Intel stops shipments of new processor

Shipments of Intel's new 3GHz Pentium 4 processor have been halted Monday due to the discovery of an "anomaly," according to an Intel spokesman.

The new chip, which was announced Monday, was placed on what Intel called "ship hold" because the company detected a problem in "a very small number of the 3GHz chips," said George Alfs, an Intel spokesman. The new 875P chipset, with support for a 800MHz front-side bus, is unaffected by the anomaly, he said.

"It sounds like whatever it is is relatively minor," said Dean McCarron, principal analyst at Mercury Research Inc. in Cave Creek, Arizona, who spoke with Intel about the problem earlier Monday. An issue arose during the company's internal testing procedures but it's not something that will require a "silicon spin," or a redesign of the hardware, in order to fix, he said.

"A change may be needed in the BIOS, or a change in a specification. Basically all of that points to it being a relatively small issue, rather than something that would be significant. The delay in shipping product should be relatively short," McCarron said.

Alfs declined to be more specific about the nature of the problem.

Intel is working with its customers on fixing the problem, he said. Units have already been shipped out to PC and workstation manufacturers, and the cessation of shipments likely will affect the availability of several new systems announced Monday featuring the chip, he said.

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