- What the North Bridge and South Bridge Do
- Mobo Integration Madness
- What We Look for When Testing Motherboards
- How We Test Motherboards
- Careful Considerations for New Mobos
- Our Top Pentium 4 Chipsets: Intel's 875P and 865PE
- Also Solid: ATI's Radeon 9100 IGP
- Pentium 4 Chipset Pretenders
- Our P4 Mobo Recommendations
- The Back Story: Summer of Athlon XP
- Enter the 64-bit Chipset
- Why Hasn't Intel Integrated the Memory Controller?
- Looking to Overclock?
- Looking Ahead: Future Chipsets & Mobos
- VIA Makes Its Move
- Prepare for BTX
- New Sockets Forthcoming
Why Hasn't Intel Integrated the Memory Controller?
Given the very tangible benefits of an integrated memory controller, it would seem obvious that Intel would follow AMD's lead in the near future, right? Wrong. Chip design is all about making tradeoffsadding more circuitry (such as a memory controller) to a CPU can make it faster, but it simultaneously decreases yields and drives up the cost of the processor.
For the time being, it would seem Intel has chosen to focus on other methods of improving CPU performance. Intel could plausibly add an on-die memory controller in the future, but it would be more of an economic decision than anything else.
One of our current favorite Athlon 64 and Athlon 64 FX mobos is Albatron's K8X800 ProII. Based on VIA's K8T800 chipset and VT8237 south bridge, the K8X800 sports native SATA RAID, FireWire, a dual-BIOS feature that allows you to recover your board if you accidentally nuke it, and a slew of USB and FireWire headers.
Just before press time, nVidia released its new nForce3 250Gb chipset for the Athlon 64-series. The 250 quickly earned our respect with the addition of native Gigabit support, native serial ATA, and software support for RAID 0, 1, and 0+1. For a more comprehensive review, see the sidebar on this page.