Intel has begun putting together a program called Transition Management to help users keep up with the seemingly endless parade of processor upgrades. To do that, Intel will keep platform components such as memory interfaces and chip sets consistent even as system buses change.
One recent example of that is the 440BX chip set Intel introduced last March to support the 100MHz system bus used by the 350MHz and faster Pentium II series of processors. This chip set will be useful for a longer period because it is compatible with and will support the forthcoming Katmai processor. Katmai purchasers won’t have to buy entirely new systems or replace core components such as motherboards, as they did when Intel went from 66MHz bus speeds to 100MHz.
Companies “just don’t have the skills or available resources to be constantly qualifying new systems,” and have been looking for such component stability, said Chris Goodhue, an analyst at Gartner Group Inc. in Stamford, Connecticut.
“If you’re going to be the one buying those [Katmai] systems, the benefit is that there’s less chance that the top-of-the-line that you’re waiting for will be delayed,” because dealers won’t have as much older inventory to sell off before they bring in a lot of the latest models, said Tony Massimini, an analyst at Semico Research in Phoenix.
“A flexible chip set will also help manufacturers maintain inventory and not get stuck with obsolete parts,” Massimini added.