17th > October > 2001 Archive

Freds and Threads knot AMD's Hammer

MPFMPF You know you're getting older when the Freds you meet at chip conferences start looking younger. The Freds you expect to meet should look something like this: aged late forties, possibly early fifties; taciturn, but always ready with an anecdote about the 8-bit days when processors had no MMUs; grey haired, and possibly with a few silver streaks of soldering iron ingrained in their palms, much like the residuals of mercury that eventually turned old milliners into Mad Hatters. AMD's Fred: Fred Weber, isn't like that at all. Dammit he's our age, and at Microprocessor Forum he was everywhere at once. When we caught up with him he had a wee bone to pick. He wanted to explain in some detail why AMD's NUMA-like x86-64 wouldn't be slow in the way that Intel's NUMA-like IA-64 (some of whose team he's poached) would be, he said. "You can call it NUMA-like, as long as you emphasize the '-like' more than the 'NUMA'," he told us. You see NUMA, or cache-coherent non uniform memory access MPs still have a bad name. Sun, which now also has a NUMA-like design in its new Hello-Pino UltraSPARC IIIi, said very much the same thing. They just want to be '-liked', too. "You've got it all wrong," he didn't say. No, what he said was: "Even in a single CPU machine the difference between near and far memory accesses is far smaller than a cache miss" NUMAs were dogged by latencies in having to fetch memory from a remote location. This is a good as fixed, said AMD (and Sun). "The latency in a four processor system is 140ns, and in an eight-way is 160ns. These are very respectable latencies compared to ccNUMA systems today," he said. "We have the memory controller running at the same frequency as the chip. We can pump 2.1 GB/sec through a four-way, but really it's 8 GB/sec. Bus systems can get 400 MB/ sec. So this is a new architecture, and it's really the end of the bus." * The OS now booting on Platform Four.... Given that Hammer will eventually supersede Athlon on the desktop, we enquired about the state of OS and tools support for x86-64. Weber said that AMD was working with SuSE and others to provide a simulator on Linux, and that an alpha gcc compiler was ready. Sure, but what about The Beast? "VirtuTech is an x86-64 simulator and on that, you can boot Windows XP," he said. C'mon. We weren't falling for that kind of kidology. You can boot anything on a simulator - so was XP really running natively on x86-64? "That's something Microsoft can tell you," he said. He wouldn't. But um, hasn't Hammer support already been identified in Windows XP source code header files, as we've reported? "Glad to see you've noticed!" he beamed. Weber was equally not very forthcoming about Solaris on x86-64, beyond saying that it was "very solid" and acknowledging there was no reason why the x86 version couldn't make it onto Hammer, too. Weber dropped a fairly strong hint that future Hammer versions would support the multiple cores on a die approach, or CMP, used in POWER4, PA-RISC8800 and MAJC. "If you look closely you'll see the label 'CPU1', so it supports CMP already," he said. "But we're not announcing anything." And threading? "Threading is very interesting, but we've looked at all of these - CMP, SMT - and none of these is going to be an overnight sensation". And with that, he was off.® * Is it the end of the bus? Or is the bus simply at the end of the line? Having lived in both San Francisco, Ca. and Manchester, England we're familiar with the bus stopping halfway to its destination, and the driver turning the lights out and wandering off to light a joint leaving you to walk the rest of the way home. Maybe there's a metaphor in there, struggling to get out. Related DIY AMD nails Hammer specs
Andrew Orlowski, 17 Oct 2001

How Sun swerved to avoid Rambus

MPFMPF If semiconductor conferences had half a dozen Kevin Normoyles they'd be packed to rafters. Fortunately, we found one: Sun's very own project lead for its Hello-Pino USIIIi processor, and he proved fabulously good value. (Although much of what was offered can't be printed. And mostly because it defames us.) Normoyle ran through the genesis of UltraSPARCIIi and UltraSPARCIIIi (aka Jalapeno) which he summarised like this:- "At Sun, if a project is successful then the organization changes around you. USIIi wasn't devised by a big team, it was a bunch of us yahoos. But before USIIi you couldn't get a Sun box for under $10,000, and now you can get one for under $1,000" So that gave the Jalapeno design team some clout. Now in most other companies, such a renegade project - one that cannibalizes the tasty margins of sibling product lines - would have been stomped into the ground in short order (cf "bradsilverberg"'s famous lowercase memo on Microsoft's corporate culture). But Sun seems to let such projects survive and prosper, which is pretty remarkable. But one anecdote out of the unprintables is worth preserving, and it's the story of how Sun managed to sidestep the Rambus memory farrago. One of Jalapeno's breakthroughs is asynchronous memory, which has a Moonie-like following amongst academics but which is rarely seen in the field. Reliable sources tell us that's because it's extremely difficult to instrument and test. Or as Kev puts it, "how do we know the data is there?" Sun's challenge was that two years ago, Rambus had the field to itself. "It was brilliant technology, but from a business point of view, it had the market sewn up." But the only alternative, DDR, didn't do what the Jalapeno team wanted it to do: "We had this constant headache. The timings were screwed up." The answer came from some academic work by Mark Greenstreet at the University of British Columbia, and work done in Sun Labs. Sun introduced ripple FIFOs and at the last moment the academic equations proffered by Greenstreet provided the answer. Normoyle was well aware of academic asynchronous memory work done in Manchester, England, but was able to adopt the techniques in the field. "The cost to the industry of this whole RAMBUS-DDR war has been enormous - it's been a fiasco," he says. Original Jalapeno's were destined for two-way systems, but the four-way was eventually accommodated. The adoption of JBUS came quite late in the day, and again was improvised from internal research, Normoyle credits Dave Bassett for the breakthrough. (Incidentally, the name is inspired by Senor Jalapeno burrito parlour in Sunnyvale, home to the Sun chip team). Now somewhat alarmingly, Kev expressed a murderous desire for revenge, including the suggestion of starting a website about The Register. Don't worry Kev - such reactions are normal amongst industry execs. El Reg has acquired some notoriety for revealing SPARC plans earlier than Sun likes to announce them, but this dear SPARC plugs, is the highest form of flattery:- we're paying attention, and you're worth the attention. And this, surely, is far preferable to being ignored. ® Related Stories Sun peppers low-end with McKinley-killer Jalapeno Sun primes Jalapeno as McKinley killer
Andrew Orlowski, 17 Oct 2001

