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Intel-based 3D graphics board out

Diamond Multimedia ships its first 3D graphics board with the new Intel740 processor at a price suggesting the chip is cheaper than expected.

Diamond Multimedia released its first 3D graphics circuit board using the new Intel740 graphics processor, and the price indicates that Intel is selling its graphics chip for a lot less than expected.

The Stealth II G460 graphics board from Diamond, one of the first in a long series of products that will incorporate the Intel740, debuts for $99.95 after a $30 rebate. At that price, it seems highly unlikely that Diamond is paying Intel's stated $34.75 price for the processor, pointed out Peter Glaskowsky, an analyst at MicroDesign Resources.

"This suggests that Intel is selling the chip for less than half of what they said they would," he said. "It is selling for less than $20.

"This doesn?t surprise me, but $100 or $130 for an 8MB graphics card is a hell of a deal," Glaskowsky added.

The board is no slouch in terms of features, which may reignite fears among Intel's graphics competitors. Along with the Intel740, the Stealth II board comes with 8MB of memory for better graphics processing and a suite of photographic and animation software. The board also supports AGP (accelerated graphics port), a bus technology designed to improve graphical computing on PCs.

Officially announced last February, the Intel740 achieved benchmarks that came close, or were roughly equivalent, to scores from high-end PC graphics chips from companies such as Nvidia and 3Dfx.

Whatever shortcomings Intel's chip may have could be offset by Intel's ability to leverage its own manufacturing capacity to undercut other companies on price, graphics vendors and analysts said. Intel, however, set a volume price starting at $34.75, slightly higher than the price for comparable chips (Intel is an investor in CNET: The Computer Network).

Although a number of companies announced support for the Intel740 when it was announced, Diamond becomes one of the first companies to actually ship it in a product. Real3D, which assisted in the design of the chip, rolled out boards with the processor last month. A Real3D StarFighter board with 4MB of additional memory costs $129 while a 8MB version costs $149.

Diamond will sell the board as an add-on product. The company is in discussions with a number of computer vendors, according to a Diamond spokeswoman.