Nvidia to show off its first Intel chipsets

The chip designer's chipsets, which will include an integrated firewall, will be available for high-end Intel-based PCs by April.

Nvidia is expected to demonstrate its first chipsets for Intel-based computers on Tuesday, although the products won't likely come out for a few more weeks.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chip designer will begin to sell chipsets for high-end Intel-based PCs by April, said Drew Henry, general manager of the platform division at Nvidia. The chip designer will include a number of features, such as an integrated firewall and technology that allows a consumer to put two graphics chips into a PC, into these chipsets--ideally, to distinguish its products from some of the other existing chipsets.

"We will target the enthusiast end of the market," Henry said.

Nvidia's chipsets will also make it easier to add a second or third storage device to a PC, he added.

If the processor is the brain of the computer, the chipset is the butler, shuttling data between the processor, graphics chip and other devices. Although quite complex, chipsets sell for a fifth or less than processors sell for.

Nvidia, mostly known as a graphics chip company, started to make chipsets for computers containing chips from Advanced Micro Devices about three years ago. It is now the largest provider of chipsets to AMD computers. The company has even landed its chipsets into a two-processor workstation from Hewlett-Packard.

In the next few months, a number of manufacturers will release servers and workstations with Nvidia chipsets.

Last November, Nvidia signed a license that gave it permission to produce Intel chipsets--a far larger market. Intel accounts for about 82 percent of PC processors sold.

However, Intel also actively markets its own chipsets. AMD makes chipsets too, but mostly as a way of jumpstarting the market for third-party companies like Nvidia and ATI Technologies.

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