Chip Set Spurs PC Rollouts

Dell, HP unveil desktops as Intel introduces Springdale.

Intel Corp.s release of its Springdale chip set last month was accompanied by a flurry of new desktops from computer makers hoping the new performance improvements may provide a spark in an otherwise-flat industry.

Dell Computer Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. announced new desktops featuring the 865G chip set, which comes with support for Hyper-Threading—an Intel technology that enables a single chip to work as two virtual chips, thereby increasing application performance—and an 800MHz front-side bus for faster data transfer between the chip and its components.

The two companies joined vendors Acer America Corp., Gateway Inc., IBM and MPC Computers LLC, all of which also trotted out consumer and business desktops.

One industry observer said that the Springdale offers an opportunity for the industry to generate some buzz for new desktops but that neither Intel nor the PC makers has been able to do that.

"Springdale is a great opportunity to get that message across, but I just dont see it happening," said Rob Enderle, an analyst with Giga Information Group Inc., in San Jose, Calif. "This is the kind of deal where its a market thats not chasing performance, and Springdale has a lot of performance improvements."

Officials with Intel, of Santa Clara, Calif., said Hyper-Threading boosts performance some 30 percent, and the chip set comes with other features, including enhanced graphics capabilities and faster throughput.

But with the next-generation Pentium chip, code-named Prescott, not due until late this year at the earliest, the Springdale could be the industrys best chance to ramp up enthusiasm, Enderle said.

Dell, of Round Rock, Texas, rolled out two new Dimension PCs aimed at small businesses and consumers. The 4600 and 4600C both can run Intel Pentium 4 chips at up to 3.06GHz and come with eight Universal Serial Bus 2.0 ports—two of them on the front of the desktop.

The 4600 comes in a minitower form factor and includes Ultra ATA-100 hard drives and integrated 10/100M-bps Ethernet connectivity. The 4600C comes in a 13-inch-high form factor. Both are available now, with pricing starting at $799.

HP, of Palo Alto, Calif., rolled out the d530 line of business desktops with the Springdale chip set. The PCs come in three designs and are powered by either Intels Celeron chip or the Pentium 4 processor with speeds up to 3GHz.