More on those Pentium 4 shortages

We had some discussion here recently about reports that supplies of Intel's Pentium 4 are tight. New reports have confirmed that processors are in short supply, including the Pentium 4. The Register has confirmation from Intel, along with news that it's the slower P4s—like the 1.5GHz chips—that are hardest to come by. Socket 478 chips are harder to find than Socket 423 chips. Somehow, nobody wants the orphans. Imagine that.

CNET reports much the same thing, but adds that "AMD, meanwhile, has sold out of at least two versions of its Athlon chip this quarter." Whether that means they've sold out two speed grades of the chip or two whole product lines—say, Athlon and Athlon XP—I can't tell. CNET has dumbed down its copy to the point of incomprehensibility. Either way, Athlons are obviously selling well enough to be scarce. Some say it's AMD picking up customers Intel can't supply. But hey, maybe those customers are the lucky ones, since the Athlon XP is faster.

Financial analyst types are saying these problems are a sign of a big uptick in holiday buying. Others hint ominously at Pentium 4 yield problems. But it looks to me like a trio of planned conversions—from Socket 423 to Socket 478, from RDRAM to SDRAM, and from 0.18 microns to 0.13 microns—meant Intel had to do a lot of fancy guesswork to keep the right mix of processors on the market. They missed.

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