2nd > May > 2002 Archive

Micron walks away from Hynix

Hynix's creditors still want the Korean chipmaker to be sold. Korea Exchange Bank President Lee Kang told Bloomberg "Creditors have not changed their original position that Hynix should be sold. "I hope that a channel of further talks with Micron has not been severed." Well it looks well and truly mangled - today Micron said it has ceased all talks with Hynix, following the rejection by the Korean firm's board of its $3.4bn takeover proposal In a statement, Steve Appleton, Micron's Chairman, President and CEO, said: "Despite considerable efforts, the parties could not reach a preliminary agreement. After careful evaluation, we are unable to discern a process that would allow the numerous parties involved to reach agreement in a timely manner. As a result, we are withdrawing from the Hynix negotiations. We appreciate the extraordinary efforts of all those involved in the negotiations." Hynix's board and unions reckons the company can go it alone. However, the creditors are owed almost $5bn, And they have the right to convert $2bn worth of bonds into equity next month, giving them a 75 per cent stake. Hynix needs radical re-organisation and investment. Following Micron's long, arduous and unsuccesful pas de deux with Hynix, it's very unlikely that any other semiconductor firm will come along as a dance partner. Hynix, or more likely, its banks, will have to get it into shape first, And what then? Most likely, it'll still end up being bought - by Micron, or Samsung, or Infineon. ®
Drew Cullen, 02 May 2002

Telewest axes 1,500 jobs

The UK's second biggest cableco, Telewest, is to slash 1,500 jobs as part of plans to save up to £50 million a year. Publishing its first quarter results today Telewest chef exec, Adam Singer, said: "I am announcing measures designed to create an even leaner Telewest, and bring forward a break-even cash position. Regrettably, this will result in significant job losses." The cableco's headcount will fall from around 10,500 to 9,000 following the restructuring. Up to two thirds of of the redundancies could be compulsory, according to reports. Looking at the numbers, total turnover for the three months to the end of March was up 4 per cent to £334 million compared with Q1 2001. Pre-tax losses for the quarter were £166 million, down 21 per cent on the corresponding quarter a year earlier. The cableco said debt stood at around £5 billion. Telewest also announced that cable modem broadband numbers continued to grow boasting a total of 148,000 broadband subscribers. ®
Tim Richardson, 02 May 2002

Anti-EULA script removes offending text

An imaginative person has created a VB script which will search for an End User License Agreement (EULA) in temporary files created during the installation of a program or application, and remove or replace the text so the user can truthfully claim never to have seen it. It's an interesting approach to one of the more irritating among numerous toxic by-products of the New Economy. Because software makers presume users to be bound by text which is read and agreed to after the sale, the idea here is to undermine the presumption on which the agreement is based. It's a bit facile, and probably not legally effective for a hundred reasons; but it is a fun idea which gives us another way to look at a controversial feature of modern computing. An amusing and quite clever substitute for EULA boilerplate, which helps illuminate its absurdity, has been posted here. "Software manufacturers give the appearance of a sale (you buy it in a standard retail store, you pay sales tax, etc.), but after they have your money they spring this 'agreement' on you and suddenly it's a lease. Ladies and gentlemen, this is known as _fraud_," the author says. Notably, he distinguishes between copyright, which he says he respects, and arbitrary restrictions on the use of a purchased product. "For no other type of product would we consumers tolerate this nonsense -- not even other copyrighted works like books or CDs. When you buy something it's yours and only the _law_ can restrict how you use it, not the manufacturer. Copyright gives authors the power to prevent others from publishing their work, but it is not a blanket license for them to dictate how people use it. However, courts have been slow to apply the First Sale doctrine to software, and I am impatient. By running this script you sidestep the issue entirely." Well, perhaps not entirely. He notes that the script could be a violation of the DMCA, but concludes that this is just one more reason for Americans to harangue their humble Representatives in Congress. Anyone wishing to play around with the script can copy it here. ®
Thomas C Greene, 02 May 2002

