Pentium II is now set to march into the mainstream home market with the long-awaited 440LX chip set that will allow PC vendors to deliver systems with features such as affordable 3D graphics (due to support new technologies such as the accelerated graphics port).
Taiwan's motherboard and system makers have shown their support for the new Intel device, with some two dozen makers now offering Pentium II solutions built around the 440LX chip set.
More than 30 motherboards built around the 440LX were displayed at a recent exhibition.
Acer, First International Computer and Umax Data Systems went one step further and displayed complete systems.
The Taiwanese board makers, however, will have to compete with three Intel motherboards that also were introduced recently.
The AL440LX is an ATX form factor board aimed at home and business PCs, while the NLX-sized NX440LX is targeted at corporate environments.
Intel also announced the DK440LX, which can house up to two Pentium II chips and is designed for workstations and high-end PCs. Pricing for the motherboard offerings was not available.
For graphics chip vendor ATI Technologies, however, the arrival of the 440LX is already contributing to its bottom line with the majority of the first generation of systems featuring ATI's 3D Rage Pro AGP graphics chip.
System vendor representatives, meanwhile, promised that Pentium II systems featuring AGP graphics solutions soon will be available at mainstream prices.
"We expect to ship the Leo Titan 9100 in high volumes before Christmas at prices that should be well below $US2000 throughout the Asia-Pacific," said an FIC official.
First-tier vendors such as Dell Computer and Hewlett-Packard reportedly are also poised to hit similar price points almost immediately.
Although the two-piece 440LX AGPset carries an official list price as high as $US64 in 10,000-unit quantities, sources here said that the volume OEM pricing is about one-third lower at below $US45.
Intel officials emphasised that although effectively marking a generation shift in PC technology, highlighted by the company's move away from the PCIset name it has used for previous core logic offerings, the 440LX is aimed at volume system price points.
In addition to AGP, the chip set also offers several features that were missing in the Pentium Pro-class 440FX chip set that was used in the first crop of Pentium II systems.
To facilitate acceptance of the new AGP technology, Intel has delivered a software fix called VxD to allow graphics card makers to provide drivers for Windows 95 systems.
Broader corporate acceptance, however, may have to wait until Microsoft next year launches Windows 98 and NT 5.0, the first operating systems to feature built-in AGP support, officials said.