6th > December > 2005 Archive
Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, made another rare public relations concession as he took to the cable news networks today. Once again, it's Wikipedia that's giving the web a bad name.
Sun Microsystems has decided to admit that it does sell the Sun Fire T2000 and T1000 servers, ending months of denials. El Reg first uncovered these systems back in September. Both boxes run on Sun's new eight-core UltraSPARC T1 - aka Niagara - processor and are aimed at handling web and application server software. The T2000 is a bulkier 2U box with plenty of networking and storage options, while the T1000 takes up just 1U of rack space. For months, Sun refused to comment on our stories even though plenty of information on the new systems could be found in Solaris source code and via configuration information that slipped on the company's web site. During a Tuesday launch event in New York, Sun will end its vow of silence and flash the kit in front of Wall Street. Sun has placed a large bet on these systems, as they're the first UltraSPARC-based gear in a long time to really stand out from the competition. Sun will offer the systems with both 1.0GHz and 1.2GHz chips in 4, 6 and 8 core versions. The low-power consumption of the boxes coupled with the multicore chips should help customers save on energy costs while improving server density. You'll end up with hundreds of cores per rack. To be sure, the systems won't perform well on all types of software workloads. For example, the UltraSPARC T1 only has one floating point unit, which hurts its performance on a lot of higher-end applications. Sun, however, claims the new Sun Fire systems fly when crunching through web and application serving workloads. To back up these claims, Sun has released a number of new benchmark results that place its boxes well ahead of Xeon-based systems from IBM, HP and Dell. Sun has pointed to eBay, EDS and Air France as customers who have already purchased the new gear. "The new server line is anticipated to save these enterprises an average of $371,000 in power and cooling costs for 100 servers in just three years," Sun said. As we wrote before, the Sun Fire T2000 is available immediately at a starting price of $7,795. The T1000 ships in March at a starting price of $3,000. These boxes have been a long time coming. Sun completed its acquisition of Afara Websystems, which did the original Niagara chip design, in July of 2002. The boxes are sure to garner Sun a lot of attention in the short term. Given Sun's experience with mulithreaded software and the Solaris OS, you can bet that threaded workloads will indeed cruise on the new gear. It's good to see Sun's heavy R&D investment pay off with something that is truly unique. None of Sun's Tier 1 processor or server rivals have discussed hardware that looks anything like these new boxes. We anxiously await customer feedback on the new systems to see if they're all that Sun expects. ®
Xen has gone communal with Version 3.0 of the server slicing software hitting the internet in its mostly final form. XenSource - the main company behind the open source software - handled the official launch of the "community release." This beta contains a final list of the new features that will be found in Xen 3.0 when it's released next year. Most importantly, customers can now access up to 32-way SMP support, links to Intel's VT (virtualization technology) and support for Physical Address Extensions (PAEs). "With this release, we are taking Xen 3.0 to the community for hardening," said Simon Crosby, a vice president at XenSource. "We put the goodies on the site for people to help test the software and provide a CD that runs tests on machines and then posts the results up to our site." The final list of features found in the community release won't surprise many close Xen watchers. XenSouce has talked about SMP, VT and PAE support for some time. Most importantly, these tools help Xen grow up a bit. Version 2.0 runs on single processor machines only, while 3.0 will stretch up to 32-ways. Most customers will probably only look to run Xen 3.0 on four-way and below systems. In addition, Intel's VT support paves the way for better overall performance and for Windows to run on Xen, which has been a Linux-only product for the most part. Lastly, the PAE support gives customers a way to address more memory with 32-bit processors. XenSource's major goal is to get 3.0 ready to slot into the next major releases of SuSE and Red Hat. As of last check, SuSE's next enterprise linux release - 10.0 - is set for May or June, so Xen 3.0 needs to be prepped well before that. You can download the new software here. XenSource also keeps talking up XenOptimizer, which we'll let the company explain to you because they've done such tremendous work with the English language. "XenOptimizer provides Xen 3.0, the best-in-class technology for server virtualization, with new functionality to operationalize Xen to provide best-in-class virtualization across the data center," XenSource said. Our humblerism spellchecker didn't recognize "operationalize," but we're only using a meageratron text edit programamentionalizationizer. XenOptimizer basically provides a management console for keeping track of virtual machines and distributing OSes and applications across different servers. Customers can also use the tool to assign CPU, memory and I/O levels to OSes and software. XenSource won't disclose the pricing for this package, which seems pretty odd. "It's still early days for Xen, and we're trying to find the right price that meets the needs of customers," Crosby said. Somehow, though, XenSouce has managed to sell XenOptimizer to actual customers, so a price must exist. We think. If you're new to the virtualization game, then you'll also want to check out the offerings from VMware and Microsoft. Both companies sell similar packages for running multiple operating systems on a single server, workstation or PC. So far, VMware is the clear frontrunner in the market. ®
Those readers who love Xmas and the traditional, relentless, three-month orgy of capitalism which precedes it will be delighted to learn that they can now celebrate the season of goodwill to all men while sitting at their desks - thanks to the Tesco musical Xmas sandwich. Yup, the UK supermarket monolith has ignored the cautionary tenet which states "Just because no-one's thought of it doesn't mean it's a good idea" (think sea urchin and jojoba extract brandy, for example) and has placed one of those infernal chips from musical greetings cards in its turkey and cranberry sauce sandwich packaging. According to Ananova, the melodious nosh "plays a medley of classic Christmas tunes including Jingle Bells, Santa Claus is Coming to Town and We Wish You a Merry Christmas". Tesco spokesman Jonathan Church said: "The concept of musical sandwiches is something we've been looking at for a while now and we thought Christmas would be the perfect time. If they prove to be as successful as we think then we will consider a whole range of musical sandwiches. "One idea already under consideration is working with record companies to launch songs by new artists on the market by way of the musical sandwich." Terrific. We look forward to the Black Sabbath bat and lettuce sandwich. In the meantime, feel free to nip down to Tesco and grab a musical Xmas sandwich. Before opening it, though, please get on a plane to Chile and proceed directly to the remotest part of the Atacama desert where you will be free to enjoy your singing lunch without the risk of physical assault. Thankyou. ® Musical bootnote It gets worse. According to an inside source: "You didn't hear it from me, but a musical salad is due for launch next week. My sources tell me that Tesco staff are on the verge of mutiny ;-)"
In a move designed to win a larger slice of the digital music market, Real Networks is to make its music library available to any user with a web browser. Previously Real Networks had required users to download a special software application in order to access its music, but now anyone will be able to browse its one million track-library through the re-branded Rhapsody.com website. The new service also marks the first time that Rhapsody will be available to Mac and Linux users. With the new service, which was released in beta - to US users only - on Monday, consumers can stream up to 25 on-demand songs per month for free, while Rhapsody subscribers can stream an unlimited number via the new Rhapsody.com beta site. Users will not need to download the firm's PC jukebox application to avail of the new service, although if they want to purchase the tracks they will need to download the Real software. Along with the Rhapsody.com service, Real is also launching its Rhapsody web services initiative, which will enable third party websites to access the Rhapsody music library via the web. "With Rhapsody.com, we're bringing the jukebox-in-the-sky to every internet user in America," enthused Rob Glaser, chairman and CEO of RealNetworks. "We're also laying the foundation to weave music into the fabric of the internet with our Rhapsody web services initiative." Up until recently the software-based platform has been successful and favoured by digital music providers such as Apple with its iTunes software. However, in recent times companies like Time Warner's AOL and Napster have indicated their intention to make the move online. This latest move by Real Networks follows its $761m legal settlement with Microsoft in October where the software giant agreed to allow Rhapsody users to access music via MSN Messenger, a decision that is also likely to help Real expand its audience reach. Copyright © 2005, ENN