Oftel should consider splitting BT in two say MPs

An influential group of MPs has called on telecoms regulator Oftel to study proposals for the break-up of BT. A report by the Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport yesterday highlighted a proposal from Cable & Wireless that BT's network business should be split from its other services. If this were to happen it's argued that it would ensure free and fair competition between service retailers and encourage further price cuts. The MPs also hit out at the regulator over the progress being made on establishing a competitive marketplace for broadband in the UK. Said the committee: "We recommend that Oftel, and OFCOM when it takes over the responsibilities of Oftel in due course, should take serious note of criticisms of its effectiveness in establishing a competitive UK market for broadband and follow up with remedial action - taking account of the proposal to require BT's network to stand on its own as a distinct business." A spokesman for BT dismissed the idea, saying there was no reason why its business model should be changed. The MPs' critical report coincides with news that there are now more than 500,000 broadband connections in the UK. In an upbeat assessment of broadband in the UK Oftel claims that with more than 20,000 broadband connections a week, the current level of growth outstrips the equivalent demand for mobile phones and dial-up Internet when they were first introduced. And despite criticisms by the Select Committee Oftel maintains that the UK has more competition at both network and service levels than many European countries. Oftel boss David Edmonds said that Oftel had taken action to create competition at all levels of the broadband market "Competition has resulted in growing take up rates and falling prices. "Oftel has promoted competition between different networks and different service providers to ensure consumers get a wide range of choice and prices," he said. ®
Tim Richardson, 02 May 2002

Infineon confirms Nanya gig

Infineon and Nanya today firmed the details of their proposed foundry JV. The two DRAM makers will work together on R&D for teeny-weeny die 0.09micron and 0.07micron manufacture for 300mm wafers. At the same time the company is setting up a 50:50 JV for producing DRAM chips and for building a 0.09micron 300mm fab in Taiwan, Nanya's home country. The first chips will roll off this line at the end of 2003, according to the companies, which forecast a production run rate of 20K wafer start a month, by the second half of 2004. Currently, the deal is at non-binding memorandum of understanding (MOU) stage, so it could still founder. Also, the deal needs the nod from Taiwanese antitrust authorities. Nanya has recently won preferred supplier status for Dell, which will ensure massive volumes, if at keen prices. Yesterday, Michael Dell accused the DRAM industry of acting almost as a cartel. Considering that DRAM makers have collectively lost billions of dollars in the last couple of years, and have had just one good quarter, we think that Dell's charge does not stick. Yet. ®
Drew Cullen, 02 May 2002

More on the IBM UK redundos

IBM staffers have given us more details on the firm's UK redundancy programme. Yesterday we reported that the company was offering a less than generous voluntary redundancy package worth two weeks salary per year of service across its UK business. Initially we were told Big Blue was looking for 500 people to take up the offer, but several people have written in to inform us IBM UK wants to shed 1000 workers - 600 from its supposedly cash cow services unit and 400 from the rest of the business. Volunteers will leave by July 5th. But if IBM fails to meet its 1000 target through voluntary redundancies IBM will introduce a non-voluntary scheme, something it's never done before in the UK, we're told. We understand axed staff would receive the same modest compensation terms offered to applicants for voluntary redundancy. Quarterly voluntary redundancy packages have morphed into involuntary redundancy programmes in the States, other readers have informed us. Last month, IBM surprised the market with a profit warning that suggested its sales for its first Q1 2002 would be between $18.4bn and $18.6bn, about 6 per cent less than it had led analysts to expect, and 12 per cent lower than in the same period a year ago. It said profit would be hit even harder, with pre-tax income down to between $1.65bn to $1.75bn from $2.49bn a year ago. ®
John Leyden, 02 May 2002

Pipex slams rip-off broadband charges

The MD of PIPEX has launched a scathing attack on ISPs that charge too much for broadband. In particular, David Rickards singled out BT and its planned introduction of a stripped down "no frill" service which, when launched later this year, will still be more expensive than Pipex's own fully-provided service. The BT Broadband service is due to cost £27 a month. A full ISP offering from the telco's ISP, BTopenworld, costs £29.99. Pipex's ISP ADSL service - which has 20,000 users - costs £23.44 a month. Mr Rickards believes that if punters are paying more than £25 a month for DSL then they're being overcharged. And he's warned that if ISPs continue to "blatantly overcharge" for broadband then the UK's digital future could be put at risk. Saving his harshest words for BT Mr Rickards said: "The BT Retail "no frills" Broadband access only services due to be released late autumn have certainly not been priced to match their "no frills" service. "At £27 inc VAT per month, this limited Broadband service has been ridiculously overpriced and I believe they know it. Do they really believe the British public are so naive? "In my opinion, this is blatant liberty-taking of their dominant and unfair market position. Widening his attack he went on: "I believe that these large residential ISPs are squeezing every last penny out of dial-up services at the expense of their customers. "The margins available with ADSL are workable and it is possible to offer a quality service at an affordable price whilst remaining profitable. "We believe that Broadband is the future of the Internet and now is not the time to be counting the profits but rather we should be concentrating on promoting awareness and educating Britain on the benefits a fast, always on Internet connection can bring," he said. A spokesman for BT said that BT's pricing is fair but that the telco is always looking at prices. ®
Tim Richardson, 02 May 2002

