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Week of August 12, 2001 News Archive

Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Weekend

Monday August 13, 2001 Top

Via Trys to Skirt Legal Trouble over its Pentium 4 Chipsets

Via Technologies is set to launch its Pentium 4 chipset in full production quantities on Wednesday, despite the threat of legal action from Intel. The Taiwan semiconductor manufacturer, the second largest chipset maker after Intel, is using both the S3 and Via brands on the new chipsets in an attempt to dodge legal trouble with Intel, motherboard makers have said. Via officials have said the company does not need a license to produce the chipsets because of its recent purchase of graphics chipmaker S3, which cross-licensed technology with Intel before it became part of Via. But Intel last week sounded a warning that unauthorized chipset makers would face lawsuits. Industry analysts say Via's legal situation may be less ambiguous than it appears. "If they are infringing (Intel's patent), it wouldn't stop them from making chipsets," said IDC senior analyst Andy Brown. "They might be liable to pay a certain amount." Last summer, Via reached an out-of-court settlement with Intel over Pentium III technology after a lengthy legal battle. Nonetheless, Via is treading on dangerous ground. "You don't want to be too pushy with Intel...and they shouldn't count their chickens," said IDC's Brown. Third-party chipsets are taking over more market share, partly as a response to Intel's production problems last year and partly out of pricing concerns. "Via is certainly taking a much larger proportion of the market as vendors become less concerned with using Intel chipsets," Brown said.

Rambus's Latest Lawsuit Comes From Shareholders

After a complex ruling in the legal battle between chip companies Rambus and Infineon, a group of Rambus investors has filed a class-action lawsuit against the company, alleging violations of federal securities laws. The case was filed Friday in U.S. District Court for Northern California on behalf of shareholders who purchased Rambus stock between Feb. 11, 2000, and May 9, 2001. It alleges that chip designer Rambus misled investors about the royalties it could reap based on a series of patents related to computer memory. The class-action lawsuit alleges that during the course of the battle between Rambus and German chipmaker Infineon, it became clear that Rambus' patents were fraudulently obtained, causing Rambus stock to plunge from $450 per share to below $10. Another U.S. District Court last week set aside an earlier verdict that had found Rambus liable for fraud related to its patents. However, the same ruling ordered Rambus to pay $7.1 million in legal fees incurred by Infineon, and Rambus has not been able to prove that Infineon violated Rambus patents. Rambus is appealing the ruling. Rambus claims that its patents entitle it to receive royalties for all manufacture of SDRAM, the standard memory format used in PCs, as well as for faster DDR DRAM. Infineon and the class-action lawsuit allege, however, that Rambus' patents were obtained fraudulently after the company patented technologies discussed by an industry consortium for inclusion in the SDRAM standard. The class-action lawsuit was filed by Beatie and Osborn, a New York law firm.

IBM Drops AMD Support for Desktop Systems in the US

IBM has quietly discontinued using Advanced Micro Devices' chips in PCs sold in North America, as the battle for market share between AMD and Intel intensifies. Big Blue continues to use AMD chips in computers sold in Asia, but an IBM spokesman confirmed Monday that the company has dropped AMD's Athlon and Duron chips from its desktop lineup for the United States and Canada. IBM has also curtailed marketing AMD-based computers in Europe, the spokesman said. Unlike Compaq Computer and Hewlett-Packard, IBM has not actively promoted AMD's chips. IBM first adopted Athlon and Duron for U.S. computers last September but offered the chip only as a build-to-order option for consumer models. In Canada, IBM offered two computers with AMD chips. Still, the IBM alliance was seen as a symbolic victory for Sunnyvale, Calif.-based AMD. Historically, IBM had relied primarily on Intel processors. The decision to drop AMD came as part of an effort to streamline its consumer PC product line, IBM spokesman Bob Page said Monday. "The AMD processors are not currently offered in the United States," Page said. "That choice ended in May 2001 when we simplified the product line to make it easier for customers to understand." Despite the North American setback with IBM, an AMD spokesman said the two companies will continue to work together in other regions of the world. AMD also continues to fight for design wins with major companies.

Broadband Internet Could Be Transmitted By Plane

The world's first unmanned plane intended as a telecom tower in the sky is attracting interest as a new way to get broadband Internet connections to businesses. Helios, an aircraft resembling a giant wing, was built with funding and research help from NASA, and has flown successfully. Backers claim its transmission services will be far cheaper than satellites and more efficient than wireless towers. "We have very poor broadband last-mile coverage in the world, and we are looking to provide a wireless link to do it," said Earl Cox, SkyTower Telecommunications' director of telecommunications. SkyTower is a young subsidiary of solar-powered vehicles pioneer AeroVironment, which built and designed Helios. SkyTower hopes to begin mass production of the flying wings in 2003, and is in talks with potential partners, Cox said. SkyTower is not unique in looking to the skies for an answer to the broadband bottleneck. Angel Technologies has a plan to use a light airplane designed to fly in the stratosphere; this is its High Altitude Long Operation (HALO) Network. The airplane has tested successfully, but no customers have been announced yet. Platforms Wireless International wants to use blimps for wireless communications at an altitude of 15,000 feet and has signed one customer - Americel of Brazil.

Helios will be able to stay in the air for six months or longer because of its fuel cells and a limited number of moving parts. At an anticipated cost of $10 million each, it will be far cheaper than conventional communications satellites, which cost about $200 million each, backers say. And that, Cox said, is why Helios will soon develop into a platform of choice for fixed broadband, next-generation wireless, narrowband and direct broadcast applications. He said Helios can supply data rates of 1.5 megabits per second to 125 Mbps for a single user. The 30-millisecond latency of Helios-centered communications is comparable to that of fiber optics. "Flying planes such as this gets a little bit expensive . . . there are cheaper solutions, like Platforms International," said Allen Nogee, senior analyst of Cahners In-Stat Group. "They [SkyTower] have a chance of raising money if they can prove the costs are offset by the coverage they are going to offer." Technical experts at the telecom providers that SkyTower is soliciting as partners have not yet formed an opinion about the viability of flying platforms such as Helios. Helios-powered broadband service would require customers to buy or lease a satellite dish and a router hub. They would subscribe to Internet access as a service.

