23rd > August > 2005 Archive

BEA cuts down Plumtree for $200m

BEA shoved a big, fat thumb into the portal pie on Monday with the $200m buy of Plumtree software. The all-cash deal will see BEA plunk down $5.50 per share for Plumtree and assume the company's outstanding options. Should shareholders and regulators approve the purchase, it would likely close before year end. BEA - one of the leading application server makers - has been looking to expand beyond its roots and with Plumtree on its side would have a healthier portal business. "The portal is becoming the major point of integration in the enterprise," said Alfred Chuang, CEO at BEA. "Customers will benefit from the powerful combination of BEA as the leader in portal, application and service infrastructure, and Plumtree, as the leader in portal and collaboration software. The acquisition of the Plumtree portfolio will make BEA the leading provider of the most open, extensible and standards-based J2EE, .Net and Service-Oriented platform in the industry." Can you feel the excitement? Once the transaction closes, Plumtree's assets will be revamped to form a new BEA product unit. Plumtree's CEO John Kunze and BEA's CTO Mark Carges will oversee the union of the two companies' code and personnel. Plumtree lays claims to more than 700 customers and 21m users, including the likes of Starbucks and the US Navy. It employs close to 400 people and is based here in the Bay Area. In June, BEA kicked off a new branding campaign and product strategy. It has been under pressure from the likes of IBM, Oracle and open source players, and analysts have called for the company to present a clearer growth path toward. Many see BEA as a major acquisition target despite its preference to remain a neutral ISV. Plumtree would help BEA build out its portal business and push its middleware portfolio closer to end users. ®
Ashlee Vance, 23 Aug 2005

Intel: Sensors are of mote

IDFIDF Intel is winding down its sensor research, but that's a sign of its success, executives said today. "When research projects are successful, they should stop," the director of Intel Research Berkeley Eric Brewer said during a session at the Intel Developer Forum here. The East Bay lab has been examining issues with low power embedded devices designed for instrumentation such as industrial and environmental monitoring for several years. Researcher Ralph Kling, who gave the world's press an overview of the sensor work, said that Intel wasn't quite ready for rollout, describing it as closer to "pre-production". The test bed for the research has been the "Mote" - a tiny wireless embedded gizmo with CPU, flash memory, I/O and Bluetooth capabilities. Most of the time the mote is inactive, in a low power state. Experimenting with topologies the Berkeley team had explored self-maintaining networks, sensing capabilities, and the bandwidth and power constraints on networks with thousands of embedded nodes. An example of a live Mote deployment was Great Duck Island - not a reference to Intel's ill-fated system on a chip Timna, but a real bird sanctuary. The second generation Mote made use of an XScale processor and an on board DSP. With more local processing power, said Kling, the sensors didn't need to send data over the network, resulting in an overall power saving. As part of the project, Intel developed a gateway for aggregating data from the sensors, "Stargate". Sensors had played a part in a joint UN-World Bank project to combat West Nile River Blindness, said Brewer. The hydrological sensors had fed data via satellite into forecasting software to determine the best time to spray larvicide. That left you wondering how much of a greater part larvicide had played. Real-time health monitoring is also a potent field for deployment, as is the burgeoning security-related field of cargo. Intel isn't alone in researching the commercial possibilities of sensors, of course. At Sun Labs earlier this year the executive management unveiled a new emphasis on sensors and robotics, although Intel's work looks entirely more methodical, and isn't encumbered by either New Age psycho-babble, or the need to base the platform on Java. Somewhat flippantly, we asked Kling if any of the sensors had displayed any signs of sentience. Had any intelligence "emerged"? Ah yes, he replied, and launched into a scenario where a lot of useful data could be gleaned from the sensors communicating with each other, such as cargo containers. Must be that German sense of humor. ® Related link Eye Intel's Motes
Andrew Orlowski, 23 Aug 2005
channel

BEA gives up on dual-core pricing confusion

BEA has given up on charging a premium for software running on dual-core processors and decided instead to follow the per-socket models embraced by the likes of Microsoft and VMware. The software maker's move puts it in prime fighting position against Oracle and IBM, which have been slow to adjust their pricing models for new chips from AMD, Intel and others. BEA will eradicate the 25 per cent premium it had been charging for dual-core chips from its entire price list. At the moment, the move most directly effects customers buying servers running on RISC chips or AMD's Opteron processor. Intel will soon have dual-core Xeon and Itanium chips that will fall under the new pricing program as well. Customers will now pay on a per-socket model or basically see no change from their single core CPU licensing schemes. "The elimination of premium pricing for dual core systems underlies our commitment to providing a competitive pricing advantage against other higher priced solutions in the market," said Bill Roth, a vice president at BEA. "In addition, our new restructured pricing emphasizes our support for the Intel roadmap and clearly articulates our leadership position regarding the issue of dual core pricing, making it easier for customers to focus on innovation versus budget and integration issues." Saying BEA enjoyed a "leadership position" on the multicore pricing front is a bit of a stretch. Sun Microsystems shied away from per processor pricing long ago and was followed by much more significant software makers such as Microsoft, Red Hat and Novell. IBM has agreed to use a per-socket model with x86 servers based on AMD and Intel chips but has maintained a per core model with its own, more lucrative Power-based systems. BEA had been playing somewhere in between these schemes with its confusing 25 per cent premium. In the end, simplicity seems to have won out, which is good news for customers already flummoxed by myriad software pricing systems. Roth's charge that BEA has put pressure on "higher priced" solutions is more accurate. As stated, IBM has tried to enjoy the best of both worlds, while Oracle has become somewhat of a multicore pricing laughingstock. Oracle requires customers to multiply the number of cores by .75 and then round up to the next highest whole number. It's an ugly system that seems doomed to failure as chips with even more cores arrive shortly from Sun and as Unix vendors and x86 ISVs push operating system and application virtualization. But why mess with a lucrative thing? Rather comically, BEA announced the new licensing plan at Intel's developer conference. It went so far as to say it would support Intel's Pentium processor Extreme Edition desktop chip - currently the only dual-core part in Intel's line. BEA made no mention of AMD's dual-core Opteron chip in a press release, even though it currently supports that product and even though customers actually run BEA software on the server chip. ®
Ashlee Vance, 23 Aug 2005
cable

US puts $150m more behind mega science grid

The US National Science Foundation (NSF) has put another $150m behind an extensive supercomputer network in the hopes of giving huge amounts of horsepower to more scientists. The fresh funds will go toward a five-year build out of the Extensible Terascale Facility (ETF) - or TeraGrid. This grid links powerful computers in California, Texas, the Midwest and Pennsylvania. Researchers can submit their work for computation on the system, and the NSF hopes more will do so with a larger grid at their disposal. "Many new users from a range of scientific communities will now have access to sophisticated IT applications and computational tools. Over time, these applications will be customized to the needs of the individual or community," said NSF Director, Arden L. Bement, Jr. The TeraGrid project began four years ago and serves as a type of sophisticated link between computer scientists and researchers in other fields. Some of the research done on the TeraGrid includes decoding genomes, mapping the brain and weather forecasting - the usual array of supercomputer workloads. A $48m chunk of the new grant will go to the University of Chicago, which plans to oversee the construction and maintenance of the grid. The other $100m will be split between eight sites. "TeraGrid's creators and collaborators are developing a 'science gateways' initiative to allow more researchers and educators access to TeraGrid capabilities, tailored to their own communities, through their own desktop computers," the NSF said. "Science gateway projects are aimed at supporting access to TeraGrid via web portals, desktop applications or via other grids. An initial set of 10 gateways will address new scientific opportunities in fields from bioinformatics to nanotechnology as well as interoperation between TeraGrid and other grid infrastructures." More information on the project is available here. ®
Ashlee Vance, 23 Aug 2005

