MTHs About The Intel Mobo Recall

Bottom Line

  1. If you bought a complete computer system with an 820 board, you are likely to eventually get a mobo replacement with RDRAM.
  2. If you just bought the mobo, you are likely to get a refund.


There been a lot of news reports about this product recall. The reports have been very confusing. Some may have led you to believe
that if you can show Intel a mobo and some RAM, they give you a new mobo and RDRAM. Can’t say the same thought didn’t occur to me.:)

I went over to Intel’s website looking for some answers. Rather to my surprise, I found one.

Someone posted an item essentially saying “I bought an 820 motherboard to build my own system. What happens to me?” Let’s look at the Intel cut-and-paste response to this and all other similar inquiries:

Intel’s Official Position (bold print my emphasis)

Intel has determined that the solution to this issue is either a product replacement or REFUND. These solutions will be delivered by your computer manufacturer or place of purchase through their normal warranty process. Your place of purchase or system manufacturer are the best qualified to evaluate and recommend the specific solution for your system’s configuration.

Translation into English:

We’ll either replace it, or give you your money back. If we had a motherboard that actually worked, we’d give you that, but we don’t. If we can’t stall long enough to come up with one that does, we’ll do what’s best for us. If it’s easy to figure out how to give you your money back, that’s just what we’ll normally do. If you spent $120 for a mobo, we’ll eventually tell the reseller to give you your money back. We’re not going to give everybody free RDRAM.

If it isn’t easy to figure out how to give your money back, then we may have to bite the bullet. The computer OEMs are mad enough at us as it is; we don’t want everybody using VIA boards.

There’s a lot of PC600 and 700 RDRAM floating out there anyway; they’re essentially PC800 chips that didn’t make it. This doesn’t make the memory manufacturers very happy, either. So what we’ll do if we can’t stall is to suck up all those PC600 and 700 RIMMs out there and use them to replace the SDRAM.

Performance was lousy with the MTH anyway; there won’t be any difference using PC600 RDRAM instead. That will make the memory manufacturers happy, and maybe they’ll actually want to make more of it for when Willamette comes out. We’ll give the OEMs enough money to do the replacements so they won’t be too unhappy, besides, where else are they going to go? They can’t all go to AMD.

So don’t go out running to buy 820 boards and cheap PC100 hoping for a free RDRAM bonanza. It’s very unlikely you’ll get one.

If you bought an 820 board, let the reseller know you’re out there, and remind him about once a week. They won’t have a clue as to what to do now, so don’t expect an answer, but eventually you’ll probably get an RMA. You should insist in writing that you’ll be reimbursed for shipping; whether you’ll get it or not is questionable, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

If you own a major OEM system, eventually Intel will work out an arrangement to have somebody do a replacement. Look at their website every once in a while, but don’t hassle these people; it will probably take weeks for them to make arrangements with Intel.

If you own a non-major OEM system, it may be quite a while before you get word. Let them know you’re out there, but don’t expect anything to happen soon.

I didn’t buy that $%#@%#! Why should I care?

In most cases, this will have no direct impact on you. In the longer run, though, this hurts Intel quite a bit. This will get a lot of media coverage, which will take a nice-sized chunk out of Intel’s reputation in the minds of average people. If you’ve been followed Intel’s mishaps the past year, this is certainly no news to you, but it will be to many. This will be better for AMD than $10 million in advertising.

You may say, “But Intel didn’t get hurt badly due to the Pentium recall five years ago.” That’s true, but where was AMD five years ago? It is also true AMD has its own little mobo problems, but the media doesn’t know that. If they can get the KZ133 out in time for Thunderbirds/Durons, they’ll be in good shape.

Intel’s stock price may take a big hit, it might not; but it’s safe to say it won’t be booming any time soon. Even some of the Intel analyst stalwarts that claimed Intel could do no wrong two months ago are dogpiling and now saying they’re screwing up.

AMD’s having some problems in the stock market, too, but unless things really go to hell in general, or if they can’t get mobos out for their new processors, they should recover pretty quickly.

RAMBUS, as usual, is a weird case. It’s not really RAMBUS’s fault this happened; Intel tried to kludge an answer when they shouldn’t have. If they hadn’t been so hellbent on RDRAM though and had contingencies in place, they wouldn’t have had to kludge. You can see some Intel spinmeisters at work in one or two of the media articles. So while on the face of it, it’s not bad news and might end up to be somewhat good news, short-term, the initial reaction may be pretty bad.

That stock is like the guy in Monty Python’s Holy Grail; he keeps getting turned into a newt, but he keeps getting better. 🙂

Intel’s pretty much stuck with it, though, due to Willamette. To dump RDRAM now would be a sign of mindless panic at Intel, and that’s not going to happen. Under their legal arrangements, if they did it today, they wouldn’t have a license to use next-generation RDRAM. That would mean they’d have to come up with a DDR board within five months. They aren’t going to do that. Instead, what you’ll see is a push for the 815 board, maybe some more contingency planning for a DDR Willamette board, and that’s about it.

Email Ed

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