19th > August > 2006 Archive

Former Transmeta CEO goes at Intel with another low-power chip

ExclusiveExclusive Matthew Perry - no, not that one - can't seem to escape the idea of dealing a devastating blow to Intel. The former Transmeta CEO has landed at chip start-up Montalvo Systems, according to our sources, and is running the company. As we reported in an exclusive last October, Montalvo has been hammering away on a low-power x86 processor. At first, industry watchers thought the chip would be aimed at mobile devices such as PDAs. Now, however, we've learned that the super-secretive Montalvo is most likely chasing the notebook market with what's described as a "high-end, low-power chip." Montalvo has an impressive assortment of chip experts on board, including Greg Favor, an ex-AMD fellow and designer of the K6 processor, Peter Glaskowsky, former editor of the Microprocessor Report and a ton of former Transmeta staff. (Thanks to an SEC filing, we see that Vinod Dham, former CEO of Silicon Spice, which Broadcom acquired, serves as a director of Montalvo as well.) The Montalvo name is thought to come from the popular Silicon Valley spot Villa Montalvo where Transmeta first launched. Transmeta hoped to dent Intel and AMD's hold on the x86 chip market by creating a low-power processor that used sophisticated software to crank through instructions. Perry became Transmeta's CEO in 2002 and then left the firm in April of 2005. But, he didn't go far. Transmeta's old offices sat at 3990 Freedom Circle in Santa Clara, wile Montalvo lists 3960 Freedom Circle as its home. Perry did not return our call seeking comment. Montalvo recently secured $74m in funding from New Enterprise Associates, Bay Partners, U.S. Venture Partners and original backer NewPath Ventures. All those backers are sure to have thinned out the shares in Montalvo - bad news for employees hoping to get filthy rich. We're impressed that Perry has the resolve to face the x86 market again and to do so with a similar pitch. Fighting Intel and AMD requires an incredible amount of capital, patience and luck. A strong notebook chip, however, could be of interest to AMD, which has struggled to replicate its server and desktop success in the mobile market. ®
Ashlee Vance, 19 Aug 2006
globalisation

LinuxWorld, virtually speaking

Woody Allen once famously said, "80 per cent of success is showing up". And often, showing up means you're in the right place at the right time to take advantage of new opportunities.
Scott Granneman, 19 Aug 2006

NAO rebuts BBC claims on NHS IT

The National Audit Office (NAO) has hit back at BBC claims that it toned down criticisms about the progress of the National Programme for IT (NPfIT) in its recent report. Speaking to GC News, an NAO spokesperson said the criticisms were unfounded because "the overall conclusions (in the report) had remained unchanged". BBC's Radio 4's World At One programme said it has obtained documents showing passages were removed during the consultation process of the Department of Health: The National Programme for IT in the NHS report released in June 2006. The NAO spokesperson said amendments are always made during the "clearance stage" to which which all works in progress are subjected. The BBC said it had evidence that a phrase in the report saying the government had been "slow in securing the engagement and commitment of the NHS to the programme" became "more work was needed in engagement". Also, a line on "insufficient trainers to train NHS staff" was taken out: instead the report said staff considered the biggest barrier to implementation was a lack of knowledge and training. A section saying the "NHS currently lacks the sufficient skills" to deliver the programme was also deleted. The new systems include an online booking system, a centralised medical records system for 50m patients, e-prescriptions and fast computer network links between NHS organisations. The National Programme for IT aims to link 30,000 GPs to nearly 300 hospitals by 2014. This article was originally published at Kablenet. Kablenet's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here.
Kablenet, 19 Aug 2006

Apple relieves Chinese iPod slave laborers

Apple Computer has vowed to cease driving its Chinese iPod assemblers like rented mules, after being shocked, shocked, to learn of abuses at several of its overseas factories. The Mail on Sunday recently broke the story, and identified poor conditions at factories in Longhua and Suzhou, operated by Taiwanese outfits Foxconn and Asustek. The paper described workers driven more than 60 hours and more than six days per week, living in dormitories packed 100 to a room, earning £27 per month, and being denied visits from non-empoyees. The Longhua facility is reported to hold 200,000 workers behind its fences, chiefly uneducated young women and girls. Apple was quick to respond. "In response to the allegations, we immediately dispatched an audit team comprised of members from our human resources, legal and operations groups to carry out a thorough investigation of the conditions at the manufacturing site," the company explains. The company said its investigators found no evidence of forced labor or the exploitation of child workers (16 is the minimum legal age in China). Apple has declined to identify the factory at which it conducted this thorough investigation, but one would be forgiven for imagining it as one of the better examples of offshore tech manufacturing. The report gushes about the factory campus that Apple visited, with its "employee housing, banks, a post office, a hospital, supermarkets, and a variety of recreational facilities including soccer fields, a swimming pool, TV lounges and Internet cafes." "Ten cafeterias are also located throughout the campus offering a variety of menu choices such as fresh vegetables, beef, seafood, rice, poultry, and stir-fry noodles. In addition, employees have access to 13 different restaurants on campus," the report notes. And "employees were pleased with the variety and quality of food offerings," Apple's investigators learned. The company has instituted a policy requiring workers to have one day off each week, and limiting them to 60 hours of work per week, except in unusual circumstances (e.g., the Christmas rush). "We believe in the importance of a healthy work-life balance," the company explained. ®
Thomas C Greene, 19 Aug 2006
globalisation

What the heck was on that stolen laptop?

Four in five (81 per cent) US firms have lost at least one laptop containing sensitive data in the last year, according to a new study. The Confidential Data at Risk (PDF) survey of 500 IT pros by Ponemon Institute was sponsored by data loss prevention firm Vontu, which is using it in the time honored tradition of talking up the need for its security products. However the idea that US businesses are struggling to prevent the loss of confidential data presented in the survey rings all too true, especially following several recent incidents where laptop loss has sparked major security flaps. Often firms don't have a clue where their sensitive or confidential business information resides within the network or enterprise systems, further compounding the problem. Two in three (64 per cent) of firms responding to the survey said they've never carried out an inventory of customer information. The same percentage said an inventory of employee data had never been carried out at their organisation. Many recent consumer data disclosure SNAFUs have been sparked by the loss of staff laptops but the loss of other portable storage devices or compromised server systems can also results in the exposure of sensitive data. PDAs and laptops ranked highest among storage devices posing the greatest risk for sensitive corporate data, followed by USB memory sticks, desktop systems, and shared file servers. Queried on how long it would take to determine what actual sensitive data was on a lost or stolen computer or mobile device the most frequent answer by survey respondents was "never" - ranging from 24 per cent for a file server to 62 per cent for an employee's home computer. "Corporations are clearly struggling with the challenges of identifying and protecting sensitive data, as well as developing successful strategies for securing confidential information stored among the myriad devices that make up today’s data networks," said Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute. ®
John Leyden, 19 Aug 2006