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News > Archives > Article

Week of April 1, 2001 News Archive

Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Weekend

Monday April 2, 2001 Top


AMD Releases 900 MHz Duron

AMD today announced the availability of the 900MHz AMD Duron processor, its highest performance AMD Duron processor to date. Designed to meet the needs--today and tomorrow--of value-conscious home and office desktop computer users, the 900MHz AMD Duron processor enhances AMD's processor lineup, which delivers a full spectrum of innovative solutions. The AMD Duron processor is a derivative of the award-winning AMD Athlon processor and is designed to provide an optimized solution for value conscious business and home users. Employing an innovative design, the AMD Duron processor features a sophisticated cache architecture with 192KB of total on-chip cache, a high-speed 200MHz front-side bus, and a superscalar floating point unit with enhanced 3DNow! technology. The 900MHz, 850MHz, and 800MHz AMD Duron processors are priced at $129, $111, and $90 respectively, each in 1,000-unit quantities.


"AMD Duron processor-based systems provide up to a 30 percent performance advantage over Celeron processor-based systems at like processor speeds," said Pat Moorhead, vice president of Marketing for AMD. "Both business and home users will appreciate the capabilities they'll get with the new 900MHz AMD Duron processor. Businesses will find that the 900MHz AMD Duron processor's optimized design and scalability deliver outstanding performance for office productivity applications. Home users will find that the 900MHz AMD Duron processor provides exciting multimedia entertainment and excellent personal productivity solutions. In both environments, the AMD Duron processor-based system is far and away the best solution for value-conscious buyers."


Anti-Piracy Proposal Fails To Get Approval From Standards Body

Technology standards-makers on Monday voted against adding copy-protection support directly into computer hardware, a controversial proposal aiming to smooth adoption of strong anti-piracy safeguards. The defeat of the proposal, which would have been part of a set of standard rules governing computer data storage, makes it less likely that many computer drives will have technology built in to prevent consumers from copying protected files, analysts say. But other technologies will likely take up the slack. The group, known as the 4C Entity, had created technology it called Content Protection for Recordable Media (CPRM) that would add a piracy-blocking mechanism directly into data storage drives. The technology would stop protected content from being transferred to a drive with CPRM built in. The 4C group brought their proposal to the National Committee on Information Technology Standards (NCITS) and asked that support for copy-protection technology be added into the rules governing the way computer drives talk to each other. Their proposal, and a later successor that offered many of the same features, drew the ire of free-speech advocates and some open-source technologists. But as of Monday morning, the proposal failed even without the addition of new critics to the committee, an NCITS representative said. CNET.com


Intel Announces Techology That Will Lower The Cost Of Chips By 2002

Intel announced Monday it has created its first preproduction chips on 300-millimeter wafers, a coming technology shift that will lead to cheaper processors by 2002. The shift to 300-millimeter wafers will be one of many major changes for the semiconductor industry over the next two years. The 300-millimeter, or 12-inch, wafers feature a diameter that is 50 percent longer than that on the 200-millimeter wafers used to produce chips today. Increasing the diameter 50 percent leads to a 225 percent increase in the wafer's surface area. Chips produced on the new wafers will also be made with the more advanced 0.13-micron manufacturing process and contain copper wires. Intel currently makes its chips with the 0.18-micron manufacturing process and uses aluminum. The micron measurements refer to the size of features on the chip. The shift will result in smaller, cooler, faster and cheaper processors. "Intel expects chips produced on 300-millimeter wafers to cost 30 percent less than those made using the smaller wafers," Tom Garrett, Intel's 300-millimeter program manager, said in a statement. "By shrinking the circuit lines to 0.13 microns and increasing the wafer size to 300 millimeters, we are able to quadruple the output of a standard factory operating today." CNET.com


Microsoft Office XP Will Have a Free Trial Version

The first-ever trial version of Microsoft's Office business software comes as the company increasingly positions itself against AOL Time Warner. AOL for years distributed trial CDs for its online service through direct mail, computer trade magazines and other avenues. But unlike AOL, Microsoft will ask prospective Office XP users to cough up $9.95 for shipping and handling. Once installed, the trial version runs for 30 days. Microsoft is hoping to move at least some of its business to a subscription-based model, for which a trial program makes perfect sense, said Gartner analyst David Smith. Besides the trial program, Microsoft also announced that Office will reach store shelves May 31, as previously reported. But larger companies subscribing to Microsoft's licensing programs are expected to get their copies this month, and some PC makers expect to offer Office XP on new systems by early May. Microsoft has yet to release pricing on Office subscriptions, and for good reason, Lesperance said. "They want their license subscribers to get their copies first and pay full price," she said. "Microsoft wouldn't want them tempted away just yet by subscriptions. That's more for consumers." ZDNet.com