NCSA edges away from Google-Yahoo! study

A widely discredited report that cast doubt on claims made for Yahoo!'s search engine is in even more trouble. The study appears to have been disowned by the university that published it, although a history professor originally credited as a co-author is continuing to host the material. After Yahoo! boasted that it now used a much larger search index than Google, two students at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois conducted a study that suggested otherwise. Matthew Cheney and Mike Perry concluded that only in 3 per cent of test cases did Yahoo! return more results. However the students' methodology came under attack almost immediately. Researchers including Seth Finkelstein and Jean Veronais drew some quite different conclusions. The NCSA researchers had used pairs of words at random picked from a word list, which skewed the results towards web pages consisting of word lists. In other words, Google was simply returning more junk than Yahoo! (See My spam-filled search index is bigger than yours!). Now the biohazard signs are being erected around the report, and the students have issued a qualification. Gone from the original are the University's logo, and the name of a Professor listed as a co-author alongside Cheney and Perry has disappeared. Added is a disclaimer: "The study was done outside the scope of any NCSA core projects. When first published online, staff at the NCSA noted several issues with the study, and some revisions have been made to the document to reflect several of these concerns." Incredibly, the students insist they were right first time round, and have only removed one of silliest conclusions. They're re-running the data and say they expect to reach the same results they got the first time round. Whatever. The Professor of History and Sociology at the NCSA who hosted the original, Vernon Burton, continues to host the study, alongside an ever-lengthening list of qualifications.®
Andrew Orlowski, 23 Aug 2005

Legal disassembly

When security researcher and ISS employee Michael Lynn went to give a presentation at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas, little did he know he would ignite a legal firestorm questioning whether even the act of looking for security vulnerabilities violates the law.
Mark Rasch, 23 Aug 2005

Violent internet porn to get new laws in the UK

The Government has said it will announce plans to strengthen laws applicable to violent internet pornography in the next few weeks. Such material is generally illegal to publish but legal to view in the UK under the current regime. The announcement follows a meeting earlier this year between Home Secretary Charles Clarke and Liz Longhurst, who started a petition for legal reforms to ban violent internet porn after the brutal murder of her daughter. Thirty-one year-old Jane Longhurst, a special needs teacher, was strangled with a pair of tights by a male acquaintance in 2003. Graham Coutts, an amateur musician, attacked her just hours after surfing the web to feed his apparent obsession with necrophilia and asphyxial sex. Coutts stored her naked body for 35 days before trying to burn it in woods. He was convicted in February 2004 and sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in prison (later reduced to 26). Extreme adult websites – those depicting bestiality, necrophilia, rape or torture – can fall foul of the Obscene Publications Act in the UK. This Act dates from 1959 and makes it an offence to publish any article whose effect likely to "deprave and corrupt" those who see it. The Act can be used to force ISPs in the UK to remove such websites; but obscenity laws differ in other countries, where extreme adult sites are often hosted And while publishing such material is illegal in the UK, visiting it or possessing such images is not. This differs from the regulation of child pornography – where both publication and downloading of the material are banned. Home Office spokesman Brendan O'Grady told OUT-LAW today, "We're looking at ways in which the current law on violent pornographic sites might be strengthened and we hope to make an announcement shortly." He added that the Government has made a lot of progress on dealing with child pornography and it will look at lessons it can learn from that. The Home Office is also liaising with other governments with a view to international cooperation and looking at possible ways of blocking access to violent porn. The Home Office is unwilling to confirm at this time that the law will make illegal the access of violent internet porn. Mr O'Grady also declined to comment on a report in The Herald newspaper last week which suggested that the plans will include changes to the UK's Data Protection Act. The Herald suggested that the changes might allow credit card firms to pass on information about individuals who use their cards to pay for access to such material hosted elsewhere. The Jane Longhurst Campaign Against Violent Internet Pornography calls upon the Government and ISPs to take action to block access to such sites; for an overhaul of the Obscene Publications Act to make it a criminal offence to possess such images; for better international cooperation to close down sites hosted abroad; and for internet images in the UK to be included in the remit of OFCOM. According to the BBC, the campaign has received 32,000 signatures so far. Copyright © 2005, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
OUT-LAW.COM, 23 Aug 2005

Ministers confront reality of climate change

Ministers visiting Greenland on a climate change fact-finding mission have heard that the Ilulissat glacier, a UN heritage site, has shrunk by more than 10km in the last three years. The glacier had been relatively stable in size since the 1960's. Environmental scientists describe the diminishing glacier as "one of the most striking examples of climate change in the Arctic". Robert Corell, a senior fellow at the American Meteorological Society told news agency AFP: "We can't find any more concrete example of Arctic warming, which is twice as fast as in any other part of the world." Last November, Corell, along with 250 other scientists, published the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, a 1,400-page report which warned that the Arctic could be ice free during the summers less than a century from now. The meeting in Greenland was set up by the Danes to give ministers an open forum to debate the issues around climate change. Danish environment minister Connie Hedegaard said that the meeting had built on agreements made at the G8 summit in Gleneagles. South African environment minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk told reporters that South Africa now accepted it had a role to play in fighting climate change. He told the BBC that until now, developing countries didn't really see how reducing emissions was in their best interests, but that a watershed had been crossed at the conference. Meanwhile, Greenpeace has issued new images (above) of melt-lakes forming on the Greenland ice-sheet. It warns that these are "another canary in the coal mine" of climate change, and says urgent action must be taken to respond to the problem. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 23 Aug 2005