We at Vulture Central have been sitting nervously for a couple of weeks now awaiting the first in an inevitable stream of press releases tenuously linking new technology, data security and Xmas. In fact, we were going to have an award on Xmas Eve for the release which most spectacularly bolts a Yule data apocalypse alert onto a shameless plug for some security outfit. No need to wait, though, since the quite astounding missive we have just received from Pointsec Mobile Technologies (experts in mobile security, btw) is unlikely to be topped by even the most highly-trained and expert PR bunnies. The release begins with a seasonal ditty, which outlines the line of attack: Christmas is coming, The Goose is getting fat, And workers are expecting, MP3 and video players in their hat, Security should worry, When devices get plugged in, For the mobile security nightmare, Is that hackers get to win That's right: the MP3 player boom is threatening your data security right now, if not the very future of life as we know it. Pointsec says: With MP3 players soaring to the top of Santa's Shopping list, and memory capacities on them larger than ever with top end MP3s able to store as much as an average laptop, businesses and consumers must watch out post Christmas as they bring with them a very serious security threat. There's more. Pointsec big cheese Martin Allen says: "While MP3s are aimed at the consumer market for entertainment, more companies have consulted us over security fears that their 'otherwise strong security chain' could be weakened, by a surge in security breaches resulting from staff using MP3 players at work. "Some users see them as ideal for carrying corporate information, which can be very sensitive and valuable and if lost or stolen can have serious ramifications to a company such as customers personal details and accounts getting into a competitors hands, R & D plans being exploited by an opportunist, or passwords and PIN numbers being obtained by a hacker. The company could also be liable for contravening the data protection act." Yup, the end is nigh, make no mistake. Just one incautious use of an MP3 player and your company is reduced to smouldering rubble while you languish in a stinking prison hulk off Gravesend for contravening the data protection act. Enough. For the antidote to this shameless nonsense, readers are directed to our previous guide to security entitled: Your data is at risk - from everything. ®
The ongoing saga over the future of AOL could be nearing a conclusion. Last month, AOL's parent Time Warner confirmed that it was holding "exploratory" talks with a number of operators over the future of its AOL internet division concerning a "range of potential strategic relationships and transactions". This merely confirmed stories that had been buzzing around for months that AOL may - or may not - be up for sale. And according to the Financial Times, that's essentially where AOL remains today - except the internet company is a little closer to a decision on whether to flog or not. In fact, a decision could be made within the next couple of weeks. By which time, Time Warner may have decided to flog a minority stake in the AOL business to either Microsoft or Google. Or not. 'Cos it's still possible that Time Warner will decide to hang on to all of AOL and just enter some kind of partnership with either Microsoft or Google. Roll-on decision time. ®
Fujitsu has figured out how to cool chips using carbon nanotubes, though it's going to a few years yet before the technology is ready for commercial usage, the company admitted. The cooling system is a heat-sink, created out of millions of 15µm-long nanotubes. The nanotubes are 'grown' on the wafer substrate using an iron catalyst. The structure of the heat-sink matches the pattern of the electrode 'bumps' on the base of the chip through which it connects to the motherboard. The chips in question are high-frequency power amplifiers, typically used in mobile phone base-stations. Today, these chips are limited by the heat they generate, which must be quickly dissipated, and by the way they're connected to the motherboard. Currently, the best method to connect them for maximum heat dissipation is not the best way to allow the chips to be driven at ever-higher frequencies. To get the higher frequencies, a different connection method is needed, but it's one that's less able to dissipate the heat. Fujitsu claims its nanotube heat-sink squares the circle: it's able to dissipate sufficient heat to allow the second, 'flip chip' connection method to be used to operate the chips at higher frequencies. The company said it will now work to refine the density of the nanotubes around the bumps to improve heat dissipation even further. It said it expects the technology to appear in mobile phone base-stations in around three years' time. ®
RealNetworks is to extend its currently Windows-only Rhapsody music subscription service to Mac and Linux users next week, the company said last night. However, even then, they will not gain access to the full Rhapsody package. On Monday, Real's Rhapsody.com website will go live. It's currently in beta-testing mode, but once fully operational will allow Mac and Linux users to log in and stream any number of songs - provided they continue coughing up the monthly rental fee, of course. The site also incorporates links to Internet radio stations.
The Bluetooth Special Interest Group, which controls the development of the short range wireless standard, is shortly to publish an updated roadmap that defines plans up to the third quarter of 2007, with the focus on interoperability with UltraWideBand (UWB). UWB is certainly the best future survival plan for the more established platform, but the Bluetooth community face a real dilemma on how to proceed should the fight over future standards for UWB remain unresolved for a long period. Although these two personal area technologies were potentially competitive, the Bluetooth group decided earlier this year to converge with UWB and support a UWB media access control (MAC) layer in future releases. This will enable Bluetooth to deliver higher speeds and possibly gain ground in the digital media market where UWB is expected to shine, if it can gain regulatory approval on a global basis. UWB standards war However, it is still not clear which of the key UWB technologies Bluetooth SIG will mainly work with – the UWB Forum, led by Freescale, which like Bluetooth is working under the auspices of the IEEE; or its rival, the more heavily backed WiMedia Alliance, which has broken with the IEEE and is seeking standards approval via another body, ECMA. The SIG believes there will eventually be one converged UWB PHY (physical layer) standard and said that, should two rival ones remain in the market long term, this would be a reason to reject the UWB plan. Intel, the major backer of the WiMedia Alliance, believes that its technology has attained such market weight that, by the time it is formally ratified through ECMA, the IEEE effort will die or converge with WiMedia. However, there is still considerable effort going into UWB Forum technologies and, while the two will have to accommodate each other eventually in order to create a global scale market, this could take a long time – long enough to deprive Bluetooth, in the near term, of the benefits it needs from UWB support, which will be critical to its ability to stay competitive and move into the lucrative digital home market. The roadmap The first core release on the roadmap, codenamed Lisbon, is virtually complete and covers the Enhanced Data Rate 2.0 version, to be released early next year, with commercial devices expected in late 2006. The next core, called Seattle, will be the first to feature compatibility with UWB and the specification is expected in the first quarter of 2007, with devices by the end of that year. This release will see Bluetooth date rates rising from the current 3Mbps to UWB speeds of up to 480Mbps (or up to 1Gbps with future evolutions). The roadmap shows that the SIG envisages a convergence layer, like the one already devised by the WiMedia Alliance, that would be the basis of interfacing between the UWB MACs and Bluetooth’s logical link control and application protocol layers, supporting features such as service discovery as well as making Bluetooth suitable for a wider range of devices. Other PHY/MAC layers could also be plugged under the Bluetooth protocols in future too. Other important facets of the Bluetooth roadmap are improved security features, advanced topologies and better quality of service. Some new features in Seattle will include multicast support so that data can be sent to multiple end points simultaneously, eSCO air mode negotiation for renegotiation and seamless switching of the air mode, and AES security. Consumer program The Bluetooth SIG said that the market has reached the milestone of 9.5m units shipping per week, doubled since May. Aiming at more short term boosts than UWB will bring, the group has devised a consumer program to raise end users’ awareness of Bluetooth and improve their experience of the technology, especially in its main home, handsets. The program includes a tool, available to all product makers, called Experience Icons, which aims to offer clearer communications to buyers; a new web site to help consumers understand Bluetooth capabilities; a set of common, easily understood user terminology for manufacturers to use in marketing and customer information, in 34 languages; and a set of guidelines for implementation of Bluetooth in mobile phones, to improve usability. The aim is to get users actively to request Bluetooth rather than buying it by default as an embedded item in handsets and other devices. Increasingly, as more and more wireless technologies target the non-technical consumer, such apparently simple measures will be as important as the advances in performance to speed time to market for product makers and change consumer perceptions. Copyright © 2005, Wireless Watch Wireless Watch is published by Rethink Research, a London-based IT publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter delivers in-depth analysis and market research of mobile and wireless for business. Subscription details are here.
