Via ships integrated chip set for AMD's Duron

The two-piece ProSavage KM133 chip set integrates S3's Savage4 3-D and Savage2000 2-D graphics engines, allowing PC makers to design lower-cost desktop systems. Duron-based PCs to date have required a more costly add-on graphics card, which in part has allowed Intel to grab the lion's share of the lower-priced PC market as its entry-level Celeron processors have been paired with the company's integrated 810 and 815 chip set offerings.

"We are shipping in volume now, and there certainly seems to be plenty of pent-up demand for the KM133," said Richard Brown, marketing director at Taipei-based Via.

Another low-cost chip set offering for AMD processors, the KL133, is also scheduled to ship within the near future, he added. The KL133 is basically a stripped-down version of the KM133, featuring no integrated graphics engine.

While AMD's flagship Athlon processor has made strong inroads in higher-end segments, the lack of an integrated chip set offering has held back the Duron in the low-cost PC segment. In this year's third quarter, for example, total Duron shipments reached 1.5 million units, as compared to the more than 33 million PCs that shipped worldwide during the quarter, according to market researcher IDC.

Intel officials earlier this month cited estimates from market researcher NPD Intelect that showed PCs based on its processors commanding as much as 94 per cent of US retail store sales of sub-$US1000 desktop systems. The Duron processors, however, on paper appear to offer better value for value-conscious PC buyers. Running at clock speeds of up to 800MHz, the chips also feature support for a faster 200MHz system bus than Intel's Celeron, which currently tops out at 766MHz with a system bus speed of of 66MHz.

By next year's second half, AMD expects the Duron to achieve clock speeds of up to 1.1GHz, according to the company's official product roadmap. Intel, of course, is also expected to introduce speedier Celerons.

Via, meanwhile, is also set to release faster versions of its Cyrix III processor series aimed at the low-cost PC segment, with 650MHz and 667MHz versions slated to ship shortly, Brown said.

By early next year, Via is also scheduled to introduce its next-generation processors, based on a new core code named Samuel II, which will be manufactured using .15 micron process technology and are expected to reach clock speeds of up to 1GHz by mid-2001.

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Terho Uimonen

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