Intel Dothan to offer 533MHz FSB at launch?

Hynix implies Alviso chipset will arrive early

Has Intel brought forward the release of Sonoma, its second-generation Centrino platform? A statement issued by memory maker Hynix suggests it has.

Hynix yesterday launched what it claims is the world's first - aren't they always? - 1GB SO-DIMM based on DDR 2 SDRAM technology fabbed at 110nm.

The process is crucial to Hynix's "industry first" claim - rival memory maker Elpida has shipped a 1GB DDR 2 SO-DIMM since mid-February. Micron is sampling similar products.

Hynix's version comes in 400MHz and 533MHz flavours. It will go into mass production "next quarter... to coincide with the release of Intel [sic] DDR 2 chipset".

Now, Intel is expected to launch desktop DDR 2 chipsets next month, codenamed Alderwood and Grantsdale, pitched at high-end and mainstream 90nm Pentium 4-based systems, respectively.

Alviso, Intel's DDR 2 chipset for notebooks, isn't due to ship until the second half of the year. Alviso is a key component of Sonoma. In addition to DDR 2, Alviso brings PCI Express, Serial ATA and a 533MHz frontside bus to the Centrino platform.

As recently as February's Intel Developer Forum, the chip giant let slip that Sonoma would ship this coming Autumn. Dothan, the 90nm version of the Pentium M, is due to ship next quarter, but Intel originally planned that it would work with the existing Centrino chipset, the i855 family, and operate with a 400MHz FSB (as per the current generation of Pentium M). Dothan's 533MHz FSB capability would be utilised when Alviso shipped.

Hynix's comment suggests that, at the very least, Alviso will be launched early, alongside Dothan. Dothan was to have launched this quarter, but Intel was forced to hold it back until Q2, because "our validation processes recently showed the need to make some circuit modifications to enable high-volume manufacturability", as chief operating office Paul Otellini put it. The company may have brought Alviso forward to compensate for the delay.

Of course, an Alviso launch doesn't necessarily presuppose a Centrino 2 launch - or whatever 'Sonoma' will ship as. Nor does it mean immediate availability. 'Launch' and 'availability' don't mean the same thing. Intel may well offer the 90nm Pentium M with a 400MHz FSB and simply commit itself to a 533MHz FSB timetable, courtesy of an Alviso chipset sometime in Q3 or Q4.

Indeed, Hynix's launch was geared to "meet the projected DDR 2 demand for notebook applications in second half of this year", so it looks like that aspect of Alviso's feature set won't be needed for some time. ®

Related stories

'Centrino 2' to launch next Autumn
Intel i855GME to pave way for 'Centrino 2' next year
Elpida launches 1GB DDR 2 notebook DIMM
Micron samples DDR 2 mobile DIMMs