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New Pentium 4 Chipsets for the Business/Value User

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New Pentium 4 Chipsets for the Business/Value User

In this article, youll learn about Intel and VIA Technologies new single-channel chipsets, which offer modern features for business and value PC buyers.

With the rise in Pentium 4 clock speeds past 3GHz, the introduction of HyperThreading Technology, and the new Pentium 4 Extreme Edition with its onboard L1, L2 and L3 memory caches, most of the recent Pentium 4 news has been aimed at the high-end user and gaming enthusiast. These high-speed processors reap maximum benefits from the dual-channel memory controllers featured in Intels latest 865 and 875 chipsets. See my article The Intel 865 Chipset Family for details.

However, business and economy-minded Pentium 4 users who dont need dual-channel memory support have been stuck with the outdated Intel 845-series or with third-party chipsets which lack Serial ATA support and support for 800MHz front-side bus speeds. In this article, youll learn about Intel and VIA Technologies new single-channel chipsets, which offer modern features for business and value PC buyers.

Intel 848P

Before the development of the 865 (Springdale) and 875 (Canterwood) chipset families, Intels mainstream chipset family for the Pentium 4 was the wide-ranging 845 series. See my article The Intel 845 Chipset Family for more details. The 845 series isnt a suitable match for the latest processors because older versions lack support for hyper-threading and none of them support Serial ATA hard disks or the 800MHz front-side bus now being introduced across the Pentium 4 product line.

The Intel 848P chipset combines the economical single-channel memory bus used by the 845 and most other Pentium 4 chipsets with advanced features introduced by the 865 chipset family:

  • Gigabit Ethernet support
  • AGP 8x
  • Serial ATA (with ICH5 I/O Controller hub)
  • Serial ATA RAID (with ICH5R I/O Controller hub)
  • ATA-100
  • Eight USB 2.0 ports
  • 800MHz FSB support
  • Hyperthreading support
  • Six-channel audio

For more information about these features, see my article on the 865 chipset family - "The Intel 865 Chipset Family".

The 848P is a two-piece chipset using the hub architecture standard across all Intel 8xx-series chipsets. The Memory Controller Hub (North Bridge replacement) chip is the Intel 82848P, while the I/O Controller hub (South Bridge replacement) is either the 82801EC (ICH5) or 82801ER (ICH5R) chip also used by the 865 and 875 chipset families.

When the ICH5R I/O Controller hub was first introduced as part of the 865 and 875 chipset families, it supported only RAID 0. However, it now supports RAID 1 (mirroring) as well as RAID 0 (striping) when the latest version of the Intel Application Accelerator RAID Edition is installed. Get it from http://support.intel.com/support/chipsets/iaa_raid/

Comparing the 848P with the 865PE and 845PE

The 848Ps features are most comparable with the existing 845PE and 865PE chipsets. Table 1 is an updated version of a table I originally prepared for the 865 chipset article.

Table 1 845PE, 848P, and 865PE Chipsets Compared

 

Chipsets

Feature

845PE

848P

865PE

USB 2.0 support

Yes

Yes

Yes

DDR333 (PC2700) memory

Yes

Yes

Yes

DDR400 (PC3200) memory

No

Yes

Yes

400/533MHz FSB

Yes

Yes

Yes

400/533/800MHz FSB

No

Yes

Yes

Dual-channel DDR

No

No

Yes

Serial ATA with optional RAID

No

Yes

Yes

AGP support

4x

8x

8x

Hyper-threading support

Yes

Yes

Yes

Audio Support

6-channel

6-channel

6-channel

As you can see from Table 1, the major difference between the 865PE and the 848P is the 865PEs dual-channel memory support.

Although early benchmarks performed by Toms Hardware indicate the 848P is a slower solution for 3D gaming and multimedia than the 865PE, the 848P performs acceptably for office tasks, and price comparisons of 865PE and 848P motherboards with comparable features indicate the 848P will save you money.

