21st > December > 2000 Archive

Intel to push Rambus hard in 2001

RoadmapRoadmap The introduction of the 1.3GHz Pentium 4 at an attractive price point is part of Intel's overall strategy for this to be the mainstream microprocessor by the end of next year. That means a big ramboost for Rambus Inc, with SDRAM support unready until Q2 of next year, and DDR promised for the following year, 2002. And to that end Intel appears to be pulling out all the stops on pricing including, as our Pentium 4 article showed yesterday, by slashing the 1GHz Pentium III by 40 per cent in late January. But slides we saw earlier in the week from a confidential roadmap indicate that if Intel is successful in its aims, one of the major beneficiaries will be Rambus Inc. A bullet on one slide said: "The Intel Pentium 4... will provide all performance platforms overall greater than 50 per cent of performance and mainstream platforms by Q4 01 when compared to the Intel Pentium III processor." As we pointed out in a separate article on Intel's Tualatin yesterday, that will mean much cheaper Pentium IIIs on a .13 micron process. In Q3 of next year, customers have to move Intel 850 (Willamette) based platforms to the mPGA478 socket. One greater consequence of these moves will mean a Ramboost for Rambus. In the week 51 roadmap, Intel tells its customers to ensure adequate RDRAM supply, and place orders for the memory now, for the ramp on the P4 it is pushing. Another slide told customers that RDRAM will be Intel's primary memory ramping into the mainstream desktop PC in 2001. "Intel will continue to proactively drive this technology to help vendors come down the learning and price curves more quickly. Be prepared to transition to lower price points if pricing continues to come down." Brookdale, the Willamette platform for supporting SDRAM, will push into the Mainstream One sector in Q3 of next year. Another slide said: "Brookdale SDRAM in Q3 provides a high confidence, low cost solution. Brookdale DDR in Q1 of 2002 enables the full range of memory support." Intel, in the same roadmap, advises its customers to be ready for double data rate (DDR) memory when it is robust and the right price. Intel "will add support for DDR for the Pentium 4 platform in Q1 02. There are no plans to offer DDR for Pentium III processors. The immediate focus is to make the technology robust, and volume will depend on the price delta versus RDRAM and SDRAM." One European PC manufacturer said that last statement begs one big question, with SDRAM currently costing four times less than Rambus memory. He also suggested that because of Intel's aggressive Pentium 4 strategy, the firm may well have struck deals with memory vendors to bundle RDRAM with its Pentium 4 solutions in Q1 of next year. We cannot confirm that, but Intel's strategy in 2001 largely hinges on the success of the Pentium 4, and as SDRAM doesn't kick in until the second half, and DDR not until 2002, it seems a distinct possibility. Later today, notebook chip pricing in 2001. Tomorrow: Update on Foster pricing in 2001. Server strategy in 2001. ® This week's Intel's leaks so far Pentium 4 and Pentium III pricing until June Tualatin and Celeron pricing in 2001 Chipset pricing from Chipsetzilla Pentium III not long for this world Intel to slash P4 prices January 28 An earlier, November roadmap Foster, Xeon prices and strategies leak
Mike Magee, 21 Dec 2000

