Only a short while ago, VIA had finally proven to be able to take back the crown for the fastest Athlon chipset. The release of the Apollo KT266A chipset on the day before VTF 2001 in Taipei saw SiS falling back behind big VIA once again. The days before the KT266A launch hadn’t been that great either for SiS. First of all, motherboard makers and large OEMs had to be convinced that SiS735 was indeed a good product, unlike many other unsatisfying attempts of SiS before. Then there was competitor VIA, which gave motherboard makers certain financial incentives for dropping SiS and using VIA chipsets. Times remained difficult for SiS, but finally it had made itself a name that might be very helpful with the next product on the horizon, the SiS645 Pentium 4 chipset.
First of all, unlike VIA’s Apollo P4X266 , the SiS645 is perfectly legal. What does that mean ? Well, VIA does not have an official license from Intel that would allow it to sell products that make use of the Pentium 4 bus. That’s at least Intel’s opinion. Wenchi Chen, VIA’s CEO, strongly disagrees. He doesn’t see how Intel could impose a license for the Pentium 4 bus in the first place, since car manufacturers don’t hold a license for ’the road’ either. I personally couldn’t care less for this highly pathetic and unpleasant legal issue. What I do consider a nuisance however is the fact that ECS has been sued by Intel over selling P4X266 motherboards, while all the big Taiwanese motherboard makers are too chicken to provide their solutions. Intel is playing the big and bad Moloch again and basically a technological advance has been halted, because Intel ain’t willing or able to play fair. Nothing new really, or is it ?
Anyway, SiS DOES have some cross-licensing agreements with the chip giant from Satan Clara, so that the Asus, MSIs, Gigabytes and other Taiwanese motherboard heroes can actually build and sell motherboards with SiS645 without having to fear legal trouble with Intel. The big chipmaker will still not like well-performing non-Intel platforms for its flagship processor Pentium 4, so we might still see motherboard makers refraining from supplying SiS645 platforms, simply because they are still afraid of Intel’s wrath.