Microsoft Is Releasing Service Release For Mac Office 2001

Microsoft issued the first service release--or collection of bug fixes--for Mac Office 2001. The company had already issued two similar service updates for the Windows counterpart, Office 2000. Eric Ryan, product manager for Microsoft's Mac Business Unit, described the Office 2001 service release as "minor product updates across all the major applications," adding that "minor glitches have now been addressed." The service release addresses problems in all four of the programs in Office 2001: the Word word-processing program, Excel spreadsheet, PowerPoint presentation program and Entourage e-mail client. The bug fixes, however, are insignificant compared with Microsoft's plans to release a Mac OS X version of Office. Although Office 2001 runs in Classic mode--Apple's Mac OS 9.1 compatibility environment for older programs--in OS 10, it does not take advantage of the newer operating system's advanced features. Microsoft would not reveal pricing or the final name of Office 10 for Mac OS X. But current Office 2001 users will be able to upgrade for 50 percent off the stated price. Ryan also gave updates for other Mac OS X products coming from Microsoft's Macintosh business unit. The company shipped a preview version of Internet Explorer 5.1 on the Mac OS X CD. A final version is expected by summer, he said. MSN Instant Messenger 2.0 for Mac OS X will come in "the next couple of months," Ryan said. But Microsoft is not working on or planning a Mac OS X version of Outlook Express. "Right now we're focusing on IE and we're focusing on Office 10," Ryan said. CNET.com


Tuesday April 3, 2001 Top


AMD's HyperTransport Comes a Step Closer To Providing Faster PC Component Connections

API NetWorks unveiled a chip Monday that bolsters a technology that Advanced Micro Devices hopes will give its products an edge over rival Intel. The chip, AP1011, enables the use of HyperTransport, a communication technology codeveloped by AMD and API NetWorks, formerly known as Alpha Processor. HyperTransport speeds communication between the CPU and computer components such as network cards, but it faces competition from similar Intel technology. Although AMD naturally sees HyperTransport as a good fit for future computers, API NetWorks sees the first uses in networking equipment, said Dave Rich, general manager of network silicon at Concord, Mass.-based API NetWorks. Computing companies also are potential customers. AMD and graphics chipmaker Nvidia are building chips that can communicate with HyperTransport, and server powerhouse Sun Microsystems has endorsed the technology.


The chip acts as a bridge between a CPU to the peripheral component interconnect (PCI) data pathway long used to plug in devices to computers, he said. PCI, though very popular, is aging, and computer designers assert that something needs to be done to augment or replace it. HyperTransport is that technology, Rich asserts. "We're up against the problem of how to extend PCI-based systems," he said. HyperTransport also could serve as a good link to the InfiniBand server communication technology originally envisioned to do what HyperTransport does, Rich said. Similar chasms have been bridged before--for example in the case of competing standards that preceded InfiniBand. But the two camps that were warring over the InfiniBand predecessors were in a somewhat different situation: Neither side had a product ready to roll. HyperTransport, by comparison, is much better developed than the competing Intel technology, Brookwood said, making it less likely that the design will be changed to accommodate a compromise. CNET.com


Be, Developer of the BeOS, Hit Hard By Slowing Interest in Internet Appliances

On Tuesday, Be slashed 27 jobs and watched its stock plunge 33 percent to close at 81 cents. The layoffs could amount to as much as 25 percent of Be's work force, although the company wouldn't specify. Most of the cuts were in sales and marketing but also hit the company's engineering staff. Be also will close its European office in Paris and consolidate its European marketing efforts with its U.S. operations. Menlo Park, Calif.-based Be is one of the latest causalities in the high-tech shakeout that has sent tens of thousands of technology workers packing this year. In the first three days of April, at least a half-dozen companies cut workers, citing hard times. The challenge for Be now is weathering the disastrous computer sales slowdown that also hit the company's core market focus: Internet appliances. Unlike PCs, Internet appliances are simpler devices that are used strictly for Internet access or information retrieval. Be has been licensing a derivative of its Be Operating System (BeOS), known as BeIA, for use in Internet appliances. But a sagging market has contributed to limited customer wins and sales. Architecturally, BeOS is considered by many to be one of the best operating systems ever created, particularly for people developing or delivering multimedia content. But the scarce availability of applications hurt BeOS sales, so the company took the operating system's best attributes for use in Internet appliances. CNET.com


