Chipset makers steal a march on Intel

Intel's Pentium 4 could move into the mainstream with new chipsets that will let the processor use cheaper memory--but they'll be coming from Taiwanese manufacturers SiS and Via, not from Intel.

LONDON (ZDNet UK)--The Pentium 4 could finally move into the mainstream with new chipsets that will let the processor use cheaper memory--but they aren't coming from Intel.

Two Taiwanese chipset manufacturers are planning to beat Intel to the punch with their own new chipsets for Intel's Pentium 4 processor.

Silicon Integrated Systems (SiS) and VIA Technologies have rolled forward the launch dates for SiS' 645 and VIA's P4X266 chipsets from September to mid-August, according to a report in Taiwan industry journal DigiTimes on Monday. Intel is releasing its 845 Pentium 4 chipset, which will be the first to support the SDRAM memory standard, in September.

Acer Laboratories (ALi) is planning to begin production of its M1671 chipset for Pentium 4 by the end of the year.

Intel has been aggressively cutting Pentium 4 prices in an effort to push it into the mainstream, and is expected to slash prices again on 26 August. But the new 845 chipset is also expected to be a major boost, since SDRAM memory is less expensive than the Rambus RDRAM memory now exclusively supported for Pentium 4.

Pentium III still powers most new mainstream PCs.

Some motherboard suppliers are said to be looking to alternative chipset suppliers in case Intel cannot meet demand. However, ALi and SiS may not be able to ramp up their chipset production to full volumes until the end of the year, as they complete debugging.