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Intel's sales and marketing boss Sean Maloney has vowed to fix the Atom mobile processor supply issues - only he won't commit to a time line.

It's still very early days for the Atom chip that's going into so-called NetTop and NetBook computers, along with other consumer electronics devices. Vendors who like to live on the cutting-edge have prepped a number of systems for Intel's new chip line and plan to make a real showing with the gear at Computex in Taiwan this June. But some of these companies are complaining that they can't get enough of the Atoms for their systems.

"We are at the early phase of a ramp," Maloney told El Reg during an interview today at Intel's headquarters. "We have had a lot of success with design wins. So, when you are in that early phase, you are always rushing to keep up with demand. But we are going to catch up with it.

"It will be a short-lived phenomenon."

Ah, but how short-lived?

"It's on par with anytime we introduce a new product. It is not going to be any quicker or shorter. If the thing is a hit, then typically you are short for awhile and then the Intel machine (kicks in)."

So, a few weeks or a couple months then?

"I am not going to get pinned down."

Computer maker Asus has been telling analysts that Intel's Atom shortage could run through the third quarter.

As Maloney points out, the shortage is somewhat typical for a new product, but you might think Intel would have primed the pump a bit more around Atom, since it has gone marketing and propaganda mad for the product.

Anyway, Maloney reckons that Computex will be Atom's shining moment as all of these strange NetTops and NetBooks hit the market. Intel and friends think that computing elitists want cheap NetTops as sort of internet access devices that can be chucked any old place, while the less fortunate might flock to the more frugal machines as their main computers. The enthusiastic buzz around Asus's rather cheap Eee PC has provided more than enough optimism that these types of systems will prove attractive.

Also at Computex, consumers should find a number of TVs and other consumer electronics devices powered by Atom. Intel argues that it's got the manliest embedded chip around for updated, web-ready consumer electronics gear.

"In the consumer electronics industry at the moment, there is a growing awareness that your device needs to have internet access either because you have to have something like an XML service or because you have to give them full access," Maloney said. "I think that is a big trend you will see in the next three years. It's exactly the same with automotive."

We'll have more from Maloney in short order. ®

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