3rd > January > 2006 Archive

Intel unwraps 65nm 'Presler', 'Cedar Mill'

Intel has debuted its latest dual-core desktop Pentium D processors, launching the chip family as the 9xx series. The chip giant this week added four models to its price list: the 920, 930, 940 and 950, all containing 4MB of L2 cache split into two 2MB chunks, one for each of the two cores in the chip package. All four operate on an 800MHz frontside bus. The CPUs are clocked at 2.8GHz, 3GHz, 3.2GHz and 3.4GHz, respectively. Interestingly, Intel's price list has the chips down as 90nm parts, suggesting they are not the 65nm 'Presler' chips expected to debut in Q1 2006.
Tony Smith, 03 Jan 2006

Intel prices up 65nm dual, single-core 'Yonah'

Intel has started shipping its 65nm dual-core mobile Pentium processor, Yonah, along with Centrino bundles based on the new processor. As expected, the chips use Intel's new model-numbering scheme. The T2600, T2500, T2400 and T2300 are dual-core parts - hence the '2' - and are joined by one single-core chip, the T1300. The five processors are clocked at 2.16GHz, 2GHz, 1.83GHz, 1.66GHz and 1.66GHz respectively, and operate on a 667MHz frontside bus, connecting across a FCBGA6 or FCPGA6 pin-out. All processors sport 2MB of L2 cache.
Tony Smith, 03 Jan 2006
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'Sossaman' launches as 'low-voltage' Xeon DP

Intel has launched 'Sossaman', its low-power Xeon DP server processor based on its Pentium M mobile chip. The company has also added the first dual-core CPU to its Xeon DP line-up. The launch of the dual-core Xeon DP follows the release of 'Paxville', the first dual-core Xeon MP part, in November 2005. The $1043 DP chip is clocked at 2.8GHz and contains two 2MB L2 caches. The part runs across an 800MHz frontside bus.
Tony Smith, 03 Jan 2006

NTL tipped to up bid for Virgin Mobile

NTL is expected to up its offer for Virgin Mobile, according to reports, although there are doubts as to whether the revised bid by the UK cableco will be enough to secure a deal. The Sunday Times reported that NTL is expected to increase its £817m offer for Virgin Mobile - which is 72 per cent owned by Sir Richard Branson - by around 10 per cent although any approach is unlikely to be made before next week. Later reports suggested, though, that this might not be enough to satisfy demands by minority investors even though Branson is keen for the merger to go ahead, securing him a 14 - 15 per cent slice of the combined business. Four weeks ago NTL and Virgin Mobile confirmed they were holding talks that could lead to the creation of a mega media business offering punters a four-play service of TV, fixed-line phone, broadband and mobile under the Virgin brand. But the £817m offer was "unanimously rejected" by the board of Virgin Mobile which claimed that it undervalued the business. Elsewhere, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has cleared the merger of NTL and Telewest deciding that the deal does not need to be referred to the Competition Commission. In October, NTL confirmed that it planned to snap up Telewest valuing the cableco at around $6bn. Giving the merger the green light the OFT said: "Telewest and NTL are now the only two cable operators but, as their local networks do not overlap, they do not compete in providing services over cable and the potential for them to do so is minimal. Where they do overlap (in wholesale telecommunications services and narrowband internet) outside their local cable networks they will still face a number of other significant competitors." The OFT also gave Sky's acquisition of broadband ISP EasyNet the thumbs-up saying that the deal would enable Sky to offer triple-play services (TV, phone and internet) and that "consumers may be expected to benefit from this". In October, Sky announced it had agreed to shell out £211m to acquire broadband ISP Easynet in a deal that catapults the satellite broadcaster into the UK's telecoms sector. ®
Tim Richardson, 03 Jan 2006

Google to 'launch own PC'

Google is planning to provide an own-brand Windows-less PC and sell the low-cost system through a partnership with retail giant Wal-Mart. The machine and/or the sales deal could be announced as early as this coming Friday. So claims the Los Angeles Times, citing unnamed sources. Whether they've seen the text of Google co-founder Larry Page's Consumer Electronics Show keynote, which he'll make in Las Vegas on Friday, isn't clear, but it's suggested that the talk will cover the new box.
Tony Smith, 03 Jan 2006
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Data security moves front and center in 2005

