25th > August > 2005 Archive

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BEA buying Plumtree customers

If ever you needed a good example of just how though business is in the enterprise IT market right now, you need look little further than BEA Systems' $200m purchase of enterprise portal specialist Plumtree Software. BEA is buying Plumtree to help turn last quarter's license sales blip, BEA's first upswing in software revenues for 15 months, into something more tangible. BEA hopes that by buying Plumtree it can access a ready made market of enterprise customers in one of BEA's most successful technology areas - portal. According to BEA, Plumtree helps in two critical ways: the first is selling BEA's WebLogic to Plumtree's existing 700 customers - some of which are already BEA users. The second opportunity is for BEA to re-visit its own 15,000-strong customer base with assorted products from the Plumtree software basket. "There is a lot of cross selling and up selling advantages across the two bases," vice president of product management Shane Pearson told The Register. BEA is not the only enterprise IT supplier to hit the acquisition trail this year. Sun Microsystems recently spent $4.1bn for storage specialist StorageTek followed by $387m for integration specialist SeeBeyond - a bargain buy. Oracle, meanwhile, has bought six companies since kicking off the year with PeopleSoft. Competition is fierce in enterprise systems. Enterprises are not spending like they used to, and when they are purchasing IT it's usually in selected areas, like web services or security. The days of signing big checks for an application server or a full customer relationship management (CRM) installation are gone. That means companies are either buying competitors to soak-up customers, to gain access to the expertise of their sales staff in specific markets, or to tap their technical expertise and sidestep years of R&D investment to get to market faster. The obvious question for BEA is, why buy a company in an area - portal - where BEA is already performing well? Clearly that was on Wall St's mind, as BEA's stock closed down on Wednesday, following a rally on Monday and Tuesday, after the Plumtree deal was announced. BEA WebLogic Portal, after all, is driving 65 per cent of sales for the WebLogic application server if BEA is to be believed. From a vertical standpoint, BEA believes Plumtree delivers new customers in state and local government, consumer packaged goods and the retail sector while, from a technology perspective, Plumtree helps serve customers who need portals for their complex information worker and team collaboration needs. BEA, by contrast is strong in banking, telecoms and financial services while - on technology - it has helped deliver customer and employee self-service portals. BEA has said it will continue to deliver all of Plumtree's products, but you should expect BEA to choose very carefully what it offers customers. Plumtree has a mixed product bag thanks to a strategy that took the company beyond its core portal business into diverse areas including content management, collaboration, analytics and integration in order to survive. More important for BEA is the fact that Plumtree's products work on Microsoft's .NET architecture. BEA believes that its emerging AquaLogic service oriented architecture (SOA) strategy relies on going beyond Java, with WebLogic, and into .NET. Plumtree's customers, meanwhile, can expect BEA's sales people to come knocking during the next 12 months. BEA will attempt to persuade Plumtree's users what they really need is an application server, transaction processing, integration, tools, messaging or maybe some nice data transformation software from BEA. After a tough 2004 and early 2005 it would be almost inconceivable for BEA to not see licensing growth in the wake of the Plumtree purchase. The only question is, whether BEA converts a short-term sales fillip into sustainable, long-term software sales.®
Gavin Clarke, 25 Aug 2005

EDS re-inks deal worth £2.6bn with DWP

David Blunkett's new home, the Department of Work and Pensions, has renegotiated its swathe of contracts with EDS, bringing them all under one umbrella. The move will give EDS a lot more certainty about where its money is coming from, and should reduce the DWP's annual costs. The terms of the new deal include infrastructure upgrades, better system availability and faster system response times, the DWP says. The DWP was created by combining the Department of Social Security and Department for Education and Employment. Each had existing contracts with EDS that were costing the new department around £700m annually. The new contract structure means the DWP will spend a more modest £520m with the company each year, over the next five years. In total the deal is worth an estimated £2.6bn, with the potential for an additional £180m, subject to performance reviews. Sir Richard Mottram, Permanent Secretary at the DWP said that the deal would contribute to the government's planned cost savings of £1bn annually, as outlined in the Gershon report. "Compared with present practices, we expect a better, more robust service and substantial savings," he said. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 25 Aug 2005
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Polyglot IM worm targets MSN

