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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Intel Pentium 4 Chipsets for Single-Processor Servers

Although Intel supported .multiple-processor configurations for its Pentium, Pentium II, and Pentium III processors and produced server-class chipsets for all three processor families, its primary multiple-processor (two-way and higher) platforms have been the various members of the Xeon family:

  • Pentium II Xeon
  • Pentium III Xeon
  • Xeon DP (based on the Pentium 4)
  • Xeon MP (based on the Pentium 4)

Starting with the Pentium 4, Intel discontinued supporting multiple-processor configurations for its desktop processors. Although Intel continues to support features such as ECC memory and relatively large amounts of RAM (2GB or higher) in some of its Pentium 4 chipsets and sells some entry-level server boards that use the Pentium 4, its primary server platforms are the Xeon (which is based on the Pentium 4 but which uses Socket 603 and Socket 604 and supports up to eight processors in its Xeon MP version) and Itanium family (Intel's first 64-bit processors). If you want to build a multiprocessor server based on Intel processors today, you need to use the Xeon DP, Xeon MP, or Itanium 2 processors. Xeon DP supports up to two-way designs, while Xeon MP and Itanium 2 also support four-way and larger designs.

Although some third-party chipsets have been used for entry-level Pentium 4–based servers, some of Intel's 8xx- and 9xx-series chipsets have achieved widespread support in both Intel and third-party server motherboards and systems (see Table 3.11).

Table 3.11. Intel 8xx- and 9xx-Series (Pentium 4) Chipsets Suitable for Use in Servers

View Table

Note that compared to midrange and high-end server chipsets made for the Pentium II Xeon and Pentium III Xeon, the 8xx- and 9xx-series server chipsets lack support for 64-bit PCI expansion slots. This prevents servers based on these chipsets from supporting very high-performance Ultra320 SCSI RAID arrays because the host adapters for such arrays requires 64-bit 66MHz PCI or 133MHz PCI-X expansion slots. Given the lack of dual-processor support inherent in the Pentium 4 processor design and the lack of 64-bit PCI support in the Pentium 4 chipsets used by servers, it's appropriate that Intel's server motherboards using these chipsets are identified as Entry [level] Server Boards.

More advanced single-processor Pentium 4 servers from Intel and third parties use the E72xx chipsets, which combine server-specific features with some of the latest developments found in the 8xx and 9xx chipsets for desktop computers. Table 3.12 compares the features of the E7210, E7221, and E7230 chipsets.

Table 3.12. E72xx Chipsets for Pentium 4–Based Servers





HT Technology support




FSB speeds supported




EMT64 (64-bit OS/apps) support



MCH/ICH Interconnect

HI 1.5



Interconnect speed




Dual-channel DDR 333/400 memory



Dual-channel DDR2 memory



ECC support




Integrated graphics


Number of ATA/IDE ports




SATA with optional RAID 0,1


SATA with optional RAID 0, 1, 0+1



Number of SATA ports




SATA speed




PCI-Express x8 support



PCI-Express x1 support



PCI-X/PCI hot-swap



PCI-X bridge




Number of USB 2.0 ports




GigE (Gigabit Ethernet) support







Table 3.13 compares the features of the ICH chips used by the chipsets listed in Tables 3.11 and 3.12.

Table 3.13. ICH Chips for Pentium 4 Server-Capable Chipsets [1]

View Table

The Intel 845 Family of Chipsets

The 845 family of chipsets is widely used by both Intel and third-party motherboard makers for both entry-level servers and desktop computers. If you purchased a Pentium 4 system from late 2001 through mid-2003, it probably used some version of the 845 chipset. The 845, codenamed Brookdale during its development, was the first Pentium 4 chipset from Intel to support low-cost SDRAM instead of expensive RDRAM. Subsequent variations support DDR SDRAM at speeds up to DDR333, ATA-100, and USB 2.0.

The 845-series chipset is suitable for use in servers, including the 845 and 845E models. All members of the 845 family use the same hub-based architecture developed for the 8xx family, but they also have onboard audio and support the communications and networking riser (CNR) card for integrated modem and 10/100 Ethernet networking. However, they differ in their support for different types and amounts of memory, integrated graphics, external AGP support, and which ICH chip they use.

Although the original version of the 845 supported only PC133 SDRAM memory, the so-called 845D model (a designation used by review sites but not by Intel) also supports 200/266MHz DDR SDDRAM. The Intel 845's 82845 MCH supports Socket 478–based Celeron or Pentium 4 processors and can support up to two DDR SDRAM modules or three standard SDRAM modules (depending on the motherboard). When DDR SDRAM is used, the 845 supports either 200MHz (PC2100) or 266MHz (PC2700) memory speeds, with an FSB speed of 400MHz. The 845 also supports ECC error correction when parity-checked memory modules are used and offers an AGP 4x video slot, but it has no onboard video.

