Intel's Timna chip delayed

Problems with a memory translator hub has put off the introduction of Timna processors until 2001
Written by John G.Spooner, Contributor

Memory translator hub problems have caused Intel to delay the introduction of its Timna processor for value PCs until the first quarter of 2001.

The delay is due to problems with a component called a memory translator hub. The MTH, a design taken from Intel's problematic 820 chip set, will allow the Timna chip, which was designed to work with Rambus memory, to work with less expensive, more readily available synchronous dynamic RAM.

However, the 820 MTH has exhibited symptoms, which have caused some PCs to reboot or freeze. Instead of using this same MTH design in Timna, Intel is designing a new memory interface component for Timna and SDRAM, officials said.

The delay is "directly related" to the recall of nearly one million 820 chipset motherboards, which used the MTH, by Intel last month, Intel spokesman Michael Sullivan told Reuters on Monday.

Those motherboards had signal problems with the MTH that could lead computers to crash, in some instances.

Using the same MTH for Timna could create the same problems, which were discovered to be circuit failures, related to heat and voltage, inside the MTH.

"We're not going to be able to produce an MTH that will meet our quality and reliability standards," in time for Timna's original launch date, Sullivan said.

Intel, in a move it describes as the "best course of action," is now designing a new memory interface for the Timna chip and SDRAM. The company has decided that it will no longer support SDRAM on its 820 and 840 chip sets, a spokesman said Monday night. Instead, Intel will bolster its SDRAM support with the forthcoming 815 chip set.

Previously, Intel had said the chip would be for sale in the second half of the year. "We intend to remain very competitive in the (low-cost) segment."Timna will be pitched as a lower-cost solution than the Celeron chip, the Pentium-class processor aimed at low-cost PCs.

If there is an upside to the Timna delay, it is that manufacturing capacity that had been reserved for Timna chips will be diverted to Intel's Pentium III and Celeron chips. Reuters contributed to this story.

Whenever Windows is discussed its name is linked to that of Intel, manufacturer of the vast majority of processors, chipsets and even motherboards inside Windows PCs. Why isn't Intel under threat of being broken up in a similar way to Microsoft? Go with Peter Jackson to read the news comment.

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