High-profile leaks of financial data left more than 50 million accounts containing credit card information and, in some cases, confidential details at risk in 2005. Phishing attacks, targeted Trojan horses and web-based exploits compromised millions of PCs last year to create centrally controlled networks known as bot nets.
SecurityFocus, 03 Jan 2006

El Reg's review of reviews

If you can still remember 2005, you've probably had a very, very quiet Christmas. Luckily, for the rest of you, El Reg’s editorial team not only managed to stay conscious just long enough to not only record the highlights and lowlights of 2005, but to wrap them up in a series of easily digestible packages. So, if your Christmas celebrations have obliterated all your memories of the EU’s schizophrenic attempts reform software patent laws, just drop in here to relive the whole sorry saga courtesy of Mark Ballard. And if that doesn’t restore your faith in the (in)ability of governments to keep their hands off technology, Kieren McCarthy, details the US’ database of excuses for not handing over control of the internet to a more, er, neutral body. Gavin Clarke reminds us how paradigms continued to shift in Silicon Valley, as the software industry proved the well of buzzwords shows no sign of running dry. If that leaves you suffused with a rosy glow, don’t worry. John Leyden reminds us that if the industry stays true to form each new buzzword will likely mean ten new security flaws You could just unplug yourself if you want to stay safe. But of course, they won’t let you. Who’s they? The telco/mobile operator/broadband/broadcaster conglomerates, which as Tim Richardson writes, are currently coalescing faster than you can say decreasing consumer choice. But let’s face it. You’ve probably just thrown out the wrapping paper on last year’s hottest gadgets. You’re hardly going to tune out now, especially when you see what the vendors are planning to pop under next year’s Christmas tree.®
Team Register, 03 Jan 2006

The Cloud targets UK with city centre Wi-Fi hotspots

Nine UK city centres are to get blanket wireless broadband coverage as part of a deal between Wi-Fi operator The Cloud and telecoms giant BT. About 500 BT payphones in Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, Nottingham, Oxford, Cambridge and Liverpool, as well as in the London Boroughs of Kensington & Chelsea, Camden and Islington, are to be fitted with discrete WiFi boxes to create a "cloud" of coverage. As part of the deal, both The Cloud and BT will share the revenue generated by these hotspots. At the moment, The Cloud's Wi-Fi kit is installed in places such as pubs, coffee shops and train stations, but this is the first time it has attempted to bring wireless broadband to urban areas on such a scale. The Cloud's network will be available immediately to punters who use BT Openzone, O2, SkypeZones and Nintendo Wi-Fi. The Cloud's chief exec, George Polk, said: "In 2004, we built the largest hotspot network in Europe, but this is the first time anyone has brought wireless internet access to the UK public on this scale. "As the only large-scale neutral operator in the UK, we are the only partner with the technical and financial resources to build and operate a reliable network." The Cloud - which has some 6,000 Wi-Fi hotspots in the UK, Sweden and Germany - also said today that it is keen to hook up with local councils to expand its network still further. ®
Tim Richardson, 03 Jan 2006
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World+dog scrambles to fight Windows flaw

Microsoft rushed out a temporary fix on Monday to defend against a dangerous new Windows Meta File vulnerability that became the focus of numerous exploits late last week. Redmond's workaround disables some functions in Windows and is only partially effective. Fortunately, there is an alternative. Security researchers at the SANS Institute advise users to both unregister affected library (DLL files) and to use an unofficial patch, as explained here. The WMF vulnerability exists in computers running Microsoft Windows XP (SP1 and SP2) and Microsoft Windows Server 2003 and stems from a flaw in a utility used to view picture and fax files. The security flaw might be exploited by inducing victims to view maliciously constructed sites, particularly where IE is used as a browser, or when previewing *.wmf format files with Windows Explorer. Hackers have created a range of Trojan programs which exploit the flaw. Microsoft said it plans to release a patch against the security hole on 10 January as part of its regular "Patch Tuesday" monthly update cycle. ®
John Leyden, 03 Jan 2006
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AMD spends $75m to license Rambus tech

