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VIA renames chipset in Holocaust gaffe

VIA Technologies is renaming a forthcoming chipset because of concerns that it had the same initials as those used to identify concentration camps.

Taiwan's VIA Technologies said today it is renaming its forthcoming Apollo KZ133 chipset because of concerns over the initials KZ, which were the German initials used to identify concentration camps during the Holocaust.

The chipset, which has been renamed the KT133, is aimed to be used with socketed versions of Advanced Micro Devices' Athlon processor. Chipsets are companion chips that accompany a processor on a computer's motherboard.

Beginning next month, AMD will ship Athlons with copper, rather than aluminum, circuitry from its new plant in Dresden, Germany.

"We have decided to rename our Socket A chipset the VIA Apollo KT133 in response to concerns raised by customers in Germany and other European markets," said VIA marketing director Richard Brown. "We would like to express our sincere apologies for any offence that we may have caused through the use of the term 'KZ' and thank everyone who provided us with their feedback and comments."

Industry analysts said the move is a slight embarrassment for VIA but shouldn't hurt the firms chip set sales, which have been on the rise.

"Quarterly sales increased dramatically in (the fourth quarter) and have continued up," said Dean McCarron, of Mercury Research. "We expect a fairly significant increase in (market) share this year."

VIA's share of the chipset market in 1999 was 13 percent, up from 10 percent a year earlier, according to Mercury Research.

"They're certainly the second largest after Intel," McCarron said.