Pentium III processor glitch, shipments halted

An official for Intel on Tuesday said "recall" is too harsh a word for the company's decision to retrieve and retool an undisclosed number of faulty 1.13GHz Pentium III processors.

Not wanting to argue semantics, Intel spokesperson Howard High said that the advantage of having only "a small number" of the faulty chips to replace, combined with the fact that the 1.13GHz Pentium III was targeted at a relatively small initial user base and not widely distributed, makes Intel's decision something less than a recall.

The early adopters that placed orders for the 1.13GHz Pentium III are "the kind of people that Intel wants to develop a strong relationship with," said High.

The glitch that caused Intel's fastest Pentium III processor to fail also caused both IBM and Dell Computer on Monday to stop taking orders for the 1.13GHz Intel chip, according to officials for both computer makers.

The news came on the same day chip rival Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), began shipping its 1.1GHz Athlon processor in volume.

With few details, Intel spokesperson George Alfs said that when the processor "hits a certain speed at a certain temperature while running certain code in certain units," the processor fails.

Apparently, the problem was discovered by either Tomshardware.com or HardOCP.com, both hardware testing companies that were provided with motherboards of the faulty chip from Intel for review, said Alfs.

Intel technicians have been able to replicate the problem brought to the company's attention by those outside testing sources, said Alfs. Based on those test results, Intel has stopped production of the chip, and won't resume production until the problem is identified and corrected, Alfs said"We'll pull these [processors] back and fix the problem and ship new parts out in a couple of months," said Alfs.

Intel had a short turnaround time to get the 1.13GHz chip to market and position the company back out front again with the fastest chip.

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