US tops poll of spyware purveyors

Spyware purveyors are expanding their distribution channels and adopting new tactics in a bid to cash-in by infesting more PCs with parasitic malware. The majority of spyware is coming from the US, with Poland coming in second and the Netherlands third, according to a study by anti-spyware software developer, Webroot Software. Legislation against spyware is now pending in 19 states and four bills affecting spyware are pending at the federal level. Technology countermeasures are also becoming more common but Webroot's report argues that spyware developers are fighting back in a bid to preserve their business. Webroot's State of Spyware report states that spyware is becoming more sophisticated (the use of packing and encryption techniques are becoming more common, for example) in a bid to elude detection and removal efforts. The number of websites distributing spyware has quadrupled since the beginning of 2005 to 300,000 unique URLs as spyware purveyors grow their distribution channels and enter new markets. Meanwhile the number of spyware traces in Webroot's spyware definition database has doubled to over 100,000 since the start of the year. "Unlike virus writers who are motivated by personal pride or a desire for notoriety, spyware purveyors are motivated by profit – whether it’s a penny per pop-up or a keylogger that captures valuable account information," said C. David Moll, chief exec of Webroot Software. "Our research shows that like any business, spyware developers are committed to increasing their profit margins by expanding their distribution channels, utilising new products and entering new markets." Four in five (80 per cent) of consumer and corporate PCs are infected with spyware, according to Webroot. Consumer PCs have an average of 25.4 instances of spyware per scan but since Webroot includes relatively benign cookies as well as Trojans in this same category these figures ought to be approached with some caution. The raw data behind the latest edition of Webroot's quarterly report comes largely from its consumer and corporate SpyAudit scanning tools and from online research culled by Phileas, Webroot’s automated spyware research system. This data allows Webroot to compile a list of the ten most significant spyware and adware threats. Once again the infamous CoolWebSearch malware tops this rogues gallery. ®
John Leyden, 23 Aug 2005

Intel expected to strike RIM deal

Intel and Research in Motion will announce their own personal love-in in San Francisco this week, according to reports. Reports yesterday said the chip giant and the Blackberry vendor will announced a joint development deal at the Intel Development Forum this week, which will see RIM use Intel’s power-saving silicon. In addition, RIM will come out in support of Intel’s drive to establish WiMAX. In addition to any whizz-bang Intel technology, RIM would gain a seriously heavyweight partner. Intel would gain some credibility in the handheld comms market. In addition, Intel has been banging the WiMAX drum for some time, and the support of a high-profile company like RIM would provide some distraction from the much reported delays with the technology.®
Team Register, 23 Aug 2005

Satnav fingers bungling burglars

In the great British tradition of "rob someone's house then leave your mobile at the scene", two London men have been jailed for burglary after the satnav system in the vehicle used for the blags stored the addresses of every house they hit. Ian Bansie, 33, used his work's motor to ferry 31-year-old accomplice Steve Warrington to ten homes in Reigate, Surrey, completely unaware that the satellite navigation system was dutifully keeping a record of their crime spree. Bansie will now spend the next 32 months in a place where satnav is of limited used - at Her Majesty's Pleasure - after Guildford Crown Court jailed both him and Warrington, the latter for an immobilising four years. ®
Lester Haines, 23 Aug 2005

Toshiba heads toward HD DVD launch

Clear some extra space on the video shelf. The backers of Blu-ray and HD DVD are pushing ahead with product launches after failing to reach an agreement on merging the two next generation DVD formats. Both camps had been discussing how to produce a single standard since earlier this year, with discussions punctuated by regular spats before collapsing all together. Toshiba said this week it will move its HD DVD standard towards a launch, after talks with Blu-ray backer Sony proved fruitless. Sony, presumably, will shrug off the failure of the talks and press on with its own launch. According to reports, both companies have suggested talks can restart, but with both formats due to appear late this year, corporate name-calling appears more likely. The announcement that both sides were pushing on regardless sparked the usual comparisons with the VHS Betamax wars in the early days of VCRs. However, some observers have pointed out that it is more likely that multi-standard devices will quickly proliferate. In this case, the ultimate winner will be decided by content providers and consumers.®
Joe Fay, 23 Aug 2005

Doctor Who transmats onto mobiles

Episodes of BBC cult classics Red Dwarf and Doctor Who are to be made available for fans to buy and view on their mobile phone. Select episodes of the two series will be offered on multi-media memory cards following a licensing deal between ROK Player and BBC Worldwide, the BBC’s commercial arm. If the thought of staring at a tiny mobile screen for 90 minutes, possibly annoying your neighbours on the tube, isn't enough to put you off then the price might be: each of the the co-branded Digital Video Chips comes at an expensive £17 or probably slightly more than the price of an equivalent DVD. For the record, the initial BBC offering includes the classic Doctor Who special The Five Doctors and three episodes from Red Dwarf; Marooned (Series III), Quarantine (Series V), Cassandra (Series VIII). The multi-media chip will be available from Nokia stores and Choices Video, with direct sales and retail via ROK Player's web site. It’s the first time BBC Worldwide has licensed full-length video content for use on mobile phones but ROK's existing portfolio includes music videos (e.g. Dr. Dre and Pink Floyd) and film content including Wallace and Gromit, The Shawshank Redemption and SpongeBob Square Pants. ROK's technology allows mobile phones that are multi-media card compatible to be used as portable media player. Network coverage is not needed to view content. The ROK Player is carried along with audio-visual content on a multi-media memory card featuring ROK's patent-pending Digital Video Chip technology. ROK is trying to tap into a mobile content platform market it reckons will be worth £100m a year in the UK alone within three years. Beam me up Scotty A straw poll of our office revealed an appetite for downloading clips of goals in important football games or amusing video clips. While we might not want to watch anything longer than a minute ROK is far from alone in marketing products crossing the intersection between Science Fiction content and gee-whiz mobile technology. Sona Mobile and Viacom plan to offer a "Star Trek communicator-themed mobile device" that will let users place calls, stream video clips and play Star Trek games online, among other things. The special-edition Star Trek Communicator Phone is due in US shops at the end of September. Pricing and exact features are yet to be announced but according to Sona the device will feature a multi-threading capability allowing users to run several applications concurrently. Earlier this summer Carphone Warehouse released Spiderman 2 and Monty Python and the Holy Grail on 128MB memory cards each costing a whopping £24.99 (Pocklint review here). ®
John Leyden, 23 Aug 2005

Brits demand 99p coin

We'd never really considered this, but a third of Brits want a 99p coin to tackle the menace of the £XX.99 pricing strategy, which a Virgin Money poll says wastes £11m a month in discarded 1p pieces. Although around 50 per cent of thrifty citizens save their 1 and 2p coins - traditionally in a huge whiskey bottle having drunk all the whiskey they bought with the proceeds of their last huge whiskey bottle bank - plenty of us just chuck the small change. Virgin Money reckons the total lost comes to £133m a year. The poll - of 1,250 people - also proved that 40 per cent of surveyees preferred to break into a quid coin or a note than count out change. Of course, the real solution to the problem is to make the pricing of goods at £XX.99 (or £XXX,995 in the case of houses) illegal and punishable by death while raising the value of the 1p coin to £1 to encourage people not to throw them away. ® And the IT angle is... Er. We're working on it, honest.
Lester Haines, 23 Aug 2005

US boffins breed cloned wildcats

American scientists have pulled off a breeding first by producing two litters of African wildcat kittens from cloned parents. Although the species is not at risk, the Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species team reckons the technique could one day save other animals from extinction. Eight kittens from two litters was the final tally, the BBC reports. Two females - Madge and Caty, both cloned from another female - gave birth to five and three kittens respectively. The proud father in both cases was Ditteaux, himself a clone. The happy events come at the end of several years' work with the African wildcats. The Center first brewed up some kittens via in vitro fertilisation in 1999, and produced clones in 2003. Audubon Center lead boffin, Dr Betsy Dresser, explained: "By improving the cloning process and then encouraging cloned animals to breed and make babies, we can revive the genes of individuals who might not be reproductively viable otherwise, and we can save genes from animals in the wild." But while the technique holds some future hope for threatened species, the WWF's Species Programme director, Dr Susan Lieberman, cautioned: "While cloning is an intriguing scientific breakthrough that may enhance captive breeding in the years to come, it currently has no value for conservating endangered species in the wild. Cloning does nothing to reduce the most pressing threats to endangered species and their habitats; conservation requires work on entire populations and their habitats." ®
Lester Haines, 23 Aug 2005

Phones4U seeking buyer?

