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The Intel 865 Chipset Family Bringing the newest technologies to a Pentium 4 near you

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The Intel 865 Chipset Family
Bringing the newest technologies to a Pentium 4 near you

When Intel introduced its 3.06GHz Pentium 4 with Hyper-Threading technology, the screaming performance of the chip only underscored the performance gap between the processors internal performance and the front-side-bus (FSB) speed, the speed at which the processor connects with system memory. When the 3.06GHz Pentium 4 was introduced in November, the fastest Intel chipsets supported an FSB speed of 533MHz (133MHz clock speed with four accesses per cycle).

Fortunately, Intel has now raised the FSB bar with two new chipset families: the 865 (code-named Springdale), slated to replace the popular 845 series (read my article The Intel 845 Chipset Family for details about the 845 series), and the high-performance 875 (code-named Canterwood), slated to replace the 850 series. In this article, well concentrate on the mainstream 865 series and discuss how closely it is related to the 875P, the first member of the Canterwood family.

Major Features of the 865 Chipset Family

The 865 series of chipsets currently includes the following models:

  • 865P
  • 865PE
  • 865G

(there is no plain 865 chipset)

All of these chipsets have the following common features:

Architecture

Hub-based, including a memory controller hub (MCH North Bridge equivalent) and I/O controller hub (ICH South Bridge equivalent)

Memory

  • dual-channel memory support
  • support for two or four DDR SDRAM DIMM modules
  • maximum of 4GB of RAM
  • no ECC error correction

Graphics

  • support for AGP 4x/8x graphics card
  • supports 1.5V or 0.8V AGP graphics cards only

System Performance

  • Supports Hyper-Threaded Intel Pentium 4 processors (now available in speeds as low as 2.4GHz) as well as non-HT Pentium 4 and Celeron processors (Socket 478)
  • Supports Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) connection through a CSA (Communications Streaming Architecture) connection when Intel 82547EI Platform LAN Connection (PLC) chip is used

I/O Controller Hub Features

All chipsets use the ICH5 or ICH5R (RAID-enabled) I/O Controller hub with the following features

  • Two Ultra ATA/100 ATA/IDE host adapters (two driver per adapter)
  • Two Serial ATA ports (Serial ATA RAID with ICH5-R chip)
  • Eight USB 2.0 ports
  • AC97 audio with up to six-channel analog or 5.1 digital output
  • 10/100 Ethernet (when Intel 82562EZ PLC chip is used instead of 82547EI)
  • Up to six PCI bus masters

Before looking at the differences between the 865 triplets, lets look at how the 865 series moves beyond the 845 series.

865 Versus 845

The 865 chipset family has the following major advantages over the 845 family:

  • Dual-channel memory for faster memory performance
  • Larger memory size limit for handling larger amounts of data and more programs in RAM
  • Optional Gigabit Ethernet support for faster network access on 10/100/1000 Ethernet networks
  • Serial ATA support for faster hard disk performance and easier configuration
  • Optional Serial ATA RAID 0 support (in chipsets with ICH5R I/O controller hub) for greater hard disk access speed

In the following sections, Ill examine these differences more closely.

Larger and Faster Memory with the 865 Series

The 865 series brings dual-channel memory into the computing mainstream. Dual-channel memory is a memory technique which treats two identical memory modules as a single double-width module, increasing performance. Previously, most dual-channel implementations required the use of expensive RIMM (Rambus) memory, but the 865 series uses mainstream DDR memory instead.

For users who prefer flexibility and economy over maximum performance, the 865 series also supports single-channel (mixed memory module sizes or a single module) configurations. The 865 series supports four identical modules, two pairs of identical modules, or mix-and-match memory combinations.

With a maximum memory size of 4GB, twice the 2GB limit imposed by the 845 series, systems based on the 865 series are ready to handle extremely large amounts of data or larger programs.

Gigabit Ethernet

Gigabit Ethernet over Category 5 (CAT 5) or better-grade UTP copper cable has been a reality for a while, but it normally requires the installation of a PCI add-on card. With the proliferation of single-slot or no-slot small-form-factor and slimline designs on corporate desktops, systems integrating this technology make it a very desirable feature for corporate users. The 865 series features Intels CSA architecture to make this possible.

