy MPs Govt bows to RIP pressure RIP: Even Big Brother is confused Straw hits back at RIP critics Oftel laughs at BT LLU concessions
Freeserve is planning to cut hundreds more customers off its unmetered service because, er, they use it. The troubled ISP - once the UK's golden boy - has already had to remove 700 users last month. They were "abusing" the service. No one really bought the corporate excuse but we know what it was getting at - it just couldn't afford to run the service if people used it too much. Well, things are getting worse and another couple of hundred are for the chop. The company didn't say how long on average these particular customers were surfing the Net (last time it was 16 hours a day). Have we hit the five-hours-a-day mark yet? Not bad for "unmetered" access we're sure you'll agree. The truth of it is that Freeserve's share price is rock bottom at the moment and it needs to make some money. Keeping customers has become less important than keeping its head above water. It will no doubt be very relieved to hear of Oftel's announcement today that it hopes to roll out true unmetered access from February next year. ® Related Stories Unmetered access is here! No thanks to BT Freeserve gets mad with 'abnormal' users Freeserve 'right to kick out heavy users'
UpdatedUpdated A Miami federal judge ruled Monday that the Bush campaign is not entitled to a federal injunction which it had sought preventing a manual re-count of ballots in four Florida counties. The Bush people have been whingeing about the manual re-counts, claiming that they will be less accurate than machine counts. We're at a loss, then, to explain why Texas Governor Dubya signed into law an amendment to the election code which clearly states that manual re-counts are to be preferred over machine re-counts. Difficult though it may be to reconcile with Bush's current line of reasoning, sure enough, section 65 of Texas bill HB-331, signed by Governor Dubya in June 1997, amends Section 212.005 of the election code, by, among other things, adding a subsection "d" (for Dubya?), authorising only one method in a recount, and privileging the manual variety. Quoting directly the entire subsection: "(d) If different counting methods are chosen under Section 214.042 (a) among multiple requests for a recount of electronic voting system results, only one method may be used in the recount. A manual recount shall be conducted in preference to an electronic recount and an electronic recount using a corrected program shall be conducted in preference to an electronic recount using the same program as the original count." Evidently manual re-counts are good for Texas, but bad for Florida. While the Bush people whinged about losing their first round in federal court Monday, they have more manoeuvring in the works. Hypocrisy may have failed, but nepotism might yet carry the day. Bush's secret weapon is Florida Secretary of State and Dubya campaign sock puppet Katherine Harris, who has decided to exercise her discretion -- or obligation, depending on which chapter of the election statute you read -- to stop all the manual re-counts at five o'clock p.m. Tuesday, which means that the results will be either incomplete or completely unavailable. Harris campaigned for Dubya in New Hampshire and remains on quite friendly terms with Florida Governor (and Dubya's brother) Jeb Bush, which is a red flag if we ever saw one. There are, however, several problems with the Florida statute on elections, and Harris could be acting in good faith, though we're inclined to doubt it. Title IX, Section 102.166 "Protest of election returns; procedure" (4)(c) states: "the county canvassing board may authorize a manual recount. If a manual recount is authorized, the county canvassing board shall make a reasonable effort to notify each candidate whose race is being recounted of the time and place of such recount." Thus it would stand to reason that the Secretary of State should give the counties time to complete their business. The Democrats are no doubt thinking of Section 102.112 (1) which states in part: "If the returns are not received by the department by the time specified, such returns may be ignored and the results on file at that time may be certified by the department." However, Section 102.111 (1) states in part: "If the county returns are not received by the Department of State by 5 p.m. of the seventh day following an election, all missing counties shall be ignored, and the results shown by the returns on file shall be certified," which implies that the Secretary is actually obligated to ignore returns filed after the deadline. The courts will have to reconcile the madness. The entire relevant chapter, with its many internal inconsistencies and contradictions, is located here. Meanwhile, Volusia, Broward and Palm Beach Counties are in court attempting to get the deadline extended, though no decision is expected until Tuesday. ®
