Via offers cheaper, faster Pentium 4 chip set

Via Technologies has released an upgrade to its Apollo P4X266 chip set for Intel Corp.'s Pentium 4 processor that offers faster memory throughput -- and is available for 26 percent less than the P4X266's original list price.

Like the P4X266, the Apollo P4X266A chip set supports DDR SDRAM (double data rate synchronous dynamic RAM). The upgraded version, however, incorporates an improved memory controller that can improve throughput by up to 10 percent, according to Richard Brown, Via's marketing director.

The P4X266A, which is used in a standard two-chip, North Bridge-South Bridge PC chip set configuration, can be used in conjunction with one of three pin-compatible South Bridge chips, including Via's VT8233A. The VT8233A includes Ultra ATA/133 support that allows faster throughput of data from a PC's hard disk to the processor.

Despite beating its competitors to the market with the P4X266, Via has faced an uphill battle to convince major motherboard and PC makers to adopt the chip set in the face of legal action by Intel. Intel has alleged in a U.S. lawsuit that the chip set violates five of its processor-related patents.

Analysts have said Intel's lawsuit is meant to slow adoption of the P4X266 while the company readies its own chip set that supports DDR SDRAM, the 845-D. Originally scheduled to ship in January of next year, the 845-D is now expected to hit the market in December, according to motherboard makers.

The P4X266A, which is produced by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. using a 0.22-micron process, is being offered for US$25 in OEM (original equipment manufacturer) quantities, a reduction of 26 percent compared to the $34 price tag that the P4X266 carried at its launch.

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Sumner Lemon

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