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In Brief

In Brief

Digital commits $25m to R&D

GOLD COAST - Ron Bunker, managing director of Digital, has announced it will commit $25 million over the next five years to its Queensland-based research and development centre.

The Corporate Research and Advanced Development Centre, located at Bond University Research Park, employs 50 people who specialise in software engineering for Network Computers, and Human Computer Interfaces for the Internet, among other things.

The announcement coincides with the Queensland State Government IT initiative - Information Queensland.

A blueprint for Information Queensland is currently being developed and will involve the implementation of $37 million in IT initiatives allowed for in the Queensland State Budget.

TechnoCity to open shop

SYDNEY - A new high-tech shopping centre, which is being touted as an alternative to technology trade fairs, is now under development and due for completion later this year.

With space for between 25 and 40 tenants, the centre - to be called TechnoCity - is being built to showcase technology products aimed at both the private and business sector. Officials said it would be equipped with Internet services and videoconferencing units, all linked on a fibre-optic backbone.

A company executive developing TechnoCity was reported as saying that companies in the information technology sector will be able to use the facility to showcase their latest computer.

He claimed that TechoCity will have a competitive edge over other retailing environments because the space is geared up to a 365-day, year-round operation, with the fastest online personal computer assistance facility and product support service in the industry.

A year of tenancy at the centre is expected to cost around the same as attendance at a one-off trade fair.

The centre will be built in the restored Palace Hotel, located in Sydney's Haymarket area.

Iomega set to zip up competition

SYDNEY - In an attempt to give the long-serving floppy disk a run for its money, Iomega Pacific has unveiled the ATAPI Zip Drive - a bootable, internal Zip drive, based on the ATAPI interface.

A high-performance 100Mb storage solution, the ATAPI Zip drive offers up to 70 times the capacity of traditional floppies.

With a form-factor of 3.5in, the drive fits snugly into a conventional PC bay, connecting to an internal power supply.

Another benefit offered by the ATAPI is speed - it's up to five times as fast as Iomega's original success story, the Zip drive. The high speeds allow users to run a variety of applications and multimedia.

At a press conference to launch the new drive, Iomega spokespeople were confident that the ATAPI drive will put them one step closer to becoming the standard storage solution - and are certain that it will eventually boot the antiquated floppy from the number one position. It is already the standard in Micron computers, and is offered as an option in Compaq, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Packard-Bell, Gateway 2000 and other computers.

The product is shipping as an internal storage solution for OEMs now, and has an ESP of $270.10. For more details contact either:

Tech Pacific

Tel (02) 9381 6000 Fax (02) 9381 6001

Datamatic

Tel (02) 9482 4088 Fax (02) 9482 4359

INFO: www.iomega.com

CHA and Digi part ways

MELBOURNE - CHA has ceased distributing networking products from Digi International after both parties agreed that continuing the relationship would not be profitable for either company.

"It really came down to a decision for both of our organisations whether it was worthwhile continuing the relationship and we agreed it was not," Gary Spooner, managing director of Digi, told ARN.

Peter Ball, managing director of CHA, said the discontinuation of some of Digi's network connectivity products which were CHA's main interest in the line, was a key reason behind the decision.

CHA is now looking for an alternative supplier of mainstream networking products.

Scitec announces expansion

SYDNEY - Scitec, a leading supplier of networking solutions, has unveiled its new manufacturing facility which has the capacity to more than double production.

Situated in Lane Cove, Sydney, the new site is the result of a strong 1996/97 financial year for Scitec, combined with an increased demand for australian-manufactured products following the deregulation of the Australian telecommunications industry. Scitec also attributes the new facility to increasing export demands.

Scitec provides networking solutions by combining voice, data, fax and LAN communications. For details contact:

Scitec

Tel (02) 9428 9555ÊFax (02) 9428 9988

IBM, Packard Bell prepare 'meganotebooks'SAN MATEO - The next big thing in mobile computing will be full-function, desktop-equivalent systems - euphemistically referred to as "meganotebooks" - that vendors such as IBM and Packard Bell NEC plan to offer by the end of this year.

The new class of mobile products will include 233MHz Pentium mobile processors from Intel, code-named Tillamook; 14in screens; and 5Gb hard drives. They will weigh in at a hefty 3.6kg or more, with prices ranging from $US5000 to $US6000, according to analysts.

"These are significant because you are transferring the portable to the desktop space," said Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies. "You are talking about a multipurpose computer. They are self-contained, and there's no need for external monitors or keyboards."

IBM has been showing, behind closed doors, a ThinkPad with a 14in display and a unique form factor that helps keep the weight of the system to less than 3.6kg, according to a source familiar with the new model. The unit will be introduced this year, an IBM official said.

NEC's offering will include 5Gb hard drives and the 233MHz Tillamook chip in its Versa notebooks by the end of the year, according to Jim Schwabe, senior vice-president of portable computer systems at NEC.

The company will follow with 14in displays in early 1998, Schwabe added. He believes the meganotebooks will have appeal regardless of additional size because some customers don't want to sacrifice desktop-like features in a portable system.

