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Intel Corp. may reconsider formal launch plans for its Intel X48 chipset and delay its release upon requests of large mainboard manufacturers. The potential decision will also postpone the launch of a new Intel Core 2 Extreme processor with higher speed-bin.

The world’s top maker of computer core-logic sets planned to start selling its highly-discussed Intel X48 chipset on the 4th of November, a little less than a month after mainboard makers along with system builders unveiled their desktops based on the Intel X38 chipset. The formal launch of the core-logic was scheduled at a later time with motherboards available in January, 2008.

Despite of expectations, the new chipset did not mean end-of-life for its predecessor and they were projected to co-exist for at least one quarter with X38 available for $50 in business quantities, whereas the X48 will cost $70, considerably more than any of Intel’s chipsets oriented at “extreme” desktops in the last five years at least.

However, according to a news-story at DigiTimes web-site, first-tier motherboard manufacturers still have a lot of Intel X38 chipsets in stock and would hardly like to release mainboards based on Intel X48 shortly. The large mainboard producers are afraid that the launch of a new high-end core-logic will slowdown clearance of Intel X38 chipset inventory and have reportedly negotiated with Intel to delay the launch of its X48 chipset. But there are also manufacturers with no Intel chipset overstock, which may be negatively affected by the decision to postpone the X48 launch.

Intel X48 chipset will support processors with 1600MHz processor system bus (PSB), support dual-channel PC3-10600 (DDR3 1333MHz) memory with Intel Fast Memory access, PCI Express 2.0 bus with multi-GPU technology capability and some other performance improvements, such as flexible overclocking capabilities and extreme memory profiles (XMP) technology.

According to confidential documents seen by X-bit labs, Intel has removed support for PC3-12800 (DDR3 1600MHz) memory from the X48 platform and let mainboard makers to decide whether to support it or not. It is not completely clear why Intel decided to scrap “official” support for 1600MHz memory, a speed-bin ratified by JEDEC, but one of the reasons may be an intention to exclude possibilities when mainboard makers, system builders or others declare support for considerably higher DDR3 speed-bins on X48-based products.

Intel itself plans to start shipments of its Intel Desktop Board DX48BT2 (Bonetrail) sometime in Q1 2008, but with DDR3-12800 support from the beginning. Intel needs its X48 chipset to support Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9770 microprocessor that operates at 3.20GHz with 1600MHz PSB, therefore, it is hardly likely that the launch date will be reconsidered substantially. On the one hand, since AMD can hardly offer a competitor for Intel’s extreme lineup, Intel does not need a new chip to stay competitive. On the other hand, the introduction of a new chip may spur some buying activity in the seasonally weak quarter.

Intel Corp. officials did not comment on the news-story.


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