Tech Industry

Commentary: Chips are down again for Intel

Without question, the company's latest chip delay exacerbates its already bruised credibility in terms of delivering products on time, say Gartner analysts.

See news story: Intel delays release of Timna processor

By Kevin Knox and Mark Margevicius, Gartner Analysts

Without question, Intel's latest chip delay exacerbates the company's already bruised credibility in terms of delivering products on time.

As with its 820 and 840 integrated chipsets, Intel has been forced to use technology for Timna that is outside initial design specifications--a challenge that has been at the heart of Intel's continued chip flaws.

The chipset calls for Rambus dynamic random-access memory (RDRAM), but RDRAM is in short supply, and thus pricing is higher than the market will bear. Faced with this dilemma, Intel has had to equip Timna with memory translator hubs (MTHs), which are designed to allow processors designed for RDRAM to use traditional synchronous dynamic random-access memory (SDRAM).

However, integrating MTHs with SDRAM has been a problematic area for Intel. Gartner believes that only when the price of RDRAM comes down or, more likely, when Intel improves the way it integrates components, will the company be able to solve its problems affecting this low-end, low-cost offering. Still another viable alternative is using the 810 chipset, which is not laden with MTH or RDRAM issues.

For now, Gartner believes the adverse effects on the leading chipmaker are minor (aside from the aforementioned credibility problem) because no competitive products exist in this low-end area. However, Intel's MTH slip, combined with earlier chip flaws, does give competitors such as AMD the opportunity to immediately improve their perception in the eyes of PC original equipment manufacturers and eventually gain on Intel.

PC makers have been hesitant to sign deals with AMD because of its past financial fluctuations and production issues. In addition, enterprise customers have been finicky about using non-Intel processors. Over the past year, however, AMD has made incremental improvements in the areas of financial performance, volume and market penetration, resulting in a much more viable competitor to Intel.

Entire contents, Copyright ? 2000 Gartner Group, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein represents Gartner's initial commentary and analysis and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Positions taken are subject to change as more information becomes available and further analysis is undertaken. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof.