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ATI's power play gets graphic

ATI Technologies is betting the extra graphics performance on its new chipset will help it win over more PC manufacturers.

Graphics-chip underdog ATI Technologies is betting the extra graphics performance built into its new chipset will help it win over more PC manufacturers.

As expected, the company on Monday unveiled the Radeon 9100 IGP. Designed for Intel-based PCs, the new chipset incorporates a more powerful graphics-processing engine than previous versions. A chipset forms a sort of nervous system in a PC, sending data to and from the processor.

The Radeon 9100 IGP, also available in notebook form as the Mobility Radeon 9100 IGP, offers graphics performance that's as much as six times higher than similar chipsets from competitors, ATI executives said in a Webcast.

Over the past two or three years, PC makers have begun using chipsets that incorporate graphics to build less-expensive machines. But the chipsets have relatively low-performance graphics, meaning the budget PCs that use them usually can't run the latest games. ATI is touting the Radeon IGP as a way for PC builders to offer machines that cost as little as $500 but can still perform graphics-intensive tasks such as games or editing movies.

Still, ATI faces an uphill battle. Most desktop PCs and notebooks built with Intel processors also use Intel chipsets. Several established chipset makers, including Via Technologies and Silicon Integrated Systems, market an array of chipsets for Intel desktops. Meanwhile, ATI rival Nvidia has garnered a number of high-profile customers for its nForce chipset for Advanced Micro Devices Athlon chips. Hewlett-Packard, the largest PC maker to build AMD-based desktops, uses nForce.

An ATI representative said the company will continue to sell its current line of Radeon 320 chipsets for AMD-based PCs as it develops new products for AMD systems.

Meanwhile, the graphics chip seller is seeking new sources of revenue outside standalone graphics chips. The company's most notable success has been its Radeon chipset for notebooks, which has won several customers including NEC.

The new Mobility Radeon 9100 will support Intel's Pentium M processor, under a licensing agreement the two companies announced last March.

ATI did not reveal prices on the new chipsets, which will begin shipping in the summer, according to the company.

News.com's David Becker contributed to this report.