A new worm spreading over IM networks is the first to check system settings in order to send a message in the appropriate language. The Kelvir-HI instant messaging worm is spreading over MSN Messenger's network, albeit modestly. IM security specialist Akonix classifies it as a low-risk threat. The worm works by downloading a copy of the previous Spybot worm and tracking down the default language of a user, sending a message in either English, Spanish, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Swedish, Italian, Portuguese or Turkish. Once users click on the link in the message, a copy of the Spybot worm is automatically downloaded. Spybot is a backdoor program with backdoor functionality that surrenders control of compromised machines to hackers. ®
John Leyden, 25 Aug 2005

AOL to reform customer service after NY probe

AOL has agreed to reform its customer service operation following complaints that led to legal action by Elliot 'the Blitzer' Spitzer, New York's attorney general. In a settlement announced Wednesday, AOL will be obliged to remove obstacles US consumers faced when seeking to switch or cancel their internet service. Spitzer’s office began an inquiry of AOL's customer service policies in response to around 300 consumer complaints from 2000 onwards. The investigation revealed that the net giant had an elaborate system for rewarding employees who succeeded in keeping subscribers who had called to cancel their internet service. In many instances, such retention was done against subscribers' wishes, or without their consent, it was alleged. Service reps could earn bonuses of tens of thousands of dollars if they could successfully dissuade or "save" half of the people who called to cancel service. Consumer reps were expected to meet minimum retain or save percentages. This led to instances where workers failed to honour cancellations or otherwise made cancellation unduly difficult for consumers. Many consumers complained that AOL personnel ignored their demands to cancel service and stop billing. Under an agreement with Spitzer's office, America Online (AOL) will alter the incentives it offers to customer representatives who seek to persuade subscribers to stay with the firm. It agreed to set up an independent monitoring auditing regime. The net service giant also agreed to pay $1.25m to New York State in penalties and costs. Lastly AOL agreed to provide refunds to New York consumers who claim harm based on improper cancellation procedures, with compensation of up to four months worth of service. "This agreement helps ensure that AOL will strive to keep its customers through quality service, not stealth retention programs," Spitzer said in a statement welcoming the settlement. ®
John Leyden, 25 Aug 2005

Quantum slashes 250 Irish jobs

Data storage hardware maker Quantum Corporation is to cut 250 jobs in Dundalk with the close of a manufacturing facility. The job losses, which were expected following reports earlier this summer, will see the company's Dundalk, County Louth facility wind down over the coming months, with a full shutdown expected in the second half of 2006. It is expected that work carried out at the site will be moved to Eastern Europe, where the cost of manufacturing is lower. The news came on the back of a filing by Quantum to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), in which the company said it had "approved a plan to close its facility in Dundalk, Ireland, as part of a strategic initiative to outsource European repair operations to better align them with the company's business needs and to reduce the company's cost structure." The job cuts will cost the firm between $8m and $9m, Quantum said. The redundancies come at a time when workers in Ireland are desperately attempting to come to grips with the rapid decline of the country's manufacturing sector. Earlier this week, over 550 jobs were lost in Donegal when medical device maker Hospira said it would relocate work to operations in Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic. The announcement came as a major blow to the region and offered credence to claims that Ireland's manufacturing sector is in the midst of an irreversible decline. A similar rationale is behind Wednesday's job losses in Dundalk; Managing Director Kevin Devlin said in a statement that Ireland's high costs were to blame for Quantum's decision to wind down. Just three years ago, Quantum said it would create about 120 new jobs, which would be added to the 280 that the firm already employed at the facility. At the time, the company was unwilling to say what level of grant aid it had received from the IDA, but between 1991 and 2002, the development agency put EUR5.4 million into the Irish division of the company. The firm is a manufacturer of DLT devices and tapes, as well as automated tape library (ATL) systems, which allow companies to store large amounts of data, mainly for backup purposes. Founded in 1980, the firm also makes network-attached storage (NAS) servers and was once known for making computer hard drives, although it sold that unit to Maxtor in late 2000.
ElectricNews.net, 25 Aug 2005

