PC Makers Stalled By Intel Design Flaw


A design problem discovered in chips designed by Intel has forced a number of PC makers to halt production of PC models powered by the affected chipset.

Many PC makers including Dell and HP are awaiting new versions of the affected chipset before resuming production.

According to a company announcement made this Monday, the problem was discovered in Intel’s Series 6 chipset; also known as Cougar Point. Intel has said that about 5% of the chips will not last the stipulated 3-5 year life span of an average PC.

Intel’s disclosure has led to a domino effect in the PC market. Many PC makers have stopped shipping machines powered by the affected chip and impending releases of new models based on the affected chipset have been halted temporarily.

Four Dell models, viz. the XPS 8300 desktop, the Vostro 460 desktop for business customers and two models of the Alienware gaming desktop have been affected. Similarly, HP has conceded that a number of desktop and laptop PC models have been affected. It has also stalled the release of two new desktop PC’s; HP Compaq 8200 and HP Compaq 6200. These models were displayed by HP at the recently held CES 2011 in Las Vegas.

Other PC makers were less forthcoming about the problems caused by Intel’s announcement. NEC said that 21 out of its 51 new model releases may have been affected by Intel’s flawed chip and that the company will most likely postpone the release date of their affected models till Intel comes out with a replacement. Apple Inc. was the only large PC maker that was completely unaffected by Intel’s announcement. No current or forthcoming Apple PC model uses Intel’s affected chip.

Many PC makers had started shipping computers with the affected chip on January 9th. By the time of Intel’s announcement, over half a million computers based on the affected chipset had already been manufactured. There is no clarity on how many of them were actually shipped. Intel has promised to rectify the design flaw and come up with a problem free version of the chip by mid-February with a return to full scale production of the affected chip by mid-April. Analysts estimate that this development will end up costing Intel upwards of $1 billion.

The affected PC makers will also face significant financial losses though the actual impact on their balance sheets remains to be seen. PC makers like Dell and HP have offered a refund to all customers who have purchased the affected models. The companies have alternately offered to replace the affected chipsets for free as and when the updated version of the chipset becomes available.

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