24th > June > 2003 Archive

Intel's Madison to come in four flavors

Intel has added another Itanium processor to its roadmap, and it's not Tangelwood. Later this year, Intel plans to bring out a new version of Itanic designed to meet the budgets and workload demands of customers interested in high performance computing. The processor will be an offshoot of the Madison family - the third generation of Itanic set for imminent release. It will have less cache than more expensive versions of Madison but the same frequency. So far, sources have revealed that Intel will this summer start shipping a 1.5GHz, 6MB cache chip; a 1.4GHz, 4MB cache chip and a 1.3GHz, 3MB cache chip. These will all be Madison-based but still sold under the Itanium 2 brand. Intel hopes the new chips will help spur Itanium sales and boost competition against the 64bit processors from IBM, Sun and HP. Intel will then follow these with the new lower cache Madison processor around the same time it releases the lower frequency Deerfield processor later this year. For kicks, we asked Intel if the new chip was code-named Tanglewood. "It is not Tanglewood," said Rick Herrmann, manager of Intel's high performance computing business. We know that Tanglewood will not arrive until 2006, but were seeking a denial that would bring us closer to proving the processor's existence. The speed with which an Intel flack moved the conversation in a new direction proved the mission was a success. Intel is sure to crack soon. Once the Madison launch is passed, expect Tanglewood to be revealed in its full glory. With regard to the new low cache Madison chip, Herrmann said it will be designed to work in one and two processor systems. Customers would likely build large compute clusters out of servers-based on the chip. Intel Wednesday will shed more light on the chip at the International Supercomputer conference. ®
Ashlee Vance, 24 Jun 2003

Orange joins anti-Voda alliance

Today is Strategy Day for Orange, with the France Telecom-owned mobile operator telling the world its plans to make money. Some of the ideas have been trailed already in last Sunday's papers - we already knew that Orange was joining T-Mobile, Telefonica Moviles and TIM in an alliance. This will deliver an "enhanced customer experience through seamless voice, data and mobile internet services across multiple markets". In other words, Europe's mobile network operators are ganging up against Vodafone, the only firm that is capable of supplying a seamless service across Western Europe (bar France) on its own. Orange has some work to get seamless internally. The company today said it will implement a common technology platform across the group, adding "intelligence to the network infrastructure to deliver new services and applications quickly and consistently to its customers". And of course there are cost savings to be made. We are surprised the company hasn't done this already. Customers. Who needs 'em? But what is this intelligence for? Apparently it will enable Orange to offer more personalised services for which it can charge more money. The company is making great play of a new customer segmentations strategy which will see the company attempt to deliver services according to lifestyles and interests, as opposed to the traditional carve-up by age, sex, income demography. Orange of course has a new CEO, Sol Trujillo, and he has a lot to say about this: "We plan to talk much more to the customer, find out what their communication needs are, what applications they want, how they want to be served and how they want to communicate with us. For example, some will want single point access, from fixed line, Internet and mobile communication services, others may simply require mobile applications. To achieve the ability to get much closer to the customer, and collect data about the customer, we intend to create new IT systems and optimise its existing systems to enable it to use this data in a meaningful and rapid way. We believe that this focus on the needs of the individual will prove beneficial both for the customer and the business, engendering customer loyalty, building trust and, in turn, driving revenues." Simple, huh? Show Me the Money Trujillo is setting is stamp on the company by centralising many functions under a new management A-Team. The company is to concentrate its focus on the Eurozone countries (including the new Eastern European entrants to the EC). This suggests a reining in of global ambitions - Orange is, for example, an active player in sub-Saharan Africa. But considering the indebtedness of France Telecom, this is hardly surprising. Last year Orange saw its capex slashed by its parent company. This year it expects to see it rise by $2.3bn. But the emphasis is very much on driving investment from operational income rather than borrowing. Orange aims to be EBITDA positive in 2003 and to move into operating free cash flow positive status in 2004. It says it is on track to grow revenues 5 per cent in 2003, and it forecasts accelerating growth in 2004 and 2005. The company says it will have cumulative operating free cash flows of approximately 14bn Euros from 2003 to 2005. By 2005, Orange wants to "have a footprint where we are number 1 or number 2 in each country or have a value share in excess of 20%". This suggests to us that it will withdraw from countries which fail to make the grade. ®
Drew Cullen, 24 Jun 2003

Oftel orders BT to cut Voda charges

Oftel today confirmed that BT must cut charges to Vodafone for linking parts of its mobile network. To date, BT has charged Vodafone at retail prices. But under new European legislation it will have to set so-called "cost-oriented" tariffs. But what will those be? We guess that BT's notion of how much the connections cost will be rather different from that of Vodafone. So there's some negotiating to be done. Also, the UK's other mobile network operators will be looking to their BT bills following this ruling - or complaining to Oftel, if BT doesn't play ball. The regulator published its draft position on BT's charges in January, following a complaint from Vodafone. Today's decision follows the usual time set aside for consultation. A Vodafone spokesman said the company was pleased that Oftel had "re-iterated its position". It is too early to assess what savings Voda will make following the ruling, he said. ® Oftel press release
Drew Cullen, 24 Jun 2003