Win-XP denounced as terrorism tool

A computer forensics specialist warns that default security features in Windows-XP might bring civilization to its knees at the hands of pedophiles, tax cheats, and, of course, international terrorists. Forensics outfit New Technologies' President, Michael Anderson, a former Fed himself, is claiming that the secure file-wipe feature in Win-XP Pro is going to "make it impossible for federal agents and law enforcement to find and reconstruct digital evidence buried on computers, particularly those seized from terrorists," according to an article by Network World. [my emphasis] Of course there's BCWipe, Norton Wipeinfo, Evidence Eraser, the PGP wipe feature, and so on. But these require crooks to lift a finger; and as we all know, the 'science' of computer forensics depends on really dumb criminals who think deleting a file is the same as erasing it. Arguably, there would be no computer forensics cottage industry if naive point-and-drool crooks didn't screw up so often. Real forensics tools cost real money and require qualified (i.e., expensive) technicians. Our Anderson is clearly hoping to get away with using EZ tools like Norton Diskedit to sell 'expert' testimony for a fast buck. Perhaps the Network World article's touchingly un-skeptical author, Senior Editor John Fontana, might have troubled to take a peek at the New Technologies' Web site. There, in a welcome message, we're told up-front that the company subsists on "the exploitation of the security weaknesses in DOS, Windows, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT and Windows 2000 to find computer evidence and computer security data leakage." That's right, the company freely admits that it feeds on intrinsic security weaknesses, and naturally is appalled that Microsoft should do anything so unpatriotic as mass-market a more secure OS which would require them to know their stuff to stay competitive. Clearly, Anderson's lament has nothing to do with fighting terrorism, and everything to do with preserving the crummy security status-quo that earns him and his employees a living. Like most bottom-feeders on the WTC atrocity, he lays on the Stars-and-Stripes anti-terror rhetoric with a trowel. "This is an intelligence issue....the government and Microsoft need to think this thing through," Anderson warns. He wants the US government (presumably the now-panicky DoJ) to delay the 25 October XP retail launch until he and his geeks can figure out a way to defeat its file-wipe feature. How long that might take is anyone's guess. Naturally, if the cottage forensics industry has been living off the slack they've been given, they're in a poor position to gear up for an effective assault on readily-available, decent file security. Or maybe Anderson's company is simply worse than most at recovering data not attributable to 'security weaknesses'. Either way, he's a damnable bastard for trading on the WTC outrage to muscle the DoJ into accommodating his rickety cash cow. There are good reasons to use secure file wiping, especially in e-commerce and financial settings -- indeed, wherever sensitive data needs to be kept under control. "Secure deletion....like cryptography, provides more benefit than harm," @Stake Research Director Chris Wysopal notes. "Companies should be practicing positive data destruction to limit the information they hold to only what is required to run their business. Holding on to sensitive information, such as customer records, past its usefulness, gives attackers more booty to steal, increasing risk." Sound advice. It's taken Microsoft quite some time to acknowledge the security shortcomings of its professional products. The last thing we need is some flag-waving opportunist trying to derail this development because he hasn't got the technical savvy, equipment, or qualified staff needed to stay in business otherwise. It's ironic. First we had tiring propellerhead Steve Gibson claiming hysterically that the inadequate security measures in Windows-XP would bring the Internet to its knees at the hands of sociopathic teenage brats. Now we've got a would-be profiteer telling us that civilization is in mortal danger from terrorists exploiting the superior security measures in Windows-XP. What are we to make of it all? ® Related Stories A little hall-of-shame of tech interests straining to exploit the 11 September catastrophe: Recording industry exploits WTC tragedy to hack you iomart cashes in on WTC tragedy Brain-scans can defeat terrorism, InfoSeek founder claims Face-scan outfit rushes to exploit WTC atrocity
Thomas C Greene, 17 Oct 2001

Intel Q3 sales down 25%, income down 96%

Intel put a brave face on it, but its Q3 sales - described by CEO Craig Barrett as "solid... in a turbulent environment" - showed but a slight improvement over Q2 and a 25 per cent fall on the same period last year. Revenue totalled $6.5 billion, in the middle of the range the company specified in its pre-report forecast. Worse, its income was down 77 per cent year-on-year and 23 per cent quarter-on-quarter to $655 million (ten cents a share). By comparison, Q3 2000 saw earnings of 41 cents a share. But those figures exclude one-off expenses, including a share buy-back programme (essential now that Wall Street has wiped out the value of staffers' once-prized stock options), debt write-offs and acquisition costs. Factor those in and Intel's income falls to a mere $106 million (two cents a share), down 96 per cent on the year-ago quarter. This despite having to pay $100 million less tax. Gross margin was 46 per cent. Looking ahead, Barrett is "confident" of "moderate" growth in the company's processor and Flash memory businesses. Hardly a ringing endorsement that the company - and the market - is on its way to recovery, but the company reckons its well prepared to reap the benefits when the economy does pick up. It is sticking to its $7.5 billion capital expenditure programme for the full year, and reckons it will have four fabs up and running at 0.13 micron by the end of the year (three are already on stream). Intel expects Q4 revenue to come in at between $6.2 billion and $6.8 billion, so growth will indeed be "moderate" - though perhaps 'negligible' would be a better word. Gross margin is expected to be 47 per cent. Intel will issue further guidance on 6 December. ®
Tony Smith, 17 Oct 2001

Egg to axe up to 50 jobs

Egg is to shed between 30 and 50 jobs as part of a restructuring exercise, the company confirmed today. The jobs cuts - modest in nature compared to the 2,000 or so currently employed by the online bank - will be finalised by the end of the month. The job losses are part of a "comprehensive organisational review" currently underway which the company said is likely to yield an exceptional restructuring charge of around £2 million in Q4 and annual savings of more than £4 million after that. News of the cuts comes as Egg confirmed it is within weeks of breaking even. Paul Gratton, CEO of Egg plc, said: "Our core UK business remains on-track to break-even at some point during the fourth quarter." Which is exactly what Egg has been saying since the beginning of the year at least. Mr Gratton continued: "With revenues growing strongly quarter on quarter and costs remaining flat we are moving confidently towards profitability." Picking out the key financial highlights for the three months to September the online bank saw operating income double to £127 million, up from £61.2 million in the same quarter last year. At the same time pre-tax losses fell by 29 per cent from £25.5 million in Q2 to £18.4 million in Q3. It also managed to attract some 83,000 new customers during the last quarter giving it a total customer base of some 1.8 million. ® Related Stories Egg has cracked online finance Egg still on target to break even in Q4 Egg to break even in Q4
Tim Richardson, 17 Oct 2001

