Intel press apology over Pentium chip draws huge user response

Intel, the computer chip maker, took out a series of full-page advertisements over Christmas which apologised for a marketing blunder.

The worldwide press ads, issued on December 22, said it wanted to "sincerely apologise for our handling of the recently publicised Pentium processor flaw." It answered criticism from users, PC makers and the press after reports that Intel had shipped millions of Pentium chips despite being aware they were flawed.

Although admitting the faulty processors could cause PCs to make mathematical errors, Intel had ignored user concerns, saying errors rarely occured. Users wanting replacement chips were forced to provide proof that their work involved complex mathematical tasks before the faulty chips were replaced.

The press advertisement, which appeared in the Financial Times in the UK, reversed Intel’s decision saying a free replacement chip would be provided "for any owner who requests it."

Thousands of users have already called the quoted hotlines. Replacement costs are put between $20m (13.3m) and $50m by Intel although market analysts quote up to $300m.

IBM has stopped all Pentium shipments and has taken the Intel Inside logo off all its merchandise, although both moves can be attributed to the launch of IBM’s own Power PC chip technology.

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