UK to ban drivers using handhelds

British motorists are to be banned from using handheld mobile phones when driving. From December 1 they will be fined £30, rising to up to £1,000, if the case comes to court. When the government finds parliamentary time, it will enact legislation to add in penalty points too. Drivers who flout the lay will automatically get three penalty points on their driving licence (for those of you outside the UK - 12 points means you are banned) each time they are caught holding a phone. Road safety minister David Jamieson said today: "Driving whilst using a mobile phone is dangerous. We are all too familiar with the sight of people driving along while holding and talking on their mobile phones. Any driver will be distracted by a phone call or text message. It affects the ability to concentrate and anticipate the road ahead, putting the driver and other road users at risk." The government cites research (pdf) that driving and using a mobile phone results in a four-fold ncrease in the chance of having a road accident. Using hands-free sets when driving will remain legal - which should cause a mini-rush to the phone retailers. But the government points out: "Hands-free calls are also distracting and drivers should be aware that they still risk prosecution for failing to have proper control of their vehicle, for careless or even reckless driving if use of a phone affects their driving in this way." Quite. According to a Swedish study published this week, talking on a hands-free set when driving is just as dangerous as on a handheld. ® Govt press release
Drew Cullen, 24 Jun 2003

Friends Reunited gives third reference

Increasing numbers of employers are using personal message websites such as Friends Reunited as a "third reference" to check on the attitude and suitability of job applicants. According to London recruitment firm Media Contacts, several candidates have missed out on positions due to the nature of their comments on the wildly popular school reunion site. Many resourceful firms are now logging onto Friends Reunited, and other similar websites, to find out things which potential employees had not mentioned during interviews – such as attitudes to former employers or instances of criminality or other undesirable behaviour. Media Contacts highlights instances where such comments had led to problems for staff, including the resignation of a PR executive after her bosses found out that she described her manager as "the bitch from hell" and her firm as "a bunch of cowboys". Another worker landed in hot water after he admitted his CV was "a masterpiece of fiction and creative writing", while one firm decided against employing someone who divulged he was to embark on a world tour just months after taking up his job. ©
Startups.co.uk, 24 Jun 2003
DVD it in many colours

e-Envoy's Office loses bearings with Project True North

A major project by the e-Envoy's Office to set up central data centres to host the UK's most critical eGovernment systems is understood to be in serious difficulties. The procurement, known as "Project True North" has suffered delays, missed key implementation targets and is now several months behind schedule. Perhaps indicating the scale of the problems facing the project, the Office of the e-Envoy (OeE) has taken the unusual step of refusing to answer enquiries on the current situation. The data centre procurement was intended to provide a vendor who would deliver managed hosting services for the core eGovernment infrastructure, such as the Government Gateway, the Knowledge Network and the UK Online citizen portal, for seven years. The OeE issued a tender in April 2002 and featured the project in the UK Online Annual Report last November, stating that the contract would be awarded in March, for a go-live date of mid-2003. Problems began to emerge, however, when in March this year, a Director in the e-Envoy's Office disclosed that the contract award date had been pushed back to May. Asked whether the contract had now been awarded and when the project would go live, the OeE responded with a two-line statement which read: "We have nothing to comment on this at the present time. More information will be available in due course." The OeE was given a further opportunity to comment but did not take this up. Currently, the UK's critical national eGovernment infrastructure is situated in different data centres, in different locations and is managed by different vendors. As well as providing scope for reduced costs, one of the main reasons for the procurement was the "security resilience model" offered by a central hosting environment. In an ironic twist, Douglas Alexander, Minister of State at the Cabinet Office, reassured MPs in the House of Commons last week over concerns that the Government would not provide full information on any 'problems or failures' in the drive towards eGovernment. The Minister told Parliament: "There is little to fear in terms of transparency of the work that we will undertake in relation to the 2005 targets". Sources UK Online Annual Report 2002 (States March 2003 contract award date) Contract award date now May 2003 (p25) Douglas Alexander in the House of Commons © eGov monitor Weekly eGov monitor Weekly is a free e-newsletter covering developments in UK eGovernment and public sector IT over the last seven days. To register go here.
Ian Cuddy, 24 Jun 2003

MS worker ‘ran’ $17m software racket

A Microsoft worker has been charged with stealing $17 million of software from Microsoft's internal store in the second case of its type in recent months. Richard Gregg, 43, and a Windows program co-ordinator, has pleaded not guilty to 62 counts of mail and computer fraud, The Seattle Times reports. Each mail fraud charge can be punished by up to 20 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000. Gregg, who denies the charges, has been released on bail. From January to October 2002, Gregg allegedly ordered 5,436 copies of software such as Windows XP, SQL Server, Exchange and Office with retail prices over $17 million which he subsequently resold, The Seattle Times reports. According to the paper, Microsoft fired Gregg last December after mounting an investigation into how some workers were making money on the side by running a black-market software racket out of Microsoft's own Redmond campus. This investigation began when another Redmond worker, Daniel Feussner, was charged with stealing $9 million in software, which he allegedly used to fund a lavish lifestyle, including buying a private yacht and a Ferrari. Feussner died in February after the 32-old programmer swallowed antifreeze. Investigators are not linking the two cases. A Microsoft spokeswoman held out the possibility that other people might be charged. Meanwhile Microsoft has introduced tougher internal procedures that mean workers need management approval before ordering software. ® Related Stories MS staffer accused of $9m software for Ferraris scam One Click Fraud: more MS scammers likely
John Leyden, 24 Jun 2003

