5th > March > 2000 Archive

Intel's boxed desktop roadmap revealed

As we've noted here many times before, Intel has several sets of roadmaps -- those for public consumption, those addressed to its partners and system builders, and those really secret ones that only its primary OEMs, such as the Dull Corporation, get. If you can manage to look at several sets of these together, it's possible to piece out the firm's strategy a little better, although we've a suspicion there's a big team of roadmap draughtspeople somewhere in the world who can tear'em'up and start all over again at a moment's whim. One roadmap we've recently seen, and which was posted on the Intel channel site on an NDA (non disclosure agreement) area not long ago, is headed the Boxed Desktop Processor Roadmap. Intel sells trays of its microprocessors to its Direct Ship OEM customer, but also pushes branded microprocessors, completely with packaging that's a funky green colour, through its distributors and hence to smaller system builders. Remember that the roadmap builders can tear up and throw away these diagrams at a moment's notice. On this block diagram, Intel divides the horizontal axis into quarters one, two and three of this year, while the vertical axis has a total of seven categories based on the system price (without monitor). These seven categories Intel subdivides into three broad categories, each with underlying chipset support. Top End Professional is for systems greater than $2,000. In Q1, that segment is occupied by Pentium IIIs at speeds of 733, 700, 750, 800 and 866MHz. In Q2, it is occupied by the 866, and the 850 Pentium IIIs, with the 933MHz coming in at the end of the quarter. And in Q3, that segment is occupied with the 933MHz Pentium III, with the 1GHz processor (presumably a Coppermine rather than a Willamette design) set to enter at the end of that quarter. The next category is Mainstream 3 ($1,500 to $2,000). In Q1, that space is occupied by the 733 and 700 Pentium III's but midway through with the 750MHz (with 100MHz FSB) making an appearance. In Q2, the 800MHz Pentium III hogs the position, while in Q3, the 866, 850 and 1GHz Pentium IIIs are the favoured Intel flavours for boxed systems. For motherboards, the SE440 BX-2 will last well into the middle of quarter three, according to diagram, although its importance is disappearing, Intel hopes, because of the rise of VC820 and CC820 mobos, to be replaced in quarter three by the D820AP and a design codenamed Easton. Middle Range Two levels of system cost sans monitor in these blocks. Mainstream 2 ($1,200 to $1,500) and Mainstream 1 ($1,000 to $1,2000). In Mainstream 2, Q1 is dominated by the 666MHz and 650MHz Coppermines, in Q2 by 750 and 733MHz Pentium IIIs and in Q3 by the 800MHz Coppermine Pentium III. Mainstream 1 first quarter is dominated by the Pentium III 600, in quarter two Intel thinks it will be the 700MHz and 666MHz Pentium III, and in Q3 the 750 and 733MHz Pentium III. Again, the SE440 BX-2, together with the CC820, rules the roost until the middle of Q2, fading out at the beginning of Q3. Intel anticipates, in this diagram, that the CA810e will do the same. In Q3, the VC820 should be used for these two sectors, while we will also see the arrival of the D820P, the Easton, and (a new one on us) Stornaway. Low End This is Intel's Value sector which it divides into three parts. Value 3 is $900-$999, Value 2 is $799-$900 and Value 1 is less than $799. Again -- these are system prices without monitors, not chip prices. For Value 3, in Q1, the 533MHz Celeron, and towards the end of the period the chickenzilla 600 and the 566MHz Celerons rule the roost. In Q2, the 666MHz and the 633MHz Celerons dominate, with a 700MHz Celeron appearing towards the end of the period, while in Q3 there is a 7XXMHz Celeron. For Value 2, and in Q1, the 500MHz occupies most of the sweet spot, with the 533MHz arriving at the end of the quarter; in the second quarter that space is hogged by the 600MHz and 566MHz Celerons, and in Q3 the 666MHz and the 633MHz Celerons have sway, with a 677MHz Timna with integrated MC and graphics arriving at the end of Q3. For Value 1 -- that is systems without monitors costing less than $799 -- the 466MHz Celeron will predominate in Q1, with the 500MHz coming in at the end of the quarter. In the second quarter, that space will be occupied by the 533MHz Celeron, while in Q3, Intel wants to see 600MHz and 566MHz Celerons in this space, with a 600MHz Timna there at the end of Q3. Intel appears to think that its CA810e and the CA810 will rule the value roost right through the three quarters, but with a little bit of D820AP and Stornaway thrown in at the end. Summary It's unclear to what extent these plans will change throughout the year, as Intel is force majeure in the shape of AMD and possibly Via affects its plans. But, we re-iterate, this boxed desktop roadmap was presented to Intel's distie and dealer partners very recently -- so that's what they're being told at present. ® See also Intel's server, desktop mobile roadmap Y2k
Mike Magee, 05 Mar 2000