Utah bathed in pretty pink Aurora

Stargazers in Utah, Colorado, New York and other US states were treated to a rare display in the early hours of this morning, when the first of two large coronal mass ejections from the Sun collided with the Earth's atmosphere, creating stunning Auroras. A coronal mass ejection is an explosion inside the Sun that ejects a huge quantity of plasma into space. The plasma, composed of highly energetic particles, streams outwards, sometime striking Earth, where it can create stunning Aurorae, interfere with satellites in orbit, and in severe cases, even knock out electricity supplies. The first mass of plasma was ejected from the Sun on 22 August, and was followed around 18 hours later by a second ejection. NASA announced that geomagnetic storms and Aurorae would be likely from 23 August onward. The mass was ejected from the region of the Sun known as AR 798. The activity was associated with some relatively small solar flares. More flares in the region are still possible in the next 24 hours, according to NOAA, the space weather forecasters. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 25 Aug 2005

O2 Germany licences mobile World Cup clips

In briefIn brief Mobile operator O2 has secured the right to sell highlight clips from all 64 matches in next year's World Cup to its mobile subscribers in Germany. O2 has secured the right to offer up to four minutes of video footage per match for "near-live" and post-match highlight coverage on mobile phones following a licensing agreement with sport rights trader Infront Sports & Media. The license also includes access to all archive video material of the 2002 World Cup. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. O2 is the first operator to secure broadcast right in host country Germany for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. The deal is non-exclusive and Infront is looking to forge similar agreements with other operators. ®
John Leyden, 25 Aug 2005

Playboy launches full-frontal online edition

They're no slouches over at Playboy when it comes to innovative ways to deliver e-smut. Back in April, the soft pornographers launched a PlayStation Portable service allowing sweaty gamers to download widescreen fillies to their trembling PSPs. This came after the unveiling of the tasty iBod initiative which offered iPod Photo aficionados the chance to peruse totty on their devices. Now, however, Playboy has gone to third base with the announcement that - as of next month (October issue) - entire unexpurgated issues will be available online for the same price as the print edition. To get at the content, (which, for the record, this month contains the fascinating: "Three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas L. Friedman, a New York Times columnist and best-selling author, chats candidly about the war in Iraq, the future of the Middle East and why two countries that are involved in Dell's supply chain will never wage war with each other", as well as loads of top-quality airbrushed beaver), you'll need to download the free Zinio Reader which then allows you to browse to your heart's content. The online edition of Playboy is managed by Zinio, which also delivers content for BusinessWeek, Macworld and, excitingly, GPS World. The virtual Playboy is not yet listed for suscription, but if you're beside yourself with excitement at the prospect of e-babes, then you can peruse the existing portfolio of "men's" material here. Phwoaaar! ®
Lester Haines, 25 Aug 2005

LA cops bust pothead alligator liberator

LA police have busted a man suspected of having released a full-sized alligator into the city's Lake Machado two months ago and which has since frustrated all attempts to recapture it. Alleged former alligator owner Anthony Brewer, 36, was cuffed at his home on Tuesday, where law enforcement officials found "make-shift alligator habitat, two snapping turtles" and unspecified drugs, Reuters reports. The cops then swooped on Brewer's pal Todd Natow, 42, discovering an impressive haul of "three alligators, four piranhas, three desert tortoises, six tortoise eggs, one rattlesnake, a scorpion and marijuana". The police reckon Brewer gave the 'gator to Natow who subsequently dumped it into the 53-acre lake. Park rangers and out-of-state "professional 'gator wranglers" have since been trying to snare the beast, without success. ®
Lester Haines, 25 Aug 2005