NASCR awards gong to C2000

NASCR, the National Association of Computer Retailers, has names Computer 2000 as its hardware distie of the year. NASCR represents 200 high street retailers, mostly small indies, and it dished out the award, following a survey of 50 readers of the Indie, its inhouse rag. Maybe, The Indie is getting more than inhouse: we're getting frequent email news shots from this magazine, and there may be a publishing space in the retail trade, following the recent closure of CTW, in business for 18 years. ®
Drew Cullen, 02 May 2002

Solaris 9 to beef up OS, application security

With Sun getting ready to launch Solaris 9, the next generation of its Unix operating system, sometime between now and the end of June, everyone is scrambling to try to figure out what will make Solaris 9 different from the existing Solaris 8, Timothy Prickett Morgan writes. One of the big differences, it turns out, will be substantially enhanced security mechanisms for both the operating system and its applications. Sun has already divulged some of the threading library changes in Solaris 9 and its intent to make it easier for companies to deploy and manage Solaris servers using its future iChange systems management programs. Solaris 9 will contain features that will eventually be developed in full form in the iChange program, which will probably take another year to year and a half to come fully to market. Solaris 9 is also expected to include a host of new management tools and be built using a much more modular approach, allowing Sun to streamline the installation process for Solaris for particular workloads, much as Microsoft Corp does with its various Windows versions. In the meantime, everyone is concerned with security these days, and Sun's software engineers are doing what they can to try to improve the security of the Solaris environment. Sun has a slew of enhancements coming in Solaris 9 aimed right at these concerns. First, Solaris 9 will include a Secure Shell feature that implements the Secure Shell version 1 and version 2 protocols and allows for strongly authenticated, encrypted remote access to and from Solaris machines in multi-platform environments. The Secure Shell implementation in Solaris 9 supports DEC, 3DES, AES, and Blowfish encryption algorithms. Secure Shell support will work with the existing IPv4 or new IPv6 Internet protocols. The Secure Shell implementation is fully integrated with Solaris and uses its logging mechanisms and is intended to replace less secure remote access methods such as rcp, rsh, telnet, and X11. Incidentally, Ravi Iyer, one of the product line managers for Solaris, says that Sun is using the OpenSSH code for the BSD implementation of Unix with Solaris 9 and has made auditing and logging enhancements to OpenSSH for Solaris that it is giving back to the open source community. Perhaps more significantly, Solaris 9 will include barriers that limit the ability of hackers to exploit buffer overflows in the Solaris software stack to gain root access to Solaris and thereby take over a machine. Buffer overflows are one of the dominant means hackers use to gain access to machines. Simplifying somewhat, a buffer overflow hack is caused by an executable file, such as a virus, entering a machine and cramming so much garbage into a buffer that it vomits all over itself; when it vomits, hackers can see root permissions that systems and application programs may have, and thereby gain those much-valued root permissions for themselves. Sun cannot stop buffer overflows any more than any other operating system vendor could, but whatever trick Sun has up its sleeve for Solaris 9 apparently prevents a buffer overflow from allowing root access, even if it doesn't stop buffer overflows cold. Whatever this trick is, it happens at application compile time and is done way down near the hardware layer; customers will have the option of invoking this security feature at compile time or not. Stopping all buffer overflows, says Bill Moffitt, another of the program line managers for Solaris, would be very, very difficult in that the operating system would have to check to see if a buffer was full as each bit of data came into that buffer. Solaris 9 will also implement a Kerberos V5 environment, with coverage for server and client applications that access Solaris servers. Kerberos is a single sign-on systems program created by the nerds at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that allows users to move around a network of computers (typically incompatible ones like Unix and Windows servers) supporting Kerberos without actually passing around the passwords that allow users to jump from machine to machine and application to application. Sun says that it has improved Kerberos support to allow password changing against Microsoft's Active Directory or MIT Key Distribution Centers. The forthcoming OS will also sport a number of other security-related features. Solaris 9 will support the IPSec encryption for IPv6 and IPSec/IKE for IPv4. All cryptographic modules within Solaris 9 will support 128-bit keys as standard, including non-US releases of Solaris. Solaris 9 will also have an integrated firewall called SunScreen, at the 3.2 release, bundled in. SunScreen is a dynamic packet filtering firewall that includes VPN support and proxy support for Web servers, FTP servers, Telnet sessions, and SNMP servers. It will run on the 32-bit and 64-bit Sparc and Intel Solaris kernels. Finally, Solaris 9 will have a built-in random number generator for both the Solaris kernel and for applications. This random number generator has been abstracted above the UltraSparc-III processor so it will work with future UltraSparc-IV and "Millennium" (UltraSparc-V) processors. Cryptography depends to a large extent on randomly generated numbers, and having a random number generator that is abstracted from the hardware and available for all applications is useful for vendors who want to create firewalls and other security products for Solaris servers. timpm@computerwire.com ComputerWire. All rights reserved.
ComputerWire, 02 May 2002

