The world's largest and second largest chipset makers could be facing another legal battle as VIA Technologies, which has no publicly disclosed licence, begins volume shipments of its new chipset for the Intel Pentium 4 processor.
VIA, which has acknowledged that the new chipset is not licensed, settled out of court with Intel last summer on a similar lawsuit over Intel's Pentium III bus.
But the new VIA chipset may be covered under S3 Graphics' patents. S3 acquired rights to license chipsets from Intel, including a P4 chipset, and later formed a joint venture with VIA.
An Intel spokeswoman said that its position is that VIA does not have a licence for chipsets that are compatible with the Pentium 4. She would not speculate on future legal issues.
VIA's Apollo P4X266, which supports DDR (Double Data Rate) memory, combines a high-speed 400Mhz front side bus with support for up to 4Gb of high-speed DDR266 SDRam.
With its support for DDR266 SDRam, the chipset optimises system performance by doubling the memory data throughput to a peak bandwidth of 2.1Gbps while maintaining the same cost structure as PC133 SDRam, the company said.
Intel does not plan to support DDR until early 2002.
The Apollo P4X266 supports a choice of 423-pin and the forthcoming 478-pin versions of the Intel Pentium 4, as well as PC133 SDRam. According to VIA, the chipset will allow PC makers to create less expensive Pentium 4-based PCs by using DDR rather than the more costly Rambus-based memory.
The new chipset also comes with additional performance features including AGP 4X, ATA 100 support, and the high speed V-Link bus that doubles communication bandwidth between the north and south bridge to 266Mbps.
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