All four chipsets support a technology called hyper-threading that Intel expects to bring to desktop computers before the end of the year with the introduction of the 3.06GHz Pentium 4 processor. The chipset is the main interface between the components of a PC, such as memory and peripherals, and the processor.
Hyper-threading, which is already available in servers, makes some applications run as though there are two processors in a system while there is only one. This can improve PC performance when using many mainstream applications up to 25%, Intel said.
Other features in the 850E, 845GE, 845PE, and 845GV chipsets are support for faster memory, graphics and USB (universal serial bus) 2.0. The 850E was already on the market, but has been enhanced to support the fast dual-channel PC 1066 RDRAM (Rambus Dynamic RAM).
The 845GE includes a 266MHz graphics clock for its Intel Extreme Graphics engine, an onboard video card. It also supports DDR333 (double data rate) memory and sports a 533MHz or 400MHz system bus.
Users with high-performance graphics needs can opt for 845PE chipset, which supports AGP4x (accelerated graphics port) for connecting a graphics controller, as well as the fast DDR333 memory type. One of two new Dimension desktop computers introduced by Dell yesterday uses the 845PE chipset. The machine is aimed at the computer gaming and video editing markets.
The fourth and cheapest chipset is the 845GV. It supports DDR266 memory, which is slower than DDR333, and a 533MHz or 400MHz system bus with support for Pentium 4 and Celeron processors, Intel's processor line for budget PCs.
The chipsets, when bought in 1,000-unit bulks, cost $40 (£26) for the 850E, $37 (£24) for the 845GE, $34 (£22) for the 845PE, and $28 (£18) for the 845GV.