1st > March > 2005 Archive

Couple defeats Merrill Lynch's stock rating system

The case doesn't have the big name analysts, damaging documents or internet stocks. But a dispute between a pair of small-time investors and Merrill Lynch does have the same allegations of hyping shares that surrounded a high-profile settlement between major brokerage houses and the US SEC (Securities and Exchange Commmission) and NYSE (New York Stock Exchange) in 2003. Merrill Lynch has been ordered to pay $1m to Florida residents Gary and Lisa Friedman by an arbitration panel of the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD). The couple sought $4m but were awarded $730,000 in compensatory damages and another $300,000 in punitive damages. The panel declared that evidence showed Merrill Lynch's "employees were guilty of intentional misconduct in that they had actual knowledge that many of the companies for which they were issuing and/or maintaining ratings . . . were, in reality, overvalued by this rating system." You won't find any internet high-flyers in the portfolio held by the Friedman's from May of 1999 to May of 2002. Their holdings were dominated by blue chip shares such as Walt Disney, Monsanto, Microsoft and Agilent. The couple's lawyer insists that Merrill Lynch applied similar tactics with these bellwethers that it did with internet shares - namely placing buy ratings on the shares in the hopes of securing investment banking business. "What we have proved was that all of the analysts - not just ones in the internet sector - supplied memorandum or emails to top management at Merrill Lynch identifying their contributions to the investment banking business," Bob Pearce, the Friedman's lawyer, told The Register. "We showed that all the analysts were getting paid huge bonuses after they sent in memos identifying their contributions." In the extreme, the Friedmans are questioning Merrill Lynch's entire rating system. This didn't elude Merrill Lynch, which said Pearce presented no facts that support the panel's decision. The couple, who like many invested in blue chip consistent shares, lost their money due to a sudden collapse in the financial markets, not because of a rating system, Merrill Lynch said. "We have won the overwhelming majority of these research cases," said Merrill Lynch spokesman Mark Herr. "This case is clearly an aberration." Before the 2003 settlement between the SEC and major brokerage houses, Merrill Lynch agreed to pay a $100m fine, following an investigation into the relationship between its investment bankers and analysts by New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer. Pearce has tried to build on that settlement by questioning Merrill Lynch's rating system for stocks that ranged from Buy, Accumulate, Neutral, Reduce to Sell during the period in question. "In the mid 1990s the Merrill Lynch 'QRQ' ratings became corrupted and Merrill Lynch investment bankers seized control of its research analysts," Pearce wrote in the original complaint. "By 1998, the overwhelming majority of stocks covered by Merrill Lynch’s research analysts had a '1' (buy) or a '2' (accumulate) rating. Merrill Lynch research analysts infrequently used a '3' (neutral) rating and they rarely covered anything below a '3.'" Merrill Lynch flagged just five companies with a Reduce or Sell rating out of the 1,485 it covered in December 2000, according to Pearce. In May 2001, this fell to 4; but then in May of 2002, after the regulatory investigations had started, Merrill Lynch gave 37 of the 1,475 companies it followed a reduce or sell rating. The Friedmans didn't own any pure dotcom stocks, but they did own a number of tech shares, including those of Sun, Compaq, TI, AOL Time Warner, Cisco and Motorola. Two-thirds of the companies they owned did investment banking business with Merrill Lynch. Pearce is currently reviewing a couple of similar cases. ® Related stories Merrill Lynch analyst deemed too close to Tyco Spitzer: Man Of The Year Savior of Capitalism? Wall St. cheers Sun job cuts
Ashlee Vance, 01 Mar 2005
fingers pointing at man

Intel confirms 64-bit Celeron scheme

IDF Spring 05IDF Spring 05 Intel today publicly confirmed its AMD64-like 64-bit addressing system, EM64T, will be brought to the company's budget Celeron processor line "this year". The chip maker also revealed that its dual-core Pentium 4 processor, 'Smithfield', is now in production. Speaking to reporters ahead of the opening tomorrow of Intel Developer Forum, Frank Spindler, industrial technology programs director, said EM64T will make it to the Celeron family sooner rather than later. Intel's plans to spread EM64T across its desktop CPU families emerged last month courtesy of the latest round of roadmap leaks. However, Spindler's comments mark the first time the company has gone public on this issue. The roadmaps reveal that Q2 will witness the debut of EM64T-equipped desktop Celerons with model number 326, 331, 336, 341, 346 and 351, clocked at 2.53, 2.66, 2.8, 2.93, 3.06 and 3.2GHz, respectively. It is believed that the Socket 775 parts will replace today's 775-pin Celerons. Spindler also confirmed Smithfield's status: the twin-Prescott processor is "in production today", he said. The dual-core chip is due to launch in Q2, Intel said recently, pulling the release foward from its original early Q3 debut. It is reasonable to expect Smithfield to be sampling in the current quarter. ® Related stories Intel 65nm desktop, server CPUs 'up and running' Intel preps Q2 dual-core P4 Extreme Edition launch Intel confirms 'desktrino' consumer platform plan Intel dual-core Yonah to ship single core too Intel to bring 64-bit to P4, Celerons in Q2 Intel 'Smithfield' dual-core to debut as 8xx series Intel's 65nm desktop CPU to ship Q1 2006 Intel speeds 'multiple OS' desktop CPU schedule
Tony Smith, 01 Mar 2005

ATI ships AGP-edition X850 XT graphics chip

ATI today announced AGP 8x versions of its Radeon X800 XL and X850 XT graphics chips, three months after it launched the PCI Express versions. The new chips are pitched at customers looking to upgrade the graphics in older PCs, much as ATI continued to support PCI after the more advanced, graphics-specific AGP bus had become established. While the X800 XL uses ATI's latest PCI-E-to-AGP bridge chip, aka 'Rialto', the X850 is an AGP-native part, the chip maker said. The X850 is ATI's R481 chip, fabbed at 130nm and constructed using low-k dielectric insulating material. It contains 16 parallel pixel processing pipelines and supports up to 256MB of GDDR 3 video buffer memory across a 256-bit bus. Like the PCI-E version, it offers ATI's HD-oriented SmartShader, SmoothVision, HyperZ and VideoShader technologies. It supports ATI's 3Dc normal map compression system in lieu of DirectX 9.0 Shader Model 3.0 support. It is believed to be clocked at around 540MHz, compared to around 400MHz for the X800 XL. That part, also known as the R430, is fabbed at 110nm. ATI said both chips were available immediately, with boards based on the new GPUs already on sale from ATI itself and a number of board partners. ® Related stories ATI ships 'first' mobile AMD chipset Nvidia Q4 sales best yet - almost ATI buys cable modem chip biz for $14m Intel, Nvidia were Q4's graphics chip winners Nvidia chisels away at ATI market share ATI launches Mobility Radeon X700 ATI unveils Radeon X850 XT PE, X800 XL
Tony Smith, 01 Mar 2005

Service levels more important than e-gov deadlines: survey

The government's 2005 deadline for e-enabling services is no longer the main concern of IT managers in the public sector, according to a survey. Although the deadline is still a concern for 70 per cent of IT managers, more than 80 per cent reckoned service improvement was more of an issue. The techies also reaffirmed a long standing love-affair with three-letter acronyms, citing BPM, CRM and SOA as their main investment priorities. (Tha's Business Process Management, Customer Relationship Management and AService Oriented Architecture, for anyone who was unsure.) The research also revealed that most agencies are struggling to cope with massive amounts of regulatory change, including complying with the Freedom of Information Act and the Data Protection Act. A majority said that several times a year they would have to make significant changes to their policies due to new legislation or regulatory changes. The research, commissioned by business rules software company ILOG, was conducted by Vanson Bourne among 100 public sector IT managers in the UK. Pierre Clouin, director of public sector at ILOG, said it was significant that the e-government deadline was no longer top of the pile for many. He argued that this was partly because funding for IT will begin to drop off as the 2005 deadline comes and goes. "Now organisations need to focus on reducing costs and getting the most value out of the technology they already have." Mike Davis of analyst house Butler Group said that in the public sector, justifying IT spend is now harder than ever. "Public sector organisations can't charge higher rates for premium services, so they are under pressure on costs across the board." He went on to say that it was not surprising that BPM, CRM and SOA came out as top investment priorities: "IT managers often have conflicting priorities from central and local government, and need to find ways to work across all the different agencies." It isn't easy to integrate all these systems and share information, he argues, so systems that make that easier are bound to be popular, he said. ® Related stories ISP 'co-op' formed to boost broadband New top dog for MS Europe's public sector US info-sharing initiative called a flop
Lucy Sherriff, 01 Mar 2005
channel