Intel's notebook prices, strategy for 2001

RoadmapRoadmap In Q4 of next year, Intel aims to introduce two Tualatin (.13 micron) notebook chips at 1.20GHz, and a slightly lesser speed. The chip giant will also introduce 1GHz and 900MHz notebook processors in March of next year which will use its SpeedStep technology. And in other news from a week 51 confidential Intel roadmap we saw earlier this week, it also has cunning plans to cut prices by intro-ing a Celeron-T 866MHz processor using a chipset called Almador-M, which will scale throughout the performance segment of the market through the year. Intel will also introduce Pentium III LV (low voltage) mobile chips. The first of these, an ultra-low voltage model at 500MHz, is likely to be launched the same week it takes the axe to prices for Pentium 4s, Pentium IIIs and other microprocessors - that is the week beginning the 29th of January. A 700MHz LV mobile chip will be introduced on or around the 26th of February 2001. The 1GHz Pentium III notebook chip is aimed at the very high end of the market, will the 900MHz chip is aimed at the mid-$2000 system price for the second quarter of next year. Also in the second quarter of next year, Chipzilla will intro a mobile Celeron 850MHz and a mobile Celeron 800MHz, aimed at capturing what it calls the "back to school refresh" in Q3 next year. The Celeron-T 866MHz processor is aimed at the value segment, to help scale the Almador M chipset platform, we can reveal. The PIII 500MHz ultra low voltage chip operating at voltages of .975 to 1.1 volts are aimed at the sub-notebook sector, with a 600MHz processor in this family launching in the second half of 2001, while the 700MHz and 750MHz low voltage processors target the mini notebook market. There will be a Celeron low voltage 600MHz notebook chip introduced in the second quarter of the year. Here are prices for some of the microprocessors we have mentioned above. On the 28th of January, the mobile Pentium III 950 will cost $508, dropping to $348 on the 15th of April. The 800MHz will drop to $348 in late January and then to $268 in April. The 750MHz will drop to $268 in January and then to $241 in mid-April, with the 700MHz mobile Pentium III costing $241 in Janaury, and $198 in April. The 1GHz mobile Pentium III will cost $722 at launch, the 900MHz $562 (dropping to $508 on the 15th of April), the 700LV will launch at $316, and the 500LV at $210. The mobile Celeron 750 at launch will cost $170, but will rapidly drop so that by April 15 it will cost $134. All of this depends, to some extent, on what the competition in the shape of AMD and Cyrix does. And word reaches The Reg of an MDR report which says mobile Durons will be expensive to build. We'll have more of this when we have more on this. ® This week's Intel's leaks so far Pentium 4 and Pentium III pricing until June Tualatin and Celeron pricing in 2001 Chipset pricing from Chipsetzilla Pentium III not long for this world Intel to slash P4 prices January 28 An earlier, November roadmap Foster, Xeon prices and strategies leak
Mike Magee, 21 Dec 2000

Toshiba, Infineon form FRAM fraternity

Toshiba is to team up with Infineon to fund the development and production of Ferroelectric RAM - FRAM - chips for next-generation cellphones. Both companies will together pump $60 million and contribute 50 engineers to the programme, which is expected to result in shipping product by the end of 2002, initially 32Mb chips, with 64Mb and 128Mb versions following if the demand is there. The deal follows Infineon's purchase of a $30 million stake in Ramtron, part of a deal to license the latter's FRAM technology. FRAM is a non-volatile memory (it retains data without power) which is used in products such as power meters, smart cards, test instrumentation, factory automation, laser printers and security systems. If emerged back in 1998, from development work done by Hyundai and US companies Symetrix and Celis. FRAM's advantage for cellphones - and other mobile devices, for that matter - is its low power requirements. ® Related Stories Infineon buys into Ramtron Fujitsu puts iron into FeRAM Hyundai claims ferrous RAM breakthrough
Tony Smith, 21 Dec 2000
Cat 5 cable

Cisco IPv6 kit to ship next February

Cisco will begin shipping routers capable of supporting version six of the Internet Protocol (IP) late February 2001 - around six months later than planned. Speaking at the Global IPv6 Summit conference held in Osaka, Japan, Stephen Deering, a Fellow with Cisco's Advanced Internet, Architectures Group, said the company has settled on a three-stage roll-out of IPv6 services, according to the Nikkei newswire. The initial release is aimed at early adopters - the early systems won't offer the same level of performance as later versions, because much of the new technology will be implemented in software not hardware, said Deering. The mainstream release will come around the middle of the year, introducing more advanced routing equipment that can handled conversion of existing IPv4 addresses to their IPv6 equivalents through the use of technologies such as Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS). The final stage, as yet unscheduled - or at least not formally - will extend those devices with extra features, such as multi-cast support, voice over IP facilities and next-generation routing protocols, such as OSPFv3 (Open Shortest Path First). The upshot of all this activity, Cisco hopes, is not only sales of more routers but the arrival of the core infrastructure needed to encourage the broader shift - in operating systems, middleware and application software - from the current IPv4 to IPv6, which is incompatible with existing systems. Essentially, IPv6's role is to expand the available number of Internet addresses - from the current maximum of four billion to 340 trillion trillion trillion - and so allow far more devices, from servers to PCs to Net-enabled domestic appliances, to be connected to the global Net. ® Related Stories What the hell is... IPv6? Net bigwigs team up to push IPv6
Tony Smith, 21 Dec 2000

