Intel confirms Atom chip shortage

The chip maker confirms it's about six weeks behind on the Atom, which is in high demand for cheap laptops.

Intel has confirmed rumours of a shortage of their Atom chip, a small processor which has seen rocketing demand recently from manufacturers trying to compete with low-cost small laptops like Asus' Eee PC.

Intel executive vice-president Sean Maloney told the Financial Times that the shortage isn't expected to last long, but he said supplies will be "pretty short" within the next six to eight weeks. "We're ramping it strongly and are still catching up with demand," Maloney said.

Asus said in early May that it should be safe from this shortage, since the Eee PC can also run on Intel's older processor, the Celeron M, and that this should give them an edge in the small laptop craze.

The Atom is being featured at this year's Computex trade show in Taipei this week, not only in small laptops, but also in televisions. The markets for the Atom are expected to expand beyond laptops into mobile internet devices, consumer electronics, and other devices that require embedded processors.

Chipmaker nVidia announced its new range of processors for small laptops and computing devices earlier this week, which could be used to combat the shortage.

They have been dubbed "computers on chips" and are designed to sustain a longer battery life, as well as the ability to surf the entire internet, play games, utilize 3-D technology, and show high-definition videos.

General Manager of nVidia's mobile business Mike Rayfield has said the plans for the chips have not been disclosed, but he said some Taiwanese gadget makers might let a few details slip at the Computex trade show.

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