Will Intel delay shipments of its notebook-focused Ivy Bridge processors?

Intel has told partners that it plans to delay shipments of its upcoming Ivy Bridge processors  for notebook computers, according to DigiTimes. That could disrupt product launch plans for notebook computer makers and throw off Intel’s plans to promote its Ultrabook thin laptops.

Intel declined comment, except to say that it’s “on track for our spring 2012 launch, in line with previous guidance.”

If true, the delay could be a hiccup for the computer ecosystem, which is already reeling from the hard drive shortage caused by floods in Thailand.

Intel plans a huge marketing campaign around Ultrabooks, but Intel will only ship a small volume of the processors in early April and mass shipments are not expected to occur until after June.

One of the reasons is that the weaker economy has slowed demand for notebook computers, leaving computer makers with excess Sandy Bridge processors. The delay of the mass shipments will help minimize the impact on computer makers with big inventories.

Most of the big PC replacement trend is unlikely to start until after September. That is when Microsoft is expected to launch its Windows 8 operating system.

“If this is true, this would be challenging for Intel to hit the back to school season with new Ivy Bridge UltraBooks,” said Patrick Moorhead, analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy.  “This could impact Intel’s (computer makers) like HP, Dell, Lenovo and channel partners like Best Buy. Timing would be tighter than the ecosystem would prefer. If the timing is true, this could potentially give AMD an opening with Trinity ultrathins.”