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You Don't Miss It 'till It's Gone

I understand that Intel is working like crazy to add a third party PATA controller to 965 but as things stand it doesn’t have a version that allows you to boot from the optical drive which makes it a bit tricky to install Windows XP, although I suppose you could use an external USB 2.0/Firewire model. At present the amount of SATA optical drives is limited to say the least – TrustedReviews has only seen two, the Samsung WriteMaster SH-W163 and the Plextor PX-712SA. Heck, even Blu-ray drives use the PATA interface, so it’s clearly going to be around for some time to come. This has left motherboard manufacturers such as Asus in a position where they have to add a JMicron controller to their P5B Deluxe in order that they can get these new motherboards ready for sale.

BT, Apple and Intel are very successful companies but they seem to be guilty either of over-confidence or arrogance. Neither trait is very appealing, and they’re hardly mortal sins, but they leave the way open for the competition to step in with better products that are more appropriate for their customers. In the case of BT it has the lion’s share of the UK ADSL market so perhaps it’s not fussed about giving its competitors a small opening as TV-on-demand is a product whose time will come.

Apple? Realistically it doesn’t have any competitors, as it operates in a niche that is about three per cent of the computer market. Apple users will buy a new iMac or PowerBook almost regardless of its faults, provided it has an imaginative design and killer looks, which leaves Apple free to do almost anything that it pleases but Intel is in a different position. It is desperate for Conroe to be a success so it can reclaim some ground from AMD and judging by the previews the processor is an absolute gem. In the past Intel chipsets have set the standard as solid, reliable pieces of silicon that do a great job and make pots of cash for Intel. In recent times Intel has reserved the bus patents on its newest processors so the likes of SiS and VIA have been unable to provide chipset support.

Intel has allowed ATi to supply its Radeon Xpress 200 chipset for a total of two Intel desktop motherboards out of a product range of 50, but happily it has a knight in shining armour rising to the rescue as nVidia will be a launch partner for Conroe with its nForce 500 for Intel. nVidia supports one IDE channel which means you can plug in two drives, just as you can with Athlon 64, and that’s all we need thank you very much.

nVidia can bang on about SLi, LinkBoost, DualNet and FirstPacket until the cows come home but right now its greatest asset is a single Parallel ATA connector.

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