29th > August > 2001 Archive

Wintel touts the next leap in computing

Intel Developer ForumIntel Developer Forum Intel has demonstrated a working 3.5GHz processor as part of a joint offensive by Microsoft to shake off the spectre of tech recession that hangs over this year's Intel Developer Forum. The demo, at Intel general manager Paul Otellini's keynote this morning, followed hot on the heels of a yesterday's 2GHz Pentium 4 launch. It came dovetailed with a pitch by Microsoft group vice president Jim Allchin on the joy of Windows XP. Otellini said the focus of the industry should turn away from focusing on the next megahertz to building a substantially better computing experience, which painted the 3.5GHz demo in a pale light, but was designed to project a bigger picture. A renewed Wintel alliance is suggesting that a WinXP and Pentium 4 combo gives users the next step increment in personal computing: easy manipulation of sound and image files in a way that consumers (and business) will find compelling, and older PCs can't deliver. The target for obsolescence here are older PCs that users in business and home have stuck for longer than suits the industry, more particularly it's the 150 million machines with processors running at 500MHz or below. "Users have not been upgrading because the improvement in functional capability was not enough," said Allchin. This isn't a comment we recall from the Windows 2000 launch, but that aside, there seems a real belief in the industry that WinXP will revive demand through its ability to make stuff such as picture manipulation and wireless networking far easier. ® Related Stories McKinley, Deerfield speeds and feeds Project Jackson breaks cover - Xeon in 2002, Itanic later Smack My Bits Up - Intel exec Intel goes bananas over Banias 2GHz P4 will turn us all into DJs
John Leyden, 29 Aug 2001

Win XP slays buffer overflow bugs

Microsoft has eradicated buffer overflows with Windows XP, following a source code security audit, group veep Jim Allchin claimed during a keynote at the Intel Developers Forum in San Jose. A buffer overflow, which may cause a system or process to crash, happens when a program or process attempts to store more data in a buffer than intended. This is very useful for hackers because it enables them to create specially formatted malformed requests which will overflow a buffer and leave their code at parts on the system where it might subsequently be executed. Buffer overflows first came to prominence with the Morris worm in 1988 and are still causing trouble even now. Variants of the Code Red worm exploited a buffer overflow flaw in the indexing service DLL of Microsoft's IIS Web server. As a CERT advisory explains, IIS Web server on beta versions of Win XP were among those vulnerable to the problem. It could be assumed elementary testing or code review would pick up buffer overflow problems in practice it is much more difficult. A quick search revealed few published references on the prevention of buffer overflow problems, an occupational hazard of software programming that is not peculiar to Redmond. For that reason it'll be interesting to see the results of Microsoft's work." ® Related Stories Unique ID is built into WinXP final build Sun cries wolf over Windows XP Serious Outlook hole patched Buffer the FTP Slayer BIND holes mean big trouble on the Net
John Leyden, 29 Aug 2001

Intel goes bananas over Banias

Intel Developer ForumIntel Developer Forum Processors based on Intel's next generation mobile architecture, codenamed Banias, will be available in the first half of 2003, the chip giant told attendees at its Developer Forum today. Banias processors are based on a new core design optimised for mobile applications, featuring low power circuitry and are designed to squeeze the maximum performance at lower power consumptions. These low power design techniques include the sizing of components on a chip and micro-opps fusion, which involves bonding instructions together so that a processor executes a number of instructions at a time. Paul Otellini, Intel's executive vice-president, said that Banias addresses many of the problem involved in delivering increasing performance while constraining power or "breaking through the power wall", as he put it. The initial target market for Banias are notepads and the like but, over time, Intel foresees that Banias will be incorporated into ultra-dense servers and smaller form factor desktop systems. By 2005, Intel believes that two in three servers will be either rack-optimised or blade devices and that only 50 per cent of personal computers will come in the familiar desktop form factor. ® Related Stories Intel's mobile roadmap Related IDF Stories McKinley, Deerfield speeds and feeds Wintel touts the next leap in computing Project Jackson breaks cover - Xeon in 2002, Itanic later Smack My Bits Up - Intel exec 2GHz P4 will turn us all into DJs
John Leyden, 29 Aug 2001

McKinley, Deerfield speeds and feeds

Intel Developer ForumIntel Developer Forum We can't help but admire how Intel learns from its mistakes. Exactly two years ago, at the Intel Developer Forum at Palm Springs, a table of us European journalists were handed a Merced processor, from the very first wafer of Itanic, at an evening reception. We remember the look of horror as an hour later the chip was returned rather the worse for wear, its ceramic packaging tested for durability with a chinagraph Chad and having been used as a makeshift Pink Floyd cover for rolling something dubious. Wisely, then, Intel officials decided not to throw first cut McKinley into the animal cage. Chips were demonstrated, but at a safe distance. We did get a glimmer more detail. McKinley systems will be built to a 0.18 micron process and ship in configurations of either 1.5MB or 3MB of on-chip cache with a 400MHz frontside bus. McKinley's successor Madison will be the same chipset and packaging but with 3 or 6MB of cache and built on a 0.13 micron process. Sound familiar? Well it's exactly what this ancient roadmappi mundi explained, two and half years ago. Most of it had been made public at Microprocessor Forum even earlier.The cache sizes are news, but it's exactly as predicted, only two and a half years late. Deerfield has been described as the Celeron of IA-64. Which is one way of looking at it, we guess. Another, which Intel confirmed yesterday, is that the Itanic is so voluminous and power-hungry - requiring a 20A circuit - that only the ransacked Deerfield member of the IA-64 will conceivably fit into a a 1U or 2U rack. ® Related IDF Stories Wintel touts the next leap in computing Project Jackson breaks cover - Xeon in 2002, Itanic later Smack My Bits Up - Intel exec Intel goes bananas over Banias 2GHz P4 will turn us all into DJs
Andrew Orlowski, 29 Aug 2001

SecurityPortal flounders on titsup.com atoll

SecurityPortal.com, the online security content aggregation site, has been put on ice by parent firm, AtomicTangerine. The people behind the SecurityPortal Web site, which billed itself as the "focal point for security on the Net", claimed 250,000 information security professionals read the site each month. As well as acting as a news aggregator, the site contained 40,000 pages of security information, e-newsletters and specially focused digests. The business plan behind the site was to sell services based on packages containing this content, as well as online advertising. But it proved more difficult than expected to make money selling these services and its parent company decided to shelve the idea, at least for now. A spokeswoman for AtomicTangerine said development with of site has been abandoned as part of a restructuring of the parent company's business, which will focus on more profitable aspects of its business. "SecurityPortal's high quality information delivery service was extremely well-respected in the industry, but with the business restructuring and downsizing, financially, it did not make sense for AtomicTangerine to maintain it as it was," said a spokeswoman, who added that the "best parts of the site" may be offered in different format later. SecurityPortal was created as a spin-off of its AtomicTangerine's main business early last year, however it was brought back under the wing of Atomic Tangerine this May as part of its consultancy services. Now the idea has become another victim of the dotcom recession. SecurityPortal employed 12 people, most of whom have lost their jobs. ®
John Leyden, 29 Aug 2001