The 845 uses the same ICH2 chip (82801-BA) used by the Intel 850 and 850E chipsets in Rambus-based systems and the 815EP in low-cost SDRAM-based systems. The ICH2 supports ATA-100 hard disk interfacing, basic AC '97 sound, and four USB 1.1 ports.

The 845E is an updated version of the 845D with ECC error correction and support for 533MHz FSB, and it uses the enhanced ICH4 82801DB, which offers six USB 2.0 ports as well as integrated networking and enhanced 20-bit audio.

Figure 3.14 compares the system block diagrams of the 845 and 845E models.


Figure 3.14 The 845E (right) adds support for faster FSB speeds, memory, and USB 2.0 to the basic 845 chipset architecture (left).

The Intel 875P Chipset

The Intel 875P chipset, codenamed Canterwood during its development, was introduced in April 2003. The 875P chipset supports Intel's Hyper-Threading (HT) Technology, so it fully supports 3.06GHz and faster Pentium 4s, including the newer Prescott (90nm) core versions.

For faster memory access, the 875P supports four standard or ECC memory modules (up to 4GB total) using DDR333 or DDR400 memory in a dual-channel mode, and it offers a new Turbo mode that uses a faster path between DDR400 memory and the MCH to boost enhanced performance. Because multiple memory modules aren't always the same size or type, the 875P also features a new dynamic mode that optimizes system memory when different types or sizes of memory are used at the same time. The 875P also includes both SATA and RAID support and uses the same ICH5/ICH5R family used by the 865 series.

The Intel 925X Chipset

The Intel 925X chipset, codenamed Alderwood before its release, was released in 2004 as a replacement for the 875P Canterwood chipset. Unlike its predecessor, the 925X supports only DDR2 memory (up to 4GB maximum). The 925X supports the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition and the Pentium 4 processors in Socket 775 form factors.

The 925X supports PCI-Express x1 and PCI-Express x16 (video) as well as PCI version 2.3 expansion slots. It supports the LGA 775 processor socket and the Intel Prescott Pentium 4 core and uses the ICH6 family of South Bridge replacements detailed in Table 3.13. The 925X is widely used for single-processor server motherboards.

Intel 955X and 975X (Glenwood) Chipset Family

The Intel "Glenwood" chipset family, released in 2005, includes two members, the 955X and 975X. These chipsets are the first to support Intel's new dual-core Pentium D processors, and they also support the new high-performance single-core Pentium Extreme Edition processors as well as existing Pentium 4 HT Technology processors that use Socket 775. Although Intel categorizes these chipsets as "Entry-Level Workstation" and "Performance PC" chipsets, some vendors use these chipsets for single-processor workstation/server designs.

Although these chipsets are numbered in different series, most of their features are identical. Both support FSB speeds of 800MHz and 1066MHz and support up to four DDR2 667/533MHz memory modules (two pairs of dual-channel modules), for a maximum memory size of 8GB. Both support ECC memory, a must for server operation, and both use the ICH7 family of ICH chips listed in Table 3.13.

The 955X and 975X differ from each other in their video support. The 955X supports a single PCI-Express x16 video card, whereas the 975X supports two PCI-Express video cards in x8 mode, such as the ATI CrossFire series of graphics cards.

Alternatives to 955X/975X–Based Servers

Although you can use 955X or 975X chipsets in a server motherboard, servers don't need the high-performance graphics support they provide. Motherboards based on the E7230 chipset provide support for more memory than the 955X and 975X, optional support for PCI-X, and matrix RAID storage. The E7230's PCI slots can be used for video.

The E7210 Chipset

The Intel E7210 chipset, codenamed Canterwood-ES, during its development, was introduced in February 2004. Like the 875P, the E7210 supports Socket 478 Pentium 4 processors, including those featuring Intel's HT Technology and 800MHz FSB. It supports both Northwood (130 nm) and Prescott (90nm) core versions at clock speeds up to 3.4GHz.

The E7210 supports four standard or ECC memory modules (up to 4GB total) using DDR400 or DDR333 memory modules in a dual-channel configuration. The E7210 uses the 6300ESB ICH rather than the ICH5/ICH5R series used by the 8xx-series of server/workstation/desktop computer chipsets. The 6300ESB includes integrated support for PCI version 2.2 and 66MHz PCI-X slots. The E7210 supports up to two SATA (SATA) and two ATA-100 (ATA/IDE) drives, as well as four USB 2.0 ports. The PCI-X slots can be used for high-performance Gigabit Ethernet network adapters and SCSI RAID host adapters.

Figure 3.15 compares the architecture of the 875P and E7210 chipsets.


Figure 3.15 The E7210 (right) is based on the 875P (left) but adds support for PCI-X expansion slots.

