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1GHz Intel shortages hit tier-two PC builders

Not much left after big boys have had their fill

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UK system builders are losing Intel business to tier-one rivals due to 1GHz chip shortages. Despite Intel declaring that its 1GHz chips would not be available in volume in Europe until Q3, some UK customers feel they can't wait that long to get these monsters inside their systems. But this leaves many tier-two PC builders unable to fulfil orders; and lengthy lead times or a complete lack of the 1GHz Pentium IIIs in the channel are driving customers into the arms of bigger competitors. Dell and Tiny Computers are among tier one vendors currently with supplies of the chips in the UK – Tiny has two-week lead times. Others, like Simply Computers, are "sceptical" about forthcoming deliveries, but have been promised supplies next month. "We haven't had any of these chips yet, but we have been told to expect them," said Kevin McSpadden, Simply sales and marketing director. "Intel appears to be supplying its biggest volume customers first. But this means we can't compete on the same level. Our customers want machines with the chips, but there is only a certain amount of supply," said McSpadden. He added that around half the customers enquiring about the Intel 1GHz chip settle for the AMD equivalent – which Simply is not experiencing shortages with. But the other 50 per cent take their business elsewhere. Other system builders, such as Mesh and Time Computers, have decided not to sell systems using the chip at the moment. Paul Kinsler, Mesh MD. said: "We are taking orders for the 1GHz Athlon in limited quantity, with lead times of around two weeks. "But Intel has not made its 1GHz chip available to us. These chips are also in limited quantity, and Intel's tier one systems builders get preference at the moment – which is something we don't have a problem with." Intel stands by its Q3 date for volume availability of the component in the UK. "It is not in full production yet – we have a limited volume which is currently aimed at enthusiasts in the US market," a representative said. Other system builders are not so happy, feeling the supply shortage puts them at a competitive disadvantage. "This quarter has seen improvements in availability, but there are still genuine shortages," said Simon Panesar, MD of Leeds-based Panrix. We've had a handful of chips, but there has been more demand than supply. "We've definitely lost business because we can't get hold of the chips. Given the competitive landscape, it's always frustrating to have these situations arise," said Panesar.

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