When Intel released the Pentium 4 processor, it was surrounded by an awful lot of controversy. This was for two main reasons:
First, the performance of Intel's new flagship CPU was less than that of the Pentium III in certain circumstances, not good for a "next-generation" processor. The second was that the only supporting platform (the i850 chipset) required expensive RDRAM to operate. Because Rambus (inventors of RDRAM technology) were viewed in a negative light by many, this impacted on Pentium 4 sales. What could Intel do?
VIA Technologies, a well-known chipset maker, approached Intel with the intention of licensing the Pentium 4's bus technology in order to make a compatible chipset. Intel was willing to give VIA a license, just not at the price that VIA desired. However, VIA had a trick up their sleeve...When they acquired S3 graphics, they also inherited a cross-licensing deal with Intel that was valid for 10 years. This meant (in VIA's eyes) that they could easily use the Pentium 4 bus technology without the need to obtain a license. Without getting into the legal details, Intel sued VIA over this, VIA countersued etc., making this a very delicate situation.
Earlier this year, VIA announced that they had completed a chipset that was not only compatible with the Pentium 4 processor, but supported the fast and popular DDR SDRAM memory interface. Motherboard makers were reluctant to use this chipset, for fear that Intel would sue them. It was only after VIA offered to pay the manufacturer's legal costs if necessary that the chipset was adopted. What was it called? The P4X266. One of the first manufacturers out of the blocks was Shuttle, and they sure have a feature-packed product to offer. Let's have a look!