DNS creator considers the Internet's next 20 years

InterviewInterview It was 20 years ago to the day yesterday that the first test of the DNS system was carried out by its inventor Dr Paul Mockapetris and Internet founding father Jon Postel. It did rather well. To the extent that it still underpins every single website and every single email sent every day. It seems only fitting then that we have a transatlantic call with Dr Mockapetris and chat about the past, present and future not only of DNS but also ENUM, VoIP, ICANN and various other acronyms that will probably mean nothing to you but will change the way you live your life in the same way that email and the Internet is ingrained in our society. The Doc is a busy man with his fingers in a number of pies. He's chief scientist and chairman at Nominum, a company that produces commercial applications for DNS and IP-related matters. He has also taken on a major role at the Jon Postel Center where he ponders what will happen in the next 20 years. He knows his stuff. Talking about those days 20 years ago when he devised a system that would connect words to numbers and so make the vital interface between humans and machines, he says: "At the time we built DNS, we put in more than we needed to, which is probably just as well, as we are still enjoying the flexibility of DNS. There are currently a billion DNS names and a billion people that use them." It was the far-sighted vision of Dr Mockapetris that meant the system he designed was capable of handling the exponential growth in its use. "When I was in grad school, getting 100 transistors on a chip was a big deal. But it became clear that once we had computers, the next step was going to be a communications device for tens of millions of computers." And so DNS was written with the idea of accommodating millions of computers. Considering, as Dr Mockapetris points out, that 20 years ago it was unsure whether you'd ever had a PC in your house, this wasn't bad going. DNS - Domain Name System - is the foundation of the network that is the Internet. However while it has served us extremely well, it needs an update. In five years, the doctor reckons, we will have "well beyond" 10 billions DNS names - and most of them will not be PCs but hundreds of other devices or products ("sweaters, razor blades") that use the code to communicate with other machines. Technology has moved forward as well and DNS needs strengthening and expanding. In fact, there already is an update - DNSSec, standing for DNS Security. This was sparked by increasing concerns over abuse of the DNS network. As the Internet becomes more widespread and hence more valuable, the impetus is there for people to find ways of using it criminally. The Internet overseeing body ICANN cleverly hijacked its annual conference in November 2001, following the New York terrorist attacks, by insisting that the only discussion was security of the Internet. While this held back rebellion over other Internet issues, it did help produce DNSSec which seeks to cut out things such as identity theft at the very foundation level by introducing checking passwords and signatures. It is still stuck in political battles and Dr Mockapetris is not happy about it. "I keep trying to think how to get it unstuck," he tells us. "I am hoping people will see it has to change, they have to move forward. It could be done in six months. DNSSec is about making the basics safe. There are technical issues being argued about what will goes in and what comes out, which really reflect what people stand to gain out of them." The biggest and daftest stopping block though is ICANN itself. "An issue is whether or not to let ICANN have the root of the security information. But it can't, this is a completely unworkable system. You have to have multiple ways of people selecting who they trust. ICANN can't decide. At one point you had ICANN in the position where it would tell governments what they could do with their domains." As a central figure in the creation of the Internet, Dr Mockapetris is not happy seeing it sucked into political and bureaucratic wrangling. And in particular is supportive of anything that keeps ICANN's "feet close to the fire". ICANN, for a variety of reasons, none of which aid the Internet or Internet users, has been holding back on releasing new domain extensions like .com or .net. Despite occasional claims by ICANN that this is to protect the integrity of the DNS, the man who wrote the actual code is far more convinced of its stability. In fact, Dr Mockapetris is surprisingly relaxed about other aspects that DNS experts spit blood over. A recent report by Nominum revealed that a worrying number of servers running different countries' domains were badly set up and badly run and, well, hanging on by the skin of their teeth. "The good thing about DNS is that it's designed to work even if it isn't configured right. It's like a car - there may not be enough air in the tyres or oil in the engine, but it is still supposed to work anyway. I tend to concentrate on getting the important parts of the DNS set up right. I don't think we can or should ever make enough people DNS experts. We should make products that automatically check whether it's right and then tell you if it isn't. It'll make the technology more robust and easier to use." He says that a test he carried out in 1989 showed that 50 per cent of computers didn't have the DNS configured properly and that this is still the case now. Anycasting of some of the 13 root servers that sit at the very top of the Internet is lending greater stability. He doesn't rule out an extension of the basic 56K byte size set in 1983 and said they probably should have changed it, but points out that there is no problem with it and no need to solve it, so any change is likely to be far off. The other thing that tends to aggravate DNS experts is the actions of company New.net. New.net decided that because ICANN was artificially constraining the number of top-level domains, it would build a business out of other domains like .shop, .travel, .sport. Since they are not allowed into the main DNS system, it has achieved this by setting up its own mini-DNS at New.net. So if you buy "www.football.sport" from New.net, the reality of the address is at "www.football.sport.new.net". New.net enables people to see these addresses from the normal Internet system by adding a small bit of code to your browser where if your computer asks where a certain domain is like .sport and the DNS proper doesn't know, it then asks New.net if it knows it. The DNS boys hate this and accuse it of making the whole system unstable. Dr Mockapetris is more circumspect. While he doesn't think the business will last long term, he says it is "in one sense good". "If the bureaucracy running the Internet, ICANN, doesn't expand fast enough, it's good to have someone pressuring it." What does worry him is people spoofing DNS information and getting normal Internet visitors to think they are at one Internet site when they are in fact at another. He comes up with the example of the FCC in the US. If you were able to make people go to your site thinking it was the FCC, you could post all sorts of documents about companies that would have an immediate effect on their share price. A little clever buying and selling and you'd make a fortune. Another example is, say, Amazon.com - you can get hold of thousands of people's credit card details in just a matter of hours. As for the future of the DNS, ENUM is good - where people will be able to connect the Internet numbering system with the existing international phone system. This means each individual gets their own number where they can run and Internet domain, pick up phone calls, send texts, well anything that can be done with data in fact. It's all going to be about connecting everything up. "The next 20 years the network will make things a bit better for all of us. Like knowing when you are walking down the hall, it will make life easier for us. It will be about integrating with higher levels." But before you can start worrying about Matrix-like pseudo-philosophy, he adds: "Sorry to be so vague about it." Considering that vague is what enabled Dr Mockapetris to design the foundation stone of the entire Internet, vague isn't so bad. ®
Kieren McCarthy, 24 Jun 2003