Apple's Intel-based Macs may not appear until June 2006, if claims made by sources at Taiwanese distributors are to be believed. According to the moles, cited by DigiTimes today, Intel-based Mac Minis, iBooks and iMacs have been scheduled to launch in Taiwan on 6 June.
Friends Reunited has been flogged. As widely expected, the reunion web site has been swallowed by ITV for £120m in cash and paper. A further £55m is payable if the operation hits certain numbers in 2009. For broadcaster ITV, the acquisition of Friends Reunited gives it the chance to generate content online which, in turn, will help attract much needed advertising bucks. Jeff Henry, director of ITV Consumer said: "The acquisition of Friends Reunited is also a key step in the delivery of our strategy to drive new revenue streams for the company. "I am confident that Friends Reunited's unique sites and comprehensive subscription base, combined with ITV's services and vast range of content will prove both compelling and profitable." Friends Reunited was launched in July 2000 in the back bedroom of founders Steve and Julie Pankhurst. Since then it has grown into a massive operation with five key content areas including school reunions, dating and genealogy. It has some 15m registered users in the UK and more than one million paying punters. Friends Reunited is forecast to generate £12.4m in revenues this year with EBITDA (earnings before interest etc) of £6.6m. ®
Many small UK firms who have made the jump online are failing their customers by providing an inadequate amount of information about purchasing and delivery. New research from THUS suggests that while online retail is experiencing unprecedented growth, a large number of e-tailers are not doing it very well. More than three-quarters of retailers trading over the internet do not provide customers with stock information on their web sites, the study shows. A further 86 per cent of sites give no details as to the termination dates for purchasing or guarantees about having items delivered in time for Christmas. Meanwhile, over half fail to offer a delivery guarantee, and another half of those evaluated in the study do not make customer service information easily available to their customers. "All the convenience of shopping online is erased if customers aren't armed with the correct 'stock and drop' information," said Dan Cole, head of product management at THUS. "This information should be obvious to anyone wanting to purchase online and details should be available on last ordering dates in order to guarantee delivery before Christmas day." Some convenience remains, however. According to the study, 96 per cent of e-retailers' websites allow customers to complete the entire payment procedure online. Researchers conducting the study also agreed the three-quarters of the sites, while not perfect, are 'straightforward [and] quick'. Copyright © 2005,
ATI yesterday unveiled its latest mobile graphics chip, the Mobility Radeon X1600, the first notebook-oriented GPU to support the company's Avivo video capture and playback enhancement technology. The X1600 also incorporates the latest generation of ATI's power-conservation system, PowerPlay, the company said. PowerPlay 6.0 features "back-bias technology", ATI said, to minimise power consumption when the host notebook's is running on batteries. The use of TSMC's 90nm fabrication process helps too, it said.
Matsushita's Panasonic subsidiary has retooled its US Blu-ray Disc (BD) production line to offer not only 25GB single-layer discs but also 50GB dual-layer media, the company said yesterday. Panasonic's plant, located in Torrance, California, is still in the pilot stage, but the company claimed it is already punching out BDs with a yield of over 80 per cent - so it has to bin fewer than 20 per cent of the discs it produces, which seems rather a lot in the context of a low-cost, mass-market medium.
Empire Online confirmed today that it has launched legal proceedings against fellow online gaming outfit PartyGaming PLC, following the two firms’ abortive autumn mating dance. Empire Online said it is seeking “substantial damages and injunctive relief from PartyGaming”. A the same time, it said, Empire Online and PartyGaming subsidiary WPC Productions are engaging in confidential arbitration proceedings. Talks between the two emerged early in November, when Empire Online revealed it had received an offer from PartyGaming. On November 21, EmpireOnline said that it had terminated talks, after a protracted due diligence process and continued delays in the timetable resulted in PartyGaming making a “a revised proposal that is significantly different both in terms of the price and structure and at a level that cannot be recommended.” Also on November 21, PartyGaming cofirmed it had made an offer for Empire Online at 60 pence per share. A spokesman for PartyGaming said of today's suit, "We're confident we'll have a successful outcome."®
Australian Kazaa fans can now no longer use or download the P2P application. As an apparent deadline for the addition of copyright filtering technology came and went yesterday without such a change apparently being made, Kazaa owner Sharman Networks was forced to stop distributing its software to local users. Anyone accessing the Kazaa website was told: "To comply with the orders of the Federal Court... use of the Kazaa Media Desktop is not permitted by persons in Australia. If you are in Australia, you must not download or use the Kazaa Media Desktop."
ReviewReview Sonnet isn't the only company to offer iPod battery upgrades, but it's the first to bundle a video installation guide. With printed instructions typically about as basic as it's possible to get, does Sonnet's approach make battery replacement an easier task for the non-techie? Opening the blister pack exposes the slimline 3.7V battery, which Sonnet claims provides a 2200mAh capacity, though not on either the battery itself or the packaging it's sold in. The pack also contains a pair of plastic iPod disassembly tools, and a CD-ROM with the installation videos.
Apple has confirmed it will open its latest UK AppleStore this weekend, in Sheffield's Meadowhall Centre. The doors will open at 9.00am on Saturday, 10 December. The first 1,000 folk through the door will receive the obligatory free AppleStore opening T-shirt.
