March 2001 Industry Update

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Chipsets

Last month I took a look at the Intel Chipset Roadmap. During the past few months, roadmaps from VIA, ALi and SiS have been posted in various places, which I will attempt to summarize here. In addition, Micron announced their Copperhead chipset for the Pentium III, which is their first real commercial chipset. Though no aggressive marketing campaign has been initiated, a Micron spokesperson indicated that they are definitely looking to develop their niche in the market if there is sufficient interest from motherboard makers and OEMs. As has been mentioned here in the past, Micron recognized several years ago that in order to succeed in the commodity DRAM market, they would have to focus on being the most efficient producer. They seem to thrive in conditions that most would run away from, and this may be part of the reason for their decision to start offering commecial chipsets (starting with the Copperhead). With the resurgence of ALi and SiS, and with NVidia and ATI entering the market, chipsets seem destined to become commodity parts as well.

Q1 saw the release of the VIA KT266 chipset, though the volume is still not there yet. VIA also has the PLE-T Tualatin chipset, which includes integrated graphics. SiS has crept back into the market with their 633 chipset for the PIII, with more soon to come.

In Q2, we can expect to see several chipsets appear that will support the Tualatin (PIII) processor, including the VIA Pro266T, ALi Aladdin Pro5 (actually just announced), and SiS 633T and 640T. All of these chipsets will have DDR SDRAM support. The Pro266T is expected to include 64-bit PCI support, while the SiS 640T will have integrated 2D/3D graphics. SiS should also have two Athlon chipsets appearing in Q2: the 740 and 735 chipsets. Both will include DDR SDRAM support, but the 740 will be an integrated chipset, similar to the 640T. One highly anticipated chipset is the AMD 760MP, which is scheduled to finally appear sometime in Q2, according to the official AMD roadmap.

Q3 will be very interesting if the schedules are met, as at least seven chipsets should be made available. VIA will have the Pro133T and PL133T chipsets, both supporting the Tualatin using SDRAM, and the KL266, which will support the Athlon using DDR. Both the PL133T and KL266 will include a Savage4 graphics controller. ALi expects to have an Athlon chipset (M1667) and P4 chipset (M1661) available about this time frame, both utilizing DDR SDRAM. SiS has the 635T (Tualatin) and 645 (P4) chipsets planned. Both chipsets will run with DDR SDRAM (I’m seeing a major trend here!).

Sometime in the 2nd half of the year, VIA plans to introduce their own P4 chipset, named the PX266. This will supposedly be a dual P4, DDR chipset supporting 533MB/s Vlink and 64-bit PCI. It seems to be targeted towards the server/workstation market. Early in 2002, SiS is said to have plans for a P4 chipset with fully integrated graphics. For those interested in the mobile marketplace, two of VIA’s Athlon chipsets have support for PowerNow 2.0 – the KT266 and the KL266.


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