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Intel Teams With ATI To Ease Chipset Shortage, Changes High-End Roadmap

Posted by iTech - 2005-10-25

Intel is addressing a shortage of chip sets for its low-end desktop motherboards by using devices from ATI Technologies. The microprocessor maker also disclosed changes to its high-end server roadmaps.

Intel placed information about its D101GGC motherboard, which uses ATI's Radeon Xpress 200 chipset, on its reseller website Monday. An Intel spokesman declined to comment about the product, beyond saying Intel plans to use third-party chipssets in some of its motherboard but has yet to reveal which ones.

Pricing and availability for the boards were not available, but one systems builder said the boards should be priced competitively with similar Intel-only products.

This is the first time Intel has used a third-party chipset on its branded motherboard. The move is intended to ease supply woes for systems builders who have been struggling to compete with low-cost desktops from Dell, some systems builders said.

Intel for several quarters has been using its capacity to crank out processors, such as its hot-selling Celeron and accompanying chipsets, in lieu of chipsets for low-end desktops. During an analyst conference call earlier this month, CEO Paul Otellini denied rumors that Intel would permanently halt production of low-end chipsets. Otellini said Intel will resume making the chipsets when more capacity is available.

Although third-party motherboard options are available in the low end space, many systems builders prefer Intel-branded motherboards because of the service and support that accompanies them.

Doug Phillips, vice president of products and solutions at Seneca Data, a system builder based in Syracuse, N.Y., said the ATI relationship should help address the supply issue. It remains unclear, however, if there will be a sufficient number of boards to completely resolve the issue.

"There is a big demand for value products by systems builders," he said.

The D10GGC motherboard will feature an 800MHz or 533MHz system bus, two DIMM sockets that support DDR 400/333 memory, one PCI Express x1 connector, one PCI Express x16 connector, four SATA ports and onboard Ethernet, along with ATI's integrated Radeon graphics capabilities.

While it moved to address problems on the low-end, Intel also revealed more delays in its high-end Itanium processors and changes in multiprocessor CPU roadmap. The Santa Clara, Calif., chip maker, which has suffered delays in the Itanium before, said its next-generation Montecito Itanium chip will be delayed for about one quarter. Projected ship date is now the middle of 2006, an Intel spokesman said.

While Intel has shipped seed units to some OEMs, the spokesman said some "tweaks" still must be made before the chip will be ready for prime time. As part of the changes, Intel will remove a feature that can determine if extra processing cycles are available and apply them in realtime. That feature will be available in a future Itanium version. Intel also will reduce the speed of the front side bus to 400MHz or 533MHz from 667MHz.

Intel also said its multicore, multiprocessor platform will get new features when it ships in 2007. The microprocessor giant will add a dedicated path to the chipset from each processor. That will address bandwidth constraints when several processors compete to communicate to the chipset over just one front-side bus. Intel is changing the code name of the platform to Caneland, from Reidland. That platform's processor, which is expected to contain a minimum of four cores, will be renamed Tigerton from Whitefield.

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