Gartner plots hype cycle for emergent tech

Collaboration, next generation architectures and real world web applications have been singled out as key emergent technolgies by analyst house Gartner. But other technologies such as video conferencing and passive RFID tags have been labeled as over hyped in Gartner's 2005 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies. Collaboration technologies, such as podcasting, described as "an extremely efficient method for delivering audio and spoken-word content to niche audiences" as well as Peer to Peer (P2P) and voice over IP (VoIP) tools are hot, it reckons. Desktop Search will also be important but will not really take off until they become a standard feature on desktops, a development that will be spurred by the inclusion of the technology in Windows Vista. Gartner predicts that RSS will be most useful for content that is 'nice to know' rather than 'need to know'. Corporate blogging reached its peak of hype in 2004 but will evolve to become useful in projecting corporate marketing messages primarily and secondarily in competitive intelligence, customer support and recruiting. However Web Services-Enabled Business Models will have to wait for more-mature standards and clearer examples. The hype cycle highlights the "progression of an emerging technology from conception, to market over-enthusiasm, through a period of disillusionment, to an eventual understanding of the technology's relevance and role in a market, Gartner explains. The analyst house said that in helping to cut through the hype it assisted strategy planners in making better informed decisions about the adoption of emergent technologies. 2005 marks the tenth anniversary of the Gartner hype cycle. (So where does the Hype Cycle fit in the Hype Cycle then? Ed.) "The IT industry is awash with hype and buzz words and Gartner's Emerging Technologies Hype Cycles cuts through this to offer an independent overview of the relative maturity of technologies in any given domain," said Alexander Linden, research vice president at Gartner. "It provides not only a scorecard to separate hype from reality, but also models that help enterprises to decide when they should adopt a new technology." ®
John Leyden, 25 Aug 2005

Norwich Union probes IT staff lay-offs

Norwich Union is investigating allegations that company policy on the handling of redundancies was not followed when IT staff in Bristol were given their marching orders. The company, part of the Aviva Group, embarked on a significant program of restructuring following Aviva's acquisition of the RAC motoring group earlier this year. In total, 1,700 jobs are likely to go at the RAC and Norwich Union, with 15 of these being IT support staff at the Bristol and Feltham sites. Redundancies are never happy news, but word reached El Reg that things were not handled terribly delicately in Bristol. According to our source, IT staff were called into a meeting to discuss how the restructuring would affect them, only to discover that it affected some of them rather more directly that they anticipated. During the meeting, the new team structures were displayed in a power point presentation, and staff whose names did not appear on the list, our source tells us, were told that they were the unlucky ones who no longer had jobs: "Imagine the pure joy that raced through people's hearts as the manager read out lists in front of everyone," our secret squirrel says. "Imagine the amount of people who were genuinely upset at no longer having a job and finding out in this way." A spokesman for the insurer told us that company policy on handling lay-offs is very strict, and that the scenario above should never have happened. "Employees should be notified in private by their line managers ahead of any public announcement. It is our policy to manage these things as considerately and professionally as possible," he said. However, he conceded that it is possible that procedure was not followed correctly, and confirmed that the company's HR team was investigating. "We take this allegation very seriously," the spokesman concluded. The news comes a little more than a week after Amicus, the union representing the redundant employees, accused Norwich Union of failing to consult over the job losses - some 345 - caused by the closure of two of its call centres. On this question, Norwich Union says the consultation period began when it informed its employees that it would be closing the centres, but conceded that the redundancies would largely be compulsory.®
Lucy Sherriff, 25 Aug 2005

Councils to publish phone mast emission data

Vodafone has sought to quash UK luddites' fears that mobile phone masts are turning their brains into something resembling a partially set trifle. The cellco is working with seven local councils to install monitors which will keep track of the emissions from Vodafone base stations. The data will be published to publicly accessible websites provided by the councils. Vodafone reckons the scheme will show that its base stations are well within international guidelines, “and local residents will be reassured that their health is not at risk.” Despite being solar powered, the monitors’ll be scanning the airwaves 24 hours a day. The units will also measure electromagnetic fields from other sources, such as radio and TV. If nothing else, citizens can be reassured that mobile data is just one of a number of beams that have turned modern Britain into one gigantic microwave oven. The seven councils are: City and County of Swansea; Oxford; Cambridge; Portsmouth; Stroud; Hinkley and Bosworth; and Wycombe. As for the rest of you, we recommend wrapping your head in foil and basting yourself every 20 minutes.®
Joe Fay, 25 Aug 2005

