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Intel chipset roadmaps more like roadworks

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If you're currently scratching your head over whether to buy a Pentium III or an Athlon now, or wait until next week or for a couple of months when the prices drop and the performance rises, and when everything's .18 micron whatever that is, you might think you've already got problems. roadmaps aheadBut your problems are as nothing compared to motherboard and PC manufacturers, who are, as we write, trying to make sense of Intel's chipset strategy for both the consumer and desktop market for the rest of the year. They, remember, don't only have to compete against each other, but also have to time their product introductions to take advantage of "seasonal fluctuations" and try and make a decent margin on the whole mess. (Pity, for example, NECX Direct, which has a plaintive message on its direct Web site saying that there's a temporary shortage of Pentium III/733MHz processors -- click ETA for that message) Intel is currently showing its Asia Pacific partners two chipset roadmaps: one for the consumer (read Celeron, Timna), and one for the business (read Coppermines &c) markets. Consumer Chipsets Consumer first then. Luckily Intel has split 2000 into four quarters, which makes things slightly easier, and into seven segments (value, performance &c) which doesn't half mess things up. The 810 occupies the three value segments for this quarter, while Intel is positioning the 810E, the 440BX, and the 820 (Camino, remember) at the higher end. slippery roadIn Q2, the roadworks are more interesting. The 810E starts to dominate the value segment of the market ($0 to $999), while the 815E (Solano II) and the 820E (Caminogate II) make their appearance. At this stage the 440BX starts to assume a very small typeface on the Intel roadworks, suggesting that it does not wish it well after Q2. And, indeed, in Q3, the 440BX -- still a very popular chipset right now -- has a typeface so small that it's impossible to see. Instead, a small eight point Timna chipset starts to make its appearance, while the rest of the column is occupied by the 810E, the 815E, the 820E and a few 820s scattered about. Q4 is dominated by Intel chipsets ending in E (Solano II and Caminogate II), except that high on the performance end, the word Tehama, a Willamette codename, begins to emerge in quite small type. Business Chipsets The business chipset roadworks is far easier to understand than the consumer chipset roadworks. Q1 is dominated by the steep hill downwards810E, the 820, a bit of the 440BX and quite a bit of the 840. This could have changed a little by now, because Intel has discovered it has a little problem with some 820 and 840 chipsets, as reported here two weeks ago. Q2, Q3 and Q4 are dominated by 810Es, 815Es, 820Es and 840, with a smattering of Tehama and Timna right at the every end. The legend on this roadworks has the 440ZX AGPset marked, but it isn't in any of the 50 blocks in this pretty coloured picture. Contrast and Compare FIC clients Here, it becomes helpful to contrast Intel's chipset roadmaps with FIC's chipset roadmap for 2000, ignoring the bumpy road aheadAMD and Via (Cyrix) components for the sake of clarity. First International Corporation (FIC), currently in litigation with Intel, along with Via, still sees the 440BX chipset as aimed at the performance segment. Both the 810/810E are aimed at the value segment. Solano II -- which has no dual processor support, but supports integrated 3D and AGP4x, and supports PC-133 -- is aimed at the mainstream segment. It has support for 2-4 USB ports and 4-6 IDE devices. Caminogate II is aimed at the performance segment and supports both Rambus and SDRAM, as reported earlier. It will support dual processors, UDMA 66, and supports 2-4 USB ports and 4-6 IDE devices. We'll get onto the Via and AMD chipsets -- such as Irongate 4, later... Is everything Santa Clara now? ® See also Intel's Y2K server, mobile, desktop roadmap

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