Via pushes performance on cheaper PCs

A new chipset for Pentium 4 will mean better performance for low-cost Pentium 4 and Celeron systems

Via Technologies has responded to Intel's rollout of cheaper chipsets this week with its own low-end solution, the P4X266E, which supports the latest Pentium 4 chips with faster bus speeds.

The P4X266E follows Intel's introduction of several new 845-series chipsets on Monday, including the 845GL chipset for value PCs. (See a review of the new Intel chipsets here.) The P4X266E is an update of the P4X266A, with the addition of support for Pentium 4 chips with a 533MHz system bus. The faster bus speed, up from 400MHz, lets the processor access components such as memory more quickly.

Via's new chipset works with its VT8235 south bridge, with integrated USB 2.0 support, or the VT8233A with Ultra ATA/133 support. The main difference from Via's P4X333 is the memory supported: the P4X266E uses DDR266 while the P4X333 allows faster DDR333 memory. Intel's chipsets so far only support DDR266 at the fastest, as well as more expensive Rambus memory.

Via did not release pricing for the P4X266E, but it is said to sell for as low as $18 (about £12). The chipset can support both Celeron and Pentium 4 processors.

At the moment no major motherboard manufacturer has adopted Via's Pentium 4 chipsets because of a legal dispute between Intel and Via.

Intel may be readying another, still cheaper chipset, however, with the 845GL Light, according to a report in Taiwanese industry journal Digitimes. The chipset will include integrated graphics, like the 845GL, and use Intel's new ICH4 south bridge, but will not offer USB 2.0, the report said. Digitimes said the chipset would sell for less than $25.

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