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SiS and Via prepare Pentium 4 chipsets

It seems the Pentium 4 could finally move into the mainstream with new chipsets that will let the processor use cheaper memory--but they aren't coming from Intel.

The Pentium 4 could finally move into the mainstream with new chipsets that will let the processor use cheaper memory--but they aren't coming from Intel.

Two Taiwanese chipset manufacturers are planning to beat Intel to the punch with their own new chipsets for Intel's Pentium 4 processor.

Silicon Integrated Systems (SiS) and Via Technologies have rolled up the launch dates for the 645 and the P4X266 chipsets from September to mid-August, according to a report in Taiwan industry journal DigiTimes on Monday. Intel is releasing its 845 Pentium 4 chipset, which will be the first to support the SDRAM (synchronous dynamic RAM) memory standard, in September.

Intel has been aggressively cutting Pentium 4 prices in an effort to push the chip into the mainstream and is expected to slash prices again on Aug. 26.

But the new 845 chipset is also expected to be a major boost, since SDRAM memory is less expensive than the Rambus RDRAM memory now exclusively supported for Pentium 4. This should make for cheaper consumer systems.

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Both the SiS and the Via chipsets use DDR SDRAM, which falls between RDRAM and regular SDRAM in terms of price.

Some motherboard suppliers are said to be looking to alternative chipset suppliers in case Intel cannot meet demand. However, SiS may not be able to launch its chipset production to full volumes until the end of the year, as the company completes debugging.

Intel's Pentium III still powers most new mainstream PCs.

Staff writer Matthew Broersma reported from London.