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Via chipset found lurking in IBM PC

Big Blue takes step away from Intel, follows Apple's lead with snap-on colour notebook covers

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IBM showed off its Autumn collection this week, though admitted it had been forced to withdraw one of its proposed PCs at the last minute due to technical hitches at Intel. Big Blue treated the press to a sneak preview of its "secure" PC range and its first mini-notebook for the UK, along with a new ThinkPad line, at its London South Bank offices. IBM said it had been all fired up to announce a desktop PC supporting Rambus memory with the i820 -- aka Camino -- chipset from Intel. But Chipzilla's decision to can i820, for the time being at least, put paid to that. "We'll adopt the technology when it comes to market," said Steven Loeschorn, IBM worldwide brand marketing manager, commercial desktops. "But for now, we have to wait for Intel." Luckily for IBM, it had not based its entire Autumn range on Intel chipsets. It was able to announce the PC 300PL line of desktops, aimed at the corporate mainstream, which will be IBM's first foray into non-Intel chipset desktops. The machines will use an embedded security -- or encryption -- chip on the motherboard. They will run on the Pentium III 500MHz or 533MHz processors. But for Big Blue's first tentative steps away from Intel, it will use a chipset design which has been licensed from Via Technologies, the AGP 4X/133 chipset. The PC 300PL systems will have 64MB or 128MB of memory, 10.1GB or 20.4GB hard drive, with an RRP starting at £993. IBM claimed these would be "the world's most secure commercial PCs", including features such as secure e-mail, digital signatures and data encryption. It also announced the IBM PC 300GL desktop PC, using up to PIII 600MHz and aimed at the commercial market. These lines will be launched in the UK on 19 October. IBM also announced the ThinkPad 240, an A5-sized notebook weighing just 1.3kg and measuring 25mm. It has a 300MHz Celeron chip, 64MB SDRAM that can be expanded to 192MB, and a 6.4GB hard drive. For its new ThinkPad i Series notebooks, which come with a home TV DVD player, Internet buttons and keyboard light, the vendor has taken a leaf out of Apple's book. The laptops will have their own range of optional snap-on coloured covers. These nifty notebooks will be available from next week and are aimed at very small businesses or users who want a machine for both work and home. There will be three models, with Celeron 400MHz or 433MHz, 12.1in or 14.1in TFT display or 13in HPA display. The covers are available in seven colours including Mars Red Metallic, Eclipse Blue Metallic or even Andromeda Green. ®

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