Yes, it's Dell-goes-AMD rumour time again, this time courtesy of a story over at Tom's Hardware.
Said story notes that Nvidia has completed its nForce integrated chipset. That sounds reasonable to us, as does the suggestion that mobo makers Asus, Gigabyte and Abit will start selling boards based on the part next month.
But what's this at the end of the story? Dell and Fujitsu-Siemens will be shipping PCs based on nForce, it says.
Now since nForce is designed to work with AMD's Athlon processor, that surely means Dell is about to release an Athlon-based computer.
Dell is, of course, the only major PC vendor never to have offered anything other than Intel-based systems, and AMD fans have long been hoping that it would sign up and support the Athlon, as much because it would piss off Intel as boost AMD's fortunes.
We're sceptical. Rumours last June that Dell was about to offer an Athlon 4-based notebook came to nought. We know for a fact that Dell tests all new AMD parts and will have to use appropriate chipsets to do so, so it's entirely possible that there's an nForce-based box running a top-speed Athlon in the company's labs even as we speak. That's not the same thing as shipping one, however.
Another option is that Nvidia has licensed the Pentium 4 bus and is about to unveil a version of nForce that supports the P4 chip. It has certainly been talking to Intel about a P4 licence - it admitted as much at the nForce launch - but products based on it aren't expected until next year, since it's having enough of a job getting the Athlon-oriented part out of the door.
Speaking of which, we note that the Tom's Hardware story mentions a September timeframe for nForce-based boards. In other words, the same month as the new, Palomino-based desktop Athlons are due. That suggests, perhaps, that nForce has been tailored for Palomino rather than the older Thunderbird core.
And that might explain the long delay between nForce's launch and its shipment. nForce was announced just ahead of the timeframe world+dog expected AMD to unveil its next-generation desktop CPU. AMD has always denied that it delayed the launch of the Palomino Athlon until a better, less recession-hit time, but we wonder if that's actually the case, and Nvidia's premature nForce launch was a victim of that decision to wait a while.
Nvidia or AMD staffers with insights into this matter are, of course, welcome to spill the beans. ®
Tom's Hardware: nForce story