Intel packs more features in next-generation chipsets

Intel is readying new chipsets with support for more advanced features.

To accompany the launch early next year of its MMX multimedia enhanced next-generation Pentium and Pentium Pro processors, Intel is readying new chipsets with support for more advanced features.

Scheduled for launch in next year's first quarter, the new 430TX chipset is a two-piece core logic PCIset that aims to add more advanced features to systems built around the Pentium MMX processors to be introduced by Intel in January, sources close to the company say.

The very first crop of systems featuring the new multimedia enhanced Pentiums will be built around the existing 430VX PCIset, but later in the first quarter Intel will start volume shipments of the 430TX. The 430TX will add support for features such as Ultra DMA/33, a new ATA/IDE hard drive interface protocol that will double the burst data transfer rate to 33Mb/s; better power management; and optimised synchronous DRAM performance, the sources say.

The 430TX will first appear in desktops aimed at the home market, but one source says business systems using the PCIset will start appearing in the second quarter of next year.

Also scheduled for shipment in the second quarter, the 440LX PCIset will be the first Intel chipset offering SDRAM support for Pentium Pro systems.

Sources say Intel in late February plans to introduce the 233-MHz Klamath processor card, the first next-generation MMX enhanced Pentium Pro solution.

Initially, PC vendors will introduce Klamath systems built around the existing 440FX PCIset, with system prices starting at around US$3000. However, the 440LX will up the ante in Pentium Pro and Klamath systems by adding support for the Ultra DMA/33 protocol, Audio Codec '97 sound, high-performance SDRAM main memory as well as Intel's Advanced Graphics Port which will enable scaleable 3D graphics. Intel's current 440FX chipset for Pentium Pro systems does not support the fast SDRAM memory, which offers a system performance increase of about five percent over EDO (Extended Data Out) memory.

However, sources say that Californian company Via Technologies is expected to beat Intel to the punch by showing off Pentium Pro motherboards featuring the Apollo P6 chipset, which supports SDRAM, at this month's fall Comdex show in Las Vegas.

Via originally was scheduled to start volume production of the chipset last month, but has run into difficulties with optimising SDRAM system performance, which has delayed the production ramp-up, one source says.

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