Getronics buys PinkRoccade

Getronics, the Dutch computer services firm. has bought PinkRoccade, also Dutch, for €355m. Post-acquisition, Getronics is the biggest computer services business in its home country and it also becomes a more significant player in the UK, where it doubles in size. The enlarged group claims pro forma annual revenues of €3bn and has 29,000 staff in 30-ish countries. PinkRoccade is much the smaller of the two with 7,000 workers and revenues of €739m in 2003. It has 1,000 employees in the UK and customers here include Centrica, T-Mobile, Thomas Cook, Southern Water, Superdrug, Iceland, Booker and Woolworths. The agreed takeover was announced in November last year, but Ordina, yet another Dutch computer services firm, threw a spanner in the works in December by announcing its intention to bid €370m for PinkRoccade. Ordina backed out the following month, blaming its target for refusing to co-operate with its request for information. Getronics is to issue €250m in new shares to help fund the purchase. ® Related stories Getronics snaffles PinkRoccade EDS back in the black European workers say outsourcing is good ... Serco splashes £235m on ITNet
Drew Cullen, 01 Mar 2005

GlobalFlyer and Fossett take to the skies

The Virgin GlobalFlyer, piloted by Steve Fossett, successfully lifted off at 0500GMT this morning from Salina, Kansas. Fossett aims to make the first non-stop solo flight around the world without refuelling aboard the Burt Rutan-designed vehicle which took to the skies carrying four times its own weight in fuel. The take-off was considered the most dangerous part of the mission due to the vast fuel load, but the BBC reports that Fossett successfully got off the ground before climbing to an initial altitude of 39,000ft (11.8km) in around two hours. Subsequently, GlobalFlyer continued to climb at just eight feet (2.4m) per minute en route to its cruising altitude of 49,000ft (15km). Relieved sponsor Richard Branson described the take-off as "an emotional moment" and admitted to "enormous relief when it actually came off the ground". He has offered Fossett - his co-pilot in an ill-fated 1990s attempt to circumnavigate the globe in a balloon - free Virgin Airways flights for life if he completes the mission. The attempt is expect to last around 80 hours. ® Related stories Around-the-world jet adventure is go Sigourney Weaver books flight with Virgin Galactic Virgin space tourists will blast off to Bowie
Lester Haines, 01 Mar 2005

Readers embrace napalm death

LettersLetters Our report into the napalm-brewing teen and his subsequent brush with bomb disposal provoked a small wavette of nostalgia among incendiary readers, plus a few tips on how you too can entertain your mates with a bit of amateur chemistry: I remember me & my mates nearly burning my shed down making napalm from petrol and soap when i was about 13 or 14. Oh how we laughed. Jamie Regarding your napalm making teenager story: Napalm is actually one of the easiest to make "naughty" things in the world, though the requisite fatty acids are a little difficult to get hold of in the highstreet. A reasonable substitute, however, is to disolve polystyrene (styrofoam for our merkin friends) with just enough petrol or diesel (you may find parafin or meths is worth trying) to leave you with something sticky and highly flamable. It's quite lethal, I'm told. I truly worry about living in a state where the best thing standing between us and hooligans throwing napalm substitutes at us is ignorance ensured by strong-arm tactics like this. Given the triviality of finding information such as the above, I'd rather society just grew up and took responsibility for the education and raising of its children. Currently parents are encouraged to blame teachers, TV, and pop-stars rather than having an effect themselves; teachers are given far too little power etc. to even hope to take on the mantle of parenthood; TV and pop-stars deny any responsibility and the kids wonder what they're supposed to do with it all. Having ranted at just about everyone in society, I just hope I'm able to live up to my own high expectations of everyone else when I become a parent myself... Cheers & God bless Sam "SammyTheSnake" Penny Ahhh, those were the days. I used to love going to my local website to find out what new and inventive ways I could blow myself (and others) to pieces. Although I must admit, I was under the impression that some good ol' Daz Automatic mixed gently with Petroleum would do the trick quite nicely. (Remember kids, don’t let bubbles form!) The anarchist in me also found a way to make plastic explosives with Domestos bleach from Wilkinsons and salt substitute from Holland & Barrett. Just mix them and stick in the fridge for a few hours. Very slowly grind the crystals that form and mix with slightly warm wax and you have some nice plastique. You could blow up half the street all in one weekly shop! But, sadly I never had the nerve to try out any of these handy concoctions. Or did I have too much sense? Brent Re Napalm Killjoys. I used to make an ersatz napalm with petrol and expanded polystyrene foam. Petrol will dissolve several times its own volume of polystyrene foam. The resulting gloop sticks nicely to trees and burns readily, if smokily. It also forms an amusing flaming plastic skin on water. Since these past-times apppear to be frowned upon now, I'd appreciate not being named if quoted. R. More now on speed cameras in response to last week's mailbag on the subject: I have discovered that by sticking to the limit - and travelling at 30 mph whenever unsure of the limit - speed cameras never, ever go off. Hypersonic school buses notwithstanding. Since I have adopted this new style of driving, my petrol bills have been smaller, and my servicing expenses have been lower. Most marvellous of all, the frustration of being stuck behind a slower driver has been magically lifted from my shoulders and placed firmly upon those of the person behind. Phil Safety cameras, speed cameras, call them flipping revenue cameras if you like, I just find it sad that if your postbag is anything to go by, the attitude of drivers in the UK is that the speed limits are there to be broken and that the government has spent vast amounts of money installing these things just so they can throw their weight around and take away this imaginary civil liberty people have dreamed up to drive at whatever speed they fancy. Call me a boring old fart but there are speed limits in place for a good reason and as someone who has lost two family members in a fatal car accident caused by an idiot speeding driver, whatever measures the government takes to enforce the law I will welcome. James "...The fascists gave me a fine just the other month...Then they have the gaul to send me a glossy pamphlet..." What, Vichy Collaborationists catching Britain's dangerous drivers. Merde! Where will it end? Can an Englishman not commit an offence in his own country without those damn EuroJeanies interfering. Excellent deployment of the adjacency defence though. I can see lawyers across the country noting this one down even now: Your honour my client pleads not guilty to speeding as he was quite near another section of road with a completely different speed limit. Your honour my client pleads not guilty to drunk driving as his passenger was sober. Your honour my client pleads not guilt to arson at 56 Acacia Avenue as he intended to burn down the house next door - etc. ad nauseum (as they say in the Eye). playstation_driver Finally, a few comments on the news that an Italian jubologist has declared he can determine a woman's personality from the size and shape of her breasts. Fruity stuff indeed: I am at a loss to figure out which type of fruit my breasts are shaped like. I mean, melons come in all shapes and sizes - are we talking about little round gala melons or bloody big watermelons here? And I pity any woman who has breasts like pineapples - I would have thought all those spiky bits would be very uncomfortable! Fi Melons, grapefruits, pears, i'm with you so far. But pineapples? Lemons? What are we talking about here? Size? Colour? Surface texture? Clearly Mr Lorenzoni needs to expand his fruit stall and get some research assistants so we can learn one equates to "gasping for it". Volunteers? Regards, David If I ever find myself with a woman with breasts like pineapples, I'll run a bloody mile! Cheers Simon Alternatively, you could dice some cheese and deploy the cocktail sticks... ®
Lester Haines, 01 Mar 2005
server room