AMD has licensed a raft of Rambus' memory controller technology patents, including intellectual property embedded in the DDR 2 and DDR 3 standards, the FB-DIMM and Rambus' own XDR system. The licence will last for at least five years, but the two companies refused to disclose any other terms and conditions underpinning the deal. "Specific terms of the agreement are confidential," said the firms' joint announcement beneath a headline revealing AMD is paying $75m for the rights to the technology. The statement also said the deal "covers all chips except memory", so expect AMD to use the technology in the memory controllers it builds into its processors, which, it's anticipated, will be upgraded to support at least DDR 2 in Q2 this year. ®
Tony Smith, 03 Jan 2006

UK top Euro broadband nation, say analysts

The UK has leapfrogged France as Europe's number-one broadband nation, according to estimates by research outfit Point Topic. Having totted up the latest numbers available, analysts reckon that, as of New Year's Day, the UK had 9.8m broadband lines compared to 9.7m in France. This compares with figures from September, which showed the UK lagging behind with 8.86m lines to France's 8.93m. Germany trailed in third place with 8.4m broadband lines at the end of September. Analysts also predict that the next 12 months look set to be the "year of unbundling", especially if mass-market operators, such as AOL, Wanadoo and Tiscali, throw their weight behind transferring broadband punters to their own networks. Indeed, if the big UK ISPs approach the task "with the same aggressive commitment...as the French", says Point Topic, then the UK could see one million lines unbundled by the autumn. What's more, it's even possible that 1.5m lines could be unbundled by the end of the year - a milestone that could trigger even greater competition in the UK. Why? Well, last June BT agreed to give LLU the chance to thrive by promising not to cut charges for its wholesale broadband products until there are 1.5m unbundled lines in the UK. The move is designed to give LLU (the process by which rival operators install their own kit in BT exchanges to provide telecoms services direct to end-users) a fighting chance of becoming an established source of competition. However, once the 1.5m trigger is hit, BT is allowed to cut the prices on its wholesale services further, which Point Topic predicts could provide tougher competition for those aiming to provide these services by unbundling. Separately, LLU operator Be is finalising plans for a new pay-as-you-go broadband product due out later this month. "Be lite" - which includes a usage allowance that can be topped up as needed - will offer download speeds of up to 24 meg broadband for under £15 per month. ®
Tim Richardson, 03 Jan 2006

Two-track mind for MP3 Surround

Having seemingly failed to persuade the digital music world to upgrade to MP3 Pro, the format's founder, Germany's Fraunhofer Institute, is trying again, this time with MP3 Surround, a multi-channel implementation of the hugely popular music codec. Its latest teasers are MP3 SX - short for 'stereo extended' - and Ensonido, respectively technologies for making stereo recordings sound better in a surround sound environment and down-mixing multi-channel sound into two-channel stereo.
Tony Smith, 03 Jan 2006
For Sale sign detail

CODASciSys drives East

CODASciSys is spending upto €2.4m buying its Hungarian and German distributors. The UK-based software and services group is paying €0.75m upfront for its Hungarian partner, Singular Hungary, with another &0.25;m based on future profitability. The Hungarian business will be redubbed CODA Hungary, and serve Central and Eastern Europe. CODASciSys has also snaffled up Landsberg-based bAs GmbH for €0.4m upfront with another €1m based on profitability in 2006 and 2007. CODASciSys already has an office in Essen. The two new businesses should boost CODASciSys’ revenues by £1.5m this year, the firm said.®
Team Register, 03 Jan 2006
New Intel logos

Intel confirms 'Core' branding

Intel today made public the new processor branding scheme that leaked out of the company late last year. The launch confirms the company's plan to brand upcoming Centrino notebooks in 'Duo' and 'Solo' forms, to indicate dual- and single-core implementations of the platform. Where OEMs want to stress the CPU - for desktops and servers - there are 'Intel Core Duo' and 'Intel Core Solo' logos to suit.
Tony Smith, 03 Jan 2006

