Lab Notes

Lab Notes<@VM>

Bug hunt. Intel's 550-MHz Pentium III Xeon processor for servers and workstations has run into a slight snag. A bug reportedly causes a total system crash when the chip is run up to its performance limits.

Though Intel Corp. is still delivering the chip, it has asked vendors not to sell systems built with it until a fix can be found.

The bug affects only 550-MHz Xeon versions with 512K or 1M of Level 2 cache. They are designed to work with Intel's Profusion motherboard, which holds up to eight processors. Many makers are offering the processors with 2M of Level 2 cache; those CPUs are unaffected by the bug.

Compaq Computer Corp. continues to market the 512K and 1M versions, but on its own motherboards, which also are unaffected.

Sun won't be eclipsed. Feisty Sun Microsystems Inc. has been giving away its newly acquired StarOffice suite. Meanwhile, to compete against Microsoft Corp.'s dominant software and PC makers' hardware, and to fend off Linux at the same time, Sun has cut the price of its entry-level Ultra 5 Solaris workstation to less than $2,000'on par with mainstream PC prices.

Sun also has confirmed plans to open up its Solaris operating system source code to developers after months of discussion about the details. One sticking point is Sun's concept of a community source license, which in many developers' eyes does not fit the open-source model popularized by Linux.

Microsoft takes another swing. Rumors circulated a while back that Microsoft had developed a Java version of Office but decided not to release it because of poor performance. Now the word is that there will be a so-called Internet version of the Office productivity suite, which does not mean another Java port but instead renting or leasing Office applications on a per-use basis.

As Microsoft and other software vendors look to new distribution models, are users going to start seeing their dialog boxes prompt, 'For another 15 minutes of Microsoft Word, please deposit 25 cents'?

It's a tight fit, but ' IBM Corp. has managed to set a new record in storage. Five months ago, it set a record bit density of 2.5G per square inch, and already the record has been broken by IBM researchers who claim storage densities of around 4.4G per square inch.

Given this 75 percent increase in density, worries about magnetic storage technology closing in on its physical limits seem premature.

'Jason Byrne

Internet: jbyrne@gcnlab.com
Bug hunt. Intel's 550-MHz Pentium III Xeon processor for servers and workstations has run into a slight snag. A bug reportedly causes a total system crash when the chip is run up to its performance limits.

Though Intel Corp. is still delivering the chip, it has asked vendors not to sell systems built with it until a fix can be found.

The bug affects only 550-MHz Xeon versions with 512K or 1M of Level 2 cache. They are designed to work with Intel's Profusion motherboard, which holds up to eight processors. Many makers are offering the processors with 2M of Level 2 cache; those CPUs are unaffected by the bug.

Compaq Computer Corp. continues to market the 512K and 1M versions, but on its own motherboards, which also are unaffected.

Sun won't be eclipsed. Feisty Sun Microsystems Inc. has been giving away its newly acquired StarOffice suite. Meanwhile, to compete against Microsoft Corp.'s dominant software and PC makers' hardware, and to fend off Linux at the same time, Sun has cut the price of its entry-level Ultra 5 Solaris workstation to less than $2,000'on par with mainstream PC prices.

Sun also has confirmed plans to open up its Solaris operating system source code to developers after months of discussion about the details. One sticking point is Sun's concept of a community source license, which in many developers' eyes does not fit the open-source model popularized by Linux.

Microsoft takes another swing. Rumors circulated a while back that Microsoft had developed a Java version of Office but decided not to release it because of poor performance. Now the word is that there will be a so-called Internet version of the Office productivity suite, which does not mean another Java port but instead renting or leasing Office applications on a per-use basis.

As Microsoft and other software vendors look to new distribution models, are users going to start seeing their dialog boxes prompt, 'For another 15 minutes of Microsoft Word, please deposit 25 cents'?

It's a tight fit, but ' IBM Corp. has managed to set a new record in storage. Five months ago, it set a record bit density of 2.5G per square inch, and already the record has been broken by IBM researchers who claim storage densities of around 4.4G per square inch.

Given this 75 percent increase in density, worries about magnetic storage technology closing in on its physical limits seem premature.

'Jason Byrne

Internet: jbyrne@gcnlab.com

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