New Video Card Supports Dual Apple Cinema Displays

If you're a fan of Apple's expansive 22-inch Cinema Display but you have a need to use it on a Windows-based workstation, you might be interested in a new offering from PC graphics card and chipmaker 3Dlabs Inc. Ltd. The company today announced a "premium edition" of its Oxygen GVX420 card which supports the use of not just one but two Cinema Displays. 3Dlabs president and CEO Osman Kent said that his company's customers expect the ultimate in professional workstation graphics, which is why they wanted to support the Apple Cinema Display. "3Dlabs is proud to be the first to deliver this capability on the PC workstation platforms," said Kent. The Apple Cinema Display utilizes ADC, or Apple Display Connector, to manage its connection to the computer. ADC combines digital video output, power and USB all on a single cable and connector, thus reducing clutter between the computer and monitor. 3dlabs said that the "premium edition" of the Oxygen GVX420 card "comes with the necessary software, converters, cables and power supplies" to make the Cinema Display work on the card, on a PC equipped with Windows NT 4 or Windows 2000 operating systems. 3Dlabs has not announced plans to support this new card on the Mac. The company has licensed its cards to third-party Mac graphics card makers in the past, however.

Tuesday August 14, 2001 Top

ATI Announces Next Generation Radeon Chips

ATI Technologies Inc. announced today it has taken performance leadership in the PC graphics industry with the introduction of its next generation RADEON processors, the world's most powerful and innovative family of graphics chip and board technologies offering the ultimate in pure gaming power, 3D quality of the highest order and unparalleled price-performance. Building on the performance leadership demonstrated by its second-generation RADEON chip and board technologies announced today, and founded on the heritage of its first-generation RADEON products, ATI's new family of graphics processors delivers unprecedented performance for both enthusiast and mainstream computing, offering consumers the most complete range of solutions available from any graphics manufacturer in the world. "Today's introduction of our revolutionary, new RADEON family of graphics processors is proof-positive of our ability to deliver on our strategy that calls for technology leadership, improving market share leadership and absolute customer acceptance of ATI's value," said David Orton, President & Chief Operating Officer, ATI Technologies Inc. "ATI is breaking new ground in high-performance gaming, mainstream 3D visual effects and mid-range workstation content development capability, while establishing a new standard for power, quality and value in every category in our industry."

The new RADEON graphics processor family consists of two category-leading products. The RADEON 8500: Designed with the most advanced graphics technology in the world, the RADEON 8500 delivers up to 33 percent higher performance than the nearest competitive graphics processor. Major technological advancements include TRUFORM, an innovative rendering technology that helps to deliver the smoothest, most natural 3D images ever seen on existing and next-generation 3D games; and SMARTSHADER, an advanced technology that takes advantage of the new Microsoft DirectX 8.1 API (application programming interface) to enable more complex and realistic texture and lighting effects without sacrificing performance, including supporting Pixel Shaders Version 1.4. And the RADEON 7500: This graphics processor offers an ideal combination of performance, innovative 3D features and real value for mainstream commercial and consumer computer users. It delivers up to a 60 percent improvement in performance compared to the previous generation of RADEON high-performance processors. The RADEON 7500 targets the performance mainstream, offering a level of performance not seen at its price point.
ATI Radeon 8500 Preview | ATI Radeon 7500 Preview

Linux Community Prepares To Celebrate 10th Anniversary

It was 10 years ago this month that a 21-year-old Linus Torvalds sent an e-mail to the open-source software community saying an experimental version of the Linux kernel, the core technology that would end up embodied in Linux operating systems, was up and running. "I'm doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones," Torvalds wrote in an e-mail to a discussion group that focused on the Unix variant Minix. "This has been brewing since April, and is starting to get ready." Torvalds posted version 0.01 of the kernel the following month. While Linux lacked some of the features and big-name backing of other operating systems, it had a giant appeal--those who adopted it could tailor it as they saw fit. Since that note, Linux has become a worldwide phenomenon. By last year, less than a decade after its inception, Linux had 27 percent of the server market, according to researcher IDC. That compares to 41 percent of the market held by Microsoft's Windows. Just as important, Linux popularized the concept of open-source software, where developers freely exchange intellectual property. Advocates say open-source concepts will revolutionize software. By contrast, Microsoft has likened open licenses to cancer and called them un-American. While Microsoft and Intel celebrated the 20th anniversary of the IBM PC with a giant party in San Jose, members of the Linux community plan more subdued celebrations in various locales, including a gathering later this month at a Sunnyvale, Calif., park.

IM Worms Likely To Increase After Windows XP Release

Instant messaging has yet to gain an official foothold in many corporations, but that is likely to change. For example, Microsoft's upcoming Windows XP operating system will add new features to its instant messenger that may be attractive to corporations, such as document sharing and video conferencing. "As more people migrate to XP, there is an increased risk because it becomes an attractive element for a virus writer," said Vincent Gullotto, the senior director of McAfee's Avert group. In addition, computer security experts said they are particularly concerned because few defenses have been developed to protect IM networks from viruses. "One of the interesting aspects of instant messaging viruses is most antivirus products don't necessarily stop them," said Elias Levy, chief technical officer of "There are antivirus products that attempt to detect e-mail messages, but I don't know of any that will support instant messaging protocols." In response to the Choke worm and other potential viruses sent through its IM systems, Microsoft believes the user is the first line of defense. Like other viruses propagated through e-mail, Choke is contained in an attachment. Once opened, Choke can send itself out to people on one's MSN Messenger buddy list, increasing the chances that someone else will open an infected file and repeat the cycle.

That means people can prevent its spread with a little common sense--for example, by treating attachments sent by strangers with caution. "An MSN Messenger user needs to go through a few steps, which include warning messages, in order to receive and download the file," said Sarah Lefko, an MSN product manager. "Then, the user would have to actually double click and execute the file itself in order to propagate the virus." MSN's service competes with the two largest IM services, AIM and ICQ, which are owned by AOL Time Warner. That company's America Online service, which runs the instant messengers, has been the target of hackers and scammers trying to steal passwords and credit card numbers. A spokesman from the company's AOL division said security measures are used for the IM services but would not go into detail for fear of tipping off virus writers. Since e-mail and instant messaging run on separate systems, AOL must develop separate security measures.

