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News & Analysis (February 2002)

'Communications is now the key focus for Intel in Asia'

Intel co-founder Gordon Moore predicted that the number of transistors on a processor (computing power) doubles every 18 months and that came to be known as Moore's Law. But is there a Moore's law for Internet traffic? If you go by industry reports, we see that Internet traffic is doubling every year. Yet the PC and communications equipment industry has had a bad year and companies have cut down on IT spending. Sean Maloney, Executive VP & GM, Intel Communications Group, briefed us on Intel's strategy to address both trends.

“The increase in traffic has to be addressed. So what we are doing inside of Intel is to use semiconductor technology to reduce the cost. We all know that communications equipment is fairly expensive. So we are planning to use our manufacturing strengths in every key area to reduce the costs by 2x, 3x, 5x,” said Maloney.

Maloney agrees that the computer industry passed through a fairly difficult phase in the last 12 months. He said the Communications industry has had a bad year too.

Maloney also said, “Paradoxically if you look at the growth in Internet traffic, there isn't any slump/slide. Some analyst say the increase in traffic is 200 - 300 percent.”

When Intel entered the Asia-Pacific market in the early 90's the focus was distribution networks for personal computers. According to Maloney, the Asia-Pacific PC market is 50 million units in 2002, with China and India being major markets. Maloney said the focus for Intel in Asia is now communications technology.

He added, “India is a proven world-class development site for us, and will play a central role for us in the next 3-5 years. In the next 5 - 7 years, the dominant trend in communications and computers will be the pre-eminence of the Asian market in manufacturing and design, broadband and Internet access.”

Maloney also informed that Intel is getting out of the Systems business and would concentrate on its core competency-building chips. Besides semiconductors, Intel is also going to focus on optical switching technology. In fact, it is hoping its optical chips will become a standard for switches, just as its microprocessors became a standard for personal computers.

“Increasingly, you will see the big switch manufacturers using optical switch technology. Everybody in the industry now realizes they have to use standard components instead of customized components. If you use standard components you reduce your costs,” said Maloney.

The Intel Communications Group (ICG) is a part of Intel's communications business (the other group being the Wireless Communications & Computing Group.) The ICG essentially supplies communications building blocks to OEMs. It also delivers network connectivity products to home, small business and enterprise customers.

Brian Pereira


CommunicAsia 2002 slated for June

CommunicAsia2002 is slated to be held in Singapore from June 18 to June 21 at the Singapore Expo this year. The event aims to be the largest communication and IT exhibition in the Asia-Pacific region. It is expected to convene more than 1600 companies. The event will be hosted and promoted by the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) of Singapore.

CommunicAsia2002 will feature regular events like MobileComm2002, NetworkAsia2002 and eBizAsia2002. A new event called SatComm2002 has been added to the show. SatComm2002 focuses on satellite communications in the telecom industry.

Under a section called eBiz, issues like untapped B2B electronics transactions opportunities will be addressed and discussed. Other topics include VoIP, Unified Communications, e-finance, content management systems, and ASPs. There will also be a Smart Card pavilion and an InfoSecurity pavilion.

Network security and infrastructure will be a key component at NetworkAsia2002. The focus will be on IPv6, which is the next-generation protocol designed to replace the 20-year old IP version 4. A CommunicAsia2002 Summit will take place concurrently from June 17 to June 21, 2002 at the Singapore Expo. You can visit www.communicasia.com for more information.


Second Windows vulnerability in two weeks

Microsoft issued its second bulletin in two weeks to Windows business users which warn of a vulnerability to the JVM (Java Virtual Machine) code. The new warning says that an attacker can place a Java applet on the victim's machine that can allow the attacker to perform any task the victim was authorized to perform. This can potentially include adding, changing, and deleting data or configuration information.

This is the second bulletin Microsoft has issued since March 4. The first warning told users that an attacker could redirect all Web traffic from a machine by placing a Java applet on the victim's computer. The warning also said that the attacker would be able to know where a victim was surfing on the Web, what actions the victim took, and potentially capture the victim's passwords and other secure information.

According to the bulletin, both vulnerabilities affect only the users who access the Web via proxy servers. This means the problems will affect businesses but probably not home users. Both vulnerabilities are rated 'critical' by Microsoft.

An update posted by Microsoft will take care of both problems. It can be downloaded from www.microsoft.com/java/vm/dl_vm40.htm.


GNU Production version

A production version of the free GNU operating system is likely to be available by year's end, said the president of Boston-based FSF (Free Software Foundation) Inc.

The GNU Project was launched in 1984 to develop a Unix like operating system to be offered as free software. By 1991, the Linux kernel was available ahead of the GNU kernel. The Linux kernel was combined with the GNU system and offered as a complete system. Richard Stallman who was recently in Pune said, "Linux is a kernel, and now we have our kernel, which is an alternative to Linux. And they both work in the context of the overall GNU system, as the kernel alone won't run without the rest of the system." He also added, "Although Linux is a kernel and works in the context of the GNU system, Linux came to be called an OS. It is actually GNU/Linux with Linux as the kernel. It is really devastating for us when people write about our work and they don't call it by our name, and we get forgotten. The kernel of FSF's GNU system is more powerful than Linux because it was designed using a microkernel instead of a monolithic architecture."

Under the GNU General Public License, the software source code is available to users who are free to modify it to suit their needs and distribute the modified software free or at a price.


Connectivity: The satellite way

HECL (Hughes Escorts Communications Limited) launched DirecWay which is an end-to-end satellite broadband service. DirecWay will provide solutions like managed network services, data center hosting, and application services. It will benefit operations like distance education, multimedia broadcast services, and telemedicine. DirecWay targets large enterprises, SME's, and home users. HECL has partnered with several companies like Compaq, Commerce One, Talisma, and Legato to provide these application platforms. HECL has set up a large infrastructure which comprises dedicated satellite space, a data center for hosting enterprise applications, a NOC (Network Operations Center) to manage services, and marketing services and support.

HECL has invested over $ 15 million to introduce DirecWay. It will be the first national satellite broadband service provider in the Indian market to offer services in over 800 cities and rural areas.


“PGP will go on”

The inventor of PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) Phil Zimmermann said that PGP will go on, despite a move by NAI (Network Associates Inc) to shelve the encryption product after it couldn't find a buyer. NAI embarked on a plan to trim its product line in October 2001 and has been looking for a buyer for its PGP products. However it confirmed that it had dropped its plans to sell PGP because it couldn't find a buyer willing to pay what the company wanted. NAI now wants to put the product in a maintenance mode.

NAI also said that although PGP won't be developed any further, bug fixes will be released as necessary for a year and service contracts will be honored until the end of their terms. Although Zimmermann sold PGP to NAI in 1997, the protocols for the encryption code are open to all on the Internet. And despite this, Zimmermann said "PGP will continue and probably re-emerge in time."

 
     
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