HP whacks own storage software in favor of AppIQ

Goodbye, HP OpenView Storage Area Manager. Hello, AppIQ. HP this week announced that it will give the boot to OpenView SAM in favor of AppIQ's StorageAuthority storage resource management (SRM) software. In so doing, HP mimics the likes of Hitachi, Sun Microsystems and SGI - all of which have partnered with the wee AppIQ. HP plans to slap the AppIQ code with a new name, calling it HP Storage Essentials. There's more than a simple rebranding exercise in store for customers, according to HP. The Storage Essentials software will be merged with HP's Systems Insight Manager server management software by year end. Ideally, this will give administrators a single place for controlling both servers and storage systems. A plus? Sure. But you've probably heard a similar "single window to the wonderful world of virtualized hardware" pitch before. A more obvious bonus with the Storage Essentials package is HP's pick of a clear winner. AppIQ has been gobbled up by numerous vendors because it adheres to the industry accepted SMI-S management structure and because it has some of the most sophisticated tools around. HP will, however, continue to sell the feature-poor Storage Area Management product for the next year and a half. The new HP software goes on sale at the end of March. Customers will pay anywhere from $2,000 on up to $60,000 for the product, and it will work with HP's SAN (storage area network) and NAS (network attached storage) systems. HP's storage division has been floundering for about six months now. Large revenue and market share losses have been noticed by customers, analysts and competitors and played a role in former CEO Carly Fiorina's ouster. Despite these struggles, HP presents a fertile selling ground for AppIQ since it has large SAN and NAS sales, unlike Sun and Hitachi, which are relegated more to niche parts of the storage market.® Related stories Cisco switch partners see Fibre Channel green EMC admits to iSCSI fleet HP and EMC ready to settle ancient storage dispute
Ashlee Vance, 01 Mar 2005

15,000 jobs to go if Qwest/MCI gets green light

Up to 15,000 jobs would be lost if Qwest succeeds in snapping up MCI. Details of the job cuts were outlined in a slide presentation posted on Qwest's web site covering the telco's bid to acquire MCI. Qwest claimed should it scupper the £6.7bn Verizon/MCI deal agreed two weeks ago, its proposals would create a "superior combination" giving those involved a "unique opportunity to unlock value from each standalone firm". Part of that will be generated by the estimated $2.5bn - $2.9bn in annual savings that Qwest reckons the merger will generate. And a substantial part of this would be down to a proposed reduction in the combined workforce of between 12,000 and 15,000 representing around 15 per cent to 18 per cent of the workforce. Qwest employs around 41,000 employees. MCI has a similar number. Verizon has already said that its proposal to acquire MCI would lead to around 7,000 job losses. In January US telecoms giant SBC announced plans to acquire former parent AT&T for $16bn (£8.5bn). As part of that deal it's expected that 13,000 workers would face the axe. ® Related stories Qwest to sweeten sweetened offer - WSJ Qwest sweetens MCI offer MCI faces shareholder fury Qwest to bid again for MCI Qwest goes public with $8bn MCI bid Verizon's MCI takeover faces shareholder revolt Verizon and MCI to tie the knot SBC to axe 13,000 jobs in AT&T merger
Tim Richardson, 01 Mar 2005

China sends DVD royalties South

In an attempt to woo China back into the fold, the group of manufacturers responsible for setting royalties on DVD discs and equipment has slashed the rates that licensees must pay. DVD6C, which represents five Japanese manufacturers plus Warner Home Video and IBM, has cut the royalty rate for DVD players and drives by 25 per cent - from $4 to $3 - and the per disc rate by 10 per cent, from 5 cents to 4.5 cents. The rate payable on DVD recordable discs, DVD-R, DVD-RW and DVD-RAM, has also been cut, from 7.5 cents to 6.5 cents. The new rates will apply retroactively from January 1. Last week China formally adopted its home-grown EVD video disc format as the national standard. EVD means no royalties need be paid to the DVD licensing bodies, and it has the added bonus of playing HD-TV images too. Chinese manufacturer Wuxi is suing the 3C and 6C licensing groups claiming that they're discriminating against Chinese manufacturers, and the suit seeks to rule the DVD patent pool invalid. 3C consists of Sony, Philips and Pioneer, while 6C represents Matsushita, JVC, Toshiba, Hitachi and Mitsubishi, in addition to IBM and Warner. However if Hollywood retaliates - and in turn shuns the Chinese market - it could turn an obscure economic issue into a cultural schism which deprives the PRC of many of the US' finest artistic exports: such as Weekend at Bernie's 2, Christmas With The Kranks and Bum Fight. ® Related stories China favours EVD over DVD Chinese manufacturers sue DVD patent pool China unveils ‘DVD killer’ video disk format
Andrew Orlowski, 01 Mar 2005

MS launches online dating agency for dealers

Microsoft has set up an online business networking forum for its resellers. It's called Partner Channel Builder (here) and it is open to Microsoft Gold Certified and Certified Partners only. The idea is that members hook up to sell more stuff or, as Microsoft puts, it "form new alliances and deliver complete end-to-end solutions for customers and by identifying potential revenue opportunities that enable them to grow their business in new markets and geographies". Partner Channel Builder could become quite a big online dating agency - Microsoft claims 240,000 partners worldwide. Press release here. ® Related stories Microsoft seeks 'competent' resellers UK resellers go for growth Ballmer has seen the future, and it's Danish
Drew Cullen, 01 Mar 2005

EC rebuffs Parliament's patent restart request

The European Commission is refusing to restart the legislative progress of the controversial European software patent directive. In January, the Parliament - which unlike the Commission is elected, rather than appointed - voted to scrap the Commission's proposed Computer Implemented Inventions Directive (CIID). The Commission has officially rebuffed a request by the European Parliament to start the process all over again, and instead will push on regardless. According to Florian Mueller, Campaign Manager, NoSoftwarePatents.com, "A wannabe Napoleon who heads the Commission and a Microsoft puppet that runs the DG (directorate general) in charge have decided to negate democracy." But from a procedural point of view, the Commission holds all the cards. It can choose to decline the request from the Parliament and the European Conference of Presidents, in which case last May's controversial bill moves to a second reading.® Related stories European Parliament votes to scrap software patent text Software patents law dodges another rubberstamping
Andrew Orlowski, 01 Mar 2005

Real Madrid cries foul against online bookies

Spanish superclub Real Madrid is waving the big stick against seven online bookies in an attempt to protect the intellectual property rights of five of its biggest names, the Guardian reports. The club says it has been proven that "these online betting companies use the name of Real Madrid and that of the majority of its players without any type of authorisation, including on numerous occasions using photographs and illustrations of these players with the shirt and badge of Real Madrid," according to sporting director Emilio Butragueno. The five players in question are Beckham, Figo, Ronaldo, Raul and Zidane. The bookies facing this litigious line-up are BAW International, Mr Bookmaker.com, Victor Chandler, William Hill, Ladbrokes, Sportingbet and Sporting Exchange. The players' contracts with Real awards the club "all proceeds from commercial activity undertaken by the players in the name of the club". Accordingly, Real Madrid has initiated proceedings in France, Belgium and Germany in order to protect what it sees as its trademarked property. The bookies have reportedly particularly offended the club by "using Real Madrid's name and images of its players in advertising on websites and billboards". For their part, the bookies say they have not yet received specific grievances. Graham Sharp, a spokesman for Ladbrokes, said: "There is no indication from Real Madrid as to when we may have used unauthorised images and what they have said is couched in such general terms that it is difficult to know what we will be defending ourselves against." Legal experts, meanwhile, say that the Spanish giant may have difficulty in proving its claim. Intellectual property specialist Sarah Wright told the Guardian that although the most likely line of attack would be the assertion that the defendants had "passed off" a website as endorsed by the club, she warned that "the case would be hard to prove and that Real Madrid would have to show that punters thought that the site was endorsed by Real Madrid and was benefiting commercially". Wright further noted: "Image rights aren't as strongly protected as brands and you have to go an extra mile to try and enforce them." ® Related stories Ladbrokes barred from net games in Netherlands Women warm to online betting Racing scandal hinges on Betfair records
Lester Haines, 01 Mar 2005

