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  Computex 2003 Taiwan, SFF systems, SiS chipsets 
  Sep 23, 2003, 12:00pm EDT 

Small Form Factor systems, SiS chipsets

By: Sander Sassen

Small form factor PCs are hot, ever since Shuttle launched their first SFF, we’ve seen other manufacturers jump into the game and produce their own version of a small form factor PC. Naturally Computex is a great opportunity for many manufacturers to launch their new SFF, and we’ve seen a wide variety of SFFs, some with excellent and innovative features, others just a rehash of what Shuttle has brought to the market before. To pick a few that were noteworthy, MSI’s new MegaPC as it featured a new FTD display and an overall feature set upgrade, ECS’s Mini PC series with detachable color front, and last, but certainly not least, Iwill’s ZPC 64 where we already reported on yesterday and which simply packs the most punch per cubic inch.

Shuttle's booth at Computex

Fig 1. A whole wall of Shuttle XPC at Shuttle’s booth, they invented the small form factor PC.

MSI MegaPC with FTD display

Fig 2. MSI’s new MegaPC with FTD display and an overall feature set upgrade for the home theatre market.

ECS Mini PC with detachable front

Fig 3. ECS’s Mini PC series with detachable color front to match your interior or individual taste.

Iwill ZPC 64, a look inside

Fig 4. The inside of Iwill’s ZPC 64, featuring AMD’s Athlon 64 processor and Nvidia Nforce 3 chipset.

We also stopped by a number of motherboard manufacturers today, with whom we had a number of meetings scheduled. Pretty much all of them had the same type of motherboards on display that they were actively promoting, the Intel 865P based Pentium 4 motherboards and the Nvidia Nforce3 or Via K8T800 Athlon 64 motherboards. We’ve also seen some products being announced with SiS’ 755 chipset which promises to combine the best of both worlds, Via K8T800 performance and Nforce3 stability. With that in the back of our mind, we also had an interesting meeting with SiS and they were very open about their upcoming or just released products, such as the SiS 755 chipset. What we’ve learned from their presentation is that SiS is hard at work to deliver a number of chipsets with a good combination of price, features and performance.

Ginno Chen, SiS

Fig 5. Ginno Chen, in charge of marketing and communications at SiS, proudly holding a SiS 755 sample.

SiS 755 motherboard sample

Fig 6. The SiS 755 from up close, you’ll notice this is a sample motherboard used for testing and evaluation.

Brenda Chen, GigaByte

Fig 7. Brenda Chen of GigaByte, handling channel marketing in Europe, posing in front of GigaByte’s Taipei office.

We’ve also been on a factory tour from GigaByte today, which was interesting but also a bit disappointing as we weren’t allowed to take any pictures inside the factory, so all that we’ve got to show you is an outside shot of the Taipei office in Taiwan. Nevertheless the tour was interesting and showed us that in Taiwan manual labor is still pretty common, also in the high-tech computer industry. Most of the production lines featured girls that placed components on the motherboards by hand, or did manual testing and packaging of finished motherboards. The factory is actually located just outside Taipei in a rural area where the actual production lines are spread out across seven floors, many of which are partly automated. The final stage of the production line, the quality testing and verification, obviously is done by hand to ensure all products are properly tested before they’re shipped off to the customer.

[UPDATE: Computex 2003 Taiwan, September 25th]

Sander Sassen.

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