Toshiba updates ‘desktop replacement’ notebook line

Reg Kit WatchReg Kit Watch Notebooks Toshiba has introduced three new notebooks, the Satellite A20-S207, A25-S207 and A25-S307, all aimed at customers looking to replace desktop PCs with something more portable. The S207s are based on a 2.66GHz Pentium 4 processor, the S307 on the 2.8GHz version of the chip. Every machine offers a base 512MB of SDRAM, 15in LCD, built-in 56Kbps modem, 10/100 Ethernet, integrated 802.11b wireless networking, an SD slot and three USB 2.0 ports. The S207s also feature a 40GB hard drive and a combo DVD/CR-RW drive. The S307 adds built-in 802.11a, a 60GB hard drive and DVD/R-RW optical storage. The A20-S207 and A25-S307 ship with Windows XP Home Edition; the A25-S207 with XP Pro. All three models are available in the US now, for $1499 (A25-S207), $1579 (A20-S207) and $1899 (A25-S307). Incidentally, Toshiba's UK operation today cut the prices across its Satellite Pro 2100 and 6100 ranges, bringing the 1.8GHz Celeron based 2100 to £599, the 1.9GHz Pentium 4-M version to £799, the 1.7GHz Pentium 4-based 6100 desktop replacement to £749, and the 6100 with a 1.8GHz P4-M to £799. Hard Drives Toshiba has introduced its latest notebook-friendly 2.5in hard drive, the 80GB MK8028GAS, packed in a slimline 9.5mm high case. The four-head, two-platter ATA-6 drive weighs only 98g (3.5oz) and spins at 4200rpm. It can stand operational shocks of up to 200G and non-operating shocks of up to 800G. The drive consumes 2.3W of power when operating, and 0.7W when placed in stand-by mode. The drive contains 8MB of buffer and has an average seek time of 12ms. Toshiba is also offering a two-head, single-platter 40GB version, the MA4025GAS. Maxtor said yesterday that is has begun shipping its 300GB ATA drive to retailers. The highest capacity ATA drive in the world, according to Maxtor, the unit offers an Ultra ATA/133 interface, support for which is provided by a bundled PCI card. That may help counteract the drives relatively low spin speed: it's a 5400rpm drive, whereas the standard for mort high performance units its 7200rpm. The 300GB drive costs $399.95. Monitors Dell has introduced two UltraSharp flat-panel displays, the first in its new line of redesigned LCD monitors. The 17in 1703Fp and 19in 1901FP feature a tilt and swivel stand allowing the screens to be used in portrait and landscape modes, and the display to be raised up to 13cm above the desktop. The stand can be removed to allow the display to be mounted on a wall. Both monitors provide four USB 2.0 ports - two in front and two at the rear - to make it easier to connect devices on the desktop if your computer's on the floor. The LCDs themselves offer a 600:1 contrast ratio, 25ms response time and an 85-degree viewing angle. Their native resolution is 1024 x 768 with a 60Hz refresh rate. Both are driven through analog VGA or digital DVI inputs. The 1703FP and 1901FP cost $499 and $740, respectively, and go on sale in the US next month. Printers Dell also extended its printer line-up today with three new models, the Workgroup Laser M5200n, the Personal Inkjet J740 and the Personal All-in-One A920. The former offers speeds of up to 35ppm and is the first printer to include Dell's Printer Configuration Web Tool, which the company claims simplifies networked printer management by emailing out-of-paper, low-toner and other alerts to its administrator. The M5200n costs $999. The $99 J740 is a fast inkjet printer - 18ppm black; 14ppm colour - with borderless printing for photos. The A920 is a typical printer-cum-scanner-cum-fax machine, and is priced $89. All three machines went on sale in the US today, and will be offered elsewhere "later this year". ®
Tony Smith, 24 Jun 2003

Netpayments cuts staff and goes virtual

UK online payment services firm Netpayments has been forced to lay off more than half its workers. Seven out of 11 employees lost their jobs at the start of this month after Netpayments' revenues fell below expectation. Company founder and managing director Mike Foster told us the cuts were made as part of a restructuring planned to turn the firm into a virtual payment services provider. Foster blamed the company's woes on unfair competition from major banks. He has written to the Prime Minister to complain that the UK banks run a "closed shop" for payment services that makes it hard for independent firms to survive. The realignment of Netpayments' business and a move of its servers recently made it difficult to contact the firm for two weeks. Foster said that Netpayments is now operating normally, albeit with a revised business model and fewer staff. ® Related Stories Freechariot goes titsup Judge rules PayPal unfair eBay buys PayPal
John Leyden, 24 Jun 2003

