Intel's highly anticipated "Grantsdale" chipsets are said to expand sensibly the processing power.
The new chipset will work in tandem with Intel's Pentium 4 processors to give PCs more powerful sound and graphics, a speedier link for peripherals and memory, and an ability to run a wireless data network. Intel's goal with those built into the core components is to make the PC an entertainment system without the need for expensive add-on cards.
"This is the most ambitious make-over of the PC platform in the last 12 years," said William Siu, Intel's GM for desktop computer chips. The chips will begin to appear in PCs starting next week.
In concert with software maker Microsoft and PC makers including Gateway, Intel has pushed the development of "entertainment" or "media centre" computers that cost as little as $700 and that can record television shows and store music and photographs.
Intel demonstrated a PC with the Grantsdale chip showing simultaneous high-definition video streams and surround-sound audio, features that previously would require expensive add-ons, Intel said.
Intel last month said it plans to sell Grantsdale chips for $30 or $40, no more than the prior generation of chip sets. But the extra features offered could steer shoppers away from PCs built with chips from rival AMD.
Grantsdale also enables PCs to be built with a new type of computer memory called DDR 2, the second generation of double-data rate memory.
On the other hand PCs built with the latest AMD products could top Intel's products, while offering additional features like hardware-based virus protection and 64-bit computing, which allows PCs to crunch larger chunks of data.