China slashes gamers' time online

China will attempt to limit the amount of continuous time online gamers can spend staring at their monitors amid growing concern about "addiction" to games such as World of Warcraft and Lineage II. There are an estimated 20m+ Chinese regularly indulging in online gaming, the BBC reports, paying around $500m a year for the privilege. Although the Beijing authorities will in September host a two-day gaming conference in the hope of attracting foreign investment, they are worried that young people are simply spending too much time in virtual worlds. Accordingly, from October, anyone who goes over a three-hour limit will see his character's abilities reduced. Hitting five hours will result in severe character limitation. Players will then have to take a five-hour break before getting back down to it. All of China's main games operators have agreed to the controls - unsurprisingly since they are state licensed - and just to show how willing they are to fall into line, Interfax-China news agency reported the operators as "prepared to sacrifice short-term revenues to create a healthy environment for online gamers", which is very noble of them. The games initially facing control are: World of Warcraft, The Legend of Mir II, The Legend of Mir 3G, Lineage II, Westward Journey Online, Fantasy Westward Journey Online, MU, JX Online, First Myth Online, The World of Legend and Blade Online. ®
Lester Haines, 25 Aug 2005

The GIMP threatens PIN number security

This must be a first: Linux image manipulation programme the GIMP has been fingered as a possible tool in uncovering people's PIN numbers as sent through the post. It's not all open source gloom, though, Photoshop can also be used to, in certain circumstances, enhance illicitly-obtained printed PIN numbers. That, at least, is the conclusion of University of Cambridge reserachers who looked at the tamper-proof stationery used to deliver said numbers to expectant punters. Team member Mike Bond first became suspicious when he was "sent a new pin and found that poor printing meant it was readable with the naked eye", the BBC reports. This was despite techniques such as secure envelopes which make it obvious if someone has opened them, and peel-off labels designed to obscure printed numbers. Mr Bond explained that, for example: "You are printing black toner on to a background pattern that is supposed to disguise it," but that: "If you add too little you cannot read it but too much will make it stand out." The Cambridge staionery-busters were able, using a variety of techniques including the good-old "shining bright lights at an angle to the paper" and the simple scan-and-adjust ploy noted above, to defeat many of the banks' best-laid security plans. Mr Bond admitted: "We were surprised that it could be done so easily. We're concerned as academics and outside parties that other people are going to be spotting this too and start working towards fraud." The banks, though, are not overly concerned. A spokeswoman for Apacs told the BBC that little fraud had resulted from the reading of PIN numbers from secure stationery, noting: "A pin has no value without the card." ®
Lester Haines, 25 Aug 2005
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W3C tells US Copyright Office: IE is not the only fruit

The US Copyright Office wants to limit the number of browsers that can submit online forms to its site. The agency has proposed that, temporarily at least, it will accept copyright claims via forms submitted from only Microsoft Internet Explorer or Netscape browsers. Perhaps it is just feeling very retro, but whatever the reason, the W3C is not impressed, according to a report from InfoWorld. In a letter to the Copyright Office, Tim Berners-Lee and Daniel Weitzner, W3C director and W3C technology and society domain leader respectively, wrote: "The proposed system would be contrary to at least the spirit of federal information policy adopted by the E-Government Act of 2002." The office says that it does intend to be compatible with a wider variety of browsers, such as Mozilla, Firefox and Safari. It said that it is developing its systems using off-the-shelf Siebel Systems software which has only been tested with IE and Netscape. Julia Huff, the Copyright Office's COO said that the agency was under tight time constraints as it is obliged to have a pre-registration system up and running by 24 October. "It [our system] may work well with other browsers, but they haven't tested those yet with the version of the Siebel software we're using right now." She went on to say that the agency plans to upgrade next year, to a version of the Siebel software that does support other browsers. Meanwhile, Berners-Lee and friends, called for a vendor neutral approach from the agency, and warned that single browser compatibility would restrict access to the agency's services. Many MacOS, Linux and Unix users wouldn't be able to access the service, and disabled users could also have difficulties, Berners-Lee said. ®
Lucy Sherriff, 25 Aug 2005