KPN to axe 1,750 jobs a year

Dutch telecoms outfit KPN is to axe up to 1,750 jobs a year until 2010 as part of a major restructuring plan to cut costs and refocus its business on broadband and internet telephony. Said chief exec Ad Scheepbouwer: "Starting in 2005, we intend to have a big push in broadband and VoIP. This will have consequences for short-term profitability, but will position us strongly for today's market and deliver greater benefits in the future." Since the IP-world is "simpler and cheaper" it offers telcos the chance to achieve lower structural costs by using fewer people. "We anticipate that annual reductions in headcount of between 1,500 and 1,750 employees will unfortunately be inevitable until 2010. All in all, we expect to realise annual cost savings of €850m from 2010 onwards," he said. Today's bombshell about ongoing job losses comes as the Dutch giant announced a dip in revenues and a sharp fall in annual profits. Operating revenues for the year fell from €12.9bn in 2003 to €12.1bn. Pre-tax profit fell to €1.84bn in 2004 from €2.25bn. ® Related stories KPN doubles profits on falling sales 15,000 jobs to go if Qwest/MCI gets green light T-Mobile to axe 800 UK jobs SBC to axe 13,000 jobs in AT&T merger
Tim Richardson, 01 Mar 2005

Yet another power failure hits Redbus

Redbus Interhouse suffered a power failure this morning, leaving its irate customers to pick up the pieces once again. The colocation and managed services provider suffered a power outage on the 8th and 9th floors at its Harbour Exchange facility in the Docklands area of London at around 10.30 am this morning. At this stage it's not known how many companies were wiped out by the incident. In an email to customers, the company said the power failure was caused by the "incoming mains into the UPS feeder board blowing up causing the power to go down". One unconfirmed report claimed that the building had to be evacuated after the incident. Punters are complaining this is just the latest in a stream of major incidents to hit Redbus, with a number who've contacted The Register already saying they intend to switch suppliers. One told us: "For the third time in as many months, our company is at a standstill because of Redbus' continued inability to keep the power running. "The endless stream of excuses, protracted explanations and promises of £2m enhancements is getting somewhat tiresome. Am I oversimplifying it to say that they only have two things to do - keep the door locked and the power on? But even this seems beyond them." Another told us that this was a "major inconvenience" and that the power was only coming back in "dribs and drabs". ® Related stories Redbus suffers another power cut Redbus Interhouse suffers power outage Watch out for wilting servers, warns UK web host
Tim Richardson, 01 Mar 2005

Send-Safe spam tool gang evicted by MCI

US telco MCI has caved in to mounting pressure and booted a site that sells spamming software off its network. Send-safe.com, which sells a package that uses broadband-connected PCs infected by viruses such as SoBig to distribute junk mail, has been left searching for a permanent home after 18 months with MCI. Send-Safe.com moved briefly to a Russian hosting firm over the weekend, before pitching up on Lycos's Tripod network for around six hours before once again getting evicted. The site is currently out of commission but the Send Safe software remains operational. Send Safe is integral to the illegal trade in compromised PCs, according to anti-spam organisation Spamhaus, which led a sustained campaign to force MCI to kick send-safe.com and other proxy spam gangs off its network. Spamhaus accuses MCI of being on the wrong side of the fight against junk mail by acting as a safe haven for spammers in general, as well as hosting send-safe.com. Steve Linford, director of Spamhaus, said that MCI has not changed its policy and only got rid of Send-Safe.com because "the amount of heat it was getting was too much to handle". Spamhaus was supported in its campaign to hold MCI to account over its business relationship with Send-Safe.com by organisations such as the London Internet Exchange. "Nobody else in the West will host Send-Safe, but we still expect to be fighting its developers for years," he added. More than 70 per cent of spam comes from PCs infected with viruses or trojans, according to Spamhaus. By using compromised machines (proxies in spammer parlance) - instead of open mail relays or unscrupulous hosts - spammers can bypass basic anti-spam defences, such as IP address blacklists. According to Spamhaus, 80,000-100,000 new PCs every week are infected, leading to ever increasing volumes of spam. The latest version of Send-Safe enables spammers to use hijacked proxies to send the spam out via the upstream ISP's main mail server, instead of from an infected machine itself. Send-Safe posted a notice during its brief spell at Lycos stating that a free version of the tool would be released on 7 March. Linford said this would make little difference to Send-Safe's business model. The initial price of the software is low and Send-Safe's developer, Ruslan Ibragimov, makes his money by selling subscriptions to lists of freshly-infected proxies to users, according to Spamhaus. ® Related stories MCI 'makes $5m a year from spam gangs' EU and Asia unite against spammers Malware, spam prompts mass net turn off Spamhaus assaults 'Great Wall of Spam' Spam fighters infiltrate spam clubs Related link Write up of Send-Safe by security firm F-Secure
John Leyden, 01 Mar 2005

Sony Ericsson launches 'Walkman'

Sony Ericsson unveiled a music phone in London today which revives the 'Walkman' brand first introduced by parent company Sony 25 years ago. But it's much more of a phone that does music than a great leap forward in portable audio. The Sony Ericsson W800 is a 100g phone that plays MP3 and AAC files, features a Memory Stick Duo slot, a 2 megapixel camera, an FM radio and Bluetooth. So spec-wise, it's a K700 with a better camera and removable storage. However, there's a new button for controlling music playback, and the manufacturer claims up to 15 hours of battery life with the phone functionality enabled, or 30 hours if it's disabled. Sony Ericsson will provide sync software and a cable that allows music to be piped to a hi-fi. It has also added a dedicated wireless TV/hifi connector box to its range, the Bluetooth Media Center MMV-200. Despite rumors, the company didn't add to its 3G or high-end smartphone portfolio today, but did flesh out its mid and low-range phones. The K750 joins last year's S700 and K700 models, again with a 2 megapixel camera a removable Memory Stick Duo slot supporting up to 2GB, and an FM radio. The new K300 bring's last year's VGA cameras to the low-end, and Sony Ericsson also rounded out the low-end with the camera-less J300. Will executives at Apple, Creative or parent Sony be losing sleep? If Sony Ericsson's claims can be believed, the W800 has issued a challenge to rivals to improve battery life. 15 hours playback is twice the battery life of some solid state MP3 jukeboxes, including, until last week, Apple's iPod mini. With removable memory card prices falling - 1GB can be snapped up for less than $150 - phones must be a concern. However, superb synchronization remains Apple's forte, and parent Sony's willingness to subsidize its incredible PSP console [review] leave plenty of room between dedicated devices, and phones with music playback. And the issue of DRM-crippled devices weighs heavily around phone operators and manufacturers. If you're wise enough to avoid the locked-music download stores, as most people are, you can be fairly confident your music will play on an iPod or a Rio. With the W800, we'll have to see what the carriers permit us to do. So all in all, it could be some time before Sony Ericsson's 'Walkman' loses its inverted commas. ® Related stories Sony Ericsson preps Walkman phone Killing an iPod: harder than it looks? Sony preps 'iPod killer' - again Napster To Go DRM 'threat' astounds media Sony Network Walkman NW-HD1 Guilty until proven innocent - DRM the mobile phone way
Andrew Orlowski, 01 Mar 2005

