25th > February > 2004 Archive

Tell us why this is a Land of Confusion

Reader quizReader quiz Given the tumultuous events in the server and processor worlds over the last couple of weeks, it seemed appropriate to take a moment and clear up a couple of nagging details surrounding the strategies of HP, Intel and Sun Microsystems. And to make things fun, El Reg is asking for reader help with these server/processor conundrums. Houston, we have an Itanic problem Getting straight to the point, HP has pulled its customers through one of the most confusing product launches of all time by throwing both Xeon (now enhanced) and Opteron at users within one week. HP did this while still claiming Itanium is A) thriving and B) an industry standard. Let's be clear here. After more than a decade of marketing and development and years of delays, it's simply not accurate to declare Itanium a success just because Intel manages to ship 100,000 processors in a year. Itanium makes up the tiniest fraction of the overall server market - one eclipsed by the younger Opteron - and has largely been a laughingstock of the industry. With this in mind, Intel and HP must go to great lengths to promote the notion that Itanium is an industry standard. Yes, a number of vendors sell Itanic servers, but HP owns close to 95 percent of the market. To help make our point, we turn to HP's server marketing manager Don Jenkins. "We actually lost (Itanium) market share," Jenkins said, in a joyous tone, during a speech at last week's Intel Developer Forum. "The Itanium market grew 500 percent in 2003, and our growth was 400 percent. That meant our share fell." This brings us to challenge number one. Can any Reg reader point to a single instance in which HP boasted about losing market share with any other product? Extra points will be awarded to those that can find evidence of HP bragging about losing ground in an "industry standard server" race. And to prove, we're not alone in this quest, our friend at Illuminata Gordon Haff shed some light on the situation. "That's been HP's great quandary for the past couple of years," Haff said. "Touting their great dominance and special position with Itanium runs exactly counter to Itanium being an 'open standard.' They've really never resolved that that fundamental contradiction - not that they really can." Please help! What to call The Beast's bastard child? Contest number two is just to the side of the Itanic - you know, the bit where the water is rushing in and customers' panicked screams rule. Intel likes to call it Xeon (now enhanced), while AMD calls it AMD64. Linus Torvalds brought up the Xeon (now enhanced) naming problem in an e-mail earlier this week. Actually, I'm a bit disgusted at Intel for not even mentioning AMD in their documentation or their releases, so I'd almost be inclined to rename the thing as "AMD64" just to give credit where credit is due. However, it's just not worth the pain and confusion. Any Intel people on this list: tell your managers to be f*cking ashamed of themselves. Just because Intel didn't care about their customers and has been playing with some other 64-bit architecture that nobody wanted to use is no excuse for not giving credit to AMD for what they did with x86-64. (I'm really happy Intel finally got with the program, but it's pretty petty to not even mention AMD in the documentation and try to make it look like it was all their idea). Go on, Linus. Tell us what you really think. The Linux man, however, makes a great point. What are we to call this thing from Intel? Our suggestion uses the names of the Titanic's sister ships - Britannic and Olympic. If Xeon (now enhanced) is a failure, it will take the Britannic name, since the boat crashed like its most famous sister. If, however, the chip is a success, it can be dubbed the Olympic - the Flopteron killer. In a perfect world, however, we'd like to see some Soviet themes thrown into the naming mix. This would help point out Intel and HP's see no evil, hear no evil approach to x86-64-bit computing. So, a plethora of points go to any reader than can pull of this boat, gulag, five year plan mix in style. The software makers can't hear you, Sun Sun enters the picture with its introduction of the UltraSPARC IV processor. The company bills the dual core processor as a single chip and expects software makers to do so as well. This would give Sun users a nice edge in per processor software licensing models, since both IBM and HP count their dual core processors as two chips. Oracle, however, tells us that they count each core as a CPU, meaning Sun users are in the same boat as the rest of the RISC world. (But clearly not the same boat as the Itanic crowd, which won't see multicore chips for quite a while - Ed.) As Sun moves to put tens of cores on each processor ahead of rivals, this should leave the company, its customers and software makers in a confusing state. We'd like to hear from our readers about who should buckle first - the hardware or software vendors. How do you think a processor should be defined? Big points for the most coherent answers here. We'll add up all the points in a totally arbitrary manner and award Reg kit to the top scorers. All questions must be answered to qualify. Well, except for the first one. That will be tough. Please send your answers right here. ®
Ashlee Vance, 25 Feb 2004

Retailers warned on Chip and PIN

Retailers not upgrading to chip and PIN technology will face a bigger risk of fraud according to Visa managing director Colin Grannell. The technology requires customers to swipe a card and key in a PIN number - the banking industry hopes the change will help to cut fraud by up to 60 per cent. Most large chains are in the process of switching, as are smaller retailers which typically rent their equipment. Some mid-sized retailers are hanging on until the 2005 deadline. Colin Grannell told the FT: "Fraudsters will soon work out which stores have chip and PIN and which don't. They find those weakest links and they will target them without a shadow of a doubt."® Related stories Chip and PIN goes national 'Open and helpful community' - of credit card thieves Chip and PIN: not enough to beat card fraud
John Oates, 25 Feb 2004

Who needs passwords?

RSARSA RSA Security is teaming up with Microsoft to simplify the process of logging into corporate Windows networks. SecurID for Microsoft Windows is designed to replace static passwords with strong, two-factor authentication. It should become available in the second half of this year. Two-factor authentication is very well established in the industry, so RSA Security is in essence developing a variation of a familiar theme. Instead of being prompted to enter a username and password, users of the new technology will be prompted to their own secret PIN followed by a pass number generated by their SecurID token. SecurID tokens generate a random, one-time password every 60 seconds, synchronised with a server running RSA ACE/Server software. The log-in process with SecurID for Microsoft Windows is the same whether the user is working on or offline, remotely or inside a corporate network. RSA said a form of synchronisation technology lets the system work offline. But it declined to explain exactly how this worked, beyond expressing confidence that the process was secure - even if a hacker obtained control of a PC. Moving out of remote access Although the approach could be applied in the consumer space, RSA Security is more interested in plying the technology to corporates. Art Coviello, president and chief executive at RSA Security, said the technology will enable it to expand from authenticating remote access to delivering enterprise-wide authentication to many more companies. RSA and Microsoft are positioning SecurID for Windows as a way to reduce helpdesk administration costs while boosting security. SecurID provides companies with more effective means to audit user access to a corporate network, aiding their compliance with corporate governance regulations (which were tightened in the US following the collapse of Enron). Also, user frustration - at having to remember numerous passwords - becomes a thing of the past, the vendors say. Michael Nash, head of the security business and technology unit at Microsoft, said: “By using RSA SecurID two-factor authentication in place of traditional static passwords, customers will be able to more positively identify users before giving them access to systems and corporate resources.” Somebody else's dogfood The technology was launched at this week's RSA Conference in San Francisco. During his keynote address, Bill Gates was cheered by RSA staff when he brandished an RSA key fob. Although Gates spoke enthusiastically of the "particular benefits" of SecurID tokens as one way of doing away with passwords (especially for offline authentication), Microsoft has taken a different approach to problem. Microsoft is rolling out a public key infrastructure system with user credentials stored on smart-cards, he explained. ® Related Stories Microsoft marries RSA Security to Windows RSA gets into fingerprints VeriSign takes token stance The Register RSA coverage in full
John Leyden, 25 Feb 2004

Gates ‘optimistic’ on security

RSARSA Microsoft chairman Bill Gates is grateful to the independent security researchers who routinely punch holes in his company's software. Really. "We really appreciate the relationship we have with these security experts," said Gates in a keynote address at the RSA Conference in San Francisco on Tuesday. But, "the unfortunate fact is the people who have the malicious intent take that information... and use it, particularly in an environment in which we haven't been able to keep the systems up-to-date in a wide scale way," he added. In a talk that comes a little over two years after he launched Microsoft's "Trustworthy Computing" initiative, Gates spent the better part of an hour talking shop with the computer security industry and its customers, unveiling several new initiatives and showing off new features infused into the upcoming Windows XP Service Pack 2, now in beta release. The XP update will include an enhanced version of the Windows Firewall that will be switched on by default. When a program attempts to use the Internet for the first time, a pop-up will warn the user and give them the option of approving or permanently blocking the application's Internet access. Service Pack 2 will also include a new "Windows Security Center" that tells users whether or not their firewall and anti-virus software is operating. Behavior blocking The company's long-term plans are more ambitious. Worm-killing functionality called "behavior blocking" is slated for next year, and will work, Gates promised, by spotting anomalous behavior by the operating system or applications. Using last year's Blaster worm as an example, Gates said the technology would notice that Windows' RPC service had begun downloading malicious code, and would intervene to prevent it. "The system will truly know what actions are allowed by applications and operating systems," said Gates. Another technology will protect Windows users who haven't installed the latest security patches by disabling the programs or services made vulnerable by the lapse, said Gates. Coding Aids On the supply side of the vulnerability cycle, Gates said the next version of Microsoft's Visual Studio, code named "Whidbey," would include tools to better support secure coding, including one that makes it easier for programmers to write applications that don't require administrative access, and a utility that would spot some risky coding constructs. The chairman rounded off the talk by describing a wide range of other Microsoft security programs, ranging from an "e-mail Caller I.D." aimed at combating spam, to a self-validating tamper-resistant I.D. card developed by the company's research arm. Along the way he touched on Palladium, touted the security benefits of the company's Shared Source Initiative, announced two new industry partnerships, and blamed the rash of worms and viruses exploiting Microsoft code on the diabolical ingenuity of the computer underground. "The people who attack these systems are getting more and more sophisticated," he said. Measured against that increased sophistication, Microsoft is improving its security record, said Gates. He noted that in the first 300 days following its release, Microsoft Windows Server 2003 had only eight serious security advisories, while Windows 2000 had 38, Gates said. "Clearly there's more to do, but that is one of the metrics that shows us that we're definitely on the right track," said Gates. "I'm very optimistic about this, even though there's many years of work ahead of us." Copyright © 2004, The Register RSA coverage in full
Kevin Poulsen, 25 Feb 2004

Battle for mmO2 hots up

NTT DoCoMo has signalled it could be interested in mmO2 - if the UK operator used i-mode - DoCoMo's data service. Keiji Tachikawa, president of the Japanese mobile monster, told the FT he'd be interested in talking to any operator who adopted i-mode. He said he would have to talk to 3, the company's current British partner. The chances of a bidding war were increased when KPN put out a statement which "reserved the right" to bid again for mmO2. DoCoMo has a partnership with KPN and the Dutch company uses the i-mode platform.& reg; Related stories KPN offer stokes mmO2 bid excitement European mobile networks ally for added clout 3 may back out of i-Mode partnership
John Oates, 25 Feb 2004