Mio GPS smart phone exposed

ExclusiveExclusive Mio will next week preview the A701, its first GPS-enabled Windows Mobile-based smart phone, The Register has learned. According to basic specifications we've seen, the device is based on a 520MHz Intel XScale PXA270 processor backed by 192MB of memory, of which we reckon at least 64MB will be ROM. The phone runs Windows Mobile 5, aka 'Magneto'. The stylish candybar handset is equipped with a 2.7in, 240 x 320 display. It's also fitted with a 1.3 megapixel camera. There's no keyboard - the device presents a virtual, on-screen pad. Its radio supports tri-band GSM with GPRS. Bluetooth 1.2 connectivity is on board too. There's a SD/MMC slot on the side for memory expansion. The GPS receiver is integrated within the body of the device, so there's no flip up antenna or receiver stub. There's a slight bulge on one corner, but nothing to snag on the lining of your pocket, we'd say. The A701 uses the SirfStar III chipset, we understand. Mio is pitching the A701 as a phone with PDA functionality, rather than the other way round. While it's not the first smart phone with integrated GPS, it's the first we've seen that uses a conventional handset form-factor. It's certainly better looking than the iPaq hw6500 series, and even the inadvertently leaked upcoming hw6700 series. Two weeks ago, the Bluetooth Qualification Programme website posted details of Mitac's A201 device. Mitac manufactures Mio's product, and from what little spec information included in the A201 certification data, it could well be the foundation for the Mio A701. The A201 is also believed to form the basis for an upcoming Medion-branded device, the MDPNA 1500. There's no word yet on availability or pricing. ®
Tony Smith, 25 Aug 2005

US getting fatter, faster

Americans are getting fatter, faster than ever before, according to the latest figures from the non-profit Trust for America's Health. The organisation found that the number of people classed as obese went up in 48 states between 2003 and 2004, taking the national average rate of obesity to a hefty 24.5 per cent. In 10 states, more than a quarter of people are classified as being obese, with Mississippi, Alabama and West Virginia providing the double-whipped topping to the lardy-league table. Overall 64.5 per cent of the country is either overweight or obese. Projections suggest that this figure will rise to 73 per cent in the next three years, the BBC reports. We would have illustrated this with a pie chart, but fear this would only accelerate the crisis. Obesity, classified as a body mass index of 30 or over (find yours out here), is a serious health problem. Overweight and obese people are at far greater risk of a number of illnesses, including diabetes and heart disease, and an ever fatter population will put a strain on healthcare resources. The figures do need to be interpreted with some caution: many athletes could be classed as overweight or obese because of their extra muscle mass, if only height and weight are taken into consideration. And sadly, this is nothing for us Brits to feel too superior about. In the last twenty years, the number of obese adults in the UK has roughly doubled, and the trend shows no sign of abating. Stats suggest we are a mere seven years behind our Yankee cousins on this one - or the time you'd wait for around 122,640 pizzas to be delivered, assuming a 30 minute wait per delivery. Who's up for a run then...? ®
Lucy Sherriff, 25 Aug 2005

