Wireless functions bolster hardware, motherboards

William C. Pao,The China Post

With COMPUTEX TAIPEI’s official kickoff, Taiwan’s system hardware and motherboard manufacturers are showcasing products bolstered by wireless communications functions, hoping their increasing R&D effort on mobile Internet technologies will drive sales. Most hardware products displayed, such as MiTAC’s Mio528 model and those developed by Acer, come with mobile Internet functions, making wireless technologies a main theme of this year’s fair. Motherboard manufacturers, such as AsusTek, Gigabyte and Micro-Star, have also come up with wireless-enhanced products. AsusTek, for example, is displaying its wireless local area network (WLAN) access point devices and WLAN cards, which the company will mass-produce beginning in June. Gigabyte is rolling out WLAN cards as well as wireless routers, keyboards, mice and devices enhanced by Bluetooth technologies, which allow for wireless interconnections among mobile phones, PCs and PDAs. Those products will be shipped by the bottom half of the year. Micro-Star is showing what it calls the world’s first motherboard with Bluetooth technologies. Both Gigabyte and Micro-Star use the British CSR solution for making their Bluetooth products. Besides Bluetooth and WLAN, the USB 2.0 technology is another highlight of COMPUTEX this year. According to AsusTek, the USB 2.0 standard can better serve users as it permits faster data transfer between a PC and its peripheral devices. Products using the serial ATA and AGP interfaces, based on which new IT devices are designed, are displayed as well. With overlaps between products made by hardware and mainboard companies, industry experts point out it has become more difficult to tell the two apart. For example, Elitegroup, a motherboard maker, is displaying the so-called desknote PC combining characteristics of both computers and several models of notebook PC. Gigabyte is rolling out its panel PC and tablet PC supporting the VIA processor.

Meanwhile, most of these companies have come up with motherboards supporting the Intel 845G and other chipsets. Although AMD’s K8 platform is coming out this October, the processor company is working with local motherboard manufacturers and chipset makers such as VIA and Silicon Integrated Systems to exhibit the K8 in a low-key manner, given Intel’s strong presence.