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Page 1 of 5
Author: Dracon
Date of review: 26-October-2001
Type Of Review: Mainboards

The first chipset (i.e. i850) for the Pentium 4 launched last year is still pretty much the first choice, if you want the best out of the Pentium 4. Its 3.2GB/sec Quad Pumped CPU bus can only be satisfied by the use of a dual channel RDRAM.

Simple schmetic layout as seen elsewhere

The i850 is still the preferred companion you can get for your Pentium 4 processor. Only the high RDRAM prices makes you think twice before getting one. Intel believed then that the SDRAM was dying and in order for faster and faster procesors to perform, a higher memory bandwidth was needed. Getting a high yield of RAM modules matching the PC166 standard is already difficult, not to mention matching even higher standards. That's where the RDRAM comes in.

Comparison with other RAM modules available:
PC133 SDRAM : 133 MHz x 8 Bytes = 1064 MB/s = 1.064 GB/s
DDR200 : 100 MHz x 8 Bytes x 2 = 2128 MB/s = 1.600 GB/s
DDR266 : 133 MHz x 8 Bytes x 2 = 2128 MB/s = 2.128 GB/s
DDR333 : 166 MHz x 8 Bytes x 2 = 2656 MB/s = 2.656 GB/s
PC800 RDRAM : 800 MHz x 2 Bytes = 1600 MB/s = 1.600 GB/s

Note : i850 uses 2 channel Rambus, so it has effectively a 3.2 GB/s bandwidth.

Other Pentium 4 chipsets recently released include SiS's 645 and VIA's P4X266. SiS645 uses DDR333 RAM modules while VIA's P4X266 accepts DDR266 RAM modules. While both chipsets do not offer the best bandwidth available, 2.7 GB/s and 2.1 GB/s respectively, compared to PC800 RDRAM, a low-budget chipset does help to lower system integration costs.

So far, there is no impending news of any SiS645 based motherboard to be released in the retail market. But P4X266 boards are beginning to appear in numbers. On the i845 front - Intel's SDRAM solution for Pentium 4, it doesn't really offer the best solution with it's limited bandwidth. Logically, the higher the bandwidth, the better suited it is for the Pentium 4. In reality, anything near the theorectical limit of 3.2GB could still offer a competitive solution, considering not all 3.2GB of bandwidth will be utilised all the time.

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