Rambus shines through economic gloom

Rambus' fourth quarter proved to buck the trend in the chip market, showing not only sequential growth but an improvement over the same period last year. The company's figures certainly make a change from the long list of statements announcing declining sales and earnings. Revenue for the three months to 30 September hit $27.9 million, up 20 per cent on the previous quarter. Year-on-year growth was a meagre four per cent - which would usually barely trouble the scorer, but in the current economic climate is worthy of note. Royalty revenue rose 27 per cent during the quarter to $25.1 million. Net income was up to $6.6 million from Q3's $3.9 million, but still well down on the $10.2 million the company reported this time last year. Income would have been a lower had Rambus not experienced a "a significant reduction" in its legal costs. It spent $2 million less suing sundry rivals this quarter than it did during Q3. Q1 2001 could see the trend continue if its action against Micron is quickly dismissed thanks to the precedent set by the Infineon case. Then again, Rambus' lawyers will earn a healthy sum out of the company's appeal against the Infineon judgement. Revenue for the full year was up 62 per cent on the previous twelve-month total to $117.2 million. Net income for the year reached $31.8 million, up on the $21.5 million Rambus reported for 2000. As ARM showed earlier this week and Rambus has proved, selling intellectual property rather than physical product is the way to be - doubly so when buyers just aren't buying. ® Related Story Shot in the ARM
Tony Smith, 17 Oct 2001

Andradi slaps BT's broadband knockers

Ben Andradi, President and COO of BTopenworld, has hit back at critics who claim that BT's DSL service is too expensive and that the monster telco was not truly focused on broadband because of its continuing obsession with reducing its debt mountain. Speaking at the Broadband Communications Europe trade show at Olympia, London, Mr Andradi said: "BT is very committed, very excited about broadband. We are investing billions in broadband." And he said that while he wanted lower broadband prices BT's hands were tied by the regulatory environment in the UK. He said: "We have a very different regulatory environment in the UK compared to the rest of the world. "Our regulatory framework prevents us from cross-subsidising DSL. "Yet, our cable competitors can cross-subsidise - it is something we cannot do," he said. Commenting on the success of low-cost unmetered narrowband products in the UK, Mr Andradi added: "We want similar achievements for broadband." Last week BT Retail chief exec, Pierre Danon, also said that DSL prices were too high. He said that regulatory pressures were to blame for the continued high prices but also added that the success of unmetered narrowband Net access was acting as a deterrent for the take-up of broadband. ® Related Story UK broadband prices 'too high' says BT Retail boss
Tim Richardson, 17 Oct 2001

Apple insider trading suit expanded

Lawyers Milberg Weiss' claim that Apple directors deliberately sold $22 million worth of AAPL shares just three weeks before announcing a massive revenue downturn has been granted class action status. The suite was filed a wee while back on behalf of the Hawaii Structural Iron Workers Pension Trust Fund. Essentially, it alleges senior Apple staffers profited from their inside knowledge of very poor sales of the Power Mac G4 Cube and declining interest in the iMac on the part of Apple's education customers. Four Apple executives sold 370,000 shares and then, the suit says, some 25 trading days later, Apple issued its revenue and profit warning. Almost immediately, over a couple of days' trading, its share price fell from around $61 to $13. No wonder the Fund is pissed off - and so, its lawyers expect, will be many investors who bought Apple stock during the Mac maker's fourth quarter of fiscal 2000, between 19 July 2000 and 28 September 2000. It is welcoming any of them who are to join in its legal action against Apple in the hope of winning significant damages. ®
Tony Smith, 17 Oct 2001

IBM PC business takes a hammering

IBM has reported a 19 per cent decline in Q3 profits, saying sales were dragged below estimates by the global economy downturn. Sales for the quarter, ended 30 September, hit $20.4 billion, down from $21.78 billion a year earlier. PC, hard disk, and distributed software sales were all hit by deferred spending. The company's hardware division reported a 21 per cent drop in revenue to $7.5 billion; PC sales slumped by 29 per cent. Lou Gerstner, IBM chairman and chief executive, said: "The PC segment of our industry remains in trouble, and this negatively affected our PC and hard disk drive businesses." IBM claimed servers had performed well and that it had grabbed market share in the Unix sector. It said revenues from z900 mainframe servers grew strongly, revenues from the iSeries mid- market servers increased in all geographic areas, while pSeries revenues declined in part because customers were awaiting the new Regatta servers. IBM Global Services brought in $8.7 billion in the quarter, up five per cent on the year-ago quarter. This is the second consecutive quarter that the division has made up the major slice of IBM's sales. Gerstner said: "The third quarter saw an acceleration of the fundamental shift in customer buying behaviour that is altering our industry's landscape. Customers now allocate an increasing percentage of their spending to solutions, not boxes." IBM signed $10 billion in services contracts and concluded the quarter with a contract backlog of $97 billion. ® Related Stories POWER4 debuts in IBM Regatta
Robert Blincoe, 17 Oct 2001

Transmeta CEO replaced after seven months

Transmeta has replaced its president and CEO, Mark Allen, after barely six-and-a-half months on the job - just two days ahead of the publication of its Q3 results. We've yet to hear a more sinister harbinger of trouble ahead - doubly so when the chairman has to stress his confidence in the company: "I remain extremely positive about Transmeta's technology, business model and the very strong team of over four hundred employees." It doesn't sound to us like he's confident at all. That Allen has departed under a cloud is evident from the company's statement on the matter. Not only does it provide no honourable excuse for Allen's departure - there's no 'spending more time with his family' or 'decision to explore other ventures', all common euphemisms for senior staffers who're given the boot - but replacement CEO Murray Goldman (already the company's chairman) noted that "this was a very difficult decision made after considerable deliberation". Which doesn't sound like they guy left either of his own accord or amicably. Neither does the phrase: "After carefully reviewing the company's recent performance, Transmeta's Board of Directors determined that these management adjustments are in the best interests of shareholders." Allen joined Transmeta on 1 March, to allow then-CEO Dave Ditzel to focus on the company's technology and move over to become CTO. COO Hugh Barnes will take over the company presidency. ®
Tony Smith, 17 Oct 2001

