Intel has pulled supplies of Pentium II chips from two of its major OEMs who broke an embargo prohibiting them from releasing details of the processor prior to its official launch today.
The two manufacturers, Elonex and AST, have also had their supplies of Pentium II chips halted temporarily as punishment for their actions, according to sources.
Intel froze supplies when it discovered the two manufacturers had provided computer magazines with machines for review one week before the Pentium II's launch.
Intel's swift retribution will effectively force Elonex and AST to either stop selling Pentium II machines or source the chips from other OEMs.
This practice supports the so-called grey market where companies in short supply of chips buy product from vendors overseas at a premium price.
Intel said it was unable to comment on the reports. But according to one source familiar with the situation: "Intel has pulled the chips."
Joe D'elia, senior analyst at Dataquest, believes Intel's treatment is harsh. "All this will simply confirm people's image of the terrible Intel.
The problem for Elonex is that it doesn't have the clout of Dell or Compaq.
I do think Intel is being harsh bearing in mind how much Pentium II information it has leaked," he said.
Another source, who requested anonymity, agreed with D'elia: "I can see why Intel has done this, but you can be sure if Compaq or Gateway had done it, a blind eye would have been turned. Intel is damaging Elonex and AST's business for giving Intel a bit of early advertising."
Gateway 2000, often accused of being an Intel reseller, launches its range of Pentium II powered machines at noon today - a full 3 hours before the Pentium II is officially launched.
Intel: no-name Pentiums under suspicion
According to a senior executive with an electronics firm in the US, there may be a serious problem with millions of no-name Pentium motherboards, reports Richard Barry. The non-Intel boards may not have the adequate number of capacitors (which may also be substandard) to smooth out voltage spikes and power surges around the CPU.
The boards will make systems crash and could cause permanent data loss, according to Bob Dobkin, vice president of Linear Technologies in California.
"This is potentially a bigger bug than the 1995 floating-point bug because there are millions of computers that could go bad," Dobkin said.
He added that the problem could be even worse for Pentium chips with MMX "because of the enormous electrical surge these processors cause".
Dobkin has done his own tests on no-name brands and says many of them are built so badly that they will fail after about a year. An Intel spokeswoman said: "I am very concerned to hear about this. Our advice is to check you are buying a motherboard from a reputable source and that it meets Intel's quality standards." Information regarding motherboard standards can be found at www.intel.com.
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