Nvidia Continues to Grow Despite PC Downturn

Graphics chipmaker Nvidia said Tuesday that fiscal second-quarter earnings rose 50 percent year over year on the continued strong growth in its graphics cards and workstation business. Market leader Nvidia, which makes chips for PCs, workstations and the Xbox video game console from Microsoft, said earnings for the quarter that ended July 31 were $33.6 million, or 39 cents per diluted share, compared with $22.5 million, or 28 cents per share, in the year-earlier period. Excluding amortization of goodwill and one-time charges, the company reported pro forma earnings of $50.1 million, or 43 cents per share--ahead of the consensus estimate of 41 cents per share from five analysts surveyed by First Call. Revenue for the quarter was $260.3 million, up from $170.4 million in the year-earlier quarter and up from $240.9 million in the prior quarter.

Apple Spending 85 Million on Retail Stores

A recent regulatory filing from Apple notes that the company plans to spend approximately US$85 million by the end of 2001 in its efforts to open 25 retail stores. In its quarterly 10-Q filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Apple reiterated plans to open more than two dozen stores this year and also suggested that it'll open additional stores in 2002. "The Company intends to locate its retail stores in major markets in high traffic locations in shopping malls and urban shopping districts," said Apple. And it looks like Apple plans to keep its stores around for a while, too. "As of June 30, 2001, the Company has entered into operating leases necessary to support its existing retail expansion plans resulting in incremental operating lease commitments of approximately $203 million with terms extending between 5 and 12 years," said Apple. According to the filing, Apple expects to break even with its retail efforts in the first quarter of fiscal 2002 -- which for Apple is the last three months of this calendar year. Apple hopes to "generate a slight profit" on the stores throughout all of fiscal 2002. The new retail stores represent quite a departure for Apple, which since the 1970's has relied on a network of authorized dealers, specialists and computer superstores to sell its hardware and software into the retail market. Apple's retail stores are different from many computer stores because they emphasize what people can do with the technology, rather than the technology itself. Different stations feature Macs that are used to burn MP3s to CD, surf the Web, turn video into iMovies, and more. The stores also feature shelves of Mac-compatible software, hardware and accessories.

Wednesday August 15, 2001 Top

Creative Announces Next Generation Audio Processor

Creative Technology Ltd. today announced the next-generation Audigy audio processor and EAX ADVANCED HD, two core elements of Creative's future audio developments. The new Audigy processor boasts four times the effects processing power of Creative Technology's famed EMU10K1 processor, which powers the industry-leading Sound Blaster Live! brand of PC audio cards. Its dedicated design makes it uniquely capable of executing the complex audio algorithms required to produce higher fidelity reverb and effects, as well as powering advanced 3D audio imaging for games, music and home studio productions. "Audigy and EAX ADVANCED HD represent an exponential leap in the power and functionality of PC audio," said Sim Wong Hoo, founder and CEO of Creative. "Creative is the pioneer in audio technology for the PC, and these innovations position us for continued leadership and success in both the PC and consumer electronics markets."

The Audigy processor features a 32-bit Multi-Effects Engine, which accelerates Creative's new EAX ADVANCED HD technology to enhance both gaming and music listening experiences. For gaming, EAX ADVANCED HD provides unprecedented realism by providing users the following features: Multi-Environment - Gamers can enjoy four simultaneous audio environments in real time; Environment Morphing - Provides a natural audio transition from one environment to another with real-time morphing of each environment's audio characteristics; Environment Panning - Enables gamers to hear the 3D spatialization and localization of an upcoming or distant environment; Environment Reflections - Allows the real-world phenomenon of sound bouncing off surfaces and returning to the gamer in full 3D; Environment Filtering - Utilizes high-pass audio filters to generate accurate simulation of sound from both indoor and outdoor environments.

For game developers, the EAX ADVANCED HD game audio library provides a compelling set of useful tools with support for Microsoft's Direct Sound API, the OpenAL API, Dolby Digital 5.1 mixing API and EAGLE 3.0 Graphical Librarian Editor.Digital music enthusiasts will be able to utilize the interactive elements of EAX ADVANCED HD to enhance their listening experience, be it with CD Audio, MP3 or other digital formats and Dolby Digital music. Specific music-related benefits include: Audio Clean-Up - Removes unwanted "hiss" and scratch noise from MP3 tracks or from material encoded to MP3 from cassette or LP; Time Scaling - Speeds up or slows down audio playback without changing the pitch or audio quality; EAX ADVANCED HD Audio Effects - Provides users a wide range of sophisticated environmental audio presets as well as special effects for an enriched music experience; DREAM - Create enhanced surround sound from any stereo source by redirecting the path of a specific frequency range.

Final Code for Windows XP and IE 6 is Imminent

Microsoft late Tuesday issued a nearly finished version of Windows XP to testers, signaling it plans to release final code earlier than expected. The Redmond, Wash.-based software giant had told PC makers to expect final code, which would be used to install Windows XP on new computers, around Aug. 22. But Microsoft now is expected to certify final Windows XP code within the next few days. "This build is not the RTM (release to manufacturing) build. However, we are very close," the most recent e-mail from Microsoft to Windows XP beta testers states. The Windows XP version released Tuesday is labeled build 2542. Microsoft issued the last publicly available build, 2526, to about 250,000 testers three weeks ago as Windows XP Release Candidate 2. Microsoft is also expected to release Internet Explorer 6, which is integrated into Windows XP, about the same time as the final Windows XP code. When that happens, IE 6 will also become available for download from Microsoft's Web site for older Windows versions, such as 98, Me and 2000.

Latest Versions of Internet Explorer Disables Quicktime

Apple Computer this week said it is trying to fix a problem that prevents its QuickTime media player from working with the most recent versions of Microsoft's browser. The problem cropped up July 31, when Microsoft released a service pack upgrade for Internet Explorer 5.5, dubbed SP2. Microsoft routinely issues service packs to patch security problems with its browser. In this case, however, Web surfers who installed the product were unable to view QuickTime video. The same problem affects a test release of Microsoft's new Internet Explorer 6 browser. "Apple is aware of the compatibility issue between QuickTime and the beta of Internet Explorer 6 and Internet Explorer 5.5 SP2, and we are working with Microsoft to resolve the issue," an Apple representative said in a statement. "There will be a fix for which more information will be made available shortly." Other popular software programs, including RealNetworks' RealPlayer, Adobe Systems' Acrobat Reader and Macromedia's Shockwave player, appear to work normally with the browser upgrades. The sooner Microsoft delivers final Windows XP code to PC makers, the more time there will be to prep the operating system for new PCs. New PCs containing Windows XP are expected to go on sale Sept. 24, about a month before the new operating system's official launch date.