The founder of high-street phone retailer Phones4U has reportedly called in financial advisers to find a buyer for the company. Phones4U has so far refused to comment on the speculation, but according to The Telegraph John Caudwell has appointed investment bankers NM Rothschild to look into a sale. A spokesman for Phones4U told the paper: "Our sales have been strong this year and it's ridiculous to suggest otherwise," but refused to comment further on speculation over the company's future. Analysts have valued the company at around £1bn, the report goes on, and expect Rothschild will start its task by approaching mobile operators. Phones4U has not responded to our requests for comment at the time of writing. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 23 Aug 2005

DC Comics takes big stick to gay Batman

DC Comics has taken exception to watercolours of Batman and Robin snogging and generally getting it on and has ordered the Kathleen Cullen Fine Arts gallery in New York to take down Mark Chamberlain's provocative representations or face the legal consequences. Also at the receiving end of DC's wrath is art website Artnet, which carries some of the images. Artnet's 18 August "magazine" notes they have received a "cease & desist" letter similar to that slapped on gallery owner Kathleen Cullen for displaying "images of Batman and Robin exchanging a kiss, a watercolor titled Robin's Baby Pictures depicting the Boy Wonder's cute rear end, and a rendering of the Caped Crusader, sans shirt but otherwise in costume, striking a languorous pose". Holy homoerotica! Cullen "admits she has spent the last two weeks of my life consulting lawyers", after DC Comics demanded she "hand over all unsold work and invoices for the sold work". Artnet advises visitors to "stay tuned", and in the meantime continues to punt Chamberlain's gay Batman and Robin to an astounded world. ®
Lester Haines, 23 Aug 2005

Swedish library lends out gay Muslim gypsy

Sweden's Malmö public library has taken an unusual step to combat peoples' preconceptions about Muslims, homosexuals, gypsies, animals rights activists and, naturally, journalists. The "Living Library" project lets punters borrow real people for a 45-minute chinwag in the cafe. Ulla Brohed told AFP: "The Living Library project will enable people to come face-to-face with their prejudices in the hopes of altering their preconceived notions," adding: "You sometimes hear people's prejudices and you realise that they are just uninformed." This is indeed true. Brohed reasonably explained: "Maybe not all animal rights activists are angry and intolerant but intelligent and committed." And kind to animals, we could add. However, just when we were about to nip over to Malmö for a big, multi-racial group hug, we noted that Brohed concluded: "Maybe not all journalists are know-it-all and sensationalist, just unafraid and curious." Not round here, love. Now, if you'll excuse us, we'll skip the Swedish love-in and get back to trying to find an IT angle for the "Paris Hilton clone slaughters George Bush's dog" piece we're currently knocking together. ®
Lester Haines, 23 Aug 2005

