Intel behind HP's memory woes?

Flawed Intel components could have played a part in the recall of nearly one million problematic Hewlett-Packard notebooks yesterday.HP yesterday notified its customers it had discovered a "design flaw" which caused a high frequency of system hangs (or freezes) in up to 900,000 of its laptops containing certain combinations of memory brands, Intel chipsets and mobile Pentium processors.

Flawed Intel components could have played a part in the recall of nearly one million problematic Hewlett-Packard notebooks yesterday.

HP yesterday notified its customers it had discovered a "design flaw" which caused a high frequency of system hangs (or freezes) in up to 900,000 of its laptops containing certain combinations of memory brands, Intel chipsets and mobile Pentium processors.

A spokesperson for HP in Texas was yesterday reported to have pointed blame away from Intel and toward four memory manufacturers: Samsung Semiconductor, Winbond Electronics, Infineon Technology and Micron Technology.

But Intel appears to be reserving its technical judgement for now.

"We'll keep looking at it but HP gave us a heads-up last week and 'they' don't view it as an Intel issue," said Intel spokesperson Daniel Anderson.

But does Intel? When pressed for a statement on whether the company would back HP's position, Intel back-tracked somewhat:

"It's too early to say," said Anderson. "It does appear that way but if you come back in a week's time things might have changed."

Fanning the fires of speculation, HP said it believed that the problem it was facing was "industry wide".

That attracted a sharp rebuke from IBM Australia today which acted quickly to assure its customers it believed the issue did not impact its notebook line and was not "industry wide" as HP claimed.

An IBM spokesperson said it was aware of the issue, and that "at least one" unnamed memory supplier was guilty of producing sub-standard products.

"During IBM qualification testing activities in the second half of 2003, we detected failures with at least one memory source similar to what HP is reporting. This memory source was disqualified for the affected systems and never shipped by IBM.

"We spent this past weekend re-testing at our labs in the US to ensure our customers would not be affected by this issue," the IBM spokesperson said.

However, adding to confusion over the issue, HP identified four suppliers as shipping memory products bearing the "design fault", contrary to IBM's claim.

According to earlier reports, HP's problem occurs with laptops containing Intel 845MP, 845MZ, 852PM, 852GME and 855PM mobile chip sets and either the Mobile Pentium 4 or Pentium M microprocessors.

In what must be considered for now as unfortunate coincidence, HPs memory woes come hard on the heels of Intel's announcement late last week that it had recalled two desktop PC chipsets.

Intel said it recalled its 915GP and 925GX chipsets after discovering a flaw that could cause a computer containing the components to fail to start, suffer system hangs and exhibit other abnormal behaviour.

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