Intel recalls 1.13GHz Pentium II

Intel Corp. has stopped producing its 1.13GHz Pentium III chip and is recalling the few that have shipped, after learning systems running the CPU will freeze under certain conditions.

Intel technicians have been able to replicate a problem brought to the company’s attention by outside testing sources, said George Alfs, Intel spokesperson. In some units, under certain temperatures, speeds, and code, a glitch occurs that causes the test system to hang, he said.

The news came late last month, the same day Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) began shipping its 1.1GHz Athlon processor in volume.

Based on the test results, Intel has stopped production of the chip and won’t resume until the problem is identified and corrected, Alfs said. It may be several months before the chip is back in production, he said.

Intel announced on July 31 it was beginning to ship limited quantities of the chip to major vendors. The number of chips shipped since then is “very small,” Alfs said, and Intel is working with those vendors to resolve the problem. Consumers who own one of the rare 1.13GHz PIII systems should contact its vendor, and not Intel, to find out what to do, Alf said.

Dell and IBM have announced systems for the new 1.13GHz processor. Dell was taking orders for the system but hadn’t yet shipped any to consumers, said Maria Krinsky, a Dell spokesperson. The company has stopped taking orders for the system, she added.

Dell will contact consumers who have ordered a 1.13GHz system and will offer them a 1GHz system instead, she said.

IBM pulled the high-end Aptiva featuring the 1.13GHz processor from its Web site after learning of the problem, said Tim Blair, a spokesperson for IBM’s personal systems group. IBM has shipped some desktops with the chip, but sales so far have been limited, Blair said.

“The volume was very light because it’s brand new,” he said. IBM will contact customers who have already received systems with the 1.13GHz chip, he said.

Intel’s announcement came as a surprise to Nathan Brookwood, a principal analyst with Insight64. Brookwood said it is rare for the chip maker to have a problem with its products, but he noted rumours were circulating last week on online chip bulletin boards that there might be a problem with the chip.

The 1.13GHz processor speed pushes the limits of the Pentium III design, Brookwood said. Intel developed the chip as a public relations strategy to state that the company had the fastest chip, he said.

The faulty chip may be a public relations blunder, but it will not hurt Intel in the pocketbook, he said.

“It was not targeted at high-volume sales,” Brookwood said. “I can’t imagine it would have any substantial financial impact.”