Today sees the start of the Computex, the world’s third-biggest IT trade show.
While Computex may not be as big as Germany’s Cebit or Vegas’s shrinking Comdex, it packs extra punch because it’s held in the kingdom of IT — Taiwan.
Dominating the production of IT components, this tiny island state is the epicentre of the world’s technology economy.
It also an epicentre of a very different kind, residing as it does on a rather nasty fault line, which results in regular earthquakes.
Barring any feisty seismic activity, PC Advisor will be bringing you daily news from the show over the coming week. Will Head, fresh from his thoroughly deserved promotion to reviews editor, will be scouring the show for emerging trends and hot products.
This is not a show that attracts members of the general public. Computex is where deals take place between the world’s biggest IT businesses and, primarily, Taiwanese component manufacturers, whose products collectively make up two thirds of the global PC supply chain.
Flying the UK flag, apart from PC Advisor that is, are UK notebook vendors Rock, AJP and Hi-Grade, along with Centreprise, which makes PCs for John Lewis and, until recently, PC World.
So what can we expect? Here, for our reader’s delectation, is a mile-high view of the coming week.
Firstly, 64bit is well and truly on the horizon. Motherboard makers Asus, MSI and Gigabyte are showing off boards supporting AMD’s upcoming 64bit capable K8 processors, formerly code-named Hammer.
Chipset vendors, in the shape of SIS and Via, are also on the starting blocks in preparation for K8’s fourth-quarter arrival.
The unstoppable wireless networking juggernaut has this year claimed its own pavilion. It looks like being a question of who isn’t, rather who is, producing WiFi kit. Motherboard manufacturer MSI, for one, will be showcasing its new range of 802.11b WLAN cards.
We’re also expecting the next generation of Intel-based systems, with improved onboard graphics and support for the far faster USB 2.0, which is making rapid headway.
War is set to break out between the graphics chip makers, as industry stalwarts nVidia and ATI Technologies show off their new-generation cores, the NV18 and RV250, respectively. Both chips are set displace the existing GeForce4 MX440 and Radeon 7500 as the companies' mainstream offerings.
The market for Bluetooth applications looks like expanding considerably on last year (and about time too). A slew of manufacturers are launching motherboards with built-in Bluetooth modules, including Micro-Star International (MSI), Gigabyte Technology, Epox Computer, Abit Computer and Albatron Technology.
Meanwhile, in the low-end budget sector the landscape looks radically different to this time last year. We expect to see a host of ultra-keenly priced motherboards from the likes of Abit, ECS, Asus and Hon Hai, which have been turning the screws on their chipset suppliers, demanding ever-lower prices.
Desperate to differentiate their increasingly identical product offerings, motherboard makers are trying to beat each other on price. All of which should ultimately be good news for end users.