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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  • Icewind - Friday, January 30, 2004 - link

    Screw that, I'll be doing AMD Athlon 64 for sure this summer and sticking with AGP as I am not going to have my arm twisted to get a PCI Express card just cause Intel said so. I'm sick of being Intels little bitch and im sure many other people are too Reply
  • KillaKilla - Friday, January 30, 2004 - link

    [rant]
    All I have to say is 'WTF?!'

    Why would the first boards with PCI-E have no AGP? From a buiseness perspective it's bad: It opens the way for real competition from SiS and VIA. From a techie perspective it's bad: Many of us have AGP8x VCs, and won't be able to afford the newer MB, CPU, [i]and[/i] VC all at once for several extra weeks. Also, with Dell's/compaq's tendency to use older cheaper VCs in conjunction with 'high end' CPUs, they will not really want a intel based MB.

    [/rant]
    Reply
  • MutoidMan - Friday, January 30, 2004 - link

    The only question I have about PCI Express is will there be Win9x/ME drivers?

    I'm planning building a new Prescott-based PC soon, and I want to set it up for dual-booting between Win98SE and WinXP.

    If there will Win9x/ME PCI Express drivers, then I will probably wait for the new chipsets. Otherwise, I'll just pick up an 875P chipset MoBo.
    Reply
  • KristopherKubicki - Friday, January 30, 2004 - link

    BTX has received really weird reactions from both manufacturers and resellers. I dont think it will be a totally sweeping change in the industry - particularly with all the SFF units that design their own form factor anyway.

    Kristopher
    Reply
  • acemcmac - Friday, January 30, 2004 - link

    I just can't help but feel bad for all of the idiots who have been buying new hardware at full price since summer.... KNOWING that Intel would do this... The writing has been on the wall since the first BTX press releases. I just pray I can still have 4-5 pci slots... I'll miss those cards more than the 9800 I got on the uber-cheap (sub 100 b!atches!) Reply
  • mbhame - Friday, January 30, 2004 - link

    Once again the Amish are in the dark ages:

    PCI-X has been around for years, birdbrain. Ugh, I don't know how many people make that mistake...

    Anyways, why won't PCI Express x16 prove beneficial from the get-go as this article claims? Surely there must be *some* form of immediate-benefit???
    Reply
  • AmishPcFreak - Friday, January 30, 2004 - link

    Alright! I for one don't mind being taken advantage of as long as it propels the technology along... bring on the PCI-X.

    On the other hand, the AMish generally don't approve of new fangling gizmos....
    Reply

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