Macworld: The first Intel-based Mac Mini?

The news beat: As is always the case, rumors are circulating about exactly what Steve Jobs will say at Macworld Expo. Test Center chief technologist Tom Yager has a bet for Macworld: a Mac mini with more media features and faster Intel guts at the same retail price. But, in Handicapping Macworld Expo, Yager also explains that Job's keynote is really about driving up Apple's stock price, not offering customers a glimpse at what to expect.

From the feature well: High-performance computing is amid a renaissance of sorts, and is beginning to spread into business use. Microsoft, for instance, will move into the HPC fray when it brings Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 to market this year. And service-oriented architectures are playing a role, too, by enabling workload distribution across girds and clusters. "The HPC market has been turned on its ear," says Earl Joseph, research vice president for high-performance systems at IDC. But not everyone agrees wholeheartedly. "High-performance clustering may be getting cheaper, but taking advantage of it is not really getting easier," says Frank Gillett, principal analyst at Forrester Research.

Hot review: Our high-performance computing package includes a first look at Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003, due out this year. "The current build of CCS is also quite raw in some places, such as the job scheduler, but then, it is still in beta," writes contributing editor Paul Venezia. With CCS Microsoft, however, did earn some kudos from Venezia.

Best of the blogs: Gripe Line author Ed Foster is on the prowl. He has embarked on a quest to find out who the best laptop vendor is via a poll on his Web site. "The important thing isn't so much who gets the most votes as what we all learn that we didn't know before," Foster notes.