VIA preps Pentium 4 ‘clone’

If Intel won't give us a Pentium 4 bus licence, we'll make our own Pentium 4. That, in effect, is what VIA told attendees at the Microprocessor Forum yesterday. The chip - described in an interview with EBN as a "Pentium 4 clone" - is codenamed CZA and will run at 2GHz, utilise an 18-stage pipeline to get it there, and employ a "Pentium 4 bus" and P4 design concepts. It will be fabbed at 0.10 micron, but won't ship before 2003-2004. The CZA is based on a new P4-style architecture, so it's no straightforward successor to VIA's current C3 family of x86 processors. The next C3-series processors, internally known as the C5X (aka Nehemiah) and the C5XL, both of which will ship during the first half of next year at 1.1-1.5GHz. Both may ship as the C4. Interestingly, the follow-up to the C5X, believed to be dubbed the C5Y and codenamed Esther, is expected to ship in the second half of next year. That part is thought to the the one that will take VIA's chip family to 2GHz. At which point, presumably, it will be succeeded by the "Pentium 4 clone". ® Related C3 Stories VIA C4 to hit 2GHz during 2H 2002 VIA C3 roadmap extended to 1.2GHz+ Related VIA vs Intel Stories VIA enters mobo market Intel countersues VIA - again Intel takes VIA P4 Patent War to UK, HK, Germany VIA tries to stop P4 sales VIA sues Intel, claims ownership of Pentium 4 patents Intel sues VIA over chipset upset
Tony Smith, 17 Oct 2001

MS-Samsung sign Windows home network, digital music deal

A Microsoft-Samsung deal signed in Korea yesterday could take the software company further into the hardware business. At the Shilla Hotel, Seoul (a venue well-known to Register hacks) Bill Gates and Samsung Electronics Digital Media Group president Chin Dae-je signed a memorandum of understanding covering co-development of home/entertainment appliances. According to a report in today's Korea Times, Microsoft's contribution will be Media Player and eHome technologies, while Samsung will produce " integrated consumer electronics technologies that combine entertainment, communication and control equipment." The technologies the companies come up with will go into both desktop computers and appliances, but it's the presence of eHome in the deal that provides the clearest signpost. Microsoft's eHome isn't really a technology as such, but another one of those visions the company is so prone to having. A few years down the line the company anticipates home networks made up of multiple different network types, cable, wireless, Firewire and so on, all linking together seamlessly. Everything in the home will be networked, PCs will talk to stereos, appliances will be used for home control systems and Windows Media Player and WMA format will be popping up everywhere. As indeed, presumably, will secure digital media systems... As a major manufacturer of consumer electronics devices (and, while we're about it, everything else) Samsung could turn out to be quite a catch for Microsoft, while from Samsung's point of view the deal could give it a lead if - as His Billness intends - Windows takes over in the home and entertainment arenas. Note that Samsung wasn't in the supporters list for next year's model, the Tablet PC, but as this figures fairly high in Microsoft's vision of the connected future, we can surely now expect the company to come up with similar/related gear. According to Chin Dae-je, the two will "take the lead in constructing a convenient and inexpensive next generation digital home by jointly developing personal computer related equipment, information electronic appliances and digital information equipment.'' Which seems to cover quite a few bases... You have been warned. ®
John Lettice, 17 Oct 2001