3 is to hand over control of its 3G phone network in the UK to Ericsson as part of a massive seven-year managed services deal. More than 1,000 staff from 3 are to be transferred to Ericsson as part of the deal, although the giant operator has confirmed that no redundancies will be made as part of the move. Financial details were not released but reports claim the agreement could be worth in the region of $3bn (£1.7bn). A part of the deal the Swedish phone giant will be responsible for the management, operation and performance of 3's network and IT infrastructure in the UK, although the Hutchison Whampoa-owned company retains ownership of the network and IT assets. Announcing the deal today 3 UK's chief exec Bob Fuller said the agreement was the "most efficient way to own and manage infrastructure of this kind". Ericsson already has deals in place with 3 in Australia and Italy, where it manages the cellco's multi-vendor networks and in Sweden, where it looks after 3's messaging platform. ®
An unnamed Taiwanese company is to build a UFO research facility in China's Guizhou Province. The plan, reported by the Chinese-language China Daily, follows - albeit slowly - claims made more than ten years ago by locals who said they were visited by tree-felling aliens. According to the paper, on 30 November 2004 some 27 hectares of pines were flattened on a farm in the Baiyun District of Guiyang, Guizhou's capital city. On the same night, steel pipes were broken at a nearby truck factory, and a vehicle apparently tossed a distance of 20 metres. A night-shift worker claimed to have been thrown up into the air by what he described as "an unknown force". Or a tornado, which is what the scientists who investigated the claims later pronounced the cause of the damage to be. Thunder and lightning - no doubt, very, very frightening - also played a part, they said. Still, the Taiwan-based business has nonetheless contributed CNY160m ($19.8m) to the city to establish a centre to research and document the night's events. Scientists remain skeptical, the paper claims, citing Wang Fangchen, a biologist who visited the site right after the event, who said the scheme was "ridiculous". Even local UFOlogists seem unsure that the events of 30 November 2004 had an extraterrestrial origin. "If aliens really came, they would more likely appear before our eyes politely than hide themselves," said Zhou Xiaoqiang, the Beijing UFO Research Association's secretary general. "People often mistake planes, clouds and insects, as well as strange shadows on photographs, as being UFOs," he added. ®
The race to be the first company ship the first notebook equipped with a dual-core processor is now on. In blue-and-black livery, we have US-based WidowPC, which last week touted its Sting 917X2. Facing it, already saddled up, is the UK's Rock Direct, which announced its dual-core Xtreme 64 a little while ago. When we reported on WidowPC's offering last week, we were inundated with dozens of emails from British readers telling us Rock had got there first.
OpinionOpinion The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is renowned for its impeccable taste in the battles it fights on behalf of consumers, and for its uncanny ability to stuff every case up in ways that lead to permanent injury for everyone except the entities they oppose.
Certified gadget obsessives Tech Digest and Shiny Shiny scour Gizmoville for the oddest digital goodies, TV Scoop features all that’s cool in British telly and Propellerhead answers your PC queries. Blu-Ray and PS3, Xbox 360 and DVD – the real battleground for the next generation of consoles from Games Digest So the launch of the Xbox 360 has finally been, and all the units have gone. But does selling 50,000-odd consoles to a mix of canny eBay sellers and rabid gamers who will buy any new machine the day it comes out really constitute success? The lukewarm response by games reviewers says not. So Microsoft needs to build hard for 2006 when the real battle against the PS3 hits. But the battle this time isn't just about who has the most pixels or the best games, but who has the right disc. Both Sony and Microsoft have bet everything, not on their consoles, but on the way they deliver games. Microsoft's Xbox 360 features a standard DVD drive. Sony's PS3 has a much fancier Blu-Ray drive in it. The two approaches are at opposite end of the technological spectrum. Microsoft's approach is to use the existing, and cheap, DVD format. Everyone knows it, it's produced in mass market quantities, and it holds 9 GB. Most games for existing consoles like the PS2 and Xbox don’t even fill up one DVD. Microsoft is betting that game makers won't be using that much more for the shiny new graphics on next-generation consoles. Meanwhile, Bill Gates has hinted he thinks DVD could be the last disc storage format. The Xbox 360 Live Marketplace already features game trailers and additional levels for games. Clearly Microsoft is set on a system like Valve Software's Steam. They put the games on Xbox Live, you download them. But Microsoft has some fairly serious obstacles to overcome if it follows the download route. Retail and traditional game distribution's wariness of game downloads at the expense of the high street is likely to be a major stumbling block. Secondly, there are already rumours of Xbox 360 games in development that take up four DVDs. Four? Gamers, a largely sofa-bound demographic, will loathe getting up that often to change discs. Thirdly, the hard drive that ships with the Xbox 360 is 20 GB. Or half the size of that four-DVD game. So how will the hard drive have the capacity to store downloaded games (and for that matter, how long will it take you to download before you can play)? Finally, what about people who want to use their machines to play movies? The "HD Era" that Microsoft trumpeted when hyping the Xbox 360 extends to the new High-Definition Blu-Ray and HD-DVD discs that maximise movie visual potential. Gamers like movies. So will Microsoft, as they have hinted they will do if necessary, provide an add-on HD-DVD kit? If so, that's a lot of expense. And it will make their brand-new console look distinctly under-featured in comparion to Sony's PS3. Sony, on the other hand, in embracing Blu-Ray, have their own problems. The discs have up to 50GB capacity already. But are looking like they'll be fearsomely expensive and complex to manufacture. That means pricier games, or fewer niche or quirky games and a format that may not win a format war with the cheaper HD-DVD. If consumers don't opt for Blu-Ray, Sony is in real trouble. In effect, its console is a Trojan horse, like Microsoft's. Microsoft want an Xbox 360 in your living room, talking to the PC in your office. Sony, on the other hand, want a PS3 so that Blu-Ray is a success. Without PS3, without Blu-Ray, Sony looks like a very weak, financially ailing company past its innovative best. Both companies have a lot at stake beyond the next console battle. They're both betting everything in the disc wars. Nintendo Revolution has "another secret" In-house games genius, Shigeru Miyamato, has hinted that Nintendo has one more secret to reveal regarding its next console, codename "Revolution". Miyamoto has already revealed two of the big secrets of the Revolution. That it will be able to play games from every Nintendo generation of hardware ever. It will load GameCube discs directly, but for the long line of hardware stretching back to the Nintendo Entertainment System, or NES, Nintendo will offer a broadband download service. Miyamoto has also revealed the Revolution's wand-pointing control system. It can sense if you wave the controller left, right, up and down, but also if you pitch it, roll it, or move it towards, or away from the screen. So what could Nintendo's last secret be? The two most likely contenders of the Internet rumours are (yes, we did say "most likely") a giant holographic display screen that lets you see games in 3D, or the controller also being able to deliver inertia effects – so moving it left or right might require effort. Unlikely, but in third place is the secret that, yes, the Revolution will be underpowered in terms of graphics and processing, in comparison to its two rivals. 40,000 Xbox 360s sold on eBay Next-Gen.biz and Dow Jones are reporting that over a tenth of the US Xbox 360 launch allocation has been sold through eBay already. There is talk of entire stores selling their day one quota over the auction mega-site to get a better price for their consoles than simply handing them over to punters. The units were being sold new for from $299, while most eBay sales clocked over $800. It's simple math, as the average eBayer might put it. Mobile and TV games up by 2010, PC games down According to Informa's analysts, the games industry will be worth over £30bn by 2007. Console gaming will still make up the majority of that money. But there's an abrupt reversal coming for the rest of the pie. Mobile and interactive TV gaming is set to be generating most of the rest of the money, with PC gaming heading in the opposite direction. By 2010, the analysts predict, PC gaming sales will account for half the revenue it did in 2001. PCs are out, consoles and mobiles are in. Does this mean the mass market really is taking over? That the geeks are gone for good? If so, how come most of the games produced still reflect their sensibilities? Other top stories Games Digest names Resident Evil 4 Game Of The Year 2005 Games Digest Awards 2005 special Xbox price drops to £79 Xbox 360 launch line-up reviewed NTL's 10 Meg broadband goes live Sky gives more details of HDTV programmes It was 25 years ago today - Lennonabilia on eBay
AnalysisAnalysis Here follows a short story of a failed virus attack on me and my company, and why e-mail from strangers, hostile or otherwise is not a problem for us. I would like to draw your attention to two major points about security and e-mail, but which are also applicable to any other Internet protocol in this brief essay.
