May 2000 Industry Update

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Motherboard Update

Slot A/Socket A Boards

It would seem that the industry is having a little bit of difficulty adjusting to the fact that AMD is now driving some of the requirements for motherboards. Some of the larger manufacturers still kowtow to Intel, and have not built a close relationship with AMD. Because of this, some of the bigger names in the industry will likely not have a Socket A (Socket 462, anyone?) motherboard until July or perhaps even August.

The KX133/Thunderbird issue took some motherboard manufacturers by surprise and has caused them some degree of consternation, particularly those who have just released their KX-133 based motherboards. At least one manufacturer told me that they have scrapped their planned KX-133 design and will work on their Socket A solution in earnest. One would have to believe that this has created at least a small amount of irritation towards both AMD and VIA amongst those board makers who stand to lose sales because of this problem.

On the other hand, FIC and Soyo seem to be in a position to benefit from the situation. FIC is planning to be the first manufacturer to market with a Socket A board. They are hoping to build on the market share gained by being the first to market with a Slot A solution (SD-11), which is still one of their best sellers. In fact, FIC appears to actually have benefitted from a situation that most thought was a problem earlier this year – an oversupply of SD-11 boards.

Since FIC had so many SD-11 boards in stock, they kept pushing out their KX133 based board, which was originally supposed to debut in December ’99. Now, they find themselves able to scrap the KX133 board completely, yet still have a viable Slot A Thunderbird solution with the SD-11. Soyo also seems to be positioned well, as they decided to avoid the KX133 in favor of the AMD 750 for their K7AIA, which was introduced a little over a month ago. Some thought Soyo to be a bit daft when their board was announced, but now they look a bit more like geniuses.

Slot 1/Socket 370 Boards

There isn’t much to say about Slot 1 and/or Socket 370 boards this month. Intel based boards (i820, i810 and i440BX) still have the same level of popularity (or unpopularity, if you will) as they did last month, and VIA Apollo Pro133 based boards continue to gain in popularity.

Socket 7 Boards

For a platform that was supposed to be dead over three years ago, Socket 7 certainly has remained surprisingly popular. Of course, the AMD K6-x line of processors were responsible for this, but that is now coming to an end. Though the K6-x+ processors might function on existing SS7 boards, they are being sold as mobile solutions, so there is little chance that any new Socket 7 boards will be developed. Those still hanging on to this venerable old platform will now have to face the fact that they will soon be considered antiques (joining the Atari, Commodore and mainframe users of the world).

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