We've already brought you coverage of Intel's 2004 CPU and Chipset roadmap but have failed to point out one glaring fact: none of Intel's forthcoming chipsets seem to offer AGP support.

In the past, Intel has stated that the PCI Express transition will be very fast, and their chipset strategy seems to be supporting that goal. Reading through the Intel roadmaps and chipset specifications that are available, none of the 925X or 915 chipsets list an AGP interface as a part of their specification.

We originally assumed that this was a bit of an oversight so we consulted Intel's motherboard roadmaps - what we found was more support for our theory: none of Intel's motherboards based on the 925X and 915 chipsets (Alderwood and Grantsdale) feature an AGP slot.

All of Intel's desktop motherboards will either feature a PCI Express x16 slot for graphics or use integrated graphics and thus forgo an external graphics slot altogether. This strategy of forcing users who want to upgrade to the latest chipsets to move to PCI Express is something Intel has tried in the past, not with graphics but with memory technologies. We would caution against drawing much more of a parallel between this and the Rambus fiasco of 1999 as the industry has already agreed on a move to PCI Express; a decision which wasn't there during the Rambus period. It's an interesting way of forcing the industry to adapt new technologies as soon as they are available, and with Intel commanding the vast majority of the PC marketshare it can be an effective one.

However, Intel's chipset strategy does leave a niche open in the marketplace. The road is now paved for SiS and VIA to step in and gain precious P4 marketshare by providing DDR2 and PCI Express support along with an AGP interface as a transitional platform. Although no one will argue that PCI Express is a superior technology in the long run, the performance benefits on day 1 will be negligible.

We are waiting to hear from some of the Taiwanese manufacturers to confirm our findings, but if what we've seen is true you should make sure your budget can handle a new graphics card in addition to that motherboard upgrade.

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  • Captante - Saturday, January 31, 2004 - link

    My god... talk about stupid...this one rates right up there with Microsoft dropping support for Win 98... Unless Intel actually WANTS to assist themselves out of the motherboard business, they had better re-think this half- assed decision, of course it will help AMD tremendously, as I'm certain Nvidia & VIA won't be so shortsighted, so in my opinion, Intel should go right ahead and drop AGP...after all, only 99% of high end graphics boards in current use use it, so why bother to support it?
    While I understand many Anandtech readers won't hesitate to upgrade, most people will simply go elswhere for there motherboards, as I doubt many people are going to replace FX5950's & Radeon 9800XT's just to get a "Prescott", no matter how much faster the next generation of graphics cards turns out to be.
    Reply
  • vedin - Friday, January 30, 2004 - link

    Quick thing: There should be an EDIT button Anand.

    Forgot why I was even posting. The reason there won't be any REAL performance gain with PCI-E is simple. We haven't even ran out of bandwidth on the AGP bus (not really a bus, but you all know that). It's like hooking up a 3000RPM hard drive to a SATA 150 cable. It just won't be any faster. You have made the pipe bigger, but haven't increased the water flow.
    Reply
  • vedin - Friday, January 30, 2004 - link

    Well, that might be you JADS, but a lot of us can't afford to go that route. I, for one, have to get a single piece at a time usually. My next step is a CPU, then more ram. After that, maybe a video card, and I'll just run my system like that until I can't stand it, then buy a new mobo CPU, and keep as much of my old system as possible. Reply
  • JADS - Friday, January 30, 2004 - link

    Because PCI-E is merely a change in the physical layer any OS that supports PCI will support PCI-E without additional drivers.

    As for whether this is a good move or not it is certainly aggressive if true. Mind you if you do replace the motherboard is not usually as part of a sweeping change to the system specification? I know from my perspective that replacing a motherboard usually means a complete core upgrade of Mobo, CPU, GFX and Memory. No weak links.
    Reply
  • nitromullet - Friday, January 30, 2004 - link

    As if the early adopters of these chipsets weren't going to get a new video card anyway when the PCI-Express cards became avaialble... Reply
  • sandorski - Friday, January 30, 2004 - link

    Intel's chipset sales will fall off for awhile, but as the transition gets going things will return to normal.

    I wouldn't worry about this too much, Intel is only one player chipset wise, VIA/SiS/ALI/Nvidia(maybe?) will fill the gap. As mentioned earlier, mobo manufacturers will not abandon AGP so readily.
    Reply
  • Souka - Friday, January 30, 2004 - link

    reminds me of PC maker's dropping Floppy drives since "they're so dated"....... then the consumers screamed.

    And lets not forget the other legacy free ideas....no serial ports, parallel ports, ps/2 ports..... and look today at like 99% PC sold....

    Will PCI Express take off? Probably......

    Will removing the AGP be a smart move at first? Doubt it.....


    But........ if video card makers can clearly demonstrate with REAL NUMBERS (ala game demos)that show the PCI Express will make things faster, PCI Express cards will dominate AGP sales, like AGP dominates PCI.

    enuf said.
    Reply
  • Pumpkinierre - Friday, January 30, 2004 - link

    The more Intel get locked into sorting out the new technology, the better for AMD. Look at RAMBUS and Itanium, at least 3years lost on each. The only problem: will AMD take advantage and get a64 out there? Reply
  • Oxonium - Friday, January 30, 2004 - link

    Is it possible that motherboard manufacturers could place a PCI Express-to-AGP bridge on the motherboard so that they can still sell motherboards with AGP? This would increase the cost of these motherboards but people would still buy them. Personally, I'd rather pay an extra $20 to get AGP support on a motherboard than spend $200-400 to replace my ATI AIW 9700. From what I've read, the next-gen cards from NVIDIA are using a bridge to gain PCI Express support on their AGP chips. So the bridge idea might work. Let's hope the manufacturers think of this. Reply
  • ehanneken - Friday, January 30, 2004 - link

    Will Intel's first 915 and 925X motherboards have a BTX form factor, or an ATX form factor?
    Reply

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