ATI obtains license to build Intel's Pentium M chipset

ATI Technologies Inc. has obtained a license to build chipsets for Intel Corp.'s newest notebook chip, the Pentium M, it announced in a release Tuesday.

Intel had been the only vendor of chipsets for the Pentium M as of the launch of its Centrino package last Wednesday. Centrino is a combination of the Pentium M, the Intel 855 series chipsets, and the Intel Pro Wireless 2100 wireless chip.

Chipsets are a group of chips that connect the main processor with other components such as the memory, hard drive or communications functions. Intel requires chipset manufacturers to get a license before they build products for Intel processors. The Santa Clara, California, company is involved in litigation with chipset vendor Via Technologies Inc. over patent claims related to chipsets for Intel's Pentium 4 desktop processor.

A spokeswoman for Via declined to comment on the company's plans for the Pentium M.

ATI, based in Markham, Ontario, makes processors and discrete cards that offer high-performance graphics for PC users. Last week, it introduced the Mobility Radeon 7000 IGP, which supports the Pentium M processor. Now that ATI has obtained a license, notebook makers can use the Mobility Radeon 7000 in their Pentium M notebooks, an ATI spokesman said.

Intel is trying to convince the notebook builders and the general public that its Centrino package is the best combination of mobile technology, but just about every notebook manufacturer that introduced a Centrino system also introduced notebooks with the Pentium M and wireless chips from other companies such as Atheros Communications Inc., Broadcom Corp., or Cisco Systems Inc.

Centrino notebooks receive extra marketing support from Intel, similar to its long-running "Intel Inside" campaign, but that hasn't dissuaded notebook manufacturers from offering customers a range of options that will now increase with the ATI chipset.

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Tom Krazit

IDG News Service
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