Ryanair, Stelios in telecoms departure

No frills airline Ryanair is lending its name to a new telecoms outfit that claims it will shake up the telephone market with half-price local and national calls. Ryanair Telecom - an Irish-owned private company operating under licence from Ryanair PLC - unveiled its new service in Dublin yesterday and is promising to slash the cost of making phone calls in Ireland. Those behind the new telco says that Irish punters can make "substantial savings" on local and national calls while saving as much as 90 per cent on some international calls. Said Ryanair Telecom chief exec Sean McVeigh: "Irish consumers have been penalised for so long due to lack of real competition. We intend to shake up the market and provide people with savings on their phone costs where it matters - in their pockets. "We have stripped out all the overheads without compromising on call quality so that we can provide stiff competition in the Irish market." What's more, Ryanair Telecom is also planning to roll-out discount mobile telephone services throughout Europe. A formal announcement concerning this venture is expected to be made on 10 March. News of Ryanair Telecom's entry into the market comes as another low-cost airlines prepares to make a splash in the mobile arena. easyJet founder, Stelios Haji-Ioannou, is setting up easyTelecom - a virtual network operator offering cut-price tariffs for mobile users. The service is due to launch sometime during the year with negotiations currently underway with operators concerning the acquisition of airtime. A spokesman for Mr Haji-Ioannou said that the business model behind the venture was simple and straightforward. "We'll provide cheap, efficient mobile telephony," he told The Register. And there could even be scope for the service being extended into fixed-line services and broadband access. A statement on easyTelecom's website, which is currently under construction, says: "We are currently investigating business opportunities in the fixed line and mobile broadband telecom markets." ®
Tim Richardson, 25 Feb 2004

India comes to Europe

Europe in briefEurope in brief Last week AP wrote that Siemens was to relocate more than 15,000 IT jobs from Europe to India, a story later downplayed by the German company. But India itself is interested in investing in Europe, Copenhagen Capacity reports. Subramanian Ramadoria, of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) - one of the biggest IT companies in India - told Berlingske Tidende that fears of losing jobs as a result of outsourcing to India are greatly exaggerated. TCS wants to invest in Europe, including Denmark, Ramadoria says. TCS has already tried to take over the Danish SAS IT-Group, which instead went to American CSC. Poland: Expensive broadband hampers penetration The Polish Ministry of Infrastructure's objective to increase by 350 per cent the number of broadband Internet users by 2006 is overly optimistic, Warsaw Business Journal warns. Deputy infrastructure minister Wojciech Halka would like broadband Internet users to number 1.6 million by 2006, up from the current 461,000. But analysts say prices are still too high. There is currently hardly any competition between telecom and cable companies. However, some pundits believe that Poland's meagre 1.2 per cent broadband penetration may increase as a result of joining the European Union. Greece: Portal for arms deals Greek firm Epicos announced the launch of a global business-to-business e-marketplace and information hub for military procurements, defence contract offsets and industrial co-operation. Greek defence contracts often attract allegations of favouritism, massive over-pricing and kickbacks, Athens News reports. By bringing together defence and aerospace prime contractors and their subcontractors, local defence and aerospace industries, service providers or consultants, the trade will become much more transparent. The company is currently active in 28 countries. The objective is to reach more than 40 countries by the end of 2004. Germany: New Centre for Advanced Communication Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh) and the University of Karlsruhe in Germany have agreed to jointly establish an International Centre for Advanced Communication Technologies (InterACT). The focus of InterACT is to support human-to-human interaction across language and cultural barriers, and to do research in pervasive multimodal and multilingual computing environments. One of its goals is to deliver friendlier and more helpful computing services to society. ®
Jan Libbenga, 25 Feb 2004

IT security to become political battleground

RSARSA Security will re-emerge as a major arena for political debate over the next year, cryptography legend Whitfield Diffie predicted today. The cryptographic community fought a long and ultimately successful battle to lift US export restrictions on encryption technology. The climax was a Clinton administration decision more than four years ago to relax controls. Since then - aside from the ever-present debate about handing over cryptographic keys to law enforcement authorities - things have been a good deal quieter, at least intellectually. Diffie, chief security officer at Sun Microsystems, forecasts that this will change in coming months. The political battle will spill over into two distinct technology fields. Conflicting views about law enforcement requests to monitor voice over IP networks and over digital rights management (DRM) technology will re-energise IT politics, he said. Extending wiretapping to VoIP is controversial because it "affects the architecture of networks of all kinds," according to Diffie. And DRM is contentious because it extends to copyright holders control over end-user systems. Diffie said the argument over DRM was complicated by its use in non-controversial applications. For example, DRM technology could be applied to verify that the configuration of a system hadn't been altered by hackers. "A technology that attests to the configuration of a component in a dynamic network and says 'its safe for you to play' is of great security benefit. Whether it’s a technology you should force on consumers is far less clear," he said. With legislation on spam on both sides of the Atlantic last year, politics has hardly disappeared from the IT industry. Diffie argues that these debates are not characterised by the real clash of competing philosophies which characterised the crypto export debate. Diffie made his comments during a cryptography panel at the RSA Conference in San Francisco. ® The Register RSA coverage in full
John Leyden, 25 Feb 2004
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Team Register, 25 Feb 2004

Nvidia unveils ‘fastest’ mobile workstation GPU

Nvidia rolled out its latest workstation-class mobile graphics chip, the Quadro FX Go1000, claiming the part out-performs "competing" desktop workstation graphics accelerators. Like its previous mobile Quadro FX, the Go700, the new chip supports AGP 8x and a 128-bit floating-point graphics pipeline with 12-bit sub-pixel precision. It too offers DVI and TV-out interfaces. However, it improves on its predecessor's power management, courtesy of the latest incarnation - version 4.0 - of Nvidia's PowerMizer technology. It also incorporates third-generation pixel and vertex shaders - three of the latter and two of the former. Nvidia didn't release specific speeds and feeds, but the 130nm Go1000, yields proe-02, ugs-03 and 3dsmax-02 scores of 25.8, 22.7 and 21, respectively. Those numbers mark gains of 17, 34.4 and 32.4 per cent over the Go700's published stats. Nvidia claimed the Go1000 is on average 50 per cent faster than the Go700. Nvidia ships the chip with 128MB of DDR SDRAM, but it can support up to 256MB. The company did not disclose the part's price. However, Dell is shipping it in its Precision M60 mobile workstation, alongside the Go700. The new chip adds $99 to the price of the system. In related news, Nvidia yesterday confirmed it will use TSMC's 110nm process technology to make graphics chips next year. The new process uses the same tools utilised by the foundry's 130nm process - essentially, 110nm process is a photolithographic reduction of the latter. So Nvidia builds a 130nm part and TSMC scales it down to 110nm photographically. TSMC said the 110nm process also includes "transistor enhancements" that improve speed and reduce power consumption" over its 130nm predecessor. The 110nm process will enter "risk production" during Q1 2005, the foundry added. ® Related Stories Card maker pre-announces Nvidia GeForce FX 5700LE Nvidia unwraps PCI Express graphics chips Nvidia Q4 figures fail to lift full-year totals Long product cycle times to impact Nvidia Q4 earnings ATI Q4 market share beats Nvidia - just
Tony Smith, 25 Feb 2004

321 Studios to fight ripper injunction

321 Studios will appeal the expected court ruling passed last week by Judge Susan Illston of the Northern District Federal Court for California, effectively halting sale of many of the company's products. The case was brought by the Paramount and Fox movie studios and Macrovision, which claims that its licence is being abused as well as the central issue in the case which hinges on 321's DVD X Copy and DVD Copy Plus software products allowing customers to make copies of DVDs. Conspiracy In statements made when the case first came to court, 321 Studios pointed out that it has licensed Macrovision technology, and accused Macrovision and the studios of conspiring together to stop the sale of 321 Studios products. It said that portions of the Macrovision complaint are plainly cut and pasted from the Paramount and Fox complaint filed in the same jurisdiction in November of 2003 and this suggested a conspiracy. The current version of 321's DVD X Copy series will be available for sale until Friday. If 321 has not succeeded in obtaining a stay by that time, 321 will comply with the court order and replace the current version with product that does not include a "ripper" - the software code temporarily banned by today's ruling. The company promises to keep its newest titles Games X Copy , DVD X Show, DVD X Maker, and DVD X Point, on sale, and has put a $10,000 bounty on anyone using its software to make illegal copies. It also has a Piracy Prevention Hotline. Stay of execution In our view it is almost certain that the judge will grant the appeal and perhaps the stay, since legally there is a big issue going on here. In the US, although almost nowhere else, the right of a personal use copy of purchased entertainment has become enshrined in law. And yet the Digital Millennium Copyright Act states that it is illegal to bypass copy protection, even if it is to take a personal use copy. We have argued in the past that the DMCA was hurried through and poorly conceived and that it needs revision. 321 Studios' legal team is arguing the same, pointing out the direct contradiction between the US 'fair use' rights and the DMCA. Laws that contradict one another never survive too long unchanged. It is possible that this case will proceed upwards through the Courts until someone decides to change the law. It only needs to be subtly altered to continue to enshrine personal use copies, but that would also mean an adjustment to the copy protection processes that are offered by companies like Macrovision, one of the litigants. Fighting talk "Despite today's ruling, 321 stands firm in our vow to fight the Hollywood Studios in their effort to take away our customers' digital rights," said Robert Moore, 321 Studios' founder and president. "There is no difference between making a copy of a music CD for personal use and making a backup of a DVD movie for personal use. We are so firm in our belief in the principle of fair use that we will appeal this ruling immediately. And we will take our fight all the way to the Supreme Court, if that's what it takes to win." © Copyright 2004 Faultline Faultline is published by Rethink Research, a London-based publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter is an assessment of the impact of events that have happened each week in the world of digital media. Faultline is where media meets technology. Subscription details here.
Faultline, 25 Feb 2004

Future rosy for UltraWideBand

UltraWideBand's prospects for becoming the dominant wireless technology for the home improved significantly this week, with Motorola poised to support a coexistence protocol that bridges the two rival would-be standards, and Intel demonstrating integration with wired USB. The main brake on the adoption of UWB, which can achieve data rates of up to 440Mbps over 10 meters, has been the failure of the IEEE to settle on one of two alternatives - Motorola and the Intel/TI-led Multiband OFDM Alliance - to provide its 802.15.3a personal area networking standard. Start-up Pulse~Link has come up with a compromise that at least allows products incorporating the different UWB technologies to coexist peacefully, if not to interoperate. It seems that Motorola will offer that technology as an olive branch to its competitor. Common Signalling Protocol Unlike the MBOA, which was the front runner in the IEEE race and still believes it could provide the only standard, Motorola accepts that it is unlikely to be the exclusive UWB arbiter. While the market decides, and tests continue to probe Motorola's claims that the MBOA solution causes unacceptable interference, the giant will back Pulse~Link's Common Signalling Protocol as an interim solution. It will propose the physical layer technology at an ad hoc IEEE meeting in San Diego next Monday and expects to get support from Panasonic, Sharp, Sony and others. Motorola also showed off its own UWB chipset, the first fruits of its acquisition last year of XtremeSpectrum, at the ISSC chip conference this week. Unlike other UWB silicon, this three-chip product is actually sampling now and will be fully available around midyear. Raj Sengottaiyan, Motorola's vice president of engineering at the semiconductor unit, was one of the most bullish speakers at the ISSC conference. The forum's general attitude to UWB was cautious, with many experts pointing to lack of standards, unproven or inconsistent data rates and the persistent issue of interference. The Motorola chipset includes a baseband processor, a media access controller (MAC) with a 1394 interface, and the physical layer (PHY). It promises a 114Mbps data rate, and there is also the potential for a slower 57Mbps mode that would guarantee higher data integrity. UWB silicon Meanwhile, at its Developer Forum, Intel was demonstrating its first UWB silicon - based on the MBOA specifications - and aiming to set yet another standard for the digital home market where its chief ambitions lie in 2004. This would be a combined UWB and USB I/O architecture for fast multimedia interconnects between consumer electronics gear. This comes with the inevitable industry alliance of supporting vendors to promote and certify the technology and give it the outer veneer of a real standard, containing many of the companies involved in the USB 2.0 wired technology. The Wireless USB specification will support data rates of 480Mbps over four meters and 110Mbps over 10 meters, including new streaming enhancements recently added to wired USB 2.0. Intel says it could be the first multimedia interconnect to be backed by the whole spectrum of electronics suppliers from PC makers to consumer media devices and digital cameras. Ubiquitous standard The new specification will be based on the MBOA's UWB technology, and is seen as another way that the Alliance plans to ensure that its approach to fast wireless becomes ubiquitous. It will take the form of a USB platform adaptation layer running on top of the UWB silicon, and there will also be a variant for 1394 Firewire. Eventually, a third layer will be designed in, optimised for quality of service for multimedia IP traffic. The spec will also support the radio platform defined by the WiMedia Alliance, which is dedicated to interoperability among all IEEE 802.15.3 wireless personal area networking standards. These include UWB and the original 802.15.3, which transfers data at 55Mbps in the 2.4GHz band. Intel is expected to join this industry group shortly, and the Alliance is widely predicted to become a key supporter of the MBOA technologies, in effect taking the role for that protocol that the Wi-Fi Alliance does for 802.11x. Systems using Wireless USB should ship in early 2005. The technology will be at loggerheads with another current development - USB On-The-Go - a wireless version that uses USB 1.2 extensions to transfer data between devices in a peer-to-peer fashion. © Copyright 2004 Faultline Faultline is published by Rethink Research, a London-based publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter is an assessment of the impact of events that have happened each week in the world of digital media. Faultline is where media meets technology. Subscription details here.
Faultline, 25 Feb 2004