Palm, Handspring wireless PDAs debut on Web

Palm and Handspring have both had their wireless PDA plans made public. Details of Palm's i705 - the successor to the VII family - and Handspring's Treo k180 and g180 have been posted on the Federal Communications Commission's Web site as part of the process both companies must undertake to get their devices approved for wireless use. The i705 - better known, perhaps, by its codename, Skywalker - sports a built-in antenna and maintains an always-on Net connection, battery power permitting. LEDs show the status of the connection. It checks email automatically, through a 'Deluxe' update to Palm's MultiMail app. It accesses Palm-formatted Web sites through the company's Web clipping technology, but we expect it will ship will a WAP reader and AvantGo's browser for other Web sites. Email and Net connectivity buttons appear on the i705's front panel (instead of the To-do List and Memo Pad buttons). Like all new Palms these days, the i705 will contain an SD card slot and the Universal Connector add-on port. Handspring's Treo family appear to aimed more at the smartphone market than the wireless PDA territory Palm is stalking with the i705. The Treo k180 (codenamed Manhattan) is essentially a PalmOS-based alternative to RIM's popular Blackberry device - hence the inclusion of a keypad in place of the usual Graffiti character entry panel. The Treo g180 (codenamed Shea) does, however, offer standard Graffiti input. Both machines can operate as GSM mobile phones, and include SIM slots. They will ship with an SMS app and Handspring's Blazer Web browser. There's an email app, apparently, but unlike the i705 the Handspring's are assuming occasional use of these features. As we say, they're more about bringing PDA functionality to cellphones than bringing always-on Net access to the PDA. Palm clearly believes that users will keep a cellphone for voice communications and a PDA for personal data and Net access. Handspring would seem to think that users will want all these applications in a single unit. With the cellphone market in the doldrums right now - witness the financial trouble over at Motorola, Nokia and Ericsson; the latter is even merging its cellphone operation with Sony's - we wonder if the Palm approach is the better one in the short-term. Then again, smartphones may be just what the cellphone market needs to revive sales. Even so, Handspring will have a hard time selling against established brands like those mentioned above. For that reason, it might be looking to licence the Treo design rather than produce and sell them itself. The lack of Handspring's differentiating Springboard add-in slots on the new devices suggest at the very least a focus on the cellphone market rather than the PDA biz and possibly a licensing angle too. Cellphones are about more features in less space, not expandability. ® Related Links Palm Infocenter: Palm i705 pics PDA Buzz: Handspring Treo pics
Tony Smith, 29 Aug 2001

Motorola to link PowerPC direct to DRAM

Motorola is set to build a memory controller directly on board its high-end PowerPC chips in a bid to accelerate the processor's ability to keep itself pumped up with instructions and data. The company's focus is, of course, on better tailoring PowerPC for embedded applications, in particular communications roles. However, such a move would come as a welcome boost for its key desktop customer, Apple. With an on-die memory controller, the PowerPC can talk to memory at its own pace and not the speed set by the main system bus. Some graphics chips use the same technique to access on-card memory as quickly as possible. "It makes a lot more sense to add high-speed memory controllers on processors," says Motorola's PowerPC products chief, Raj Handa, cited by EE Times. "Anytime you have a bus, you have to arbitrate for the bus. Rather than let it go hungry, you could feed the processor as fast as it can be fed." To date, chip designers have focused on connecting processors to cache memory to counter the latency of the system bus. First, L2 cache was connected across its own bus - more recently it has been integrated onto the chip itself, with a third cache, the L3, connected via the original L2 bus. There's a law of diminishing returns to L2 and L3 cache sizes, however, and there comes a point where adding more cache memory does little to improve system performance. At that point, chip designers wonder if they could do something more useful with all those spare transistors. Adding a memory controller is one option. There are downsides, however, and that's that it ties system developers to a specific type of memory. Handa's comments to EE Times suggest that Motorola is tending toward DDR SDRAM rather than Rambus' RDRAM. Given how far DDR prices have fallen of late and the way the world's memory makers have been predicting DDR will become the mainstream next year or 2003 at the latest, that would be a good choice for Apple and its customers. And computing applications favour cache memory since the data they process tend to be well structured, which suits the re-use of code held in L2 cache. Direct memory access is better suited to the processing of potentially randomly formatted data streams, which makes it a better technique for, say, router processors than desktop chips. Motorola already offers PowerPC-based parts with built-in memory controllers in the shape of its PowerQuicc family of network controller chips. ® Related Stories Motorola names PowerPC G5 the 8500 Motorola moots Semicon Products Sector sell-off Intrinsity to sample Intel-beating CPU late 2002 867MHz Power Mac G4 clocked to 1GHz+ Related Link EE Times: Motorola may integrate DRAM controller into PowerPC
Tony Smith, 29 Aug 2001

Psion makes loss, kills dividend

Psion has posted a £13 million loss for the first six months of 2001, even accounting for a £41 million restructuring charge as it ditches the PDA business that made it famous. As a result it has ditched its dividend. Chairman David Potter said that Psion would be focusing on high-margin corporate stuff from now on while continuing work on Symbian - the smartphone/handheld software company made from an industry conglomeration. He insisted plans to float Symbian were still going ahead. For the same six-month period last year, Psion made a £3.1 million profit on sales of £94.3 million. Sales have risen 6.6 per cent to £100.5 million but the loss is a pretty clear indication that all is not well at Psion. "The group is in the process of major and radical change while aiming to remain true to its traditions, both of technological innovation and of delivering value to shareholders," said Potter. Shareholders won't see that a 6 per cent fall in Psion share price today as delivering value though and Mr Potter must be hoping for some of his namesake Harry's magic to rub off on him. The company is relying heavily on Teklogix, which it says is "performing satisfactorily" and was "a good acquisition". Symbian will become profitable by 2003 or 2004, said Potter, but it will need another cash injection at the start of next year. Yes, Symbian has been hit by the mobile downturn but it "continues to have a leading position in terms of licensee development programmes for Smartphone products for 2.5G and 3G markets". ®
Kieren McCarthy, 29 Aug 2001

