Under pressure from users, Intel last week agreed to manufacture a new batch of Pentium II 300MHz chips following a severe shortage which left PC vendors high and dry.
The problem forced Compaq to put prices of PCs up #50 to recoup costs incurred from purchasing processors on the open market. Other vendors like IBM are faced with migrating customers to faster processors.
Customers waiting for 300MHz machines will have to wait until October because the new chip will now be built to the current 0.25 micron silicon specification, rather than the now defunct 0.35 process. The PII 266MHz, also on the 0.35 process, has been discontinued.
Intel brushed off accusations that it had tightened up on "turns" (short-term orders which OEMs have not forecasted months in advance) in order to prevent confusion between its two PC processor lines. The new Celeron 300 and 333MHz (released last week) and the 266 and 300MHz Pentium II have similar performance (see PC Week 21 July).
Some OEMs reported user frustration. "Intel's constantly turning the handle, but corporate customers want stability not horse-power," said one vendor.
Direct vendor Dell defended Intel's position, saying customers require at least 350MHz to cope with "constant computing", or the applications which run in the background like virus scanning, local data compression, push/pull technology and encryption together with future technologies from Microsoft like Chrome.
Dell makes the 350MHz Pentium II its entry point, leaving 266 and 300MHz behind and bypassing 333MHz entirely. Dell is offering a PII 350MHz machine with 64Mb of RAM, 4.3Gb drive and NT workstation for #1,099.
- Compaq will announce today its intentions for the integration of Digital's PC lines. The Digital PCs will continue to the end of their life times and will be rebranded Compaq DeskPro.
The Digital PC 3100 (formerly Venturis FX-2) is the only corporate machine from a top 10 vendor to offer a choice of non-Intel processors. But Compaq would not commit to offering a choice to corporate customers beyond the lifetime of the product.
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