Intel's DDR chip set debuts

Opening the doors to cheaper and faster PCs based on Intel Corp.'s Pentium 4 processor, the long-awaited version of Intel's 845 chip set that supports DDR SDRAM (Double Data Rate Synchronous Dynamic RAM), the 845-D, debuted at Comdex.

Legend QDI, which is a subsidiary of Legend Holdings Ltd., China's largest PC manufacturer, demonstrated its QDI P2D-A motherboard, which is based on the 845-D, at its booth here. The standard ATX motherboard, which can support Pentium 4 chips running at speeds up to 2GHz and above, was shown in a demonstration running a 1.6GHz Pentium 4 processor with 128M bytes of DDR SDRAM.

The QDI P2D-A will begin shipping worldwide in December -- one month earlier than Intel's previously announced plans to release the chip during the first quarter -- and is expected to cost around US$140, said Wang Huabing, senior manager for system research and development at Legend's commercial desktop PC business division.

Chip sets provide the interface that connects a PC's processor with its main memory. Intel currently offers two chip sets for the Pentium 4, the 850 and the 845. The 850 supports RDRAM (Rambus DRAM) and the existing version of the 845 supports SDRAM, which is cheaper than RDRAM but is also considered slower.

The release of the 845-D will allow PC manufacturers to sell Pentium 4-based computers that use DDR SDRAM, which is faster than SDRAM. DDR SDRAM is comparable in performance to RDRAM but costs less.

The 845-D is the fourth DDR SDRAM chip set for the Pentium 4 to be made available. Taiwan-based chip set makers Via Technologies Inc., Silicon Integrated Systems Inc. and Acer Laboratories Inc. have also announced products -- the P4X266, SiS645 and Aladdin P4, respectively -- that provide DDR support for the Pentium 4.

DDR SDRAM support for the Pentium 4 has been the source of friction between Via and Intel. In September, Intel filed lawsuits in the U.S. and elsewhere alleging that Via's P4X266 chip set violates several of Intel's microprocessor-related patents. Via has repeatedly denied those allegations.

Legend Holdings Ltd., in Hong Kong, can be reached at +852-2516-4843 or http://www.legend.com/. Intel, in Santa Clara, California, can be reached at +1-408-987-8080, or via the Web at http://www.intel.com/.

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Sumner Lemon

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