The QuickTime compatibility problem comes as Microsoft is revamping its support of third-party Web applications from within the browser. At stake is the role of computer code known as "plug-ins," technology pioneered by Netscape Communications to extend the function of Web browsers by welding them closely to other programs. Others complained that they had difficulties undoing the installation to switch back to a version of IE that supports QuickTime. Limore Shur, president and creative director at New York-based design company Eyeball, said that Microsoft software support waived its usual fee after conceding there was no fix for the problem short of reinstalling IE from the original CD-ROM. Windows XP lead product manager Jim Cullinan said a fix should be posted shortly. "We have been working with Apple to be sure QuickTime works--and they have developed a version that is compatible with IE 5.5 and 6.0," he said.

Intel Announces Technology to Create Better 3D Lighting

Intel Corporation today announced that it has developed a new software technology called Light Field Mapping (LFM) that helps to create more life-like 3-D images for interactive applications, such as games, by correctly modeling light reflection properties of 3-D objects. This technology will allow game developers and animators to use more realistic objects and scenes in their 3-D creations. Developed by Intel Labs researchers, Light Field Mapping technology is a compact, efficient and highly accurate method for representing light reflectance properties of real and synthetic objects. LFM has the potential of making photo-realistic computer graphics possible on the PC and could become a new standard in computer graphics, improving texture mapping, a 3-D graphics technique commonly used today. Intel Labs researchers will present technical details of this technology at the SIGGRAPH trade show here today. "The big challenge for the 3-D graphics industry today is how to bring the realism we know we are capable of delivering into interactive 3-D graphics," said Radek Grzeszczuk, senior research scientist with Intel's Microprocessor Research Labs. " The combination of a fast and simple rendering routine, small data sets and ease of content creation features in LFM will help bring more realism to computer graphics without sacrificing interactivity."

Three-dimensional graphics can be used to produce synthetic images that often cannot be distinguished from reality - such as those in movie special effects. However, producing graphics with this level of realism takes a long time to compute, making it difficult to deliver top quality in interactive uses, such as video games. LFM will help bring high quality 3-D to real-time, interactive applications. LFM also has a great potential for improving the 3-D scanning industry because it can correctly reproduce the appearance of physical objects, even those with very complex surface reflectance properties. Intel Labs researchers are working on developing a complete solution for acquisition, delivery and visualization of 3-D models that are highly realistic and acquired completely automatically, with minimal human intervention. Intel's LFM technology should help create photorealistic 3-D content quickly and easily. Over the next few months, Intel will be talking to game developers about the use of Light Field Mapping technology in future 3-D game engines. Intel will also be talking to 3D scanner developers in the same timeframe. Intel expects to see initial diffusion of LFM in about 18 months, with broader diffusion in about two years.

Privacy Groups File More Complaints over Passport

A group of privacy organizations on Wednesday renewed their attacks on Microsoft's Passport authentification service and Windows XP, asking the Federal Trade Commission to mandate changes in Microsoft's new operating system. The loose affiliation of 14 groups amended an existing complaint filed in late July with the FTC. During a media event here, Marc Rotenberg, executive director for the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), said the groups had filed a 12-page supplemental complaint "alleging that Microsoft by offering Passport (authentication) and associated services is engaging in unfair and deceptive trade practices in violation of Section 5 of the FTC act." The amended filing focused on changes the coalition said Microsoft made to Passport in response to their original complaint and also on privacy concerns regarding Kids Passport. Based on a review conducted by the Center for Media Education (CME), the groups concluded that Kids Passport does not comply with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Passport is Microsoft's online authentication system that is used for logging in to multiple Web sites or services.

Bran Arbogast, vice president of Microsoft's Personal Services & Devices Group, dismissed many of the privacy allegations leveled against the software giant. "For Microsoft to be a leader in the services world, we need to be constantly gaining the trust of our partners and customers," he said. "We are very serious about privacy." Wednesday's amended complaint drew a skeptical response from some industry analysts, as well, who said they are not convinced that many of the groups' complaints against Windows XP and other Microsoft technologies such as Passport are warranted or that the company's privacy policies are any worse than those implemented by other companies. "The idea that Microsoft is any worse than any other company is simply unfair," said Directions on Microsoft analyst Matt Rosoff. Guernsey Research analyst Chris LeTocq agreed. "In what I've seen Passport do, Microsoft is not asking for any more information than any other sites."

Thursday August 16, 2001 Top

Operating System Maker Be Bought by Palm

Palm announced on Thursday that it is acquiring the technology assets and intellectual property of software maker Be for $11 million in stock, in a move aimed at strengthening its operating system to compete against Microsoft. Palm said it expects the acquisition to bolster its OS, particularly in the areas of communications, Internet and multimedia technologies. "This move will help us expand the Palm OS platform into broader markets," Carl Yankowski, PalmÕs chief executive, said in a statement. IDC analyst Alex Slawsby praised the acquisition of Be as a way to improve the Palm OS in the face of Microsoft's rival Pocket PC OS. "If Palm can take advantage of Be's strengths, it will help to put it in a stronger competitive position with Pocket PC," IDC analyst Alex Slawsby said. Where they have to go, Be already is," Crawford said. He added that it is never easy to integrate operating systems but that using some of Be's technology, especially in the area of multimedia, could help. Palm is particularly looking to play catch-up with Microsoft in the area of multimedia. Unlike the Pocket PC OS, the Palm OS does not natively support playing MP3 files.

