High-tech rivals Microsoft and Sun Microsystems buried the hatchet Friday, announcing Microsoft would pay US$1.6 billion to settle antitrust and patent disputes. \nThe deal between the longtime bitter rivals came in conjunction with announcement of a broad 10-year agreement on technical cooperation which could help lift Sun out of its recent slump. \nThe peace deal marks a major shift in the tech landscape as Sun, a major maker of software and servers, has been one of Microsoft's fiercest critics and a force in the antitrust actions against Bill Gates' firm. \nUnder the settlement, Microsoft will pay US$700 million to resolve pending antitrust issues and US$900 million to resolve patent issues. \n"Our customers said, `Stop the noise and start the collabor-ation,'" said Scott McNealy, chairman and chief executive officer of Sun at a news conference in San Francisco with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. \n"This is a good idea today, and it was a good idea 12 months ago," Ballmer said. "The fact is it presents a new opportunity to go out and work on things that are customer driven." \nSeparately, Microsoft will make an up-front royalty payment of US$350 million in a deal allowing for use of each other's technology and Sun will make payments when this technology is incorporated into its server products, the companies said. \nThe two firms agreed not to sue over past patent infringement claims and to start negotiations for a cross-license agreement. \nThe deal will mean the companies will work on "interoperability" between Sun's Solaris operating system for servers and Microsoft Windows. \nAnalyst Joe Wilcox at Jupiter Research said the deal, while surprising in light of the history of the two firms, makes sense for both. \n"Microsoft is dead serious about settling every lawsuit possible," Wilcox said in an online commentary. \n"Today's settlement with Sun is perhaps the best example to date, as the two companies are bitter rivals and have locked horns during several knockdown legal scuffles," Wilcox said. \nMicrosoft will avert a messy trial what could feature "digging up of past behavior Microsoft is trying to forget," Wilcox said. \nSun, which makes server software that competes against Windows server software, now "has access to broader Windows information and an agreement that would extend to other server software," he added. \nBut Wilcox said it was unclear whether Sun would now join Microsoft in lobbying the European Commission to drop its antitrust sanctions imposed last month. \nThe move comes as Sun is struggling with competition both from Microsoft and from the open operating system Linux -- and with its market capitalization a mere shadow of its 2000 self. Sun posted a net loss of US$125 million in its most recent quarter. \nSun said at the same time it will take a total of US$475 million in charges over the next several quarters as it trims 3,300 jobs. \nThe company warned that it now expects a third-quarter loss wider than expected, between US$750 million and US$810 million. \n"We are resizing the company to better align our cost structure," McNealy said. \nSun shares surged nearly 21 percent on the news to US$5.06 while Microsoft rose better than 3 percent to US$25.85.
SELF-SUFFICIENCY: Alibaba is one of a number of Chinese firms that has answered Beijing’s call to invest in the development of cutting-edge technologies Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (阿里巴巴) yesterday unveiled a new server chip that is based on advanced 5-nanometer technology, marking a milestone in China’s pursuit of semiconductor self-sufficiency. The Chinese tech giant’s newest chip is based on micro-architecture provided by the SoftBank Group Corp-owned Arm Ltd, it said. Alibaba, which is holding its annual cloud summit in Hangzhou, China, said that the chip is to be used in its own data centers in the “near future” and would not, for the time being, be sold commercially. “Customizing our own server chips is consistent with our ongoing efforts toward boosting our computing capabilities with better
‘SHORT-TERM ECONOMIC PAIN’: A military takeover would only temporarily weigh on wafer production on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, IC Insights said Taiwan has more chip manufacturing capacity than any other economy in the world, US-based market information advisory firm IC Insights said in a research paper last week, cautioning that the nation’s strength could prompt China to attempt to take over Taiwan. Taiwan commanded 21.4 percent of global installed IC capacity, ahead of South Korea’s 20.4 percent, Japan’s 15.8 percent and China’s 15.3 percent, North America’s 12.6 percent and Europe’s 5.7 percent, IC Insights said. Taiwan is one of two countries that uses 10-nanometer technology or better to produce wafers, holding 62.8 percent of global capacity, with South Korea holding the remaining 37.2
AGGRESSIVE STEP: With the new processors, Apple is aiming at the high-end chips Intel has provided for the MacBook Pro and other top-end Macs for about 15 years Apple Inc on Monday took the most aggressive step yet to strip Intel Corp chips from its computers, announcing more powerful homegrown Mac processors alongside a total revamp of its MacBook Pro laptop computers. The company showcased the chips at an event called “Unleashed,” which also included its latest audio products. The new components, called the M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, are 70 percent faster than its M1 predecessors, Apple said. It also unveiled a redesigned MacBook Pro, adding larger screens, MagSafe charging and better resolution. With the new processors and devices, Apple is aiming squarely at the high-end chips that Intel has
PRICE SPREAD: Oil trading under the Brent futures contract is giving the US a hefty edge in pricing, increasing the rush to secure cheap fuel as winter approaches Asian demand for US oil is rising as the energy crisis boosts prices for other crudes that are priced against the global Brent futures contract. China and other Asian buyers have been snapping up supertankers of US oil for delivery next month and seeking more for December, some traders have said. Most buyers are seeking US grades that had recently slumped to the lowest levels in more than a year, with an added incentive after Beijing awarded millions of tonnes of crude oil import quotas. A wide spread between Brent and West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil futures is accommodating higher US crude