Ingram Micro sales solid

Channel RoundupChannel Roundup Super-distie Ingram made a proft of $46.4m for the fourth quarter ended January 3, 2004, on sales of $6.76bn. European sales were $2.77bn, an increase of 33 per cent on the same period a year ago. Gross margin was 5.37 per cent, against 5.62 per cent last year. C2000 wants top Big Blue spot Computer 2000 is putting resources into helping resellers target small and medium enterprises, through IBM's TopSeller scheme. C2000 is upping levels of IBM stock to co-incide with an IBM marketing push which will see four million inserts going into papers and magazines every month this year. C2000 is also claiming to have beaten targets set for sales of Fujitsu Siemens desktops and laptops. The companies have been working together for six months and in January sales of Fjuitsu machines accounted for 15 per cent of C2000's PCs and peripherals business. Gamers get shiny boxes Enta Technologies is introducing "visually-appealing" computer cases aimed at the serious gamer market. The Lancer range come with two fans as standard, space for 10 drives and two USB ports. They come in silver, black and red. Enta has also won distribution rights for the full range of VisionPlus TV PC cards - which mean you can watch digital television on your PC or laptop. Unipalm gets inky Unipalm has agreed to distribute ThinPrint specialist software products. ThinPrint offers software to sort out print jobs in internet and mobile environments. Unipalm is increasing its Citrix range and sees ThinPrint as key to this process. ®
John Oates, 25 Feb 2004

Intel, Sony to deliver quality video to MS smart phones

Intel's "strategic relationship" with Sony's music division has borne fruit, with Microsoft coming out as a beneficiary of the pair's partnership. The alliance, announced last October, has yielded client and server components of an application that delivers high-quality video on mobile devices designed around Intel's Xscale chip family. The system, due to go on sale to network operators next quarter, allows Musiczilla and others to sell video clips, songs, ringtones and the like to handset owners. Chipzilla's goal is to sell more processors on the back of it - not only handheld-oriented parts but the Xeons and Itanics that will (it hopes) power all the extra servers required to store and deliver the content, not to mention the machines that will encode and optimise it. Microsoft wins because the client app only runs on Windows Mobile for Smartphones 2002 and 2003 - and undoubtedly the 2004 release, when it's officially announced. The code itself was developed by US-based (though its R&D is done in India) mobile media specialist Emuzed, which lists support for other operating systems, including Palm, Symbian (UIQ and Series 60), Linux and Nucleus, on its web site. That at least gives the 'zillas the chance to promote the applications on other, significantly more popular client platforms. Emuzed systems and codecs support industry standards such as RTP/RTSP, MP3, AAC, JPEG, MPEG-2, MPEG-4 and H.263. Intel yesterday released the developer tools necessary to write client apps that will support its Wireless MMX technology, the Xscale version of the multimedia-oriented instructions the company developer for its Pentium processors. Wireless MMX is set to debut in the next generation of Xscale, 'Bulverde', during the second half of the year. Intel did not say whether the Emuzed client applications have been optimised for Wireless MMX or require the technology to run. ® Related Stories Sony to work with Intel on mobile music tech Intel adds Wireless MMX support to XScale tools Intel chief touts mobile 3D chip, ignores next-gen XScale Intel preps 'Xbox in a phone' XScale chip
Tony Smith, 25 Feb 2004

European PC sales up

Indirect sales of PCs to businesses grew six per cent in January compared to the same period a year ago. The survey of France, Germany and the UK showed second tier sales to small and medium businesses was the main driver for growth. During the same period retail sales of PCs to consumers fell 13 per cent. According to Jeremy Davies, senior partner at Context, the results are good news for the European PC industry. "The proportion of total PC sales taken up by the home consumer market in Europe over the past year has been dropping steadily as business PC purchases increase - especially in the SMB segment," he said. Portable PCs show strong growth with the market increasing by 26 per cent and 36 per cent respectively in France and Germany. The UK has the strongest portable market with sales up 47 per cent compared to January last year. ® Related stories My best friend is a PC Rise of the virtual machine Quantum offers full line through European channel
John Oates, 25 Feb 2004

Cyber-terror drama skates on thin Black Ice

Book ReviewBook Review Computerworld columnist Dan Verton has covered the security beat for several years. He has recently weighed in on the cyber-terror discussion with a book called Black Ice: The Invisible Threat of Cyber-Terrorism. Verton gets off to a good start in his introduction, where he notes that physical attacks against high-value communications infrastructure are an important area of concern. He also suggests that the destructive effects of a physical terror attack could be intensified by a simultaneous attack against local communications infrastructure by hampering rescue efforts. At that point, I was anticipating a balanced discussion of the threats and risks associated with cyber terror, which is, after all, something that has never occurred. Unfortunately, the book soon loses its balance and tips increasingly in the direction of paranoid speculation. This shift in tone culminates on page 96, where Verton claims that "we can safely discard the opinions of those who argue that cyber-terrorism ... is impossible." At that point I lost all sympathy for what the author was saying. It is indeed reasonable to question the plausibility of cyber-terrorism; and it's quite preposterous to "discard the opinions" of sceptics. There are some very smart and knowledgeable people who think cyber-terror is a myth. Dire predictions But discard them Verton does. His book is far more concerned with the wholesale retailing of dire predictions from paranoid bureaucrats like former cyber-security czar Richard Clarke and ex-Microserf Howard Schmidt than a realistic exploration of the dangers involved. Indeed, wherever Verton writes about cyber-terror per se, it is always in the form of a fictional scenario. Because we've yet to experience cyber-terrorism, there's little one can say about it from a strictly factual point of view - certainly not enough to fill a book. And this leads to another problem: the book spends a great deal of time talking about al-Qaeda and radical jihadists in general, showing us what creeps they are, as if we didn't already know, and speculating that if these creatures ever decided to blow up power stations and telephone infrastructure, or become elite hackers, we'd all be in serious trouble. Hollow center This general material takes up a great deal of the book, and forms is its hollow center. We can talk about terrorist possibilities until we're blue in the face, but at its core, terror is about sudden and violent death, not inconvenience. It's hard to imagine a terror outfit attacking power distribution infrastructure after seeing the complete lack of panic and mayhem in the wake of this Summer's blackout in the US and Canada. People were inconvenienced, all right; but they coped with it, the broken stuff got fixed, and no one was killed, traumatized, or horrified. Terror doesn't come from having the lights go dim or the phones go dead or the ATM go haywire. Terror comes from hundreds or even thousands of people suddenly and violently murdered in an instant. This is what terrorists are after, not power outages. Unfortunately, the book emphasizes threats to infrastructure as if they were the primary worry, when, in fact, an infrastructure attack can only intensify a real terror attack. It is not one in itself. Verton's sources are almost exclusively himself, and bureaucrats concerned with cyber-terror. There are no sceptical voices in the book, and not even an attempt at offering counter-arguments to a sceptical point of view. The book barely acknowledges that there are valid arguments questioning cyber-terror and its significance. And Verton's habit of using his own articles for reference gets suspicious after a while. There's certainly nothing wrong with a journalist pointing readers to his articles for additional information; but here, because there is so little hard evidence Verton can supply to substantiate his claims, the self-references take on a flavor of, "and you know it's true because I've said it before." Opposing views The book is highly speculative and fails to confront opposing views. We're told that we can "safely discard the opinions" of sceptics, but we're not told why. The book's argumentative force rests on the assertion that we should worry about cyber-terror because Richard Clarke, Howard Schmidt and Tom Ridge worry about it - and because security vendors reaching out for juicy gobbets of Homeland Security pork "worry" about it too. Black Ice will appeal to readers who already believe that cyber-terror is a clear and present danger. Those who have yet to make up their minds will find a one-sided discourse, and would do well to follow it with a more balanced book such as Beyond Fear by Bruce Schneier before drawing any conclusions. Cyber-terror sceptics will not be persuaded by Verton's arguments, or his sources, and should probably avoid it. ® Related Story Security experts duped by Slammer 'jihad' rot
Thomas C Greene, 25 Feb 2004

Time to invest, say CEOs

Downsizing is out and growth is in, according IBM's annual global CEO study. Of 456 CEOs interviewed, 80 per cent said their priority is to grow revenues, rather than to cut costs. If the mood of a CEO is an accurate barometer of the economy, then the long-promised upswing could, indeed, be about to happen. Asia and China were highlighted by several participants as key new markets to exploit. Many of the CEOs report that the spending cuts which they imposed in the last two years have done the job required; and that the time is right to invest in growth. Two thirds said growth will come from new products, and more than half said they plan to enter new markets in the next five years. Despite a more positve outlook, most said their companies are not yet agile enough to pursue the opportunities in the market. Identifying opportunities and threats is not a problem, but deciding how to act takes too long. While 90 per cent of the top execs said they needed to transform their businesses to compete, 60 per cent said that they and their staff lacked the skills neccessary to do so.T hree quarters said that the most important thing they could do to transform their businesses is to invest in employee education. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 25 Feb 2004

Nokia's new Communicator – who needs it?