Compaq to intro new desktop boxes

The PC manufacturing wing of Compaq is set to announce two fresh models in its 75xx range in the next two weeks, The Register has learned. Both models are based on Pentium III Coppermine technology, and our information is that market pressure, plus increased availability of Intel processors, has allowed The Big Q to roll out the machines. The CPQ 7598 uses a Pentium III running at 600 MHz, comes with 128 of memory, a 40GB hard drive, a 40-soeed CD ROM, CD-RW, a 56K modem and a Quickcam. The other model in the range, the CPQ 7599 uses a Pentium III 700 MHz chip, but otherwise has an identical configuration to the 7598. However, retailers close to Q's plans are noting that there appears to be an availability problem with Logitech Quickcams which Compaq is offering with many of its newer models. Instead of there being a bright and shiny Quickcam inside the box, instead there is a coupon, which explains that production on the units is constrained, with around a five week delay. However, Compaq is, as the expression goes, "fessing up" to the problem and will pay for postage and handling for the Quickcams when they become available. We hope to have prices on these two Compaq boxes very soon, although sources have already said the difference between them is only likely to be $100 or so. Q will also introduce a fresh flush of machines over the next few weeks and we hope to provide you with details of these machines early. ®
Mike Magee, 05 Mar 2000

Craig McCaw cuts losses and abandons Iridium

Teledesic boss Craig McCaw's investment operation, Eagle River, on Friday abandoned its plan to invest in ailing satellite comms company Iridium. Eagle River had been pursuing a stake in Iridium for some time. After a last minute change of plan, Eagle River recently said it would pump $5 million, in co-operation with Motorola, Iridium's biggest shareholder into the troubled cellphone-by-satellite operation. This sum came in place of an earlier scheme to invest $21 million from Eagle River alone. The US bankruptcy court approved that $5 million cash injection on 17 February, the sum being earmarked for keeping Iridium operational until 6 March. Eagle River then began a due diligence investigation, and it's hard not to conclude that it came across something about that it didn't like. Eagle River president Dennis Weibling said: "After careful examination of Iridium's technologies, we determined that there are closer synergies between ICO and Teledesic and the services they will provide customers worldwide." ICO and Teledesic are both now focused on providing broadband networking facilities via satellite - or, rather, that was always Teledesic's focus, but ICO changed from telecoms to data soon after Iridium went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. ICO has yet to launch its satellites, which are now being converted from voice-oriented comms to data networking. By the time they're launched, they are unlikely to bear the ICO name, the company having been fully subsumed into Teledesic by then. The point here is that Eagle River always knew there would be problems integrating Iridium technology into that of Teledesic, Iridium's satellite network being already in orbit. It seems unlikely that Eagle River would have embarked on negotiations with Iridium if it felt those problems could not be overcome or successfully operated alongside but separate from the Teledesic network. That suggests, the issue with Iridium may be financial, possibly that the company requires rather more money than even loadsamoney McCaw can find to keep it going. In short, it's a liability not an asset. Surely, the decision to abandon the attempt to take Iridium over can't be because Eagle River can't get a deal it's happy with? After all, Iridium's in no position to bargain. ®
Tony Smith, 05 Mar 2000