Linux Developers Meet To Work On Next Version of the Linux Kernel

More than 50 core Linux developers met over the weekend for the first formal Linux 2.5 Kernel Summit , which was described as an intensive, dynamic and highly interactive two-day workshop in San Jose, Calif., that could become an annual event. Several issues dominated the agenda, primarily improved scalability, the inclusion of next-generation enhanced Internet protocols on Linux, additional security and improved laptop support. While the formal 2.5 development cycle will not start for a couple of months--the 2.4 kernel needs to be even more stable--the core developers wanted to meet to discuss a range of issues going forward. They focused particularly on those projects that would extend the advances made in the 2.4 kernel. Other ongoing efforts include asynchronous I/O work and work on fine-tuning and improving the virtual memory subsystem, which would also help in improving Linux's ability to support large enter-prise databases, he said. Andy Grover from Intel Corp. gave a presentation on the status of ACPI (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface) support for Linux and some of the infrastructure changes necessary to better work with ACPI's advanced power-saving features. Johannes Erdfelt from VA Linux gave a presentation on a more general framework for supporting hot-plugging devices. "This work will help unify the support for USB and PCMCIA devices while allowing better future support for new hot-plug architectures as they make themselves available,". ZDNet.com


New Version of GNOME Desktop Provides Features To Lessen Learning Curve

The GNOME Foundation is set to release its latest open-source desktop environment, GNOME 1.4, on Monday morning--a release that it claims makes the desktop far more user-friendly and easy to manage. One of the key features of the new release is the Nautilus file manager, which replaces the older GMC GNOME (GNU Network Object Model Environment) file manager. Nautilus allows users to manage their files, browse the Web and access Web-based services through a customizable interface. In line with this approach, GNOME 1.4 offers several user levels, where different options are available depending on whether a beginner, intermediate or advanced user level is chosen. This choice appears the first time a user runs the new version of the desktop. Other new features include an Application Launch Feedback, which let users know when a program is being loaded, an improved help browser and help system, and a collection of applications that run on GNOME. Among these will be a range of productivity applications, games and communication-type programs, including the Gnumeric spreadsheet program and a word-processing application. Gabber, a multi-protocol chat application, is also included. ZDNet.com


How Secure Is 802.11 Wireless LAN Standard

A University of Maryland research team said Tuesday that it had identified several more security flaws in the much-maligned 802.11 wireless LAN protocol. Earlier this year, researchers at the University of California at Berkeley discovered several vulnerabilities in the encryption protocol used on wireless LANs. "When you combine this with the stuff that the Berkeley guys found, it pretty much covers all of the security in these wireless access points," said William Arbaugh, assistant professor of computer science at the University of Maryland in College Park. The latest problems have to do with the way the protocol handles access control and authorization requests. Arbaugh said finding the problems was "exceedingly easy" and that exploiting them was trivial.


Potentially the most serious of the three flaws is a hole that allows an eavesdropper to sniff the name of the network -- which is used as a shared secret for authentication purposes in some 802.11 implementations, including the Lucent Technologies Inc. Orinoco cards that Arbaugh's team used -- and then use the information to access the network. The team also identified a problem with the MAC (media access control) addresses used on wireless LAN cards. Like the network name, MAC addresses are broadcast in cleartext and can therefore be easily captured by an eavesdropper. The attacker can then program the address onto his or her card and access the network. The final attack involves capturing via eavesdropping the plaintext and ciphertext of the shared keys used for authentication. Using this information, an attacker can compute the valid authentication response and then compute a new integrity check value using another known exploit and join the network. ZDNet.com


Wednesday April 4, 2001 Top


Micron Plans To Make Major Boost in DDR Production

Micron said Wednesday that chips based on faster DDR designs will account for up to 30 percent of its product mix by year's end, up from about 5 percent now. The move to increase DDR production was "based on lots of input from customers," said Jeff Mailoux, marketing director for Micron's Consumer and Computing Group. "There are a lot of (Advanced Micro Devices) systems that are already shipping" with DDR, he said, adding that Micron has plans for other DDR products, such as chipsets for servers and for computers with Intel's Pentium 4 chip. Micron Technology has been one of the more vocal supporters of DDR and is engaged in a bitter series of lawsuits with Rambus. Samsung and Toshiba, meanwhile, have both said they will increase production of Rambus memory. Samsung has also received a cash infusion from Intel to produce Rambus.