More chip vendor woe

Chartered Semiconductor, the custom chip manufacturer, warned yesterday that next year's sales and profits would not meet expectations. The company blamed falling demand in the PC and cellular phone market for its revised forecasts. It had expected sales to rise by 40 per cent over the next year and, despite issuing the warning, would not say by how much it expected this figure to fall. The company's shares fell below their IPO price for the first time, losing over seven per cent of their value on the back of the news. Rival company Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing also said that capacity will exceed demand at the beginning of the year, rendering some parts of its plant idle. ® Related Story TSMC to chop chip output
Lucy Sherriff, 21 Dec 2000

QXL shares going going gone

Shares in online auctioneer QXL Ricardo hit an all time low yesterday, making it the first British member of an elite gang of dotcoms which have seen their stock lose 99 per cent of their value. If you'd bought £1,000 worth of QXL shares at their peak they now be worth £7.50. The stock slumped by 24 per cent yesterday to 6.5p - eight months ago they were £8.00. The loss making firm had been valued up around £3 billion at the height of the dotcom market, but is now worth £62 million. This is quite impressive because though there are varying estimates about how much cash its got left to burn, its got at least £65 million. But when you've got a burn rate of £15 million a month... ®
Robert Blincoe, 21 Dec 2000

Salon.com ‘eliminates’ 25 jobs

US media outfit Salon.com has axed 25 jobs - around 20 per cent of its workforce - in a bid to cut costs and steer the outfit to profitability. Actually, that's not strictly true. In a statement, Salon.com said it had "eliminated" 25 jobs. Which takes the euphemisms of dotcom sackings to new, macabre depth. What next? Those for the chop get lined up against a wall and shot? Salon.com also said revenues for the December quarter would be $2 million to $2.3 million - down a third on what some analysts had expected, say reports. Michael O'Donnell, Salon.com's CEO and president, said: "The market is demanding profitability and we're committed to get there as quickly as possible in 2001. "This was a difficult decision because it involves talented people who have worked very hard to make Salon a success," he said. ®
Tim Richardson, 21 Dec 2000

UK cop shops to be checked for pirated software

The UK's police forces are going to be audited see if they're running pirated or unlicensed software. This is because at least one force has been caught running counterfeit copies of MS Office. The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) is to audit a sample of police IT equipment to see how widespread the problem is. The move was announced in parliament by junior Home Office minister Lord Bassam, reports Reuters. Hampshire Constabulary was caught using counterfeit copies of Microsoft Office Pro 97 at the end of October. Officers from the City of London arrested four men in connection with the crime at the time. Three of whom worked for Protocol Solutions, the integrators who set up the Hampshire force's IT system, and the fourth man was an ex-employee of Protocol. One of the men arrested was a former superintendent of Hampshire. All four were released without charge. The police also raided Protocol's offices in Fareham. Officers of the City of London police force are still investigating the case. Protocol declined an invitation to chat with The Register about the situation. ® Related Stories Hampshire cops caught using counterfeit MS software
Robert Blincoe, 21 Dec 2000

