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[ The PC Guide | Systems and Components Reference Guide | Motherboard and System Devices | System Chipset and Controllers | Popular Chipsets ]

Fifth Generation (Pentium Class) Intel Chipsets

The Pentium chipset world is a very different one than that of the 486. When it invented the Pentium, and at the same time the PCI bus for it to run on, Intel decided that it would make sense for it to get into the chipset business as well. From a technical standpoint, this makes sense, because in order to assure maximum performance, the coupling of the processor, cache and chipset need to become increasingly tighter and tighter.

Intel had (and still does have) a unique advantage in chipset development, because of its superior knowledge of the processors being used, and at the time, the PCI bus as well. As it continues to add new functionality to its processors, it can add support for them to its chipsets as well, and use its well-known name to continue its dominance in both markets.

Starting in 1997, however, the market seems to have taken an interesting turn. Intel has basically given up development of Pentium-class chipsets, since it has moved its focus exclusively to the Pentium II platform and sixth-generation designs. Alternative chipset manufacturers such as Via Technologies and SiS are poised to pick up the slack in the Pentium chipset field. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next year or so.

Next: Intel 430LX ("Mercury")

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