Micron began DDR production in late 2000. The technology currently accounts for only about 5 percent of its total memory mix, which includes a range of DRAM-based products. Mailoux points out that the company isn't boosting its overall production. Instead, it's replacing current memory products with DDR. As DDR production increases, the price should drop on PC 2100 memory, which at 266MHz is the fastest available DDR. Right now, Micron said, PC 2100 memory fetches about a 10 percent premium over PC 133 SDRAM. CNET.com


New Linux Virus Uses Similar Flaws As Other Recent Viruses Appliances

Known as the Adore worm, the program is designed to create so-called back doors in the security of Linux systems and send information identifying the compromised systems to four different e-mail addresses hosted on servers in China and the United States. "It seems to be a variant of the Ramen worm," said David Dittrich, security administrator for the University of Washington and an expert on digital forensics and hacking tools. The Ramen worm , which used three well-known security flaws to infect systems using the Red Hat distribution of Linux, hit in mid-January and infected an unknown number of computers.


The vulnerabilities exploited by Ramen occur in three programs shipped with most Linux distributions and installed by default. The Adore worm--also known as the Red worm--uses all four flaws to automatically break into vulnerable systems. While patches have existed for all the vulnerabilities for at least a few months, most system administrators have not patched their systems, said Matt Fearnow, incident handler for the SANS Global Incident Analysis Center. "Three out of four of these exploits were patched back in August," he said. "We can only get after the system administrators to keep their systems patched. CNET.com


BSD Unix Bought By Wind River

In a major upheaval in the open-source software market, Wind River Systems has acquired Berkeley Software Design's version of Unix, merging the realms of proprietary and freely shared software. BSDi is the owner of the BSD/OS, the version of Unix at the heart of open-source projects such as FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and NetBSD. Under the terms of its license, though, anyone may keep modifications secret--a feature that made BSDi's software, not its cousin Linux, appealing to Wind River. Wind River, the dominant company in the embedded market, has been grappling with the arrival of Linux in much the same way that Microsoft faces competition from the upstart operating system for servers. The newer arrival not only can be used for free, but also a large and lively programmer community is constantly improving the operating system.


Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer has called Linux the company's No. 1 threat. Wind River acquired BSDi's software, along with 50 of its employees and Jason Hubbard, one of the leaders of the FreeBSD project. In addition, Wind River will provide financial backing for the FreeBSD effort and will keep some of its own software there. "Some of our code will be proprietary and managed in a separate tree, and some of our code will be maintained at FreeBSD," Fogeland said. A code "tree" is the collection of software and updates used by a group of programmers. ZDNet.com


DSL Providers Are Facing Major Problems

With the demise of NorthPoint Communications and signs of the impending failure of its closest rivals, the dream of competition in high-speed Net service is turning into a nightmare for many consumers. As connections are turned off with little warning, the Internet service providers that offered DSL service from now-struggling wholesalers are desperately trying to keep their customers online. A number of problems have been made public. Covad Communications on Tuesday announced it would delay its annual report, citing accounting issues. Rhythms NetConnections may be delisted from the Nasdaq and is considering selling its assets. Rhythms Chief Executive Catherine Hapka also resigned. NorthPoint's abrupt service shutdown left thousands of customers in the lurch. Increasingly, the safety net for ISPs has been to turn to the so-called Baby Bell phone companies, such as SBC Communications and Verizon Communications.


Many service providers worry that companies like Rhythms and Covad will follow NorthPoint over the financial cliff--and the ISPs don't want to be dragged down with them. What that means for consumers is far fewer choices in the market for high-speed Internet access--a dynamic that could affect prices and service. From the perspective of many larger ISPs, there's only one safe bet left: Go with the Bells. They might be difficult to work with, the reasoning goes, but they at least provide some semblance of stability for their subscribers. Most of the largest, such as EarthLink and Telocity, already have direct relationships with the big local phone companies as well as with the struggling wholesalers. CNET.com


Microsoft Will Make Major Changes To Passport's Terms of Use

Microsoft is facing scrutiny over a major new software initiative dubbed "HailStorm" that will build on 2-year-old Passport and other Microsoft technologies to create a new method of delivering software applications over the Internet. Passport is a single sign-in service that gives consumers a key for multiple Web sites. Among other things, HailStorm has been billed as way to widely manage personal data as consumers operate computer applications. "Unfortunately, they're old terms of use that we're obviously updating," said Microsoft spokesman Tom Pillow, who added that the terms of use will be changed "to reflect the (site's) privacy statement" in the next day or two. Privacy advocates have expressed outrage at the current terms of use for Passport, which apparently grant Microsoft enormous control over customer communications, contradicting the site's privacy policy. According to the terms of use, "by posting messages, uploading files, inputting data, submitting any feedback or suggestions, or engaging in any other form of communication with or through the Passport Web Site, you…are granting Microsoft and its affiliated companies permission to: Use, modify, copy, distribute, transmit, publicly display, publicly perform, reproduce, publish, sublicense, create derivative works from, transfer, or sell any such communication." ZDNet.com