Gateway slashes quarter of staff

Gateway plans to cut a quarter of its global workforce and exit most of its overseas market. The move by the US computer maker will include chopping around 5,000 staff and shutting its Salt Lake City factory. Gateway said yesterday it expected the cutbacks to save it $300 million per year. The company is axing its businesses in Asia Pacific, while "employee consultation" is going on with regard to exiting Europe. A decision is expected to be reached on Europe within the next 30 days. The San Diego-based company plans to take a $475 million charge in the third quarter. "As tough as these decisions were to make, we're doing all the right things to create a new company with a unique competitive edge and a healthy, profitable future," said Gateway chairman and CEO Ted Waitt. Gateway, which earlier this month announced the closure of its operations in Ireland and the UK, said it expected to return to profitability in the fourth quarter. ® Related Link Gateway statement Related Stories Gateway pulls out of Ireland and the UK Gateway gets hammered in Europe
Linda Harrison, 29 Aug 2001

Samsung, Hynix DRAM exports slump

Korea's major DRAM producers are clearly having a very tough time selling memory. A very tough time indeed. And it's getting worse. Take the amount of memory Samsung and Hynix export. In July between them they exported $213 million worth of memory chips, down 41.5 per cent on June's figure and 69.4 per cent on January's, according to figures from local memory market watchers cited by the Korea Herald. SRAM exports weren't much better, with July's sales overseas falling to $51.5 million, down 26.8 per cent on June. ®
Tony Smith, 29 Aug 2001

Dmitri Sklyarov indicted

Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov, who helped develop the Advanced eBook Processor (an application which cracks the lame access controls on Adobe's eBook Reader), has been indicted by federal grand jury in San Jose, California on five counts of copyright violation under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) -- specifically, trafficking and conspiracy to traffic in a copyright circumvention device. The Russian software company for which he works, Elcomsoft, is a co-defendant. Each count of the indictment carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison, for a potential grand total of 25 years. Sklyarov can be fined up to an incredible $2,250,000, and the company up to $2,500,000, according to an Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) press release (surely a typo?). Since company principals can't be compelled to appear in US court, Sklyarov will have to serve as the DoJ's scapegoat on their behalf. He's scheduled to appear for arraignment on Thursday morning in Federal District Court in San Jose, and is currently free on $50,000 bail. Adobe is the big winner here, since it has officially 'withdrawn support' for Sklyarov's prosecution. It's likely to get the bust it no doubt wants, while appearing to be shocked, shocked, by this turn of events over which it, tragically, has no control. ® Related Link The DoJ and EFF press releases Related Stories Sklyarov freed on Bail Adobe DMCA protests spread to UK Adobe Folds! Boycott Adobe campaign launches eBook security debunker arrested by Feds
Thomas C Greene, 29 Aug 2001

Corel finds buyer for Linux distro?

Corel appears to have finally rid itself of its Linux business, which it pledged to sell off back at the start of the year. The deal is expected to be announced today, but moles have leaked details to Reuters already. The newswire claims the buyer is a start-up called Xandros and has signed a $2 million cheque for Corel's Linux division. Said operation was formed out of the Canadian company's most recent restructure, initiated this year after incoming CEO Derek Burney's review of the company's business. Burney first hinted he was considering selling off the distro last November, but formally put up the For Sale sign in January this year. Corel's Linux distro was separated from the Linux versions of Corel's application software in order to make it easier to sell the thing off. The distro was launched in 1999, part of Corel's plan to find commercial success on the back of the open source operating system. The plan largely failed, just as the company's attempt to find commercial success on the back of Java had done the previous year. Burney's sensible approach has been to refocus the company on what it's good at and best known for - ie. graphics apps and the like - and steer clear of hare-brained schemes driven by whatever's flavour of the month in the world of hi-tech. ® Related Stories Corel Linux sale 'best thing' for OS, claims exec Corel to spin off Linux desktop OS biz Corel moots Linux sell-off Corel buys SoftQuad, acquires XML brains trust Corel buys Micrografx Corel income increases
Tony Smith, 29 Aug 2001

UK let down by ‘abysmal’ mobile phone shops

Mobile phones may be ubiquitous but we are all being let down by sub-standard phone shops that fail to deliver an appropriate level of service. That is the conclusion of an in-depth report released today by Strand Consult. Strand Consult visited 132 mobile phone shops dotted around London and marked each on the quality of service and technical knowledge. The results make depressing reading. In each case, a couple with a set need entered the shop. Shops were graded on the location and design but most importantly on the salesmen - did they approach the customer, did they ask the right questions, was their recommendation the right one, did they say enough about the alternatives, did they demonstrate the phones, did they know about the latest technology etc etc. It would seem that while the number of shops selling mobile phones has proliferated, the companies running them have failed to keep the training of sales staff in line with demand. In less than half the shops were salesmen obliging. In only five shops were the couple asked the basic question whether the phone was for private of business purposes. Only half the shops asked about a budget; only 26 per cent asked how much the couple would spend on the phone; just over half managed to ask when phone calls would be made. And so on and so forth. Instead, sales staff tended to concentrate on the mobile phone itself rather than the operator or the cost of calls. Very few mentioned or even knew about WAP (although we don't necessarily count this as a bad thing). More worryingly, the salesman failed to make a recommendation about a certain phone/tariff unless pushed to and when they did, the arguments used to support it were weak. It would seem that very few shops knew where the market was headed either - not useful when 3G starts entering the public consciousness. Any shop that can answer people's queries will find customers coming back later. The report treads a fine line in accusing any shops of favouritism but does point out that those brands advertised most extensively in store are often the products recommended by sales staff. Probably just the power of advertising ;-). So what you really want to know is: where should you go and which shops were the worst. The Orange Shop in Hampstead High St is the best mobile phone shop in London apparently. However the Orange shops as a rule are not the best choice. They tend to be bunched in the middle of the shops reviewed. Instead, the best chain - no surprise here - is clearly Carphone Warehouse, swiftly followed by DX Communications. The Link, part of the Dixons Group, tend to be spread out across the whole board, which probably says more about the company's management structure than anything else. It also has the unlucky moniker of running the worst shop in London, on the Broadway in Ealing. So, which are the worst shops? Well Virgin Megastores don't do themselves any favours, but then to be fair phones are just an offshoot of the music/video bit for the stores. No, the worst two by far are - would you believe it - Dixons and Currys, both part of the Dixons Group. We should point out that the report, called The Moment of Truth also offers advice on how to improve sales staff etc etc so no doubt it would love companies to cough up for a full copy. Go here for more info. ® Related Link Strand Consult
Kieren McCarthy, 29 Aug 2001

