At Xbit-labs they have taken a closer look at what we can expect during this year in the form of I/O-controllers from the marketleading chipset manufacturers. The I/O-controller (southbridge) is the part of the mainboard chipset that controlls all traffic for example network, sound, hard drives and external components such as PCI-cards or USB-units.
The I/O-controllers function and its features is constantly improved just as all other components and the fad of the year seems to be Gigabit Ethernet. Atleast two major manufacturer will implement Gigabit Ethernet directly into the I/O-controller making Gigabit Ethernet more or less free of charge.
NVIDIA will launch their Gigabit MCP (Media and Communication Processor) MCP2 S1000 sometime during the year that has except Gigabit support nothing really revolutionary.
Their single chip solution for the Athlon64-platform, nForce3 250Gb will also offer integrated Gigabit Ethernet but it won’t be later in the year that NVIDIA will enrich the nForce3-platform with more interesting features such as PCI-Express etc.
VIA will launch their very featurerich VT8251 during the summer and except Gigabit-support they will offer PCI-Express x1-slot, 4 Seriell-ATA150 ports, 8-channel sound circuit (Azalia).
Intel will not integrate Gigabit Ethernet into their chipset during this year but their CSA-bus for Gigabit Ethernet makes it a minor loss. Intel will go for a Wi-Fi-network (Wireless Ethernet) in form of their ICH6W-controller. The ICH6W has pretty similar features as VIA’s VT8251-controller.
You can read more about the chipset manufactureres plans for the year over at Xbit-Labs.com.