Intel is expected to launch its "Springdale" chipset line for mainstream PCs on May 21, sources said, backing it up with several new Pentium 4 processors which use the 800-MHz front-side bus. AMD, meanwhile, is also expected to announce a faster Athlon XP processor later this month.
Although Intels Canterwood chipset introduced the 800-MHz front-side bus and DDR memory to the high-end PC, the Springdale or Intel 865 family will bring the features both into the mainstream PC as well as the corporate desktop, the volume "sweet spot" of the marketplace.
An Intel spokesman confirmed that the Springdale will launch this quarter, but declined to confirm the specific launch date.
Springdales impact will be felt most in the corporate space, as businesses adopt PCs based upon the new platform. In the late 1990s, corporate IT departments began complaining that Intels rapid refreshes of its chipset product line left them a step behind in qualifying products for their own companies. Beginning with the Intel 845G chipset, Intel began committing to refreshing its corporate product lines about once a year; the Springdale, in fact, will launch a day later than the Intel 845G launched in 2002.
"The market impact should be minimal as 845G transitions to Springdale, as youre replacing one integrated chip set with another," said Dean McCarron, principal analyst at Mercury Research. "Maybe a tiny bit of added cost to motherboards, but were talking a few dollars at most."
Details of the new Springdale chipsets were revealed in confidential roadmaps released by industry sources earlier this year. Three chipsets are scheduled: the Intel 865G, Intel 865P, and Intel 865PE. Widespread motherboard support for the Springdale lineup is expected.
Like the Canterwood chipset, the 865G will support up to 4 DIMMs (4 Gbytes) of either DDR333 or DDR400 memory. The chipset will support the ICH5-R soft RAID component, and includes an AGP8X connector, as well as support for gigabit Ethernet. The chipset also allows two Intel Digital Video Out connections to be muxed on the AGP port.
Intel rates the new "Extreme Graphics 2" core found within the Intel 865G at 1.18 times faster than the 845G core in SysMark, 1.99 times faster using the "demo4" benchmark in Quake III Arena at 1024x768, and 1.96 times faster using 3DMark 2001 SE.
Intel is also expected to release new versions of its Pentium 4 processors with a Pentium 4 bus, likely labeled with a "C" suffix to distinguish them from slower chips, sources said. The expected speed grades should include 2.8, 2.6, and 2.4-GHz offerings. Not to be outdone, AMD is expected to release an Athlon XP 3200+ processor later this month with a 400-MHz front-side bus. The launch date of the Athlon XP 3200+ was not known at press time.