Intel stops shipments of 900MHz Xeon

A glitch discovered in one of Intel's Xeon server processors caused the chip maker on Tuesday to announce it has stopped shipments of the chip.

"We are temporarily withholding shipments of the Pentium III Xeon 900MHz [processor] with 2MB of L2 cache," said Intel spokesman Bill Kircos.

The problem stems from a write problem with the chip's register that can create an endless data loop, requiring a server reboot. The problem does not corrupt data and to date no end-users have been affected by the glitch, Kircos said.

The glitch was initially reported by one of Intel's major computer manufacturing partners with clout equal to a Dell or Compaq, Kircos said, who was unable to confirm a specific computer maker.

"In this case a customer reported a sighting, and we investigated it and were able to replicate it. We were hoping to address it through a workaround and keep shipping," Kircos said.

Instead of a workaround or software patch, Intel will replace the Xeon chip with a 700MHz version of the same.

Introduced last March, the 900MHz Xeon, a high-performance back-end server chip, has shipped in relatively small numbers. Intel hopes to resume shipping a debugged version of the 900MHz Xeon in August, Kircos said.

Dean McCarron, an industry analyst at Mercury Research, said there is little cause for alarm.

"This is more business as usual," McCarron said. "It's showing [Intel's] testing processes are working, which is a good thing compared to some previous chips that have gotten out of the door. And being a server product, it's probably getting a very strong amount of scrutiny on top of that."

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