Thursday April 5, 2001 Top


Will Virus Attacks Triple By The End of The Year

Virus attacks may triple by the end of the year, according to research from British antivirus software company MessageLabs, which projected that government departments and companies will collapse under the weight of malicious e-mail attachments. The research indicates virus incidents will increase dramatically over the coming year. Within government offices, the number of virus incidents is predicted to rise 222 percent, with e-mail use increasing just 62 percent by comparison. The figures are extrapolated from the increase in virus incidents MessageLabs customers saw between January 2000 and February 2001.


In this time, MessageLabs says it scanned more than 50 million e-mail messages for viruses. "The figures are disturbing," said MessageLabs Chief Technical Officer Mark Sunner. "Although the use of e-mail continues to flourish, and awareness of viruses increases, we aren't seeing a proportional rise in effective virus protection." Many virus experts blame virus outbreaks on a lack of common sense among Internet users, but Sunner said that companies can't afford to rely on educating users. "It is unrealistic to expect employees to be wholly responsible for stopping viruses by updating antivirus software," he said. "The figures show that there are now just too many viruses and virus variants out there for traditional (antivirus) software to cope with," he added. CNET.com


Apache 2.0 Has Reached Beta Status

A major revision to the popular open-source Apache server software has entered beta testing--much later than its developers had hoped. Apache is used to serve up Web pages. According to a study by research firm Netcraft, Apache is the most popular software package for that task: It's used about three times more often than Microsoft's Internet Information Server, though Microsoft's software is more popular for secure transactions. Apache 2.0 is a major rewrite expected to make the software faster and better suited to operating systems outside its Unix and Linux stronghold, including Windows. In an interview last August, senior developers said they hoped version 2.0 would be final by the end of 2000. Instead, the group only posted the first beta version Wednesday, the first day of the ApacheCon meeting in Santa Clara, Calif. ZDNet.com


What is Going on With Firewire

Companies like Iomega are releasing FireWire-based mass storage products and not just aiming them at Mac users. Indeed, the PC world is getting hip to 1394 as more than just an audio-video connectivity solution. Linux 2.4.x includes basic support for FireWire and the addition of SBP-2 drivers to the kernel source is evidently not far off . Clearly, someone is paying attention over there. Windows also has decent SBP-2 support today. Sun's recently-announced SunBlade 100 low-cost boxes come with 1394 ports on the motherboard. Not only that, but these are 6-pin ports, not the feeble 4-pin ones that don't supply power, arguably one of the most useful features of FireWire. If you have a device with reasonable power requirements--e.g. a small external hard drive--odds are good that you can power it from the wattage available on the FireWire cable, without the need for an additional power supply brick. Given that 1394-based hard drives are now commonplace, and being mass-produced by companies like Maxtor , no-one can successfully argue that 1394 is a Mac-only phenomenon any more. 1394 is something for every platform, including PCs. This state of affairs brings us to Intel. Intel has said that they have no plans to place Firewire on their motherboards. Intel has a vested interest in seeing 1394 be marginalized into a niche product and having USB 2.0 succeed. Sony has remove the power pins from FireWire and calls it i.Link. ZDNet.com


More Information on Unrecognizable Memory Issue on Macs

Many Mac owners have found that a minor update provided by Apple has left their machines unable to recognize much of their system's memory. The problems began cropping up after Apple posted the firmware upgrade--a change to the part of a computer that stores various hardware settings--for many of its recent G4- and G3-based models. Mac owners complain that nearly two weeks after Apple posted the new software, it still hasn't offered a way for downloaders to tell whether their memory will be recognized by the update, nor did the company warn owners that memory could be disabled by installing the update until only recently. Apple issued a brief statement this week reiterating that the memory check was a planned part of the firmware update, which the company says can "help alleviate random crashes and stability issues." Although Apple has not offered software to tell whether memory is compliant, a Mac enthusiast in New Zealand has. Glenn Anderson has posted to the Internet a free program that checks whether memory is likely to be recognized by the new firmware. The program is available for download on his site. Download The Memory Checker | CNET.com