AMD Licenses 64-bit MIPS architecture

Advanced Micro Devices Inc has licensed MIPS Technologies Inc's MIPS64 Instruction Set Architecture. Sunnyvale, California-based AMD will use the MIPS64 architecture to create a new line of 64-bit processors through its Personal Connectivity Solution Group, which was formed following the acquisition of Alchemy Semiconductor Inc in February. Alchemy was best known for its development of high-performance, low-power 32-bit processor technologies based on the MIPS32 architecture, which it licensed from MIPS in 1999. The MIPS64 architecture will be used to develop 64-bit processors for the "Internet Edge Device" market currently targeted by the PCS group - essentially non-PC internet appliances. While the adoption of the 64-bit MIPS architecture will enable AMD to extend its position in the embedded space - MIPS is the sole 64-bit architecture for Microsoft's Windows CE - it may cause the company some problems later down the line as it looks to move into the mobile phone market. Current Pocket PC 2002 devices only run on chips based on the ARM instruction set, designed by Cambridge, UK-based ARM Holdings Plc. The indications are that if AMD is to make strides in the mobile device market, it will have to either emulate or adopt the ARM instruction set or rely on Microsoft increasing its support for MIPS. © ComputerWire. All rights reserved.
ComputerWire, 02 May 2002

MS seeks senior spook to score Federal security $$$s

Microsoft is seeking to hire a high level executive whose role will be "to position Microsoft as a strategic partner to the [US] government in using our products and technologies to build Homeland Security solutions." Or, as the lead-in to the help-wanted ad less modestly puts it: "The Director of Federal Homeland Security will partner the world's most successful software company with the world's most powerful nation in using innovative and agile technology to prepare, detect, prevent, protect, respond, recover and manage against terrorism." When not steering an alliance between the world's two remaining superpowers, the director will lead the Microsoft Homeland Security Leadership team (which we'd never heard of, possibly because it's only just been invented), and seems to be expected to combine intense lobbying of the Office of Homeland Security with acting as Microsoft's 'Face of Homeland Security' to the press, at conferences and through white papers. The detailed responsibilities listed in the ad are commendably upfront, making no bones about the director's role being to secure Microsoft a large share of the post-9/11 Federal security trough. The successful candidate will have "more than 10 years experience as a senior level US Government executive," and "must hold a security clearance, Top Secret with polygraph preferred." They must also "be willing to maintain active clearance at highest levels of security" and "be knowledgeable and experienced in Federal government business, both operationally and [ahem...] politically." So Microsoft wants to pull in a senior spook who knows the people in Washington (and indeed will be based in Washington), and is willing and able to "use and leverage credentials (including security clearances), existing relationships, and knowledge of the Federal government's business and politics to position Microsoft as a strategic partner to the government in using our products and technologies to build Homeland Security solutions." They'll have to "engage Microsoft Homeland Security Leadership Team on a regular basis in all Office of Homeland Security ongoing activites," keep up with "congressional decisions, appropriations, executive orders and presidential directives that may impact Homeland Security opportunities [i.e. $$$s]," and keep track of "Homeland Security related approriations and which agencies manage the funding [i.e. more $$$s]." The job also involves 'helping' the Office of Homeland Security decide what it is that it's going to ask companies like Microsoft for, before it officially asks. The director will "lead Microsoft's responses to Office of Homeland Security related RFIs and RFPs" but will also "be proactive in influencing requirements prior to RFI/RFP stage." We understand this is a process Microsoft has successfully beta-tested this approach with a smaller country's government, also beginning with U. Part and parcel of this proactivity will be to "develop and maintain strong relationships with key influential government executives" and to "establish oneself as a trusted advisor to the Office of Homeland Security staff." Fortunately, as US government officials are incorruptible, and Microsoft is noted for its readiness to dispense impartial advice and guidance without fear or favour, world security will be safe the hands of the new director, whoever that may be. If you think you're hard enough (and if you are, we've no idea why you're reading The Register, but suspect it's not for fun), then you can get full details here. ®
John Lettice, 02 May 2002