On civil liberties, video violence and hanging offences

LettersLetters A survey of around 1,000 Brits revealed firstly that as a nation, we are apparently quite at home with the idea of our civil liberties being eroded in exchange for a warm fuzzy feeling of security that comes with reactionary legislation. You thought it also showed that if you ask people very specific questions about big issues, they might not give the answers they think they'd give. Read on to untangle that one: On civil liberties - the real challenge, to which you allude, is that apparently we're prepared to give up all our civil liberties until we're asked which ones specifically. (The LSE study on ID Cards shows similar findings both here and in Australia). To me the problem appears to be related to asking people to answer questions about abstract ideas. Their inability to relate the abstractions to aspects of their lives gives rise to answers that have no meaning. For example, you might ask the question of someone "If you alone in your car and out after midnight were stopped by two Policemen with performance targets to meet and after questioning you aggressively, would you be happy being arrested for no other reason than because you failed to show them the civility they were not showing you?" You might get the response that this is not a real world question - but then ask any man (not necessarily black or young) with a less than new car or any motorcyclist not riding a BMW. Similarly the idea of excluding the yoof from town centres at night might seem acceptable but then you might ask a nice fifteen year old law abiding middle class boy in Richmond if they feel OK about being excluded from the town centre after 9pm in the name of law and order. Gerry A couple of points spring to mind. Firstly, people like myself who are concerned for civil liberties are often also concerned for their privacy. So they will register their telephone number with the telephone preference service and will give short shrift to any cold callers. In consequence, they will always be significantly under represented in telephone surveys such as this one. Secondly, this survey exposes the fallacy of conducting polls about complex moral and legal issues. Apparently, "52 per cent of those polled said judges should not be able to rule against government measures". If we ask someone a bald question, they may well answer in such a fashion. If, however, you describe examples of a government seeking to abuse its powers but being constrained by judicial oversight I suspect they would answer differently. On the face of it, the poll suggests that 52% of people want a government that is not bound by the rule of law. But is that really what they want? Seriously? Did the respondents actually think through their answers? No, of course not. It's just a silly poll. regards, Richard. I think ICM will find that it is *other people's* civil liberties that the Great British Public are prepared to hand over. Still, if you ask a loaded question ("in exchange for better security") then you can't be too surprised if the answer shoots you in the foot. Ken What has the erosion of civil liberties got to do with speeding? In fact, what has speeding got to do with road fatalities? Answer: sod all. Without getting into a monologue about the government distorting its own research figures to 'prove' that speeding kills in order to justify the proliferation of revenue... sorry, speed ...oops, 'safety' cameras (I'll leave that to the eminently capable SafeSpeed and other enlightened individuals like the Chief Constable of County Durham), an article about civil liberties, torture and enactment of terrorism laws is not the place to put across unrelated personal opinions. Quite frankly, I expect much better of The Reg. Dan We were trying to make a point about the different ways people perceive risk. The risk of being blown up in a terrorist attack is really very, very small. The risk of being mown down by a reckless (speeding, drunk, texting, apple eating or otherwise) driver, while also not large, is significantly greater. The public response to the two threats is very different. How many people are killed in Britain every year from smoking? 10 per hour 230 a day 1600 a week (see this source) So what is really going on? It cannot be about saving lives or keeping us safe can it? So the terrorists will get one or two of us now and again. Statistically it never happens compared to smoking deaths. Don't sell out your hard fought liberties. Ian Next, and on a totally unrelated subject, we have your thoughts about a (since corrected) glitch in the password security at Dabs.com. The problem was exposed when a customer signed up with the wrong email address: Surely "Idiot enters wrong email address and blames someone else for problems that ensue" ? Duncan How is it Dabs fault that they have customers with such levels of brilliance? I know you should never underestimate the ingenuity of an idiot, but this really takes the biscuit. Some level of personal responsibility on the customers side has to exist. Richard A huge number of online systems work in this way, with the e-mail address as key. One could pretty much call it the de facto standard. Online banking is going to ask for more but not most ordering systems. If one is stupid enough to put in an incorrect e-mail address - many systems ask one to type it twice for this reason - one should expect to pay the "stupid tax", I would suggest :) Further, if you'd ordered something and not received your confirmation mail, wouldn't you be straight on the blower or firing off a query on e-mail? Cheers, Rich Next, the debate about video violence and violence in the real world seems virtually inexhaustible. This latest contribution was prompted by a study of studies of video nasties. Naval-gazing research anyone? One can't help but wonder if they've done any sort of comparative study with other activities such as playing sport. Is it the violent nature of the game or the competitive nature of the activity that causes a boost in aggression?.. Were the kids in the study more or less aggressive after losing a similarly engaging but otherwise non-violent computer game? Emphasis on *similarly* engaging there - I've always felt that these kind of studies are flawed because most of the time the difference between violent and non-violent games is huge - a ten-year old will not enjoy Solitaire or Minesweeper as much as Doom or GTA and the pace of play is incomparable, so the choice of games tested is critical... (although as they get older they will come to realise that solitaire and minesweeper are easier to get away with playing at work) And assuming the study was properly carried out, was the increase in aggression just for a few minutes while the adrenaline was still rushing, or was it a permanent attitude adjustment? - I doubt it was permanent, and frankly a bunch of kids having a go at their computer screens doesn't bother me too much... at least they're not out getting aggressive on the streets 'cos their football team took a thrashing... Matt Of course, if you base a study of video-game aggression on children, the results are going to be different to one based on adults. Surely the point of the ESRB and other rating systems is that everyone involved freely *admits* that kids are susceptible to videogame violence? I was under the impression that the more important argument involved the people who have purchased and are playing these games *legally*. Leave parental inadequacies to the social workers and their ilk; it's nothing to do with the argument at hand. Incidentally, considering the age of the medium in question, where do they find "20-years of research into the question"? Or was the research in question purely related to screen violence? In which case, aren't we left at worst with the conclusion that games should be treated in similar manner to movies, with an age dependant rating system... like, say... the ESRB? Daniel Twenty years goes back to paddle tennis. Where's the violence in that ? Pascal Won't somebody think of the poor ball? A quieter plane design put forward by engineers at Cambridge might have a few flaws, according to one reader: Flying wing designs have many attractions but there are two major problems concerning their application to passenger aircraft. 1) Evacuation: it is not possible to incorporate sufficient emergency exits to evacuate all the passengers in the requisite time. 2) Roll rates: people seated furthest from the longitudinal axis of the plane will be subject to unacceptable acceleration when the plane banks in a turn. It would make a nice freighter if any aircraft company was brave enough to finance development of a pure cargo aircraft. That's not a daft idea, an ultra quiet freighter that could use airports overnight would be a very good thing. Sadly, I can't see it happening. Ray Worm wars. Geeks. 'Nuff said: Re: Worm War II Yay! Core Wars is back! I haven't played that since I were knee-high to a script kiddie! NetSlut Regarding your article "Worm War II", I wonder how long it's going to be before some grey hat hacker get's it into his head to release a worm whose sole purpose is, upon infection, to install one of the various freeware firewalls. Wouldn't it be ironic? Brent Someone came up with a much better idea than writing a crummy virus when they were looking for a naughty way to put their computing expertise to work. Hacking hotels' porn channels is the new black: "According to SecureTest, a hacker might be able to access this menu and configure the system to display adult content on every TV channel. The port could also be used to broadcast content directly from a laptop over the TV. In theory, this could enable hackers to download and broadcast any material throughout the hotel complex." I pity the poor hotel hosting the next WhiteHat conference.... Niall hmm, a 'penetration testing' firm has worked out a way of pumping smut into every room. How appropriate. John And clearly the most important story of the week: the campaign for the introduction of a 99 pence coin. Just because an idea isn't new, doesn't mean it isn't funny... I'm ashamed to admit, but I remember seeing the "99 cent coin" sketch on an episode of "Married.. with Children" many many many years ago! http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0092400/quotes Marcy: Steve, don't tell them about your insane quest to create the 99 cent coin. Steve: Al, I invented the 99 cent coin. Have you ever noticed how things cost $7.99? $14.99? $99.99? My coin will eliminate the messy change that only catches the attention of obnoxious beggars who hassle you on the way to your Mercedes. What do you think of it, Al? Al: What about tax? Steve: [after pause] You sound just like those fools in the treasury department. Marcy: Well, Dear, maybe if you hadn't have insisted on putting your picture on the coin. Steve: Whose should it have been? Yours? Look, Al, you gotta see your dream through, Buddy. All they can do is laugh at you. Marcy: And audit you for five straight years. Jamie I expect the number of people throwing away small change will only increase should the Euro ever be introduced in the UK. In fact, I would throw away all my Euro's. They can keep their stinking French money! Iain Dispensing with the fractional part of currency would also solve problems for those of us who live in backward countries that use the comma as a decimal marker. This would save lots of IT support time trying to work out why the formula your colleague mailed you from the Netherlands doesn't work... Of course, excel does the conversions if you send excel sheets, but sometimes just typing the formula into an email is quicker... E- I thought you might like to know that the introduction of a 99p coin was one of the policies of the Monster Raving Loony Party in the last general election. I would have voted for them due to this issue if they had had a candidate in my area since I thought this single policy would have made more of a positive impact on my life than any other party policy. Dan Hmmm. People will throw away pennies, and yet they will buy more overpriced plutonium-enriched children's snacks and drinks in the supermarket to get a "free" club card point... How about this for a plan - each shop gets a Tesco Club Card reader, and instead of giving you a penny change, they just put a point on your card, so you can spend it next time you get the weekly shop. Well, you have to admit it's slightly more plausible than upping the value of the penny piece to £1. That's obviously stupid. How could you give someone three pence change? You'd have to give them £1.02 instead. Think on, Mr Haines. And think of the implications of your plan for ice cream. The same retards that attack paediatricians would start demanding the execution of Mr Whippy for selling "99s". Michael There's a simpler solution, one that's in use in Oz and here in South Africa. The Mint stops pressing 1c/1p and 2c/2p coins! All stores then have to round down the final till price to the nearest 5c/5p. Although I do like your suggestion of the death penalty, I really do! :-) Stuart Right, so sod the erosion of our civil liberties. Let's bring back hangin' to punish irresponsible pricing of goods. A new campaign is born. We feel a T-Shirt coming on... [That's enough - Ed] ®
Lucy Sherriff, 23 Aug 2005

