Intel Corp. officially launched several new processors and its "Grantsdale" and "Alderwood" chipsets on Monday, ushering in a new generation of computing technology.
Although the company officially disclosed the chipsets last week, Intel released prices for its new parts Sunday night. A host of PC makers launched products based on the new chips, but virtually all of them decided to forego the highly touted WiFi capability Intel had promoted in the months leading up to the launch.
The new 915P/G chipsets and the 925X all boast the addition of PCI Express, DDR-2 memory, Intels High-Definition Audio, and an interface to a new 775-pin socket, used by all of the new Intel processors. The Intel 915G also includes Intels latest integrated graphics core. All of the new components have been combined in new PCs from Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and other PC makers, although tests by PC Magazine concluded that the Dell Dimension 8400 and the Falcon Northwest Mach V were the best of the best.
The new components dont offer dramatic performance improvements, ExtremeTech tests showed, although the Intel 915 and 925 platforms represent a break between older architecture and a modern redesign. Components like AGP graphics cards cannot be used with the new chipsets.
"So, if you already have a fast PC and fast AGP graphics card, theres no compelling reason to upgrade yet, if all youre concerned about is applications performance," Loyd Case wrote in the ExtremeTech review. "If you have an older system, however, its really worth a closer look. LGA775 will be the platform for future – and faster – Intel processors."
Somewhat surprisingly, PC OEMs interviewed said they didnt anticipate any supply hiccups. Intel 915/925-based PCs use a number of new components, among them PCI Express graphics cards, DDR-2 memory, higher clocking circuitry, and new voltage regulators, all of which could bring PC production to a halt if any of them went into short supply.
"With Intel intending to keep pricing identical with older chipsets, we believe that Grantsdale could account for as much as 50 percent of desktop shipment (sic) by 1Q05," American Technology Research analyst Erich Desai wrote in a note to clients Monday. "We would also expect that overall system prices will rise as components that take advantage of the new bus speeds are likely to cost more."
Officially, Intel launched six CPUs on Monday—five new models and the redesign of an existing CPU—to take advantage of the new 775-pin socket. Intel will ship the new 2.8GHz Pentium 4 520 for $178, the 3.0GHz Pentium 4 530 for $218, the 3.2GHz Pentium 4 540 for $278, the 3.4GHz Pentium 4 550 for $417 and the 3.6GHz Pentium 4 560 for $637. A redesigned, 770-pin 3.4-GHz Pentium 4 Extreme Edition chip will cost $999. Intels new chipsets will be sold to motherboard manufacturers for prices officially ranging from $37 to $50.