Microsoft goes back-to-basics on cable TV

Microsoft Corp is going back to basics to revive its failing interactive TV (iTV) strategy, with an entry-level set-top-box operating system built using its latest programming language, C Sharp, Gavin Clarke writes. Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft next week plans to launch a version of its Windows CE-based operating system for Motorola Inc's low-end DCT 2000 iTV unit. So far, Microsoft has targeted Motorola's fuller featured DCT 5000 unit. An indusry source told Computerwire Microsoft's new operating system will be built using C Sharp, the Java-like programming language launched in February under its .NET strategy. A Microsoft spokesperson refused to comment on what it called "rumor and speculation" but conceded an iTV announcement is planned for 6 May. The announcement will take place during the cable TV industry's Cable 2002 in New Orleans, Louisiana. A low-end operating system is a major re-assessment of Microsoft's iTV strategy. The company has targeted development on Schaumberg, Illinois-based Motorola's DCT 5000. That unit is capable of e-commerce, streaming media, e-mail, telephony, home networking, internet browsing and video on demand. Motorola's DCT 2000 is less featured but more popular, according to Motorola, and favored by many cable operators. Microsoft's developments have been plagued by problems. The company cited difficulty in optimizing its software to the hardware although changing demands and uncertainty over which features to include is also thought to have played a part. The result is a string of delayed rollouts with cable companies worldwide. These include a contract for 30,000 devices with Europe's largest cable provider United Pan-Europe Communications BV (UPC), 7.5 million boxes and an optional 2.5 million devices with AT&T, and a contract with Charter Communications Inc - America's fourth largest cable TV provider - delayed by at least six months in March. Microsoft lists 10 customers worldwide for its set-top-box software and services. So far, it has achieved deployment for just three - TAK SAS in France, TV Cabo in Portugal and UltimateTV/DirecTV Inc in the US on Thompson, Octal and Sony set-top-boxes respectively. A spokesperson said it does not release subscriber numbers. A new low-end operating system could potentially revive Microsoft's fortunes. However, the company must cover much lost ground in its battle against rivals like San Carlos, California-based Liberate Technologies Inc. David Limp, Liberate chief strategy officer, said: "[Microsoft] is putting their thumb in the dyke for now." © ComputerWire.
ComputerWire, 02 May 2002