Friday April 6, 2001 Top


Intel is About To Release Faster Pentium 4 and Celeron Chips

The 1.7GHz Pentium 4, which will officially debut April 23, will appear in PCs from Dell Computer, among others, said sources. Additionally, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based chipmaker will release on Monday an 850MHz version of its budget Celeron processor. AMD's fastest Athlon chip tops out at 1.3GHz, giving Intel a substantial margin in speed, a gap that will continue in the third quarter when Intel comes out with a 2GHz Pentium 4 and AMD releases 1.5GHz and higher Athlons. While more speed boosts sales, it is only one measure of performance, and on many standard applications, Athlon outpaces the Pentium 4. The Pentium 4, however, does better on video compression and many multimedia applications. "On certain things like streaming media, the Pentium 4 does extremely well. On the standard benchmarks, the Athlon does extremely well," said MicroDesign Resources analyst Kevin Krewell. "I'm leaning more toward the Intel model as time goes on," Krewell added. With applications such as Microsoft's PowerPoint presentation program, "we're getting to the point where the (1GHz) processor can do it all."


Intel and AMD are slated to officially cut prices by 20 percent or more April 15 and 16, respectively, according to several sources. Those coming price cuts, however, are already in effect at many retailers. The 1.5GHz Pentium 4, for instance, sells for $637 each in wholesale quantities of 1,000, while the 1.4GHz version goes for $423. Usually, Intel's wholesale prices are lower than retail prices, but that's not always the case. On the AMD side, the 1.3GHz Athlon "officially" sells for $318 while the 1.2GHz version sells for $268 in wholesale quantities of 1,000. Distributors, though, are selling the 1.3GHz chip for $223 and the 1.2GHz for $201. The early discounts come partly as a way to clear inventory. Distributors and dealers are cutting prices in anticipation of the mid-month discounts. Additionally, the "gray market," or unauthorized dealer network, has been increasingly active. CNET.com


Rambus-Infineon Trial Is Heating Up

A federal district court has delayed the start of the patent-infringement trial pitting memory designer Rambus against German chipmaker Infineon for a week to allow further discovery. The case, which is being heard in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, will now start April 17 rather than April 10, a Rambus representative confirmed. The intensely scrutinized trial--which has generated "insane" public reaction, according to one of the trial attorneys--is expected to have substantial repercussions in the memory industry. Rambus claims patents it owns allow it to collect royalties from memory manufacturers that produce SDRAM, the most common form of memory in computers today, and DDR DRAM, a high-speed successor now coming to the market in volume. Infineon disputes the claim. If the German chipmaker wins, it could lead to court victories for Micron and Hyundai, two other memory makers legally wrangling with Rambus. A number of memory companies have settled with Rambus, but the payments secured by those agreements could plummet if Rambus loses, Rambus executives have said.


One of the major issues in the case revolves around Rambus' conduct while it was a member of the Joint Electronic Devices Engineering Council (JEDEC). Rambus was a member of JEDEC's memory committee, which eventually approved SDRAM and DDR DRAM as standard memory architectures. Rambus did not disclose the existence of its potential patent claims, as required by the group's bylines, and later left the group.To Infineon, that constitutes fraud. In a recent pretrial hearing, Infineon's attorneys said that after Rambus left the JEDEC memory committee, an informant--alternately called "Secret Squirrel" and "Mix Master"--on the committee fed Rambus information on JEDEC hearings. The company then used the information to tailor its patent applications for maximum value. "Mix Master and Secret Squirrel, it will be our contention, are Mr. Crisp's (former Rambus employee Richard Crisp) source, one of Mr. Crisp's sources of monitoring JEDEC after Rambus left," asserted John Desmarais, attorney for Infineon. A source called Deep Throat also allegedly forwarded information. David Pendaris, an attorney for Rambus, said, "Mr. Crisp testified that one of the most bizarre experiences of his life was receiving these e-mails." In its defense, Rambus denies that its silence while in the JEDEC constitutes fraud. Infineon and many other memory manufacturers, the company asserts, knew about Rambus' potential intellectual-property claims. CNET.com


Outlook 2002 Will By Default Block Some Attachments

Responding to the rash of e-mail viruses that started with Melissa and I Love You , Microsoft is clamping down on the types of file attachments that will work with the newest version of its Outlook e-mail software. Outlook 2002, a new e-mail application included with Microsoft's forthcoming Office XP business software suite due later this spring, will by default reject more than 30 types of files sent as e-mail attachments, according to company executives. The files, deemed by Microsoft as most likely to be used by hackers to transfer viruses, include some of the most common types, such as program execution files, batch files, Windows help files, and Java and Visual Basic scripting files. Also blocked are photo CD images, screensavers and HTML application files, according to a list supplied by Microsoft. Opponents to the plan say Microsoft will make it much more difficult to share routine--and harmless--information via e-mail attachments.


