A shame-faced Intel Corp has confirmed that it is, once again, delaying the release of its 820 ‘Camino’ chipset, this time because of technical problems – and can give no dates for when the component will now arrive on the market. Intel spokesperson, Dan Francisco, said that the company is still in the process of […]
A shame-faced Intel Corp has confirmed that it is, once again, delaying the release of its 820 ‘Camino’ chipset, this time because of technical problems – and can give no dates for when the component will now arrive on the market. Intel spokesperson, Dan Francisco, said that the company is still in the process of finding of the chipset errors and will not give out a new release date until it has verified that the boards are working correctly. The 820 – when it eventually arrives – will be the first Intel chipset to use the much-hyped Rambus DRAM
As we reported yesterday, the problem lies with the motherboard designs, which include three RIMM slots for memory. The slot for the third memory module, has been found to behave unreliably, whether the OEMs fill all three slots with modules or not. Francisco said that the company is looking to introduce a two slot chipset design to circumvent the problem, but, again, could give no details on when this stop-gap might become available.
The delay is the latest chapter in the troubled history of the 820 chipset. Camino was originally supposed to ship in June but after the initial delays it became clear that the chipset would not be available in volume until next year.
By announcing the problems so close to the launch date, Intel risks alienating some of its OEM clients that have already announced products that use the chipset. Hewlett-Packard Co announced last Monday that its new line of Vectra VL600 corporate PCs would incorporate Rambus. In addition, IBM Corp, Dell Computer Corp and Compaq Computer Corp were also planning 820- based systems. OEMs already stung by the drastic memory price rises in the wake of the earthquake in Taiwanese will now face holes in their high-end PC and workstation lines.
Fourth Wave analyst John Latta certainly thinks that the further Rambus delays could be a bone of contention between Intel and its OEM clients. One impact of the delay is that OEMs will be less likely to accept a ‘final’ chip set until they have tested it, he said. If the OEMs have to scrap many new motherboards this could cause one firestorm. It’s too early to predict the impact. Intel’s credibility is being tested again.
Further Rambus delays also give more ammunition to the supporters of the alternative memory interconnect standard, PC133. Micron Electronics Inc announced PC133 SDRAM systems last week that it said offered performance comparable to Rambus DRAM systems for $200 to $500 less. Any delay in the 820 only provides more time for alternative memory solutions, Latta said, especially for those OEMs who see DRDRAM as an unsatisfactory solution in the price sensitive sectors of the market. Any fallout of this kind would represent more bad news for Intel and the developer of DRDRAM, Rambus Inc – whose stock is already spiraling on the news of the delay.
The fuss over Camino completely overshadowed Intel’s launch of 533 and 600MHz Pentium III processors, with a faster 133MHz frontside bus, as well as the new 810E chipset. The 810E chipset is a variant of the 810/Whitney chipset that integrates graphics, audio and soft modem features, aimed at the $1,200 to $1,500 PC market segment.