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ALi Corporation, a well-known chipset maker in the past and less noticeable IC designer nowadays, announced today it had signed a license agreement with Intel Corporation which grants ALi legal rights to design, manufacture, and sell mobile chipset solutions supporting the Intel Pentium M processor.

ALi’s current license agreement with Intel Corporation is built upon a continuation of existing Pentium II, Pentium III and Pentium 4 generation processors, according to ALi Corp..

In mid-2003 ALi/ULi unveiled their M1683 core-logic to support Intel Celeron, Intel Pentium 4 or Intel Pentium M CPUs with 400, 533 and 800MHz Quad Pumped Bus, as well as different types of single-channel memory, including PC2100, PC2700, PC3200 and even PC133. Given that now ALi announces a new license agreement, it seems that the previous one did not cover Pentium M-based solutions.

I/O controller to be paired with M1683 – ALi M1563 – only boasts support for only very ordinary features, such as, a couple of Parallel ATA-66/100/133 ports, up to 6 USB 2.0 ports, AC’97 audio, up to 6 PCI slots, Memory Stick interface, 10/100 Mb/s Fast Ethernet and HomePNA 1.0/2.0 MAC layer. Additional features include Host Signal Processing (HSP) software modem solution, ACPI support, green function and Real Time Clock.

Given that ALi’s only Quad Pumped Bus-supporting core-logic provides a single-channel memory controller and does not offer a high level of performance, its adoption by mainboard makers is open to disputes. In fact, only Albatron has used M1683 for its PX848 Like Pro mainboards available at roughly $75 price-point. As a consequence, ALi has more chances to sell its M1683 to notebook makers that are more concentrated on power consumption rather than on performance.

In the Q2 2004 ALi is projected to start mass production of its M1685 North Bridge for the next-generation of Intel Pentium 4, Prescott and Pentium M processors. Due to compatibility with Intel Pentium M processors I believe that this chipset will be mostly intended for mobile applications in 2004, rather than for desktop solutions. ALi M1685 will support DDR and DDR-II SDRAM memory at 400, 533 and 667MHz. Besides, the logic will provide 1 x16 PCI Express port for graphics and 2 x1 PCI Express slots for other add-in cards or some on-board peripherals, such as LAN controller. This one will use HyperTransport links to connect to I/O controllers. Later in the year ALi will also roll-out a chipset with dual-channel memory controller.

Neither ALi Corporation nor its close-partners have announced no Pentium M design wins so far.


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