Kazaa unveils P2P software upgrade

Kazaa owner Sharman Networks has launched a new version of its peer-to-peer file sharing software, release 2.5. The new version expands the number of licensed content channels on offer - Sharman seems very keen to stress its role as purveyor of official content, these days - and incorporates Sharman partner Altnet's Peer Points Manager, "a global loyalty and incentive application that rewards users for sharing licensed content". It's a kind of air miles ('share miles'?) for peer-to-peer users, who will supposedly be able to redeem points for more licensed content and "chances to win" other items. Sharman is also touting Kazaa 2.5's improved security thanks to anti-virus code from BullGuard, which "quarantines and deletes dangerous files shared via P2P". Inclusion of the code is all about educating new users "about the 'road rules' of safe and responsible peer-to-peer usage", said Sharman CEO Nikki Hemming. So having become the most downloaded software application by tacitly permitting all that illegal file sharing - and some legal sharing, it has to be said - Sharman is now trying to drive all those users into coughing up for content by pointing out how dangerous and irresponsible the illegal stuff is. Then again, improved search facilities in 2.5 - which include tabs listing previous search results and better advanced search options - undoubtedly make finding the unlicensed content easier too. ®
Tony Smith, 24 Jun 2003

AMD cuts Q2 sales forecast by $100m

AMD has admitted that its Q2 sales will be $100 million - almost 14 per cent - down on its previous forecast. The chip maker will post sales of around $615 million and not $715 million as it suggested when it announced its Q1 results in April. The reason? SARS knocked PC and handset sales in China and other Far Eastern markets, the company said, reducing its income from microprocessors and Flash memory. And an "anticipated global sales improvement in the month of June" failed to turn up for the party, according to AMD CFO Robert Rivet. Earlier this month, Banc of America Securities downgraded AMD's stock from 'neutral' to 'sell', citing its belief that the chip maker would not meet revenue expectations. ® Related Story AMD stock downgraded
Tony Smith, 24 Jun 2003

Mblox merges with Mobilesys

Two SMS service providers from opposite sides of the Atlantic have merged, backed by $8m in new funding The UK business is call mBlox while the American firm is called Mobilesys. They both do the same thing, using the same technology more or less (jointly developed as separate entities), but on different continents. So it's a consolidation then. The merged entity is to be called mBlox inc. and it is to be headquartered in London, but we are assured that this is a proper merger, as opposed to a disguised takeover. The new company is to be run by Mobilesys big cheese Chip Hoffman, while mBlox CEO Andrew Budd moves upstairs to take the chairman and president roles. mBlox employs c.25 people, while Mobilesys has 40. All staff are staying on, a spokesman said. mBlox inc. will spend the new money raised on expansion. This finance round was led by Norwest Venture Partners, and participants include Novus Ventures, Duff Ackerman Goodrich and Bank of America. No financial performance details have been released, but mBlox says it has been profitable since early 2002. It points out that the US market for SMS should grow rapidly and the merged company is well-placed to address this. mBlox looks after SMS services for content providers. It says it is the only independent company in the UK to run its own SMS centre. This means that it is not dependent upon a mobile network operator for setting service levels it says. The merger press release is here. ®
Drew Cullen, 24 Jun 2003

IBM revs Unix workstation

IBM has prepped a new Unix workstation that runs on one of the fastest Power4+ processors around. The new IntelliStation Power 275 workstation ships with up to two 1.45GHz Power4+ processors. Like most Unix workstations, the product is targeted at handling 3D CAD/CAM and other visualization applications well. The system can hold up to 16GB of memory, 587GB of disk, six PCI slots and four hot-swap disk bays. The kit also ships with the controversial AIX operating system. IBM recently upgraded some of the low end servers that sit right above the Power 275 workstation in the company's Unix server line. IBM, however, only coughed up 1.2GHz Power4+ chips for the servers. The faster 1.45GHz chips should come in due course. The Unix workstation market is not what it used to be, but giants such as IBM, Sun Microsystems and HP still pay close attention to it. Sun holds a vast market share lead over its rivals and a has large upgrade underway for its Unix workstation products. ®
Ashlee Vance, 24 Jun 2003

Sony Ericsson withdraws from US CDMA sector

Sony Ericsson is retiring from selling CDMA mobile phones in North America. It says it remains committed to flogging CDMA phones in Japan, one of its heartlands, and it will continue to develop CDMA machine-to-machine modules. But it is otherwise retrenching around GSM, UMTS and EDGE mobile platforms. In another cost-cutting move, the struggling mobile phone maker is shutting down its Munich R&D centre, and cutting back at its US CDMA research facility, leading to the loss of 500 jobs. S-E has been losing market share ever since the two companies merged their handset units in 2001. Once upon a time, Ericsson was a strong no.3, behind Nokia and Motorola, on its own. Now, Samsung occupies this position and Siemens is in fourth place. But in a statement today, S-E claims it is starting to "drive market share growth in both the Japanese and GSM markets". ®
Drew Cullen, 24 Jun 2003

