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End to the 800MHz PIII bottleneck?

PC makers say a better supply of Intel's new Pentium III chip has cut customers' wait times for PCs. Has this delay helped AMD?

Have you got your 800MHz Pentium III PC yet? Many consumers have been waiting, and then waiting some more, for PCs configured with Intel's 800MHz Pentium III chip ever since its launch in late December.

But the wait is apparently over, as PC makers say that Intel's processor has been in better supply recently.

Supplies of the fastest Pentium III chip continue to be tight. But whereas manufacturing lead times were as long as 30 days for PCs using the chip, large direct-PC vendors are now asking customers to wait only one-third that time -- roughly eight to 10 days.

PC makers attribute the faster time line to greater supplies of the 800MHz processor, introduced December 20.

Dell, which is now quoting 10-day lead times on Dimension PCs with the 800MHz Pentium, is hoping to get those times down to its norm of three to five days over the next two weeks, company officials said.

Dell was hit hard, however, by Intel shortages. On January 27 the company was quoting five-week lead times on 800MHz Pentium III Dimensions.

Meanwhile, Gateway is now quoting eight days to customers who want to buy one of its PCs configured with the chip.

Gateway, however, is also shipping PCs with Advanced Micro Devices's 800MHz Athlon chip. Lead times on PCs configured with Athlon are normal, between three and five days.

Supply of the 800MHz Athlon is more than adequate to meet demand. Gateway, in fact, has been offering AMD's Athlon systems as an alternative to Intel-based ones for buyers who don't want the extra wait.

Intel, for its part, is working to add manufacturing capacity to help curb shortages. Company officials say they expect to smooth out the supply problems by the end of next month.

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