Crawford praised Palm's deal for other reasons too. "They're getting (Be) for next to nothing," he said. Menlo Park, Calif.-based Be, founded by former Apple Computer executive Gassee, originally focused on creating an operating system fine-tuned for audio and video production. Although it has a base of devoted fans, Be has struggled to find a market for its OS. Most recently, Be tried to market a version of its OS--dubbed BeIA--for use in Internet appliances. Its only notable win of late was a deal to power Sony's eVilla Web-surfing appliance. Be's future with the eVilla appears shaky. "The OS will continue to be supported within eVilla," Sony spokeswoman Gretchen Griswold said. However, Griswold said, how that will occur is unclear. Among the options under consideration is having Palm support the eVilla OS, she said. However, Palm said it has no plans to further develop the Be operating system as a standalone OS.

Intel Developer Forum Will Showcase New Technology

Intel will demonstrate a mobile version of the Pentium 4, release a 2GHz desktop chip and outline a number of other initiatives at its developer forum later this month, as the high-tech industry moves into the living room. Home and personal computing will loom large at the Intel Developer Forum, which runs from Aug. 27 through Aug. 30 in San Jose, Calif. Last year, Intel, Microsoft and others in the PC industry launched a strategy to transform computers into the nerve center of home entertainment. With the upcoming release of Microsoft's Windows XP operating system this fall and cheaper Pentium 4 chips on the way, that strategy will begin to kick into high gear. PCs with enhanced video capabilities, for instance, will be nearly inescapable in stores come November. Digital video is "going to take off," said Anand Chandrasekher, vice president of microprocessor marketing at Intel. "Expect to see a ton of 1394." FireWire, officially known as IEEE 1394, is a peripheral technology originally developed by Apple Computer for connecting digital cameras and other consumer-electronics devices to computers.

As part of the home invasion, Intel will release a 2GHz Pentium 4 for desktops Aug. 27, Chandrasekher said. A day earlier, Intel will announce massive cuts to prices on existing chips, several sources have said. The Serial ATA Working Group also plans to release the final version of its ATA specification. The spec, when embodied in hardware, will allow for faster data transfers between drives--such as CD-rewritable or hard drives--and processors. Not only will this improve performance, but the elimination of connection ribbon wire will let PC makers build smaller, colder-running machines. On the laptop front, Intel will demonstrate a mobile Pentium 4 for the first time, Chandrasekher said. The chip will officially come out in the first half of 2002. In addition, Intel will provide details on "Banias," the first Intel processor specifically designed for notebooks. Banias, code-named after an archaeological site in Israel, will run the same software as standard Pentium chips but consume less power and feature other notebook-friendly features, according to Frank Spindler, general manager of Intel's mobile product unit. It is set to come out in 2003.

Microsoft Makes Statement about Java and Windows XP

Microsoft released a statement to the press late Thursday explaining the reasons for its removal of support for Java in its upcoming Windows XP operating system. Sun took out full-page ads in three newspapers last week asking consumers to "demand that Microsoft include the Java platform in their XP operating system." In April, Microsoft removed its 4-year-old version of Sun's Java Virtual Machine (JVM) from testing versions of the Internet Explorer 6 browser, which is integrated into Windows XP. The JVM will be an optional 5MB download the first time a user accesses a Web page requiring Java support. In the statement, which will be posted to Microsoft's Web site later Thursday, the company said: "Sun Microsystems has turned its marketing machine into high gear about Windows XP, claiming that Microsoft has hurt Sun, Java and customers by not including the Microsoft virtual machine in Windows XP. It's time to set the facts straight." Microsoft described Sun's campaign against Microsoft as "unparalleled hypocrisy," arguing the company "has taken every step possible to prevent Microsoft from shipping its award winning Java virtual machine. They spent several years suing to stop Microsoft from shipping a high-performance Java virtual machine that took advantage of Windows."

Sun filed a lawsuit in 1997 alleging Microsoft violated its contract for licensing Java. Part of Java's appeal is its ability to run programs identically on many different computer systems--such as those using Apple's Mac OS or Microsoft's Windows--without having to rewrite the programs for each OS. But to run the programs--typically in a browser--the PC must have a copy of the JVM. Sun argued in the lawsuit that changes Microsoft made to the version of the JVM it used with Windows violated its Java licensing agreement. In its statement on Thursday, Microsoft once again argued that those changes benefit Windows users. The two companies settled the dispute in January, with Sun agreeing to let Microsoft continue using a 4-year-old JVM for seven years but prohibiting the software giant from using new versions of the software. "Rather than pursue a new licensing arrangement, Sun settled its lawsuit with Microsoft by offering a phase-out of Microsoft's Java implementation," Microsoft charged in its statement. "Sun was quick to pronounce the settlement a great victory." Microsoft further charged that "Sun got what they said they wanted: The termination of the existing Java license and an agreement that Microsoft would phase out its Java virtual machine."

Survey Shows Growth of Java and Linux Among Developers

Developers using Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Java programming language will outnumber those using the C/C++ languages by next year, the findings of a series of studies conducted by Evans Data Corp. and released late Wednesday show. Presenting the firm's research findings at IBM's Solutions technical developers conference here on Wednesday afternoon, Janel Garvin, vice president of research at Evans, said that more than half of North American developers use Java today, with that number expected to rise by 10 percent next year. The research also shows that Java usage has been rising at the expense of Visual Basic and C/C++. "This means that, for the first time, more North American developers will be using Java than Visual Basic or C/C++ next year," Garvin said. "Java usage is even stronger outside North America, with almost 60 percent of developers expecting to spend some part of their programming time using Java." Initial surveys have shown that only a small portion of developers intend to try Microsoft Corp.'s C# language, which is relatively new, and those developers will predominantly be ones already using Microsoft programming languages, Garvin said. There is no evidence of any significant adoption to date, she added.

On the Linux front, an Evans survey conducted in March with 300 developers who use Linux as their main development platform or who created applications targeted to run on Linux found that more than 60 percent of the respondents use the operating system because they find it to be more reliable than Windows and other operating systems. More than 40 percent of respondents also felt that Linux offers more value for the money than other operating systems and will provide greater future scalability. Access to the source code was a major motivating factor for more than 40 percent of those developers who adopted Linux, Garvin said. The survey also found that confidence is growing among North American developers regarding Linux's suitability for use in mission-critical applications. "There were more positive than negative responses on this issue for the first time in the fall of 2000, and positive sentiment continued to grow through spring 2001, which is a very good sign," she said. The survey also found that 77.2 percent of the developers surveyed chose Red Hat Linux as the distribution for use with a Web server or Web application server. This is more than three times the 21.8 percent who selected SuSE Linux or Mandrake. Caldera OpenLinux and FreeBSD followed, with 21.4 percent and 20.4 percent, respectively, the data showed.