Outlook 2002 users can send the restricted files as attachments, but the program will display the message: "Recipients using Microsoft Outlook may not be able to open these attachments." "We felt that in order to provide a level of protection many of our customers were asking for--as well as make sure that people became aware of good e-mail protocols--we needed to take a bit of a harsher step," said Lisa Gurry, Office XP product manager. But in taking that "harsher step," Microsoft also made the feature difficult to turn off, offering the average user no simple or direct means of disabling the function. Gurry said that with so few people downloading the updates, "unless we build something into the product, it's likely not going to protect them." Security expert Richard Smith, who had a hand in uncovering the Melissa virus' origins, believes Microsoft is taking tough action where it is warranted. Smith sees a simple solution for people absolutely needing to send executable file attachments: Compress the file using popular utilities like WinZip. "Us programmers are going to have to get used to zipping things up first," he said. "It's called changing social behavior." CNET.com


MSN Is The Last Major ISP To Block Port 25

Microsoft added a widely used spam filter to its MSN Internet service this week in a belated decision that underscores the ongoing difficulties of striking out against unsolicited bulk e-mail. Anti-spam activists called the move long overdue, saying it will drastically reduce the estimated 10 billion spam messages carried on MSN annually. Known as port 25 blocking, the measure has been adopted by most major Internet service providers as a way to prevent spammers from using random ISPs to ply their trade. Even though port 25 blocking has become an industry standard, however, the filter can create problems for noncompatible e-mail software, leading Microsoft to delay the implementation. Although port 25 blocking is relatively uncontroversial, Microsoft found itself facing some irate customers Wednesday. To comply with the industrywide endeavor, Microsoft added another layer of authentication to Outlook Express, becoming one of the last major ISPs to implement the industry-accepted blocking mechanism. Microsoft admitted that it was concerned that the filter adopted this week might affect customer service. Mark Wain, product manager at Microsoft, said the company waited to implement port 25 blocking in an attempt to "minimize the negative impact to our consumers." CNET.com


Linus Trovalds, In His New Book, Speaks Poorly Of OS X

The forthcoming autobiography from Linus Torvalds, creator of the Linux operating system and figurehead of the open-source movement, promises to cast a shadow over Apple Computer's newly released OS X, parts of which Torvalds describes in less-than-flattering terms. "Frankly, I think it's a piece of crap," Torvalds writes of Mach, the microkernel on which Apple's new operating system is based, with additional elements from the FreeBSD version of Unix. "It contains all the design mistakes you can make, and manages to even make up a few of its own." Torvalds' comments promise to upset not just Apple fans but also some quarters of the free software movement. The Mach microkernel is also being used as the core of Hurd, a kernel project from the Free Software Foundation that will be an alternative to Linux as the heart of the GNU (Gnu's Not Unix) operating system, originally devised by free-software advocate Richard Stallman.


The criticism comes in a chapter of "Just for Fun" where Torvalds tells that, on arrival in Silicon Valley in early 1997, Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs invited him to join Apple and help develop OS X. He says Jobs also wanted him to help attract open-source developers to the project. The remarks will particularly sting Apple because the company has widely publicized the fact that the core of its new operating system is, like Linux, based on the Unix operating system and was developed on open-source software. The Mach microkernel was created at Carnegie Mellon University in 1985 and has been incorporated into a number of commercial operating systems, including IBM's OS/2 on certain systems and Apple's OS X. Torvalds says that as developers have tried to improve the Mach microkernel it has become hugely complicated and convoluted. Torvalds writes that, even back in 1997, he foresaw compatibility problems between the new operating system and older applications, due to a lack of memory protection--a safeguard that stops applications influencing each other and the operating system--in old Mac applications. CNET.com


