New Processors On Old Boards: Adapters From Upgradeware for Socket 370 and Socket 423
Редакция THG,  24 сентября 2002


Introduction

Introduction

"There's no stopping progress" - this is the philosophy that continues to bring users ever faster and better performing products with increasing frequency. It is not always cause for rejoicing, because even expensive high-end PCs become obsolete after just a few months - even if they still work just fine.

There was a time, up until the end of the '90s, when available systems were often too slow to run many applications. Today the opposite is true: almost all standard applications can be run on commercially available machines at an acceptable speed. Only applications for areas such as 3D design still give today's PCs a real workout.

Responsible to a significant degree for this reversal of the trend was, among other reasons, the deepening battle between Intel and AMD. Since the introduction of the Athlon K7, Intel has had to do more and more to defend its monopoly. In fact, it's quite fair to ask whether processors beyond the 2 GHz barrier would be available at all today if it weren't for AMD.

That would all be well and good if it wasn't for the annoying platform change brought about by the introduction of new processors. It means that Pentium II, Pentium III and Pentium 4 all require different sockets - not to mention the variations within processor families.

Intel's launch of the Pentium III with Tualatin core (from 1.2 GHz) was a real slap in the face for the simple reason that, although it used the same physical socket as its predecessor the Coppermine, it required a slightly different pin layout. That meant that anyone who wanted it was forced to purchase a new motherboard in the bargain. It was a similar story when the first Pentium 4 came out for Socket 423, which Intel from day one determined would have a life span of no more than a few months. That was indeed what happened, because all Pentium 4 systems with the current Socket 478 available today are incompatible with its predecessor.

The manufacturer Upgradeware promises substantially longer life expectancy for systems with Socket 370 (pre-Tualatin) and Socket 423 platforms, since its adapters enable modern processors to be operated on relatively older mainboards.

Socket 370 with Tualatin Pinout

Socket 370 with Tualatin Pinout
Adapter socket 370GU from Upgradeware: there's no fixing mechanism as there was with ZIF sockets (Zero Insertion Force), therefore, removing the processors requires great care.

Many users might consider this adapter socket a useful approach to putting off upgrading the motherboard, memory and processor in their PCs. Thousands of people around the world use a second-generation Pentium III system that already features a Socket 370 but cannot cope with the Tualatin Pentium IIIs.

Most processors run at between 600 and 933 MHz. They are adequate for standard tasks such as word processing, spreadsheets or desktop publishing. In conjunction with a modern graphics card (at least GeForce2), this type of computer can also be used for most 3D games. They are quickly brought to a grinding halt when they have to compress video files (MPEG-2 or MPEG-4), however.

The solution to many performance problems is not necessarily the purchase of a new PC, because Intel also supplies both Celeron and Pentium III processors up to 1.4 GHz.

Socket 370 with Tualatin Pinout
The adapter socket is delivered with an acceptable cooler and an installation guide that even beginners will find easy to understand.

Socket 370 with Tualatin Pinout: Overshooting the Mark

Socket 370 with Tualatin Pinout:  Overshooting the Mark
The underside of the adapter socket.

With the help of Upgradeware's 370GU adapter, we were able to run a Tualatin-core Celeron processor on an old BX motherboard. A Pentium III would have been conceivable too, but it operates at an FSB speed of 133 MHz, a pace our motherboard cannot keep up with. As we wanted to examine how well the adapater socket worked, and not how well it could stress the mainboard's FSB, we decided to use the Celeron, which is technically equivalent to the Pentium III.

Perhaps you've already noticed that BX motherboards are almost invariably based on Slot 1. So we had to resort to an additional Abit adapter board that enabled us to run a Socket 370 processor in a Slot 1 interface. We then plugged the adapter socket with our test Celeron into this board.

And lo and behold - the BIOS recognized the CPU as a Pentium II with 1,300 MHz - not exactly accurate but quite sufficient. A runthrough of SYSmark 2002 caused no problems. The operation was a resounding success!

A list of compatible motherboards can be found at the following link:
http://www.upgradeware.com/english/product/370gu/compatibility.htm.

