Top-tier PC makers demand VIA Pentium 4 chipset

Tell leading mobo makers to get a move on

At least three of the world's top ten PC makers have told Taiwan's mobo makers they must have product based on VIA's controversial Pentium 4 chipset, the P4X266.

So says today's DigiTimes without naming names. Could be Compaq, could be IBM, could be... well, you choose one. Actually, we reckon one's Apple, just trying to stir up trouble.

Seriously, at issue is the relative performance of the P4X266 and Intel's own i845 chipset, specifically in relation to the VIA product's support for DDR SDRAM. The i845 isn't expected to ship with DDR support until Q1 2002. Price too seems to be an issue - the P4X266's set price is $34, less than the i845's $38, and some observers expect the VIA part to sell for even less than VIA's recommended price.

DigiTimes' piece suggests that said top three PC companies want mobo makers to develop test products, presumably so they can verify whether the i845 really does hinder the P4's performance by supporting only PC133 SDRAM.

The major board developers are refusing to say whether they have P4X266 boards in their labs, though given the threats Intel has made against companies who might be considering supporting VIA, such reticence isn't surprising. That said, the likes of Asustek, Gigabyte and Microstar do appear to have confirmed that big-name PC makers are interested in the VIA chipset.

Where they all go from here seems to depend on whether Intel follows up its threats and sets its legal dogs on VIA. Unsure which way the chip giant will jump, the mobo makers and PC vendors don't seem keen on moving either. Which, of course, is exactly what Intel wants. ®

Related Link

DigiTimes: First-tier motherboard makers asked to design and develop P4X266 products