Intel chip placed on hold

Intel chip placed on hold

Shortages are not the only problems plaguing Intel at the moment, with technical problems reported in its 820 and 840 chip sets.

Intel confirmed that it had identified some memory problems for the chip sets but only in its server products and only affecting SDRAM. There were no issues with the desktop or DRAM versions of the chip set according to Phillip Dows, national marketing manager at Intel.

The problems occur when the chips are built to support Rambus but include modules to interface with SDRAM.

Consequently, shortages of high-end Rambus dynamic RAM (RDRAM) mean that high-end users are having to resort to SDRAM.

Despite these problems, Dows insists that Intel will remain focused on its roadmap and has not yet decided to cancel the chip sets.

"It's too soon to say what we're going to do. We're working through the issues with various industry partners but I can't give you a time frame on any decision or resolution."

However, according to Phillip Tran, marketing manager of distributor Tech Excel, Intel sources had told him the 820 and 840 chip sets were "a dud and that Intel will scrap it".

Yet manufacturers are already producing it and Tran has ordered 200 trial products.

Dows would say nothing about what Intel were going to do with products already in the market, explaining that in Australia "there was very little supply of the chip set".

Plans for the 815 chip set to replace the 810 enterprise chip will have to be examined if the 820 proves unworkable.

"If the 820 is a dud there will be a gaping hole," said Tran, who expects that the 815 will replace the 820, rather than the entry level 810.

Dows could not say when the 815 chip set would be released, or where in the family it would be slotted in.

Intel is still also struggling with its motherboard policy, with Dows confirming it would be cancelling two "unannounced dual processor motherboards based on the 840 chip set" admitting that it was in relation to "the fact that we're working to resolve problems on the chip set".

Dows believes instead of focusing on these designs Intel will in future dedicate more resources to develop other chip sets.

Tran also claimed that the chip vendor would once again ramp up production of its slot 1 motherboards, abandoning its latest socket board proposal.

Dows accredits this to market demand, claiming that the "volume of packaging the market is looking for will be met by Intel, whether manufacturers want slot or socket".

He attributes the instability of the market at the moment to supply shortages rather than any strategic phasing out of a particular motherboard and envisages the shortages to cease by March.

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