3GSM3GSM Fans of Nokia's Communicator were ecstatic at the fourth generation product announced on Monday, and the feature list and form factor provide everything that that the 9200 series was missing, and then some. But it isn't quite what many were expecting, and it obliges Nokia to maintain a platform it had officially "retired" - Series 80 - for another two-year lifecycle. This reveals a deep internal turf war over the future of the Communicator. The result is that the 9500 is more of an interim product or staging post. Series 80's successor, based on the Hildon user interface, was announced last fall and supports more up-to-date larger screen sizes and, crucially, pen input. Nokia has already announced one device based on Hildon/S90, the 7700 media phone. But a faction within Nokia insisted that Hildon work on Series 80, which delayed the update to the 9200 by over a year. Nokia has worked hard to smooth the path to Series 90 for Series 60 developers. But now the picture is rather confusing. So rather than supporting two enterprise platforms - Series 60 and 90, Nokia must maintain three. Series 80 literature was removed from Nokia's site several weeks ago, and we assumed it had been honorably retired. Now it's back from the grave as "Series 80 Version 2.0". Pros and Cons On the plus side the 9500 is a very strong product. It will hit the market at the end of the year with a strong catalog of binary compatible software. A lost generation of Psion Series 3,5 and Revo users, who never really warmed to the earlier Communicator models, may well be tempted by the 9500, even though it's pitched at enterprise accounts and is far more expensive than the earlier PDAs. (A basic PC notebook can be bought for less than an unsubsidized 9500). In terms of features, this phone delivers in terms of everything except screen size and pen input. The 9200 series already was an outstanding PIM - excellent handsfree support, the most flexible address book of any PDA, for example, and the most capable Microsoft-compatible 'portable office' to be found on a handheld. But when it launched in 2001 it lacked GPRS support just as 2.5G networks were becoming ubiquitous, and had poor PC synchronization (relying on an RS-232 serial connection) and no Bluetooth. More importantly, it couldn't be used as a world phone. Subsequent updates still left the user with precious little memory. The 9500 more than compensates for the connectivity deficit. In addition to EDGE, the phone will connect to Wi-Fi networks, although Nokia doesn't publish how long the phone's 1300 mAh battery will survive on a wireless LAN. Nokia states that with Wi-Fi in idle mode the phone's 200-300 hours of stand-by falls to 180-240 hours. Bluetooth, a VGA camera and USB support are now built-in. The keyboard has also been improved, although falls short of the ingenious Series 5 and Revo keyboards. It's slightly lighter than the 9200 series, but that little improvement means a lot, we discovered. As a closed-phone, the new Communicator sports a Series 40 style 128x128 color screen. We encountered issues with both the 9210 and 9290 hinges - a familiar weak spot for notebook PC users, and hopefully Nokia has paid attention. On the downside, the user interface is firmly rooted in 1996, when the first Nokia 9000 Communicator was introduced. The Series 80 allows 640x200, far less than it could, but the UI makes poor use of the limited space. Typically the "Indicator area" on the left of the screen and the "command button array" on the right soak up 184 of the 640 pixels. This won't be a mass market phone. Even the high end PDA market is small beer compared to one-handed smartphones which are essentially portable office document 'viewers'. The brick form factor slips easily into a suit pocket, but simply isn't a casual consumer device. But the 9500 is well-primed for the vertical enterprise markets that Nokia and IBM envisage. And the series had always had a cult following with system administrators.The question that remains is how quickly Nokia brings a communicator to market 'for the rest of us', based on Hildon. ® Related Stories Nokia 9210 Review The Register 3GSM coverage in full Related Products Order the Nokia 9500 Communicator from The Reg mobile store
Andrew Orlowski, 25 Feb 2004

The Register RSA coverage in full

RSARSA Gates parades Windows security advances Who needs passwords? IT security to become 'political battleground' Gates 'optimistic' on security Cyber security alliance sets sights on Washington Homeland insecurity starts at home RSA shows RFID tag blocker MS takes fight to the spammers Windows leak dangers 'exaggerated' Calls to regulate 'failing' AV industry
Team Register, 25 Feb 2004
server room

IBM debuts pocket-sized PC

IBM Japan has developed a tiny prototype PC that measures just 16 x 8.2 x 2.2cm (6.4 x 3.3 x 0.9in) and weights a mere 300g (10.6oz), the company said today. For now dubbed the PC Core System, the (literally) pocket PC is based on a 1GHz Transmeta Crusoe TM5800 processor. Inside the case, you'll also find 256MB of memory - it can take up to 512MB - and a 20GB 2.5in hard drive. The machine runs a variety of versions of Windows. IBM's thinking is that users will carry around their PCs, plugging them into base units (as shown here) located wherever they happen to be working. The approach is intended to appeal to corporates who want to thoroughly mobilise their workforces. The base stations can connect the core unit to a screen, keyboard, mouse and network connection. The system, it reckons, is much better than, say, a notebook, which becomes almost useless if its delicate LCD display is damaged in transit. IBM Japan calls the PC Core System a "completely new concept". Well, sort of. Certainly it's not the only ultra-small PC out there. Japanese firm the Personal Media Company announced an even smaller machine, the T-Cube, last December. However, this colour kit is based on an NEC CPU running a non-mainstream operating system, T-Engine. Wearable PCs have very small system units, but not perhaps as small as this. In fact, what the PC Core System most reminds us of is Apple's iPod. It may be a hard drive-based music player now, but the iPod already offers basic PIM display functionality, and adding support for still and moving photography would be a doddle. Mac OS X 10.3 was originally planned to allow users to store their Home directories on an iPod. That feature may not have made it to the final cut, but it remains a possibility for future versions of the OS. At that point you've essentially got a next-generation PDA - or the kind of device today's PDAs are evolving toward - and it's no great surprise to see the machine's processing power grow to allow it to do all the heavy lifting too. Carry your iPod with you during to day to listen to music, read email, check your diary and so on. At home or in the office, you just slide it into your Cinema Display - or a cradle connected to the LCD - and do some work. ® Related Story MS 'Windows for iPod' delayed but still marks death of PDA Goodbye, PC; hello, PS (Personal Server) PortalPlayer Photo Edition paves way for Picture iPod Sony unveils 'video iPod' Related Products Browse for Pocket PCs in The Reg mobile store
Tony Smith, 25 Feb 2004
bofh_sidey

BOFH and the pointless questionnaire

Episode 2Episode 2 BOFH 2004: Episode 2 "Ah... Now I don't think you want to be doing that..." I murmur, watching the Boss authoring an online Client Survey form for the masses about things that don't matter. (i.e. their expectations, How they'd like us to deliver them, etc.) "Really?" he asks "Why's that?" "It doesn't pay to ask questions! We already know what people want - everything, yesterday. AND we know that they're used to disappointment. But if you start asking them what they think we should be doing, you'll just ignite a spark of hope" "A spark is a good thing!" "Not when I stamp that spark out with the cold hard boot of reality." "What?! Why? I happen to think that some of the staff may have something valuable to contribute!" "To the lengthening unemployment queues, yes. But you don't want them mixing stupidity with technology. That's your job. Leave it to them and they'll be recommending that we upgrade to those 'new' voice-operated computers they saw on Bladerunner... ... Oh, and you definitely don't want to be asking for any additional comments they might have about IT, the department, or our ongoing strategy." "Why not!?" "Because it's a drift net for stupid ideas. Sure, you'll get one or two people who actually give a sane suggestion, but then you'll hit all the dolphins - the people who, because they've been asked to contribute feel that they have to contribute - like it's an intelligence test or something. Only they've got nothing useful to contribute, so they start off on some innovative tangent, like if we installed a large plasma screen in reception we could use it to have customised messages of the day for staff and visitors, etc, instead of what it would really be used for" "Which would be?" "Security would use it to watch porn movies late at night when everyone's left the building." "Oh I doubt that. Though the screen itself sounds like a good idea!" "They all sound like good ideas...!" "So what do you suggest?" "Lets start with basic concepts. Firstly, the only cavassing of users you should be doing is with a heavy tarpaulin, a stack of bricks and a deep stretch of water" "Huh?" Completely over his head. Ah well. "... When composing a questionnaire, you tailor the questions so that the answers can be made to support whatever it is you're after - sort of like the way they rig election popularity figures prior to the elections and before they get rigged at the electronic ballot boxes. " "How do you mean?" "What, the elections, the questionairres or the ballot boxes?" "Questionnaires." "OK, as a for instance, say you wanted a pay rise." "You'd ask if they think that we're paid enough?" "No! No, if you ask that question, everyone would tick yes, with a few respondents writing 'too much' in the margins. No, instead you ask something open ended like 'Should the company be paying market rates to retain the services of key technical staff?' to which most people will respond yes. Then you go find some IT rag that says that market rates have just risen by 20% in the past year, and pass it to the Head of IT to bring up with personnel.." "I don't think it's tha.." "Or maybe you ask the question 'Do you feel that IT doing a good job with the people they have?' with only two answers, Yes and No. All the Yes answers will end up supporting pay rises for the staff, while all the No answers support the requirement for more staff." "That's ridiculous!" "Oh Pulllllleeeeeeze! Say you wanted a larger office. You don't say 'Do we need a larger office?'. You would ask a question like 'Of the two improvements that we have the money to finance this year, which would be of more benefit to the company - buying the a new espresso machine for the IT Administrators, or enlarging technical office space.'" "And they'd say enlarging offices because they all hate you?" "No, they'd say enlarging office spaces because they'd think that if they worked it properly they might qualify as 'technical staff' somehow." "I see your point. But... No... I don't think I want to do that, it's just sneaky!" "Of course it is! Look, You tell me the results you want and I'll give you a questionairre that makes it look like the whole building supports it." "And what's in it for you - You want to take the PR credit for the questionnaire?" "No - I'm assuming that anything you improve can only be a knock-on improvement for us. I'll put your name as author if it makes you feel better.." "Yes, I think that's best. Well I suppose what I'd really like to do is...." Half an hour of rambling later. . . "OK, Leave it to me!" Three days and one survey later. . . "Fantastic!" the Boss burbles, looking over the PFY's shoulder as the results are presented "That question about whether they have confidence in IT Management's ability to deliver service within the constraints of our budget is sure to get us good funding next year." "Bound to," the PFY responds. "...unless..." "Unless what?" "Well unless - and I'm just suggesting this as a possibility - someone misread the question as an indication of a confidence problem instead of an indication of a budget problem". "Well I don't see how tha... oh." "Yes, and when you consider that with the question immediately following it 'Do you think that outsourcing IT Staff would improve delivery of services?'" "And they said No!" "Yes, which could mean that they're happy with the IT Staff, or it could mean that they think the poor delivery of services is because of IT Management - who should be outsourced." "Well I... uh.. Do you think I've been set up?!" he gasps. "I'd have thought that was obvious in question 23" "Question 23?!" "On the second webpage." "What second webpage?" "Ah well. Perhaps you'd like to take a couple of moments to collect your thoughts. And personal belongings. Question 23 was 'Who is the weakest link?' with your name .vs. the old mailroom guy - who's one year off retirement, wife just died, and who franks people's personal mail for free." "Well, I..." "And speaking of mail, Question 27, asking how offended staff would be at you reading their personal emails - that didn't go so well for you.." "That's slander!" "It's only slander if the question said you DID it, this just asks how offended they would be IF you did.." "There'd have to be a good reason for me to read someone's personal email!" "Toilet paper theft?" "What?" "Question 29. Do you think that cameras in the toilets would prevent toilet paper theft?" "I.. I.." "Yes, I know, it's all come as a bit of a shock, but that's how it goes around here. We like our bosses to rollover every couple of months or so - you know, so they don't get stagnant. Why don't I make you a nice cup of tea while you wait for the howling mob?" . . . Told you it doesn't pay to ask questions. ® BOFH: The whole shebang The Compleat BOFH Archives 95-99 BOFH is copyright © 1995-2004, Simon Travaglia. Don't mess with his rights.
Simon Travaglia, 25 Feb 2004

The Register 3GSM coverage in full

3GSM3GSM The Beast must buy? Fear and loathing in the Symbian shareholdings Nokia and IBM update the Communicator with Wi-Fi Can a phone have too many hinges? Symbian releases real-time, one-chip OS UI wars 'tore Symbian apart' - Nokia Siemens touts 'Push to Flirt' T-Mobile spearheads university WLAN project Venture capitalists mob Cannes bandwagons Nokia's new Communicator - who needs it? Intel promises all-singing, all-dancing 3G phone Danger's new gizmo - exclusive er, sketch WayFinder, GPS done right, preps for US launch Palmsource puts down its mark in the volume smartphone market Microsoft meets real world half-way Nvidia's phone chips as the camcorder, console killer Smartphone wars over, Symbian and MS both lost?
Team Register, 25 Feb 2004