VIA ‘to sell off’ mobo division

VIA is to pull out of the motherboard business now that its legal dispute with Intel is over, unnamed sources cited in DigiTimes claim. And it will sell its motherboard division, VIA Platform Solutions Division (VPSD), to FIC, the sources also say. If the claims are accurate, we can't say we're surprised. VIA got into the mobo market back in October 2001 in order to kick-start sales of its Pentium 4 chipset, the P4X266, which lay at the heart of Intel's quarrel with the company. Intel claimed VIA's P4 chipsets violated its intellectual property rights. VIA said they didn't and would indemnify any mobo maker who shipped products based upon them against threatened legal action from Intel. Few mobo makers were willing to risk Chipzilla's wrath, and VIA was forced to ship motherboards of its own devising. These days, however, VIA has other fish to fry, and while it might not see the need to sell P4 motherboards, it is aggressively trying to build a market behind its EPIA mini-ITX platform, centred on its C3 x86-compatible processor family, and VPSD's mobos are part of that programme. While it might well want to offload its P4 motherboards - and our own sources claim that's indeed what it intends to get rid of - EPIA is too important to VIA to kill off this part of its business. ® Related Story VIA enters mobo market
Tony Smith, 24 Jun 2003

Baseball legend goes up for sale on the Net

Former U.S. baseball great Jose Canseco has put himself up for sale on the Internet - one afternoon at a time. Canseco has set up one of the most compelling shopping carts on the Web. Any youngster with $2,500 to spare can rent Canseco for an afternoon and frolic with the former All-Star and home run champ at his Florida pad. Canseco skimped a bit in describing exactly what kind of quality time $2,500 will buy. Visitors to his site can find but a two sentence blurb above the "Add to Cart" button. "Spend the afternoon with Jose at his house in south Florida," the site says. "Round trip limousine service from local airports included. Price includes one guest 17 and under." Should little Jimmy want to bring his dad along for the day with Jose, it will cost an extra $1,000. The big problem with this tempting package is that Canseco is not likely to find a free weekend in his schedule anytime soon. The slugger is currently residing in a Miami jail, awaiting a hearing on a probation violation. Canseco is accused of failing a drug test while on probation. The drug in question is an obvious choice for any retired athlete. Steroids. Steroids and Canseco go together like a crack addict and his pipe. Canseco stirred up the baseball world last year when he admitted to using steroids en route to his massive total of 462 career home runs. The Cuban-born player then had the audacity to claim in a tell all book that most professional baseballs players are on the juice. Since he left the big leagues short of the 500 home run milestone, Canseco has flitted in and out of jails on an assortment of charges. It's sad to see the depths to which the once great can fall. It is, however, good to know that Canseco likes to stay in shape for his afternoon visits from fans. Pumping the roids in retirement is a lot to ask, but for $2,500, Canseco had best show up in his full glory. If you can't wait for Canseco to make his way out of the pen, fans can reportedly pay $24.99 for a visit and $34.99 to accompany Canseco in the exercise yard. ® Related Links A Day with Jose Jose in Jail
Ashlee Vance, 24 Jun 2003

Managed security sales grow like Topsy

Europe's managed IT security market will grow to €4.6 billion in 2008, according to Forrester Research. Demand for IT security services is increasing because enterprises are finding it harder to find the skills internally to cope with an increasingly volatile IT security environment. The problem is particularly acute for smaller businesses. Forrester forecasts that SMEs will account for 66 per cent Of managed security spending in five years time. Managed firewalls will claim 36 per cent, or &euros;1.7 billion in revenues, of the total managed security market by 2008, Forrester forecasts. "Most large firms already have a firewall, but the lack of internal skills, high cost of internal management, and a more mature managed service market will drive conversion to managed firewall services," said Forrester analyst Lars Godell. While managed firewall services are predicted to grow at an impressive 25 per cent per year, managed intrusion detection systems (IDS) will grow at an even more impressive clip, according to Forrester. Managed IDS will grow at 47 per cent per year, to account for €1.5 billion in revenues by 2008, the firm forecasts. First generation intrusion detection systems, essentially hi-tech burglar alarm systems designed to notify of unauthorised activity, have been subject to widespread criticism about false alerts and management overheads. In response vendors are introducing intrusion protection systems, which proactively block common security attacks. We think this development will profoundly change the way the managed IDS market is defined by 2008. Managed PKI takes off Elsewhere, Forrester forecasts the long awaited blossoming of the Public Key infrastructure (PKI) market. "With EU approval of digital signatures, we expect managed PKI certificates to grow rapidly at a CAGR [Compound Annual Growth Rate] of 52 percent, reaching 1.1 billion euros in 2008," Forrester optimistically forecasts. Every year for five years, we've been told that next year will be the year of PKI. It's never happened. PKI systems are big ticket sales items which are difficult to implement and hard to sell outside government and financial markets. Meanwhile major players, such as Baltimore Technologies, have undergone a surge in shares values - followed by a collapse - that has impressed even seasoned observers of the IT scene. Granted that managed digital certificate services are a slightly different proposition to PKI systems but we are treating Forrester's prediction of 50 per cent plus annual growth with caution. Moving on, Forrester predicts that regulatory mandates such as Basel II on assessing operational risk, and market maturity will drive adoption of vulnerability assessment services. But overall these services will represent only seven pe rcent of the managed security services market by 2008, generating & euros;318 million in revenue by that time. Small is beautiful While telcos and outsourcing firms slug it out over big managed contracts for large multinationals, Forrester predicts that SMEs -- 99.75 per cent of all European firms -- are the "untapped opportunity" for managed security vendors. Forrester calculates that SMEs will in 2008 account for &euros;3 billion, or 66 per cent of the total €4.6 billion managed IT security market. By contrast, Europe's largest firms, which can afford to run a security in-house, will represent only 8 percent of the 2008 market, Forrester forecasts. ®
John Leyden, 24 Jun 2003