Google's AOL win upsets Inktomi, Overture

Google Inc has upset Inktomi Corp and Overture Services Inc by replacing both companies as the provider of web search and paid search listings at America Online Inc, the world's largest ISP, Kevin Murphy writes. The development took a huge chunk out of the share prices of both losing companies, even though Overture actually raised its revenue guidance yesterday. Google, generally regarded as the best search engine out there, said it will provide its search index to AOL, CompuServe, AOL.com and Netscape.com. The company's new AdWords paid listings text ad systems will also be deployed at the four sites, reaching tens of millions of surfers. Inktomi has provided the AOL search engine for several years, and stands to lose "less than 10%" of its revenue from losing the AOL contract. The company said that AOL continues to be an important customer of its content networking business - the ISP has Inktomi caches deployed all over its US network. "This decision does not impact revenues for the current quarter," Inktomi said in a statement, observing that it is still "the leading OEM provider of web search services". The company's share price plummeted 24% anyway, which looks bad unless compared against Overture stock, which lost almost 36% of its value yesterday. Overture CEO Ted Meisel said on a conference call with analysts: "AOL was far from our largest partner... this is a minor setback." The company will continue to provide its ad search services to AOL properties in Europe, he said, as well as its other partners, including MSN, Yahoo and AltaVista. Meisel said he believes "the decision was not based on a comparison of Overture's pay-per-search to Google's pay-per-search, as we're confident we would win in that comparison, rather it would appear AOL is attempting to capitalize on Google as a search brand... and pay-per-search came as a part of that package." Overture also took the opportunity to raise its guidance for the year and next year, mostly on the back of its deal with Yahoo saying it sees net income of between $0.97 and $1.05 per share on revenue of $530m to $570m. The company sees 2003 earnings of $0.53 cents to $0.83 cents per share, lower due to its first full year of taxes, on revenue of $640m to $690m. Overture does have at least one trump card over Google, however, in the form of US patents protecting its paid search system. The company is suing Google and FindWhat.com Inc, its other main competitor, for patent infringement. Due to the length of time such cases take, however, the company is unlikely to see a major competitive advantage in the short term. The next search battleground for Google is Yahoo, but this time the privately-held firm will be on the defensive. Yahoo has been using the company's web search since July 2000 when Google supplanted Inktomi in a major portal for the first time Sources close to talks say Yahoo's agreement with Google is currently close to being up for renewal, and rival search engines, including Inktomi, have been pitching for the business. Last week, Overture announced it renewed its contract with Yahoo for three years, which indicates Google's chances of staying in Yahoo are not guaranteed. Inktomi's unique selling point has always been that it does not have a consumer-facing web presence of its own, so it will never been in a position to compete for eyeballs with its portal customers. And the company has no property that competes against its customers for increasingly scarce online advertising dollars. Two years ago when Google signed Yahoo, it was a one-year old site popular with geeks, only on the cusp of mainstream popularity. It also did not sell advertising space. Now it does sell ads, and a recent report from WebSideStory Inc said on April 24, Google accounted for 31.87% of all search referrals worldwide, compared to Yahoo's 36.35%. © ComputerWire. All rights reserved.
ComputerWire, 02 May 2002
Cat 5 cable

Storage benchmarkers push the envelope

The preliminary results of the storage industry's first-ever benchmark tests show that suppliers are treating them just like any other benchmark - a contest in which vendors play the rules to the limit in order to squeeze out maximum performance, resulting in a standard benchmark test being completed on a very non-standard spread of hardware configurations, Tim Stammers writes. The Storage Performance Council and IBM Corp, Sun Microsystems Inc and LSI Logic Storage Systems issued preliminary results yesterday based on a range of very different hardware configurations. The more exotic and apparently less representative the configuration, the better the claimed benchmark performance. LSI tested its mid-range E4600 array loaded with just 400GB of usable storage capacity, spread across a forest of 112 disk drives. Sun Microsystems tested its StorEdge 9910, which is a re-badged Hitachi Lightning storage array, with even less capacity - just 320GB, across 48 disks, the maximum number of disks which can be fitted to the 9910. The Lightning competes at the top of the storage array market where average configuration capacities are now around 2TB - or 2,000GB. Even allowing for RAID 1 mirroring, Sun's test configuration represented just 32% utilization of capacity. Only IBM managed an approximately representative configuration, testing an ESS Shark F20 with 1,260GB of data across 64 disks - the maximum for the F20. Even that box however was slightly unusual, in that all of the 64 disks were IBM's latest high-performance 15,000 rpm drives. "We wanted to show off our 15K disks. At least we used our larger 36GB disk, and not our 18GB disk," an IBM spokesperson said. The SPC was formed last year to devise storage benchmarks, and includes as members IBM, Sun, Compaq, Veritas, Hewlett Packard and LSI. IBM said yesterday that when the Council devised the SPC-1 benchmark, it did not set minimum limits on the amount of data to be stored, because it expected that suppliers would want to optimize both measures. "Capacity is a primary metric. The feeling was that people would want to expose both performance and capacity," IBM said. By keeping low the amount of data stored on its test array, Sun boosted its cache to disk ratio, and hence the latency time and throughput measured in the benchmark. A spokeswoman for the company declined to comment on the test configuration. LSI was very open about why it chose to load its benchmark machine with so many disks. "Everybody tries to make their results the best that they can get. We wanted to support our long-standing claim that we have the highest performance arrays in the industry," said Steve Gardner, LSI's manager of product marketing. How many customers buy an LSI E4600 with the same number of disks as were used in the test, or load it with just 400GB of data? "I don't know the answer to that. We put in the minimum number of spindles we needed to get the performance," Gardner said. Despite being so candid about LSI's approach to the test, Gardner defended the SPC, which he said had tried to rule out "benchmark specials," or the testing of unrepresentative systems. "These benchmark numbers are valid. OK, customers need to be knowledgeable to use them, and they'll need to take time to examine them and compare them to their own application workloads. But until now there have been no figures at all," he said. The results published yesterday showed LSI well ahead of Sun or IBM in terms of both throughput, and low-load latency. For throughput LSI scored 15,708 SPC-1 IOPS, compared to Sun's 8,404, and IBM's 8,009. LSI's SPC latency measure was just 1.64, compared to Sun's 2.07, and IBM's 2.99. Prices were not disclosed, but the SPC said that "full disclosure reports" will be issued very shortly. © ComputerWire. All rights reserved.
ComputerWire, 02 May 2002