Sysadmin spy left digital trail

The FBI investigation that lead to last week's arrest of a former Air Force sergeant on espionage charges had more in common with a modern Internet hacker hunt than a John le Carre novel, court records show. Brian P. Regan, 38, was arrested Thursday at Washington Dulles International Airport while boarding a Lufthansa flight to Zurich, Switzerland. He's charged with conspiracy to commit espionage for allegedly passing classified satellite photos and secret documents to an unnamed foreign government, called 'County A' in court filings, identified in a Washington Post report as Libya. Regan had been posted at the super-secret National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) in Virginia, the Defense Department organization responsible for building and controlling the United States' network of orbiting reconnaissance satellites. According to a 19-page FBI affidavit filed in the case last week, which relies much on unidentified "reliable source information", Regan began his abortive espionage career in August 2000, shortly after retiring from military service. Regan allegedly introduced himself to 'Country A' by passing it a set of overhead satellite photos, as well as a CIA intelligence report, two pages from a classified CIA newsletter, and other documents. At the same time, Regan, a former system administrator, gave his would-be handlers a number of encrypted messages, and a plaintext message written in English. "The initial, unencrypted message appears to be an introductory letter containing instructions to prevent detection of the messages by the US government," reads the affidavit. While the court records don't indicate what encryption system Regan favored, it evidently didn't pose an insurmountable obstacle to the FBI. "The encrypted messages, which were decrypted by the US government, set forth contact instructions, establish bona fides, and offered to provide additional classified information," the affidavit reads. Regan's alleged contact instructions had a decidedly information age twist. Rather than arrange a rendezvous in a dark alley or a smoke-filled bar, Regan allegedly referred 'Country A' to a free Internet email account he established under the alias Steven Jacobs. When FBI agents obtained logs from the email provider, they found that the account had been used nine times, all of them from Internet terminals at public libraries near Regan's home or office. One of them, in Crofton, Maryland, was five miles from Regan's home. "Physical surveillance of Regan during May through August 2001 indicated that Regan regularly utilized the public internet access located in the Crofton library," reads the affidavit. While the free email provider's records incriminated Regan on one end, computer forensics and government network logs fingered him on the other. Suspect surfed secret Web According to the affidavit, most of the images and documents Regan is accused of passing came from Intelink, a classified global intranet that links the thirteen US intelligence agencies to each other, and to their 'customers' in the White House, Congress, the Pentagon and other government agencies. Developed in the mid-90s, Intelink is estimated to have over 50,000 users with access to 'special compartmentalized information' housed on some 200 servers at over 100 physical sites. Another 265,000 users have access at the lower 'secret' level. Intelink addresses take the form http://www.nro.ic.gov or http://www.cia.ic.gov. The resemblance to Internet URLs is not coincidental-- the classified network is isolated from public access, but uses the same protocols and software as the public Internet. Intelligence analysts and operatives surf its secrets with the ease of an Internet user shopping for books online. And like the Internet, Intelink has seen an explosion of growth in recent years -- albeit behind closed doors. "Just as the Web as taken off in the real world, the Intelink web has taken off in the intelligence community," says Fredrick Thomas Martin, a former NSA official and author of Top Secret Intranet --- How US Intelligence Built INTELINK, The World's Largest, Most Secure Network. "Anything that is Web enabled and uses Web technology, the intelligence community has latched onto on Intelink," Martin says. Martin, whose Web site includes an Intelink simulation, says that the network's unbridled expansion troubled some in the intelligence community, who were long accustomed to handling knowledge on a 'need to know' basis. "They finally realized that they have big security problem here... People might access things that they shouldn't have access to," Martin says. "They nearly shut it down." Instead, Intelink restricts which Web sites legitimate users can browse. "You have to have a digital certificate to access certain things," says Martin. "You have to be cleared for whatever you see." Those access control mechanisms may have played a critical role in the FBI's investigation of Regan. According to the affidavit, when FBI agents scoured the hard drive of Regan's former office computer in April 2001 they found that "someone using Regan's password" had surfed to an Intelink URL for one of the overhead photos offered to 'Country A', and visited four URLs for other documents that were passed at the same time. Server logs from Intelink web sites tied Regan's machine to three more documents, and "Intelink audit records indicate that the URL for the CIA intelligence report....was accessed from the computer in Regan's former office at 8:52 p.m." on the day that the copy passed to the 'Country A' was printed out. A few months after retiring from the Air Force in August 2000, Regan went back to work at NRO as a employee of defense contractor TRW. His security clearance was reinstated in July, one month before his arrest. Regan isn't the first accused spy with computer expertise. Computer logs provided damning evidence against FBI mole Robert Hanssen, who pleaded guilty last month to selling the United States' most precious counter-intelligence secrets to Russia. Hanssen, an experienced computer programmer, passed information to his Russian handlers on encrypted floppy disks, kept reminders of his clandestine appointments in his Palm organizer, and routinely searched FBI computers for hints that his co-workers might be on to him. © 2001 SecurityFocus.com, all rights reserved.
Kevin Poulsen, 29 Aug 2001

Intel admits DDR i845 will ship early (ish)

It looks like our take on the reports that Intel will be shipping the DDR version of its i845 Pentium 4 chipset early were right. The chip giant is going to ship the next version of Brookdale in Q4 this year - as opposed to the official, roadmapped timeframe the following quarter. But that's only so mobo makers can be made ready for the big Q1 2002 launch. Claims that Intel might be releasing the DDR i845 early were made a week or so back by Taiwanese mobo makers and PC OEMs. That tied in with tangential comments made by memory company Hynix that Intel's support for DDR was stronger than its Q1 2002 deadline suggested. On second thoughts, we wondered if the talk of i845 coming in Q4 might simply be yet another example of shipping parts well ahead of their official debut in order to ensure customers could announce product all at the same time. It does it with processors, so why not chipsets too? And that appears to be what's happening with the DDR i845, according to comments made by Intel's desktop products chief, Louis Burns, to EBN. We ship to give customers plenty of time to ensure their products work with ours, was the gist of what Burns said. But really it's all about spinning up the launch. ® Related Stories Intel will ship DDR i845 chipset early Intel to launch DDR i845 chipset this month? Intel pushes for concerted i845 mobo launch
Tony Smith, 29 Aug 2001

