Toshiba Ltd. said it had placed a downloadable utility on its Web site so users can determine whether they are affected by the problem. If they are, users can send in the module free of charge and receive a replacement until April 30, 2005, according to the program guidelines.
All costs for shipping and replacement of the part will be covered by Toshiba, the company said. Users will have the option of removing the DRAM themselves or shipping the notebook to a service center.
A Toshiba senior executive said the company has not had a single report of a user having problems with the affected modules, which can cause blue screens or intermittent lockups.
As to the problem itself, "the actual technical interactions are not anything were prepared to talk about publicly, and I actually dont know the answer to that," said Chris Harrington, vice president of strategy and business development at Toshiba America Information Systems, based in Irvine, Calif.
But the list of affected notebooks—which include models from the companys Tecra, Satellite, Satellite Pro, Satellite M, Portege R and M-series, and several Dynabook models—seems to use the same Intel chip sets that caused Hewlett-Packard Co. to initiate its own exchange program.
At the time, HP officials called the issue an "industrywide" problem, although both IBM and Dell Inc. said they hadnt yet discovered a similar glitch.
HP officials reported that the glitch was the responsibility of four memory manufacturers—Samsung Semiconductor Inc, Winbond Electronics Corp., Infineon Technology Inc. and Micron Technology–and not Intel. An Infineon representative later said the problem was confined to a small batch of memory.
Harrington declined to comment further on the nature of the problem, stating that the best way to determine whether a user is subject to the glitch would be to download the utility and test the system. "We dont have any specific knowledge about how the HP analysis was done, so we cant comment on whether its the same problem or not," he said.
HP notebooks that were subject to the flaw included the Intel 845MP, 845MZ, 852PM, 852GME and 855PM chip sets. The Toshiba notebooks listed on the recall page do as well: For example, the Tecra 9100 uses the Intel 845MP chip set, while the Portege R100 uses the Intel 852PM chip set.
Users may want to double-check their system using the utility, even if their notebook is not on the list. Some Toshiba notebooks that contain one of the chip sets that caused the HP glitch do not appear on Toshibas list, including the Satellite A45, which includes the Intel 852GME chip set.