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Intel underestimated Rambus difficulty, Tyan says

But does it add up to strategic inflection point for VIA?

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Motherboard supply will return to normal in December, a leading vendor forecasts. That's how long it will take for vendors to overcome the dislocations caused by the Taiwan earthquake and The Great BX Chipset Shortage in August and September. The industry had already been under supply constraints prior to last month's earthquake, Don Clegg, VP sales and marketing at Californian mobo maker Tyan Computer, notes. "In August and September, Intel under-estimated BX product demand," he says. "It was late with a number of product launches, and already a little late with Whitney product. That left no alternative but the BX chipset." But market confusion over Rambus and Camino has proved beneficial for VIA with its PC133 rival, according to Clegg. Intel "underestimated the task ahead of it in introducing Rambus into the market. The supply channel to the end user is not in place," he says. Intel also underestimated how easy it would be (for VIA) to introduce PC133. "With the exception of Rambus, PC133 has everything that Camino has got -- ATA/66, 4X AGP, faster memory, 133MHz FSB -- and it's more readily available." Tyan is sampling its S1854 VIA mobo with European OEMs, and anticipates the first round of product to ship here before the end of Q4. In the States, Micron has been shipping kit with 1854 boards since September. Tyan is also prepping the launch of its first Athlon mobo for Comdex Fall in November. The privately-held company subs out manufacture to OSE and Mitac, two Taiwanese firms. Production post-earthquake was affected -- but only lightly -- with OSE at the southern tip of the island, emerging unscathed, and the Mitac facility escaping structural damage. "We were more fortunate than most (motherboard makers)," Clegg says. Tyan currently pumps out 60,000 motherboards per month, and is targeting 80-100,000 units per month for mid-2000. ®

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