Ricoh RDC I-700

ReviewReview The capabilities of Ricoh's new RDC I-700 extend way beyond the functionality of a normal digital camera. Based on the similiar RDC-7, it is Web-enabled so you can send photographs by email or upload them directly to the Internet. It's a niche product with a high price, but an interesting device that deserves our Recommended award. As a camera, the Ricoh carries a decent specification and has enough functionality to satisfy most digital photography enthusiasts. The 3.34Mp (megapixel) CCD takes sharp, vivid shots, but storage capacity is in short supply. There is a CompactFlash slot but no bundled card, so you'll have to rely instead on the 8MB of on-board memory. To be fair, given this device is intended for sending images and audio/video clips over the internet, where you're limited to low quality to keep the file size down, the 116 shots you can squeeze out should suffice. Though not the most portable of devices, the large flat rectangular shape is necessary for the 3.5in touch-screen LCD. It would be hard to manipulate data on a screen any smaller. As it's a fairly power-hungry device, there are two lithium-ion batteries included in the box. Internet access is via the bundled PC Card modem (there's also support for LAN adaptors and ATA storage cards). It's powerful but complex, and takes a while to get to grips with. The cost is high, and for straight 3.34Mp digital cameras there are better offers. But for those after a Web-enabled imaging device with instant access to images, the RDC I-700 could be an indispensable communication tool. ® Info Price: £825 Contact: 0208 261 4000 Website: www.ricoh.co.uk Specs Megapixels: 3.34 Max resolution: 2048x1536 Storage: 8MB onboard memory Removable storage: CompactFlash Connectivity: PC Card modem Battery: Lithium-ion Viewfinder: 3.5in touch screen LCD Optical zoom: 3x Dimensions: 157x93x33mm Weight: 450g Min photos on 8MB: 4 Max photos on 8MB: 116 Scoring Build quality: 8 Features: 9 Performance: 8 All details correct at time of publication. Copyright © 2001, IDG. All rights reserved.
PC Advisor, 29 Aug 2001

Notebook boss cheats death on Ducati Monster

Rock Computers boss Nick Boardman was back at work today after surving a motorbike stunt that nearly cost him his life. Last week Boardman decided to show off his latest purchase - a 104 horsepower Ducati Monster S4 - to staff at the company's Warwickshire HQ. And for extra effect the Evil Knievel of notebook manufacturing decided to get a bit flash and try a monster wheelie all the way up the driveway to the entrance of the office. Unfortunately Boardman hadn't yet mastered the brakes on the Ducati, and ploughed headfirst into the wall. The crash, which rocked the office and could be felt by staff working on the top floor of the building, left Boardman with multiple injuries, including a fractured shoulder and busted knee. He will also have wires in his wrist and thumb for the next six to eight months. "I was messing about and getting cocky," admitted Boardman today. "But thankfully I was wearing a helmet - if not I would probably be dead." As for the £8000 bike, a mere four days old at the time of the accident - it escaped relatively unscathed. ®
Linda Harrison, 29 Aug 2001

Action bags £15m supply deal

Action plc has scored a major supply deal with WS Atkins valued at £12-to-£15 million for calendar year 2001. The deal has been announced amid rumours that Action, the UK's biggest mail-order reseller, is in the frame to be bought by Insight Enterprises, the US direct marketing IT reseller. The Financial Mail on Sunday reported on 19 August that the deal was all signed and would be announced within two weeks. Action has merely confirmed that it is in "advanced bid talks" with an unnamed company. The WS Atkins deal is to run over two years and Action will supply HP kit - servers, desktops, laptops and peripherals - and Peregrine software tools to the company, a supplier of technologically-based consultancy and support. In 1999, Insight cancelled plans to buy Action, following a rapid deterioration in trading reported by the UK business during the due diligence period. Since then Action has been up for sale, but not at any price. In August 2000 Action rejected an offer which "undervalued" the business. The fact that Action is prepared to climb into bed again with Insight shows the company does not want to risk getting past its sell-by date. For the six months to 28 February 2001 Action reported it had returned to profit, posting interim pre-tax profits £400,000 on sales of £137 million. ® Related Stories Insight sets sights on Action - again
Robert Blincoe, 29 Aug 2001

Amazon opens PC store doors

Amazon today opened its PC store to the American public- and it's a straight A-brand affair. The etailer is touting AMD, Apple, Compaq, IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Toshiba lines. It is also flogging consumables, add-ons and refurb kit complete with warranties supplied by a clutch of "trusted sellers". The store opens ahead of schedule, and in time for the back-to-school crowd; in June the etailer annnounced its intention to start flogging computer equipment in the autumn. It's a funny time to be opening a PC store, in the midst of the ruined landscape of US PC retailing. Presumably Amazon is taking little or no inventory risk on the goods. Ingram Micro, the giant IT distie is handling order fulfilment, according to CRN, the US channel title. ®
Drew Cullen, 29 Aug 2001

Hynix's biggest creditor nixes bailout plan

Korea's state-run Korea Development Bank will not lend any more cash to Hynix unless a respected third-party comes up with a solid plan to rescue the debt-ridden memory maker. The debt bail-out scheme currently being touted by the Korea Exchange Bank and due to be discussed by Hynix's creditors at a meeting on Friday doesn't come close. So, at any rate, says the Bank's governor, Chung Gun-yong, according to local media. He should know: the Bank has lent Hynix around one trillion won ($967.5 million) - sufficient, say some, to make the Korea Development Bank Hynix's largest creditor. Odd, then, that Chung claims not to have been invited to the 31 August meeting. Chung reckons the KEB plan won't win the support of investors, and the only way they will be satisfied with any plan is if it has the backing of a "reputable third-party institution". If he has anyone specific in mind, he isn't saying who it is, but it's clear that only an independent body has the clout to persuade all the creditors and stakeholders that a given rescue plan can work. ®
Tony Smith, 29 Aug 2001