Intel's Server Roadmap

UpdatedUpdated You might think that Intel's server processor release schedule would be settling down a little after the problems the company has had over the last quarter or so with late shipments of Pentium III Xeons and the delays to Foster, the 0.18 micron Pentium 4-derived Xeon processor. And indeed Intel's latest roadmap does show the company firming up its roll-out of 0.13 micron Xeon processors, largely in harmony with their desktop equivalents. It also puts in place a solid release schedule for high-density blade server systems, all based around its 0.13 micron Tualatin-based Pentium III-S processors. Incidentally, Intel appears to be phasing out the 'Pentium III Xeon' brand in favour of 'Pentium III-S', the name it introduced when it debut the first Tualatin (0.13 micron) server PIIIs. Yet is also refers to the parts as plain old 'Pentium III' and even 'Tualatin'. But there are delays. The 0.13 micron four- and eight-way Xeon chip, codenamed Gallatin, has been put back three months to Q4 2002, undoubtedly because of the delay to its 0.18 micron predecessor, Foster, which instead of shipping last quarter will now appear early next year. Prices for the 1.4, 1.5 and 1.6GHz multi-way Xeons will be $1177, $1980 and $3692, respectively. AMD-style, they will be branded as Xeon MP processors. Prices for other parts, where we have them, are listed in the roadmap. Come 2003 and Intel will introduce Nocona, a faster Xeon aimed at dual-procesor systems, and will bring its Banias mobile chip to high-density servers. In the IA-64 world, McKinley's commercial release appears to have been put back from May 2002 to June 2002, but given Intel's fluid approach to Itanium releases, with initial pilot programmes and later full-scale roll-outs, that's not entirely surprising. Nor is the arrival of Madison, the successor to McKinley, which will now take place early 2003 rather than Q4 2002. New specs. are listed: Madison will have a massive 6MB of on-die L3 cache, and Madison will debut at 1GHz. New introductions include the Plumas 533 chipset, which extends Plumas' 400MHz frontside bus support to 533MHz. Intel will also release the Plumas LE, designed to take the chipset into more price-conscious markets. And Intel will offer Granite Bay, a new chipset for workstations, in Q3. That's about the same time as it will release Tehama-E, its next-generation Rambus-based chipset for the desktop market, so we should perhaps expect Granite Bay to be a souped up version of that part. ® Q4 2001 ·Itanium - 0.18 micron McKinley - 1.5-3MB on-die L3, 256KB on-die L2, 400MHz FSB, 128-bit system bus (pilot programme) ·700MHz Pentium III-S - 0.13 micron Tualatin - 512KB L2, 100MHz FSB, 1.1V core (uni-processor thin, low-power servers) ·Chipsets: i870, Enabled January 2002 ·1.4, 1.5GHz Xeon MP - 0.18 micron Foster - 512KB on-die L3 (multi-processor systems) $1177, $1980 ·1.6GHz Xeon MP - 0.18 micron Foster - 1MB on-die L3 (multi-processor systems) $3692 February 2002 ·800MHz Low-Voltage Pentium III-S - 0.13 micron Tualatin - 512KB on-die L2, 133MHz FSB (blade systems) ·800MHz Ultra-low Voltage Pentium III-S - 0.13 micron Tualatin - 512KB on-die L2, 133MHz FSB (blade systems) March 2002 ·2.2GHz Xeon - 0.13 micron Prestonia - 512KB on-die L2, 400MHz FSB (workstation, dual-processor systems, low-power rack servers) $669 ·Chipset: Plumas - DDR + Infiniband support Q1 2002 ·1.4GHz Pentium III Xeon - 0.13 micron Tualatin - 512KB on-die L2, 133MHz FSB (dual-processor, blade systems) $320 June 2002 ·1GHz Itanium - 0.18 micron McKinley - 1.5-3MB on-die L3, 256KB on-die L2, 400MHz FSB, 128-bit system bus (dual- and multi-processor systems) released as commercial product following pilot programme Q2 2002 ·2.4GHz Xeon - 0.13 micron Prestonia - 512KB on-die L2, 400MHz FSB (workstation, dual-processor systems) Q3 2002 ·2.53GHz Xeon - 0.13 micron Prestonia - 512KB on-die L2, 533MHz FSB (workstation, dual-processor systems) ·Chipset: Plumas 533 (1U, 2U dual-processor systems) ·Chipset: Granite Bay (workstations) ·1.53GHz Pentium III Xeon - 0.13 micron Tualatin - 512KB on-die L2, 133MHz FSB (blade systems) ·933MHz Low-Voltage Pentium III-S - 0.13 micron Tualatin - 512KB on-die L2, 133MHz FSB (blade systems) ·900MHz Ultra-low Voltage Pentium III-S - 0.13 micron Tualatin - 512KB on-die L2, 133MHz FSB (blade systems) September 2002 ·Chipset: Plumas LE (1U dual-processor systems) Q4 2002 ·2.4GHz+ Xeon - 0.13 micron Prestonia - 512KB on-die L2, 400MHz FSB (workstation, dual-processor systems) ·2.53GHz+ Xeon - 0.13 micron Prestonia - 512KB on-die L2, 533MHz FSB (workstation, dual-processor systems) ·1.6GHz+ Xeon MP - 0.13 micron Gallatin - 1-2MB on-die L3 (multi-processor systems) Q1 2003 ·Itanium - 0.13 micron Madison - 6MB on-die L3 (workstations, dual- and multi-processor servers) ·Itanium - 0.13 micron Deerfield - 3MB on-die L3 (rack servers) 2003 ·Xeon - 0.13 micron Nocona (dual-processor systems) ·Banias (high-density 'blade' servers)
Tony Smith, 17 Oct 2001

Intel unveils Prestonia's successor, Nocona

Intel's IA-64 Itanium isn't going to kill Xeon - at least not before 2004. Instead, server-oriented processors based on the IA-32 architecture will continue to be developed and launched through 2003. So the company said at Microprocessor Forum yesterday, when it announced Nocona, a Pentium 4-derived processor aimed at the "high volume, dual-processor server market", Intel Enterprise Architecture Lab director Dileep Bhandarkar said. As you can see from our Intel server roadmap, Nocona will follow the arrival of Prestonia, the 0.13 micron Xeon die-shrink aimed at uni- and dual-processor servers early next year and, in Q4 2002, Gallatin, the version of Prestonia modelled for four- and eight-way machines. Nocona is essentially a faster version of Prestonia. Prestonia will debut next March at 2.2GHz, rising to beyond 2.53GHz through the year. Gallatin will arrive in Q4, at over 1.6GHz and with at least 2MB of on-die L3 cache. Nocona, like Prestonia and Gallatin, will be branded as a Xeon processor. Bhandarkar also said that Banias, Intel's next-generation of mobile processor, will also make its way into the company's server product line as a chip for high-density servers, replacing the company's current Tualatin-based Pentium III-S processors. Like Nocona, Banias is due to ship in Q3. ®
Tony Smith, 17 Oct 2001

Infineon and Toshiba close to DRAM deal

Infineon and Toshiba are a spit and a handshake away from merging their DRAM production operations. The official line, following Infineon's admission a month or so back that it's talking to Toshiba, is that they are still talking. But sources close to the German semiconductor company have told EBN/I> that the two are on the verge of a deal. So close is the merger agreement, the sources said, that Infineon's personnel department is already drawing up strategies to combine the two companies' workforces. Toshiba announced in August that it was considering selling off its loss-making memory business or merging the operation with another company. At the same time, Samsung admitted that the Japanese manufacturer had been touting its memory business to not only itself but other "ranking DRAM makers around the globe". Days later, Infineon said it too had been approached by Toshiba. ® Related Story Samsung confirms Toshiba is trying to sell DRAM biz Related Link EBN: Infineon, Toshiba move closer to DRAM merger deal
Tony Smith, 17 Oct 2001

New MS division to push developer relations, .NET

18 months on from merging its Developer Group and Platforms Division, Microsoft is again spinning it out, this time as the Developer and Platform Evangelism Division, with the special brief to schmooze developers and evangelise .NET. VP Technical Strategy Eric Rudder is being promoted to senior VP to head up the division, which will still be a part of Jim Allchin's Platforms Division. You may well wonder how you tell whether a Group or a Division is more important at Microsoft; it seems to depend. Rudder's Division, part of a Group, will itself consist of the Developer Division, Developer Marketing and Enterprise Tools, the Content Development and Delivery Group, and Platform Strategy and Evangelism. Whatever. Organisational abilities have never been among Microsoft's strengths, but keeping the developers onside has traditionally been one of the company's secret weapons. So this week's move is intended to get developer relations back into focus, in preparation for getting .NET out of the door and embraced by them. ®
John Lettice, 17 Oct 2001

