Motherboards that use Intel's 3-series chip sets, codenamed Bear Lake, seem to be everywhere at the Computex exhibition -- signalling they will soon find their way to store shelves and hardware makers around the world.
Intel took advantage of the Taiwanese hardware show, which started Tuesday, to announce that the first chip sets from the series -- the P35 and G33 -- are now available. And more will come later this year, including the G35 and X38, which Intel plans to start shipping within 90 days.
Based on the large number of 3-series motherboard designs developed, Intel expects the new chip sets to catch on quickly and lay the foundation for future processor advances. "They're all going to be able to support quad core from entry-level motherboards on up," said Sean Maloney, executive vice president and general manager of Intel's sales and marketing group.
Intel is billing the 3 series as the prelude to its planned launch of the Penryn family of 45-nanometer processors later this year. The new chip sets, which also support the company's existing chips, are needed because Intel has changed the voltage used with Penryn's front-side bus, which connects the chip set to main memory, said Steve Peterson, director of chip set and graphics marketing at Intel.
The 3-series chip sets, which all support quad-core processors, are labelled to reflect their respective capabilities. The models labeled with the prefix G include an integrated graphics core, while the P models do not. The X model is the top-of-the-line model and includes the ability to decode Blu-ray and HD-DVD movies.
At the low end of the lineup, the G31 is designed specifically for emerging markets. This chip set is basically the same as the G33, but Intel has removed the ability to play high-definition movies, allowing it to reduce the chip set's price.