Sat, Jan 15, 2005 - Page 11 News List

Shortage of Celeron CPUs hurting laptop assemblers


The short supply of Intel Corp's Celeron central processing unit (CPU) for low-end portable computers could trim shipments of Taiwanese laptop assemblers in the first quarter of this year, an analyst said yesterday.

"There is a shortage of Intel's Celeron chips for laptops," Simon Yang (楊勝帆), a senior researcher at the Topology Research Institute (拓墣產業研究所), said in a phone interview. "We estimate that chip supply lags demand by over 10 percent."

Yang attributed the shortage in Celeron chips to the hotter-than-expected demand for low-end notebooks last quarter. He also said the shortage was in part due to Intel's plan to phase out Celeron chips before rolling out the new Alviso chipsets next week to support its latest Dothan CPUs.

The scarcity, which occurred last quarter and failed to ease off this month as expected, may not be relieved by the end of this quarter, which in turn would cut back shipments of local laptop assemblers by about 10 percent to around 8 million units, Yang said.

Celeron chips are usually employed in low-end notebooks with price tags of around NT$30,000 or below, which could account for 30 percent of portable computers worldwide, according to figures from Topology.

Accordingly, the research house adjusted downward worldwide shipment by nearly 9 percent to 12 million laptops for the first quarter.

Intel declined to comment on the issue, citing commercial confidentiality.

"We routinely discuss product supply as part of our ongoing communications with customers, but we can't comment on those confidential conversations," Intel spokesperson Josie Taylor said in an e-mailed response from Kuala Lumpur.

The shortage has already become an issue for some laptop vendors.

Acer Inc, the world's fifth largest personal computer vendor, saw its supply of Celeron chips lag demand by up to 30 percent, according to a Chinese-language press report that quoted Acer chairman Wang Jen-tang (王振堂).

Hewlett-Packard (HP) Taiwan, whose Celeron-equipped, low-end laptops account for nearly a quarter of its sales volume in local market, conceded that they saw a narrow gap of about 5 percent in meeting demand.

The company could utilize HP's global allocation mechanism to weather the shortage, said Dennis Chen (陳敬宏), HP Taiwan's general manager of personal computer system.

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