Grantsdale PCs Debut

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Dell, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and Gateway are all o incorporating Intel's newest 915G/P and 925X Express chip sets into upcoming PCs for both consumers and corporate customers.

The 915P and 915G chip sets, formerly code-named Grantsdale, are expected to be the backbone of new mainstream PCs released over the next 12 months. The 925X is targeted at high-performance gaming and content creation PCs. Intel plans to transition from its current chip set technology to the 915 G/P and 925X chip sets over the next 12 months.

All three chip sets take advantage of the PCI Express interconnect technology, which speeds up the rate that data can travel around a system. They also support faster DDR2 memory and improved audio and video performance.

Intel also introduced six new processors Monday alongside the new chip sets. Most of the new PCs also feature the new 90-nanometer Pentium 4 coupled with the new chip sets.

Dell's New Systems

Dell unveiled two new Dimension PCs and one XPS PC with the new chip set technology. The Dimension 4700 utilizes the improved integrated graphics of the 915G chip set, while the other two models feature the 925X chip set.

The Dimension 8400 and XPS PCs are available immediately. A base configuration of the 8400 costs $1369 with Intel's new P4 550 processor running at 3.4GHz, 512MB of DDR2 memory running at 400MHz, an 80GB hard drive, a Radeon X300 SE graphics card from ATI Technologies with 128MB of video memory, a DVD-ROM drive, and a 17-inch CRT monitor.

Dell updated the base configuration of its third-generation XPS desktop with a 3.6GHz P4-560, plus 512MB of DDR2 memory at 533MHz, a 80GB hard drive, the Radeon X800 XT graphics card from ATI with 256MB of video memory, a DVD-ROM drive, and a 17-inch flat CRT monitor. That configuration costs $2599.

Users can add multiple hard drives as large as 400GB, double-layer DVD+RW drives, and Intel's 3.4GHz Pentium 4 Extreme Edition to the Dimension 8400 and XPS for an additional charge.

Dell's Dimension 4700 PC will be available in July for $919 with a 2.8GHz P4-520, the 915G chip set, 512MB of DDR2 memory at 400MHz, a 40GB hard drive, a DVD-ROM drive, and a 17-inch CRT monitor.

HP Shows Media Center

HP has unveiled a new Media Center PC with the HP Personal Media Drive, a removable hard drive that can connect to any other PC through a USB port. The Personal Media Drive slides into a bay located on the front of a new HP Media Center m1000 series Photosmart PC, and comes with 160GB of capacity. The Personal Media Drive will be available Wednesday for $219.99 as an external hard drive for PCs that don't feature the integrated media bay used in the m1000.

Digital imaging has been the centerpiece of HP's consumer PC strategy over the last six months, and the new m1000 PC is another example of that strategy. The Personal Media Drive allows users to share digital photos and movies with other PCs, and comes with HP Image Zone software that lets users access photos with a remote control included with Media Center PCs.

Customers will be able to order custom versions of the m1000 starting on Wednesday at HP's Web site. A base configuration costs $899 after a $50 mail-in rebate, and comes with the P4-520, 512MB of DDR memory running at 400MHz, an 80GB hard drive, a DVD-ROM/CD-RW drive, the Personal Media Drive, a GeForceFX 5200XT graphics card from Nvidia, and Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition.

HP isn't moving to DDR2 just yet in its new systems because the new memory technology does not offer enough of a performance increase to justify its higher price, an HP spokesperson says. The company will use DDR2 in certain systems, such as the Compaq X gaming PC, scheduled for release next month, she adds.

Three retail versions of the m1000 series PC will become available July 18 in various configurations with the new P4 processors and various optical drives, memory, and hard drive specifications.

PC Express Promoted

While Intel has spent much of the last six months talking up the consumer entertainment angle of the new chip sets, business customers will also see benefits from PCI Express technology and DDR2 memory. Dell and HP also plan to release business PCs that take advantage of the new technology.

The new Dell OptiPlex SX280 PC comes in a redesigned small chassis that can be mounted under a counter or behind an optional flat-panel monitor to save space on a user's desk. The GX280 is available in three sizes, such as a smaller-than-usual minitower or desktop design, or the small form factor chassis used by the SX280.

The SX280 starts at $768 with a P4-520 processor, 256MB of DDR2 memory, and a 40GB hard drive. The GX280 starts at $798 with the same configuration. Both systems are available immediately.

HP plans to release more details about its new commercial desktops, also available in small form factor designs, later this week.

IBM doesn't sell as many desktops as it once did, but the company still supports Intel's newest desktop technologies when they are released. The company has announced the ThinkCentre A51p, its first model with the 915G chip set. A base configuration of that PC is available immediately from IBM's Web site for $829 with the 520 processor, 512MB of DDR2 memory, a 40GB hard drive, and a CD-ROM drive.

Gateway plans to release new PCs based on the chip sets later in the third quarter. Both Gateway and eMachines-branded systems will be launched with the new chip set and processors.

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