BT Retail chief ‘fiercely opposed’ to sale of local loop

Pierre Danon has been at BT for less than a year and already he's being tipped to take on the top job at the telco when Sir Peter Bonfield finally decides to step down. That's some endorsement. The Register caught up with CEO of BT Retail to find out how he's bringing about change within the company. Anyone who harbours any thoughts that BT might still be interested in selling its local loop should talk to Pierre Danon. The CEO of BT Retail is adamant that the wires that connect his customers to the phone network should remain in BT's hands. "I consider the local loop as absolutely the core business of BT," said Monsieur Danon. "And if there is one thing you don't do, you don't outsource your core business. That is the most stupid thing you can do. "Of course, it generates an immense competitive advantage - which is why we have a regulator. "However, I just cannot deliver a customer experience if I don't have the integrated chain of the service delivery. I am fiercely opposed," he said. Monsieur Danon's dismissal of Earth Lease's £8 billion offer to buy BT's local loop typifies his approach to the job. Charged with defending BT's market position, he is adamant this can't be done by selling off core parts of the operation. To him, it simply doesn't make business sense. But defending BT's position is only part of the equation. Monsieur Danon believes it's time for BT to become more aggressive in the marketplace, not just standing its ground but gaining market share as well. The former president of the European division of the Xerox Corporation was appointed CEO of BT Retail in October 2000. His task was to head the business unit and develop and maintain its relationship with the telco's 21 million customers in the consumer, public and private sectors. Eleven months on and he openly talks about a cultural transformation within the company that he believes is already delivering results. "When I took over there was this mentality that we were a big fat Sumo wrestler where competition was invited by regulation to hit us and we could not hit back. "I think we have done a very important cultural transformation saying, 'That's enough'. "The only thing the regulator has asked us to do is to fight fairly. We will fight fairly - but fiercely. "We are not going to continue losing market share," he said. It is at times like this that you witness a steely determination and sense of direction that many believe has been absent from within BT. Insiders openly talk of Monsieur Danon bringing a "breath of fresh air" to the telco. Earlier this year he set an ambitious goal of cutting costs by £850 million over the next three years and is already confident he will deliver £240 million in savings this year. He is also focused - almost to the point of obsession - on improving customer satisfaction. He monitors BT Retail's performance each week and reports detailing customer satisfaction are never far from his reach. "70 per cent of our customers are very satisfied. That's not bad. There are plenty of companies that would be happy to do that. Nonetheless, is not better than the competition...and it needs to be," he said. Perhaps it is this attention to detail that has meant that in the last three quarters BT has lost just one per cent of its market share. And in the last quarter, BT even gained 0.2 per cent market share, taking it to 73.4 per cent. Some critics might scoff at this tiny improvement, but for a company that has been losing market share at a rate of six per cent a year, it is a noticeable turnaround. Time will tell if this is just a statistical anomaly or a blip in a downward trend. Monsieur Danon, though, believes it heralds the start of BT's fight back. "There was a kind of loser mentality within BT. It was normal that [people thought] we would lose market share...and there was nothing we could do," he said. The sense of pessimism was compounded by views that Internet phone calls and the growth of mobile phone would also squeeze BT's traditional voice business. However, Monsieur Danon maintains this attitude is defeatist. "Yes the voice business will erode, there is probably no doubt, but if you make it a self-fulfilling prophecy you can be sure that it is going to accelerate. Therefore we are going to defend the core and we need to sell more to our customers," he said. And that appears to be the key of Monsieur Danon's approach. Defending his business with a passion is only part of the equation. He's also been charged with growing his earnings by five per cent a year - around £50 million. The question is, how? "Our key asset is our customers and our brand," explained Monsieur Danon. "These position us as a retailer, a distribution business. That is a positioning I want to establish more and more strongly. I distribute traditional voice products, but actually I want to become a distributor of communication services. I want to do more and business with my customers in the area of communications. "We have a vision of being a customer centric distribution organisation within the communication services areas," he said. The recent initiative to market digital TV services to its customers is perhaps the clearest sign of what's to come. However, Monsieur Danon declined to expand on his plans preferring instead to present his initiatives to the board first. While he's hinted at what might lie ahead for BT, it remains to be seen if the changes will pay off in the future. BT has had a rough time of it lately and has more than its fair share of critics. Monsieur Danon is doing his utmost to defy the doubters and improve the operation. ®
Tim Richardson, 29 Aug 2001

Online adults won't pay for music downloads

If the music industry thinks it can make money charging for digital music downloads, it can think again - punters just aren't interested in paying for music online. So concludes G2, yet another subsidiary of research colossus Gartner Group, after surveying the purchasing plans and habits of 4000 online adults. Tellingly, only half of them use their PCs to listen to CDs. Only a quarter listen to downloaded music. So 50 per cent of the sample don't play music at all on their computers. That would seem to clash with the widely-held perception that PC owners use their machines to listen to music. Certainly plenty of kids and college students do so, but it's interesting that the demographic with the higher disposable income don't. We can't say we're surprised. Older, wealthier folk tend to be happy to buy hi-fi kit and would generally rather listen to music from the comfort of the armchair than hunched up in front of a PC. Digital music is more likely to have a future if it's accessible from the living room through the usual kit, than from the PC in the spare room. Equally essential to that future, we reckon, is a universal pay, download and play system. Who wants to load up a different client every time they want to download and listen to something? G2 concurs. "Digital distribution needs to be brain-dead simple for consumers, and any digital rights management solution deployed should work with all music software and hardware," said analyst P J McNealy. "The percentage of Internet music buyers is not likely to increase with new Internet services being developed by the big five music companies unless they make their copyright protection systems more flexible to entice consumers." Absolutely. But don't expect it any time soon. Sony has come together with Vivendi Universal to form Pressplay; BMG, EMI and AOL Time Warner have MusicNet; but the two aren't the truly compatible. All will work in Windows, but it's not clear to what extent Mac and Linux clients will be supported. ® Related Story EMI, BMG, AOL define universal Net music scheme
Tony Smith, 29 Aug 2001

NGUK gets fragged

It looks like gaming ISP NetGames UK's decision to cancel their 0800 Internet dialup service was the beginning of the end. As forum posts over the last few days indicate, the entire core staff of the company has been sent packing, and although the servers remain, leagues and tournaments are being placed on hold pending further announcements from the company's MD Andy Jones. It's not all over though. Jones seems confident that something good will come out of the service's failure. Speaking in a public IRC channel he said that the chaps running the service had walked "a while ago", before taking what some might consider a sideways swipe at competitors Blueyonder and their complement of former Wireplay staffers, stating that "unlike other organisations our affairs remain silent until we deem the time is right." "Effectively guys, consider that we have just surgically removed ourselves from NGUK," he continued. "It's not happened ultra recently as you have all probably guessed and we remained silent, but now it will get in the way of what we wish to do and so we've now made it public. And that's the story. I wish NGUK well, it just won't be serviced by us." After his comments were relayed to the NGUK forums, fans of the service and voluntary admins pledged their support for the future. At least until the service is overtaken by software updates. Voluntary admins remain in theoretical control of NGUK's gaming services, but they only have game level administration rights, which limits them to kicking, banning, messaging players and very little else. Community admins have kept control of the IRC channels, but the big problem is that nobody is left who can physically access the servers, or even log in remotely. In the event of a patch (which given that a large number of the 239 NGUK game ports run Half-Life, Counter-Strike and Quake III is extremely likely), nothing can be done to bring the servers up to date, and they are destined to fall into disuse, clogging up the UK Master Servers until somebody decides to block them. ® Copyright © 2001, Eurogamer.net. All rights reserved.
Eurogamer.net, 29 Aug 2001