Researcher Gives Speech Despite Threats From RIAA

A talk billed as the "presentation the RIAA does not want you to see" went ahead Wednesday, as encryption researcher Edward Felten addressed security experts as planned at a conference in Washington, D.C. Felten, who earlier this year was threatened with legal action by the Recording Industry Association of America if he gave a speech on cracking digital watermarks, proceeded with his presentation at the USENIX 2001 Security Symposium after entertainment industry officials assured him they wouldn't sue. Cases such as Felten's may have a chilling effect on other programmers, who fear they too may come under legal fire for presenting their research. Though he has already given his speech, Felten still is proceeding with a lawsuit he filed shortly after backing away from his earlier presentation. That suit asked permission for the Princeton University professor to present his research and seeks to have controversial parts of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) overturned. The most high-profile DMCA case so far is that of Dmitry Sklyarov, a Russian programmer arrested last month on criminal charges that he created a program that can be used to crack Adobe Systems' e-books. Although Adobe asked that charges be dropped, federal officials are proceeding with the case.

Cases such as Felten's and Sklyarov's are causing some programmers to think twice about publishing their research. For example, Dutch cryptographer Niels Ferguson recently refused to publish news of an alleged flaw in Intel technology designed to protect digital video, saying he feared prosecution under the DMCA. In a posting on his Web site, Ferguson called Intel's HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection) specification "fatally flawed" but said he would not post details because he travels to the United States regularly and does not want to run afoul of U.S. laws. Intel spokesman Daven Oswalt said several people claim to have broken HDCP, but as far as he knows, none of the claims have been real. Oswalt said Intel still backs HDCP, which he said can be altered to be more secure in the event of a breach. Oswalt wouldn't comment specifically on whether his company would take legal action against people who break the technology. In many cases, he said, the decision to pursue charges is not Intel's, just as plans to continue the case against Sklyarov are up to federal prosecutors, not Adobe. "Even if Intel entered into an agreement with a hacker, it could not preclude any other party--the government, the recording industry--from bringing charges," he said. "It's not up to us."

Friday August 17, 2001 Top

New Technology Can Shrink CRT Depth by Half

Researchers say they've developed an electronic display that is half as deep as current models, an advance that addresses the chief complaint about conventional computer monitors and televisions: their girth. Sarnoff, the former RCA Laboratories and inventor of the color television, said Friday the technology is a fundamental advance on cathode-ray tube monitors, also known as CRTs, which were invented more than 100 years ago. The depth and weight of CRT displays has spurred the growth of flat-panel displays, which are much skinnier but can cost significantly more. The thinner monitors may help take some of the spotlight away from flat-panel displays, which have seen dramatic price drops but can still cost more than $1,000. But Sarnoff's technology "would dramatically extend the life of CRTs," said Kristy Holch, an analyst at market researcher InfoTrends, based in Boston. Sarnoff said the technology, called S-Cubed, can shrink the depth of 32-inch displays from 22 inches to 11 inches.

Unlike with other attempts at making thinner CRTs, picture quality will actually improve, said James Birch, Sarnoff's director of business development. Birch said manufacturers could use their existing assembly lines to build the displays, although there would be a 10 percent to 15 percent increase in cost. Sarnoff has spoken with display makers about using the technology, but they have not reached any final agreements. S-Cubed works by bending beams of electrons in a way that allows the electron gun, which shoots out the beams, to be moved closer to the screen. Since CRT displays must be built deeper and deeper as screens are made larger, the technology would be the most useful with larger televisions and computer monitors, Birch said.

Intel Warns Computer Makers Not to Use New Via Chipset

Intel, in its ongoing dispute with Via Technologies of Taiwan, is warning computer makers to steer clear of a new chip set from Via that could enable the manufacturers to build cheaper Pentium 4-based PCs by enabling them to use a less costly high-speed memory technology. Intel claims that Via does not have the necessary licensing for its Apollo P4X266 chip set. Intel representatives have privately cautioned PC and motherboard manufacturers in the United States and overseas against using the product, saying it could draw them into a costly legal battle, said sources with some of those companies. Intel has repeatedly taken Via to court over licensing disputes and currently is pursuing a lawsuit involving chip sets designed by Via for use with Athlon processors made by rival chip maker Advanced Micro Devices Inc. But with Via releasing its DDR chip set now, the company, which holds about a 35 percent share of the world chip set market, stands to reap financial rewards by beating Intel to the market by several months. Following Via's announcement this week, Intel claimed the company is not authorized to sell the product.

"They are not licensed to sell products that are compatible with the Pentium 4," Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy said. Mulloy would not say whether Intel was warning its business partners to avoid using Via's product, saying only that "those discussions are typically very private." However, a Via representative confirmed that companies had reported such incidences to them. "Yes, they told us this was happening. Certainly the pressure is very intense right now," said Richard Brown, Via's marketing director, reached at the company's headquarters in Taipei. "But I think you'll start to see motherboards come out very soon. There are customers that we are talking to, and we're very confident you'll see our product on the market." Brown declined to discuss the licensing controversy, saying only that Via was "comfortable with this." Overall, he said, Intel will likely benefit from Via's new chip set because it'll enable computer makers to offer customers more choices and will help lower the cost of building Pentium 4 PCs.

Apple Readies Second Major Update to Mac OS 9

Earlier in the week, our friends at first reported on Apple's plans to release Mac OS 9.2.1, code-named Limelight, as an 80 MB public download on August 16. As noted in a follow-up report by Go2Mac, the release date was then pushed back for another week or two. Independently, Think Secret has confirmed both pieces of news, and learned that installer issues likely led to the delay of Limelight's posting. With the Limelight release, users will get all of the bug-fixes, Classic improvements, and hardware support additions of its predecessor, the OS 9.2 "Moonlight" update. When Moonlight went gold master last month, many insiders predicted a quiet public posting during Macworld Expo/New York, but instead the release was only provided with the new Power Mac G4s. The decision to do so was odd, but 9.2 was guaranteed for a widespread release at least by September, as Apple told resellers that it would be packaged with OS X 10.1 (with no separate 9.x retail release). Instead, Apple is opting to jump straight to the Limelight release for public availability, and soon.

