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VIA sees SIS as a threat

Not now, but when the Pentium 4 DDR SDRAM chipsets ship

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VIA has dismissed fellow Taiwanese chipset maker Silicon Integrated System's attempts to date to make a move on its dominance of the DDR SDRAM chipset market, but is does expect SIS to impact its business later this year.

Taiwan's Silicon Integrated System recently began shipping its SiS735 DDR SDRAM-based chipsets designed to work with AMD's CPUs. It shipped its SiS635 chipset, which connects Intel's Pentium III processor family to DDR memory, last month. SIS says its is producing a few thousand parts a month right now, but expects this to ramp up considerably in the near future.

VIA dominates the market and told Taiwanese business newspaper the Commercial Times that SIS' market share at the end of March was negligible.

It also said that SIS will not pose any threat until the second half of the year at the earliest. Decode that and it's clear that VIA is concerned that SIS may eat into its marketshare.

That this won't happen until the second half of 2001 is a reference to the release of SIS' DDR chipsets for the Pentium 4, which are expected early Q3. Given the very aggressive price cuts Intel is planning to make to the P4 line this month in an attempt to drive up the chip's sales, makers of high-performance memory P4 chipsets are likely to do very nicely, thank you throughout the rest of the year.

VIA will be targeting that market too, but the lack of a clear thumbs-up from Intel may hamper its sales. It clearly thinks so, which is why it's seeking to win the chip giant's approval even though it reckons it can launch a P4 chipset anyway. That's the result of the P4 licence it acquired through its takeover of S3's graphics chip operation. ®

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