LettersLetters Ah, the Xbox 360: what on earth did we have to discuss before the recent release of MS's long-awaited games console? Damned if we can remember... I cannot believe such a blatant sales leaflet as the Microsoft Xbox 360 review can make it to your front page. Biased is not the word; everything glowed. Brick sized power pack: irrelevant. Non-backwards compatibility: irrelevant. Old storage medium: a bonus! Batteries in the controllers: a bonus! It was awful, I am quite incensed. Clearly the thing this Xbox reviewer liked so much about the console was the money it generated in his back pocket. The Register is not the place to come for new tech reviews. Shame on you! Andy J Hmmm. He did like it, didn't he? Now, we all know that MS has had a few probs with the 360, but it's fair to say that the thing might actually be rather good. A shocker, we know, given that it is the spawn of the Beast of Redmond, but still...* Down at eBay meanwhile, some chancers are betting that the Xbox really is that good and that UK punters will pay a premium to get their sweaty paws on one in time for Xmas. On 2 December, Alex Walsh wrote: Currently there are just over 2,000 Xbox 360's listed on ebay.co.uk. Numerous auctions have also already ended, and I reckon that this means somewhere between 5 and 10% of the total UK allocation of 50,000 units have been resold on launch day for profit. Sickening isn't it? Well yes, but that's capitalism for you. Solution: do not pay the money these people are asking and hopefully they will go away. More kit now in the form of the iPod Shuffle, which has just been awarded "Chav accessory of the Year" or something like that. Rupert Stubbs protests: "The sad part is that the shuffle is the worst player in the Apple range – more like some dodgy back street knock-off than the excellent other iPods. The fact it has no screen so you can’t program it or choose a track – it chooses the music for you – also saves Chav brain cells for the much more important business of, ahem, 'pimping their rides.'" I beg to differ. The Shuffle was undoubtedly a bit of opportunism by Apple to get a foothold in the Flash player market without cannibalising the iPods, but – as good designers often do – they turned the compromises into benefits. The lack of a screen doesn't look like a cost-cutting exercise because it is celebrated: with no screen, the control buttons can be large and simple to use. I have had one in an outer pocket of a ski jacket, and could still use it wearing ski gloves! It makes no pretence to be fully-featured. It is stripped down, functional, and all the better for it. I have found that I use my 40Gb iPod less, but listen to more music since getting the Shuffle. Just one man's view. It's possible that I'm not understanding something due to cultural differences, but "chavs" are just thuggish poor people who like burberry hats, right? If so, why do you keep reporting what they're doing? It just seems really weird to keep seeing headlines like "iPod shuffle voted top 'Chav Gadget'". Derek Quenneville Why? Because all the world loves a chav, that's why. Adware firm 180solutions has been looking to clean up its act and its image of late. Accordingly, it's taking the big stick to Zone Labs for the latter's classification of 180solution's "advertising client" as spyware. Hold on a minute... "Marketing company 180solutions filed a lawsuit against desktop-security firm Zone Labs taking issue with a warning generated by the security firm's personal firewall software, which labels 180solutions advertising client as spyware." The 180solutions adware *is* spyware, as I understand the term, and no matter how many dollars and lawyers 180solutions throws at this fact, it's not going to change until the spyware part of their spyware is removed. Furthermore, it has in the past been installed surreptitiously by paid agents of 180solutions, which means that 180solutions in the person of its agents has engaged in acts which violate Title 18 United States Code (and would be particularly troubling to them if it happens that any of their spyware was so isntalled on a US Governmnet computer). I can guarantee that *I* will continue to warn my friends and customers that 180solutions engages in the use of spyware, regardless of the outcome of this case. Morely Dotes Sounds like to me the advertising firm needs to refill their baby bottle. Rigorous rules or not.....its advertising that isnt welcome. Kinda like installing a product that has this little staetment "will install such and such tool bars and what not...this isnt a threat..wont harm you computer" when in fact it does in some subliminal way. Ive used Zone Lab's products for some time now....and im very thankful for their efforts. Disgruntled Geek I could be wrong, but 180 soluions were to win, would this not wreck zonelab image? I use their software, and the news that 180 solutions, whose troublesome software I've found on several machines I use, were classified as safe by them, I'd dump zonealarm in a second. Well, a minute at most. Carey In the end, though, who cares about spyware when humanity is faced with the mutant Belfast rat menace? "They don't seem to be frightened of human people" What's going on in Belfast? Gail Leemer and Jane Ormer are talking about "human people" as if there is another, more alien, kind! I, for one, welcome our new alien giant rat overlords. Tom Nukes are the last thing you want to try when dealing with mutants - they'll probably become self aware or something. A mutant musician is what's needed to lure them into a river. Celine Dion perhaps? Richard They sound just like Nutria in New Orleans. These are not really rats, though the are rodents and have the same general body form. They are more aquatic in nature and, unlike rats, more vegitarian than ommnivore. I believe they originated in south east asia. Jesse Pollard Oh yes, and let's not forget the killer Russian squirrel threat: Slow news day I guess. (That or the silly season is upon us...thanks for the chuckle.) This link gives some background on the Russian squirrel threat: http://www.scarysquirrel.org/vacation/russia/ruckus/ This might be a way to combat the problem: http://www.eecs.harvard.edu/~yaz/en/squirrel_fishing.html Back to pub for you! I'll hoist several pints in tribute! Cheers, and Merry Christmas, John Cheers to you too, sah. To conclude this nonsense, a final missive regarding Stob which we print in the interests of balance, given the right stomping Otto Z. Stern and The Rotting Dog took last week: Re: Verity Stob. Funny? No. Accurate? Hardly. Amusing, even? Definitely not. I honestly don't see why you've hired this guy. He's not my cup of tea -- hell not even my fruit cup. And I've got a hell of a lot of tolerance for humour, jibes at establisment figures, and the like. BoFH? Bring it on! Recording Ass. of America? Go shove it! But Stob? These nonsensical ramblings have to stop, and the sooner the better. Do yourselves a favour and get rid of this imbecile. Yours in truth, Curtis Burisch PhD PhD eh? That makes it official then. More titbits on Friday from you, our beloved readers. In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for mutant rats and suspicious-looking black squirrels. It's a jungle out there. Xbox 360 disclaimer * This is not an invitation for an extended correspondence regards the merits/demerits of the Xbox 360 - unless any reader has one which has been possessed by the Devil and which he's trying to offload on eBay for £10,000.
