Intel hyper-threads PC chipsets

Intel announced the availability of four new chipsets for desktop PCs last week, promising better PC performance, reliability and flexibility.

All four chipsets support a technology called hyper-threading that Intel expects to bring to desktop computers before the end of the year with the introduction of the 3.06GHz Pentium 4 processor. The chipset is the main interface between the components of a PC, such as memory and peripherals, and the processor.

Hyper-threading, already available in servers, makes some applications run as though there are two processors in a system when there is only one. This can improve PC performance when using many mainstream applications up to 25 per cent, according to Intel.

Other features in the 850E, 845GE, 845PE, and 845GV chipsets announced last week are support for faster memory, graphics and USB (universal serial bus) 2.0. The 850E was already on the market, but has been enhanced to support the fast dual-channel PC 1066 Rambus Dynamic RAM (RDRAM), Intel said.

The new 845GE includes a 266MHz graphics clock for its Intel Extreme Graphics engine, an onboard video card. Also, the 845GE supports DDR333 (double data rate) memory and sports a 533MHz or 400MHz system bus.

Users with high-performance graphics needs can pick the new 845PE chipset, which supports AGP4x (accelerated graphics port) for connecting a graphics controller, as well as the fast DDR333 memory type.

The fourth and cheapest new chipset is the 845GV. It supports DDR266 memory, which is slower than DDR333, and a 533MHz or 400MHz system bus with support for Pentium 4 and Celeron processors, Intel said. Celeron is Intel's processor line for budget PCs.

The chipsets, when bought in 1,000-unit bulks, cost $US40 for the 850E, $37 for the 845GE, $34 for the 845PE, and $28 for the 845GV, Intel said.