Intel is facing harsh criticism from PC manufacturers for failing to deliver its MMX multimedia processor chip before the Christmas rush.
Intel will introduce the chip this Wednesday with 16 major OEMs including IBM, Compaq, Dell, Apricot, and with enhanced software on show. But sources say its Klamath processor, which uses a new slot architecture, will now be delayed until April at the earliest.
At the same time, vendors are claiming that Intel will discontinue its P100 and P200 processors next month, with some outlets still holding massive stocks of machines built on the chip. Major PC superstore PC World was already discounting systems using the P120 by over #100 in the sale season after Christmas.
A spokesperson from Intel said: ?The delay [in MMX] was because we weren?t ready to launch it. We didn't want to create a demand that we couldn?t fill.?
Intel will announce the MMX chip formally this Wednesday and claims that it will offer 60 per cent more performance than existing chips. The spokesperson said that, while the P100 had ?disappeared from the roadmap?, the P120 chip will not disappear completely. Intel had not delayed the chip so that it could sell existing chips for Christmas, she said.
But that was repudiated by a range of PC vendors. Keith Corbett, head of marketing at the Mitsubishi Electric PC Division, said: ?It?s bollocks. You can?t go introducing new systems in November. If we haven?t got our systems approved by the end of October, we can?t sell it [for Christmas]. All they?re doing is cannibalising the Christmas market.?
That was echoed by Chris Bakolas, technical director at Dan Technology. He said: ?I asked Intel if we could start selling it [the MMX chip] before Christmas but there were heat problems. Intel never tells you anything.?
Another source at a PC vendor, who declined to be named, said that IBM, Compaq and the other major PC companies had systems available to sell for Christmas with their lines ?flat out?. He said that they were ready to launch these systems in November but Intel was held back by retailers. ?They could have done it but if they?d done it, the retailers couldn?t sell them. They said, ?hold on Intel?.?
Lisa Clark, senior product manager at Compaq, confirmed that it was phasing out its P120 machines. She said: ?We?ll still sell the ones we?ve got but we won?t make any more.? Compaq will supplement MMX machines it launches on Wednesday at the end of the month.
The unnamed source said if Intel positioned the Klamath as a platform for Christmas games it was making a mistake. ?Why should people buy a new PC now when the Klamath will come out in September?? he said. The Pentium still had life. ?They?d be crazy to get rid of the Pentium now?. But internal documents from Intel show the company does intend to position Klamath as the chip for next Christmas.
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