Aside from freeing up an expansion slot, the 865s integrated Gigabit Ethernet also improves performance compared to a PCI-based solution. Because it bypasses the congested PCI bus and connects to the MCH or GMCH chip, which in turn uses the high-speed 266MB/second connection to the ICH, the 865s Gigabit Ethernet connection provides full duplex performance at 2.2GB/second bandwidth. By contrast, PCIs maximum bandwidth is only 1.06GB/second, which seldom happens due to congestion. PCI-based Gigabit Ethernet isnt fast enough to support full-duplex connections, either. Thus, the 865 series implementation of Gigabit Ethernet is both more convenient and easier than a slot-based solution.

Note that the motherboard designers choice of Ethernet controller chip (also called a PLC chip) determines whether a particular board supports Gigabit (10/100/1000) or merely Fast (10/100) Ethernet connections. If the Intel 82547EI chip is used, the motherboard supports Gigabit Ethernet. If the pin-compatible 82562EX or 82562EZ PLC chips are used instead, the motherboard supports Fast Ethernet only.

Serial ATA and RAID

With the introduction in 2003 of Serial ATA drives from Seagate, Western Digital and Maxtor in capacities ranging from 80GB and above, Serial ATA (SATA) is now a mainstream technology. All versions of the 865 chipset family support the first-generation SATA-150 specification, which runs at a maximum speed of 150MB/second. Although current SATA drives dont come close to reaching this speed in sustained transfer rates, SATA has real-world benefits available now, including easier installation (no jumpers or master/slave considerations), a direct one-to-one connection between host adapter and drive, and thinner cables which can be twice as long as 80-wire ATA cables.

Motherboards which use the -R version of the ICH5 chip also support Serial ATA RAID. RAID (redundant array of inexpensive drives) was originally available only for SCSI-based drives connected to network servers. More recently, ATA drives have used PCI-based cards or motherboard-integrated ATA RAID host adapters. Intels implementation of RAID is one of the first not to require a separate RAID host adapter chip on the motherboard.

Unlike most other RAID implementations, the Intel 865 lets you add the second (identical) drive at any time without reformatting the original drive. However, Intels implementation is more limited than its competitors in other ways, supporting only RAID Level 0 (striping) and only Serial ATA drives (some reviews state that RAID Level 1 is also supported, but this is not correct). RAID Level 0 does substantially improve speed, but at a risk of complete data loss if one drive in the array fails.

Most other desktop RAID implementations, including the VIA Apollo KT600 chipset for Athlon XP as well as established motherboard/add-on card solutions from HighPoint and Promise, also support RAID 1 (mirroring) with both ATA and Serial ATA drives, and some support RAID 0+1 (mirroring and striping) for a balance of speed and reliability (requires four drives).

If you use the RAID (ICH5R) versions of the 865 chipset with two SATA drives in a RAID configuration, you must install the Intel Application Accelerator RAID Edition (non-RAID configurations of the 865 chipset are not supported by the Intel Application Accelerator). Get the latest version from http://support.intel.com/support/chipsets/iaa_raid/.

Intel Extreme Graphics 2

The 865G chipset features an improved version of the Intel Extreme Graphics Architecture I discussed in my article on the 845-series chipsets. Compared to the original Intel Extreme Graphics Architecture, Extreme Graphics 2 features the following improvements:

  • Improved Dynamic Video Memory Technology (DMVT 2.0) to balance shared memory usage between the graphics functions and system
  • Improved Zone Rendering (ZR2) to improve 3D rendering speed
  • Improved DVD playback
  • Support for multiple monitors, including TV-out and flat panel displays using VGA, DVI, and TV-out
  • High-resolution, high-refresh rate displays: 85Hz vertical refresh rate at up to 1800x1440 CRT and 2048x1536 LCD display at 60Hz

Although Extreme Graphics 2 is faster than its predecessor, its still not satisfactory for anyone who is more than a casual gamer. Fortunately, since the 865G also supports an AGP 8x slot, you can start with integrated graphics and drop in your favorite AGP 4x/8x graphics card and get the performance you want whenever youre ready to move up to serious gaming applications.

Which 865 Chipset is Best for You?

