VIA will soon begin sampling the successor to its first Pentium 4 chipset. The question is, will it have the same trouble being accepted by the major mobo makers?
The P4M266 extends the current P4X266 chipset with integrated Savage 4 graphics technology from VIA's S3 Graphics operation. Both support the P4's 400MHz bus, PC100 and PC133 SDRAM, and PC1600 and PC2100 DDR SDRAM.
VIA is already shipping the P4X266, but not to major mobo makers like Gigabyte, Microstar and Asustek, all of whom are sticking to Intel's i845. This despite the lower price tag of the VIA chipset, a claimed performance lead and VIA's willingness to pick up the tab if any mobo maker becomes embroiled in legal tussles with Intel.
For its part, Intel still regards VIA's board as a violation of its intellectual property, so you can see why mobo makers might well want to avoid the wrath of the chip giant's notoriously hyperactive legal department. EBN this week reported that that's the main reason why Gigabyte, Microstar and Asustek are leaving VIA's chipset well alone.
VIA can at least claim ten second-tier mobo makers as customers. And if rumoured i845 supply shortages emerge, it may win broader support - as long, of course, as it's not the source of said speculation. Then again, it doesn't have much time before 'official' P4 chipsets emerge toward the end of the year from Acer Labs, SiS and, as we reported yesterday, graphics chip maker ATI.
ATI's chipset, codenamed A3, is expected in Q4, right at the time VIA's P4M266 is expected to ship. Clearly, ATI will be promoting the strength of its integrated graphics, said to be based on its upcoming RV200 part, a cut-down version of the soon-to-ship R200, aka Radeon 2. Like the VIA part, ATI's chip is expected to support up to PC2100 DDR and, we reckon, will hook into the P4. ®
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