Execs at Streamline.com today gave the online grocer less than two weeks to live. The Massachusetts-based outfit is winding down its services and will stop trading on 22 November - just as the Thanksgiving turkeys are being stuffed - due to investor jitters. The decision ends a six-month trawl to find financing for the company. Streamline, which delivered groceries and offered services such as film developing and dry cleaning, sold its Chicago and Washington businesses to Peapod in September. At the time it said it planned to pump the $12 million cash gained from the deal into its New Jersey and Boston markets. Since then it has failed to find a buyer for its remaining operations - it looks like few can drum up the enthusiasm to dabble in this B2C delivery model. "These efforts have proved unsuccessful to date and, in light of current conditions of the financial markets for business-to-consumer Internet companies, Streamline.com has determined that the interests of its employees, customers and creditors would be best served by the Company's prompt and orderly cessation of operations," it said in a statement. Streamline, founded in 1993, plans to sell its assets to pay off creditors and provide severance to staff. Last month New-York based dotcom Urbanfetch, which delivered goods including food, music and books, dipped out of the consumer delivery business. It has changed track and intends to stick to its B2B operations. ® Related Stories Easy man Stelios to float cybercafes Urbanfetch and don't carry
One surfer sick of the US election farce has put the presidency up for sale on eBay. Seventeen bids were placed today for item number 497945868, pushing the price offered for the job to $30,100. "Due to the recent ballot confusion in Florida the Presidential election process has been cancelled for this term. It has now been granted to the common citizen the chance to be President," the description by "seller" firstname.lastname@example.org on eBay reads. The highest bidder is promised the chance to be sworn in as the 43rd president on January 20th 2001. They must be at least 35, a US citizen, and have no felony convictions - they will also get to choose their own VP. Bidders who fancy a shot at the White House have just over nine days to put in a bid. The item can be found here, unless eBay pulls it first. Back in the real world, it is anyone's guess if the president can be named so quickly. ® Related Stories eBay, Yahoo pull spam auction Cray supercomputer for sale on eBay eBay gets the law on sweary bidder
ComdexComdex Comdex never fails to provide a slew of optimistic hardware prototypes that you can bet will never see the light of day. But we were impressed by Simple Devices, the tiny Casio-backed design start-up, which has piled more ideas into its demonstration hardware than the rest of the gadgets (we've seen so far) can muster between them. Simple Devices is showing three consumer appliances, all of which piggyback the HomeRF wireless standard, a rival to the 802.11 specs used in business wireless LANs and in Apple's AirPort, but with much richer support for voice communication. And all three devices too use a PC - or a cheap embedded server - to cache content. So far, so samey. But soft. SD has a surfeit of good ideas - not of all of which will stick. However, co-founder Craig Janik's track record in design at Speck and Ideo does make the difference between Heath Robinson-punt and some products with real utility. The SimpleFi does for Internet or AM/FM radio what TiVO does for broadcast TV. It also plays your MP3s, using HomeRF as the wireless backbone. The content is cached on the PC and the device also fetches and broadcasts your MP3 files from the machine's hard disk. Simple Devices is aiming for a $150 price for the unit. We weren't so sure about the company's SimpleClock - billed as an Internet-enabled alarm clock. It's really a hi-fi but with a visual display and, curiously, the ability to sync your Palm. The chaps also have an intriguing Palm clip-on which turns the humble PDA into a DECT phone or Web pad, by streaming data and voice over the HomeRF link. This doesn't weigh much more than the Palm itself, and allows synchronisation of Palms across a wireless LAN, and cell-broadcasts to suitably-equipped Palms too. Plenty of ideas looking for a home here, and with a dozen staff, SD is hardly in a position to roll over the Sonys just yet. But one to watch, for sure. Compaq, Siemens and Intel are also showing HomeRF hardware at Comdex. ®