Operators blame handsets for 3G delays

Mobile operators are blaming handset makers for the delayed launch of 3G. Speaking at the GSM World Congress in Cannes, Arun Sarin, Vodafone's chief executive, said the phones were not good enough, and that bad user experience is putting people off. People will simply not sign up to 3G services, unless the handsets match the quality of their 2G and 2.5G counterparts, according to Sarin. But right now, 3G phones are "bulky, get very hot, and they don't have battery life," he said. Sarin has an ally in T-Mobile's Rene Oberman, who revealed that his company's 3G network is ready in Germany. But poor handsets mean that the launch is delayed. Handset makers in turn blame poor network coverage for the problems. They say the phones need to be dual-band to cope with patchy coverage and this is the cause of overheating and poor battery performance, the FT reports. In Japan, they say, the coverage is more complete, and the single-band phones used there do not suffer from the same problems. Last August, Orange's UK finance director, Mike Newnham, complained that Hutchison's early launch of 3 had given people a poor impression of 3G service. Early adopters were disappointed with the quality of the network coverage and the handsets, he said. At the time, 3 accused Orange of sour grapes. Operators have a huge amount invested in the success of 3G and are understandably anxious to recoup the billions of euros they spent on the licences. The longer they have to wait before the full launch of the service, the greater the chance there is that a competing technology will emerge: i-mode and Wi-Fi, for example, have already rattled a few cages. If 3G doesn't work fairly quickly, the operators will certainly take a financial hit. Given our love of our mobiles, it is unlikely to be fatal, but outbursts like this are an indication of just how much they have riding on the success of the faster network. ® Related stories Orange slams Three's 'bad PR' for 3G Motorola debuts Wi-Fi smart phone
Lucy Sherriff, 25 Feb 2004

Terra Lycos narrows FY loss

Terra Lycos reckons "efficient management" over the last couple of years has helped it reduce the amount of cash it lost last year. Te global Internet group reported total revenues of €546.6m for 2003, down from €621.8m in 2002. Crucially, the company narrowed its pre-tax loss to €173m down from an eye-watering €1.7bn the year before. Highlighting the improved financial health of the business, Terra Lycos pointed out that it made its first positive EBITDA (earnings before interest etc.) in Q4, thanks to an €8m surplus. Execs say this improvement is due to the continued control and streamlining of costs in 2003, which enabled EBITDA to "gradually and continuously improve". "Full-year forecasts were exceeded throughout the year, with the company achieving positive EBITDA in the fourth quarter," the company said in a statement. Elsewhere, Terra Lycos noted that it increased the number of paying customers by 61 per cent to five million over the year. The company, which has major ops in Spain and Latin America, reported an increase of 70 per cent for broadband customers in 2003, taking its total subscriber base to 644,000. Subscribers to its communications and portal services grew 94 per cent to 3.4 million. Kim Faura, executive chairman of Terra Lycos, said the results "reflect the efficient management carried out over the past three years, focused on profitable business segments and progressing in the continual improvement of processes with the consequent reduction in operating costs." ® Related Story Terra Lycos in €2bn loss
Tim Richardson, 25 Feb 2004

El Reg moots Bangalore hack outsource plan

One unexpected effect of the release of our terrific "My job went to India and all I got was this lousy T shirt" limited edition is that Vulture Central itself is now considering outsourcing all of its hacks to Bangalore. The plan involves transferring Reg newsroom functions to India, thereby liberating huge sums of cash to be ploughed back into improving the product. Early reports indicate these would include a Learjet for senior management, Armani suits for the marketing boys and a plush suite of offices at the Savoy. Readers should not be alarmed at the possible repercussions on standards. Bangalore is awash with IT-savvy graduates with an excellent command of English. They offer three distinct advantages over their English and US counterparts: they earn 60p an hour; they do not have to be got drunk twice a week; and they can spell. Meanwhile, those of us possibly affected by the proposal have been assured that we will all receive said t-shirt as compensation. We fully accept that the move is not profit-based, and designed purely to improve customer service. Further updates will follow as, and when, we have them. However, should things move forward quicker than expected, the next time you read a shameless merchandising plug such as this, it will be written by an Indian callcentre operative. ®
Lester Haines, 25 Feb 2004

Intel promises all-singing, all-dancing 3G phone

3GSM3GSM Intel has not yet delivered the Bulverde super-phone chipset it announced last summer - but Paul Otellini is already promising delegates at 3GSM that for 2005, he'll have a phone that will save 3G, and integrate it with Wi-Fi. Oh, and it will have a two megapixel camera built in. Otellini, Intel's chief operating officer, did a keynote here in Cannes where he focused on a wide range of technology promises. But the mobile comms thrust was paramount, and he climaxed his presentation with a demo of a reference design which Intel hopes to have ready in 18 months, more or less. "It will be a chip set, using our XScale Application Processor, normally known by its Bulverde code name - but the new reference design will be called Hermon," sources inside Intel revealed before his presentation. High end Hermon and Bulverde can work alone, or together. On its own, Hermon (pronounced "hair-moan") will bring 3G technology down to 2G pricing and features, Intel hopes. Working together with Bulverde, however, it will be possible to build a high-end machine far outstripping anything on the market today. Otellini showed a demo of Bulverde plus a GPRS module, plus integrated 802.11b and Bluetooth. "It's in a handset," executives emphasised, "not a PDA with phone features, but a genuine phone handset, with genuine phone handset features, and aimed at the mainstream price level." Exactly what the mainstream will be in mid 2005, when Intel is hoping to have sorted all the development problems it still faces in designing this machine, was something Otellini - understandably, perhaps - was vague about. Astonishing kit Certainly, what he showed would be an astonishing bit of equipment if he could sell it today. With the two applications processors working together, you'd have a product that included a 4 megapixel camera, or even two cameras, each with its own "quick capture" port, one of four and one of two megapixels. You'd have full UMTS capability on the Wideband CDMA encoding scheme. You'd have a battery life of "multiple days" - average of about four. You'd have seamless roaming from ordinary GSM to 3G to WiFi. It would be costly, yes; but it would be a device capable of astonishing performance. It would be equally happy as a Symbian, or a Windows Mobile, or a Palm or a Linux platform. But you could also design a phone around the Hermon chip alone. That would have a smaller camera resolution, probably only two megapixels - perfectly adequate for holiday snaps. And you'd have a notional price tag of around two hundred pounds, which could be subsidised down to nothing. And it would also be a boon for 3G operators, because it would have wireless noise reduction techniques which would allow far more users to log onto the same cell (no promises on exactly how many, but "far bigger cells" would be possible, said executives). This noise reduction would also mean far fewer dropped calls and far better quality of service, they added. Ubiquitous wireless This phone is due out before WiMAX becomes mainstream, but it looks to the future of ubiquitous wireless data. Otellini is predicting a future where digital wireless pervades everything by 2006. But while Intel appears to have impressed phone operators like Orange enough to be working with them on XScale based handsets, rival chip makers won't be giving up just yet. Many rival companies will, by then, have roughly equivalent technology, with two-chip solutions being common. Intel does hope to have the best single-chip solution, but it can't guarantee the failure of rivals to match them. And several of the features Otellini is promising are based on technology which is "under development", and for which there is only a reasonable expectation that the problems will be solved. Battery life For example, executives refused to discuss what technology they would hope to use to achieve the mainstream battery performance that they are talking about. Nothing available in today's silicon would run for a full day at this sort of speed and power, and Intel is well aware that by mid 2005, people will expect top-end phones to have the same sort of power life that you get from mid-range phones today - that is, several days without a recharge on normal talk patterns. There are also issues relating to co-working with Wi-Fi and mobile phone networks, which depend on industry working groups and new standards before they can be addressed. Otellini is, understandably, assuming that these problems will be solved, but his team admits that they aren't in control of all these matters. "We are working on better battery life: it's a major area of development," was the only comment available from Frank Bryan, Intel's 3G boss. "We're trying to achieve 'best in class' talk times, and data and standby times out there in the industry - but giving much better performance and user experience," he added. "But we can't disclose details of this until much later in the project." © 2004 NewsWireless.Net The Register 3GSM coverage in full
Guy Kewney, 25 Feb 2004

Business texts the ‘next big thing’ – Voda

Vodafone is looking to drum up extra revenues by getting business users to text more. Not just the preserve of kids, gossips and lovers, the monster mobilephoneco reckons that although currently under-used, texting is the next "big thing" for business people. To prove its point, it's laid its hands on some research which shows that seven in ten employees never send work-related texts. The ones that do text are often in "tight-knit groups of 'friendly' contacts", says Vodafone, with nine in ten workers saying they only text colleagues they know really well. Only a quarter of those quizzed said they would consider sending text messages to business contacts people they do not know, while fewer than one in ten currently texts external suppliers. Said Mark Bond, head of business marketing for Vodafone UK in a statement: "It is interesting that a phenomenon that we are all so familiar with in our personal lives seems to meet with resistance in a business environment where clear, concise communication is so key. "For those unsure about using text messaging at work, it may be helpful to think of it as a simpler version of email rather than something you only use between close friends." Texting certainly can be a "clear, concise" message-delivery medium. Last year, for example, some 3,000 workers at the Accident Group were given the boot after the no win, no fee personal injury claims outfit went titsup with debts of more than £30m. ® Related Story Sacked-by-text staff win compensation Related Products Check out all the latest phones in The Reg mobile store
Tim Richardson, 25 Feb 2004

Bell Micro ends French rule

Storage distributor Bell Microproducts has appointed Martin Blaney acting president for western Europe. He replaces Ian French who is "leaving the company to pursue other interests", according to the press release. French was head of Ideal Hardware when it was bought by Bell in 2000. Martin Blaney was chief operating officer for Bell Europe before his promotion. Blaney joined Bell a few months ago from Belgium firm PFSWeb. And once upon a time, He ran Ingram Micro's Western European operations, joining the company when it bought the British-based distie he co-founded. Blaney will report to Don Bell, Bell's chief executive and president. ® Related stories Software distie ordered to pay piracy damages, goes titsup AMD names VIP first UK Associate Distributor Thieves snatch £1m phone, Xbox stash
John Oates, 25 Feb 2004