Intel preps 'GPS for Wi-Fi' location tech

IDFIDF Intel today demonstrated a location-detection system for Wi-Fi networks that it claims will provide far more accurate readings than traditional triangulation techniques. And the company pledged to submit the system, dubbed Intel Precision Location Technology (PLT), to the IEEE's 802.11 standards team for incorporation into future WLAN products. Triangulation-based location detection is typically conducted using signal strength readings from a series of nearby access points. However, signal strength can vary for reasons other than distance, so the location data garnered can be inaccurate, Justin Rattner, head of Intel's Technology and Research division said. PLT works by sending a special data packet back and forth between the client and at least two access points. The base-station time-stamps the packet, allow the time taken for the packet to arrive at the client to be determined and the distance between then calculated. When then client knows how far it is from two APs, it can triangulate its position. With accurate location data, available to both the client and the access point, it's possible to run a number of location-sensitive applications, Rattner said. One example: the system can be used to drive an access monitor that only allows clients within a building to use network-connected resources. The system could also be used in instances where GPS location is impossible, said Rattner: indoors, or in urban environments that limit line-of-sight access to the satellite network. As it stands, PLT is proprietary, requiring modifications to be made to both the access point and the client, but Rattner said Intel would submit the technique to the IEEE. "Hopefully in the not-too-distant future [PLT] will be in all new Wi-Fi access points," he said. Rattner also said PLT could be incorporated into other radio systems, such a mobile phone networks, but for now the company is concentrating on its Wi-Fi application. And, we'd hazard a guess, with its WiMAX kit, too. ®
Tony Smith, 25 Aug 2005
Broken CD with wrench

Intel looks to 'Dunnington' multi-core Xeon future

IDFIDF Intel's follow-up to 'Whitefield', its four-core, next-generation microarchitecture-based Xeon MP chip, will be called 'Dunnington', the chip giant let slip yesterday. It's one of the few codenames that hasn't been bandied about freely at this summer's Intel Developer Forum, but Digital Enterprise Group chief Pat Gelsinger mentioned it once during his show keynote yesterday, unless our ears deceive us, and it we spotted it on one of his presentation slides too. Dunnington - or 'Dunny', which should bring some mirth to our Australian readers - will be part of Intel's Reidland platform, the successor to 'Truland', its dual-core oriented Xeon MP platform. Whitefield will also be part of Reidland, we understand. Whitefield is expected to be the first Xeon MP part - sorry, Xeon 7000 part - to ship with an integrated North Bridge, part of Intel's scheme to provide a single system logic infrastructure for both Xeon and Itanium platforms. If Whitefield doesn't get its own memory controller, it seems likely that Dunnington will. Whitefield is a certainly a four-core part, so it's a good bet that Dunnington will incorporate at least that number, probably even eight. "...and quad-core and beyond capabilities, such as with Whitefield and our Dunnington development..." said Gelsinger yesterday. Should there be a 'respectively' in there, we wonder? Given Dunnington's potential 2008 launch date, it could well be one of Intel's first 45nm parts. If it is a 45nm part - and that's by no means certain at this stage - it will almost certainly offer more cache than Whitefield's 16MB. Tulsa, the 65nm dual-core Xeon MP 'old microarchitecture' part that will ship before Whitefield contains 16MB of shared L3 cache and 1MB of L2 cache per core, Gelsinger said. ®
Tony Smith, 25 Aug 2005
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Pentium 4 VT plans confirmed by Intel

IDFIDF Intel has confirmed a report that the Pentium 4 660 and 670 will be updated soon to incorporate Virtualisation Technology. However, 'Paxville', the 90nm dual-core Xeon MP part whose release was recently brought forward, will not contain VT, it has emerged. According to a presentation made yesterday by Intel Digital Enterprise Group chief Pat Gelsinger, VT will appear on the P4 66x and 67x processors in H2 2005. The 660 and 670 are currently the top two P4s, clocked at 3.6 and 3.8GHz, respectively, so it's reasonably to expect VT-enabled versions to ship with a higher model number, to indicate the presence of this extra feature. As we've said before, our money's on 662 and 672. Gelsinger didn't provide a precise timeframe for the VT-enabled desktop chips' release, but it will happen before VT Itanium 2 parts ship toward the end of the year. Past reports have claimed that both will ship in Q4. Paxville MP will ship early Q4, said Gelsinger, with the new, DP-oriented version appearing later in the quarter, he added. But he also said the Xeon MP line will not get VT until H1 2006, presumably when 'Tulsa', the 65nm version of Paxville, ships. ®
Tony Smith, 25 Aug 2005
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Microsoft goes Hollywood with 'Halo' film deal