The E7221 Chipset

The Intel E7221 chipset, codenamed Copper River during its development, was introduced in September 2004. The E7221 supports Socket 775 Pentium 4 processors, enabling it to use the fastest and newest Pentium 4 processor designs on the market. The E7221 also supports Intel Extended Memory 64 Technology (EM64T), enabling systems based on this processor to support 64-bit operating systems such as Windows Server 2003 x64 Edition and various Linux distributions, as well as 32-bit operating systems, at full processor speed.

The E7210 supports four standard or ECC memory modules (up to 4GB total), using DDR2-533/400 or DDR400/333 memory modules in a dual-channel configuration. The E7210's MCH features a PCI-Express x8 interface. The PCI-Express x8 interface also supports the 6702PXH 64-bit PCI hub component of the chipset. When the 6702PXH chip is used as part of the E7221 chipset, the system also supports PCI-X expansion slots running at 64MHz or 133MHz.

The E7221 uses the ICH6R ICH, the same ICH used by the Intel 9xx desktop chipsets. The ICH6R provides SATA, PCI-Express x1, USB 2.0, PCI, and ATA-100 interfaces, and it connects to the MCH via the high-speed DMI interface. The E7221 is essentially a workstation and server version of the 9xx chipset.

The architecture of the E7221 chipset is shown in Figure 3.16.


Figure 3.16 The E7221 is based on the Intel 9xx chipsets, featuring PCI-Express.

The E7230 Chipset

The E7230 chipset, originally codenamed Mukilteo, was introduced in July 2005. Its basic design is similar to that of the E7221 chipset, but with several enhancements designed to support the newest processor and storage technologies.

The E7230 is the first Intel server chipset to support the dual-core Pentium D processor, enabling a single-processor server to have performance virtually the same as that of a two-way server, but at a lower cost. The E7230 also supports Intel matrix storage technology, enabling simultaneous RAID 0 (striping) and RAID 1 (mirroring) with only two disk drives and PCI-Express x8, x4, and x1 cards. By adding the 6702PXH 64-bit PCI-X hub, PCI-X cards, such as network and SCSI RAID adapters, are also supported.

The E7230 also supports Socket 775 Pentium 4 processors with HT Technology, Execute Disable Bit, and Intel Extended Memory 64 Technology (EM64T). The E7230 features a maximum memory size of 8GB, using only DDR2 memory modules in 667/533/400MHz speeds, arranged in a dual-channel configuration.

The E7230 uses the ICH7R ICH, the same ICH used by the Intel 955X and 975X desktop chipsets. The ICH7R provides SATA Matrix storage RAID, PCI-Express x1, USB 2.0, PCI, and ATA-100 interfaces, and it connects to the MCH via the high-speed DMI interface.

Intel ICH Chips for 9xx and E72xx Chipsets

Intel has used the ICH5, ICH5R, ICH6R, 6300ESB, and ICH7R ICH chips with its 8xx, 9xx, and E72xx chipsets for the Pentium 4. The following sections provide additional details about these chips.

The ICH5 and ICH5R I/O Controllers

ICH5 and ICH5R (RAID) are the Intel ICHs for its AHA and HI 1.5 hub-based architecture, which is the equivalent of the South Bridge in Intel's hub-based architecture introduced with the 800 series of chipsets.

ICH5 and ICH5R feature four USB 2.0 controllers with eight external ports, two ATA-100 ports, and two SATA-150 ports. ICH5R models add support for RAID 0 (striping) and RAID 1 (mirroring) on the SATA ports. ICH5 and ICH5R also support the PCI 2.3 bus and include an integrated 10/100 Ethernet LAN controller.

The 6300ESB I/O Controller

The 6300ESB I/O controller used in the E7210 chipset integrates support for four PCI-X 66MHz slots. It also features support for four PCI 2.2 slots, two SATA-150 ports (including RAID), four USB 2.0 ports, two ATA-100 ports, and AC '97 integrated audio.

The ICH6R I/O Controller

ICH6R is the RAID version of the Intel ICH used by the 9xx series of desktop chipsets as well as by the E7221 server/workstation chipset. ICH6R features four USB 2.0 controllers with eight external ports, one ATA-100 port, one 10/100 Ethernet port, four PCI-Express x1 slots, and four SATA-150 ports. The SATA ports support RAID 0, 1, and 10. The ICH6R also features high-definition audio.

The ICH7 and ICH7R I/O Controllers

ICH7 and ICH7R are the latest versions of Intel's ICH chips. They are based on ICH6/6R, but also feature 10/100/1000 Ethernet and SATA-300 ports. The ICH7R version features Matrix storage technology, which supports simultaneous RAID 0 and RAID 1 on two drives, and also supports RAID 0+1 support with four drives.

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