Sneak Preview: Intel Alderwood/Grantsdale Chipsets


We assume Intel's next generation will be launched in May, but you can be fairly sure that it won't raise as much dust as the amount of technical innovations might lead you to expect. It does not even need to do so, since its focus lies somewhere else.

Instead, the improvements we just discussed mostly address properties or facts that can be characterized as not acceptable any more: Poor ventilation standards with ATX, unacceptable cooling noise levels, the tedious search for the speaker jack, spotty network connectivity, etc.

Keeping in mind the amount of changes, Intel's chipset revamp not only marks the starting line for fundamental architectural changes, but is also an attempt to gain market shares in all of the dynamic areas. However, growth is what counts, but not everyone will benefit.

Take Intel's high definition audio as an example: 7.1 sound with Dolby Pro Logic IIx (formerly Azalia) is basically a neat feature. However, lots of smaller motherboard makers might be skating on thin ice, for the license fees of this feature are expensive enough to completely devour the profit margins that are already small.

In addition, Intel's roadmap designates 16 Intel-brand motherboards. With all those technical innovations, others could actually be in real trouble trying to keep pace.

The last thing we want to see is an Intel-dominated market,which extends from raw silicon to barebones computers.