VIA PT800

The VIA Technologies PT800 chipset is the single-channel version of its new high-performance PT880 chipset for the Pentium 4. Both chipsets have the following major features:

  • Hyperthreading support
  • 800MHz FSB support
  • FastStream 64 memory controller with enhanced prefetch buffers; supports DDR400 (up to 8GB total; ECC is also supported)
  • AGP 8x
  • VIA Vinyl 5.1 20-bit integrated audio and PCI-based Vinyl Gold 7.1 audio with 24-bit/96KHz sampling (comparable to high-end sound cards such as the Creative Labs Audigy2 series)
  • 10/100 Ethernet with optional VIA Velocity Gigabit Ethernet controller
  • Serial ATA (2 drives) with optional SATAlite interface for two additional drives
  • SATA RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 0+1 (requires SATAlite) and just a bunch of disks (JBOD all disks are treated as a single logical unit); SATA RAID is configured through a Windows-based utility
  • ATA-133
  • USB 2.0 (eight ports)

The PT800 and PT880 both use the same VIA 8237 South Bridge chip used by other recent VIA chipsets.

The PT880 competes with the Intel 865P by offering dual-channel DDR memory controller and a faster North/South Bridge connection (Ultra V-Link) running at 1066MB/second. The PT880 has a single-channel memory controller and the standard 533MB/second V-Link connection.

Comparing the PT800 to the 848P

Table 2 compares the Intel 848P to the VIA PT800. The highlighted rows indicate significant differences between the chipsets

Table 2 Intel 848P and VIA PT800 Chipsets Compared

Chipsets

Feature

Intel 848P

VIA PT800

USB 2.0 support

Yes

Yes

DDR400 (PC3200) memory

Yes

Yes

ECC support

No

Yes

Maximum Memory Size

2GB

8GB

400/533/800MHz FSB

Yes

Yes

ATA Levels

ATA-100

ATA-133

Serial ATA RAID Levels

0,1

0, 1, 0+1* and JBOD

AGP support

8x

8x

Hyper-threading support

Yes

Yes

Audio

6-channel

6-channel and 8-channel

Gigabit Ethernet option

Yes

Yes

*Requires optional SATAlite SATA interface

As you can see from Table 2, the VIA PT800 offers larger memory sizes, ECC support, more advanced audio, faster ATA support, and more advanced Serial ATA RAID support than the Intel 848P. In addition to supporting more RAID options, the PT800s RAID implementation uses far less of the CPUs resources than the 848Ps, according to tests performed by TweakTown. The 848Ps Gigabit Ethernet option may perform faster than the PT800s because it is connected to the Memory Controller Hub instead of the South Bridge.


Intel 848P


VIA PT800

Although the PT800 has only a single-channel memory bus, the FastStream 64 memory controller enables the chipset to perform at speeds comparable to typical dual-channel 865-based systems in both business and gaming applications and not far behind the more expensive 875-based designs. With more features and a lower cost than the 848P, the PT800 is a good choice for a cost-conscious buyer.

Other Chipset Choices

Although Silicon Integrated Systems (SiS) offers its single-channel 648FX chipset for 800MHz FSB Pentium 4 processors, this chipset lacks Serial ATA and SATA RAID options when paired with the 963 family of South Bridge chips. When used with the SiS964 South Bridge chip, the 648FXs features are comparable with the 848P, but are surpassed by the PT800.

For Further Research

Vendor Websites

Intels official 848P website:
http://developer.intel.com/design/chipsets/848P/

VIA Technologies official PT800 website:
http://www.via.com.tw/en/p4-series/pt800.jsp

VIA Technologies official VT8237 (PT800 South Bridge) website:
http://www.via.com.tw/en/southbridge/vt8237_index.jsp

SiS Technologies official SiS648FX website:
http://www.sis.com/products/chipsets/oa/pentium4/648fx.htm

SiS Technologies official 96x (South Bridge for the 648FX) website: http://www.sis.com/products/chipsets/southbridge/96x.htm

Third-Party Benchmarks

TweakTown puts the single-channel PT800 up against typical dual-channel 865 and 875 motherboards, and digs deeply into the RAID performance issue
http://www.tweaktown.com/document.php?dType=review&dId=495

The TechReport provides a helpful comparison chart of Intel, SiS and VIA chipsets for the Pentium 4 as part of its comparison tests of the PT800 and SiS648FX chipsets
http://www.tech-report.com/reviews/2003q3/pt800-648fx/index.x?pg=1

Toms Hardware compares the 848P to its dual-channel siblings:
http://www20.tomshardware.com/motherboard/20031103/index.html

Copyright©2003 Pearson Education. All rights reserved.

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