ATI signs up to support 3GIO

ATI has thrown its weight behind 3GIO, the Intel-backed third-generation I/O spec., in opposition to arch-rival Nvidia's support for HyperTransport, the AMD-backed third-generation I/O spec. Cynics will argue that ATI's support was bought at the price of a Pentium 4 bus licence. The truth of the situation is probably more prosaic. ATI makes graphics cards that connect to the host PC though either its PCI or AGP bus. Since 3GIO is not only the successor to both of these technologies, but the one that will unite them, it makes a lot of sense for ATI to stick its oar in as soon as it's able. Nvidia may have to support 3GIO at some future time for the same reason. Some unnamed members of the HyperTransport Consortium are working on an adaptor card connector schema, but it doesn't appear to be priority to Consortium members, at least as far as their documentation goes. And, indeed, AMD's support for 3GIO through its co-directorship of the PCI Special Interest Group, the PCI spec.'s steering committee. HyperTransport development seems - for now at least - more focused on chip-to-chip communications. Hence Nvidia's interest - it's using the technology to connect the north- and south-bridge chips that comprise its nForce chipset. That chipset in turn connects to AGP and PCI buses. ATI too is getting into the chipset business, with product expected by the end of the year. That's too early for 3GIO, which isn't likely to emerge in products before 2003. It is, of course, plausible that ATI may yet join the HyperTransport Consortium too, but since it's looking at connecting its own north-bridge part to other companies' south-bridges, we suspect not, at least not yet. There's certainly no reason why HyperTransport and 3GIO can't co-exist. We can see a world of HyperTransport-connected chipsets connecting the CPU to the rest of the system across 3GIO direct graphics and, via the south-bridge, switched 3GIO add-in cards. The HyperTransport Consortium's apparent disinterest in adapter card connector specs. and the 3GIO team's keenness on said, along with AMD's PCI-SIG vote of 3GIO suggests the HyperTransport camp has conceded that part of the system to its rival. 3GIO, on the other hand, is still being positioned as a chip-to-chip interconnect that can be used to link north- and south-bridge parts, so AMD is presumably hoping that, with its 12-month lead in the market, its technology will become a de facto standard or - ideally - the template for that aspect of 3GIO. HyperTransport as specialised sub-set of 3GIO, anyone? ®
Tony Smith, 29 Aug 2001

CBI warns of UK cybercrime epidemic

Two thirds of British companies have been hit by cybercrime in the last 12 months, according to a survey out today. Hacking, viruses and credit card fraud were the most common incidents, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) claims. Its survey of 148 companies also found that the main threat came from external hackers, which accounted for 45 per cent of cases. Former staff and organised crime were both responsible for 13 per cent, and current employees for 11 per cent. Although around 70 per cent of respondents said financial losses were negligible, they were most worried about the damage cybercrime could do to their reputation. "This survey clearly shows that fears about potential financial losses and damage to reputation from cybercrime are stalling the growth of e-business, especially for business to consumer transactions," said CBI director general Digby Jones. Perhaps what is most surprising about the survey is the fact that the CBI managed to find a relatively large number of businesses that hadn't been hit by viruses or hacking. The CBI also urged the government to set up a UK centre for cybercrime complaints - similar to the Internet Fraud Complaint Center in the US, and to also extend the Computer Misuse Act of 1990 to attacks that cause IT systems to fail. Meanwhile, another report out today suggests, unsurprisingly, that fear of fraud is hindering e-shopping. According to The Association for Payment Clearing Services, fewer than 1.5 per cent of credit and debit card purchases were made online last year. ® Related Stories 'Bill Gates' hacker escapes jail European police ill-equipped to tackle cybercrime
Linda Harrison, 29 Aug 2001

Torvalds best man quits SuSE

Dirk Hohndel has quit his post at SuSE, ending a seven year association with the company he helped found. Hohndel was CTO and since February acting President of the US operation. Linus Torvalds' best man leaves to pursue "personal and professional" interests, according to a statement put out by SuSE's Oakland office, which covers just about everything, doesn't it? Holger Dyroff, currently SuSE Inc's sales director is named as the leading US executive, although not 'President' as such. Hohndel was a technology strategy at Deutsche Bank, along with his predecessor as SuSE's US President Volker Weigand, a nucleus for the foundation of the German distro. Last month SuSE moved CEO Roland Dyroff onto the board with former CFO Johannes Nussbickel taking the chief executive mantle. ® Related Stories SuSE sheds German jobs We haven't gone titsup.com says SuSE's Wiegand
Andrew Orlowski, 29 Aug 2001

Scott Adams designs the post-Dilbert cubicle

What on earth has overcome Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert? While his Dilbert cartoons continue to lampoon the sadism and futility of white collar office life, Adams has apparently lent his blessing to what he most despises: the cubicle. Design company IDEO is showcasing a cubicle inspired by and developed with input from Adams, which you can peruse here. It's very much like one of those sixties visions of the workspace of the future, where androgynous types in white turtle necked vinyl tunics absent mindly cradle one of their executives desk toys (usually a miniature horizontal lava lamp). There was little work to do in that imagined future - with workers having long since been replaced by Puters - but plenty of time to play with executive toys, and wait for the next video conference with relatives colonising Mars. So has Adams sold out, or what? On closer inspection, this whimsical parlay could well be a physical extension of the Dilbert strip. How else to account for the 'sun indicators', or as the blurb says:- "Regardless of the weather outside, sunlight travels across your space, glowing and fading with the rhythm of the day." Yes, to remind you of the futility of your miserable, rabbit hutch existence, of course. Or the wallflower Murphy seat which triggers an 'urgent' phone call thirty seconds after someone's sat in it. Some things - like Cubicles, Stairmasters or anything to do with marketing - are so alien and demeaning to the human condition that making them bearable is as futile as scenting faeces. He's being satirical, dammit. We hope... Related Story Dilbert creator chooses most-creative expense claim
Andrew Orlowski, 29 Aug 2001

