VIA has been one of the biggest success stories in the Taiwanese chip market. They made their way from just another name to one of the biggest suppliers of chipsets for personal computers and have now moved into CPU and GPU production.
VIA first made its name known when it embarrassed Intel and their 820 chipset when the Pentium 3 Coppermine CPU came out. For the first two months of the Coppermine's life, VIA's Apollo 133A was the only chipset on the market that supported the Coppermine CPU. When Intel finally released the 820 chipset, things got even better for VIA. The 820 paired with RDRAM performed very poorly against the 133A and with the MTH used to allow SDRAM on the 820 - things got worse.
Intel Pentium 4 is yet another story. With the Coppermine embarrassment planted vividly in Intel's memory, they required third party chipset vendors to licence the Netburst bus if they wished to produce chipsets to support the Intel Pentium 4. This is where we get into a grey area - It must be told we aren't here to debate this topic but to simply give you both sides of the story as they stood. VIA refused to pay royalties to Intel for their Pentium 4 chipsets due to an apparent cross-licensing agreement Intel had with S3, which VIA purchased for its integrated graphics core business. This was when Intel decided to sue VIA over its P4X266 chipset (VIA's first Pentium 4 chipset and the first official chipset to support DDR-SDRAM). Due to Intel's pressure on the market with threats of lawsuits should anyone use the P4X266 chipset, it was strangled out of the market before it was ever even able to take off.
While Intel did push VIA to remove its P4X chipset, they still pushed on with the P4X266A chipset selling motherboards based on the chipset under their own brand called "VPSD". VIA's third chipset was never actually released to the market. The P4X333 chipset was only released to media for testing. Soon after the P4X400 chipset was released. This chipset was simply the P4X333 chipset with its memory controller re-designed to support 400MHz memory and included AGP 8x support. This chipset was also once again strangled off; very few manufacturers were willing to produce motherboards based off the chipset.
In late 2003, Intel and VIA suddenly dropped their lawsuits against each other. This allowed VIA the opportunity to begin producing chipsets for the Pentium 4 with the blessings of Intel. The recent PT800 was VIA's first Pentium 4 chipset designed for the Pentium 4 with a single channel DDR memory controller. Today we take a look at the latest offering for the Pentium 4 from VIA designed to take on the I875P and I865PE chipsets - PT880.
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