SANTA CLARA, Calif. - May 10, 2000 - Intel Corporation [NASDAQ:INTC] announced
that it would replace motherboards that have a defective memory translator
hub (MTH) component that translates signals from SDRAM memory to the Intel
820 chipset. The MTH is only used with motherboards utilizing SDRAM and
the Intel 820 chipset. The MTH began shipping in November 1999; therefore
systems shipped before that time are unaffected by this issue.
has identified system noise issues with the MTH that can cause some systems
to intermittently reset, reboot and/or hang. In addition, the noise issue
can, under extreme conditions, potentially cause data corruption. In some
instances the company has been able to induce data corruption under synthetic
stress testing in its laboratories.
The 820 chipset was conceived as a performance-oriented component. The
key differences between the 820 chipset and the "value oriented" 810 are
the addition of AGP4X graphics support and RDRAM in the 820. RDRAM provides
a theoretical maximum bandwidth of 1.6GB/s, twice the access speed of
SDRAM. On the other hand, it costs about $100 more.
is another black eye for Intel, and a market opportunity for rival chipmaker
Advanced Micros Devices [NYSE:AMD]. SDRAM on 820 was a "margin saver",
and Intel won't have a working SDRAM compatible 820 chipset until Q3 2000.
AMD is unaffected by the problem.
major PC vendors have different exposures on this issue.
to Dell [NASDAQ:DELL] Vice Chairman Kevin Rollins, Dell engineers discovered
the problem early, and committed instead to Rambus technology. Dell users
spoke with senior Compaq [NYSE:CPQ] officials, who confirmed that Compaq
had not used the MTH in its 820-based motherboards.
[NYSE:IBM] has stated that they are "unaffected", since only RDRAM is
used on IBM's 820-based motherboards.
Hewlett Packard [NYSE:HWP] has used the 820/SDRAM combination is some
of its systems, such as the Kayak XM600. HP has not yet announced a repair/replacement
According to Gateway, although Gateway uses SDRAM extensively, it has
never deployed the 820 chipset and customers are unaffected.
systems builders with the most exposure are the so-called "white box"
vendors - the small local "screwdriver shops" that assemble systems to
order. Many of these use SDRAM with the 820 to shave costs. Intel expects
its forthcoming 815 chipset, with SDRAM support, to debut in Q2 2000,
sooner than the "fixed" 820 chipset. We forecast a 70% likelihood that
the 815 will quell demand for SDRAM support on the 820.
This issue only affects Intel 820-based systems shipped between November
1999 and May 2000. Intel has provided a free
downloadable utility that tests for the defective MTH component. However,
in testing at TechnologyEvaluation.Com, we found this utility generated
the dreaded Windows NT "blue screen of death". We recommend contacting
your vendor directly to confirm your status. Insist on onsite system board
replacement, rather than a refund.
will be replacing defective 820-based SDRAM motherboards with its VC820
motherboard and 128MB of RDRAM. However, they are directing customers
to contact their vendor directly for replacement or refund. Since Intel
has sold over a million of its original, defective motherboards, it's
going to take awhile for vendors to determine their final policies.