Via offers cheaper, faster P4 chipset

Via Technologies has released an upgrade to its Apollo P4X266 chipset for Intel's Pentium 4 processor that offers faster memory...

Via Technologies has released an upgrade to its Apollo P4X266 chipset for Intel's Pentium 4 processor that offers faster memory for less cash.

Like the P4X266, the Apollo P4X266A chipset supports double data rate synchronous dynamic RAM (DDR SDRAM). However, the upgraded version incorporates an improved memory controller that can increase throughput by up to 10%, said Via marketing director Richard Brown.

The P4X266A - which is used in a standard two-chip, North Bridge-South Bridge PC chipset configuration - can be used in conjunction with one of three pin-compatible South Bridge chips, including Via's VT8233A.

The VT8233A includes Ultra ATA/133 support that allows faster throughput of data from a PC's hard disk to the processor.

Despite beating its rivals to the market with the P4X266, Via has faced an uphill battle to convince major motherboard and PC makers to adopt the chipset, in the face of legal action by Intel. The chip giant has alleged in a US lawsuit that Via's P4X266 chipset violates five of its processor-related patents.

Some analysts claim the lawsuit is meant to slow adoption of the P4X266 while Intel readies its own chipset that supports DDR SDRAM: the 845-D. Originally scheduled to ship in January 2002, the 845-D is now expected to hit the market in December.

The P4X266A, which is produced by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing using a 0.22-micron process, is being offered for $25 (£18) in original equipment manufacturer quantities. The P4X266 initially cost $34.

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