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World to face laptop famine this Xmas?

Plenty of demand, not enough parts

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Want a new notebook this Christmas? Then get your order in early. That's the message coming out of Taiwan, source of almost all of the world's laptops, from the big brands to the little-known names.

Intel's operation on the island this week confirmed that demand for its laptop-oriented processors, Wi-Fi modules and chipsets - all part of its Centrino package - was running higher than expected, local newssite DigiTimes reports.

The chip giant told the site that it is working to increase production capacity, particularly for CPUs and WLAN modules, both particularly in demand at the moment.

And it's not just these components that are coming off production lines at a slower rate than laptop makers would like. In August, Register Hardware reported that notebook battery cells, display panels, DVD drives and motherboards are also in relatively short supply.

Intel has apparently told notebook manufacturers that the supply of its products will become a lot less tight by the end of the year. Partly that's because the first quarter of a new year is traditionally a weaker time for laptop sales, so vendors' component orders will inevitably slow as 2007 nears its end.

Q1 2008 is also expected to see the arrival of 45nm 'Penryn'-based laptop CPUs, so Intel will inevitably be increasing supply by adding these new chips to the mix.

Circumstantial evidence for tightening supply in the meantime comes from Register Hardware's very own Hardware Widow is still waiting for her Sony Vaio CR2 laptop, despite its 17 October debut.

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