Nvidia ships mobile workstation chip

Nvidia has launched its latest mobile workstation graphics chip, the Quadro FX Go 700, the first part in its class to offer full shader programmability, the company claims. The 700 is an extension of Nvidia's GeForce FX Go line, adding features of more use to CAD/CAM workers and content creators than to the company's gamer audience, and certified for use with professional apps. So while Nvidia talks about progammable shaders, exposed through Cg, it doesn't talk about CineFX. And we get references to "12 bits of sub-pixel precision" - which helps remove rasterisation anomalies, such as sparkles and cracks - and "parallelised vertex engines". Actually, we're not even sure 'parallelised' is a real word, but that's by the by. There's an on-chip vertex cache, and like the GeForce FX 5900, it supports eight pixel pipelines for 16 texutures per pixel. Nvidia already has a customer for the 700, Dell, which began shipping its Precision M60 mobile workstation, which contains the new chip, today. ®
Tony Smith, 24 Jun 2003

Apple accused of cheating over G5 benchmarks

Benchmark results cited by Apple at the launch of its Power Mac G5 desktops yesterday have already come under fire for seeming to not only tweak the Mac test system to improve its performance beyond anything an ordinary user might experience, but crippling rival systems to deliver below-par average user performance. The tests described by Apple CEO Steve Jobs were conducted on the company's behalf ("under contract") by VeriTest. The benchmarks used are SPEC CPU 2000 integer and floating-point tests. Apple asked VeriTest to compare a pre-release a dual 2GHz Power Mac G5 with a Dell Precision 650 workstation based on twin 3.06GHz Intel Xeon CPUs and a Dell Dimension 8300 based on a 3GHz Pentium 4. The Dell's were running Red Hat Linux 9.0, the G5 Mac OS X 10.2.7. The test software was compiled using GCC 3.3 and NAGware Fortran 95. VeriTest recorded SPECint base score of 800, 889 and 836 for the G5, 8300 and 650, respectively. The equivalent SPECfp base scores were 840, 693 and 646. So the G5 out-performs the other machines, yes? Well, so says Apple, but a closer look at VeriTest's documentation, freely available from its web site, suggests otherwise. Certainly SPEC figures published on the SPEC web site do, as Register readers noted, along with readers at a number of web sites today. The corresponding SPECint and SPECfp base Dell-provided results for the 650 are 1089 and 1053. Equivalent figures for the Dimension 8300 are not available. That puts Apple's figures in a new light. On one hand we have figures that suggest the 2GHz G5 outperforms the 3GHz Xeon in certain benchtests, and on the other we have numbers that show the exact opposite. What gives? Firstly, Dell's own figures were calculated using different compilers and host operating system: Windows XP Pro, Intel's own C++ and Fortran compilers, and the MicroQuill SmartHeap Library 6.01. Secondly, the compiler used by VeriTest, GCC, is said to generate code that less well optimised for x86. Thirdly, VeriTest seems to have adjusted the test hardware to favour the G5. Again, all the details are there in the documentation. VeriTest admits it used an Apple-supplied tool to adjust the G5 processor's registers "to enable Memory Read Bypass" and "to enable the maximum of eight hardware prefetch streams and disable software-based pre-fetching". The company also installed a "high performance, single-threaded malloc library... geared for speed rather than memory efficiency". That, says VeriTest, "makes it unsuitable for many uses". We'd guess these are hardly standard system configurations. VeriTest also says it tweaked the Dell boxes. For example, when it came to the SPECint and SPECfp rate tests, it disabled HyperThreading, though enabled it for the base SPECint and SPECfp tests. While the compilers were set to optimise code for the Pentium 4, SSE 2 instructions were not used to speed floating point maths operations, only SSE 1 instructions were enabled. VeriTest provides no clear rationale for these choices. Without that rationale, both VeriTest and Apple are today widely being accused of cheating, and not only by x86 fans eager to see the G5 knocked a peg or two back down the CPU performance ladder. To be fair, at least Apple and VeriTest tell you what they've done, which is more than can be said for the vendor-supplied figures on SPEC's web site. What tweaks have vendors applied to boost their own scores? But they should also say why. The VeriTest test appears to be an attempt to get the apples/oranges comparison as close as they possibly can, but looking deeper suggests that they have failed to do so. As we noted in our story on Apple's G5 introduction, we await independent, real world tests of the new Power Mac G5's performance. Only then will Mac users - and everyone else, for that matter - get a truly worthwhile comparison between platforms. ®
Tony Smith, 24 Jun 2003

