Acer Labs licenses chip sets for Pentium 4

Intel Corp. has awarded Acer Laboratories Inc., an affiliate of Taiwan’s leading PC maker Acer Inc., a license to make chip sets for PC systems powered by Intel’s high-end Pentium 4 processor, the Taipei-based company announced Friday.

The licensing agreement gives Acer Labs the rights to design, manufacture and promote chip sets supporting Pentium 4 processors for desktop PCs, Acer Labs said in a statement. Chip sets are key companion chips that allow a processor to communicate with other parts of a computer.

Acer Labs did not detail its plans for Pentium 4 chip sets, and did also not reveal when it expects to roll out the first products.

Intel is currently the only provider of chips sets for the Pentium 4 series of processors, which was launched in November last year. Intel’s Pentium 4 chip sets currently support only one kind of main memory, RDRAM (Rambus dynamic RAM), which is based on Rambus Inc.’s proprietary high-speed interface technology.

Acer Labs, however, is a vocal supporter of a competing high-speed memory technology called DDR (double data rate) SDRAM (synchronous DRAM), which its backers say is a cheaper alternative to RDRAM.

Although not the first company to sign a licensing agreement with Intel covering Pentium 4 chip sets, Acer labs is the first competitor to Intel in the mainstream desktop PC chip set market to officially announce such a pact.

During a visit to Taipei in October last year, Intel President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Craig Barrett told reporters that the company had signed licensing agreements with unnamed companies covering Pentium 4 chip sets. Barrett, however, declined to name any of the companies.

Other Taiwan-based chip set suppliers, including Via Technologies Inc., have earlier said that they also expect to roll out Pentium 4 chip sets in the future.

Acer Laboratories, in Taipei, can be reached at http://www.ali.com.tw/.

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