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Intel worried about Taiwan's Y2K compliance

Intel worried about Taiwan's Y2K compliance

Taiwan's PC makers need to step up their efforts to make their computer systems year 2000 ready, said Intel's Asia-Pacific chief here last week.

"There is a tremendous amount of work to be done and not everybody is in great shape to get everything done," said John Davies, Intel's vice president and general manager for the chip giant's Asia-Pacific operations.

To a large part, it is in Intel's self-interest that Taiwan's PC manufacturing industry is ready for 2000, admitted Davies.

"Taiwan builds PCs and notebooks for half the world," he said, adding that Intel also purchases "hundreds of millions of US dollars" worth of parts and components in Taiwan every year.

In other words, if Taiwanese makers cannot provide the PCs the world needs, Intel will not have any market for its processors, and PC vendors will have nothing to sell.

Not surprisingly then, Intel is not alone in urging Taiwan's PC industry to speed up its year 2000 readiness efforts.

Executives from virtually all first-tier PC vendors, such as Compaq, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and IBM have recently been visiting their local suppliers here to urge them to make sure their computer systems will function properly when 2000 comes around, said Fan Chang-Kang, director of the systems engineering division at the Institute for Information Industry, an influential think-tank backed by the Taiwan Government.

"The global PC vendors have been a big help in raising awareness of the Y2K issue," said Fan."

While Taiwan's Government has been very active in supporting the island's Y2K efforts as well as providing incentives such as tax cuts for Y2K-related spending, it is still the fear of losing business that works best in motivating Taiwanese businesses, noted Fan.

And the pressure is on. For anybody wanting to continue being a supplier for Intel, Y2K readiness is a requirement, said Davies.

Such pressure has helped in making most of Taiwan's larger PC players to take Y2K seriously, said both Fan and Davies, but many smaller companies still face a lot of work.

A recent Government survey of 30 Taiwanese semiconductor and IT hardware manufacturers showed that none of them had completed tests of their factory-floor equipment, and 46.6 per cent were still in the initial planning and investigating phases, said Fan.

"But there is a big difference between major companies and smaller ones," he noted. "In general, we are not too worried about the big companies."

For Intel, however, worrying comes naturally.

"We are Andy Grove's company," said Davies. "We will be paranoid until the last minute."


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