Intel promises Windows Vista on handhelds

IDFIDF Intel CEO Paul Otellini today pledged to permit handheld users to run Windows Vista on their palmtops by the end of the decade. Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer may be none be too happy that his Wintel colleague is setting out to rid the world of Windows Mobile but that's the way it goes. And anyway, Steve Jobs is a customer too, now. Otellini's pitch was a new generation of devices he dubbed the 'handtop'. The platform is nothing new, of course - PDAs, palmtops and handheld PCs have been around for years - but past attempts to create truly mobile, wireless micro PCs have been hindered by performance and battery life limitations. Otellini said Intel's new focus on "performance per watt" will remove those limits. The vision is a 0.5W processor with sufficient horsepower to run Windows Vista by 2010. To get there, Intel will first merge its NetBurst and Pentium M architectures into the "next-generation power optimised microarchitecture" creating what Otellini claimed would be a "single and persistent platform for software developers" - that means x86, 64-bit, virtualisation, active management and trusted computing, aka 'LaGrange Technology'. On the desktop, that means 'Conroe', and for notebooks 'Merom', both 65nm dual-core parts targeting TDPs of 65W and 5W, respectively. Otellini said Conroe and Merom silicon, due to ship commercially in H2 2006, was already "running very, very well". Merom, he forecast, would deliver 3x the performance per watt of 'Banias', the first generation Centrino processor. Conroe delivers a 5x PPW gain over 'Northwood', the 180nm Pentium 4. Of course, PPW is a potentially invidious measure: you can increase the figure simply by lowering power consumption, not necessarily by boosting performance. However, Otellini pledged to do both. Driving performance gains will be multi-core parts, to "deliver increased performance without the power penalty". Otellini said Intel currently has more than ten quad- or more-core processors in development. The upshot will be that, by end of the decade, while power consumption will have fallen by a factor of ten, from Merom's 5W to 0.5W, performance will have increased tenfold too, Otellini claimed. Come 2010, expect to see chips containing ten or more processing cores, he added. Vista support will come later rather than sooner, but Otellini said he expects OEMs to begin offering handtop form-factor devices during the first half of 2006. Initially, they will incorporate Wi-Fi, but later WiMAX too, he said. ®
Tony Smith, 23 Aug 2005

Local gov romps toward online targets

The government reckons local authorities are well on track to meet the 2005 deadline of having all their services "electronically enabled". Local e-Government minister Jim Fitzpatrick (good to know we have one) notes that in March 2002, the average council reported that just 26 per cent of its services were e-enabled, as the government puts it. In March 2005, that figure had risen to 77 per cent. That is still some way short of the 100 per cent target, though, but Fitzpatrick says local authorities are confident that they'll make it. The latest figures reveal that councils expect 93 per cent of all so-called priority outcomes for local e-government will be at 'amber' or 'green' for implementation by the end of September. (Green means the service will be implemented, and amber means they will be in the process of implementing it.) Impressive sounding as this is, a quick scan of the graphs in the reveals that while there is a fair amount of green, quite a lot of that 93 per cent is actually in the amber stages. Priority outcomes are extremely varied and range from the creation of facilities for parents or guardians to apply for school places online, to sharing trading standards information between councils, through to applying to pay council tax online. The report notes, with some surprise, that those services based on mobile technology seem to be taking longest to get up and running. Fitzpatrick has published the full report Delivering e-Government Benefits 2005 Status Report, which you can have fun downloading from a link from this page. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 23 Aug 2005
globalisation

CA patches security flaws in multiple products

In briefIn brief Computer Associates [CA] has issued patches to fix security flaws involving its Message Queuing software that affect many of its products. A trio of security bugs with the middleware leave a wide range of security and systems management suites from CA open to a variety of denial of service attacks, security clearing house Secunia warns. One of the three flaws creates a means for hackers to run malicious code on vulnerable systems. The vulnerabilities affect versions of CA's Message Queuing software prior to version 1.07 Build 220_13 and 1.11 Build 29_13. Linux, Unix and Windows version of CA's software application are all at risk. Sys admins are urged to obtain patches available via links to CA's advisory, which provides a full list of products that need security updates. ®
John Leyden, 23 Aug 2005
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Merom, Conroe, Woodcrest lose HyperThreading

IDFIDF Intel's unnamed next-generation microarchitecture (NGMA) will combine the Pentium 4's bus, the Pentium M's power optimisations and some "new innovations", Intel said today. However, one of those features will not be HyperThreading, at least not in the NGMA's initial versions, the chip giant admitted. At NGMA's heart is a 14-stage instruction pipeline - around half the length of 'Prescott' pipeline, the same as the old Pentium Pro, and probably in line with 'Dothan' pipeline length. Prescott's pipeline was extended to around 30 stages to support clock frequencies of 4GHz and beyond. Now that Intel is no longer targeting such high clock speeds - thanks to the heat dissipation problem - out goes the need for such a long pipeline, needed to keep the core efficient at high clock speeds. A 14-stage pipeline suggests we'll be looking at 'Conroe' and 'Merom' clock frequencies well below those at which today's Pentium 4 runs - they'll probably run at 2-3GHz, though Intel didn't provide any guidance on clocking. The lower speed, plus the smaller, 65nm fabrication process will help keep the power consumption down. So too will the efficiency techniques derived from Dothan. The NGMA core can execute four instructions per clock, Intel said, pulling them out of the order in which the program 'expects' them to be run. Interestingly, in its "first implementation", NGMA doesn't have HyperThreading, to make software easier to compile, David Perlmutter, VP and General Manager of Intel's Mobility Group suggested. However, expect cores supporting up to eight threads over time, Intel's Digital Enterprise Group VP, Stephen Smith, said. At that time, some CPUs will be single-threaded, others multi-threaded, he added. The NGMA will support direct connections between each core's L1 cache. L2 cache can be shared too, and is scalable - Intel will offer versions of the same core with different cache sizes, not unlike what AMD does today. Desktop processors - ie. 'Conroe' - will have more cache than the mobile version, 'Merom', and the server versions, 'Woodcrest' and 'Whitefield' will offer more. Again, Intel provided no guidance on cache sizes. The bus connecting the L2 cache to the execution core has been widened. Perlmutter also said the NGMA dynamically adjusts the cache space alloted to each core, depending on load. Run one single-threaded app, he said, and that app will have access to all the cache. Run more apps to bring the second core into action, and cache will be assigned to that core too. Finally, Intel said it has improved the NGMA's memory pre-fetch system and has added memory disambiguation, a technique which essentially grabs data from memory before the data currently being processed has been written back to memory. That's a risk: the data you've just read could be changed by what's going on inside the CPU, generating errors. Intel claims its system is smart enough to get data that isn't going to be changed - only real-world testing will reveal whether it's right. ®
Tony Smith, 23 Aug 2005