US chip biz tells China to ditch local WLAN standard

The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) has demanded that the Chinese government abandon plans to impose a proprietary WLAN security standard on 1 June. The standard, called Wired Authentication and Privacy Infrastructure (WAPI), was published last May in a bid to address the Chinese government's concerns that existing WLAN security standards were insufficiently strong. WAPI was to have become effective on 1 December 2003. However, lobbying on the part of the US government persuaded the Chinese to put back the deadline to June this year. While overseas firms have had relatively little access to the WAPI specifications, the real trouble with the Chinese standard is that it's incompatible with those ratified by the IEEE and which the rest of the world has decided to follow, the SIA says. "A unique Chinese national standard will slow the development of China's information technology industries because it will hamper the ability of Chinese firms to access the innovations emerging from thousands of companies around the world," warned the SIA's president, George Scalise. What Scalise really means, of course, is that the move will make it harder - ie. more expensive - for non-Chinese manufacturers, in particular the US chip makers his organisation represents, to sell WLAN kit to the Chinese. While we're all in favour of international standards, it has to be said that local standards tend to cause manufacturers more far difficulty than they do the consumers those manufacturers serve. There are numerous examples in IT and elsewhere of multiple standards existing happily side by side, territory by territory. GSM and CDMA, for instance, and even right- and left-hand drive automobiles. The issue for manufacturers is simply financial: the cost of developing different products for different markets. But since they're more than happy to come up with proprietary, incompatible standards of their own when they see an opportunity - think back to the pre-802.11g days and the variety of 802.11b speed booster technologies on the market, not to mention today's 'bigger range, faster throughput' 802.11g extensions - they can't really complain when someone else has a go. China is also pursuing other local, unique standards: it is creating its own high-definition DVD specification, for instance. Local regulations and standards are stones on the path to market, they are not barriers to trade. Beating competitors at their own game is, in any case, what makes capitalism fun. But while China has arguably every right to impose its own standards on its own market, it shouldn't restrict those firms who are willing to abide by the terms of entry into that arena. So we share the SIA's concerns over claims that the Chinese government will demand that foreign firms to partner with a pre-selected list of 24 local manufacturers in order to obtain the import permits they will need to sell WLAN kit in China. That is a barrier to trade, and not only that, it potentially exposes importers' intellectual property to their Chinese competitors - rivals who also have the final say as to whether imported kit is WAPI-compliant or not. The SIA is already lobbying for action to be taken by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against China over the country's decision to offer local chip makers a 14 per cent rebate on the 17 per cent tax the government levies on semiconductor sales while denying importers the same tax break. That rebate, introduced in 2000, is tantamount to illegal state aid, the SIA believes, and is distorting the market against overseas suppliers keen to operate in what is the world's third biggest chip market. ® Related Stories China Wi-Fi encryption rights holders named US chip industry to take on Beijing China unveils 'DVD killer' video disk format
Tony Smith, 25 Feb 2004

TI builds graphics hardware into mobile chip

Texas Instruments has updated its OMAP all-in-one mobile processor platform with a second-generation architecture that integrates graphics acceleration hardware, support for hi-res digicams and camcorders, and provides TV output. Central to the new OMAP 2 is the incorporation of Imagination Technologies' PowerVR MBX graphics core, which TI licensed last April. Intel has also licensed the technology, which is thought to form the basis for Carbonado, its mobile graphics chip which is due to ship next quarter. Indeed, TI's OMAP 2 processors, the OMAP 2410 and 2420, would seem to be geared to competing with Intel's next-generation XScale processor, Bulverde. Both makes of mobile processor are based on ARM technology. Bulverde adds Wireless MMX, a set of multimedia-oriented data processing instructions, and QuickCapture, which supports four-megapixel still photography and high-resolution, 30fps video capture. OMAP 2 - dubbed the "all-in-one entertainment architecture" - brings six-megapixel camera support to the TI platform, backed by DVD-quality video playback, hi-fi audio with 3D sound effects, analog and digital TV reception and output. Just as Bulverde offers Wireless SpeedStep, a dynamic core voltage and clock adjustment system, so too does OMAP 2, although TI gives the technology a more prosaic name: System Power Manager. SPM also feature low battery and thermal shutdown protection. TI calls OMAP 2 "the ideal DRM platform", coupling hardware encryption for better VPN performance with digital signature integration that can used to limit what content is downloaded to the device. The digital signature is checked periodically and whenever the host device is booted. To aid theft-prevention, the chip can store a handsets encoded IMEI code, blocking further use of the handset if anyone attempts to change its IMEI. The OMAP 2410 is based on a 330MHz ARM 1136 core and integrates a 220MHz DSP and MBX, which can process up to two million polygons per second, the company said. Intel claims Carbonado will deliver 3mps performance. The 2410 also integrates a DDR memory controller along with LCD, USB and camera control circuitry. Power management is handled by a separate chip. The 2420's bigger sibling, the 2420, adds extra peripheral support and a video accelerator backed by 5Mb of on-die SRAM. It's this component that delivers six megapixel camera support, along with full-motion 640 x 480 video encoding at 30fps and TV-out. TI said OMAP 2 processors will support all mobile operating systems, including Symbian, Windows Mobile, Linux, Nucleus and the Palm OS. The 2410 and the 2420, along with the TWL92230 power management chip, are expected to sample before July. ® Related Stories Texas Instruments licenses PowerVR for PDA, cellphone CPUs Intel chief touts mobile 3D chip, ignores next-gen XScale Intel preps 'Xbox in a phone' XScale chip
Tony Smith, 25 Feb 2004

Morse signals upturn in '04

Morse, Sun's biggest European reseller, increased turnover by 13 per cent to to £187.1m in the six months ended 31 December 2003 (2002: £185.8m). Loss before tax was down 28 per cent on the previous six months. Turnover in the UK and Ireland advanced 15 per cent, while continental Europe was up eight per cent for the half year. The company said in a statement: "In the last few months of the period we have seen increasing levels of activity, improving customer sentiment and, in a number of instances, increased business levels. We believe we may now be entering a period of relative stability which may lead to some revenue growth, although we do not expect this necessarily to follow a smooth or consistent path." ® Related stories Morse customers start spending again Morse dogged by falling Sun, HP sales Morse buys AS400 house
John Oates, 25 Feb 2004
cable

Server competition heats up

Advanced Micro Devices must be happy. After 18 months of secret development and the biting of many corporate tongues at the Intel Developer Forum last week, Hewlett-Packard has finally announced it will deliver variants of its ProLiant X86 servers that use AMD's 64-bit Opteron processors. The server market is suddenly getting more interesting... Like rivals IBM and Sun Microsystems, HP is trying to leverage the Opteron where it can do the most good while not upsetting the whole server applecart. It is hard to say whether or not HP's support for Opteron is a watershed event for AMD because we will only know in hindsight after the tier-one server vendors ramp up sales and customers gain experience with Opteron machines. Intel is not going to take the threat of the Opteron standing still, as the launch of the 64-bit extended Xeon DP and MP processors last week demonstrates. What can honestly be predicted at this early stage of the Opteron game is that the increasingly enthusiastic adoption of Opterons by IBM, Sun, and now HP is going to cause a feedback loop that - unless something goes radically wrong with the design or the manufacturing of these processors - will help them get established in the marketplace as a credible and reasonable alternative to Intel's Xeon processors. With these three vendors supporting Opteron, the pressure will now be on Dell to also adopt Opteron to compete for sales, particularly for workloads that require dense packing and high floating point performance. Competition is good. Intel, which has a virtual monopoly on desktop and server processors, is going to get some, and thanks to AMD's attacks, it is going to give some back, too. There is going to be a lot of tongue-wagging about what this all means for the Itanium processor that Intel and HP have been championing. People are going to say things that will make you cock your head to the side like a perplexed dog. Here's one example from yesterday's announcement from Scott Stallard, senior vice president and general manager of HP's Enterprise Storage and Servers division: "Our commitment and plans for Itanium do not change with these announcements. In fact, they are strengthened." Whether or not Intel or HP like to think about it or admit it publicly, when it comes to Windows and Linux workloads, the case for Itanium has clearly been undercut by the Opterons and now the Xeon-64s, particularly for entry and midrange machines that make up the bulk of shipments. How deep those cuts go depends on how well or poorly the Windows and Linux channels do in adapting their applications for Itanium and how the advent of Xeon-64 and the growing support for Opteron both change where and when application providers support what particular chip architecture. We'll know better in about 18 months, after the ecosystems for Xeon-64, Opteron, and Itanium grow or atrophy. To put it bluntly, this whole server racket is getting interesting, and more so by the week. And that is good for customers and probably good for vendors over the long haul. But as this X86 server market heats up with competition and choice, remember that anyone who says that they can predict the life or death of any of these platforms over the next couple of years is unacquainted with the ups and downs of the computer business, or is trying to sell you a bill of goods, or is just plain stupid. The IT biz doesn't work that way. AMD is getting its shot at the big time, and now, all it has to do is not screw it up. Source: ComputerWire/Datamonitor
Datamonitor, 25 Feb 2004

Vendors wary of MS Windows Firewall

Microsoft's announcement of its imminent entry into the personal firewall market was expected, but it is still concerning for some companies already playing in that space. However, in some ways the product seems to be focused on improving Microsoft's security reputation rather than making a splash in the market. Microsoft has been flagging up the advanced firewall features of Windows XP Service Pack 2 for some time, and now it has revealed some of the Windows Firewall features that will be turned on by default in the forthcoming release. According to one beta tester, in corporate deployments Windows Firewall will be on by default but in a minimum-security mode, so as not to interfere with the use of internal network applications. In fresh XP SP2 installations and consumer Windows upgrades, the firewall will be turned on in a more secure mode. Indeed, Windows Firewall appears to be primarily a consumer-oriented product. It does, however, come closer to resembling some of the popular personal firewall products on the market today by giving some level of control over outbound application traffic - unlike the previous version of Windows Firewall, Internet Connection Firewall, which was a basic stateful inspection filter. Companies in the client security market do not believe the new Microsoft software provides the same level of protection their current products do, although they acknowledge that Microsoft entering their marketplace is bound to be concerning. Rivals also claim that security systems from specialist vendors are preferred to products with built-in security countermeasures. On the other hand, Microsoft's "leverage Windows" strategy worked very effectively pushing out Netscape during the browser wars, and is now giving RealNetworks (RNWK) a run for its money in the streaming media wars. In the end, Windows Firewall appears to be mainly a defensive, rather than competitive, move. The company recently admitted that it is losing out on hundreds of millions of dollars in software sales, partly attributable to its poor record on security. Microsoft putting security software into Windows - essentially selling the problem and solution in the same box - also implies that the company does not believe security threats against Windows are going away any time soon. Source: ComputerWire/Datamonitor Related research: Datamonitor: "Beyond the perimeter firewall" (BFTC0814)
Datamonitor, 25 Feb 2004

Tiscali in Net phone deal

Pan-European ISP Tiscali has teamed up with NetCentrex to provide residential broadband telephony services for its one million ADSL punters. The deal was announced yesterday and should mean that punters in Italy could be in the position to make voice and video calls using their broadband service by the autumn. A spokeswoman for Tiscali in the UK told The Register that the ISP is looking to introduce broadband telephony here sometime this year, although the move is dependent on network upgrades. Separately, Ofcom, the UK's mega communications regulator yesterday launched a consultation to "determine the appropriate numbering resource for voice over broadband (VoB) services". One of Ofcom's proposals is that VoB users employ "056" numbers. Anyhow, if VoB rings your bell, then check out the consultation document here. Oh, and while we're on the whole broadband thing, research commissioned by AOL UK predicts that home networking is set to be a 'must-have' for broadband users in 2004. Over a third of the broadband users it questioned said they already had some form of home network, with a further two in ten saying that they were likely to set up a home network in the next 12 months. Even though AOL UK predicts that home networking looks set to be big this year, the ISP warns that there are still considerable hurdles - namely, price of hardware and [lack of] ease of installation - to overcome before adoption becomes widespread. ®
Tim Richardson, 25 Feb 2004

Infineon demos nano-scale transistor

Researchers at Infineon say they have built the first power semiconductor made from nanotubes. Nano scale parts were thought to be too weak to withstand the high voltages and currents used in power applications, but the team has demonstrated a nanotube switch that can control LEDs or electric motors. Power semiconductors are made primarily of silicon, and their production process is complex and expensive. According to Infineon nanotubes will make it possible to produce power switches that are much smaller and cheaper to build. Scientists have been able to build low power transistors with nanotubes for some time. Power transistors require significantly higher voltages: up to 1000 times greater, Infineon says. The researchers demonstrated that when hundreds or thousands of carbon nanotubes are packed together in parallel, they can also function as power transistors. Infineon’s prototype, which is made of around 300 nanotubes, can switch LEDs and small electric motors at a voltage of 2.5 volts. These are used when energy is at a premium, or when mechanical components need to be eliminated. The researchers list many advantages carbon nanotubes have over traditional silicon: significantly simpler manufacturing process, higher switching speeds and reduced heat development in the high current densities the tightly packed carbon tubes can handle. The team said the work is still very much at a research stage, and could not say when products made this way will go into commercial production. ® Related stories DTI's £50m bet on Nanotech Using photon momentum to trap viruses
Lucy Sherriff, 25 Feb 2004