Mac Rumour Roundup PowerBook G4 goes Nvidia

Apple's next PowerBook release, codenamed Mercury, will ship with an Nvidia graphics system and not a part from the company's long-time graphics partner, ATI. That at least is what Apple sources have told Go2Mac.com. Nvidia first touted Mac compatibility when it announced its GeForce 2 MX processor last summer. Nvidia's VP of strategic marketing, Oliver Baltuch, said work had been done to "make that market [ie. the Mac] available to us". And one of Baltuch's colleagues, when pushed about potential partners - since Nvidia only supplies chips to board vendors and PC makers - let slip: "Apple of course." When asked for more details, we were told to await "a future announcement". Then ATI made the unfortunate mistake of pre-announcing Apple's Power Mac Cube weeks before its official launch, allegedly provoking CEO Steve Jobs' wrath. That may well have tempted Jobs to seek out an alternative graphics chip supplier, but more likely it's the GeForce 2's superior performance that prompted the change. Whatever, Mercury - the first PowerBook to contain the PowerPC 7400 processor, aka G4 - is set to include a GeForce 2, most likely the mobile-oriented GeForce 2 Go. Go2Mac's source notes that the final spec. has yet to be set, tough 16MB of VRAM looks a likely possibility. The GeForce 2 Go can churn out 17 million polygons per second and 286 million pixels per second. It also supports DVD decoding and playback, AGP 4x fast write mode, and Nvidia'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. ® Related Link Go2Mac.com's story Related Stories Nvidia unveils mobile GeForce 2 Go Nvidia to grab market control from ATI Nvidia confirms Mac support with GeForce 2 MX
Tony Smith, 21 Dec 2000
SGI logo hardware close-up

Lucent to restate sales and cut 10,000 jobs

Telecoms equipment manufacturer Lucent plans to restate its fourth quarter sales for a second time and embark on a swingeing $1bn programme of job cuts, according to a report by Bloomberg this morning. Bloomberg cites people "familiar with the situation" who said Lucent will disclose the charge for the job-cuts and restate earnings, including lower forecasts for profit and sales in its first quarter, as early as today. According to the news agency, Lucent chief executive Henry Schacht is counting on the restructuring and job cuts to put the company back on track. Up to 10,000 jobs, in areas like voice switching, public relations, finance and sales are expected to be lost. Having exceeded profit estimates 15 quarters in a row, Lucent has had a miserable year 2000. The year has seen it cut profit forecasts in all four quarters and predict its first-ever decline in sales, factors that led the AT&T spin-off to oust chief executive Richard McGinn and install Schacht, a former chief executive who is seen as an interim replacement. Schacht quickly revised forecasts for sales and profit in the first quarter. Last month worse followed when Lucent was forced to restate its result for the fourth quarter, which ended on September 30, that cut its sales by $125 million. Lucent hired PricewaterhouseCoopers and Cravath, Swaine & Moore to investigate why revenue was recorded improperly. This financial investigation has resulted in the upcoming restatement that paints an even gloomier picture of Lucent's fortunes, and it is now expected to actually make a loss in Q1 2001. In common with other networking vendors, Lucent has been hit by consolidation in the US service provider market which has resulted in uncertainty and declining sales. Compounding these problems is weak demand for optical networking products. All these factors have led to speculation that Lucent is ripe for acquisition, with Nokia and Alcatel touted as possible buyers. ® Related stories: Blunder cuts Lucent Q1 sales by $125m Cisco looks rosy, 3Com peaky Foundry issues second profit warning
John Leyden, 21 Dec 2000

AOL UK inks major distribution deal with Kingfisher

AOL UK has signed a major distribution deal with Kingfisher that will see the ISP's 24/7 unmetered software CDs available in 2061 stores throughout the country. The deal is part of a co-branding exercise and closer ecommerce ties between the two companies. Under the agreement, specially co-branded CDs for AOL Flat Rate will be available in Comet, Woolworths and Superdrug stores from late December, and B&Q stores from February 2001. In return, AOL UK will promote B&Q's range of home and garden products across its ecommerce channels. The agreement is part of AOL UK's strategy to increase its exposure to potential consumers. And this deal certainly sets it up nicely against Le Freeswerve, which can attribute much of its success to having its software CDs available in hundreds of Dixons Group shops such as Dixons and PC World. Interestingly, Kingfisher is also a strategic investor in ISP Libertysurf, which recently relaunched itself in the UK with a new limited unmetered product backed by a major TV advertising campaign. Libertysurf CDs are available in Comet stores. A spokesman for Libertysurf said he was "fairly relaxed" about the arrangement adding that this move was about "consumer choice". He added that it wasn't a problem since AOL Flat Rate is "addressing a different market segment". ® Related Story New-look LibertySurf makes fresh start
Tim Richardson, 21 Dec 2000

Intel releases USB 2.0 host interface spec.