Hibernate Object Relational Mapping (Part 1) is here. Unlike some frameworks, you do not need to do anything special to your objects to allow them to persist via Hibernate. They can be Plain Old Java Objects (or POJO) objects. These objects can follow the JavaBeans conventions and provide setters and getters. Hibernate will then use reflection to obtain the data required to persist the object.
Ofcom has chosen Capgemini to come up with a new information system to replace those it inherited from previous regulators. Capgemini is due to begin its five-year £25m contract from the beginning of February. As part of the deal it will replace some 50 separate IT applications with new integrated processes. No Ofcom jobs will be lost as part of the move although it's understood that a handful of contract staff tied to legacy systems will be shifted to Capgemini. Ofcom came into force at the end of 2003 replacing five regulators - the Broadcasting Standards Commission, the Independent Television Commission, Oftel, the Radio Authority and the Radiocommunications Agency - under the roof of one mega regulator. Each had its own IT systems in place. Said Ofcom CTO Peter Ingram: "When Ofcom began operations two years ago we chose not to seek to integrate the many differing legacy IT systems inherited from our predecessors until we had fully identified the organisation's long-term future needs." ®
Amid all the kerfuffle of late regarding Google Earth and its possible threat to the national security of several jittery nations comes an interesting snippet from an email purporting to be from a US Marine who served in Iraq. In it, he suggests that al-Qaeda is using Google Earth as a intelligence tool in its fight against the US military. You can read the full text on The Jawa report (and elsewhere, since it's proving a bit of a hit in cyberspace) under the snappy headline Iraq Gun Porn: Which Guns Suck, Which Guns Rock. It's preceded by the following which gives some cause for suspicion: It [the email] was forwarded by a reader in the Navy, Mike, who in turn got it from a friend of his in the Marines. You may have seen it making the rounds already. The review of the weapons are one recently returned Marine's opinion [name removed to protect his identity] and does not necessarily mean a consensus has formed. If you scroll to the end you'll also see an assessment of our enemy's capability as well as those of our allies. However, the email is plausible enough. It's also fairly long, so to cut to the chase, here's point five under the "Bad guy weapons" heading: Bad guy technology: Simple yet effective. Most communication is by cell and satellite phones, and also by email on laptops. They use handheld GPS units for navigation and "Google earth" for overhead views of our positions. Their weapons are good, if not fancy, and prevalent. Hmmm. One of biggest objections to the use of Google Earth as a military intelligence tool is the age of the images, and resolution is often an issue for detailed fact-finding. The results of our Google Black Helicopter competition demonstrate this quite nicely. Regarding how often Google updates stuff, have a look at this image of Rasheed "airport" on the outskirts of Baghdad, as we featured it back in October: And here it is now: Yes, the black helicopters have unlanded. To where, we know not, but note the resolution of the first snap. An interesting image, but its usefulness to an enemy - even if were right up-to-the-minute - is highly questionable. ® Bootnote Another posting of the same email has the following intro, so the text may actually have been written by the Marine's father: Hello to all my fellow gunners, military buffs, veterans and interested guys. A couple of weekends ago I got to spend time with my son Jordan, who was on his first leave since returning from Iraq. He is well (a little thin), and already bored. He will be returning to Iraq for a second tour in early '06 and has already re-enlisted early for 4 more years. He loves the Marine Corps and is actually looking forward to returning to Iraq. Jordan spent 7 months at "Camp Blue Diamond" in Ramadi. Aka: Fort Apache. He saw and did a lot and the following is what he told me about weapons, equipment, tactics and other miscellaneous info which may be of interest to you. Nothing is by any means classified. No politics here, just a Marine with a bird's eye view's opinions. Oh yes - and thanks very much to John Latham for the tip-off.
Telewest - the cableco merging with NTL - is trying to track down some email gremlins that appear to be hitting its broadband service at peak times. Punters started experiencing problems a few days ago and a fix is expected to be in place later this week. The firm says the problems are intermittent and only affect a "small percentage of customers" although sources have told El Reg that it may be more serious. In a statement a senior Telewest spokesman told us: "Over the last few days, we have been experiencing some e-mail issues, which are largely hitting us at peak times. We have undertaken a review of the platform to identify improvements and we will be implementing these this week." ®
A Nevada company's website was suspended by its hosting provider last week after its stock was widely advertised by spam and across weblogs. Spam fighters are convinced the hyped stock is yet another example of a "pump and dump" scheme, also known as "hype and dump manipulation", where fraudsters buy up stock in a firm, pump up the price then make huge profits by selling their cheaply bought shares back into the market. Nevada-based firm VMT Scientific claims to have developed a cure for poor circulation arising from diabetes and other illnesses and issued a press release describing its technnology on November 28. Spam fighters in newsgroups say that one day prior to the news release spammers sent, through an open proxy server in Korea, massive spam promotions touting the stock and declaring VMTF "a clear winner". On Monday last week the stock, which is traded over the counter, rose 400 per cent. On the same day, VMT Scientifc's website at www.vmtf.com was suspended by its hosting provider. VMT Scientific quickly moved to a new address, with a domain name registered that day. According to SEC filings, VMT Scientific itself didn't swing into action until April this year, when a dormant non-medical company Belair Enterprises Inc was taken over. Last month the revitalised company, which had no previous medical background, suddenly began to promote itself through a dozen or so press releases. Last week, a new release went out almost daily. Even on blogs such as blogspot.com, promotions for the company began to appear, resulting in the closure of the .com site. In a press statement VMT Scientific said its server had been "flooded with emails of interest that have been inspiring to say the least". Last Friday, another press release went out, this time claiming that "proof of concept testing is expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter 2006". The press release also cites the company's CTO - without naming him. A list of the company's staff was published on the original site, but has disappeared on the new site. On the new website, potential VMT Scientific investors - while listening to lounge music - can still read the following statement: "How many times have we heard that if we had only bought Microsoft stock when it was a dollar . . . or a little company called Apple when it first hit the market? Well, here's a chance to be on the winning side of those rhetorical "what if" stories." No one was available for comment at the company last week. Emails remained unanswered. As of yesterday, the company's phone number disappeared from the website. The office in Henderson, Nevada is a shared office suite, where law firms and mortgage lenders are based, a phone operator told The Register. ®
Frits Philips, the only son of Anton Philips, the founder of the Dutch electronics giant Philips, died yesterday in Eindhoven at the age of 100. Under his leadership great progress was made in the worldwide expansion of the company's industrial and commercial activities. Philips is now one of Europe's leading electronics manufacturers, very much on par and even ahead of companies such as Sony and Samsung, with annual sales of more than $35bn and nearly 160,000 employees - but when Frits began as an industrial engineer in 1930, Philips was still very much into the light bulbs business. Frits Philips expanded Philips' presence in Asia and South America, encouraged scientific R&D, oversaw the breakthrough of the first electric razor and Compact Audio Cassette and started the company's production of integrated circuits. Probably his biggest love was the Stirling engine, or hot air engine, although Philips failed to turn it into a commercial success. Out of a concern for threatening trade conflicts, Frits also created the 'Caux Round Table', a group of industrialists from Japan, Europe and the United States that met twice a year with a view to promoting mutual understanding and encouraging responsible entrepreneurship. "His endeavors were of inestimable value for Philips", the company says in a statement. Frits Philips will be laid to rest at a private ceremony attended by members of his family on Monday 12 December in Eindhoven. Philips is also honoring Frits Philips on a special website. ®
