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Platformization Forever: Third-Party Chipsets Set to Die

For years the industry has been talking about platformization and integration of computer components. In 2010 and 2011 platformization will reach its logical finish and the third-party chipsets will vanish into oblivion.

Early in 2010 personal computers featuring Intel Atom “Pineview” and Intel Core i3/Core i5
“Arrandale” and “Clarksdale” processors are expected to be available for sale. All of those chips feature integrated memory controllers and graphics cores inside microprocessors, which automatically destroys any necessity for third-party chipsets with integrated graphics and memory controller. As a result, companies like Nvidia Corp. or Via Technologies will only be able to offer discrete graphics solutions for next-generation desktops, notebooks and netbooks.

Intel Core i5 "Clarkdale" processor

Advanced Micro Devices is behind Intel Corp. in terms of fusing central processors with graphics processing units (GPUs) and its code-named Llano chip is only due in 2011, which basically leaves some room for third party chipset designers. However, this year AMD will become even more competitive with its chipsets. Previously AMD’s 6-series core-logic sets were behind Nvidia’s DirectX 10-class integrated solutions in terms of performance, whereas AMD’s 7-series was more expensive. This year AMD plans to roll out 8-series chipsets and 7-series is likely to become more affordable compared to solutions from Nvidia. As a result, the share of AMD-based personal computers with Nvidia chipsets will drop dramatically. Considering the fact that Nvidia cannot make chipsets for next-generation AMD Opteron for servers and workstations, this all means that the era of AMD-Nvidia partnership is de-facto over.

Some might think that with the lack of any third-party chipsets for popular processors from Intel and AMD there will be less choice for consumers. But it should be noted that AMD and Intel now compete not only on the market of microprocessors, but also on the market of platforms. Intel has already announced that its forthcoming Core i3/Core i5 chips will support video transcoding using integrated graphics core, whereas AMD promises even richer set of general purpose computing capabilities on its integrated GPUs.

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