Intel answers AMD's dual-core chip challenge with French joke

IDFIDF AMD today challenged Intel to a dual-core processor benchmarking duel, and Intel responded by mocking the French. AMD pumped a few major US newspapers with ads, begging Intel to accept the dual-core challenge. The competition would see AMD put its best performing dual-core Opteron up against a comparable Xeon processor from Intel. A neutral, third-party would conduct a number of benchmark tests, measuring both performance and power consumption, according to the always gracious AMD. Will Intel accept the challenge? "I saw the ad this morning over my coffee," said Intel's CEO Paul Otellini, during a question and answer session here at the Intel Developer Forum conference. "I have always thought that companies and products are best judged in the marketplace, and I will leave it at that." By Otellini's own metrics, AMD has already won the duel. Two years ago the little chipmaker didn't have a single, major server maker on its side. Now it has IBM, HP and Sun Microsystems all shipping fleets of servers and workstations based on its Opteron processor. A recent analyst report said this success has helped AMD pick up 10 per cent of the x86 server market over the past two years - up basically from zero. Otellini's reticence to answer tough questions or have Intel face up to a head-on challenge looked even worse after his odd treatment of a French reporter at the IDF show. When asked why Intel was so far behind AMD with a dual-core server chip and "what's wrong with Itanium" by an accented reporter, Otellini responded, "You're obviously from France." The cheap shot triggered a wave of laughter from Intel's staff and other reporters. Once the laughter died down, Otellini responded to the reporter's question by saying Intel took a leadership position with mobile processors in 2003. Hardly an answer to a question about Intel's close to a year lag behind AMD with a dual-core server processor. And as to why Itanic wasn't mentioned during Otellini's morning keynote? "In terms of Itanium, it was time budget," Otellini said. "I was given 59 minutes, and I hit 59 minutes." Multi-billion dollar investments in next-generation chip architectures just don't buy the plugs they used to. This type of hard question sidestepping seems to be all Intel can come up with after falling behind rivals IBM, AMD and Sun Microsystems on the cutting edge of the server processor front. To placate reporters, Intel spent most of today talking up a future, unnamed chip architecture that should make it more competitive. Intel, however, won't has this line thriving until 2007 and 2008. In the meantime, it would be tough for Intel to compete in a server processor duel given that it doesn't even sell a true dual-core server chip - a fact not lost on AMD. ®
Ashlee Vance, 23 Aug 2005

Intel intros 1.25GHz XScale

IDFIDF Intel today introduced 'Monahans', the gigahertz-class successor to 'Bulverde', the current XScale PXA27x family. The 90nm part is due to be formally launched in Q4 2005, Sean Maloney, VP and General Manager of Intel's Mobility Group, said today at Intel Developer Forum. Describing the chip as "another step ahead in performance", Maloney demo'd a pre-production Monahans running at 1.25GHz. The chip was being used to decode and play back HD video on a PDA screen. The chip may not debut at that speed, Maloney admitted: "We don't know whether we'll introduce [Monahans] at 1GHz or above, but there's enormous headroom there." So even if it doesn't launch at that kind of clock speed, Intel will be able to push it up to that level in due course. Maloney indicated Monahans would deliver around 25 per cent more performance than Bulverde - 1000 mips to 800 mips, according to a chart he presented - but he didn't specify the two parts' clock speeds. Bulverde is currently offered at up to 624MHz. So a 50 per cent increase in clock speed is delivering only a 25 per cent increase in performance. That's in part due to Monahans' lower power consumption, though Maloney did not indicate now much lower. Bulverde was launched in April 2004, along with 'Marathon', the PXA2700G mobile graphics co-processor. Marathon's successor is called 'Stanwood'. Like Marathon, Stanwood is likely to be based on Imagination Technologies' PowerVR technology. Earlier this year, Intel licensed the latest generation of the graphics core, dubbed PowerVR SGX, and it's reasonable to assume that it will form the foundation for Stanwood. ®
Tony Smith, 23 Aug 2005
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Otellini stakes low-power future on strained silicon

IDFIDF Intel's strained silicon process will stand it in good stead through the next four generations of the chip giant's processor products, Intel CEO Paul Otellini claimed today. He also signalled the end to the current capacity constraints affecting the company's chipset production. Speaking to reporters after his Intel Developer Forum keynote, Otellini rejected the suggestion that the company's plan to boost processor performance while simultaneously reducing power consumption would force it to embrace silicon-on-insulator, as arch-rival AMD has done. "We're not going to use SOI," he said. "We can do this without the cost and complexity of adding SOI, not for the next four generations, in particular with what we're doing with strained silicon." Intel's process roadmap calls for a shift to 65nm in 2006, followed by a move to 45nm in the 2008 timeframe. Otellini re-iterated Intel's expectation that in Q3 2006, 65nm output will overtake 90nm production. Otellini said there was a "significant" drive to roll out its 65nm process at its 300mm-wafer fabs. He admitted there was currently a "shortage" of some chipsets, built in Intel's 200mm-wafer fabs, but promised that as CPU production moves to 65nm, 90nm 300mm wafer capacity will be freed up for chipsets and "other products". However, 65nm CPUs are not expected to go into volume production until late Q4, so supply may remain limited for a while yet, forcing Intel to focus on higher-end, higher-margin parts for the time being. ®
Tony Smith, 23 Aug 2005
arrow pointing up

Intel tweaks EM64T for full AMD64 compatibility

IDFIDF Intel is preparing to update its Pentium 4 core, the better make its 64-bit processors more compatible with AMD's 64-bit processors, company documents seen by The Register reveal. The new core, dubbed 'G-1', will replace the current 'E-0' core in Q4. According to a note sent to Intel customers, samples of the updated processors will ship on 17 October, with full shipments commencing just under a month later, on 14 November. The tweak, which will require a BIOS update, adds a pair of instructions to the EM64T instruction set: LAHF and SAHF. These two codes copy content back and forth between the chip's status flags and its AH register. Register readers may recall reports last year, published not long after Intel announced EM64T, that the technology lacked certain instructions found in the AMD64 instruction set. That's right, there were two: LAHF and SAHF. At the time, Microprocessor Report analysts speculated that this had happened because Intel based EM64T on a version of AMD's AMD64 documentation written down before AMD incorporated LAHF and SAHF into its own instruction set. Intel has always admitted EM64T isn't 100 per cent compatible with AMD64, but it has maintained that the incompatibility is negligible. It has presumably decided now that sufficient quantities of software out there use LAHF and SAHF, so it needs to take them on board. Hence the G-1 update for the P4, and presumably we'll soon see comparable updates for EM64T-equipped Xeon processors - perhaps the two missing instructions will be introduced with 'Paxville', the 90nm dual-core Xeon MP and DP core due to ship in Q4. So far, only the P4 521, 531, 541 and 551 are mentioned in the core-upgrade notice, but it's likely the 6xx series will be updated too, along with the Pentium D and Pentium Extreme Edition. ®
Tony Smith, 23 Aug 2005

Intel, Cisco team to boost business WLANs

IDFIDF Intel and Cisco today announced they will co-develop a proprietary set of enterprise-oriented WLAN enhancements. The scheme, which builds on the two firms' existing wireless alliance, will improve VoIP call quality and access point selection for Centrino notebooks connected to Cisco base-stations. The VoIP component essentially ensures conversations get sufficient bandwidth and routing priority to ensure calls aren't dropped and audio fidelity is maintained, the two companies said. At the same time, the access point technology ensures the client connects to the most suitable base-station, with the choice being determined not by proximity but by available bandwidth and connection speed. The upshot, Intel and Cisco said, would be "more reliable and efficient roaming" within the WLAN's zone of coverage. Both features will be incorporated into the Business-class Wireless Suite, which will ship with Cisco's Unified Wireless Architecture-enabled access points and Centrino notebooks during Q1 2006, in the 'Napa' next-generation Centrino release timeframe. Separately, the two companies said Cisco will support Intel's Active Management Technology (AMT) initiative, while Intel will back Cisco's Network Admission Control (NAC) WLAN security initiative. ®
Tony Smith, 23 Aug 2005
channel