Alta Vista UK to launch free everything ISP

Alta Vista is to offer a free telephone access/no subscription fee ISP service in the UK. Operating from an 0800 number, the new ISP will charge customers set-up fee of £30. And that’s it. There’s nothing else to pay. We understand Lycos, CMGI’s fellow subsidiary, is poised also to announce the launch of a free telephone access ISP service in the UK, perhaps as soon as this week. Alta Vista is to restrict the service for six months to just 500,000 customers according to The Sunday Times, where news of its plans was leaked. This is probably sensible: every flat-fee, or free ISP service launched in recent months has buckled under the demand. In the UK, the company will have to subsidise the telephone calls of customers using its ISP service. It is difficult to see that it can claw all of this back by flogging more banner ads. But what's the betting that a big name ISP will jump in with a similar deal but with no set up fee before Alta Vista has finished its trials? There is a game of 0800/no fee ISP leapfrog going on. And it is easy for service provider and customer to get caught out. Last week, for example, a Register staffer was invited to join a trial for a unmetered service that he had express interest in joining several months ago. Then the prices looked great. Now, it seems ordinary. Next month, it could look punitive. Alta Vista is a latecomer to the European market. The browser/portal service launched local operations last year in the UK, Germany and Sweden. Last week it announced country services for France and The Netherlands. Alta Vista last year set up a subscription-free ISP service for the US. ® Related stories Lycos comes to US market with free Net access We're so sorry, says SurfVeryLimited firm BT Surftime hits wipe out BT offers free local calls 'within a year' German students get cut price AOL rates Deutsche Telekom parades Net flat fees
Drew Cullen, 05 Mar 2000

AMD puts Intel on 1GHz ropes – confirmed

In the frantic battle between AMD and Intel to get a working 1GHz processor to market, it seems the bantam weight has dealt heavyweight Chipzilla something of an uppercut. A message has just appeared on its Web site here, saying it will launch its 1GHz Athlon processor tomorrow. The announcement also says that PC vendors will follow it by talking about their own plans. Both Compaq and Gateway showed 1GHz Athlon demos at CeBIT ten days back. Intel was telling people last week that it would manage to ship 1GHz Coppermines at some stage this week, but not officially. When we asked the company last Monday, it was a "neither confirm nor deny" situation sort of publishing. It seems Intel told some people under embargo, but as is quite common these days, that news leaked out. Just in case AMD changes its mind about what's on its Web site, like it did last week when it stalinised references to the 1GHz chip in March, this is what some of the media alert says: "On Monday, AMD is announcing it has commenced shipments of 1GHz AMD Athlon™ processors. "Leading PC manufacturers will also make announcements on the availability of systems based on the 1GHz AMD Athlon processor. The first commercially available systems based on the 1GHz AMD Athlon processor will be available beginning Monday." The rest of the media alert gives details about different press calls it is having tomorrow. Expect vast acres of cyber and print column inches in the coming week. The race to 1GHz has, then, been won by AMD. Its share price rose by over $2 last Friday on anticipation of the move. Intel could have won this absurd PR race if it had decided to tell the world+dog about its 1GHz Cumine last Monday, when news started leaking out. Truly, this has all the feel of a desperation derby, but we fully expect the two companies to start racing to 2GHz now. Good for consumers but a tad relentless. When we were at CeBIT a week last Saturday, AMD exec Steve Lapinski gave us a key ring with an Athlon boxing glove on it. The symbolic significance of this was not lost on us. We fully expect a keyring with a sledgehammer on it when that AMD 64-bit time arrives...® See also How AMD beat Intel to 1GHz chip AMD's 1GHz chip arrives this month -- official Intel to dribble out 1GHz Cumine this month
Mike Magee, 05 Mar 2000

AOL boss hangs out with Marxist guerrillas

AOL has come up with a novel way of disposing of big-shot directors - send them into a war zone and tell them to start negotiating with Marxist guerillas. The ISP parachuted Jim Kimsey, its chairman emeritus, into a rebel-held village in Colombia where he met Manuel Marulanda, the founder and chief of FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. They swapped baseball caps.
Drew Cullen, 05 Mar 2000