Two more Taiwan chipmakers announce expansion plansTAIPEI - Macronix International and Nan Ya Technology has become the latest two Taiwanese chip makers to announce massive expansion plans.

The Hsinchu-based Macronix announced that it will invest over $US7.2 billion over the next 10 years to build three or four next-generation 12in wafer fabrication plants.

Dynamic RAM maker Nan Ya, meanwhile, earlier said that it plans to build one 8in and two 12in plants.

In total, Taiwanese chipmakers over the past few months have announced investment plans totalling nearly $US60 billion.

Intel strategy on workgroup servers

SAN MATEO - Beginning this week, Intel will be training its biggest guns on servers, readying Pentium II processors and core-logic chip sets that are tailored to server demands.

Intel will announce Pentium II processors geared for low-end workgroup servers, paving the way for systems vendors to release single- and dual-processor systems later this year.

Early next year, Intel will unveil Slot 2 for high-performance Pentium II processors and the Merced IA-64 processor that will follow.

Slot 2, along with new core-logic chip sets, will allow the Pentium II to scale to four processors and run from a 100MHz system bus. Today, the Pentium II runs from a 66MHz system bus and scales to two CPUs.

The devices will also allow the Pentium II to access Level 2 cache at the full internal speed of the CPU, not at half the CPU clock speed.

To tailor the Pentium II for servers, the processors set to be introduced in a few weeks will use burst static cache RAM, which supports error-correcting code (ECC) on the cache bus, Intel officials confirmed.

The devices use existing 233MHz and 266MHz Pentium II CPUs. Until now, Pentium II processors have not supported fault-tolerant functions such as ECC in the cache.

Earlier this year, Dell Computer and Advanced Logic Research announced Pentium II servers.

Intel also is working on a 300MHz Pentium II with ECC and is considering raising the speed of the cache bus to improve the performance of Pentium II servers.

"The cartridge doesn't preclude a full-speed cache bus," said Anthony Ambrose, product marketing manager for Intel. "The cost is substantial, however, and PCs don't warrant it."

This week IBM will announce an upgrade path for its existing Pentium Pro servers, the PC Server 325 and 330. Available next quarter, IBM will offer Pentium II daughter cards that can be snapped in for a motherboard upgrade.

Available now, 233MHz Pentium II processors with the ECC static RAM are priced at $US666 in 1000-unit quantities and at $805 per processor for the 266MHz version.

First version of HTML 4.0 released

SAN MATEO - The World Wide Web Consortium has posted the first draft of HTML 4.0.

The draft incorporates many features already appearing in browsers from Netscape Communications and Microsoft, including Cascading Style Sheets, forms with different levels of access, frames and table enhancements, and support for international languages. It also supports scripting languages and adds to the events that can be triggered by scripts.

Although the updated standard will help keep proprietary HTML extensions from fragmenting the World Wide Web, it doesn't completely address compatibility between vendors' implementations of "dynamic" HTML, said Dave Raggett, the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) lead HTML architect.

Dynamic HTML lets developers build interactive sites by writing scripts to define events and trigger actions.

Another W3C group is working on Document Object Model (DOM), defining standard interfaces between browser events, style sheets, and scripts to supplement HTML 4.0.

The World Wide Web Consortium can be reached at www.w3.org.

IE 4.0 beta close, Memphis further away

SAN MATEO - This week Microsoft plans to release the second beta version of the Internet Explorer (IE) 4.0 Web browser, which will go into wider distribution as a "preview release", according to sources close to the company.

But while IE 4.0's debut nears, Microsoft has formally conceded that the next version of the Windows 95 operating system, code-named Memphis, will not see daylight until 1998.

"We are going to get Memphis out as quickly as we can toward the end of the year, but realisti-cally we will get it out in the first quarter of 1998," said product manager Phil Holden.

Juiced-up capabilities

The futures of Memphis and IE are tightly intertwined, as Microsoft seeks to integrate the Internet with its personal computer software.

The new version of the IE 4.0 browser, which is due to ship late this quarter, will serve as an interface for Windows, letting users move seamlessly from the Web to their hard disk.

However, the marriage has raised as many questions as it has answered as security problems associated with the integration and Microsoft's Web software have plagued the software giant and other Internet companies in recent months.

The first beta release of IE 4.0, a "platform preview release" in the second quarter, was intended to let developers get a look at the code and functionality. In a few weeks, the release will be geared toward a bigger audience - hence the dropping of the word "platform" in the name.

In addition to juiced-up Internet capabilities, Memphis will feature a broadcast architecture - which is not in the beta version released this week - as well as support for multiple monitors and Microsoft's DirectX multimedia technology.

"This is really where the PC does start to become the media platform," Holden said.

Tech Pacific drops Apple

The distributor Tech Pacific has agreed to part company with Apple Australia, in an agreement which a spokesman from the company has termed amicable.

"The business with Apple just hasn't been there for us," said David Cullen, managing director of Tech Pacific.

"We were happy for the business with Apple to grow, but the volumes just haven't been there. The feedback we were getting from Apple is that we were a very minor part of its business," said Cullen.


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