Internet Explorer 6 – one man's odyssey

If you didn't know, Internet Explorer 6 was officially released yesterday (you can get it here). So we figured we'd download it, try it out and tell you whether it's worth it. [We're assuming you're not upgrading to Windows XP at the moment, in which case you'll get Explorer 6 anyway. You do need Win98, 2000, NT4] So, what do you get? Well, according to Microsoft, Internet Explorer 6 will give you "a private, reliable, and flexible browsing experience". This comes down to four selling points: Tools to Protect Your Privacy, Reliability You Can Count On, Flexibility To Experience the Web the Way You Want and A New Intelligent Design. Truth is you won't notice any difference. Hang on though - the MSN Messenger button has gone. And been replaced by a Media button. This is actually a bit annoying for this reporter at least because I've started using MSN Messenger but can't see why I'd want a Media button. The Media button opens the side panel that you get with History or Favourites. Some people like these, most just find it annoying because it cuts a big chunk off the browser screen. Of course, click on anything in the Media section and you'll be forced to wonder why you haven't downloaded the latest version (7) of the Media Player. So we downloaded this as well (well, might as well go the whole hog). Brief tangent: new Media Player has basically pinched and installed everything that makes all the other media players popular. It does seem incredibly memory and processor hungry though. But back to M$' selling points: better privacy. True, ish. You've got a bit more flexibility as regards security levels, and a bit more information about the cookies you're being offered. But not enough for most people to make any kind of reasoned judgement, and not enough for them to be induced to muck around with the default settings. So no major disruption of business as usual there then. What else? Reliability. Apparently when Explorer crashes, rather than just crashing, it will tell you why it crashed and even send the info to Redmond so they can make everyone's lives better. We haven't checked this yet because it hasn't crashed yet (incredible, we know - an entire day too). And who really cares? If it's crashed, it's crashed. (Ed's note: this is sort of a good idea, the point being that Microsoft Central can get automated reports of what's causing most crashes, and therefore is far better positioned to decide which bugs to nail first. But... When you get a popup asking if it's OK to send something entirely unintelligible to people you definitely don't trust, are you really going to click OK?) Flexibility To Experience the Web the Way You Want. What that means is the new image Toolbar, Media button and auto image resize. The image Toolbar - which allows you to send or save an image at the click of a button (a little box appears if you hold the cursor over a pic) - will only appear if you have WinXP. You can still do it though by right-clicking. It will save you having to save images on the desktop and then save them into an email or whatever. [This, it turns out, is wrong. The image toolbar will appear on any OS but - get this - only if the image isn't a link or doesn't have any alt text.] We've mentioned the Media button. The auto resize basically constricts any pic that doesn't fit on the page so that it does. Which is handy, although if you want to pinch a pic and do some Photoshop on it, you will now have no idea how big the file is. It may also stop people realising that they've put up a hi-res pic by mistake and so pages may start taking longer to download. But then you can't legislate for stupidity. Also, was the Edit button always there? We can't remember. Anyway, it lets you pull the source into Notepad or Word with one click. A New Intelligent Design. Yes, but only if you're running it with Windows XP. Otherwise you won't notice any difference in look and feel. (Ed's note 2: I didn't notice with XP either. Must try harder) One really annoying thing - as with every Explorer upgrade - is that it insists on adding loads of Bookmarks to your browser. Maybe people like this, maybe it causes them to try out new sites and go Wow! when they realise what they've been missing all these years. But we just find it incredibly annoying - not least because we always have to check them to make sure we haven't missed out on any sites for all these years. Don't worry, it's all corporate bollocks - Disney, Warner Brothers etc. And lastly there's Develop Web-Based Applications Quickly and Easily - but that's for developers so we'll ignore it. So, download Explorer 6 or not? Well, if you're the kind of person that likes to be right at the forefront and then bore everyone else to death with your fascinating observations, you'll have it anyway. For the rest of us normal beings. Yes, if you have a spare hour or so. Or if you desperately want to see poptart Louise's new video. If you’re a bit obsessed with cookies, then yes. Otherwise - well, if you're going to get WinXP at some point, don't bother. If twiddling with new things doesn't get you going and you'd rather spend an extra hour in the pub, don't bother either. (ED's note 3: what about smarttags then?) ®
Kieren McCarthy, 29 Aug 2001

Flash flood swamps AMD

AMD sales will fall 15 per cent sequentially from Q2 to Q3 - and flash memory is largely to blame, the company said to day. In previous guidance for the quarter, AMD said that sales would fall 10-15 per cent to the quarter. Sales of flash memory, for so long the AMD milch cow, are still expected to sink 30 per cent, panning out to a whopping $100m fall in revenue in Q3. So we guess this means that processor revenues are not performing quite as well as AMD had hoped. The company says that unit sales in Q3 will "remain at or near the record level of the second quarter, when AMD sold 7.8 million units". AMD's updated guidance was delivered by sales boss Rob Herb in presentation at Wit Soundview Semiconductor Conference in Santa Clara, California, the homeland of mortal enemy Intel.
Drew Cullen, 29 Aug 2001

Who needs RDRAM anyway?

Intel Developer ForumIntel Developer Forum Intel has given its firmest commitment yet that a lower-cost SDRAM chipset for its Pentium 4 processors will be available in the "next couple of weeks". The promise on delivery of the i845 chipset was made by Anand Chandrasekher, Intel's vice president of marketing, during a roundtable at IDF today, where he (perhaps unintentionally) made a convincing case against the RDRAM memory used by P4s. Compared to machines using the 850 chipset (which features RDRAM memory), systems featuring the i845 take only a 3-5 per cent performance hit on memory intensive applications, according to Chandrasekher. Although the absolute cost of memory modules makes little impact on the price of systems the i845 allows the use of a much more economical "ecosystem" to be built around it, he said. Intel's goal is to design a four-layer board around the i845, which will mean considerable cost savings compared to the six-layer boards needed for systems based on 850 chipsets, Chandrasekher said All this points to the suggestion that the 845 chipset will be attractive outside the cost-conscious segment of the market for Pentium 4. With the arrival of a DDR memory chipset in the first quarter of next year whose performance is only 2 percent down on that of RDRAM, the 850 seems destined only for those looking for state of the art equipment. Intel's willingness to target the price sensitive segment of the market is not without its limits - any idea that Intel might deliver a Celeron-style stripped- down version of the Pentium 4 remains only a debate. ® Related IDF Stories 2GHz P4 will turn us all into DJs Wintel touts the next leap in computing Project Jackson breaks cover - Xeon in 2002, Itanic later Intel goes bananas over Banias Smack My Bits Up - Intel exec
John Leyden, 29 Aug 2001

Secure the Wireless Network firmware

Intel Developer ForumIntel Developer Forum Security issues surrounding wireless networking can be addressed without upgrading hardware, Intel said today. The future ubiquity of wireless networking has been a key theme of the IDF this week, with much talk of a mobile computing future where laptop computers automatically select the best connection via either a wireless LAN or high-speed mobile network. This is an attractive vision but there's serious concerns that recently released tools, such as Airsnort, will expose the insecurity of wireless networks, particularly since the security of installed networks has repeatedly been described to us as "flaky". Encryption experts, among them Adi Shamir, the co-inventor of RSA, have highlighted cryptographic weaknesses in the WEP (Wired Equivalent Protocol) security that ships with 802.11b. Best practice calls for the use of virtual private networking techniques to encrypt data flowing over wireless Lans but this is often not followed. Carol Jacobson, manager of Intel's wireless initiative, said weaknesses in WEP can be addressed by upgrading the firmware on existing kit and won't entail a forklift upgrade of kit (just better key management technology). The next generation 802.11i standard for wireless networking will provide a long-term solution, she added. Another concern raised during a panel on client initiatives at IDF was fears about interference arising from the number of different technologies using the 2.4GHz band. Bluetooth devices, 802.11b wireless networking kit, some US mobile operators and even devices from Radio Shack designed to pipe TV signals through the home use the over-occupied band. According to Jackson, Bluetooth devices and 802.11b wireless equipment do not interfere with each other in airport environments and the like, where their use is emerging. However she admitted a few devices in the IDF technology showcase had "stepped on each other". Hmmm.® Related IDF Stories Intel goes bananas over Banias 2GHz P4 will turn us all into DJs Wintel touts the next leap in computing Project Jackson breaks cover - Xeon in 2002, Itanic later McKinley, Deerfield speeds and feeds
John Leyden, 29 Aug 2001