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Dell says 2GHz Pentiums back on track

After a short drought, Dell Computer is back in the chips. Could the tightness in supply mean the slumping PC market is showing signs of revival?

After a short 2GHz drought, Dell Computer is back in the chips.

After pulling the 2GHz Pentium 4 processor from its Web ordering forms last weekend, the PC giant is again offering the chip.

"We were able to get our supply (back), and we're taking orders again," a Dell representative said Friday morning.

Lead times on Dimension 8200 desktops, the main vessel for the 2GHz chip, have been whittled down to about 10 business days, compared with a three- to four-day average for other models. Lead times on the 2GHz Dimension had stretched to 40 business days earlier in the week.

Dell attributed the events to unexpectedly high demand for the chip. But Intel acknowledged that the 2GHz chip, introduced August 27, is still hard to come by.

Intel allocates high-end chips in numbers relative to the amount of total chips each PC maker typically buys, a company representative said. In this case, it appears Dell went through its entire allocation before a new shipment had arrived, the Intel representative said.

"Supplies on the 2GHz are fairly tight," the Intel representative added.

The dearth of 2GHz chips created missed opportunities for Dell, analysts said, but is unlikely to have damaged the company's profits.

The situation also points to higher-than-expected demand for high-end PCs, suggesting the slumping PC market could be showing signs of revival.

There's "tightness of supply of certain (products), and it's not just Intel," said Dean McCarron, an analyst at Mercury Research.

McCarron said he's heard certain Athlon processors from Intel rival Advanced Micro Devices are in heavy demand as well.

"That would imply that the market is healthier than we thought it was," he said.

Tim Wright, director of desktop marketing for AMD, confirmed that the chipmaker has sold out on two Athlon XP models, though not its fastest-available.

"We have good availability of our highest model numbers," he said. AMD's fstest chip is its Athlon XP 1900+, at 1.6GHz.