Intel has published a single, unified spec. that will allow Microsoft, Apple, Red Hat, Sun and other OS makers to support USB 2.0 host controllers. The specification, available on a royalty-free basis, essentially defines the way a host operating system talks to a computer's USB controller, and thus to any peripheral devices connected to it. The new spec., called the Enhanced Host Controller Interface (EHCI), unifies the two alternative host controller interfaces developed with USB 1.0 and 1.1, which should simply OS' support for the connectivity standard. EHCI is compatible with USB 1.1 devices and hubs, even going so far as to work with existing device drivers. That's done by supporting what Chipzilla calls USB 1.1 companion controllers, which leave the main USB 2.0 controller free to handle high-speed - ie. 400Mbps - bus traffic. That sounds suspiciously like a clever way of selling otherwise redundant USB 1.1 controller chips alongside the more up-to-date USB 2.0 versions. And "the architecture is also highly optimised, and therefore consumes minimum CPU overhead - less than the amount that a USB 1.1 UHCI host controller consumes", Intel claims. The next stage is to release compliance testing procedures, which will be released in the first half of next year, according to Intel. After that, it will publish the final version of EHCI. ® Related Link The EHCI spec. and licensing Ts&Cs can be found on Intel's USBWeb site.
Tony Smith, 21 Dec 2000

Have Net and have not divide grows

The digital divide has grown, according to figures released by the Office for National Statistics, despite an overall swelling of the online population in the last 18 months. Overall, 45 per cent of the adult population has accessed the net at some point, with 80 per cent of these having done so in the last month. However, the country is still divided according to income, sex and geography. While the number of people online in England rose by an average of eight per cent, compared to five percent in the rest of the UK. Over 70 per cent of the "professional" class have access to the net against 26 per cent of "unskilled" workers. Only ten per cent of the poorest tenth of the population has any form of net access at home, compared to 60 per cent of the richest tenth, and more men that women have accessed the web, still, despite that particular gap seeming to close a little. Age is another dividing factor: although 80 per cent of people between 16 and 24 have been online, this number falls off rapidly with increasing age - only half of the 45-50 age group had accessed the net. Despite this the government insists that we are not a nation of have-nets and have-nots. Cabinet Office minister Ian McCartney told the FT: "All schools and libraries will be online by the end of 2002," as well as mentioning government plans to distribute "reconditioned" computers to low income families. The overwhelmingly most popular method of net access from home was a PC - accounting for 98 per cent of logons. However, since July the number of people getting online through digital TV or WAP phones rose from one per cent each to six and five per cent respectively. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 21 Dec 2000

Lawyer who launched Claire Swire email keeps job

The man that sparked off the whole Claire Swire email debacle (and whose ejaculate is yum), Bradley Chait, has been formally disciplined but not fired. His company, City law firm Norton Rose, started disciplinary proceedings against Chait and four other employees soon after the extent of the email became clear. Norton Rose issued a press statement this lunchtime saying it had considered all the evidence and decided dismissal was not appropriate. Bradley and the others were faced with bringing the company name into disrepute and abusing the company's email system. Both of these charges are strictly true, but Chait could never have imagined what would happen once he clicked send. The release is very vague, talking only of them having been disciplined. We called Norton Rose to ask what exactly this means - suspension? Formal warning? Its spokeswoman told us the company couldn't give us any further details as the disciplined ones still had the option of going to a tribunal to argue that they had been unfairly treated. That seems somewhat unlikely but then you never know what these lawyer types are capable of :-). ® The press statement is in full below: PRESS STATEMENT The disciplinary investigation, which began when Norton Rose became of the circumstances, has now been completed. Norton Rose has carefully and thoroughly considered all the evidence and the options available to us. The situation is very sensitive and obviously, the issues are not straightforward. Naturally, we are disappointed in the behaviour of certain employees and concerned about a clear breach of Norton Rose's employment terms and conditions. This is an internal matter but to avoid speculation we would like to state that the employees have been disciplined but not dismissed. Dismissal was considered but not felt appropriate. The employees concerned are horrified by the consequences of, and genuinely regret, their actions. The firm regrets any offence caused by these employees, who reacted to a private email originating outside the firm. Related Stories Claire Swire email claims nine more victims More email victims at Royal & SunAlliance Yummy Claire: we try to clear up this mess Is this the greatest ever email hoax?
Kieren McCarthy, 21 Dec 2000