TomTom threatens TamTam developer

Route-planning software and GPS navigation hardware developer TomTom has successfully forced a small Mac software developer to stop offering code that allows users to maintain TomTom's Go device from a Macintosh. Equinux shipped TamTam in 2004. Since the launch, TomTom has persistently tried to persuade the company to drop the TamTam name and to stop using the software's paired-footprint icon, which it presumably reckons is a little to close to its own paired-handprint logo. Oh, and it ought to stop mentioning the word 'tomtom' too, the GPS giant warned. Finally, last month, TomTom threatened Equinux with legal action if it failed to comply with the larger firm's wishes. Soon after, Equinux confirmed it will comply with TomTom's wishes - by dropping TamTam altogether. Equinux naturally portrays its move as a massive 'f**k you', pointing out that by removing TamTam from sale, it's effectively preventing TomTom from selling its product to Mac users. That said, since the Dutch mapping company didn't feel that constituency large enough to warrant support in the first place, it's probably not too bothered. But it does seem to have missed the chance to work with a partner to expand its potential market. But what next we wonder? Lawsuits against drummers? And Aussie biscuit baker Arnott's may find that its excellent chocolatey TimTams come under the scrutiny of TomTom's emboldened legal team. Where will it end? ®
Tony Smith, 03 Jan 2006
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Swansea IT staff shunted to Capgemini

IT staff at Swansea Council have been transferred to Capgemini as part of a controversial £83m e-government outsourcing project designed to modernise the way the council provides its public services.
Tim Richardson, 03 Jan 2006

Domain scam duo fined AU$2.3m

A pair of fraudsters who made millions using a domain registration scam have been ordered to pay AU$2.3m (£980,000) by an Australian court. Brad Norrish and Chesley Rafferty conned victims into stumping up non-existent fees under the threat that they risked losing their domain names unless they paid up. The duo used data from domain name registrar Nominet to produce authentic-looking notices that lent credibility to the trick, the Australian reports. Up to 50,000 UK website owners were targeted in the scam. Nominet was forced to take the extreme step of disabling its publicly available database as a result of the scam. Judge Robert French, of a Perth-based Australian Federal Court, ruled that Norrish and Rafferty had flagrantly breached copyright laws and ordered them to pay A$1.3m damages to Nominet plus an estimated A$1m in legal fees. T he ruling brings to an end a two-and-a-half year legal fight by Nominet that began when the UK domain-name registrar sued Norrish and Rafferty in 2003. ®
John Leyden, 03 Jan 2006

Blair appears in online love story

It is billed by the Prime Minister's Office as a "rare glimpse into his world"; and so it is because rarely nowadays are the cameras so kind to Tony Blair. The latest in a line of propaganda films produced by Two Four Group, a corporate and TV film maker, for the British government, is a three minute short of platitudes from the Prime Minister. Supposedly a day in the life, it is rather a collection of highlights from a prime minister's year - the prime cuts, you might say, with the gristle, the organs and the bones left on the abattoir floor. With publically-funded coverage of government activities already covered quite competently by the BBC, you have to wonder why the Prime Minister's Office need produce its own films. The reason would be clear to anyone who thinks press criticism of the government, and particularly the gurning Prime Minister, unfair. This is Tony's chance to set the record straight, to let you know how unsympathetic the public eye can be: "Everything you say is on the record and then subject to the most minute scrutiny," he says in the film. He makes the point, between fawning footage of state visits and other PR stunts, that he works hard; which undoubtedly he does. He is portrayed as a nice chap trying to do the best he can in the job; which undoubtedly he is. That is not the whole story, of course, but maintaining a total suspension of disblief while you consider what the government does in your name can be a heart-warming experience. If you get into the spirit of it it, it can be almost as heartwarming as watching Hugh Grant's portrayal of a well-meaning but bumbling Prime Minister in Richard Curtis's feelgood movie, Love, Actually. The only other way to achieve the same effect would be to undergo a lobotomy of your critical faculties. As that clearly is a preposterous idea, be thankful you can achieve the same with a one-sided, soft-focus portrayal of a prime ministerial pampering. The tone of the film is set by the claim, made by the Prime Minister's Office, that the film provides "exclusive access" to a Cabinet Committee meeting at Number 10. You'll be lucky to spot it. Fans of party political broadcasts will be pleased they do not have to wait until the next round of elections to see more television of this calibre. Anyone who does sincerely doubt the objectivity of the alternative presented by the press in independent television broadcasts covering government business might prefer to make their own minds up by watching unadulterated coverage presented by Parliament TV.®
Mark Ballard, 03 Jan 2006
hands waving dollar bills in the air

