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Intel announces 4 Series desktop chipset family

Probably most significant is news of new integrated graphics chip in the G45 and G43.

Intel has four new desktop chipsets to show off from this year's Computex trade show in Taiwan. The G45 and the G43 focus on HD video playback by way of a new Intel Graphics Media Accelerator X4500HD integrated graphics chip. The P45 brings support for faster memory and is the first mainstream Intel-made chipset with two graphics card slots. A scaled-down P43 chipset rounds out the new 4 Series. All of the chipsets use Intel's familiar LGA 775 processor interface, which means support for Intel's Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad desktop CPUs. Intel has also added a 1,333MHz front side bus to each chipset, as well as support for DDR3 RAM, as well as DDR2 or DDR3 RAM at speeds up to 1,333MHz.


The new integrated graphics chip in the G45 and G43 is probably the most significant part of this announcement. First, according to Intel's claims, the GMA X4500HD chip gives the G45 and the G43 chipsets the ability to play HD video without requiring a discrete graphics card. The new chipsets include support for HDMI and DisplayPort video outputs, making them ready out-of-the-box to connect to HDTV and new PC monitors. AMD already has an HD-capable chipset in its AMD 780G circuitry, but that chipset has not achieved broad mainstream adoption.

And as usual when Intel announces a new integrated 3D chip, it also points to increased 3D game performance. In particular, Intel boasts that the X4500HD chip has DirectX 10 graphics support. It's probably safe to assume that you still need a graphics card for truly acceptable game play, and we won't be surprised if Nvidia makes an announcement reinforcing this point. We're more confident in the X4500HD's capabilities for HD video processing, and expect that Intel is waiting to make a bigger splash with its own forthcoming graphics cards, code-named Larrabee, due out in the next year or two.


The P45 chipset, alternatively, lacks an integrated graphics chip, and is instead aimed at mainstream gamers looking for modest performance gains. The P45 is the first chipset from Intel to support two PCI Express graphics card slots. There was no mention of whose multi-card standard the P45 will support, either Nvidia's SLI or ATI's CrossFire, but thus far Intel has been almost exclusively a CrossFire-based shop. Like most mainstream, dual graphics slot boards, each uses 16 lanes of PCI Express bandwidth, but they drop down to two 8x slots when you use them in tandem. The P43 chipset has only a single 16x PCI Express slot, and supports only 1,066MHz RAM, but both the P45 and the P43 will be getting the Intel Extreme Tuning utility for overclocking at home.

Although each of the chipsets will support Intel's current Core 2 Duo line, Intel says they will not support its new Nehalem desktop chips, due out at the end of this year. We're also told that motherboards using the P45 and P43 chipsets should be available immediately, and the G45 and G43-based will follow in the next 30 days.