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Intel spurns Via, Nvidia chipsets

Despite interest from Via Technologies and Nvidia to offer companion chipsets for the Pentium 4, the chipmaking giant appears quite happy with its partners.

TAIPEI, Taiwan--Despite interest from Via Technologies and Nvidia to offer companion chipsets for the Pentium 4, Intel appears quite happy with its partners.

In an interview, Intel Vice President Anand Chandrasekher rejected Via's claims that computers will run faster using its chipset than with Intel's 850 chipset. He also dismissed Via's contention that it is entitled to produce the chipset it demonstrated Tuesday at the Computex trade show here.

"They're not licensed, and the performance claims they are making are bogus," Chandrasekher told CNET Chipsets are the companion chips that allow a processor, such as the Pentium 4, to communicate with other components on a PC motherboard, such as memory.

As for the nForce chipset Nvidia introduced Monday, Chandrasekher questioned whether there is a market for an integrated chipset that is not for low-end or corporate computers. For now, that chipset works only with processors from Intel rival Advanced Micro Devices, but Nvidia executives expressed hope of working with Intel chips as well.

"Is the product cool? Yes," Chandrasekher said. "Does it meet the needs of the market? I don't think so."

Chandrasekher said Intel learned the lesson last year that chipset makers should not push too hard on integrated graphics when it tried to force its 815 chipset into the mainstream.

The Intel vice president also said recent reports that show PC sales slowing are the result of a weak global economy and should not be seen as a sign that long-term PC growth is slowing. He pointed to other consumer-electronics mainstays such as the television and the cordless phone, whose sales continued to grow rapidly despite reaching high levels of market penetration.

"I think the analyst community is wrong on this one," Chandrasekher said.

He added that although business at Taiwan's motherboard makers is down from a year ago, the companies he has talked to are not discouraged.

"The mood is actually quite optimistic," Chandrasekher said.

A clearer picture of Intel's near-term economic outlook should come later Thursday as the company is set to give a midquarter financial update.