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Chip giant SiS backs Athlon 64

Taiwan-based Silicon Integrated Systems smoothes the way for computer makers to support AMD's upcoming Athlon 64 with two chipsets tailored to the processor.

TAIPEI, Taiwan--Silicon Integrated Systems is smoothing the way for computer makers to support Advanced Micro Devices' upcoming Athlon 64 processor.

The Taiwanese chip manufacturer said on Monday that one new chipset for the Athlon 64, the SiS755, has entered mass production and that it has signed up several motherboard makers for it. The company also unveiled another Athlon-tailored chipset, the SiS760, which includes its own graphics-processing capability. The announcements were made at the Computex trade show, taking place here this week.

SiS is one of the main suppliers of chipsets, which connect computers' processors to vital resources such as memory, storage systems and network cards. It revealed the moves two days before chipmaker AMD is scheduled to debut the Athlon 64.

Athlon 64 is a successor to AMD's well-regarded Athlon processor. It is endowed with new 64-bit features, such as the ability to address large amounts of memory, through a technology formerly called x86-64 and now called AMD64. This technology extends beyond the 32-bit "x86" technology established by market leader Intel in chips such as its 286, 386, 486 and Pentium. It also, for the first time, takes AMD in a major new direction away from the standard path laid down by its rival Intel.

The new SiS755 chipset will let computer and motherboard makers support not just Athlon 64, but also its server-oriented big brother Opteron, SiS said. Opteron was introduced in April.

The SiS760 chipset, which also supports the Athlon 64 and Opteron processors, marks the latest attempt by SiS to combat the stigma of low performance that has been attached to the so-called "integrated graphics" approach. The approach has been used chiefly in designing low-priced computers with middle-of-the-road performance, but ATI Technologies, SiS and others are trying to build chipsets with high-powered integrated graphics.

The 760's graphics engine, called Ultra 256, has performance comparable to that of an external graphics card plugged into an AGP8x slot on a motherboard, SiS said. Mass production of the 760 is scheduled to begin this month, the company added.

SiS products compete with chipsets from Intel, Via Technologies, ATI and others.

The SiS755 was developed in cooperation with computer makers such as Acer, FIC, Quanta and Wistron, which often design and build machines for major brand-name computer sellers. Several motherboard manufacturers, including Aopen, Asrock, Asustek, ECS, Gigabyte and Jetway, are "ready to introduce products that carry SiS755 chipsets," SiS said in a statement.

In a separate announcement Monday at Computex, SiS launched its SiS162 chip, which lets companies build wireless networking products that plug into a computer's Universal Serial Bus (USB) port.