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VIA Pentium 4 plans take shape

But will P4 sales take off before the end of the year? SIS doesn't think so

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VIA reckons that by the end of the quarter it will have reached an agreement with Intel to release a Pentium 4 chipset, according to a DigiTimes report.

VIA's plans call for two chipsets: the integrated P4M266 and the discrete chipset P4X266, originally designated the PX266.

The P4M266 will incorporate 4x AGP and VIA's S3 Savage 4 graphics technology. It will be announced officially in September, sampling later in the year and entering volume production during Q1 2002.

The P4X266 will support the current Socket 423 and the upcoming Socket 478 P4s, along with DDR SDRAM. It's set to sample in June for volume shipment in Q3, but mobo makers reckon VIA may start sampling the chipset this month, the DigiTimes report claims.

How dependent that timescale is on Intel's blessing isn't known. VIA has been trying to win the chip maker's thumbs-up for some time, despite its claims that it has the rights to do so anyway. VIA's P4 licence was acquired through its takeover of S3.

VIA's fellow Taiwanese chipset developers SIS and Acer Labs have both already secured P4 licences and are set to sample chipsets supporting the processor next quarter. SIS will sample its discrete 645 chipset in Q3 for volume production in Q1 2002. There's no rush, SIS said, since the mass P4 market will only take off in Q4 or Q1 2002.

Intel's recent price cuts may force it to reappraise that viewpoint, but it must be very worrying for the chip maker that its partners don't reckon it will see much sales growth over the next six months or so. Intel hopes that its Brookdale chipset, due next quarter, will drive volume sales of the now much cheaper P4. Brookdale will initially support PC-133 memory, with DDR SDRAM support coming late Q4 or early Q1 2002 - the very timeframe SIS reckons the P4 market will begin to pick up. Coincidence? We suspect not. SIS for one clearly believes that PC-133 support isn't going to do much for the P4. ®

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