Gartner analyst explains HP and Itanium leanings

LetterLetter re: HP calls in Gartner cheerleader for Opteron launch We gave Gartner's John Enck a pretty hard time in a story yesterday, detailing HP's Opteron server launch. Enck showed up on an HP conference call, and this seemed a bit out of the ordinary to us. After a very pleasant e-mail exchange, Enck agreed to send along his take on HP's conference call and reasons for participating, and we thank him for that. Nice chap. First, it is always difficult for analysts to talk the line when it comes to customers and vendors. I generally don't participate in vendor press announcements because of the appearance of bias. In this particular case, the Gartner and HP position were in alignment so I thought it was worth joining them. I obviously was not clear on my remarks at one point. I meant to say that the IT world knew that 64-bit technology was inevitable when 32-bit processors came into being, but I did not mean to suggest that 64-bit extensions were inevitable or predictable. The point I was trying to make - and failed - is that we all know we are on a continued ramp up of faster and bigger (in terms of bitness) processors. That applies to Itanium just as much as 64-bit extensions. I am by no means an Itanium cheerleader. However I simply do not believe that adding 64-bit addressing puts Xeon/Opteron on par with Itanium - there is more to a processor than the address space it can address. Does 64-bit address extension technology slow down Itanium penetration into the high-volume Windows market (1 and 2-way servers)? Of course it does. But does it knock Itanium completely out of the market? Of course it does not. Do you really think we'll be running 32-bit processors in new servers (with 64-bitextensions or not) in the post 2010 time frame? I don't. - John Enck also addressed what he looks like in a cheerleader outfit, but we have omitted that to save space. Again, he took the comment in good spirits. ®
Ashlee Vance, 25 Feb 2004

Geeks do *so* have friends

Gaming fans are a deeply social and friendly people, not isolated geeks. This is the main finding of a survey of gamers, published by GameMore, a UK gaming event co-ordinator. The survey of GameMore's users showed that most people prefer to play in multiplayer mode, rather than against the computer. Of those remaining, very few expressed a preference for flying solo. Matt Bellringer, technical director of GameMore, said computers were a new way to interact with people, not a way to hide from them. "We found that the main reason people enjoy computer games so much is because they like to compete and co-operate with other gamers, and that playing against the computer just isn’t so much fun." He argued that games developers should put more emphasis on the social aspect of gaming. Games with the right modes, connectivity and server support will be more successful because they will capitalise on the social experience of playing games in groups. It will also interest a wider section of the population in the pastime. To prove its point, GameMore is running a series of group gaming sessions around the UK. The plan is that gamers will have a chance to meet and talk in the flesh, as well as play each other online. More information on that on their website. The full report is here. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 25 Feb 2004

Palmsource puts down its mark in the volume smart phone market

3GSM3GSM Not a lot of people have noticed yet, but at 3GSM this week Palmsource made what could turn out to be its big play for the smartphone market. The company's licensees of course do already have a presence that could be termed a "smartphone" presence, but if you think about it, what it really has is PDAs with built-in wireless, attractive to those sectors of the market that are interested in high spec devices of this sort. But until now Palmsource didn't really have a contender in the more general handset market. The launch of GSPDA's G88 earlier this week changes that in two ways. First, the G88 is a small, attractive package that can play in the more general and much larger smartphone market where the priority is phone first, with PDA features and a nice basic platform next, and second because it adds an ODM capability to the Palmsource offering. In that sense, you could argue that GSPDA is more important to Palmsource's future than some of the major brand name licensees, because it means it has a mechanism for broadening out the platform to numerous other companies, and it's not so constrained by what the 'name' licensees may think is the natural slot for Palmsource products. GSPDA is well-known as a brand in Asia, where it sells a range of different devices, but in Europe its products will be badged by the networks. Company development director Francis Li says that its currently negotiating with a number of networks, and although he won't confirm that any deals are firmed up, we'll likely see the phones on the market by the summer. From Palmsource's perspective, the company's Asian presence and general manufacturing capability probably have a broader importance. Palmsource sees the mainland China market as a key target area, starting with low-cost PDAs but moving swiftly on to phones, and business development VP Albert Chu notes that upgrade cycles there are currently quite short, with people tending to expect a new product every nine months. So outfits that know the market, are known in the market, and know how to keep the upgrades rolling seem kind of key. Nor need it necessarily stop at PDAs and phones. Li cites education, PDAs, handsets, entertainment and storage as the areas the company plays in, and when The Register suggested that a couple of these categories sounded like they might add up to a wireless MP3 player, a killer category that Palmsource's David Nagel has been floating recently, Li didn't exactly confirm it, but didn't exactly deny it either. It mightg very well happen, and if they get their sums and their positioning right, it ought to be a major product. Building it's easy though - how you square the music industry, that's the hard bit right now... ® The Register 3GSM coverage in full Related Products Check out The Reg mobile store for the best prices on Palm, Sony & Handspring equipment
John Lettice, 25 Feb 2004

WayFinder, GPS done right, preps for US launch

3GSM3GSM The top GPS system for mobile phones, WayFinder, is set for a US launch this summer. For anyone who doesn't have GPS built into their car, or a dedicated GPS with display, this is good news. While it's not the only navigation system on the market it is fantastically useful, giving you the capabilities of an in-car system, with spoken directions and more. It only needs a compact Bluetooth GPS module. We saw the version of Mobile Navigator for Series 60 phones and a rudimentary version for Nokia's 9500 Communicator, which was a more of a demo than a full blown application, but it does demonstrate WayFinder's intent. (It also runs on the UIQ version of Symbian OS). The software does the hard work of burrowing into your contact book, minimizing the number of modal shifts. You can SMS the directions to a friend, or if you use email, it will dispatch a small map. And the spoken instructions sound altogether less spooky and robotic than the in-car systems we're familiar with. WayFinder already covers Europe, and the States will follow in the summer. It's a subscription model you can find out about here. The irony is that it really shouldn't be a Swedish company showing US citizens how to get home. GPS is a US satellite system. But if there hadn't been so many fatuous squabbles over air interfaces and similar technical arcana, it would be a US company. Here's hoping they don't repeat that mistake. Oops, too late. ® The Register 3GSM coverage in full
Andrew Orlowski, 25 Feb 2004

Danger's new gizmo – exclusive… er… sketch

3GSM3GSM Danger Inc. showed a prototype of its new Hiptop communicator - the world's most usable wireless device - at Cannes this week, and we can show you what it looks like. Alas, the illustration is not up the standards that you usually expect, because Danger imposed a no-photography policy on its new baby. But it's the best we could do. Danger's new Hiptop: even more impressive in real life In short, the device is longer, thinner and a little more rectangular than the first generation Hiptop. It's much more usable as a phone, however, with dedicated call and hang-up buttons that with characteristic Danger ingenuity, nestle around a more discreet, redesigned wheel. Which also doubles up as the earpiece. Over on the left are the familiar Menu and Jump keys, but are joined by a new D-pad. When we could claw it out of the hands of Danger's Chairman and CEO Hank Nothhaft it did indeed feel much more natural as a handset. It now has the typical volume controls on the side of the device. Hands-free mode is better thanks to a beefy dedicated speaker. The screen remains the same, but the keyboard has been straightened out and some keys double as a number pad, as with the Treo. The rubber, rather than plastic, keys have an excellent, firm response. One problem might be working out which way is up when you fish the device out of your shirt pocket. But getting the Hiptop into the shirt pocket has been one of the triumphs of the new design. The network operators asked for, and have got a built-in VGA camera. A few new applications were on the prototype we saw, including native' AIM (Hiptop applications are written in Java, not that you'd know) and Yahoo! IM clients. Mr Notphoto says that Outlook synchronization will follow. Danger's real business is selling into the carriers. It offers a pretty fast and slick experience by compressing the data at the server, The company says that "several hundred thousand" devices have shipped, despite a limited presence in Europe, where all the action is. When it ships "by the end of the year" the new device should increase Danger's profile considerably. Although we complain often about usability of mobile devices, the splendid Hiptop gathers the fewest moans: it's heartening to see great engineering married to a focus on ease of use. Many claim to do so, but few meet the goal. ® The Register 3GSM coverage in full
Andrew Orlowski, 25 Feb 2004

Cyber security alliance sets sights on Washington

RSARSA A group of 12 security software and hardware vendors today launched the Cyber Security Industry Alliance (CSIA) at the RSA Conference. This new advocacy group wants to "monitor and influence legislation and government regulation at both the state and federal levels"; create education programmes; launch a public awareness program to influence opinion makers; and to work in partnership with other organisations to identify and support emerging technology standards. CSIA intends to accomplish these goals through committees of member representatives. It has appointed Paul Kurtz, former senior director for Critical Infrastructure Protection on the White House's Homeland Security Council, as executive director. There's no shortage of advocacy groups in computer security, but CSIA says it's the only one comprised solely of security vendors. There are plenty of big name vendors in the list, which will add to the organisation's clout. Founding members of the not-for-profit organisation are BindView, Check Point Software, Computer Associates, Entrust, Internet Security Systems, NetScreen, Network Associates, PGP Corporation, Qualys, RSA Security, Secure Computing and Symantec. The organisation wants to recruit new members. Charter membership costs $150,000 per annum with 'principal membership' priced at $60,000. More information on the Cyber Security Industry Alliance's structure and objectives can be found here. ® The Register RSA coverage in full
John Leyden, 25 Feb 2004

Microsoft meets real world half-way

3GSM3GSM Microsoft is to put MSN content, including Hotmail, onto OpenWave's V7 software, potentially bringing it in front of many millions of mobile phone users. The deal gives users offline access to Hotmail, MSN Messenger and Passport services. OpenWave is best known for the most popular, but least-used, piece of software in the world, in the form of its WAP browser. Its ambitious, and very slick V7 software was launched here in Cannes last year, and is positioned by the company as a 'platform'. We guess this deal proves it is. Without much to announce this year, this deal is probably the most significant piece of news for Microsoft at this year's GSM Congress. Bootnote But the news you probably want to hear - and we give no credence to this at all - was our old friend Juha Christensen's attempt to board the Symbian yacht here in the harbor. Juha was an architect of Symbian alliance, but jumped ship himself, so to speak, to join the arch-enemy, Microsoft. (He left his post at Redmond last year and has since joined Macromedia). Apparently, bygones haven't been gone by for long enough yet, and the attempt was repulsed. Say it ain't so, Juha. ® Related Stories Openwave offers 'disruptive' browser suite OpenWave phone suite challenges S60, Symbian MS phone chief departs The Register 3GSM coverage in full
Andrew Orlowski, 25 Feb 2004

