Low-cost chip sets aimed at sub-$US1,000 Pentium II desktops

Taiwanese core logic vendor Silicon Integrated Systems (SIS) has introduced two new low-cost chip sets targeted squarely at sub-$US1,000 desktop PCs powered by Intel's Pentium II or Celeron processors. The two new Pentium II-class SIS chip sets are priced significantly lower than comparable Intel offerings, said SIS CEO Samuel Liu. SIS has consulted a US law firm to ensure that the devices do not infringe on any Intel patents, he added.'We don't want to find ourselves in court with Intel -- that's the last thing we want.'

Taiwanese core logic vendor Silicon Integrated Systems (SIS) has introduced two new low-cost chips sets targeted squarely at sub-$US1,000 desktop PCs powered by Intel's Pentium II or Celeron processors.

Available in sample quantities now with volume production scheduled for June, the two new Pentium II-class SIS chip sets are priced significantly lower than comparable Intel offerings, said Samuel Liu, president and CEO of the Hsinchu, Taiwan-based company. SIS has consulted a U.S. law firm to ensure that the devices do not infringe on any Intel patents, he added.

"We don't want to find ourselves in court with Intel -- that's the last thing we want," Liu said.

Intel to date has claimed that it will not license its so-called P6 bus technology to its competitors, effectively trying to lock them out of the Pentium II market, and has claimed that it will vigorously defend its intellectual property rights. [See "Intel's Whitney to Bring 100MHz Bus to Celeron Systems," April 17 .]

SIS, however, has done its homework on the matter, Liu said. It is so confident that it has not infringed upon any Intel patents that it will send all relevant materials to Intel for their reference, he said. At least two other vendors are also expected to start shipping Pentium II-class chip sets later this year. [See "Acer Labs, Via Ready Chip Sets for Intel's Slot 1," Feb. 27 . ]

The SIS chip sets do not violate any Intel patents "because claims of those patents require features not included in SIS chip sets," was the conclusion of Burns, Doane, Swecker and Mathis LLP, the Menlo Park, California-based law firm consulted by the Taiwanese company, Liu said.

Integrating a feature set comparable to Intel's latest Pentium II core logic offering, the 440BX AGPset, SIS's two-piece SIS5601/5595 chip set is also capable of supporting system bus speeds up to 100MHz, but is priced at only $29 in quantities of 10,000 units, Liu said.

The 440BX, meanwhile, is priced at $57.50 in 10,000-unit volumes, said Intel officials here last month.

Aimed at the very low-end of the market -- for Celeron systems that could cost below $800 -- the SIS5600/5595 chip set is priced at $19 in 10,000-unit quantities, Liu said. Intel's Celeron offering, the 440EX, carries a list price of $36.75 in the same quantities, officials said.

By building systems around low-cost motherboards with on-board graphics accelerators, system makers can keep the materials cost of a 266MHz Pentium II PC as low as $685, according to Liu, while a similar system with a 266MHz Celeron processor could cost as little as $542.

"The sub-$1,000 PC is a not a fad that is going to go away," Liu said. "Anybody today who pays more than $1,000 for a mainstream PC is spending too much."

Here's what you could expect to find inside a 266MHz Pentium II PC built around SIS's chip set and graphics accelerator, which, according to Liu, could retail at $999:

-- All-in-one motherboard $105

-- 266MHz Pentium II CPU $195

-- 64M-bytes of SDRAM $80

-- 2.5G-byte hard drive $110

-- 32x CD-ROM drive $42

-- keyboard and mouse $16

-- modem $30

-- case/power supply/floppy drive $55

-- Windows 95 $40

-- packaging/manuals/cabling $12

TOTAL: $685

Source: SIS

Silicon Integrated Systems, in Hsinchu, Taiwan, can be reached at +886-35-774-922, or on the World Wide Web at http://www.sis.com.tw/.

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