Microsoft and eBay are working together to stop the sale of pirate software on the online auction site. According to Microsoft, more than 21,000 suspect software sales were removed from the UK eBay site between August and October this year. Over half (52 per cent) were sales of counterfeit Microsoft Windows, while 36 oer cent were fake copies of Microsoft Office. According to Microsoft, the crackdown is working. It says that eBay removed 11,535 suspected counterfeit sales from the site in August. This fell to 4,460 in September and 5,423 in October. A band of approximately 100 suspected illegal traders accounted for more than 3,000 of the items. Michala Alexander, Microsoft UK head of anti-piracy, said: "Purchasers of Microsoft software do not own copyright for the software; rather they license the technology and have permission to use it under the terms and conditions of the original licensing agreement. Traders should be aware of licensing agreements so as to avoid breaking the law by illegally selling our technology." eBay does not monitor its website for fake goods, but it will remove infringing items once they have been brought to its attention by the rights owner or its representative. It has set up the Verified Rights Owners Programme (VeRO) to assist rights owners. Participants have the ability to identify and request removal of allegedly infringing items and materials. Copyright © 2005, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
CommentComment Further to my previous article resulting from IBM’s annual analyst Software Group conference, here are some more thoughts on what IBM was talking about. One of the things that struck me, and which I am not sure that I have seen discussed anywhere, is that an SOA (service oriented architecture) solution is topologically equivalent to the earlier hub-and-spoke architecture employed by EAI (enterprise application integration) vendors such as Tibco, Sun (SeeBeyond) and WebMethods. In SOA, all the services connect to an ESB (enterprise service bus) whereas in the traditional EAI environment all applications connect to the hub. So the hub equates to the bus and, indeed, the EAI vendors all support the use of ESBs nowadays as well as the more traditional hub-and-spoke approach. So, what is the difference between SOA and hub-and-spoke? Simply, that the connections are much more easily defined because they make use of common standards (SOAP, WSDL and the like – not to mention the putative standards just announced by IBM and others for a service component architecture and service data objects) rather than having to be individually crafted for each connecting application. Actually, this is a lie. Standards are enablers not causes. Standards make it more viable for suppliers to develop tools that can automate the development of, in this case, web services. That’s not the only difference. In traditional EAI what you were doing was connecting applications. With SOA the connectivity is performed at a much more granular level, typically at the level of business processes. This reflects another emphasis at the conference – on business process management as a fundamental element within SOA – if you don’t understand your business processes, how can you determine what you want to service enable? The importance of business processes to SOA has a further corollary: that SOA therefore predicates business and organisational change. Moreover, IBM’s view is that the move to SOA has to be business-driven rather than IT-driven. The company’s view is that the user needs to select, at least initially, a project that can demonstrate clear business benefit. Once this has been successfully implemented and the benefits proven, then the business can go on to consider broadening the application of SOA in an incremental manner. Going beyond this, IBM’s view (which seems entirely reasonable) is that if you don’t take this approach then you are likely to fail, either because the IT-driven initial project will not demonstrate any value or because you have taken on more than you can chew. However, the over-riding impression left by this conference was how big SOA is. I don’t mean that in terms of hype (though that is also true) but about how many aspects of IT it touches. In this article I have not even mentioned the governance of SOA (both in development and deployment) or the monitoring of the environment (using Tivoli) and the composite applications you have created, for example, but these are equally as important to a successful SOA implementation as web services or SOAP. Ultimately, SOA touches the entire software infrastructure of the enterprise. IBM describes SOA as the biggest change to the industry since client/server: I am inclined to agree. Copyright © 2005, IT-Analysis.com
Novell has won a £21.8m contract to supply software across the National Health Service. This is good for the British taxpayer - as NHS Connecting for Health, the snappily-named IT arm of the health service, reckons it could save us up to £75m over three years compared with previous arrangements. Novell's existing contracts with the NHS are consolidated under the new contract. But this does not mean necessarily that Novell is being squeezed until the pips squeak: the statement announcing the deal implies that a volume, as opposed to revenue, growth path could be mapped out via Novell's SUSE Linux platform. Over to Richard Granger, head of NHS IT, who says: "This deal with Novell also reduces the barriers for the NHS in using Open Source, as it secures access to an enterprise class Open Source platform along with, more importantly, affordable support, maintenance and training to help our NHS staff make the transition." As always, Granger is bullish about his procurement prowess. Elsewhere in the press release he says: "We have punched the bottom out of pricing arrangements that have previously been suffered by the NHS and the wider public sector. Local NHS organisations will be able to make local money go further for patient benefit as a result of them directly benefiting from the savings this deal delivers." You can read the rest for yourself here. ®
Microsoft is touting interoperability with Unix and a licensing offer for Virtual Server 2005 to promote a minor release of Windows that targets branch office users. Windows Server 2003 R2, released to manufacturing Tuesday, features a built-in Unix subsystem, database and NFS connectivity, and the Identity Management for Unix package. Microsoft's goal is for customers to slot Windows Server 2003 R2 in alongside their existing Unix servers while subtly encouraging them to migrate Unix-based tools and applications to Windows instead of Linux. Linux has been nibbling away at Unix’s market share, as customers look to adopt low-cost x86 servers and dump their more expensive RISC-based cousins, while transferring their Unix IT skills over to the open source operating system. Microsoft is also offering Windows Server 2003 R2 Enterprise Edition with a Virtual Server 2005 R2 Enterprise Edition license for $99 until June 30, 2006, down from the regular $199 price. Windows Sever 2003 R2 Enterprise Edition can run up to four virtual instances on one physical sever at no additional cost. Announcing the offer, Windows division senior vice president Bob Muglia said Microsoft wanted to make it easier to acquire Windows Server 2003 R2 by removing the need to purchase one of Microsoft's standard charging mechanisms - additional Client Access Licenses (CALs). Microsoft is stressing the capabilities and licensing offer as Windows Server 2003 R2 is considered a "minor" update in the Windows franchise, coming between the three-year-old Windows Server 2003 and planned Longhorn server, expected in 2007. Muglia on Tuesday re-committed Microsoft to releasing minor builds of Windows every two years with major releases every four years. "[Windows Server 2003] R2 is a more minor release, but provides great value for customers," Muglia said. Microsoft is targeting branch offices that typically have limited IT and financial resources with improvements in Windows' management and storage capabilities. Windows Server 2003 R2 features DFS namespace and replication, an algorithm that Microsoft said can cut by half the amount of bandwidth consumed when conducting storage across a wide area network (WAN), and a storage manager for provisioning of Storage Area Networks (SANs). On management and identity, Windows Server 2003 R2 uses Active Directory Federation Services (ADAMs) and Active Directory Application Mode (ADAM) for identity management and compliance, and the WS-Management specification for management of servers. Muglia also stressed compatibility with Windows Server 2003 and Server 2000 systems, promising "100 per cent compatibility with existing applications" and installation without the need to endure a long testing cycle. "Windows Server 2003 R2 is an important release for Windows server. The focus on compatibility is paramount... we know you have existing investments and we have built web services to fit right in. It's meant to be interoperable with Windows and Unix," Muglia said.®
