Intel says Atom shortage will ease soon

A shortage of Atom processors will ease as production volumes increase, Intel said

Taiwanese hardware makers expressed concern over a shortage of Intel's Atom processor, but Intel said production volumes will increase.

On Monday, Asustek Computer CEO Jerry Shen said shortages and delays of Atom will not seriously affect Eee PC shipments, but warned that the issue could grow more serious as the important pre-holiday shipment season starts later in the year.

"If Intel can solve it by October, then no problem," Shen said.

The Atom, which Intel launched Tuesday at the Computex exhibition in Taipei, is designed for low-cost laptops and desktops. Encouraged by the success of Asustek's Eee PC, more hardware makers have designed new products based on the chips.

The Atom shortage was caused by this high level of demand for the chips from hardware makers, said Sean Maloney, executive vice president and general manager of Intel's Sales and Marketing Group, in an interview.

"We've got four 300-millimeter fabs, so we can really hose this stuff out," Maloney said, referring to Intel manufacturing plants that use 300mm silicon wafers to make chips. Around 2,500 Atom processors can be made on a single 300mm wafer.

"By September, there are going to be very, very high volumes," Maloney said.

Those chips won't arrive too soon for hardware makers, who are eager to get Atom-based laptops and desktops into the market.

The current shortage of Atom processors did not hurt the launch of Acer's Aspire one laptop, but the company is watching developments closely, said Jim Wong, senior corporate vice president at the Taiwanese computer vendor.

Acer is in weekly talks with Intel about the shortage, Wong said.

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Sumner Lemon and Dan Nystedt

IDG News Service

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