Next-generation Intel-based systems can now have much better on-board graphics as well as support for the far faster USB 2.0 standard.

Intel today will bring integrated graphics to a wide range of PCs when it kicks off a family of chipsets that also includes high-speed peripheral support with USB 2.0 technology.

The company will offer a range of chipsets based on the 845G chipset, which can be used with Pentium 4 processors as well as Celeron chips that use the Pentium 4's 478-pin packaging type.

But there's another chipset out now that can compete with this — Via's P4X333 chipset is another chipboard with USB 2.0 capability, but in addition offers support for the fastest DDR (double data rate) memory at 333MHz, as well as support for a 533MHz front-side bus and AGP 8X technology.

It also has double-speed v-link, connecting the motherboard's north and south bridges, alleviating bottlenecks. Data must flow between these two key components of any PC, the north and south bridges, so the fatter the pipes on the motherboard the more efficient the system.

Via is currently having a legal spat with Intel over the new chipset's predecessor, the P4X266.

For Intel and PC makers, integrating graphics processing into a chipset saves a manufacturer from having to add a separate graphics card to a PC, reducing costs. Until now, integrated graphics capabilities for Intel-based PCs have been offered generally only for value-priced systems.

USB 2.0 capability, available in many peripherals on the market today, offers much faster communication between the PC and external devices such as scanners, digital cameras and printers. USB 2.0 has never been integrated into an Intel chipset before.

Intel will offer a wide range of chipsets based on the 845G for value-priced, mainstream and performance-oriented systems, Intel spokesman George Alfs said on Friday. The 845G will support both 400MHz and 533MHz front-side bus speeds and DDR SDRAM memory, he said.

The lower-end 845GL will support exclusively the 400MHz front side bus used with the 478-pin Celeron chips.