The 865 chipset family continues the modular design of the 845 family, using the same ICH5 (or ICH5R) I/O Controller hub part with three different North Bridge-equivalents:

  • The 865P is the economy member of the family, supporting 400/533MHz FSB and DDR 266/333MHz memory
  • The 865G boosts FSB speed to 400/533/800MHz, thanks to DDR memory speeds ranging from 266 to 400MHz. It also includes integrated Intel Extreme Graphics 2, a new version of the Intel Extreme Graphics 3D architecture used by G-series members of the 845 chipset series.
  • The 865PE has the same high-performance FSB and DDR memory support as the 865G, but lacks integrated graphics.
  • RAID versions of all three (which replace the standard ICH5 with the ICH5R) are the preferred choice if you want RAID 0 with Serial ATA drives. However, if you prefer RAID 1 with Serial or standard (parallel) ATA drives, choose a motherboard with the standard version of the chipset and a third-party motherboard-integrated or add-on card RAID solution.

The following table compares the 865 series chipsets to the most advanced 845-series chipsets.

Table 1 Advanced 845 and 865 Series Chipsets Compared

Chipsets

Feature

865P

845GE

865G

845PE

865PE

USB 2.0 support

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

DDR333 (PC2700) memory

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

DDR400 (PC3200) memory

No

No

Yes

No

Yes

400/533MHz FSB

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

400/533/800MHz FSB

No

No

Yes

No

Yes

Dual-channel DDR

Yes

No

Yes

No

Yes

Serial ATA with optional RAID

Yes

No

Yes

No

Yes

Integrated Graphics

No

Yes

Yes

No

No

AGP support

8x

4x

8x

4x

8x

To learn more about these chipsets, select a chipset name to see the schematic diagram for that chipset.

865P | 865G | 865PE

865PE Versus 875P

On paper, the Intel 875P chipset (code-named Canterwood) is designed to be a high-end version of the 865PE chipset. It has the same features as the 865PE, plus it adds support for ECC (error-correcting code) memory and features what Intel refers to as Performance Acceleration Technology (PAT), which bypasses normal steps in the memory-access portion of the chipset.

However, in practice, the 865PE and 875P chipset cores start out in the same production line. In a time-honored Intel tradition, the fastest cores wind up in the 875P, complete with ECC support, while the rest are shunted over to the 865PE production line (the 875Ps MCP chip has extra connections to support the additional signals needed for ECC memory). Some motherboard vendors, most notably Asus and Abit, have figured out how to enable the bypass function with the 865PE chipset, although they are prohibited from calling it the faster PAT (Performance Acceleration Technology).

In tests, there is little if any difference in performance between the best 865-based and 875-based motherboards. If you need the extra security of ECC memory, the 875P provides it, but otherwise, the 865PE is the best bang for the buck.

Conclusion

The 865 chipset family is the logical match for the latest Intel Pentium 4 processors. It provides a wide range of built-in features, and motherboards using various members of the 865 family are available from Intel and most other major motherboard vendors.

Intel Website Resources

The developer websites for the 865 chipsets are online:

The current chipset comparison line card is located at http://developer.intel.com/design/chipsets/linecard.htm

The 865 family of chipsets support all 800MHz FSB Pentium 4 chips with Hyper-Threading. To learn more about HT Technology, see http://developer.intel.com/homepage/land/hyperthreading.htm

Get the latest information about the Intel Application Accelerator for RAID versions of the 865/875 chipsets from
http://support.intel.com/support/chipsets/iaa_raid/
.

Learn more about Intel Extreme Graphics 2 at
http://developer.intel.com/design/graphics2/

Intels Serial ATA RAID brochure (PDF file).,

A white paper (PDF) on the major features of the ICH5 and ICH5R

Third-Party Resources

MBReview.com provides an excellent discussion of the benefits of CSA for Gigabit Ethernet as part of its review of the Intel D875PBZ motherboard (which uses the 875P chipset) http://www.mbreview.com/cwood.php. Check www.mbreview.com for more reviews of 865/875-based motherboards.

Toms Hardware Guide gets to the bottom of how Asus wrung extra performance from the 865PE chipset by activating the hidden PAT-emulation feature inherited from the 875P. Read all about it at http://www6.tomshardware.com/motherboard/20030603/index.html.

Check www.tomshardware.com for more reviews of 865/875-based motherboards.

Anandtech discusses PAT and selecting 865 and 875 parts in its review of the Intel 875P chipset http://www.anandtech.com/chipsets/showdoc.html?i=1811&p=1.

Check www.anandtech.com for more reviews of 865/875-based motherboards.

Copyright©2003 Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

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