New Intel Chip Set Gets PC Nod

Intel's planned release of its latest chip, Springdale, will bring a host of new features to midrange and low-end desktops.

Intel Corp.s planned release this week of its latest chip, Springdale, will bring a host of new features to midrange and low-end desktops. And a handful of PC makers, including IBM, will be ready with new lines and products built around the chip.

But whether the chip, the 865G—a follow-on to the Canterwood chip set, released last month for high-end technical computers—will persuade enterprises to spend scarce IT dollars on new desktops remains a question.

According to Intel officials in Santa Clara, Calif., Springdale boasts numerous new features to address the concerns of CIOs, including return on investment, security and stability.

The chip set supports Intels Hyper-Threading Technology, which boosts performance some 30 percent by enabling one processor to work as two virtual chips. It also features an 800MHz front-side bus, which reduces the amount of time needed to pass data between the processor and the memory; dual-channel DDR (double-data-rate) memory; and Communication Streaming Architecture for faster throughput. In addition, it includes two drivers, Stable Image Technology and Stable Platform Program, for added stability.

Some users are impressed with the technology, but it wont be enough to drive them to buy new desktops. Gary Lyng, systems manager for Persist Technologies Inc., said that for the two types of desktop users in his company, a new chip set isnt going to be the difference. "Theyre not critical to the success of our business," said Lyng, in Pleasanton, Calif. "For our productivity users, who use [desktop systems] for e-mail, PowerPoint and Excel, is a new chip set going to dramatically change the way they work on a day-to-day basis? Probably not."

But Shane Rau, an analyst with International Data Corp., said that while the 865G features may not jump-start a stalled PC space, they are impressive. Its also an indication that the PC industry understands that performance boosts have to go beyond simply cranking up the frequency, Rau said.

"Its a significant step, but its not everything the PC industry can do," said Rau, in Mountain View, Calif. "What the PC industry needs to articulate is why people need to buy a PC. You dont just want faster. Just relying on speed and lower price hasnt worked very well."

IBM will be among the first to roll out 865G products this week in new ThinkCentre desktop systems, which were announced in November, sources said. The ThinkCentre M50 will target large enterprises; the S50 model will be aimed at the midrange; and the A50p will be for small businesses and multimedia users. All ThinkCentre desktops, which are available now, feature the 865G chip set, as well as IBMs ThinkVantage technologies, including Rapid Restore PC Ultra Version, an enhanced one-button restore feature that includes better filtering and usability features, sources said. IBM officials, in Armonk, N.Y., declined to comment.

In addition to IBM, MPC Computers LLC this week will offer the ClientPro 345, a business desktop featuring the Pentium 4 and the 865G chip set. Rob Wheadon, director of desktop products for the Nampa, Idaho, company, said the PC will have the DDR 400 module but will offer the less expensive DDR 333 as an option. Over the next few weeks, Gateway Inc., of Poway, Calif., will outfit its business systems—including the E-Series, Sb-Series and all-in-one Profile desktops—with the chip set. And Acer America Corp., of San Jose, Calif., this week will start shipping the Veriton 7600G, in conjunction with the release of the 865G.

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