Sun Microsystems today complemented the release of two new servers with some potentially significant changes to its processor architecture licensing policy and the way in which Oracle will price its database for the fresh gear. We covered the Sun Fire T2000 and T1000 servers earlier today. What's important about the boxes in the context of the licensing and Oracle developments is their use of the eight-core UltraSPARC T1 - aka Niagara - processor. This chip marks the most major development in Sun's UltraSPARC line in a long, long time and gives it a part unlike any other offered by Tier 1 competitors. Sun has moved to "open source" the UltraSPARC T1's design in a bid to generate outside interest around the chip. The exact details for this plan remain a bit thin, but Sun did say it would publish the specifications for "the source of the design expressed in Verilog, a verification suite and simulation models, instruction set architecture specification (UltraSPARC Architecture 2005) and a Solaris OS port" for the UltraSPARC T1. In so doing, other companies could create versions of the low-power chip to handle other software than the web and application server loads Sun has aimed at with its new servers. "You don't know where it's going to go," said Sun's CEO Scott McNealy, during a product launch event in New York. "That's the beauty of it." (McNealy, an avid Register reader, gave our site a fine plug during today's event. It's good to see he's not bitter about us leaking all the UltraSPARC T1 system details early.) Simon Phipps, one of Sun's most prolific bloggers, shed some more light on the chip licensing change, saying "Verilog source code, tools and more behind the UltraSPARC T1 (the "design point") will be released under an OSI-approved open source license next year - OpenSPARC - and a community will hopefully be forming to use that design point for any purpose that's interesting." One could imagine some folks in Asia dabbling with Sun's new design, although widespread interest in UltraSPARC T1 would seem to hinge on more work being done to port other operating systems than Solaris to the architecture. Sun noted it would welcome a Linux port. In the product details for the chip on Sun's web site, you'll see that UltraSPARC T1 is "hypervisor ready." This likely means that Sun has some hypervisor plans in store for UltraSPARC T1 and that most ports would be written to that software layer as opposed to the underlying chip. On the database front, Oracle continues to baffle customers with its bizarre fractional pricing scheme to handle the emergence of multicore chips. On the mainstream dual-core products available from Sun, IBM, Intel and AMD, Oracle requires customers to multiply their total core count by .75 to figure out per processor licensing costs. With the eight-core UltraSPARC T1, Oracle has adopted a .25 model, so each of the new Sun servers will be priced as if it were a two-way machine. That's quite a bonus for Sun and its customers. The Register labs team is busy working on an algorithm to crack Oracle's multifaceted pricing scheme. This process involves a substantial diorama investment coupled with a Googleplex-like Beowulf cluster implementation and some clip art. We'll be at this for awhile, as you can imagine. Overall, it was great to see Sun return to its hardware roots and demonstrate that it does make use of such large research and development funds. The company's hardware pitches are much more palatable than many of its far-reaching software efforts. Server sales remain the key to a real Sun recovery, and it would seem that UltraSPARC T1 can only help this process. ®
Red Hat will certify open source applications running on its Linux distribution with three subscription-based services that potentially challenge start-ups. The Linux distributor will certify and support a catalogue of open source software on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), grouped into three buckets called the web application stack, Java web application stack and enterprise Java stack. Red Hat will charge $599 per server per year for each of the services, scheduled for launch during the first quarter of 2006. Red Hat is launching the services to ease development and delivery of software based on an increasingly popular swathe of open source web, tools and infrastructure applications running on RHEL. Red Hat's services potentially identify and eliminate conflicts between the different software elements. According to Paul Cormier, executive vice president of engineering at Red Hat, certified stacks will help developers get to market faster. The services are also designed to give developers confidence that the integrated stacks will work. Red Hat's move potentially puts the industry's leading Linux distributor into competition with start-ups SpikeSource and SourceLabs, which provide integration, configuration, testing, maintenance and support services for open source. SpikeSource and SourceLabs run software through a battery of tens of thousands of tests. SpikeSource's certification covers the Linux, Apache, MySQL and Perl/PHP/Python (LAMP) stack, Tomcat, Struts and Hibernate. SourceLabs has certified versions of Apache Axis, Struts and Hibernate on BEA's WebLogic and IBM's WebSphere, and Apache, MySQL and PHP on RHEL and the Linux kernel. Oracle president Charles Philips, meanwhile, indicated earlier this year that the database giant would also enter the market for testing and certification of open source applications. Oracle will likely follow Red Hat in certifying for its own platform, unlike SpikeSource and SourceLabs which are trying to carve out a pure services model that is platform- neutral. Like the start-ups, Red Hat is tackling LAMP with a few additions. Red Hat's web application stack covers LAMP on RHEL with the option of choosing the Postgres open source database. The Java web application stack adds the Apache Tomcat serverlet and JSP container, while the enterprise Java stack adds full support for ObjectWeb Consortium's JOnAS application server. JOnAS is the basis for Red Hat's own application server. ®
Brocade today delivered moderately disappointing fourth quarter results, which stand as an improvement over painful revenue totals turned in last quarter. The storage switch maker reported revenue of $146m. That total marks a six per cent decline from the $156m reported in the same period last year. For the full year, Brocade pulled in $574m - a four per cent drop from 2004's $596m. The slight fall in fourth quarter revenue served as a welcome change from Brocade's third quarter. Investors dumped Brocade shares in August after it revealed a-close-to $20m revenue miss. The company is also in the midst of an SEC investigation as to how it handles stock options, which doesn't help matters. "Our GAAP revenue and reported sell-through were better than we planned and I'm very pleased with our overall performance this quarter," said Michael Klayko, Brocade's CEO. "Strong demand, solid gross margins and some one-time expense savings led to increased profitability and helped generate $39 million in cash from operations." Brocade reported fourth quarter net income of $1.1m, down from $20m in last year's fourth quarter. Net income for the full year was $43m, which is a solid improvement over a $34m loss in 2004. The company expects a healthy rise in revenue during 2006 to between $660m and $672m. ®
ExclusiveExclusive Some of you may recall the quixotic crusade of inventor Gary Brant, who we interviewed last year. Gary proposed integrating biometric DRM into a portable MP3 player, and was unabashed when several hundred Register readers wrote in to say what a bad idea it was. Not one reader, in fact, endorsed the idea. But Brant's determination may yet win him a place in the mainstream family living room. His latest product is a set top box, that uses broadband and P2P technology to create a 'secure' network. Secured, as you might guess, by biometric DRM.