US wireless auction: what a palaver

It would seem that Xmas panto culture has crossed the Atlantic and set up shop in the mobile market. "US wireless auction a failure", "Oh no it's not", "Oh yes it is". The frenzied coverage of what is a pretty unexciting auction for much-needed bandwidth has seen media companies contradicting themselves before they've even finished their first story. Let's set a few things straight. There are 422 licences up for grabs in 177 to 195 different spots in the US (depending on who you believe). Most areas will only have 10MHz available to give, but some will have 15, 20, 30 or even 40MHz of bandwidth on the slab. The most important concern the big cities: New York, Los Angeles, Washington DC. There are six main players: AT&T, Verizon, Cingular, Nextel, VoiceStream and Sprint. We don't want to get involved with the involved and sordid histories of each and we don't agree that six companies is too much competition for the wireless market as long as they work together a little more. The US mobile industry is in a dreadful mess, partly due to the business culture of non-cooperation, partly because of the logistics of covering such a big area. Europe and Scandinavia have a common standard and far denser population. They also have plenty of bandwidth. The States, with its huge TV culture has seen bandwidth eaten up. These auctions give a little bit of sustenance to a starving mobile market - although even these nearly didn't happen. This isn't 3G stuff we're talking about either, it's just your run-of-the-mill mobile technology. But the companies do need it if they are to get networks working across large areas and encourage people to embrace mobiles like the rest of the brain-tumoured world. Of course, the other complicating factor is that under FCC rules, no one company is allowed more than 45MHz in one market - far less that what companies have over here in the UK. The FCC is looking to change the law on this limit but of course has entered the increasingly Kafkaesque world of the US legal system. We were going to cover some more of the daft legal wrangles over the wireless market but we've changed our minds because they're boring. So to the big question: how much money? What will they pay? Will it be too high? Too low? Mmmmm, just right? As with the 3G auctions over this side of the Atlantic, no one has got a clue. It could go crazy, it could collapse and die. That hasn't stopped endless experts chipping in and screaming headlines every time a bid is raised. The eventual range of estimates came out as $5 billion to $20 billion. The auction finally started last Tuesday and got off to a slow start. However, by today it has hit $9.3 billion, so it's safe to assume that $5 billion was too low. The cost of the licences won't hit the lunacy of the UK and German 3G prices, BUT the equivalent price may be paid since the US licences aren't 3G. Which, it is widely agreed, were too high. ®
Kieren McCarthy, 21 Dec 2000

Dell chops US laptop prices

Dell has chopped up to 20 per cent off laptop prices in the US. The PC giant claimed the last minute Christmas move, which affects models in its Latitude corporate range, was the result of falling notebook component prices. But it comes in the midst of a retail slump which has seen many of Dell's rivals cutting prices or offering freebies or rebates in a bid to snare shoppers. Analysts have also warned that the current sales slowdown and rising inventory levels will hit notebooks worse than PCs. Yesterday's price reductions effect around ten models, including the Latitude CS Ultramobile with PIII 500MHz chip and 128MB SDRAM and 6GB hard drive, which was cut 20 per cent to $1,559. The company also reduced prices on its Latitude C600 and C800 by up to nine per cent - now priced at $1,999 and $2,599, as well as prices on optional upgrades. Dell is one of a plethora of IT companies that have issued revenue warnings this quarter. Yesterday eMachines added its own to the pile, saying it expected sales of between $120 million and $130 million for the fourth quarter ending December 30 - actually lower than the previous year's Q4. ® Related Stories eMachines to miss sales targets Notebook slump hits America Dell hit by Christmas shipment delays Gateway in PC price war gloom Dell blames stingy Europeans for Q3 droopy sales figures
Linda Harrison, 21 Dec 2000

