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Intel Developer Forum Intel has given its firmest commitment yet that a lower-cost SDRAM chipset for its Pentium 4 processors will be available in the "next couple of weeks".

The promise on delivery of the i845 chipset was made by Anand Chandrasekher, Intel's vice president of marketing, during a roundtable at IDF today, where he (perhaps unintentionally) made a convincing case against the RDRAM memory used by P4s.

Compared to machines using the 850 chipset (which features RDRAM memory), systems featuring the i845 take only a 3-5 per cent performance hit on memory intensive applications, according to Chandrasekher.

Although the absolute cost of memory modules makes little impact on the price of systems the i845 allows the use of a much more economical "ecosystem" to be built around it, he said.

Intel's goal is to design a four-layer board around the i845, which will mean considerable cost savings compared to the six-layer boards needed for systems based on 850 chipsets, Chandrasekher said

All this points to the suggestion that the 845 chipset will be attractive outside the cost-conscious segment of the market for Pentium 4. With the arrival of a DDR memory chipset in the first quarter of next year whose performance is only 2 percent down on that of RDRAM, the 850 seems destined only for those looking for state of the art equipment.

Intel's willingness to target the price sensitive segment of the market is not without its limits - any idea that Intel might deliver a Celeron-style stripped- down version of the Pentium 4 remains only a debate. ®

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