For years, Comdex in Las Vegas has been a trade show where just about every company in the computer industry demonstrates their new products and presents their new roadmaps.  Most of the time it is an indication of what users can expect from those companies over the coming year, at least until the next big trade show, Computex in Taipei, comes along.  Over the past two weeks, we’ve already seen AnandTech’s Comdex Fall 2000 Summary, a Video Cards in 2001 Preview, as well as new roadmaps from Intel (including the mobile market) and AMD. Now it’s time to find out what we can expect to see on the motherboard side of things over the next few months.

Of course, the most exciting thing on the horizon is DDR, which was everywhere at Comdex. Most companies demonstrated, or at least showed, their own DDR solutions for AMD or Intel processors.  All the big chipset manufacturers, with the notable exception of Intel, released chipsets supporting DDR, including the AMD 760, the VIA Apollo Pro266, the VIA KT266, the ALi Aladdin Pro5, and the ALi MAGiK 1.  The AMD 760, VIA KT266, and the ALi MAGiK 1 chipsets support AMD Socket-A processors, while the VIA Pro266 and the ALi Aladdin Pro5 chipsets are designed for Intel Socket-370 processors. Note the lack of DDR support for the Pentium 4, which will probably continue until the 3rd quarter of 2001.                                                              

Nevertheless, there was still a lot of hype about motherboards using the Intel i850 chipset, the only chipset for the Pentium 4 for the time being.  Quite a few motherboard manufacturers have announced that they will provide i850 solutions, but due to the high price tags for RDRAM and the i850 chipset itself, they did mention that they would monitor the demand and produce the boards accordingly.  Not surprisingly, we only saw a few companies actually demonstrating working i850 solutions.

Another trend we saw is a migration towards workstation and server level applications.  We saw quite a few boards with integrated IEEE 1394 Firewire, SCSI Controller, IDE RAID, or even dual processor support. Unfortunately, dual Socket-A boards were nowhere to be found and we won’t see them until at least 1st quarter of 2001.

Last of all, the VIA KT133 and Intel i815E are not dead yet by any means.  Most of the companies we visited still have solutions using those chipsets, or one of their variants, namely the new VIA KL133, the VIA KM133, the VIA ProSavage PM133, and the Intel i815EP.

Without further ado, let’s get to the motherboard manufacturers and see what new products they’ve got in the pipeline.

ABIT's Socket-A Solutions

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