Intel plans to launch its Grantsdale and Alderwood chipsets for Pentium 4 processors on June 21, according to several motherboard makers at the Computex 2004 exhibition. But while the chipsets will soon be available to users, they may not become widely adopted by users until early next year.
While an Intel spokesperson declined to comment on when exactly the chipsets would hit the market, vice-president and general manager of Intel's desktop platforms group, William Siu, confirmed they would soon ship.
Gearing up for the launch, Intel made public the official names for Grantsdale and Alderwood at Computex. There will be two versions of Grantsdale, the 915P and 915G, alongside one version of Alderwood, the 925X, according to the company.
For Intel, the 915 and 925 chipsets mark an important technology transition from Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP) to Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) Express for graphics cards. The chipsets also offer support for Double Data Rate 2 (DDR2) memory and include support for redundant arrays of independent disks (RAID), Intel's High-Definition Audio technology and a feature that can turn a desktop PC into an access point for an 802.11 wireless network. The 915G will add integrated graphics.
But users may be slow to warm to the transition to PCI Express, one motherboard maker said.
"We don't think PCI Express will take off this year," said George Tang, an account manager in the European sales department of Asustek Computer, one of the world's largest motherboard makers. "We think that in the first quarter of next year it will become mainstream."
In the meantime, Asustek expected to see all of its 915- and 925-based motherboards ship in relatively small volumes, with sales picking up early next year as prices come down for PCI-Express-based graphics board and DDR2 memory, Tang said.
With 915- and 925-based motherboards not expected by Asustek to become mainstream until early next year, an opportunity could open for Via Technologies, which plans to offer a Pentium 4 chipset, the PT890, that supports both AGP and PCI Express graphics cards.
Motherboards based on the PT890 could appeal to users who might not want to buy a PCI Express graphics card, Tang said, but it was too early to say for sure how the market would respond.
"We'll have to wait and see," Tang said.