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The two major designers of graphics processing units are likely to significantly rise the amount of PCI Express graphics chips this quarter, but without ceasing to supply their AGP 8x products. The increase may be a significant, as TSMC pins a lot of hopes on it.

“The adoption of the PCI Express specification for personal computers is stimulating demand as it moves to the mainstream and computer makers build the specification into their equipment. In particular, graphics and peripheral logic chip set vendors NVIDIA Corp. and ATI Technologies Inc. – two major TSMC customers – are expected to receive big orders for PCI Express compatible chips in the second quarter,” said an article over SiliconStrategies.com web-site quoting an unnamed executive for TSMC.

While large PC makers and OEMs are gradually transitioning their product ranges to PCI Express bus, there are a lot of end-users who would like to upgrade their graphics cards on AGP platforms. Given that there are a lot of high-end PCs with powerful processors and a lot of memory with AGP bus and it hardly makes sense for owners of such machines to migrate to PCI Express-supporting PCs now, graphics chips designers should have products to offer them.

Nevertheless, the world’s largest PC manufacturers nowadays use only PCI Express x16 graphics cards for new computers. Dell Inc. produces virtually all of its boxes with PCI Express graphics, HP also makes the majority of computers with PCI Express x16 platforms.

Neither ATI Technologies nor NVIDIA Corp. responded to enquires seeking for comments.

It is unclear whether those products are prepared for Q2 2005 commercial shipments or for mid-year refresh among PC makers. The mid-year refresh involves Intel’s new chipsets and dual-core microprocessors. ATI currently commands the vast majority of PCI Express desktop shipments to large OEMs. At the same time NVIDIA’s products are popular in the retail market.

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