Microsoft has a new deal with Hollywood and, no, it's not to use Windows digital rights management (DRM) capabilities to prevent illegal copying of films. Microsoft's popular Halo Xbox game is going from the TV screen to the big screen, after two studios agreed to produce a film featuring the game's cyborg hero Master Chief. The film is slated to appear in the summer of 2007. Halo is the latest computer game, or game character, to be picked up by Hollywood, following Final Fantasy, Resident Evil and Lara Croft. Microsoft has apparently been shopping the idea around Hollywood for a Halo movie for some time now, having gone as far as to develop its own draft script. The draft, an attempt by Microsoft to retain control over the Halo franchise and no doubt develop all those juicy game-related tie in's in the inevitable Halo 3, was written by Alex Garland who penned The Beach and 28 Days Later. Universal Pictures and Twentieth Century Fox are reported to have agreed to pay Microsoft $5m plus a percentage of ticket sales capped at 10 per cent of the domestic box office. They reportedly haggled Microsoft down from $15m plus 15 per cent. The film's producer is Columbia Pictures' former president Peter Schlessel, who captained Spiderman, Charlie's Angels 2 and Something's Gotta Give.®
Gavin Clarke, 25 Aug 2005

US fighters tooling up with lasers

The US military is going all Star Wars with plans to equip its aircraft with laser guns to shoot down enemy missiles and aircraft. The snappily named High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System (HELLADS) program has been tasked with the job of developing, building and testing a relatively small and light-weight laser device for use by aircraft. The device, or HEL laser, must weigh less than 750Kg and be capable of producing a 15kW beam. HEL laser is being overseen by the Defense Research Advanced Projects Agency (DARPA), which manages R&D projects for the US Department of Defense. HEL laser is designed to over-come traditional problems associated with laser-based weaponry. Lasers guns are typically too large to fit in the confines of a fighter and are prone to overheating. The New Scientist reports, though, DARPA believes it has overcome these conventional limitations by combining high energy density solid-state laser technology with liquid laser technology to control the heat-generation problem. Right.®
Gavin Clarke, 25 Aug 2005

Big Iron boys make a bundle for SMBs

Big iron stalwarts Sun Microsystems and Oracle have launched a series of Linux and Solaris database bundles targeting resellers and small and medium business (SMBs). The Database Packs combine Oracle's 10g Standard Edition One database with Sun's StorEdge 3310 array, and Sun Fire V20z and V40z AMD Opteron-based servers running Solaris or the latest editions of Red Hat or Novell's SuSE Linux. Also included is Sun's N1 Service Provisioning System for deployment of Oracle's database and application server. The packs are available for SMBs from qualified Sun and Oracle resellers. The focus on SMBs comes from a partnership that is normally associated with delivering Unix hardware and software combos for enterprises. Typically, Sun and Oracle have also partnered with Veritas to provide bundled products and joint support for their combined server, database and storage offerings. The enterprise, though, has seen reduced spending on IT while SMBs are a growing economic force. In recent years, IBM, BEA Systems and Microsoft have either re-aligned sales around SMBs or launched packaged versions of servers and databases to suit SMBs. Growing demand for x86 Sun Fire systems has now seen Sun and Oracle rework their alliance for SMBs, according to the vendors. "While the industry has traditionally thought of our longstanding relationship as only a marriage of big iron with leading database technology, the reality is we're continuing to increase our joint presence in the growing x64 server market," Sun partner marketing vice president Stephen Borcich said in a statement. Pricing starts at $8,270 for the Database Pack for up to 100 concurrent users, with the Sun Fire V20z and Solaris but without storage. With storage, the bundle starts at $15,765. The similar Linux pack starts at $8,589 without storage and $16,084.®
Gavin Clarke, 25 Aug 2005