IR35 ‘escape case’ knocked down by legal experts

The case of Martin O'Murphy vs Hewlett-Packard - which has been viewed by many as an effective escape to IR35 - will have little bearing on the widely-criticised tax legislation, legal experts have warned. The unfair dismissal case, started in March this year and closely followed by Web site AccountingWeb, concerned IT contractor Martin O'Murphy and his relationship to HP, where he had worked for six years as a contractor. A Tribunal Appeals ruling finally decided that Mr O'Murphy was not an employee of HP, leading many to believe it could be used to undermine the unpopular IR35 tax legislation. However, Baker & McKenzie employment partner Sarah Gregory and legal expert Rebecca Seeley Harris (who frequently covers IR35), have both dismissed its importance, stating that employment law and tax law are two very different beasts and that the definition of employment in one need not affect the definition in the other. Gregory was quoted on AccountingWeb as saying the case "was merely saying that the contractor was not an employee of HP, but such contractors could still fall foul of the IR35 rules because they would be classed as employees under those rules and their own service company would then be responsible for deducting income tax." Seeley Harris argued for the different approach in different areas of law, saying they maintain "the flexibility of the law which, when it goes against you seems to be a travesty but, when it goes in your favour appears to be justice". That the Tribunal is also fairly low down on the court hierachy, whereas IR35 has been debated in the High Court, also makes the case less significant than first thought. The relationship between contractor and company forms the basis of the controversial IR35 tax legislation, which many in the industry say is unfairly disadvantaging them and is evidence that the UK government doesn't understand the knowledge economy. Mr O'Murphy hired himself through his own company to an agency which then had a service contract with Hewlett Packard. HP terminated its contract with the agency abruptly in 2000. A tribunal initially decided Mr O'Murphy was an employee but this was overturned during an appeal, which said he wasn't. If you want to know more, check out AccountingWeb's latest story here. Related Stories PCG appeals against IR35 ruling IR35 judicial review over IR35: the govt's viewpoint IR35 protesters enter High Court IR35 High Court date set CBI, FSB, PCG ask for rethink on IR35
Kieren McCarthy, 17 Oct 2001

Intel unwraps designer cybershirt

Move over McCartney. Give it up Ghost. Saddle up Oldfield and get out of town. Yup, the days of the celebrity fashion designer are today numbered with the news that Intel is moving into hi-tech haute couture. Chipzilla has teamed up with Helena Rosén of London's Central St Martins College of Art and Design to take the technology packed into the wafer-thin 2D form of the Pentium 4 processor and mirrored the "opening up" of a 3D computer world in her self-assembly fashion range. Blimey. The so-called 'AnyWear*' range - featuring prints taken from the stunning architectural blueprint of the Pentium 4 processor - is heralded as an innovative street-style collection [which] will cater for today's mobile, infotainment-led generation. What this apparently means is an Intel t-shirt from a vending machine customised to your personal taste. It's happening, it's now, and it makes sense for the way you live today. Oh yeah. According to designer Helena, "For people on the move, I think the future is for virtually instant clothing that adapts to your lifestyle and how you use technology." Agreed. But where will we put all of those must-have cyberaccessories? Fear not: To complement the T-shirt, versatile carriers (shoulder or back-pack) produced in recyclable materials are designed to make your digital essentials (MP3 player, camera, PDA, ID card etc.) easily accessible. ID card? Now that they've redefined the future of clothing, is there anything else that the fashionistas would like to let us in on? ®
Lester Haines, 17 Oct 2001

Telewest ticked off by ad watchdog

Telewest has been ticked off by the Advertising Standards Authority following a complaint from BT. The monster telco whinged that one of Telewest's direct mailing campaigns - which sought to show how the cableco's phone charges compared to BT's - was misleading. BT reckoned the direct mailing failed to include a 3.5p connection fee when making comparisons to BT's phone tariff. Announcing its verdict today the ad watchdog sided with BT insisting that the connection charges should be prominently displayed and not tucked away in the small print. A second complaint by BT, which alleged that the call duration used by Telewest in the direct marketing campaign gave the advertisers "unfair advantage", was turned down by the ASA. ®
Tim Richardson, 17 Oct 2001

Compaq preps iPaq with integrated wireless

Compaq is preparing a version of its iPaq PDA will built-in wireless networking, one the company's contract manufacturers has let slip. South Korea's LG Electronics said this week it had received an order from Compaq to build iPaqs for shipment mid-2002, DigiTimes reports. LG wouldn't say how many iPaqs it has been contracted to make, but it did note that the deal is independent of Compaq's merger with Hewlett-Packard (it if goes ahead). It also said the contract centred on a wireless product. Compaq already has add-on wireless packs for its current iPaqs lined up to ship in December. The unit supports both GSM and GPRS networks. A Bluetooth unit is due next month. At this stage it's not clear whether the LG device integrates cellular or local area wireless networking, but the smart money has to be on the former. ® Related Stories Palm, Compaq head-to-head in Euro PDA market Compaq almost doubles iPaq sales in Q2 Compaq iPaq Q1 sales skyrocket PDA plant to end Compaq iPaq supply woes Related Link DigiTimes: Compaq awards iPAQ orders to LG
Tony Smith, 17 Oct 2001
The AC130U US gunship

