Intel is set to tighten its grip even further on the desktop by integrating graphics capability directly onto its motherboard designs.
The chip giant is setting up a graphics division ready to launch its own cards once the AGP (Accelerated Graphics Port) standard is established, according to a source at a leading graphics card manufacturer familiar with the plan. "Rumours of Intel building up its own graphics capability are widespread. This is a real threat," the source said.
The source, who did not want to be identified, also expressed concern over the upgrade path for users of AGP technology. They claimed Intel's first generation of motherboards with AGP slots "will not accept AGP graphics cards, forcing us to make product for the slower PCI bus".
Intel denied the incompatibility, saying AGP was an open standard.
A second source at a major chip manufacturer and Intel partner, said: "Intel is working on a graphics controller. I know this for a fact."
It is understood that Intel will be looking to implement the graphics designs on to its motherboards within a year. Danny Sabour, product marketing manager at Intel's platform components division, confirmed the company was looking at graphics cards. He said: "We do have a relationship with Lockheed Martin to make graphics cards." However, he denied Intel was planning to integrate graphics capabilities directly on to its motherboards.
Trevor Wing, group marketing director at Video Logic, a graphics technology company based in Kings Langley, said such a move would cause widespread fear. "If this is true, it's a very serious issue for the whole graphics industry," Wing said.
Brendon Sherry, Cyrix's European marketing manager, said he wouldn't be surprised to see Intel put graphics functionality on future products.
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