Upgrading the Pentium III: Suitable Chipsets

Processors Pentium III, up to 1.4 GHz
100 or 133 MHz FSB
Celeron, up to 1.4 GHz
100 MHz FSB
Chipsets VIA Apollo Pro 133/A
VIA Apollo Pro 266
VIA PLE133
VIA PM133
VIA PL133
Intel 440BX
Intel 810E
Intel 820 (RDRAM)
Intel 840 (RDRAM)
SiS 630/635
VIA Apollo Pro Pro 133/A
VIA Apollo Pro 266
VIA PMLE133
VIA PM133
VIA PL133
Intel 440BX
Intel 810/E
Intel 820 (RDRAM)
SiS 630/635

Socket 423 to Socket 478

Socket 423 to Socket 478
The heart of the adaptation: Socket 478 on Socket 423.

Upgradeware offers similar products for the soon-to-be-extinct Socket 423. Anyone who has sprung for a Pentium 4 system in the last 12 months will definitely have a PC based on Socket 423 and RDRAM. If Intel had its way, processors quicker than 2 GHz would no longer be operable with this architecture.

Upgradeware proves this isn't the case with the p478, which allows you to run the quickest Pentium 4 processors (up to 2.6 GHz with 400 MHz FSB) in an old system with Socket 423.

Socket 423 to Socket 478
The p478 adapter is delivered with a small installation guide and the necessary mountings.

In contast to the Socket 370 adapter, this model does not come with a processor cooler.

Socket 423 to Socket 478
In the middle of the adapter socket is a block of DIP switches that allow you to change the CPU voltage.

Socket 423 to Socket 478

This table contains the necessary settings for different processor core voltage levels.

Socket 423 to Socket 478, Continued

Socket 423 to Socket 478, Continued
The underside of the adapter socket contains all the pins for Socket 423. All 478 pins of the Socket 478 processor are situated in its interior.

Socket 423 to Socket 478, Continued

The illustration shows the installed adapter socket complete with a Northwood CPU in a Socket 423 motherboard from Asus (P4T).

Socket 423 to Socket 478, Continued
After the test system posts, BIOS identifies the CPU as a Pentium II with 2.2 GHz. Although it is a Pentium 4, this slight misreading doesn't impair its functionality in the least.

Don't let the BIOS message confuse you. That's just what happens when you upgrade older Socket 370 systems. The BIOS cannot recognize the new processor, but it can display its speed correctly.

There is a compatibility list at the following link:
http://www.upgradeware.com/english/product/p478/compatibility.htm.

Sources of problems: BIOS, FSB, voltage and multiplier

At this point we must stress that this sort of upgrading may not always work. First, Tualatin processors (identifiable by their metal surface) requires a 1.5V (the Coppermine needs 1.65V) - not every old mainboard will support this, so it's definitely well worth taking a look at the handbook or the manufacturer's website.

Secondly, some motherboards refuse to work with processors they can't recognize. Ideally, the motherboard manufacturer provides an updated BIOS version that can identify the PIII Tualatin or Celeron. But this can't be taken for granted because hardly any manufacturers offer support for processors that aren't supposed to be used on old motherboards anyway. If in doubt, talk to your computer dealers and get them to allow you to return the merchandise if you don't manage to upgrade the board.

The FSB and the multiplier are the least of your worries, anyway. Because multipliers have for years been determined by the processor and thus cannot be changed, every processor which runs at 100 MHz FSB will work, regardless of whether it's a Pentium III 600 or a Celeron 1100. In fact, it doesn't even matter what multipliers are listed in the mainboard manual.

The only thing to watch out for the FSB is that the new processor works at the same system clock as the one being replaced. Alternatively, you can also check the specifications of your motherboard's chipset. The maximum FSB speed and its configuration can be found in the manual.

Upgradeware: Extensive Support

Since Upgradeware has yet to become a big name, most questions arising before the purchase of an adapter naturally revolve around the manufacturer and its commitment to the product. This information is supplied by an extensive website (www.upgradeware.com) that, besides featuring the compatibility lists in the links above, also has comprehensible installation guides in English and FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) that should help solve installation problems:
http://www.upgradeware.com/english/faq/faq.htm.