Tom Clancy style look at war porn software

In the absence of solid news about what exactly is going on in Afghanistan as the US, and to a lesser degree us in the UK, bomb the hell out of the country, western newspapers have inevitably turned to features about the equipment we are using to bomb the hell out of the country. But while a national newspaper editor may ask: what is the full rundown on the military equipment we are using?, we at The Reg are more interested in the more IT-related side. In this case: How many lines of code does it take to kill hundreds of Afghans? The answer is 609,000 and this the number of lines of code in the software for the AC130U's computers and avionics systems. What's the AC130U? It's the huge gunship that has just hit the papers because it has been brought in for low-level precise devastation of various points so that special forces can be landed safely and then do whatever job they're there to do. The AC130U is called Spooky and also called the "U-Boat" and is either the greatest example of heavy firepower in the world or hell in plane form depending on how you view war and whether it's on your side or not. The 609,000 lines of code apparently make it the most complex aircraft weapon system in the world, although we're sure that Windows contains more lines. Amazing how small software can be when you put your mind to it (or care about how big it is). Spooky contains one 25mm and one 40mm cannon, firing 1,800 and 200 rounds a minute respectively. It also has a howitzer-sized 105mm gun, firing six to 10 rounds a minute. That is a lot. All the guns poke out the left hand side and the plane circles over a target anti-clockwise. They are Hercules transports converted by special ops to be used for close air support, interdiction, armed reconnaissance escort and area defense missions. Here are two pics for you perusal. Neither very good but there you go. If you want to know everything you could ever wish to know about it (and better pics) look here. ®
Kieren McCarthy, 17 Oct 2001

BT and One2One lose 3G court battle again

BT and One2One have lost in their second attempt to sue the government for £85 million a piece for "lost" interest on 3G payments. A High Court appeal in June (stemming from a decision against them made a year ago) made its decision today and that was: Stop bloody whingeing and get on with it (or words to that effect). It all began when the two companies paid the government in May last year for the ludicrously expensive 3G licences. BT paid £4.03 billion and One2One (owned by Deutsche Telekom) £4 billion. However Vodafone and Orange did not pay their £6 billion and £4.1 billion respectively until three months later. Why? Because Vodafone was in the course of buying German company Mannesmann, which happened to own Orange. Part of the deal for allowing the sale to go through was that Vodafone would sell Orange to someone else. It did - to France Telecom. When everything was settled, the two coughed up, but BT and One2One felt hard done by to the tune of £1 million a day in interest on their payments. The legal angle was that the government had given the others an unfair competitive advantage. This argument was thrown out the High Court in October 2000. An appeal was held July this year and decided today against allowing the companies to take the case to the House of Lords. Of course BT and One2One have now vowed to appeal against this by going to the Law Lords. Hopefully the Law Lords will tell them to bugger off as well, but then when £85 million is potentially at stake, you can't blame them for pushing it. £85 million buys quite a lot of legal process. ® Related Stories BT and One2One back in court over 3G BT share drop over 3G ruling 3G phones fund the UK's future
Kieren McCarthy, 17 Oct 2001

Scumbag virus writers try to whip up ‘Anthrax outbreak’

Pond life virus writers are trying to spread mass mailing email worms under the guise of important information about the Anthrax bacteria. Fortunately their efforts have proved futile because the malicious code they designed fails to work. Analysis of the worm's code by antivirus experts at Kaspersky Labs has revealed that fatal bugs keep the virus from effectively propagating, so the interest is in the squalid motivations of scumbag virus writers. The malicious code (called VBS.VBSWG.AF@mm to avoid giving it the name 'Anthrax virus' that the tossers who wrote it craved) was written using the VBSWG v1.0 virus construction kit, which was also used to develop the Anna Kournikova worm. You're unlikely to see it, but if you get an email bearing the subject line Informacion Sobre El Antrax or Antrax Info, and carrying an attachment (commonly ANTRAXINFO.VBS or ANTRAX.JPG.VBS), don't open it. You won't get the pictures of Anthrax infection it promises, even if you probably won't up spreading the virus to other people. ® Related Stories: Thousands of idiots still infected by SirCam Kournikova virus kiddie gets 150 hours community service Anna Kournikova bug drops harmlessly onto the Net Users haven't learned any lessons from the Love Bug Rise in viruses within emails outpacing growth of email Internet will become 'unusable' by 2008
John Leyden, 17 Oct 2001
DVD it in many colours

Zeus rips platform to splatter Apache

Zeus Technology, best known as the fastest Web server for static content, is trying to extend the appeal of its software outside its hosting heartland by improving dynamic content delivery with a major new release. Available form October 23, Zeus Web Server Version 4.0 is claimed by its developers to allow twice as many people to access a Web site at the same time, and over a continued period, compared with competitive products, such as Web servers from Apache and iPlanet. Version 4, Zeus' first major release since 1997, is 45 per cent faster than Apache in delivering dynamic content such as PHP and "roughly equivalent" in Java performance, executives from Zeus told us today. Apache Web servers have been considered more flexible than those from Zeus and for this reason - and the fact Zeus charges for its Web server software - its software has a significant but niche role in the marketplace. Zeus, number four in the Web server marketplace with a share of around 2.4 per cent, tends to be used where performance is the overriding factor, such as on very busy Web sites and by hosting firms, who need to run a very large number of simple sites from a small number of servers. Adam Twiss, chief executive of privately-held Zeus Technology, said with version 4 it was trying to position Zeus as the dominant platform for Unix Web server developers, overtaking iPlanet (which has around 4.1 per cent of the market Netcraft reports). As well as the performance improvements, Zeus is touting its visualisation tools and far better security record than competitors (particularly Microsoft's Swiss cheese Web server, IIS). It has also kick-started a developer programme to position it for the emerging Web services market. ® Related Stories Blistering fast Web server benchmark from IBM, Zeus Ditch Microsoft IIS now, says Gartner Sun lures IIS defectors with iPlanet price cuts Can IIS flourish post-Gartner? Netcraft Web Survey: August 2001
John Leyden, 17 Oct 2001

Brazil beats UK in DSL stakes

When it comes to broadband, the UK is being leapfrogged by nations such as Brazil, according to the latest research from London-based Point Topic. Its latest analysis of the global DSL marketplace found that at the end of June 2001 there were more than 10 million DSL lines offering broadband access - an increase of 354 per cent on the same period last year. What's more, some nations are steaming ahead with the deployment of their broadband services. The report acknowledges that growth rates in North America are slowing, while growth rates, in Europe, Asia Pacific and South America remain strong. Said John Bosnell, editor of Point-Topic's DSL Worldwide Directory: "Twelve months ago, countries like Japan or Brazil hardly registered in the DSL totals. "But now these markets are starting to mature. For example, in the last six months, Brazil has overtaken the UK in terms of DSL subscribers. "In the same six month period, the number of DSL subscribers in Japan increased by 2,900 per cent," he said. Zeroing in on the leading DSL operators in the world, the research found that US and Korean outfits continued to lead its world-wide league tables. In Europe, it found that Deutsche Telekom was the largest DSL provider, well ahead of Telecom Italia and France Telecom. Spain's Telefonica ranks 16th, with the UK's BT coming in at a lowly 24th. Oh well. ®
Tim Richardson, 17 Oct 2001

