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Hardware vendors descend on Taipei

Yes, it's showtime

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Computex Preview The annual hardware-fest that its Computex kicks off in Taipei next week, with local players, major and minor, and multinational operations coming together to demo their latest products across a diverse array of market segments.

The show's exhibitor list is extensive - we haven't counted them all, but the list stretches to 24 closely-typed pages - all of whom will be taking stands in four multi-floor halls. Computex's organiser says there are 1329 of them.

Chips and components

VIA will demonstrate its Digital Brilliance products, including high-performance chipset solutions, high-definintion video graphics to multi-channel audio sub-systems, and exciting new partner systems based upon them. All of these centre on VIA's power-efficient platforms and ultra-compact systems.

The company will also be hosting its fifth annual VIA Technology Forum will be held on the third day of Computex, Thursday, 3 June.

AMD, meanwhile, is expected to showcase its upcoming Socket 939 Athlon 64 processors. It arch-rival, Intel, may well tell the world when it's going to ship its next-generation PCI Express chipsets, Grantsdale and Alderwood. Certainly a variety of motherboard makers are likely to show products that will include Intel's chipsets.

SiS will be showing its own chipsets - the 755FX, 760, 756 and 656 - with particular emphasis on its own PCI Express parts. It will also be promoting its WLAN-enbled silicon, and its consumer electronics-oriented System-on-a-Chip products.

ALi plans to show its wide range of desktop and mobile chipsets for Intel and AMD processors. Expect to see its multimedia, digital AV and optical storage solutions on display too.

Systems

First International Computer (FIC) will showcase a complete array of digital home products, including its Consumer Electronics PC (CE PC), which combines a PC, home theatre, and music and radio audio system in a compact, all-in-one design with a 17in display. The CE PC is also completely wireless, providing access from anywhere in the room. So does the Entertainment PC (EMPC). It combines the functions of an advanced PC with those of a home entertainment system and wireless server, making managing media content easy, FIC claims.

With an Intel i865G platform, FIC's Condor Gaming System is nevertheless ultra-quiet, producing less than 24 db of noise. With just a push of the chassis lock button, the contemporary chassis opens to reveal the DVD player, audio system and FDD and HDD.

FIC will also showing its wide range of motherboards, including some based on Intel's Grantsdale platform. It will also demo its range of ATI-based graphics cards.

ABIT, too, will be showing off its motherboards and video cards, not to mention its server solutions. It will demonstrate its BulletProof Technology, a new standard in quality, stability, reliability and engineering, it claims. ABIT will also show its revolutionary &micron;Guru technology; AutoDrive, the company's Windows-based overclocking application; as well as new gaming-related products.

Gigabyte will be present its desktop PC, mini PCs, displays and peripherals. It will also show off its new entry-level RZ motherboard series. The line includes the choice of either an Intel or AMD CPU. All the models included in the RZ series are furnished with high-speed LAN, USB 2.0 and six-channel audio for convenient network, device and multimedia connectivity. As well, all models will also feature unique Gigabyte software such as Xpress Install for easy software installation and EasyTune4 for convenient system control. Finally, Norton Internet Security 2004 software is also bundled for secure system protection.

Nimble's award-winning V5 Personal Communicator will be on display. It combines consumer electronics and PC features in a sleek industrial design that is as "welcome in business as it is at home", Nimble claims.

The V5 is an echo-free video and audio conferencing device as well as a fully functioning silent, energy-efficient PC, using only 14.2W when in full operation. Based on the VIA C3 processor, the V5 measures only 7.5 x 2 x 8in - about the size of a hardcover novel. The machine ships with Windows XP Home Edition.

The Nimble V5 jams a wealth of features into a small and stylish package that also serves as a USB hub, KVM, audio playback device, versatile dual LAN router or firewall, and when coupled with a webcam offers VoIP and video conferencing to an audience of one or many.

iWill will be hoping to promote its Pentium 4-based ZPCgx compact desktop. Inside its tiny 18.4 x 26.3 x 5.4cm shell, iWill has crammed a slimline CD-ROM drive - there's support for DVD/DVD+RW - a 2.6in HDD, 10/100Mbps Ethernet, two 1394 ports, and four USB 2.0 ports. The system used Intel's i845GV integrated graphics chipset.

ZPC features an advanced method of heat dissipation known as Radiator Cooling Technology, iWill says. The design makes use of heat disappeared directly from the bladed heat sink to the chassis. A "no-cable" design further improves the air flow, keeping the ZPC quiet.

iWill uses similar technology in its XP4evo system. This almost cubic - it's 19 x 16 x 27cm - box offers comparable internals to the ZPC - i845GV chipset, Pentium 4, integrated LAN, USB 2.0 support - but has room for a PCI slot too.

Cases

Beta-link will be showing its "unique" PC Photo Case. The casing includes a circular area on the front protected by an acrylic cover. The cover slips off to allow you to insert a picture - your loved one, pet, movie star, whatever. If you'd rather not fit a photo, you still get a cool blue glow.

The Photo Case measures 41.8 x 41 x 18cm with a 1.7 cubic feet capacity. It contains four 5.25in and seven 3.5in drive bays. There's room for seven expansion slots. The case takes a horizontal PII/PIII/P4 power supply.

Task will be showing its design-integrated PC casing - the TK-6220 - keyboard, mouse, speaker and LCD panel set.

The TK-6220 itself features support for a Pentium 4 running at up to 3.06GHz inside its screwless chassis, which incorporates a detachable front panel. Task also offers optional transparent side and top panels for users who like to see what's going on inside their PCs.

The 43 x 20 x 48cm case has room, for 12 drives: four 5.25in units and eight 3.5in components. It can take a full ATX, micro ATX or Baby A/T motherboard. To improve airflow, there are six locations for an optional second fan.

Gyrox will be showing a range of products, including the new Noblesse Series GXY 7188, 7288 and 7388 cases. Each sports a front-mounted electroplated iron mesh that Gyrox claims maximises airflow, along with space for up to eight cooling fans to be strategically placed throughout the chassis. And yet it's very quiet, the company claims.

All three 48 x 20 x 41cm cases use thumb screws instead of conventional fixings. And there's a transparent acrylic side panel with LEDs to illuminate the computer's insides. Two front-mounted USB ports make it easier to connect peripheral devices. The case is ready for an ATX motherboard and can cope with Pentium 4 thermal requirements.

Finally, it comes in a choice of seven colours: black, silver, red, yellow, blue, white and green. ®

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