Yesterday Intel (INTC) recalled its fastest Pentium III chips less than a month after they began shipping. On the same day, rival AMD unveiled its own fast Athlon chips to claim a temporary lease on the world speed record.
Press accounts agreed that the recall won't cost Intel much, because the chips have been ordered by only a few customers - Dell, IBM and "a few European PC makers," according to the San Jose Mercury News. (So far only IBM has shipped computers containing the new chip to customers.) AMD's announcement listed 10 manufacturers ready to ship Athlon boxes.
In short, as an Intel spokesman admitted to the Boston Globe's Hiawatha Bray, "It's been a Monday."
About the only happy news for Intel was that the market didn't care much. Most outlets that touched on finances said the recall will have little impact on Intel's bottom line. Intel's stock rose slightly yesterday while AMD's declined a fraction.
Electronic Buyers' News centered its report (carried on TechWeb) around an analyst's opinion that AMD now enjoys a "clear lead in processors." EBN reported that AMD "took the high road and refused to comment on Intel's recall."
Several outlets rehearsed the recent history of Intel's trouble in getting quality chips out the door. The Merc presented the most detailed chronology, but the Boston Globe reached back the farthest, to Intel's 1994 problems with Pentium chips. (Remember "Intel inside, can't divide?") The outlets disagreed about how much Intel's recall of motherboards cost the company last May: Was it $253 million (Wall Street Journal), $250 million (Globe), or $200 million (Merc)?
Intel's processor problems were smoked out by independent hardware reviewers who posted their results on the Web. CNET ran a sidebar by Ian Fried that detailed the roles of three such sites. - Keith Dawson
Intel Recalls Its Fastest Chip
San Jose Mercury News
Intel Pulls Pentium IIIs Off the Market
Glitch Forces Intel to Recall 1.13-MHz MPUs (Electronic Buyers' News)
Intel to Recall Its Latest Pentium Chip After Discovering a Technical Glitch
Wall Street Journal
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Hardware Sites Help Intel Isolate Chip Problem
Intel Recalls 1.13GHz Pentium IIIs
Intel Recalls Its Speediest Computer Chip Because of Flaw (AP)
New York Times
Intel Recalls Faulty Pentium III (Reuters)