Westlife subscription website in teen fleece outrage

Highly talented Irish gusset-moisteners Westlife have created a storm of protest over plans to charge fans a whopping £14.99 for special access to their new website. The boy band claims that subscription to 'Westlife Platinum' - due to a 29 October launch - will give hormone-crazed teens extra footage and interviews. Naturally, this has upset their loyal fans who have been expressing their disapproval on the BBC's Newsround site. Among the tearful teenyboppers is Lucy, 14: Hi I am Westlife's biggest fan, but I think it is not OK for them to charge me for just looking at there website. I mean, don't they make enough money when I buy there albums, videos books etc? Apparently not. And what about young Jem, 13?: I think Westlife are being selfish wanting more money. They have enough already and it is particularly tasteless regarding the recent attacks on America because there are starving people much more in need of money than they are. I think their plan should be dropped immediately. We couldn't agree more. In fact, why waste £14.99 on five short Irishmen when we have a perfectly good short Irish crooner here at Vulture Central. Intrigued? Our operators are standing by to take your call... ® Related link If you can't wait until 29 October, why not visit Westlife's current website?. It's a flashtastic multi-media experience, to be sure.
Lester Haines, 17 Oct 2001

EMC to ditch another 4,000 workers

Fresh from getting ousted by IBM at its flagship customer Wal-Mart, EMC has reported its first quarterly loss for 12 years. And it's going to can about 4,000 jobs, which will leave it with around 19,000 workers by the end of the year. Sales have free-fallen 47 per cent in the quarter ended 30 September, to $1.21 billion. Losses for the period were $945 million. In the same period a year earlier, the company reported a net income of $458.2 million, on sales of $2.28 billion. EMC announced its refreshed range of Symmetrix Enterprise Storage systems on 10 September. The next day no one cared. "This is a very difficult time for nearly all businesses," said Mike Ruettgers, EMC executive chairman. "Like many technology companies, we normally complete most of our business in the third month of every quarter." The company announced it was showing 2,400 employees the door in September. ® Related Link EMC results Related Story IBM kicks EMC where it hurts EMC isn't major competition anymore - IBM IBM+EMC = win-win or dog's dinner? EMC slashes 2,400 jobs
Robert Blincoe, 17 Oct 2001

Why UK Internet had a bad hair day yesterday

LINX, the UK's biggest Internet peering exchange, has resolved a major networking problem that affected the performance of the Internet across Britain yesterday. Early yesterday morning, an unnamed member of LINX (London Internet Exchange) began spewing broadcast traffic onto the exchange. The Foundry switch it was connected to then suffered packet loss. The problem persisted even after the offending port was disconnected and resulted in the failure of some peering sessions throughout the day. LINX has a dual vendor network featuring Extreme Networks Black Diamond i and Foundry Networks BigIron 8000 and 15000 10Gbps-capable layer two switches (see diagram here). With major problems with one of the core BigIron 8000 Foundry switches, the other Foundry switches started suffering. The Extreme switches weren't affected and traffic was still able to flow over them, however in many cases this meant following a most circuitous alternative path. Because traffic wasn't flowing smoothly around LINX's network yesterday throughput was severely down as can be seen by the exchange's jagged bit rate graph for yesterday. Normally LINX handles around 11.7 Gbps of traffic but this was probably halved yesterday. Vanessa Evans, LINX's sales and marketing manager, described yesterday as "hairy" but said things had now returned to normal. Engineers have identified the cause of yesterday's persistent fault and completed repairs to bring the peering mesh at the exchange back to normal. ® Related Stories London Internet Exchange traffic breaks 6Gbps LINX denies ISP witch-hunt M$ gets into LINX
John Leyden, 17 Oct 2001

AOL revenues up…

AOL Time Warner has delivered some upbeat news with the publication today of its Q3 results. The monster Internet and media group reported that total revenues for the three months ended September 30 increased six per cent to $9.3 billion from $8.8 billion during the same quarter last year. Earnings before interest, tax etc (EBITDA) was up 20 per cent to $2.5 billion. Q3 net loss was $996 million - up from $902 million during the corresponding period last year. Focusing just on the America Online Internet operation, Q3 revenues rose from $1.9 billion in Q3 2000 to $2.2 billion this year. Subscription revenues for its service increased 14 per cent to $1.4 billion. Interestingly, AOL's advertising and commerce revenues were up 5 per cent on last year at $624 million. EBITDA outperformed group earnings - up 22 per cent at $742 million. In a statement CEO, Jerry Levin, said: "The keys to our success in this difficult environment are clear. AOL Time Warner greatly benefits from the diversity of our revenue streams and the quality of our assets, built on a strong strategic and financial foundation." Earlier this week AOL announced it now had more than five million members in Europe. ® Related Story AOL notches up 5m users in Europe
Tim Richardson, 17 Oct 2001

Apple to launch ‘digital device’ next week

Apple will try to move beyond the computer market next Wednesday when it launches its first non-Mac product for years, something the company describes in invites to the launch as "a breakthrough digital device". The possibilities for what it might be are endless - and almost all of them have been rumoured at some time to be under development in Apple's labs. Gadgets that immediately spring to mind include a PDA, a Web pad or a set-top box. Perhaps Apple has bought the Kerbango Internet radio or the Audrey home information appliance off 3Com? Sources tell CNet that it's a digital music player, which would pitch Apple against the likes of Sony, Creative Technology and the very well established Rio. Short of offering QuickTime support and the company's famed industrial design, it's hard to see what Apple could do that these others haven't. Whatever Apple does come out with next week, it will almost certainly tie into the company's Mac OS X Digital Hub strategy. All the digital content device types Apple has promoted as ideal companions for OS X are well supplied by other companies and many of them Apple already sells through its online store. The fact that other companies can do these kinds of products better than Apple can is one of the main reasons why Apple stopped trying to do them itself. It's hard to see what's changed. ®
Tony Smith, 17 Oct 2001