Stealthy Azul's Java plans unstealthed

At last check, Azul Systems held tight to its stealth mode status, but a few sources have come forward to expose the company's hardware and software plans. Azul is a small start-up based in Mountain View, California and run by former Cobalt CEO and Sun Microsystems exec Stephen DeWitt. Up to this point, the company has refused to provide any details about its technology other than hints that it has planned both server and software technology. After failing to push more details out of DeWitt during a recent interview, a couple of sources stepped forward to help El Reg out. Our sources indicate there is an Opteron and Java play on the horizon at Azul. The start-up is apparently looking to tune up a Java application server that screams on "industry standard" hardware such as servers based on AMD's 64-bit Opteron chip. At present, it's unclear if the Azul systems will run on Opteron exclusively, but the Java ties have been confirmed without doubt. Azul is looking to fill its hardware with Java accelerators - a move being mimicked by none other than Sun. But will Sun pump out $2 billion for Azul like it did with Cobalt? Not bloody likely. Earlier this month, Sun announced its purchase of Kealia. The company, run by Sun co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim, also makes Opteron-based gear. And with Bechtolsheim being renowned for server designs, it seems Sun can afford "not to do DeWitt again", as one executive put it. It's pretty amazing to see the Java/Opteron market both Sun and AMD have helped create. Azul and Kealia are just two out of a number of start-ups said to be looking at speeding up Java code for large companies. Similar to Cobalt, you can expect that Azul will wrap its hardware with a tight, focused software package. The company is not going after the general purpose server market at all. Instead, it's here to help with specific functions. Not a bad play. It's hard to say who is ahead in this particular Java war with all of the relevant companies clinging to their stealth status. Azul, however, should have some concerns. It may well have "time-to-market" on its side, but the big boys such as Sun have a serious research and development advantage. Sun, for example, is talking up its Rock family of multicore processors. The company has hinted that different cores can be tuned to handle specific functions such as processing TCP/IP requests or encryption. And, yes, Java processing is on the roadmap as well. At this point, it's impossible to determine whether the off-the-shelf approach or the in-house technology "systems company" attack will win out. Either way, Sun and AMD have conjured up a lot of interest around their products. Can someone point us to a start-up working on .Net / Intel acceleration? ® *Here's a reminder for the hardware fans out there to take part in our "help Intel, HP and Sun" contest. Thanks to the hundreds of you who have already participated. Keep em coming! Related stories DeWitt comes to terms with Cobalt's end Sun and Cobalt left me with a dinky toy Sun Linux boss quits
Ashlee Vance, 25 Feb 2004
Cat 5 cable

Hitachi blows its own 300GB trumpet

Hitachi Global Storage Technologies is claiming its Ultrastar 10K300 is the industry's first 300GB enterprise hard drive. Due next quarter in Ultra 320 SCSI or 2Gb Fibre Channel forms, the 10,000 RPM drive has five platters and 10 heads, and can sustain 89MB/sec. Although described as a server drive, it is really intended for the storage subsystem market, where it is the likes of EMC, IBM and HDS which really define what makes a drive enterprise-class. They also want high storage densities to quote on their sales literature, if nothing else. Are massive enterprise drives really a good idea, though? It puts a lot of capacity on a single spindle behind a single I/O port, which can be a bit like trying to suck an ocean through a straw. Quizzed on this, Hitachi GST's VP of marketing, Ian Vogelesang, acknowledges that the 300GB drives will do best in read-mostly applications where the access density is low. He adds that it is up to HDS & co. to transparently stripe data across multiple spindles to take advantage of the available capacity without sacrificing performance. "On high-end subsystems you could have 1000 disks, and most are still high capacity drives, with a proportion of high performance," he says. A natural home for Serial-ATA, then? He argues otherwise, and that it is not just a case of protecting Hitachi's higher profit margins on the enterprise kit. "There isn't much history for ATA in the enterprise, or for what happens to those drives when you pound them 24x7," he says. "So try them out first in low-usage applications." Smaller disk, faster mechanics Hitachi is also lining up with Seagate on the benefits of 2.5 inch small form factor (SFF) drives for blade servers and the like, but it is going straight to 3Gb/sec Serial Attach SCSI (SAS), whereas Seagate plans Ultra320 and Fibre versions too for its Savvio range. "The advantage is high I/Os per second in a smaller physical space, and with lower power and acoustics. The smaller disk also gives faster mechanical performance," says Vogelesang He expects desktop PCs to adopt SFF as well, for much the same reasons. "We can provide 40GB on one platter with one head in 3.5 inch, or one platter two heads in 2.5 inch, he says. "Everyone has to get into 2.5 inch or die." Hitachi will demo SFF drives at next month's SAS Plugfest in New Hampshire. Don't expect to see them on sale until the end of the year though. Of course, Hitachi GST is the result of last year's merger of the hard disk operations of IBM and Hitachi. Vogelesang says that although the price Hitachi paid for the IBM operations was criticised at the time, it is now second only to Seagate in revenue and profitability and has a wider product range, from 1 inch to 3.5 inch. One reason for the profitability is that the combined operation finally gets past the break-even point on manufacturing versus R&D cost, but it comes from closures too. Hitachi shut down IBM European storage plants and now does all its volume manufacturing in Asia. Vogelesang adds that more of the storage industry will move to Asia as more hard drives sell into consumer devices, from digital video recorders and camcorders through portable DVD players to cars. "The explosive growth [for hard disks] is in consumer electronics, and most of that is portable," he says, offering the example of a mini MP3 player with a 1 inch Hitachi Microdrive in it, or a camcorder with a removable 1.8 inch drive that has ten times the capacity of a DVD. "Hitachi has the advantage of being a Japanese company. Sony and the other consumer electronics companies have their R&D in Japan too, so their engineers can talk to ours. We also have our own consumer division and design-in experience, so we can offer them design-in services." ®
Bryan Betts, 25 Feb 2004
cable

Sun offers a hand to confused HP-UX customers

Not satisfied with its assault on HP's Tru64 customer base, Sun Microsystems has made a move to go after HP-UX customers as well, offering them a "risk free" move to SPARC-based or Opteron-based hardware. For several months now, Sun has been trying to convince old DEC and Compaq users to come over to the Solaris camp. The basic premise of the program is that HP customers have to move somewhere as the company kills off its AlphaServer/Tru64 product line. So Sun steps in with some free consulting to show how much a port to Solaris will cost and then it promises to meet certain application performance objectives. There are hardware financing benefits as well. Now Sun thinks it can extend this program to the HP-UX customer base. "HP has been exasperating their user base," said Larry Singer, Sun's head of global market strategies. "The reality is that just like with Tru64, there is a huge pent up demand for HP customers wanting to move to another RISC [vendor]." For the past three years, HP has been calling on its user base to move off of Alpha and PA-RISC-based servers and onto boxes running on Intel's Itanium processor. This shift is especially painful for Tru64 customers with HP axing the OS and delaying the timetable for moving some Tru64 technology into HP-UX, which runs on Itanium. The plot, however, thickened over the last week as HP announced products using both AMD's Opteron processor and Intel's upcoming Xeon (now enhanced) chips. These processors extend the x86 instruction set into the 64-bit realm, butting heads with Itanium. HP's CEO Carly Fiorina was apparently hiding out in a Moscow bunker for the last couple of years and forgot to tell her customers that this 64-bit extension technology was coming. Right, Carly? "Nyet!" Sun wants to tap into any anger caused by HP's moves by offering up Solaris either on SPARC servers or Sun's new Opteron gear. At present, Sun is the only major vendor to bring its version of Unix over to the 64-bit x86 market via Solaris x86. So far, Sun had managed to get 80 Tru64 customers to change sides. This represents about $200 million in revenue for Sun, once all is said and done. Not to be outdone by Sun, HP has its own "total eclipse" program. HP had been offering $25,000 worth of services and loaner hardware to customers willing to shift from Solaris onto an HP server running Linux. HP, however, recently upped this total to $50,000 and brought Intel on as a partner to help out. But if you are expecting a $50,000 check, don't hold your breath. That is simply the value HP has placed on its "proof of concept." HP does offer a free software port though. As of January, HP claimed it had pulled in $75 million in revenue from Sun switchers. Sun, however, denies that HP has had much success at all in moving customers and challenged HP to declare this revenue. "The numbers they are saying are material to revenue," Singer said. "They have legal obligations to disclose [that]." Sun hopes to pull another 80 HP customers to its side by year end and insists that HP is the real tit in this tit-for-tat squabble. "I don't believe you spend your marketing dollars just to irritate the other guy," Singer said. (Not when Scott McNealy is your CEO and does the dirty work for you - Ed.) "If HP would deliver on their roadmaps, we probably would not have to deliver on this opportunity," Singer said. The absolute best part of this spat between Sun and HP is that both vendors deny actually competing with each other. Sun insists that it only runs into IBM in bids for corporate business. HP also claims IBM is its real competitor and that Sun will be extinct in a few years. Somehow Dell does not compete with any of these vendors but manages to make billions selling servers. ® *Here's a reminder for the hardware fans out there to take part in our "help Intel, HP and Sun" contest. Thanks to the hundreds of you who have already participated. Keep em coming! Related links HP away Sun away Related stories Sun ups its Tru64 temptation HP has one free port for Sun customers IBM, Sun and HP locked in giant Unix OS spat HP calls in Gartner cheerleader for Opteron launch Intel and HP color self-preservation as customer choice Who sank Itanic? Dell stays strong in Q4
Ashlee Vance, 25 Feb 2004

Sun's services queen jumps ship for Salesforce.com

In a surprising move, Sun Microsystems' head of services Pat Sueltz has fled the company to work for a Sun partner - Salesforce.com. Sueltz will take on the role of president of marketing, technology and systems at Salesforce.com. For the time being, Marissa Peterson, chief customer advocate and executive vice president at Sun, will take on Sueltz's role. "Pat has played an important role in transforming Sun Services' model to deliver system solutions and complete life-cycle services to our customers," said Scott McNealy, chairman, president and chief executive officer at Sun. "We wish Pat well in her new venture and look forward to continuing our relationship with her, in her upcoming role as a partner and customer of Sun." This is an odd move for Sueltz given her success in boosting Sun's services business and self-proclaimed joy working for the company. Sueltz is an ex-IBMer who left Big Blue to work on Sun's software efforts only to be moved to services during a massive employee restructuring. In an interview last year, Sueltz told El Reg that she was totally committed to the company. In addition, Register sources indicate that Sun was on the verge of promoting Sueltz in the public eye like never before. My how fast things change. Salesforce.com is both a Sun partner and customer, using Sun gear to run its CRM software service provider operation. Interestingly, Salesforce.com just announced a deal with IBM to create stronger ties between the two companies' products. Sueltz's Sun bio is still warm here. She is a charmer and sure to be an asset at Salesforce.com. ® *Sueltz's departure from IBM happened in a pretty comic way. Her admin left a note on Sueltz's door, saying Ed Zander, then president of Sun, had called. By the time Sueltz returned to her office, the word was out. Anyone at Sun see a note? Related stories Sun's services queen ready to take on the Big Bad Sun software offers sizzle but no meat Sun drops bundle bombshell on BEA
Ashlee Vance, 25 Feb 2004

Thieves ravage Texan ATMs

ATM machines in the great state of Texas are under attack with some criminals using more sophisticated technology than others to get their loot. A report out of the University of Texas at Austin warns students to look out for some savvy ATM bandits. The thieves are attaching their own equipment - "skimmers" - to the front of ATM machines and then transmitting data wirelessly to a nearby car. The faux card reader sends back card number information, while a wireless camera mounted in a fake pamphlet holder sends back PIN info. "The thieves copy the cards and use the PIN numbers to withdraw thousands from many accounts in a very short time directly from the bank ATM," the school warns. A couple hundred miles to the North in Fort Worth, criminals are simply running their trucks into stores and then putting the ATM machine in the back of their vehicle. There is a nice account here. ®
Ashlee Vance, 25 Feb 2004