Intel readies new chipsets

Computex attendees in Taiwan will see Intel launch an annual update to its chipsets, along with a new notebook for emerging markets.
Written by Tom Krazit, Contributor
Intel is set to take the wraps off its latest chipsets and a new low-cost laptop.

Sean Maloney, executive vice president and general manager of Intel's sales and marketing group, plans to unveil the chipsets during his keynote address on Tuesday at Computex Taipei trade show in Taiwan. The new chipsets are needed to accommodate Intel's Penryn generation of processors that it expects to release in the second half of the year.

During the keynote, Maloney and Asustek Computer CEO Johnny Shih will also show off a new notebook jointly designed by the two companies for emerging markets. The notebook will cost under $200 and will run either Linux or Microsoft's Windows, Maloney said.

A chipset is the basic plumbing of a PC. It connects the processor to system memory, graphics and storage, and it routes data among those components. Intel tends to refresh its chipset designs each year. It needs new designs this time around because the Penryn processors, which use a new, smaller manufacturing technology, won't fit into Intel's existing 965 and 945 series chipsets, Maloney said.

Two types of chipsets, P35 and the G33, will be officially launched Tuesday. The P35 is designed for use with graphics cards from the likes of Nvidia or Advanced Micro Devices, while the G33 uses integrated graphics and is designed for basic PCs.

Intel plans to have three different chipsets for PCs with integrated graphics, which account for 75 percent of notebooks and 60 percent of desktops. The G33's performance will fall in the middle, flanked by the G31 and the G35, both of which will launch in the third quarter.

Intel says it has improved the memory and video performance for the new chipsets. However, the G33 and G31 lack the improved graphics transistors that Intel put into its 965 chipset but can't activate due to driver problems.

Intel said it will deliver drivers in August that will unlock higher-performance graphics transistors in the 965. The drivers won't be baked into an Intel chipset, however, until it launches the G35.

Computex, held every year in Taiwan as a showcase for the hardware industry, will also see Intel and Asustek introduce a new low-cost PC.

"It's a simpler product than the Classmate," Maloney said, referring to Intel's current design for emerging markets.

The notebook will come in several different configurations, ranging from a 7-inch display to a 10-inch display, solid state storage or a traditional hard drive, and a choice between Linux and Windows.

CNET News.com's Stephen Shankland contributed to this report.

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