Weekend April 6 & 7, 2001 Top


IBM Releases New Wireless Keyboard and Mouse

IBM today introduced a new wireless keyboard and mouse. The new Rapid Access Wireless Keyboard and ScrollPoint Wireless Mouse utilize advanced radio frequency (RF) technology, allowing for a completely cordless, clean-desk environment. Additionally, the full-function wireless keyboard provides more features in a space narrower than standard keyboards. The kit consists of a keyboard, mouse and receiver which comes in a sleek, black design and features a number of stand-out productivity features including:17 Rapid Access keyboard buttons that can be used to quickly launch frequently-used applications and to perform commonly-repeated tasks for increased efficiency; 12 separate RF channels to eliminate potential interference with other devices; a USB connection allowing for rapid plug and play; and a saddle-shaped cap on the ScrollPoint mouse to improve productivity which supports horizontal and vertical scrolling plus the ability to select 360 degree scrolling. The IBM Wireless Keyboard and Mouse Kit sells for $99, and is available for order immediately on http://www.ibm.com.


U.S. Robotics New Soundlink Sends PC Sound Onto Your Radio

U.S. Robotics, the world's leading provider in Internet access and connectivity, today began shipping SoundLink Wireless Audio Delivery System, allowing users to listen to MP3 files or Internet radio stations via their home stereos or portable radios as well as offering a number of other versatile audio applications. Available from major retailers or directly from U.S. Robotics’ Web site at www.usr.com, the product is expected to sell for an estimated street price of $99. SoundLink users simply plug the transmitter unit into the PC’s audio out jack, place the receiving unit up to 10 feet from their stereo or radio, and tune the FM receiver to 88.1 or 88.3. The wireless signal can transmit to a receiving unit up to 1,000 feet away, offering the rich variety of Internet audio virtually anywhere in the home or outdoors. Operating on the 900Mhz frequency and compatible with any audio device’s 3.5mm or RCA output jack, SoundLink also offers a variety of additional audio options to users, such as wirelessly transmitting music from an MP3 player to a stereo or portable radio, or transmitting audio from a stereo or CD player to an FM radio. The transmitter and receiving units are approximately five inches wide and four inches high. The product also includes two six-volt DC power adapters, installation guide, and RCA and 3.5mm cables for a direct connection between the receiving unit and a stereo’s auxiliary input.


D-Link Announces New Wireless Broadband Router/Access Point

D-Link announced today the addition of the DI-711 Wireless Home DSL/Cable Router & Access Point + 10/100 Ethernet Port to its Award Winning Line of D-Link Air Wireless Products. Targeted at the Home user or the Small Office/Home Office (SOHO), the D-Link DI-711 is the easiest, most affordable and most secure way to share a high-speed DSL/Cable Internet connection over a Wireless LAN. The D-Link DI-711 provides the safety and security of a natural hardware firewall and the ability to share a single Internet connection-all with the ease of wireless networking. The D-Link DI-711's port blocking, and packet filtering features as well as its ability to disguise local users Internet Protocol (IP) addresses, stop hackers and other intruders before they can get to the PC. The Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) services allow multiple PCs access to the Internet by distributing a unique IP Address to each user. The IEEE 802.11b compliant wireless access point function builds infrastructure for the network, while at the same time extending the reach of the network communications capability.


The D-Link DI-711 functions as an IEEE 802.11b compliant wireless residential gateway by providing two levels of firewall protection. First, it masks local users' IP addresses from others on the Internet making it much more difficult for a hacker to target a machine on your network. Second, it can block and redirect certain ports to limit the services that outside users can access. Also, the user can open specific ports to ensure that games and other Internet applications will run properly. In addition to the security provided by the D-Link DI-711's firewall feature, it has a single 10Mb Ethernet port for connection to a DSL Modem, Cable Modem, or other Broadband access device, which then can be shared through either the 10/100 Dual Speed Ethernet port or via it's integrated wireless access point. The built-in access point and integrated wireless router deliver important features of their own.



Latest AMD Processor Prices

This listing reflects pricing for direct AMD customers in 1000-unit tray quantities as of April 2, 2001.


AMD Athlon Processor for Desktop:

  • 1333MHz (266MHz Front-side Bus) $350
  • 1300MHz (200MHz Front-side Bus) $318
  • 1200MHz (266MHz Front-side Bus) $294
  • 1200MHz (200MHz Front-side Bus) $268
  • 1133MHz (266MHz Front-side Bus) $265
  • 1100MHz (200MHz Front-side Bus) $241
  • 1000MHz (266MHz Front-side Bus) $224
  • 1000MHz (200MHz Front-side Bus) $204
  • 950MHz (200MHz Front-side Bus) $182
  • 900MHz (200MHz Front-side Bus) $172

AMD Duron Processor for Desktop:

  • 900MHz $129
  • 850MHz $111
  • 800MHz $90

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