Bagle variants served up with spam

Spamming tactics are being used to distribute multiple versions of a new Trojan. The malware is similar to the Bagle email worm except for the absence of email spreading functionality. Most of the samples seen so far include a ZIP attachment which, when opened, includes a program file named "doc_01.exe" or "prs_03.exe", or some other innocuous sounding name. If the malware inside this ZIP file is opened, the Trojan may attempt to download more malicious code from a pre-programmed list of websites. Typically, Bagle Trojan variants also attempt to disable anti-virus and personal firewall software. Anti-virus firm Sophos reports the detection of four distinct variants of the Bagle Trojan. The spamming tactics are a repeat of a ploy used in spreading a batch of Bagle variants in September 2004. This time around the bulk mailing is more aggressive. More than 75,000 emails containing variants of the Bagle were blocked by email security company BlackSpider Technologies on Tuesday (1 March). Anti-virus firms are working on releasing updated signature files to detect the malware. Meanwhile, analysis work continues. Sophos advises firms to block executable files in email at corporate gateways. ® Related stories New Bagle worm drops in and downloads Zombie PCs spew out 80% of spam VXers creating 150 zombie programs a week Botnets, phishing and spyware
John Leyden, 01 Mar 2005

Is the Mac Mini Apple's future 'smart' iPod Dock?

Was the Mac Mini originally intended to sport an integrated iPod Dock? That's the suggestion made by one electronics specialist who's taken a closer look than most at the compact Mac's internal workings. The Apple machine's optical drive connects to the motherboard not by a cable but is attached directly to an Ultra ATA-100 riser card which itself fits into a slot toward the rear of the Mini's mobo. According to Leo Bodnar, the guy who figured out how to overclock the Mini's G4-class CPU, that's not all the riser does. Apparently, it's got a Firewire bus on there too, though there's no connection beyond the riser card itself. In addition to the ATA-100 lines that feed the optical drive, the riser has a connector pinout that takes the Firewire signal and provides a number of other lines, whose functions remain unknown but are likely to carry extra control signals, Leo believes. The Mini's Agere FW8028 Firewire controller, mounted on the underside of the motherboard, connects direclty to the riser card slot, itself installed on the top of the mobo. Website Mini-ITX.com has some good Mini mobo pics here. Leo's hypothesis: that the riser was designed to feed an iPod Dock connector moulded into the device's top cover. He notes that there's a fair bit of empty space behind the riser and above the Mini's output ports, though this could simply be part of the computer's cooling system. Whether the Firewire feature was dropped from the first incarnation, or was put in place ready for the Mac's next revision isn't clear. However, early rumours surrounding the so-called "headless iMac" that was to become the Mac Mini, did indeed mention an integrated iPod Dock, fitted to help encourage Windows-using iPod owners to switch to the Mac platform, Maybe it didn't feel the time was right. Certainly then Apple was still bundling a Dock with most of its iPods. Following the product line's recent update, however, no player now ships with a Dock as standard - they are only offered as optional extras. That now makes an Mini-integrated Dock more attractive to new customers, suggesting to us that a future revision of the computer might well include such a feature. ® Related stories Sony Ericsson launches 'Walkman' Music download prices to rise Bars hold iPod nights for iDrunk DJs Apple revs iPod, cuts prices Moto exec drops AirPod hint Apple resists mobile MP3 ambush Sony preps 'iPod killer' - again Related reviews Apple Mac Mini Apple 15in PowerBook G4 Bose SoundDock iPod speakers Apple iPod Shuffle
Tony Smith, 01 Mar 2005

Sony Vaio VGN-FS115B 'Sonoma' notebook

ReviewReview The Vaio VGN-FS115B is one of the first machines we've seen based on Intel's new 'Sonoma' platform. Intel launched Sonoma as the next generation Centrino standard back in January, and it brings with it some key advantages over the outgoing technology, writes Riyad Emeran.
Trusted Reviews, 01 Mar 2005

Ebbers recalls shock of discovering WorldCom fraud

Bernie Ebbers said he was "shocked" when he first found out about the massive accounting fraud that floored giant telco WorldCom. He told a New York court yesterday that his grasp of technology and accounting were limited and that he was completely in the dark about the fraud. "I never thought anything like that had gone on," he testified yesterday. "I put those people in place, and I trusted those people. I had no earthly idea that that would occur." Quizzed about his own personal grasp of matter the IHT reports him as saying: "I don't know about technology and I don't know about finance and accounting." Ebbers - who denies the charges against him in relation to the $11bn (£5.8bn) book fiddling that led to the collapse of WorldCom in 2002 - also challenged the version of events laid out by the prosecution's star witness, former CFO Scott Sullivan, who testified that he had repeatedly spoken to Ebbers about the cover-up. "He has never told me he made an entry that wasn't right," Ebbers said. "If he had, we wouldn't be here today." ® Related stories Ebbers in the dark over accounting scandal - witness Ebbers trial team begins defence Ebbers was 'intimidating' boss WorldCom CFO lied, he admits to court Ebbers trial halted 'till Wednesday Ebbers failed to tell of book fiddling Ebbers 'drove Worldcom fraud' - Sullivan Sullivan fingers Ebbers in WorldCom fraud whodunnit WorldCom directors $54m lawsuit deal unravels Ebbers fortune at risk as share prices slid Former Worldcom directors cough up $18m Ebbers never made 'an accounting decision' - witness Ebbers feared fortune would be 'wiped out' Ebbers knew of financial fiddling Ebbers' financial know-how probed Gloves off in Ebbers WorldCom fraud trial Ebbers fraud trial kicks off Ebbers faces WorldCom court showdown Former Worldcom directors cough up $18m MCI breaks free from Chapter 11 WorldCom gets sums wrong by $74bn Bernie Ebbers faces criminal charges
Tim Richardson, 01 Mar 2005

Clint sets Dirty Harry on spotty youths

There is some cheery news today for those readers who like their video games to feature men in slightly flared suits deploying .44 Magnums against snivelling ne'er-do-wells - Clint Eastwood will voice a new Dirty Harry adaptation which aims to "introduce this memorable film character to new generations on a medium they appreciate", as the Oscar-laden Hollywood heavyweight put it to the New York Times. Anyone who recalls seeing the orginal film on its 1971 release will also remember the rumpus it caused - due in the main to Clint rejecting the normal due legal process in favour of pumping miscreants full of lead. As the poster put it at the time: "You don't assign him to a murder case - you just turn him loose". Blimey. Of course, it all seems a bit tame nowadays, so it will be interesting to see how Eastwood's Malpaso Productions intends to tempt a blood-soaked generation of youths to load up their vigilante piece and hit the streets. According to the NYT, the game will include "characters and settings from the five-film franchise, which began with Dirty Harry in 1971 and ended with The Dead Pool in 1988", but the storyline "will be original". Original perhaps, but we do sincerely hope that gamers are given the opportunity to pull the trigger against unarmed suspects while uttering the immortal words: "Do you feel lucky? Well, do ya punk?" Ah, they don't make 'em like they used to... ® Bootnote We gather that a game version of the Al Pacino hymn to cinematic ultraviolence Scarface is also in the pipeline. Should be a laugh a minute. Related stories Socially inadequate? Meet V-girl Hackers sued for tinkering with Xbox games New Zealand censor pulls Postal 2
Lester Haines, 01 Mar 2005

