Chipset Makers Rally Around Athlon 64, PCI Express

Third-party chipset suppliers look to have given their seal of approval to AMD's Athlon 64 microprocessor, based on the number of chipsets slated for launch next year.

Third-party chipset suppliers have given their seal of approval to the Advanced Micro Devices Athlon 64 microprocessor, based on the number of chipsets slated to be launched next year.

According to a recent presentation AMD made to its resellers, five chipset suppliers—ALI, ATI Technologies Inc., Nvidia Corp., Silicon Integrated Systems Inc. and Via Technologies Inc. – have slated new Athlon 64 chipsets or refreshes of existing products early in 2004.

The roadmaps were reported by DarkCrow, a Korean website. The authenticity of the slides was confirmed by an AMD spokeswoman, although she deferred specific questions about the third-party chipsets to their respective vendors.

Many chipset suppliers preannounced their plans on or before the Athlon 64 was launched in late September, according to analyst Dean McCarron, principal at Mercury Research, Cave Creek, Ariz. When the processors launch was pushed out by a month or two, most vendors either decided to refresh their products or waited until they thought the market was viable, he said.

"Via and Nvidia went into early production in a market now that is, truthfully, measured only in hundreds of thousands of units," McCarron said. "The smaller vendors just getting to market only have so many resources to throw at these things."

Although ALI, Nvidia, SIS, and Via all have announced and begun to ship Athlon 64 chipsets that use the Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP), a major refresh will be timed for the introduction of PCI Express in the first half of next year. PCI Express will replace PCI, although some motherboard vendors are expected to include PCI Express-PCI bridges that will create a transition period for the new infrastructure.

All five chipset vendors plan PCI Express chipsets, most designed to ship to board makers in the second quarter of 2004: the ALI 1697, a single-chip PCI Express chipset with WLAN capabilities; the ATI RX480; the Nvidia Crush 3GIO; the SIS 756, apparently boasting both 8X AGP as well as PCI Express; and the Via K8T890.


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