Problems with Intel Pentium processors designed for notebooks are set to force the company to reschedule its launch.
The 150MHz chip, which selected vendors have started sampling, suffers from a heat rise from three to eight watts, which can force down battery life by 50 per cent.
The 133MHz part, which is due out in autumn and was sampled much earlier, still suffers from an overheating problem, according to one major OEM.
Vendors sampling the parts have been told by Intel that the devices will need fans. That will force major redesigns at a time when most manufacturers are looking to change the form factor of their portables to a so-called 'pancake design'.
Graeme Simons, NEC European product marketing manager, said: 'If that is happening, it will affect battery life. But it is not unusual for some teething problems at this stage of sampling.'
Heat problems in high-speed Pentium processors are not uncommon, but are solved by the use of either large heat sinks or powered fans. These solutions are not feasible for notebooks.
IBM, Compaq and Texas Instruments are understood to be readying 1in thick, 4lb units with 12in screens. These units are specifically aimed at incorporating fast Pentium chips with multimedia extensions, leaving the companies 'hopping mad', according to one source.
Simons said it was no secret that NEC and other vendors were looking at these types of designs, but said that his company was unlikely to release machines until the first half of 1997.
But vendors may look to other solutions unless Intel solves the problems.
Digital has announced its Strong Arm chip, which can use AA batteries.
Later this year it will run at 200MHz and will cost around $50. The convergence of Windows 95 and Windows NT in 1997 would make this a feasible option.
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