Argos in cheap telco deal

Argos, the UK's high street catalogue retailer, has become a discount telco offering punters up to 50 per cent off the cost of national phone calls. Those signing up to the CallSave service from Argos Telecom are being offered up to 1,000 free minutes of local calls for two months as part of a promo to get people signed up. Argos reckons that as the UK's biggest seller of land-line phones (it flogs 2.5 million phones a year apparently) it makes sense to offer punters a discount phone service at the same time. Argos, which is part of the giant Great Universal Stores (GUS) group, already offers other services including insurance and loans as well as the many items contained in its catalogue. Argos Telecom is operating the service in tandem with Quip! - the discount telco backed by BT and Unisys. ® s
Tim Richardson, 02 May 2002

ASSAiSSINAiTE all bugs

Networks Associates (NAI) and Internet Security Systems (ISS) today announced an alliance to integrate their technologies aimed at providing better protection for users against increasingly complex security threats. NAI will combine RealSecure intrusion detection technology from ISS with network fault isolation and performance management software from its Sniffer Technologies division. In turn ISS plans to combine NAI's McAfee AV technology with RealSecure, as well as developing a managed security services offering. But how this will sit against NAI's managed security services, its part owned subsidiary McAfee.com and wholly owned enterprise equivalent McAfee AsaP? It's hoped that correlating alerts from the two firms various technologies will give users a better view of attacks against their networks. ISS and NAI will work together on product development and a joint marketing and sales push. Financial terms of the deal are not disclosed. NAI has a history of growing through acquisitions, and once harboured plans to challenge system vendors (most notably Computer Associates) with a complete systems and security offering. That plan was abandoned last year when it was forced to restructure its business after disappointing sales. This led to the sale of NAI's Gauntlet firewall and VPN business to Secure Computing in February and the deep freeze of its well- respected, but unprofitable PGP desktop encryption line. Worse news followed last week, when NAI admitted "it has discovered accounting inaccuracies in its 1999 and 2000 financial statements" which meant those results needed to restated. That decision, the first results of an ongoing internal investigation, comes against the backdrop of an Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigation of NAI's accounting practices. ISS, although its star has fallen somewhat over the last year, has nothing like these problems, but needs to broaden the appeal of its intrusion detection offering. From that point of view the deal makes good sense, and positions ISS more strongly against competitors like Symantec, Cisco et al who are trying to steal leadership in the IDS segment from it. The alliance goes so deep that we're tempted to see it as a prelude to a possible merger between the two firms. Perhaps that's the one step that will solve long-standing confusion over NAI's branding? ® Related Stories NAI on-off bid for McAfee.com is off again PGP deep-freezed - NAI shrugs NAI sells firewall business Network Associates puts PGP up for sale ISS ranks Net vulnerabilities 3A security software to boom ISS to acquire Network ICE
John Leyden, 02 May 2002

