If you look back at our coverage of Computex 2001 as well as all of the reports from other publications you'll notice one common theme: nForce. While the chipset was only used by 5 motherboard manufacturers, it quickly became one of the biggest stories of the show. But it took months before we even got a chance to look at a board that was performing well.

Everyone expected the platform to blow everything else out of the water and to be priced competitively with competing solutions from ALi, SiS and VIA. Technology that was borrowed from the Xbox such as real-time Dolby Digital Encoding and isochronous hyper-transport links were going to advance the chipset industry by leaps and bounds previously unheard of.

When the nForce launched, it made a splash felt by very few. The chipset itself is one of the highest performing solutions for the Athlon platform but it is also the most expensive. We have heard quotes from manufacturers saying that for every 200 KT266A based motherboards they ship, they sell only a single nForce. With those levels of sales, any significant market penetration was out of reach. It's easy to sit back and criticize the nForce launch but that does no one any good, instead it's more useful to look at a different approach and see if it will work any better.

Rewinding back about 2 years ago, ATI announced their first PC core logic solution - the S1-370 TL. This Pentium III chipset featured an integrated GPU manufactured by ArtX whom ATI acquired earlier in that year. Even more interesting was the fact that the S1-370 TL features a 128-bit memory bus much like today's nForce 420-D. Granted that back then the memory type of choice was conventional PC100 or PC133 SDRAM, offering 2.1GB/s of memory bandwidth at the beginning of 2000 was a big deal.

As you can probably guess, the S1-370 TL never took off and ATI's first entry into the desktop chipset market has since been forgotten. We've known for some time that ATI would produce an nForce-like solution for the PC and we've even seen demonstrations of it behind closed doors, today ATI is publicly announcing their approach to PC core logic design with the Radeon IGP Integrated Graphics Chipset family.

Why Chipsets?

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