When Think Secret broke the story on the existance of 9.2.1 and its code name last month, word on the street was that it was entirely a hardware support update. Hardware support updates certainly play a role (although, contrary to other reports, they do not pertain to forthcoming hardware), but there are other significant enhancements over Moonlight. There was an odd networking bug in 9.2 that appeared to only affect DSL users -- when using both 9.2 and Classic, networking would be rendered inoperable in Classic. Additionally, in 9.2.1, all of the Classic components are installed in the system folder by default -- no need to have them install there when you first use it in OS X. CarbonLib 1.4 is also included, which is probably one of the larger updates to be seen in Limelight.

Spyware Software Gator Places Their Ads over Websites Ads

Already contending with a weak advertising market, Web publishers have another beast to worry about: Gator. The software company, known for hawking pop-up ads that let companies advertise on rival sites, is working a new variation on the theme--selling ads designed to block banners on sites such as Yahoo with pop-ups of the exact same dimensions, completely obscuring the original ad. The pop-ups hover over the banners even when the Web visitor scrolls down the page, making it even more difficult to discern that the visible ad is a substitute. "It's like getting Time magazine in the mailbox and somebody has pulled it out and pasted their own ad over the ones inside," said John Keck, media director for Foote Cone & Belding's interactive division. And because Gator can monitor a person's surfing habits across the Web, the technology can learn a person's tastes and deliver related advertising on any site, rather than serve ads based on general site demographics. For example, if a Gator user had visited the Volkswagen Web site in the past day, the service might show him a banner ad for car insurance while he's surfing on the ESPN Web site.

Gator's banner would appear over the banner space on ESPN's site "two seconds after the page loaded," said Scott Eagle, chief marketing officer for Gator. The technique is the latest in an arsenal of guerrilla marketing tactics being pushed by developers of some free Web downloads, which include Gator and some popular peer-to-peer file-swapping companies. Such applications, which are increasingly bundled with software code known as plug-ins, help advertisers place highly targeted messages on Web surfers' computer screens. The latest trick pits advertiser against advertiser on their own war-torn battlefield: the banner. It could also cause additional concern for executives at Web sites suffering from a severe downturn in ad revenue. Gator, among others, is aggressively courting consumers and advertisers. The company gives away an online helper application that manages passwords and user IDs and has millions of active users. While Gator is free, the company that developed it sells keywords to marketers that lets them launch pop-ups at opportune moments. For example, a shopper visiting might, while surfing the site, receive a promotion for rival Office Depot.

Apple Begins Shipping There Fastest Dual Processor System

The much-anticipated dual processor "Quicksilver" Power Mac G4s are starting to arrive. Elite Computers & Software, an Apple Specialist located directly across the street from Apple headquarters in Cupertino, CA, has received its first shipment of the new towers. "Apple had originally told us it would be some time in September before we would see any of the 800 DP's," said Thomas Armes, president & CEO of Elite. "It's a very nice surprise to see Apple getting these fast towers out quicker then expected." Apple specialist and solution provider AIS Computers, which has several locations in Georgia, reports that dual 800s are heading their way right now. "We should have them in by today or Monday," Keith McDaniel of AIS Computers told MacCentral. However, the Mac Authority in Nashville, TN, hasn't seen any of the dual processor systems yet, though they have both the 733 and 867 Quicksilver systems in stock. "We're told the dual processor machines would arrive later this month," the Mac Authority's Brian Parnell, retail sales/audio specialist, told MacCentral. The US$3,499 dual Power Mac G4/800 MHz chip machine includes 256K of on-chip level 2 cache running at processor speed and a large 2MB of level 3 backside cache per processor. It comes with the SuperDrive, a combination CD-RW/DVD-R drive.

Weekend August 18 & 19, 2001 Top

HP Announces First DVD+RW Based Drive

The war over DVD recording standards will escalate Monday when Hewlett-Packard unwraps the details on its first DVD drive for PCs that lets people repeatedly record on discs. The DVD-writer dvd100i, which will cost $599 when it hits store shelves in September, will be the first commercially available drive based on the DVD+RW standard. With it, consumers will be able to record video onto a disc, play it on a typical home DVD player, and then erase and record again on the same disc. HP plans to incorporate the drives into its PCs later this year. PC makers and consumer-electronics makers are hoping these types of drives will perk up holiday sales, in part, on a theory that consumers will rediscover the home movie. Two years ago, recordable/rewritable CD drives propelled PC sales. Rewritable DVD drives could do the same this year, some industry watchers believe, as well as spur demand for DVD players. DVDs can also hold 4.7GB of data, seven times as much as recordable CDs. The new drive will enter the mess that is the DVD rewritable market. Three competing standards--DVD+RW, DVD-RW and DVD-RAM--are vying for market supremacy, confusing compatibility issues and keeping prices high.

"I give HP a lot of credit for building up CD-RW, and they have the potential to do the same with DVD rewritable. But they--and the rest of the industry--have to be careful in managing expectations," Dataquest analyst Mary Craig said. In addition to HP's backing, the DVD+RW format has the support of Dell Computer, Sony, Philips Electronics, Mitsubishi Chemical, Ricoh, Thomson Multimedia and Yamaha. The media for the new drive, which HP also plans to sell, will cost $15.99 per disc. The drive and the disc prices are lower than those announced thus far from manufacturers using the DVD-RW or DVD-RAM formats and have "set the low watermark for the industry," Craig said. The HP drive will rewrite onto DVD discs at a speed of 2.4x--which Sanderson said was the equivalent of a CD-ROM drive reading at 20x--and can read DVDs at 8x. The drive will rewrite to CD-R discs at a speed of 12x and to CD-RW discs at a speed of 10x. And the drive can read CDs at a speed of 32x. The drive and discs will be available initially at Best Buy, Circuit City and CompUSA. HP's Sanderson added that the drive is "designed to be compatible with the most number of DVD players on the market," which Baker said is the most significant feature the drive could have.