MS' MIT prof witness gets toasted over KDE, GNOME

Some reports today suggest that Microsoft witness Stuart E Madnick, a computer science professor at MIT, might have made desperate claims in court that KDE and GNOME were operating systems. This, fortunately for the good prof's career, is not true, but he most certainly had a desperate and unsuccessful struggle with States' attorney Kevin Hodges, and it's worth reporting in some detail. Hodges opened the skirmish with: "is there any other operating system you're aware of in which the Web browsing functionality is commingled with the operating system?" A. Yes, I do, if we take the view that the Web browsing functionality is also relied upon in other parts of the operating system. Q. Which operating systems would those be? A. Well, some examples, and there may be many others, would be the KDE user interface or GUI that exists on the Linux operating system. There, he's clearly not claiming KDE is an OS, but he's not answering the question either, so he's in trouble, and Hodges knows his stuff: Q. Now, KDE is not an operating system; correct? A. I think I -- every definition in this court it would be middleware, in which case it would be a platform software. So was that a 'no'? Q. KDE is the graphic user interface, graphical user interface, for the Linux operating system; is that correct? A. Yes. It's one of the interfaces available. Q. It can be removed and replaced; correct? Trouble coming... A. Well, it can be -- if it is removed, of course, by -- if it's just removed, then the user will not be able to use the system. You could replace it by others and, in fact, most of the others I'm aware of likewise have, as you would call it, commingled Web browsing with their functionality. Q. In Windows can you remove the graphical user interface? THE COURT: Are you talking about now? MR. HODGES: Today, correct. A. As I understand -- I believe it's either yes or will soon be. I believe the provision that the Microsoft has agreed to as part of the settlement is that the end user would be able to remove access to the browser, if that was your question. Er, no it wasn't, but here it is again: Q. My question is: Can the graphical user interface of Windows be removed? A. I'm sorry. No, I do not believe so. It would no longer be Windows. Remember that once upon a time Windows was a GUI and some people (not us, oh no sir) poked fun at Microsoft for claiming it was an OS? Hodges appears to, and now he's going to remind the prof: Q. Has it ever been the case that the graphical user interface of Windows could be removed? A. I guess the answer might be yes in the sense, as I said again in this session, at one time operating systems had no graphical interface at all if you go back to essentially the original MS-DOS. So this is the examples of the kinds of functionality that operating systems have increasingly provided to users to enhance their effectiveness. So, yes, there was a point in time where it did not exist and there's a point in time where it was added to the operating system. Q. If KDE is removed from the Linux operating system, then its Web browsing functionality is also removed; is that correct? A. Well, the Web browsing that's provided through the interface is removed, yes. Q. The Web browsing provided through KDE; correct? A. That is correct. Q. Now, you say that, in paragraph 24 -- it's actually on page 12, paragraph 24. I'll read this to you. "One cannot delete the Web browser from KDE without losing the ability to manage files on the user's own hard disk." Do you see that language? A. Yes, I do. Geek alert... Q. Now, isn't it the case that files can be managed by using standard UNIX command in the shell even if KDE is not installed? A. That is correct. The assumption here was we are talking about the user using the system as a modern operating system which requires access to this kind of interface. Well, that was fun, wasn't it? So Hodges asks the question again: Q. We've talked about Windows and we've talked about the KDE interface, and my question is: Can you name any operating system, other than Windows, that commingles a Web browser with the operating system? A. I have not attempted to identify all the others. As I indicate in this whole section, these are examples of the kinds of innovative features that vendors constantly add to the systems. Some have reached that stage of benefiting from the kinds of interactions possible, some have not. These are the ones I've identified as part of the study so far. Presumably Madnick is still claiming the KDE/GNOME on Linux configuration counts as this. Hodges asks the question again, with knobs on: Q. Based on your experience as a computer scientist and as a Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, are you aware of any operating system, other than Windows, that binds the Web browser into the operating system? Finally the opposition objects, but only to the use of "binds" rather than commingling. So Hodges asks apologises for the 'slip', and asks again: Q. If I change the word from "binding" to "commingling," let me ask you, are you aware of any operating system, other than Windows, that commingles a Web browser with the operating system? MR. LACOVARA: I would object to that. I think it's the third [fourth- Ed] time he's asked the question. Asked and answered. THE COURT: I'll let him to proceed. But this is the last time. So the judge doesn't think he answered either, and is going to let Hodges toast him some more. A. Okay. If I recall the question, I think I answered it in terms of identifying KDE and I believe GNOME, which is another interface on Linux, also has the Web browser functionality integrated. So those are two examples. And, once again, this was not an attempt to exhaustively study all the others or systems that are under development today. Hodges focuses on GNOME: Q. And it is also, like KDE, a removable graphical user interface for Linux; correct? A. It's removable in the sense if you remove it you no longer have access to a graphical user interface. Q. It's not an operating system; correct? A. Well, it is part of what we described as middleware under the understanding of the terms being used, and we go from there. So Madnick hasn't come up with a non-Windows commingled OS, only has KDE and GNOME as examples, and has identified KDE and GNOME as optional pieces of middleware that are removable/interchangeable. Mission accomplished for Hodges, we feel, and he didn't even get onto Linux browsers as such. He then proceeds to torture the prof over his assertion that Notepad is an is an example of a relatively self-contained block of code that is easily removable (not exactly, it appears), but we'll pass on that one for now. ®
John Lettice, 02 May 2002