Intel to bring Lakeport graphics to Napa

IDFIDF 'Callistoga', Intel's upcoming 'Centrino 3' chipset, has a new name: the 945 Express. The chip giant also said today that 'Golan', its next-generation Wi-Fi adaptor, will ship as the ProWireless 3945ABG. The 945 will feature Intel's GMA 950 graphics core, which it introduced earlier this year in its desktop-oriented 945G integrated chipsets. In its mobile incarnation, the graphics core is clocked to 250MHz, up from the 200MHz at which the 915GM's GMA 900 core is clocked. However, the core can be underclocked to conserve power when it's full rendering strength isn't needed. Intel VP Mooly Eden confirmed that the GMA 950 will run Windows Vista's composited user interface. That ties in with the already-announced Display Power Saving Technology, which reduces the LCD's backlight dynamically according to what's being shown on the screen. It also slows down refresh rates when the screen is presenting 2D imagery. The 950 brings to Napa improved video playback, thanks to 4x pixel rate motion compensation, adaptive de-interlacing and support for video anti-piracy techniques, including COPP, HDCP and CGMS-A. Intel re-iterated earlier Callistoga revelations, confirming that it will support a 667MHz power-efficient frontside bus and Intel's Matrix Storage Technology. As expected, given Intel's announcement that it's co-operating with Cisco on enterprise-oriented WLAN enhancement technologies, the 3945ABG supports improved access point selection, picking the best base-station to associate itself with not on proximity but on available bandwidth. It also makes roaming between access points work more smoothly. In addition, the WLAN adaptor will support Cisco-Compatible Extensions, such as LEAP, EAP-FAST and CKIP. It will also support wake-on-WLAN, the wireless equivalent of the well-established remote access system. The adaptor will also support the 802.11e quality of service standard to improve the transmission of time-sensitive data, such as VoIP conversations and video. To improve performance overall, the 3945ABG monitors and adapts to minimise interference on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands on which it operates. As its name suggests, the 3945ABG supports 802.11a, b and g. It will ship as part of the 'Napa' generation of Centrino, alongside the 945 Express, in Q1 2006. ®
Tony Smith, 23 Aug 2005
channel

Sony BMG blesses P2P music swapping network

In one of the most significant digital music announcements of the year, Sony BMG has partnered with British digital music outfit Playlouder MSP to make its music catalog available online. Subscribers will be able to exchange licensed music freely, in any bitrate they want, since a portion of the subscription fee goes to a digital pool which is divided amongst Sony and other artists. Playlouder MSP will supply the broadband connection itself, and attempt to monitor leakages. In essence, it's a privatized attempt to create a "digital pool" of revenue to compensate artists - a time-tested idea applied to radio, public broadcasting and other technologies. Privately, many rights holders accept the idea as inevitable, although they're loathe to voice support for a mandatory compulsory license in public. Or at least, not until they've demonstrated that technical and legal countermeasures to control music sharing have been tried and failed. "PLMSP's unique position as the world's only licensed music ISP allows it to control the flow of music files over its network ensuring that all file-sharing traffic stays within its 'walled-garden'," the company said in a statement. "By controlling the network on which the music flows, PLMSP is able to effectively and accurately track and monitor the distribution of digital music through a sophisticated method of audio fingerprinting and return the appropriate share of revenues back to the rights owners." PLMSP will deploy watermarks and "deep packet searches" software on the network in an attempt to stem leakage. In an FAQ, Playlouder's Paul Sanders says, "We aim to prevent close to 100% of P2P traffic from going outside the MSP 'walled garden'. The British company says it has more deals with licensees to unveil. Playlouder says launch is scheduled for next month and will go live in the UK only. However similar services are expected to launch soon using similar watermarking and counting technology such as Shawn Fanning's Snocap, and Audible Magic, which PLMSP uses. Snocap opened a digital registry to artists and labels back in June, and participants include the 800lb gorilla Universal, BMG and digital rights middleman IODA. Had such a flat fee, "digital pool" or "alternative compensation system" (ACS) been implemented in the aftermath of Napster, millions of dollars would have flowed to songwriters and rights holders. Indeed in 2000, Senator Orrin Hatch threatened RIAA members with a compulsory license scheme. However, weighed down by their libertarian baggage, digital rights advocates were slow to warm to the idea: the EFF only accepting the notion in February 2004 - and then only in a voluntary framework. Freenet's Ian Clarke may have helped focus the record industry on the urgency of the situation. He's promised that next generation P2P, undetectable darknets, will be in active use by the end of the year. As these look to an ISP or snooper just like any other secured SSL tunnel, they'll provide the anonymity that Napster, Grokster and BitTorrent have failed to provide music sharers. We'll be following up with more analysis and an interview with the key participants. ®
Andrew Orlowski, 23 Aug 2005

Intel confirms Yonah, Sossaman will offer virtualisation

IDFIDF Intel today confirmed that 'Yonah', its 65nm dual-core mobile processor and the basis for the 'Sossaman' low-power Xeon chip, will support Virtualisation Technology. The chip will also feature a dynamically allocated 'smart' L2 cache shared between the two processing cores. Dubbed 'Smart Cache', the system gives both cores access to the full 2MB of the eight-way associative L2 cache, dynamically adjusting the area allotted to each core. The reason: to minimise the performance hit from single-thread apps. Data can be shared efficiently between threads. When the processor load falls, Yonah gradually flushes the L2 cache, synchronising it with main memory. The unused cache is turned off, physically as well as logically, to reduce power consumption. Intel also said Yonah has an Enhanced Deeper Sleep mode, which kicks in when the cache is empty so the cache voltage can be lowered beyond that needed to sustain data within it - ie. the level of the standard Deeper Sleep mode. Yonah has a new instruction to allow the host OS to shut down each core separately, to reduce power consumption when the load is low. Sossaman takes Yonah and adds dual-processor support, along with a 36-bit physical address bus to allow the chip to handle up to 64GB of physical memory - typically 400MHz ECC DDR 2, connected via the E7520 'Lindenhurst' chipset Intel expects Sossaman to be used with. That said, the E7520 supports only 32GB of RAM, so the gain is moot. Past Yonah announcements have revealed the chip will support ten of the SSE 3 instructions, and extend its micro-op fusion technique to take in SSE 2 load instructions to boost performance - the better to improve the part's media processing performance, the big difference between Pentium M and NetBurst-based chips. The chip's floating-point performance has also been tweaked, with enhanced data pre-fetch. ®
Tony Smith, 23 Aug 2005