Centerprise buys disaster recover firm

Centerprise International, the UK PC builder, has acquired disaster recovery specialist Adam Continuity for an undisclosed seven-figure amount. The deal, announced today, enables Centerprise to add specialist disaster recovery services to its portfolio and gives it access to Adam Continuity's customesr, which includes many blue chip organisations. It also creates an opportunity for Centerprise to sell additional services to its public sector customer base. Adam Continuity employs 15 people in Greenford, Middlesex and Newbury, Berkshire and works exclusively with desktop and servers. Its services kick in when a customer's building become unusable or it had a major IT systems failure. Adam Continuity can replicate an office elsewhere with access to backup servers and PCs loaded with the same image that workers generally use within 24 hours and typically within 4 hours. Adam Continuity provides IBM's recovery service and this is expected to continue post-acquisition. ® Related stories Centerprise hires 300 South Walians UK corporate governance bill to cost millions Small.biz unprepared for disaster HP offers $300m for UK's Synstar
John Leyden, 01 Mar 2005

Space is the place, says Esther Dyson

In a remarkable case of life imitating satire, Esther Dyson has decided to host a space conference. No, we're not making this up - and no, we can't think of anyone more appropriate. "It's not that there aren't space conferences, but nothing as tacky and commercial as we want to be," Silicon Valley's space cadet tells the New York Times. How far Esther's own shooting star may have fallen from her heyday in the 1980s (or even the dot.com bubble of five years ago when she could command fees of $10,000 a day) is evident from the newspaper's acidic tone. "Critics might say Ms. Dyson has herself left orbit in an effort to capitalize on a hot trend," notes Matt Richtel. Um, yes. We had noticed. More than once, in fact. "What's next," wonders the Times, "a conference on some other fad? How about two days on low-fat soy cheese?" "I don't think soy-based cheese is undergoing radical transformation," Esther replies. "If so, wait 'til next year." It seems like only yesterday when reporters hung on her every utterance about the transforming power of capitalism and technology. Now they make up questions about cheese. We shall have be having words with the cheeky pup, Mr Richtel, as soon as we can. But once again we're staggered by the utopians' urgency to strike out for new frontiers. In the 1970s, after much lobbying from Boeing, United States' airlines shunned supersonic air travel that would have cut the journey time from New York to Los Angeles to a couple of hours. Rail links that put San Francisco and LA only a couple of hours apart remain a distant dream, too. And now they're talking about space taxis! Perhaps a clue lies in Esther's own venerable signature file: "Always make new mistakes!" Which roughly translated from the Californian idiom, means "Always make a new mess when you can't be bothered to fix the old one." It's as good an epitaph for this era as we've heard. ® Related stories US orbiter detects non-English language signals Ex-ICANN chief spotted in low earth orbit Register scotches Esther Dyson armed robbery rumours
Andrew Orlowski, 01 Mar 2005
cable

Hitachi hikes consumer disk production

Hitachi will double its output of consumer hard drives this year as it strives to take advantage of the burgeoning MP3, PVR and mobile phone markets. The vendor said it will also “tailor” product development of its consumer drives to those markets. Hitachi will double the output of its one inch Microdrive as it targets the mobile phone market, and triple shipments of its 1.8inch Travelstar line, mainly on the back of the digital music market. When it comes to the comparatively gargantuan 3.5 inch Deskstar device, aimed at the DVR market, Hitachi is planning a 50% output hike. The company is betting on outstripping the expected 20% to 22% increase in demand for CE hard drives this year predicted by IDC. Related stories Seagate, Hitachi launch 1in 6GB HDDs Toshiba, SanDisk prep 1GB Flash chip Hitachi brings IDE to 1.8in HDD line It's official: storage is the new chips Hitachi lobs lawsuit at Chinese disk drive maker
Team Register, 01 Mar 2005
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Gartner trims chip forecast

A slowing memory sector will drag down the chip market as a whole this year, prompting research group Gartner to predict almost flat growth for the next two years. Reuters reported yesterday that the research firm has trimmed its 2005 semiconductor forecast from 5.2 per cent to 3.4 per cent. Next year will be little better, with just 2.1 per cent growth. This compares to 2004's 24 per cent growth rate. The main culprit is memory prices which Gartner forecasts will slump from $48.3bn last year, to $42.8bn in 2006. Earlier this week Samsung Electronics, a major DRAM player, made a downbeat forecast for the year ahead, saying the outlook for key businesses was not good. Sales will begin to pick up in 2007 and 2008, Gartner forecasts, but there is a sting: not long after that, key technology markets such as phones and PCs will have become saturated, with future sales dominated by replacement sales, not first-time buys. ® Related stories World PC sales still growing Analyst slashes 2005 chip capex forecast - again Slowing H2 chip sales to hit 2005's growth - report
Team Register, 01 Mar 2005

Redbus power failure - companies form group to voice concerns

The power failure that hit Redbus Interhouse's Docklands location on Tuesday morning was still causing widespread disruption Tuesday afternoon for companies that have seen their businesses knocked for six. Mike Tims, founder and chief exec of financial news service mtn-i has spent most of the day at Redbus' Harbour Exchange facility in the Docklands and is furious at the way customers have been left trying to get their businesses back online. So much so, he's formed a user group and has signed up 25 companies so far to lobby Redbus for change. He will be writing to Redbus in the next few days in search of answers. Calling from Redbus' colocation facility in London he told us: "We want the chief exec of Redbus to come to a meeting and listen to our demands for a decent service. We want to hold this company to account." Speaking late this afternoon he said some companies were still without power. Other hacked-off punters have written to us annoyed at the lack of response from Redbus. One told us: "We have received zero feedback from redbus in the past three hours - no-one seems to be answering phones or emails. We host ecommerce sites turning over million of pounds, pay redbus a significant amount of money for their service and haven't the foggiest what is going on." Another said: "What a bloody nightmare. Our customers aren't interested in Redbus' problems, so I think we're going to have to switch suppliers, which is a shame - we've been pretty happy with our ISP for the past four years, but we can't be doing with this again. Power to our rack has now been down for more than three hours - it is simply unacceptable." One owner of a small business added: "When outages like this happen it completely brings us to our knees. We have, like thousands of others, tailored our business process away from telesales on to online orders only. This is due to constant pressure on margins and therefore the need to keep overheads to a minimum so that we remain competitive." He believes something must be done to "ensure that server companies are made to invest to ensure service levels are the highest possible." Redbus has so far declined repeated enquiries to provide any further update on the power cut. ® Related stories Yet another power failure hits Redbus Redbus suffers another power cut Redbus Interhouse suffers power outage Watch out for wilting servers, warns UK web host
Tim Richardson, 01 Mar 2005

Insecure indexing risk dissected

It's embarrassing when future PR items, upcoming security advisories or boilerplates for obituaries that are not meant to be visible to external users drift into the public domain. These documents might get accidentally uploaded to the wrong part of a website but mischievous attacks can also play a role. Web application security researcher Amit Klein this week published a paper explaining how "insecure indexing" allows attackers to expose hidden files on web servers. Some site-installed search engines index files that search engines are programmed to ignore. Typically search engines look in a root domain for a special file called "robots.txt" which tells the robot (spider) which files it may download. If an attacker can get to internal search engines he can get around files denied to him by the Robots Exclusion Standard. Klein explains that these attacks are "fundamentally different from exploiting external (remote) search engines". Klein explains various attack techniques, ranging all the way from guessing a file name from names that already exist to targeted search strings and far more complicated traffic-intensive attacks, and concludes with methods for detecting insecure indexing and suggested defences. "Crawling style indexing should be preferred over direct file indexing. If file-level indexing cannot be avoided, more consideration should be made when deploying a search engine that facilitates it. In particular those search engines should be systematically limited to the visible resources (or at the very least, to accessible resources)," he writes. The paper - Insecure Indexing Vulnerability: Attacks Against Local Search Engines - can be found on the Web Application Security Consortium's site here. ® Related stories Botnets strangle Google Adwords campaigns Phishers suspected of eBay Germany domain hijack Interview with a link spammer Google's No-Google tag blesses the Balkanized web Google exposes web surveillance cams Major flaw found in Google Desktop
John Leyden, 01 Mar 2005
fingers pointing at man

