TAIPEI -- Intel Corp. has shipped samples of its next- generation 0.13-micron process Pentium 4 Northwood processor to Taiwan's key motherboard makers, preparing for a late fourth quarter launch.
ASUSTek Computer Inc. and Gigabyte Technology Co. officials interviewed Tuesday at the Computex computer show confirmed they are starting to prepare Northwood boards for the expected 2-GHz processor. Engineering specialists staffing Computex booths of the other Big Five motherboard makers said they couldn't comment.
Other exhibitors said all of the major Taiwan vendors have Northwood samples and are starting to talk to their PC OEMs for possible orders later this year.
Jonney Shih, chairman of ASUStek, told EBN, "The market outlook for Northwood is quite healthy. It should be a big success."
Jonathan Tsang, vice president of sales and marketing, said, "We are talking to customers to have (Northwood) boards ready in late fourth quarter for the Intel launch. Intel is being very conservative, and wants to be sure Northwood is very stable when it is introduced."
Gigabyte officials said they have started preliminary testing of Northwood boards in the company labs. They said Northwood, as expected, will use Intel's new 478-pin socket being introduced next quarter with a new version of the current Pentium 4 Willamette, supported by the new Intel Brookdale SDRAM chipset.
From its start, the new 0.13-micron design rule Northwood Pentium 4 will use the Brookdale DDR chipset version, according to Gigabyte.
In a new show of independence, the Taiwan motherboard firms at Computex were displaying Intel and archrival Advanced Micro Devices boards next to each other. Several years, ago fearful of Intel retaliation if they sold AMD boards, the major Taiwan vendors formed separate subsidiaries to sell AMD boards.
Ivan Ho, ASUStek president, told EBN that his firm in another three months will be shipping AMD Athlon 4 boards with the new Nvidia nForce integrated graphics processor-core logic chipset. "The timing depends on the availability of the Nvidia chipset," he added.
Asked about concern of some analysts that the Nvidia chipset might be priced too high, Ho said he believed "it will be competitive. Otherwise it won't sell."
He said ASUStek had no plans to make boards for newcomer's Transmeta Corp.'s Crusoe processors.
The big Taiwan motherboard firms are looking for the new Intel and AMD processors to spur sales in the global PC market slowdown. ASUStek Chairman Shih said that his firm's board shipments had only turned down in the last two months. "In the first quarter when the overall PC market slumped, ASUStek board shipments were very good. Our 1.6 million units shipped in March actually was a record high for us."
Shih said PC board shipments for the first part of June "are showing signs of coming back." Ironically, ASUStek shipments to the China market, which has been hailed as the one region retaining a strong growth rate, "have slipped a little in the last two weeks," Shih added.