Intel plans to stop stamping serial numbers in its processors, starting with its Willamette chip due out later this year, the company said.
Privacy groups protested last year after Intel announced that it was planning to release Pentium III chips with the so-called processor serial number. The groups said the number could be used to track people's habits as they surfed the Internet.
Intel said the number would be used to help IT managers keep track of their computers, but eventually agreed to work with OEMs to turn the feature off at the manufacturing level.
Consumer groups said then that even with the presence of the number there would still be unanswered questions about privacy protection. Those groups hailed Intel's decision.
"Certainly, this appears to be a victory for consumers," said Linda Sherry, a spokeswoman for Consumer Action, a San Francisco consumer advocacy group. "People want anonymity when they surf the 'Net."
Intel will continue the number in its Pentium III chips, Intel spokesman George Alfs said.
Intel, in Santa Clara, can be reached at 408-765-8080, or at www.intel.com/.