Windows users waiting for serious fix

At least two unofficial patches have been made available for millions of users running Windows left hanging by the latest serious security vulnerability to hit Microsoft's operating system. Security specialists at the Internet Storm Center (ICS) are pointing customers running Windows XP Services Pack 1, SP2, Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2003 SP 1 to two fixes for a previously unknown vulnerability in the Windows MetaFile (WMF). Users waiting for Microsoft to respond must wait until the company’s regularly scheduled January 10 software update - called black Tuesday - for a WMF fix - nearly two weeks after the vulnerability was first confirmed. PCs running old operating systems, such as Windows 98, will be left out in the New Year cold entirely, as they now exceed Microsoft's support cycle. The vulnerability has the potential to enable a hacker to execute code on a user’s machine if that user is persuaded to view a specifically crafted WMF, either by visiting a website or clicking on a link contained in a malicious email. The hole uses images to execute malicious code, meaning code can be potentially executed just by viewing an image. ICS warned even images stored on a user's PC may cause the exploit to be triggered. Despite being judged serious by Microsoft, the company has decided that customers must wait until January's scheduled batch of software updates to receive the WMF fix. In a statement timed to coincide with Tuesday's post-Christmas and New Year return to work, Microsoft said: "Although the issue is serious and malicious attacks are being attempted, Microsoft's intelligence sources indicate that the scope of the attacks are not widespread." The delay is apparently due to the need for third-parties to test their own software with Microsoft's patch, the company said. In the meantime, aside from using the unofficial Windows patches, users are advised to un-register the related DLL and keep their anti-virus software up-to-date.®
Gavin Clarke, 03 Jan 2006
globalisation

Mercury nudged off the NASDAQ

Mercury Interactive is being de-listed from the Nasdaq after missing a second deadline for restating its financials in the wake of a company share-trading scandal. Shares in the business technology optimization (BTO) specialist will be removed from Nasdaq at the opening of business on Wednesday morning, Mercury announced on Tuesday. De-listing follows the resignation of the company's chief executive, chief financial officer and general counsel in November following an investigation initiated by the US Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) found improper allocations of Mercury stock to employees over a 10-year period. Mercury faced de-listing on November 30 after its third-quarter results were delayed so management could determine the impact of misdated stock allocations on financial statements spanning 1998, 1999 and 2001. The Nasdaq, however, granted Mercury an extension until January 3 to file its amended returns and meet its requirements for trading. Shares in the company - which specializes in software that helps publicly traded companies achieve compliance with government regulation, such as Sarbanes Oxley - will now move to the Pink Sheets. The Pink Sheets is a service specializing in quotes for small, emerging, closely held, non-US and "economically distressed" companies. De-listing is a further blow to Mercury's prestige. In 2004, the company stated its goal was to become one of the world's top-five software companies within five years - joining the ranks of Microsoft, Oracle and SAP - and predicted that success in 2005 would play a major part in achieving this objective. One large Mercury partner told The Register he was "disappointed" in Mercury over the share incident. There is speculation that a weakened position could leave Mercury open to a low-ball acquisition in what is generally accepted to be a profitable market of software optimization and regulatory compliance. Mercury has not set a date for when it expects its financials to be in order or when it will apply for re-admittance to Nasdaq. In a statement, Mercury said it is: "Committed to regaining compliance with all Nasdaq filing requirements and obtaining relisting of its common stock on Nasdaq in a timely manner."®
Gavin Clarke, 03 Jan 2006