Intel dual-core Smithfield to ship as Pentium D

IDF Spring 05IDF Spring 05 Intel's first desktop dual-core processor, 'Smithfield', will launch next quarter as the Pentium D, the chip giant revealed today. It also said that the part will not support HyperThreading, a key feature of the most recent generations of the Pentium 4. Instead, HT will be used to differentiate the dual-core Pentium Extreme Edition - note that '4' is being dropped here, too - from the D. Both D and EE varieties will operate across an 800MHz frontside bus operating through an LGA775 socket. Intel today spoke of the EE as a "four-thread" processor and the D as a "two-thread" chip. The 1066MHz FSB found on the latest P4EE, the 3.73GHz model launch last week, will not be a feature of initial dual-core products. But Intel claimed the dual-core model will run 50-65 per cent faster, despite the lower clock speed. D and EE chips will be fabbed at 90nm and represent single-die products, Intel digital enterprise group VP Stephen Smith said today. The chip maker has always avoided discussing this until now, leading some - including us - to assume that Smithfield might simply be a pair of Prescott processors packaged together. Not so. In fact, it is the 65nm 'Presler', the next-generation desktop dualies, that is based on two separate dies bonded together in a single package and sharing a single frontside bus, Smith said. The reason for this centres on manufacturing. A single wafer can be used as the basis for single-core 65nm desktop chips - aka 'Cedar Mill' - and/or Preslers, according to need. Intel can take two cores and ship them as two Cedar Mills or one Presler. And since the 65nm Pentium M, 'Yonah', will also be available in single-core form, it's a good bet that it too will be a 'two chips, one package' processor. Presler is officially due to ship H1 2006, as is Cedar Mill, but Smith let slip what recently leaked internal roadmaps have already shown - that Presler will ship in Q1 next year. The two chips will ship with 2MB and 4MB of L2 cache (2MB per core), respectively. The Pentiums D and EE will launch next quarter, the latter as the 3.2GHz 840. It comprises 230m transistors - as will the D. HT is disabled rather than missing altogether in the lesser processor. Both support the 64-bit addressing EM64T system and the Execute Disable Bit. The chips measure 206mm² ® Related stories Intel confirms 64-bit Celeron scheme Intel 65nm desktop, server CPUs 'up and running' Intel preps Q2 dual-core P4 Extreme Edition launch Intel dual-core Yonah to ship single core too Intel 'Smithfield' dual-core to debut as 8xx series Intel's 65nm desktop CPU to ship Q1 2006 Intel speeds 'multiple OS' desktop CPU schedule
Tony Smith, 01 Mar 2005
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Intel details twin 'desktrino' platforms

IDF Spring 05IDF Spring 05 Intel's 'desktrino' Centrino-style desktop platforms will come in two varieties, the chip maker revealed today: one for home PCs, the other for office-oriented machines. The platforms' go-to-market names have not yet been made public, but the their codenames, respectively 'Anchor Creek' and 'Lyndon', were revealed today. The former will ship in a range of configurations based on the upcoming dual-core Pentium D and that chip's HyperThreading-equipped alternative, the Pentium Extreme Edition. Both will be coupled with the 945G or the 955X chipset, and Intel's 83573E LAN chip. Lyndon will comprise the PD and today's P4 processors; the 954G and 955X chipsets; Intel's Pro 1000PM LAN adaptor; and the company's Active Management Technology. Both platforms will continue into the 65nm era, taking on board the upcoming 'Presler' dual-core chip and its single-core sibling, 'Cedar Mill', when the appear in Q1 2006. Missing from Intel's revelations today was 'East Fork', which emerged late last year as Intel's putative home PC platform. Of course, East Fork's functionality could be provided by high-end Anchor Creek systems, so East Fork may represent something else altogether, it may have been subsumed into Anchor Creek, or it may simply have never been an Intel codename in the first place. The 945G and 955X represent the official names of the chipsets Intel codenamed 'Lakeport' and 'Glenwood', a fact Intel confirmed last month. The 945G will be accompanied by the 945P, which lacks its integrated graphics core, as does the 955X. Intel today re-iterated the 955X's support for dual-channel DDR 2 SDRAM clocked at 667MHz, with support for ECC memory. The chipsets' ICH7 South Bridge is capable of running four Serial ATA drives with Intel Matrix Storage Technology - the chip maker's RAID implementation. The part suppots RAID 10, said Intel Digital Enterprise Group VP Stephen Smith, which provides "RAID 0 performance with RAID 1 reliability". Next year will see Intel debut 'Broadwater', the successor to the 945/955, which will be a key component of 'Averill', the platform that builds on Lyndon by adding support for a future generation of Intel's Active Management Technology and finally brings in 'LaGrande', Intel's security system. LaGrande won't be released until 'Longhorn', the next major release of Windows ship - possibly in 2006. ® Related stories Intel dual-core 'Smithfield' to ship as Pentium D Intel preps Q2 dual-core P4 Extreme Edition launch Intel confirms 'desktrino' consumer platform plan Intel speeds 'multiple OS' desktop CPU schedule Intel Smithfield chipsets said to support SATA 2 Intel invests in three digital home firms Intel confirms dual-core desktop 'Smithfield' Intel readies 'East Fork' digital home PC platform
Tony Smith, 01 Mar 2005

Intel to ship dual-core Xeon MP in Q1 06

IDF Spring 05IDF Spring 05 Intel will ship one further 90nm Xeon MP processor, codenamed 'Paxville', before moving the family to 65nm. Paxville will, however, mark the Xeon MP line's shift to a dual-core design, set to take place during the first quarter of next year, Intel digital enterprise group VP Stephen Smith said today. It will ship in the same timeframe as 'Dempsey', the first dual-core Xeon DP chip, which we revealed last month. Intel confirmed that Dempsey will be fabbed at 65nm, joining 'Presler' and 'Yonah, desktop and mobile processors made using the same process. The Xeon MP is a more complicated beast, so its transition to 65nm won't take place until Intel ships 'Tulsa', which it added to the roadmap last year. Tulsa's debut is expected in the latter half of 2006. Tulsa will be followed in 2007 by the 65nm multi-core 'Whitefield', which will at last share a common interconnect and system logic chipset with 'Tukwila', the once eight-core now four-core Itanium, Smith said. The Register revealed Intel's plan to slim Tukwila's core-count last week. Intel didn't disclose much about Dempsey or Paxville's design today, focusing instead on its upcoming desktop dual-core products and their successors. However, it did discuss 'Mukilteo', its upcoming chipset for entry-level uni-processor servers based on the 'Smithfield' dual-core Pentium D and Pentium Extreme Edition chips. Mulkiteo will support DDR 2 SDRAM, Serial ATA with RAID and an 800MHz frontside bus, Intel said. Those processors will also be pitched at uni-processor workstations, using the 955X chipset, formerly known as 'Glenwood'. ® Related stories Intel dual-core 'Smithfield' to ship as Pentium D Intel details twin 'desktrino' platforms Intel misses Itanium sales mark by $26.6bn Is IBM shutting down its Itanium shop? Intel puts Itanium saviour on ice Intel ships 2MB cache 64-bit Xeon Intel 65nm desktop, server CPUs 'up and running' Intel admits Itanium pains, plots server future
Tony Smith, 01 Mar 2005

