Another upcoming Intel chip line has been delayed, with problems with its Alviso chipset pushing the production launch of its Sonoma mobile PC platform back into 2005.
Intel had planned to launch Sonoma later this year, but while it will reach OEMs in the second half, volume production will not kick in till the first quarter of next year. An Intel spokeswoman blamed both technical and marketing factors for the delay.
The delay to Sonoma follows hitches which led to a recall of some Grantsdale desktop chipsets last month. Earlier this year, the launch of Dothan, Intel’s 90nanometer Centrino chip, was also delayed.
Sonoma represents an update of the Centrino notebook platform and is scheduled to support tri-band wireless spanning 802.11a/b/g, with the Alviso chipset offering third generation graphics, PCI Express, and high quality audio.
Intel’s spokeswoman said that the current version of the chipset had not met production standards. While Intel could have met the end of year target and will ship product to OEMs, she continued, market timing issues had prompted it to delay the production launch till early next year.
Decoded, it seems that Intel is having to tweak the design of the chipset, and that while it could stage an end of year launch, it is concerned about the platform’s debut being drowned out by pre-holiday season noise.
Intel’s spokeswoman said the delay was nothing to do with the vendor’s new 300mm/90nm production lines, echoing comments the vendor made when it announced the Grantsdale recall.
Asked if the earlier Grantsdale and Dothan delays meant the vendor was being more cautious on product launches, the spokeswoman said: When something like that happens, you do go back and scrutinize things more closely…if that means adjusting schedules, we’ll do that.
News of the delay filtered out over the past weekend, capping an unpleasant week for the vendor. Intel’s stock price suffered at the beginning of the week, when a Merrill Lynch report suggested the recovery in the chip industry may have peaked and that chip inventories were climbing. Last Tuesday, the vendor released second quarter results that showed inventories rising, and in which it scaled back its margin expectations for the year.
So, while the delay of Sonoma looks like another mis-step for the vendor, it may also give it more time to squeeze what it can out of its existing platform as it clears inventories.