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Chipset and Motherboard Update
Though several new chipsets have been announced over the past six months or so, few of them are actually available in systems or on motherboards right now. VIA has just announced volume shipments of the KT266 chipset, it will likely be a month or more before we actually see them on available motherboards. As mentioned last month, the PM266 (or Apollo Pro266) chipset is now available and motherboards should be in the retail channels in the next few weeks.
Many manufacturers have expressed some concern that the i815EP chipset is not as popular as it was first assumed. OEMs will not likely be as interested, because it will increase their costs and DIYers seem to be looking more at the Athlon platforms at this time. Systems integrators and those who are staunch Intel users are most likely the main customers at this time.
On the issue of pricing, it seems that as VIA has become more of a force in the market: the price difference between Socket 370 and Socket A chipsets is becoming smaller. Though VIA chipsets are still cheaper than Intel chipsets for the same platform, some manufacturers have indicated that Socket A chipsets are no longer as inexpensive as they once were. Depending upon how much momentum ALi can gain with their Athlon DDR chipset, we could see some pricing competition here again.
Motherboards using the KT133A chipset for Socket A are now beginning to appear on the market. Some reviewers have indicated that this chipset provides a 5% boost over the KT133 chipset due to its 133/266MHz FSB, and that it compares very favorably to the AMD 760 chipset. This has led some to predict that the KT133A will be a very popular chipset, however many motherboard makers are still not banking on this. Most are betting that the PM266 and AMD 760 chipsets will be the most popular, at least until KT266 boards becomes widely available.
As previously mentioned, DDR motherboards are the main focus for most manufacturers, and the majority have said that they are planning to make their products available during the last week of January, or the first week of February. There are several who will not have DDR boards ready until sometime after this, and there are some reports that a few DDR boards are already available in Asia.
A few months ago several motherboard makers had indicated that their roadmaps showed most or all of their products to be DDR capable by mid-2001. Due to the slow ramp, representatives from these manufacturers indicated that this will probably not happen until closer to the end of the year. One issue of possible concern is that DDR boards will be about $20 more expensive than their SDR cousins, primarily due to the additional PCB layers and other components.
Next: Processor Update