Joe Public blames banks for credit card fraud

Over half of all consumers (54%) feel that banks and building societies aren't doing enough to protect them from credit and debit card fraud, according to the results of a survey published today. Although the survey (conducted last month) didn't quiz members of the public on the Chip and PIN programme, a serious omission in our view, it still provides some insight into public perceptions about credit card fraud. The chip and PIN system is designed to guard against credit card fraud by requiring customers to tap in a four digit number - rather than signing a payment slip - when paying for their goods. The system is currently on trial in Northampton but will be nationwide by 2005, as credit cards wiith embedded smart cards are issued throughout the UK. Depending on your point of view, this is either a great leap forward in the fight against fraud or a scheme that will shift the burden of proving fraud has taken place onto consumers while moving criminal scams from the high street onto the Internet. But we digress. According to today's survey of UK adults into attitudes towards credit card fraud, Joe Public blames banks - not law enforcement agencies - for a failure to prevent fraud. Card fraud is one of the fastest growing crimes in the UK. A record £424.6 million of fraud was committed on UK cards in 2002, up from £411.5 million in 2001, according to UK trade association the Association for Payment Clearing Services (APACS). Only seven per cent of the 1,000 respondents to the survey, commissioned by data mining firm SPSS and conducted by market research outfit ICM, have ever been victims of ATM/credit card fraud. Only 16 per cent of those questioned said that they thought the police have chief responsibility for preventing fraud. And just one in 50 (two per cent) of those quizzed said retailers had to take charge of combating credit card fraud. The main responsibility for preventing fraud was placed on the shoulders of card issuers i.e. banks and building societies. Meanwhile only a quarter of respondents (28 per cent) to the study feel enough is being done to identify and deal with fraud in general. The study was conducted in May, a month after the start of the chip and PIN programme. The effect of the programme on public attitudes to fraud prevention will be an interesting point for subsequent studies. Shame SPSS didn't think to ask about it though. SPSS' research is part of the company's ongoing campaign to identify consumer perceptions to fraud, understand the most common security breaches, and help businesses combat the phenomenon. ® Related Stories Credit card firms 'profit from Net fraud' Small.biz needs help with chip and PIN Smart credit on UK cards. Will it cut fraud? Schoolgirl turns tables on email credit card fraudster E-fraud costs retailers millions
John Leyden, 24 Jun 2003

HP wants to service your storage… bad

Hewlett-Packard has identified five spots in the storage market where its army of services personnel can be of assistance. Customers can now order up HP help for the following services: Data Replication Solution; Disaster Tolerant Management; Storage Optimisation Assessment; Data Sanitisation; and Storage Area Management Solution. Not the marketing team's finest hour. The company is also starting a new pay-per-use program for its StorageWorks XP systems. Lo and behold, users actually pay for the storage they consume. HP receives top marks for its ability to spot services opportunities. It's as if the executives have a sixth sense that taps into users' most pressing needs. Ever since its acquisition of Compaq, HP has positioned its storage services skills as the equal of IBM, but intuition has kicked in and opened a door to take data management even further. We're told the data replication service helps companies "become more responsive to change by better aligning business with IT," and will leave it to you to figure out what that means. It appears that HP will provide good old-fashioned best practices advice on how to back data up in a storage area network. HP recommends its Continuous Access and Business Copy data replication products with this service. That's convenient. The disaster recovery service should help customers cut down the time it takes to get back up and running after a major network failure. HP will give storage, servers, networking gear and software a once over and make sure everything is working as planned. The storage optimisation service works like it sounds. HP grunts will take a peek over a storage area network (SAN) and note any capacity or performance problems. The idea is to get to the most out of what you already own. The data sanitisation service is for those customers in desperate need of a good disk scrubbing. Once those pesky federal data retention deadlines have passed, dial-up HP's services arm and purge those files. "The service is designed to eliminate the possibility that sensitive data can be retrieved or reconstructed from de-commissioned storage devices." HP said in a statement. Unix and Windows systems are supported. Last but not least, the storage area management service is designed to help customers build and maintain their SANs. HP will run a variety of tests and do some consulting to figure out the best direction a user's SAN should take. For users interested in more immediate gains, HP will offer a pay-per-use pricing model on its StorageWorks XP 128 and 1024 systems. Users can buy a little extra storage upfront but only pay a fixed fee for the amount they actually use. HP will meter the systems and charge more when extra capacity is sucked up. ®
Ashlee Vance, 24 Jun 2003

Palm's loss narrows on flat sales

Palm's revenue slipped a fraction in the fourth quarter, as a lackluster handheld market continued to affect the company. Palm generated $225.8 million in revenue for the fourth quarter ended May 31. This marks a 3 percent decline from the $233 million reported in the same quarter a year ago. The handheld device and software maker did manage to shrink its net loss down to $15 million or a loss of $0.51 per share. This compares to a net loss of $27.5 million or a loss of $0.95 in last year's fourth quarter. Palm included $2 million in restructuring charges and $3.8 million in separation costs related to its imminent spin-off of PalmSource in its figures. As it dumps the operating system unit, Palm is also planning to to acquire Handspring. For the full fiscal year, Palm pulled in $871.9 million in revenue. This is a 15.4 percent fall from the cool $1.0 billion reported in 2002. The net loss for 2003 hit $442.6 million compared to a net loss of $82.2 million last year. Palm shipped close to 931,000 handhelds during the fourth quarter and close to 4.2 million devices during the entire year. The company claimed it was able to "inspire" the number of Palm OS applications to reach 18,300 up from 12,500 a year ago. Shares of Palm traded down 3.5 percent during the day to close at $15.70. In after-hours trading, investors appeared pleased with Palm's ability to lower the quarterly net loss and sent shares higher by 4.5 percent to $17.03 at the time of this report. ®
Ashlee Vance, 24 Jun 2003