MPs discover the fun of cyberpranks

Politicians have been told to stop using the Net to conduct "dirty tricks" campaigns against one another. Yesterday the Speaker of the House, Michael Martin, said that he did not expect officers or employees of political parties to "seek to or register on the Internet names of members of other parties with a view to misleading members of the public." His comments were provoked by a point of order brought up by Bob Russell, the Liberal Democrat MP for Colchester, who claimed he was a victim of cyber impersonation. Russell had heard from colleagues that someone had set up a web site in his name at www.bobrussellmp.co.uk - which no longer goes anywhere. He alleged that the URL redirected surfers to the Conservative Party's home page. He said that investigation of the site "reveal that the site was set up by a leading member of a political party of which I am not a member." The Speaker expressed "strong disapproval" of the prank. He said: "I expect all political parties represented in the House to take steps to ensure that no such activity is undertaken by them or on their behalf." ® Related Stories No more Net red tape, pleads gov't taskforce
Lucy Sherriff, 21 Dec 2000

Nasty hybrid virus gift unwraps on Xmas day

A mutation of a dangerous virus could render the computers of infected users inoperable this Christmas. The hybrid virus has the capacity to wipe hard drives and attempt to wipe a computer's BIOS chip on its trigger date - Christmas Day. On 25 December, the virus will attempt to flash the BIOS of a computer, preventing boot up and in most cases requiring a user to replace hardware. The virus will also begin overwriting files on all available drives and modify the critical operating system file, KERNEL32.DLL. The virus/worm mutation combines the destructive payload of the Kriz virus with the highly infectious bymer worm. Both pieces of malicious code have been known about for some time with Kriz first appearing in August 1999. Protection from both of them is available from antivirus vendors - it is the combination of the two into a hybrid that is causing particular concern. Andre Post, a researcher at Symantec's AntiVirus Research Centre, said: "A hybrid can be created when a virus attacks a computer that is already infected with another virus or worm. The result is usually a combination of the worst characteristics of the 'parents'." Kriz itself is a slow-spreading virus, which infects Portable Executable (PE) Windows files, with a destructive payload similar to the CIH (or Chernobyl) virus, and bymer is a rapidly-spreading but benign worm. Together they make a hybrid which is both destructive and infectious. Its not the first time hybrid malicious code has been created. Earlier this year, Symantec reported a hybrid of bymer with the FunLove virus. Symantec has made a free detection and repair tool available here. Users are also advised to update their antivirus software with the latest virus definition files, which will detect the hybrid. ® Related stories Virus writers and cracker love-in Viruses prey on porn lovers
John Leyden, 21 Dec 2000

Warner Brothers bullying ruins Field family Xmas

Warner Brothers' lawy firm Theodore Goddard, and The Reg are all pretty hard, cynical bastards but we all need to be reminded once in a while that most people aren't. Les Field, father of www.harrypotterguide.co.uk owner Claire, called up The Reg to explain his despair and hurt over Warner Brothers heavy-handed approach to attaining his daughter's site. WB has gone on an acquisition spree of all Web sites including the words Harry Potter, justifying its behaviour through protection of its copyright. It has overlooked the fact that many of those with such domains are young fans of the Harry Potter books and that a Web site is the modern way that kids indulge their passions. Instead, Claire Field received a nasty legal letter telling her to hand over her domain or face the music. After the case received publicity, the head of WB publicity in the US Barbara Brogliatti smoothed the situation over. But when Les read a quote Barbara has given to the press which painted the situation in a very different light, he got angry and fired off an email. Barb-ara responded swiftly and informed Les that the situation would now be dealt with by the company's lawyers. Les is stunned and fearful of what Warner Brothers may do to him. He explained that the threat of having a huge conglomerate taking him through the courts has overwhelmed him. He has had to take a few days off work and the doctor has prescribed him some sedatives. Warner Brothers still haven't been in contact since Barb-ara's email. "Claire was in tears again earlier. She's in her final year at school. She has been predicted to get eight As and four Bs [in GCSE mocks] and the exams are in July," he told us. "This has just been so upsetting. I just wanted her to be left alone. I don't know if she'll want to go back to the site, even if we are allowed to keep it." He's annoyed that Warners Brothers could be so unthinking and says he is incredibly grateful to the support that The Reg and our readers have given his family (the Web site has been inundated with messages of support on its Guestbook). However, he says he can't possibly afford to go to court. Several lawyers have offered free advice on the issue and he said he would ask one of them what he should do. Les' upset was genuine. While we have been appalled at Warner Brothers' bullying and the intellectual issue of cybersquatting itself, it's all too easy to forget that these situations do have a very real and harmful effect on individuals. ® Related Stories Meet the Warner Bros: Jekyll and Hyde Warner Brothers shoots at more innocents Another child's Christmas ruined by Warner Brothers Warner Bros/ Harry Potter dispute kicks off again Warner Bros backs down on Harry Potter Web site Reg to fight for Harry Potter 'cybersquatter' Warner Brothers bullies girl over Harry Potter site
Kieren McCarthy, 21 Dec 2000

