Intel rolls out three performance chipsets

Intel this week launched three new processor chipsets aimed at improving the graphics performance of PC applications, according to the company.

The arrival of the Intel chipsets, combined with the recent addition of a 2.53GHz Pentium 4 processor to Intel's chip arsenal, could determine how well the chipmaker fares going into the winter PC sales cycle, according to industry experts.

The Intel 845G, 845E, and 845GL chipsets each support USB 2.0, which throttles the bandwidth of each processor by as much as 40 percent compared to USB 1.1 chipsets, according to Intel, based in Santa Clara, Calif.

Targeted at high-performance business graphics applications and PC gamers looking for the highest graphics resolution, the 845G chipset hosts Intel's Extreme Graphics technology. It starts at US$46 in lots of 1,000 units, according to Intel.

Notably, with the 845G chipset, Intel now offers PC makers an improved alternative to high-end graphics chipsets from chipset maker Nvidia Corp., according to those familiar with the technology.

Offering PC makers a wide choice of chipsets, Intel's 845E uses a combination of "discrete graphics components" for enhanced graphics performance. The 845E starts at US$41 in lots of 1,000, according to Intel.

For Intel's discount Celeron processors, the Intel 845GL chipset is also available starting at US$33 in lots of 1,000, according to Intel.

Each of the three new chipsets offers 20-bit surround sound audio, according to Intel.

Much could be riding on the success of the new Intel chipsets, which arrive in time to support Intel's recently launched 2.53GHz Pentium 4 processor. Intel lowered prices on its existing processor lines in anticipation of the 2.53GHz launch, and uptake of the company's newest, fastest Pentium 4 along with the new chipsets could have a significant effect on Intel's bottom line, according to Ashok Kumar, an industry analyst at U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray, in Menlo Park, Calif.

As far as sales months for Intel, Kumar said, "April could be the weakest in light of the price cuts. The state of final demand hinges on Intel's launch of its new CPUs and chipset -- the 2.53GHz P4 and the 845G -- in May."

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