What about Alpha?
I notice in the 11 February issue various news items regarding Intel's latest processors and its dominance of the Windows NT hardware market (now that most of the RISC platforms have fallen by the way-side). However, you do report that the Alpha platform is still supported by NT, and I thought you could have added a little more detail.
Since you found it noteworthy to mention the latest high-performance Pentium and Pentium Pro chips, why not some details on Digital's latest chip, namely the 600MHz Alpha 21264? At 40 SPECInt95 and 60 SPECfp95 these chips are the performance leader and will offer unmatched Windows NT performance.
Admittedly these are expensive and hot chips, but then so was the Pentium when it was launched.
To address the entry-level market Digital has also been working on a low-cost Alpha - namely the 21164PC - which is predicted to offer double the performance of the Klamath at a similar price.
Finally, to complete the picture, Digital's FX!32 technology allows Intel Win32 binaries to run at blazing speed on Alpha through a mix of translation and emulation - to the extent that the fastest Alphas run Intel binaries faster than the fastest Intel chips, according to some reports. This allows power users to use native Alpha binaries for their most demanding applications but continue with other Intel-compiled software they may already have.
It seems to me that PC Week should provide its readers with information on these developments long before Andy Grove loses any sleep over them.
After all, power users are also early adopters in many cases and it is the power users who can sometimes indicate market trends.
It's all in the stars
Andrew McAuley manages quite a number of snipes at the DirecPC service in his letter (PC Week 18 February).
He rightly points out that the same DirecPC service is available in the US for considerably less than the initial price in the UK and Europe.
He'll be glad to know that we're not so obtuse to realise that using the Internet is an obvious way of finding out these differences.
He's also right that the reason is commercial. Eutelsat transponder space doesn't come cheap, in fact in the region of $4 million per annum has been suggested as the going rate. This compares to the US scenario where Hughes own the Galaxy satellite and runs the service.
DirecPC already competes well on price with ISDN, being cheaper for the same usage over a three year period and is over three times as fast even when using both channels.
Despite all of the above, we will (with Hughes) be adjusting the incremental usage charges and adding tariff bands for higher use levels so that such users don't feel penalised.
Also, courtesy of Software Catalogue at the Windows show, Mr McAuley could not only see it in action, but also get a chance to buy DirecPC at a special introductory price.
As for the future of satellite communications and its convergence with the IT world, well, it may have been news for some of us, but its been going on for years. In software, the received wisdom was "Don't stand in the way of an express train if it has Microsoft written on the side of the engine, especially when Bill Gates is driving." Gates also happens to be driving Teledesic, which plans an 800+ low earth orbit satellite system providing high bandwidth "Internet in the Sky" global communications.
I'm no Mystic Meg, but there's something out there.
An independent view
After your review of the Corel Office suite I thought I would see how system independent it was.
I downloaded a copy on to both a PC running Linux and a Solaris workstation.
It works on both! In fact it works slightly better on the Linux system since this has kernel support for Java.
Is this a demonstration of the fact that Java is somewhat more than a programming language? Does it mean that it is a unifying mechanism across many different types of system.
Bugged over viruses
With reference to Mr Baxter's letter (PC Week 18 February). I'm afraid I have to disagree.
All the packages I looked at have a high hit rate; all of them will let a few viruses through at a particular moment in time. All of them will have been changed to cope with those viruses, and will miss a few new ones a month later.
I don't honestly see the point of me shoving the 9,000+ known viruses through when by the time the piece was published another 200 would have been discovered.
BrianClegg @ msn.com
Mixed up over MMX
In your article "Problems arise on MMX upgrade," (PC Week 4 February 1997) it clearly states:"There is only one Intel motherboard, the TC430HX, that supports the dual voltage" required for the MMX processor.
I am concerned as I have just purchased a locally configured P200MX which has been supplied with a 430VX motherboard and Triton Triton III i430VX chipset.
I referred the supplier to your article. It claimed to have had recent discussions with Intel who had confirmed the use of the MMX processor in this configuration. It suggested that your article was inaccurate.
According to our research the MMX Pentiums must use the TC430 HX motherboard as stated in the article. Your locally configured machine may work but you will not be getting optimum reference.
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