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VIA Technologies is rumoured to enter the market of chipsets for Pentium M processors already next month, some press sources reported. The firm will have two versions of its new products – a more affordable for entry-level computers and a more advanced for performance notebooks.

Coming out in February 2004, VIA’s PN800 and PN880 core-logic sets from VIA are designed for Intel Pentium M (Banias, Dothan), Intel Celeron M and even Intel Mobile Pentium 4 processors with 400, 533 or 800MHz processor system bus.

The PN800 is likely to sport single-channel PC2100/PC2700/PC3200 DDR SDRAM memory controller, integrated UniChrome 2 graphics core with DuoView support, TV-Out and incorporated MPEG2 video processor supporting slice layer, iDCT and motion compensation engines. The PN880 will inherit all the features of its less expensive brother, but will be substantially more powerful than the PN800 because of dual-channel memory controller. VIA is also set to launch VIA PN800LV core-logic with even more advanced power management technology at some point, sources close to the company noted

All three North Bridges may be coupled with VIA’s VT8237 I/O controller bringing up to 6 USB 2.0 ports, Parallel ATA-33/66/100/133, Serial ATA-150, 10/100Mb/s Ethernet, 6-channel AC’97 audio and MC’97 modem. Because PN800 and PN880 are built fully according to VIA V-MAP initiative, more advanced I/O controllers may also be utilised in PN800/PN880-based mobile applications when available.

Both PN800 and PN880 chipsets bring better specifications than competing solutions from Intel, ATI Technologies or Silicon Integrated Systems. The only serious drawback of VIA’s chipsets solutions for laptops is the absence of AGP bus for external graphics processors, such as ATI MOBILITY RADEON or NVIDIA GeForce Go series. This may restrict VIA from becoming popular in high-end notebooks segment, as expensive machines usually feature powerful graphics. On the other hand, superior general specifications may probably give VIA a very competitive position on the market, as Intel itself is expected to roll-out its code-named Alviso chipset family only in Q4 2004.

Intel’s code-named Alviso core-logic line-up will support dual-channel DDR-II SDRAM memory to improve performance tangibly compared to current mobile platforms. Moreover, the core-logic will enable PCI Express interconnections in notebooks, allowing installation of powerful mobile graphics add-in cards designed specifically for this bus. In order to complete the transition of the mobile technologies to the most-advanced level, Intel adds support for Serial ATA-150 to the upcoming ICH6-M and is bringing advanced Azalia audio to its “Sonoma” Mobile Internet PC 2004 Platform enabling Dolby-Digital 7.1 and high-quality audio on such kind of PCs. Additionally, expect the new platform to support NEWCARD, as well as new and even more effective power-saving (EBL’04) and security features, such as biometrics. More importantly, in the H2 of the year Intel is projected to introduce its new code-named Calexico2 a/b/g WLAN adapter able to function in 802.11a (54Mb/s), 802.11b (11Mb/s) and 802.11g (54Mb/s) wireless networks.

VIA also plans to deploy a mobile platform for Intel processors featuring the latest technologies, such as dual-channel DDR-II SDRAM at up to 667MHz and DirectX 9.0 UniChrome 3 graphics core, in the second half of the year. Its details are to be revealed at a later date.

So far VIA has not unveiled any plans for its own wireless networks adapters. In contrast, Intel and SiS ship their Wi-Fi technologies out now.

Representatives for Taipei, Taiwan-based VIA Technologies did not comment on the report.

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