Tech Industry

The week's news: Keep your eye on Intel

Intel's developer conference in Palm Springs, California, reveals the chipmaker's plans for several different computing markets.

Intel's developer conference in Palm Springs, California, produced a raft of news about the chipmaker's plans for several different computing markets.

Keep your eye on Intel
Intel intends to use its recently acquired StrongARM processor architecture to enter the handheld and TV set-top computer markets, president Craig Barrett told convention-goers. The chipmaking giant has no real presence in these are two arenas, but both segments are expected to grow like Topsy. The first StrongARM set-tops will appear later this year, according to Barrett, while handhelds will be announced later this year and come out in 1999, sources said.

In the notebook market, Intel will release Celeron processors for portables in the $1,299 to $1,399 range during the first half of next year. A new low-power 266-MHz Pentium MMX was released on Wednesday. Counting the mobile Pentium II, the company now has three different notebook products.

Intel also revealed details about its "Katmai" Pentium II chips, due in the first quarter of 1999. Sometimes called "MMX 2," the chips will boost the PC's ability to view and manipulate 3D graphics and video data while lowering the price of machines needed to undertake these tasks.

Intel began the week by cutting prices on its desktop and notebook lines, announced on Wednesday that it is licensing video compression technology to Microsoft challenger RealNetworks, in order to spur demand for its high-end chips, and said on Thursday it will work toward establishing a common standard for the Unix operating system, in an attempt to lay the groundwork for its high-end server and next-generation Merced chips.

Motorola weighs in, Apple steps out?
Motorola unveiled a TV set-top computer for cable companies, called Blackbird, that offers Net access, 3D gaming, and DVD-based games and movie playback. For a similar cost, the device looks to outstrip Microsoft's WebTV in capabilities.

Overwhelmed with demand for its popular iMac, Apple Computer may soon resort to using outside manufacturers, according to one contract manufacturer, harking back to problems the company has historically had with meeting demand for popular products. Apple denied the claim.

In tumultuous industry, Dell Computer races toward 2 million sales this quarter, a torrid growth rate fueled by $6 million per day in transactions over the Net. The company is surviving price erosion because component prices are falling faster, and picking steam in international markets.

Starr was only the start
Although the House was the first to post Ken Starr's sexually explicit allegations against Bill Clinton--all but forcing print newspapers to follow--and Web sites that reposted his report broke all kinds of records, a House of Representatives subcommittee advanced a bill, dubbed CDA II, that makes it a crime for commercial Web sites to post material deemed "harmful to minors."

Legislation to increase the number of highly skilled foreign workers allowed into the country each year was pulled from the House schedule as Congress focused on spending bills for the new fiscal year. But the bill's principal sponsor in the Senate, Spencer Abraham (R-Michigan), is said to be negotiating with a veto-wielding White House that favors protection for native labor. High-tech firms back the bill to raise the number of visas from 65,000 to 115,000 over a three-year period.

The White House eased export restrictions on data-scrambling technologies without fully lifting the limits, as high-tech companies and civil liberties groups would like. But the government also came under fire for previous liberalization of satellite export restrictions.

Ascend, Alcatel grow closer
Data player Ascend Communications announced a multiyear deal with European voice equipment giant Alcatel to build new networking equipment for handling the high-speed needs of the ever-growing Net. Alcatel is already one of Ascend's biggest distributors, but Alacatel shares plunged nearly 40 percent after executives at the firm said sales will suffer from economic turmoil in Russia and Asia.

Pushing further into the corporate market, Netscape Communications began private beta testing for a new version of its Application Server software, which allows Internet applications to run with SAP's R/3 enterprise software. The package is due to ship next month.

On October 6, Sybase plans to roll out a new version of its high-end database, along with additional technology aimed at the financial community, hoping to quash rumors that it's moving away from its core enterprise database business.

Oracle continued on a frenetic pace. The Redwood Shores, California, company formally launched a new version of its flagship database that stores and manages Web pages, Java, and multimedia and detailed new versions of e-commerce applications for Web-based sales and customer service. The company also described plans to offer an outsourcing service.

Also of note
An international standards body gave final approval to the V.90 industry standard for 56-kbps modem technology, but the damage from the lengthy battle which preceded this detente may be difficult to reverse ? A Microsoft executive in charge of relationships with Windows developers apologized to members of the Software Publishers Association ? on Sunday the New York Times suffered its worst hack ever ? News.com debuted more focused coverage of the so-called Millenium bug, introducing a dedicated section.