The menu item "Where to buy" calls up a list of dealers. At present, however, there are none listed for Europe. The distributor in Germany should definitely look into why this wasn't included.

Test Setup

Hardware
CPUs Intel Pentium 4 - 2000 MHz (400 MHz QDR FSB)
Intel Celeron - 1300 MHz
Motherboards
Pentium III Upgrade Platform ABit BD6-II, i440BX Chipset
Pentium III Platform Asus TUSL2-C, i815EPT Chipset
Pentium 4 Upgrade Platform Asus P4T, i850 Chipset
Pentium 4 Platform Asus P4B266
RAM
Pentium III Platform 2x 128 MB PC133 SDRAM, Infineon, CL2
Pentium 4 Platform 4 x 128 MB PC800 RDRAM, Samsung, or
2x 256 MB PC266 DDR-SDRAM, Infineon CL2
Other Hardware
Graphics Card nVIDIA GeForce 3, 64 MB DDR-SDRAM
Hard Drive IBM Deskstar 75 GXP, DTLA307030
30 GB, UATA/100, 7,200 rpm
Drivers & Software
Chipset Driver 3.20.1008
Graphics Driver nVIDIA Detonator 30.82
DirectX Version 8.1
OS Windows XP, Version 5.10.2600
Benchmarks & Settings
Quake III Arena Retail Version 1.16
command line = +set cd_nocd 1 +set s_initsound 0
Graphics detail set to 'Normal'
Benchmark using 'Q3DEMO1'
MPEG-4 Encoding Flask X4.5
DivX Codec 5.02
Sysmark 2001 Patch 3
Lame Lame 3.89 MMX, SSE, SSE 2, 3DNow
WinACE 2.04, 178 MB Wave file, best compression, Dictionary 4096 KB
Unreal Tournament Patch 4.26
UTBENCH.DEM

Benchmark Results

As there was limited time available for this test, we only put the Socket 478 through the complete benchmark suite. We examined the system with the Socket 370 adapter only for stability. It was revealed here that the Pentium III architecture is entirely unproblematic. Even with the simple processor cooler included in the adapter package, there was nothing remarkable to report in the two benchmark tests we ran under SYSmark, with the notable exception of the high performance ratings provided by the Celeron 1300 on old systems.

OpenGL Benchmark: Quake III Arena

Quake 3 - 640x480

Quake 3 - 1024x768

DirectX-7 Benchmark: Unreal Tournament

UTBench - 640x480

UTBench - 1024x768

MPEG-4 Encoding Benchmark: XMPEG 4.5 and DIVX 5.02

MPEG 4 Flask 5.01

MP3 Encoding: LAME 3.89

MP3 Lame

Office Applications: SYSmark 2001

Sysmark 2001 - Office Performance

Data Compression: WinACE 2.10

WinACE 2.2

Conclusion: A Complete Overhaul For a Bargain

Upgradeware gives many users what they want. With the command, "Never change a running system!" at the back of their minds, many users are afraid to mess with a technically fault-free system just to up the performance. And for good reason, too, because the only practical upgrades are either a memory expansion or exchanging the processor. As a rule, neither lead to any problems.

The p478 and 370GU adapter sockets allow current processors (Pentium III up to 1.4 GHz and Pentium 4 up to 2.6 GHz) to be run on older motherboards. While upgrading a P4 with 1.5 GHz to 2 GHz may be seen as pretty useless as things stand, upgrading an older Pentium III Coppermine system could prove really worthwhile.

For example, you could really jack up performance by swapping a Pentium III 600 for a Celeron 1300. The boost wouldn't just be from doubling the clock speed - the Tualatin core offers significant improvements in architecture.

Installing the Socket 478 adapter should present no problems at all because all the sockets involved have ZIF mechanisms. That can't be said of the 370GU. The processor has to be pressed into the socket with some force and a great deal of care. Slotting in the processor socket on the motherboard, on the other hand, should be accomplished with minimum effort.

Both adapters cost about $35. In addition, there's the cost of a new processor - in the case of a Celeron 1400, this is a mere $110. That's a more than acceptable sum to help breathe life into an older computer in such an impressive manner.

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