PC makers cautious on MMX-optimised Intel motherboards

Intel's new TX motherboards have arrived in New Zealand - and you'll need one if you want to get the full functionality from the Pentium MMX multimedia chip, warns Garry Marriott of component distributor JDI. But local assemblers aren't necessarily jumping in behind the TX.

Intel’s new TX motherboards have arrived in New Zealand — and you’ll need one if you want to get the full functionality from the Pentium MMX multimedia chip, warns Garry Marriott of component distributor JDI.

Marriott says the Intel 430TX PCIset boards are superior to the HX and VX boards. They’re optimised for the Pentium MMX processor and promise improved power management, Ultra DMA hard drive support, SDRAM support, universal serial bus and concurrent PCI among other features.

Intel’s product blurb claims faster performance for multimedia applications and says mobile computers will be as good as PCs at multimedia.

But local assemblers aren’t necessarily jumping in behind the TX.

Most don’t sell mobile PCs and MMX chips slot quite happily into existing HX and VX chipset boards.

Scott Ferguson, international buyer for local assembler PC General, says there’s no real reason to change from the VX boards just yet. “There really isn’t anything that stands out for us with the TX boards — any gains are minimal.”

He says the TX has advantages for mobile PCs but “that’s nothing to do with MMX”, and the VX boards already have SDRAM support.

“The TX board has some features for when new add-on cards are developed but there is nothing really out there now to take advantage of it.”

JDI’s Marriott says the Ultra DMA support is significant, with Ultra DMA drives now coming on the market. He believes the combination will give performance similar to SCSI drives.

Intel’s TX spec sheet claims Ultra DMA will give faster downloads for multimedia files and Marriott says future sound and video applications will benefit overall from this and other TX board features.

PC Direct product development manager Richard Moss says his company is using VX for home machines and HX motherboards for corporate PCs. “We’ll be introducing the TX motherboards in late April or early May,” he says.

Moss agrees a major benefit to corporate buyers is the Ultra DMA support. But also says the resultant PCs will be able to meet Microsoft’s PC97 specification, creating the new “standard” PC. Price may make them unsuitable for middle-of-the-road users to start with but that should change by the fourth quarter.

Marriott says corporate and power users will want the new boards to “future-proof” themselves but acknowledges it won’t be a disaster if they don’t. His company offers all types of motherboards including the TX chipset on a just-released Tyan brand motherboard.

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