Intel Chipsets to Lack AGP Support?by Anand Lal Shimpi on January 30, 2004 1:44 PM EST
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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.