Quanta Spending Large Amount To Increase LCD Production

Quanta Display's move into the rapidly growing flat-panel industry may be coming at the right time, but analysts question its $4.6 billion expansion plans unveiled Friday. Taiwan's Quanta Computer said its unit, Quanta Display, plans to invest billions to build three flat-panel screen plants in northern Taiwan over the next four years. "Although demand for the computer industry is slowing down, outlook for the (active-matrix) LCD industry is so good that we will continue to expand our production," a company spokeswoman said. Quanta Display has already invested $1 billion in its first plant, which is expected to start production of active-matrix liquid-crystal displays (LCDs), in the fourth quarter, she said. Active-matrix, or thin-film transistor, describes a technology that creates high-resolution screens.

"It's good Quanta Display will start production in the fourth quarter," ABN AMRO analyst Eric Lin said. "But whether its long-term expansion plans can go smoothly as scheduled depends...on the industry's supply and demand at that time and whether it can obtain financing. It's still too early to say." Lin expects most of Taiwan's active-matrix LCD makers to report huge losses in 2001 due to tumbling prices, but he predicts a sharp turnaround in 2002. He said most panel makers should report sound profits in 2002 based on expectations that prices could bounce back 15 percent while component prices could fall 20 percent and demand for panels remains strong. The island has six producers for middle and large-sized active-matrix LCDs. The companies are expected to produce $4.9 billion worth of screens in 2001, up 70 percent from 2000, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said in a recent report.

Bleem Releases Two Betas of Version 1.6 of Bleem PC

Woah, looks like we've really let our visitors down with news during the past days, sorry for that. Well, I'll take my 2 week vacation starting tomorrow. But before, there're some news I wanted to post; after those rather silent weeks (emu authors also have vacations you know), Bleem, inc. today surprised us with the release of two bleem! versions, 1 1/2 year after the 1.5b release ! I'd personally say that I greatly appreciate this step from bleem, inc, and I think all the users should as well - they've had many troubles staying alive during the past months, and now decided to release this version, running the risque to recive even more flaming, but it's certainly the best step. Let's take a look what happened in this release : After clicking their download link , you get taken to a registration page. I guess this is mainly to get an overview about how many people are actually using bleem!. We therefor won't mirror this release in order to support bleem! with this difficult task. I'd suggest you to register, as this might show bleem! how many people still are actually interrested in their product !

After receiving two mails, you're ready to download bleem! 1.6 beta - and surprise, there're two different versions : bleem! 1.6a BETA and bleem! 1.6b BETA. I copied this explanation from their page : Beta version "A" has some graphic improvements to increase compatibility and a different loading method which lets bleem work with some games that it couldn't handle before. Version "B" has the same loading method as the current retail version 1.5b, so it mostly benefits from some graphics fixes for games like Tony Hawk and Tomb Raider. To put together, games like Tony Hawk, Gran Turismo 2 and Tomb Raider 3 & 4 are working now. So get out your bleem! CD key and head over to this page to register & download. You can discuss this release or any problems related to it on our bleem! message board. If you've tried out some of the newly working games, please take some shots and post them on our screenshots board. | Bleem 1.6 Download Page

Movie Studios Get Together For Video-on-Demand Service

In the biggest effort to date by Hollywood to beam movies to viewers via the Internet, five major movie studios on Thursday announced plans for a joint on-demand movie service, offering a broad selection of films available for digital delivery to broadband Internet users in the United States. The studios involved in the service are Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Viacom's Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Vivendi Universal's Universal Studios, and Warner Bros., a unit of AOL Time Warner. Don Levy, a spokesman for Sony, said the launch of the service is at least several months away. He declined to elaborate. A name for the service will be announced at a later time. "We're eager to advance the launch and will provide further details as soon as they are available," he said. "The venture needs to complete development of its infrastructure, establish a management team, and complete testing." In all cases, movies will be supplied to the service on a nonexclusive basis. Each studio will independently determine its own release schedule and pricing.

Among Hollywood's major movie studios, only Walt Disney, News Corp.'s 20th Century Fox and privately held DreamWorks were absent from the alliance. All major studios have been working aggressively behind the scenes for months in an effort to get an Internet service developed for viewers before facing a threat such as the recording industry's high-profile challenge to free song-swapping service Napster, which was once wildly popular. The five studios behind the new venture said increased penetration of broadband in U.S. households could support an on-demand digital distribution channel. The service will offer a wide selection of recently released films as well as content from libraries spanning all genres,including action, comedy, drama, family, children, foreign and classics. It will be an open-access system, which means it will be available to other film producers and distributors who want to distribute their films to this audience.

Music Labels Adding Software to New CD's

Since the appearance of Napster and its many clones, a constant refrain has been leveled at the recording industry: Give consumers more than just music, and they might keep buying CDs. Some early tangible signs of that idea are now beginning to come to market, as the record companies start exploring ways to revitalize and protect their flagging CD business. For some time, occasional CDs have shown up with digital goodies like screensavers or links to secret Web sites included. Next month, taking the idea a little farther, Universal Music Group will release a handful of compact discs that include MP3 files specifically coded to let people play DJ on their computer, remixing and making digital playlists of songs. This type of interactivity has been a feature on Web sites for some time. On Universal's GetMusic site, for example, one of the most popular features has been an area where fans can create their own music videos from a pre-filmed set of scenes. Little of this has found its way onto mainstream CDs, however. Analysts note that it's not something consumers are demanding at this point. Earlier experiments with interactivity on CDs gained little traction, in fact.

But with a much larger number of people using computers to listen to music, and with many DVDs now coming loaded with extra scenes and commentary, the market might be ripe. "You can see the potential demand for this on the DVD side," said P.J. McNealy, an analyst with the GartnerG2 research company. "Consumers will grow to expect more." Other discs, such as the soundtrack for "O Brother, Where Art Thou," contain extras such as screensavers associated with the music. The PC DJ application being distributed by Universal Music goes farther, however. Separate songs in MP3 format will be contained on the CD, along with individual drum and instrument tracks that can be remixed into different versions of the songs. All of this will be encrypted, or digitally scrambled, so that the tracks can only be played inside the Visiosonic PC DJ software player that is also included on the CDs. The software was initially included on the soundtrack for "Rush Hour 2," but will be added to another six titles in the United States before the end of the year, a Visiosonic executive said.

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