BT jumps gun on i-mode trademark

BT has been busy squirreling away trademarks in preparation for Japanese telecoms giant NTT DoCoMo's debut in Europe next year. According to Silicon.com, the cheeky telco has registered 12 versions of the trademark i-mode - which is the brand of NTT DoCoMo's Net-enabled mobile phone system - with the UK patent office. This is rather premature as BT has not yet won the right to use the name. Big bad BT may be trying to spoil the Japanese company's launch in the UK and Europe, or maybe it wants to steal the name to start its own service under the brand. i-mode has really taken off in Japan - last month the company said it expected 20 million i-mode subscriptions by March. Whereas rival WAP has received a more lukewarm response. Another possibility is that the two are planning to team up to roll out the UK venture together. ® Related Stories DoCoMo's i-mode enjoys 20-fold sales leap BT strong-armed to offer wholesale leased lines Monster BT bill man gets reprieve BT launches US hyperlinks legal action i-mode to roam into US, Europe Q3 2001 i-mode goes down again
Linda Harrison, 21 Dec 2000

Mobile phone user found in contempt of court

Magistrates who took exception to a woman whose mobile phone rang during a court session have fined her £10. Linda Osbourne, who was sat in the public gallery of Exeter magistrates court waiting for her son to appear, was found in contempt of court after her phone rang and interrupted proceedings. It was the third time that morning that a mobile phone had rung in the courtroom. Two people who had earlier received calls escaped with black looks from the bench but Linda Osbourne faced the ignominy of a 50-minute hearing which found her guilty of contempt. Deputy clerk for the Exeter and East Devon magistrates court, Paul Vincent, told The Independent: "There are prominent notices on the court doors about mobile phones before people enter the courtroom. "We don't take many proceedings for contempt of court. In this case the magistrates heard her explanation and rejected it. Had she admitted the contempt and apologised the court might have taken a different action." Solicitors acting on behalf of Linda Osbourne said she is considering an appeal on the basis that she did not commit a deliberate act. It was a bad day all round for the Osbourne family. Her son, Michael, was remanded on bail on charges of possessing an offensive weapon and criminal damage. ® Related stories: US says cell phones won't kill you Mobile meltdown: Merry Xmas Mobile phones kill pedestrians Register launches VultureFone
John Leyden, 21 Dec 2000

T'bird kicks Coppermine butt

HWRoundupHWRoundup HardwareOC takes the one-gig offerings from both of the big chip players and takes them both out for a spin, along with a handful of their less speedy friends. First place goes to the Thunderbird in this instance. Click here to find out why. Maximum3D plays host to the ultimate hardware pissing contest. Just about everyone running a hardware site has compiled the spec of the machines they use everyday and Maximum3D has posted the list for a compare and contrast fest. Click here and see how the pro's systems compare to yours. OC Workbench takes a look under the hood of the DFI AK74 AC mainboard and comes back impressed with both the performance and the stability of the board. Benchmark wise, the boys reckon it is only slightly behind the Soltek SL75KAV-X. Possibly the first ever DVD Mod article is up at Chicks Hardware. Thoughtful people that they are, they've included a step by step guide for anyone who wants to have a go with their own kit. Click here for this one. ® And now to the archives for those of you who have not had enough of hardware land yet.
Lucy Sherriff, 21 Dec 2000