HP and Intel hire Asian helpers to make Itanium cheap

IDF Spring 05IDF Spring 05 What's the key to Itanium's future success? Cheap, Asian labor. HP and Intel have decided to tap Asian server design and manufacturing teams to come up with a low-cost Itanium server. This approach, similar to that used for today's x86 servers, would bring the cost of a low-end Itanium server down from about $10,000 today to close to $4,000 in 2007. "We are working with Intel to drive costs down," said Don Jenkins, HP's VP in charge of business critical systems, at the Intel Developer Forum event held here. "In the 2007 timeframe, we will be able to more actively play at edge of the network . . . places where you expect x86 servers." HP and Intel plan to deliver a common chipset for Xeon and Itanium processors by 2007, which should help lower overall system costs. The plan mentioned by Jenkins extends beyond this, however. During a speech here, he said twice that HP and Intel had already started investing in Asian design houses that will be expected to create cheap Itanic kit. Itanium's sluggish sales haven't dampened HP's enthusiasm for the chip. And how could they? HP "bet the company" on Intel's 64-bit product. In the near term, Jenkins told the IDF crowd to expect a whole new fleet of Itanic boxes described as the "Arches" systems. The Arches code-name refers to HP's upcoming chipset for Itanium servers, which will support the PA-8900 processor and Intel's dual-core version of Itanium code-named Montecito due out by year end. "We won't get all of the systems out the door in 2005, but we will get a fair chunk of the Montecito products out the door in 05," Jenkins said. HP will also rollout a Itanium-based blade system in early 2006. This product will be aimed at HP-UX users, Jenkins said. Jenkins, who has given a similar Itanium speech for many years, did a nice job of defending the chip against its painfully slow sales. "It's fundamentally true that over the long-term x86 and Itanium will be the dominant architectures in the industry," Jenkins said. "We have a long way to go with Itanium. We know that. We are building it brick by brick." By brick, by brick, by brick. "Companies like SGI, Unisys and NEC are helping to make the market with Intel, and others will get involved over time," he added. This statement would be more impressive if the vendors mentioned above had any Itanium sales of consequence. In the fourth quarter, SGI shipped 318 systems, Unisys shipped 46 and NEC shipped 75. Less than 500 boxes per quarter does not an ecosystem make. Jenkins also lost some ground when he tried to explain why IBM's Power5 wasn't as powerful as it seemed to be. He looked at IBM's TPC-C score of more than 3m transactions - triple that of HP's best score - and noted that if IBM used 1.65GHz chips instead of 1.9GHz chips and didn't use DB2 for the benchmark, its score would have been 25 per cent lower. HP researchers also discovered that they could have beaten IBM on the benchmark had the Power5 box not been plugged in. ® Related stories Intel misses Itanium sales mark by $26.6bn Is IBM shutting down its Itanium shop? Intel puts Itanium saviour on ice
Ashlee Vance, 01 Mar 2005
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Intel drops 'Vanderpool' handle

IDF Spring 05IDF Spring 05 Intel's 'multiple systems, one chip' system, previously codenamed 'Vanderpool', will now take on the rather more prosaic moniker, Intel Virtualisation Technology (VT), outgoing CEO Craig Barrett said today. VT is expected to debut next quarter when Intel launches 'Smithfield', its dual-core Pentium desktop processor, a year ahead of the company's original release schedule. Smithfield also got its go-to-market name today: it will ship as the Pentium D. VT allows one processor to run multiple operating systems - or multiple instances of the same OS - simultaneously. It's a technique long used in mainframe systems. Enterprises are generally happy to run whatever OS a particular app happens to require, so they often need to maintain multiple OSes, ideally on the same hardware to save money. That's not the case with desktop users - dual-booting Linux geeks being the most common exception; so you might think VT has less of a role in desktop usage scenarios than Intel might like us to believe. Think of users running a Windows-based media server, one on VT-hosted virtual machine, while playing a 3D game in a second Windows instance on a second virtual machine, Frank Spindler, Intel's industrial technology programs director, said yesterday. That way if the game hangs, you don't lose the server functionality. Maybe. Or you could just run an operating system with decent memory protection, so that the crashing game doesn't bring down the whole system with it. Whatever. The Pentium D has VT, whether you need it or not, and with launch day approaching, the technology needs a better go-to-market name than Vanderpool. Hence the new tag. Curiously, Intel staffers did not refer to VT when detailing the PD today. But the company has already stated that PD and VT are shipping in the same timeframe; so it's tempting to conclude that the one will be part of the latter. Intel's VT blurb hints at a close relationship with dual-core architectures, and the Xeon line isn't due to go dual-core until 2006. ® Related stories Intel dual-core 'Smithfield' to ship as Pentium D Intel details twin 'desktrino' platforms AMD's 2006 roadmap - details emerge Intel speeds 'multiple OS' desktop CPU schedule Intel to bring server-style virtualisation to desktop chips
Tony Smith, 01 Mar 2005

Intel preps Truland, Bensley Xeon platforms

IDF Spring 05IDF Spring 05 Intel has revealed a little more about its plans to extend its platform focus into the server market once it has rolled out its 'desktrino' desktop platform. The chip giant today said it has two Xeon-class platforms planned. One, codenamed 'Bensley', is based on the Xeon DP, the other, designed to promote Xeon MP, is dubbed 'Truland'. Intel did not make the platforms' go-to-market branding public. Truland will comprise 'Paxville', the 90nm dual-core Xeon MP slated to launch later this year, and its upcoming E8500 chipset (other Intel documentation refers to the E8850 chipset). Paxville is due to ship in Q1 2006. According to Intel, the platform will provide twin frontside buses, one for each Paxville core - a market contrast to Intel's desktop FSB approach and to that of other companies too. Typically, each core shares a single FSB. Not so Truland, which Intel claimed will offer "three times the bus bandwidth of today's MP platforms". For greater reliability, Truland's system bus corrects errors using ECC. Truland's chipset will also provide a quad-channel DDR 2 SDRAM bus, though the memory itself will only be clocked to 400MHz. Memory can be set to operate in a RAID-like mode, mirroring data to prevent data loss if a chip fails. Intel also said the platform will allow PCI Express I/O cards to be added and removed while the system is still powered up. Bensley, meanwhile, is pitched at two-way servers and incorporates the E7520 chipset, formerly known by its codename, 'Blackford', and exclusively revealed by The Register in May 2004. Blackford will bring support for Intel's 1066MHz FSB to the platform, which also comprises the ESB2 South Bridge, 'Gilgal' Gigabit Ethernet chip and 'Sunrise Lake' I/O processor, Intel said. The platform will bring Intel's fully-buffered DIMM memory system to server, along with support for Intel's I/O Acceleration Technology, Virtualisation Technology (formerly known as 'Vanderpool' and Active Management Technology. Intel also promised better power management than previous Xeon DP platforms have been able to offer. Intel will offer a budget version of the platform, using the 'Blackford VS' 'value server' chipset. Again, Bensley is set to ship in Q1 2006, when the 65nm 'Dempsey' dual-core Xeon DP arrives. Dempsey will also power 'Glidewell', Intel's dual-processor workstation platform. Glidewell also bundles a new chipset, the 1066MHz FSB-supporting 'Greencreek', which we also exclusively revealed last May. ® Related stories Intel to ship dual-core Xeon MP in Q1 06 HP and Intel hire Asian helpers to make Itanium cheap Intel drops 'Vanderpool' handle Intel dual-core 'Smithfield' to ship as Pentium D Intel details twin 'desktrino' platforms Intel looks to fend off AMD with new 2006 chipset Intel's next-gen Xeon chipsets to support 1066MHz
Tony Smith, 01 Mar 2005

Restrict freedom to preserve liberty: cunning Home Office plan

AnalysisAnalysis Who gets to switch your life off? On what grounds, and what can you do about it? And at what point does tagging, surveillance and curtailment of movement constitute deprivation of liberty? Prison definitely counts as deprivation, but what about the graduated scale of technological "prisons without bars" (David Blunkett's words) that UK Home Secretary Charles Clarke is currently building?
John Lettice, 01 Mar 2005