Episode II: Attack of the Chipsets - Intel 845G and 845E
Note: The initial article, posted on May 20, 2002, assumed that DDR333 support would be initially available. As a matter of fact it is, but according to Intel, DDR333 validation will be finished in H2/2002. We apologize for that.
It's only a couple of weeks ago that Intel launched new Pentium 4 processors that run at 533 MHz processor bus clock or FSB (in reality 133 MHz at 4x data rate). Initially, Intel released only one core logic for this new batch of processors, the RDRAM-chipset i850E. Today Intel is adding two more chipset models that support the much more popular DDR-SDRAM, to finally ensure that the new Pentium 4 'B' will become a mass product. SiS and VIA have already launched their DDR-solutions for the new Intel processor models, so Intel is consequently under pressure. Starting today, the re-worked 845E, as well as the 845G are available as Intel's mainstream platforms for Pentium 4 'B'. The question is whether or not they can take the crown for performance in the DDR category.
Due to dealings with Rambus Inc., Intel's very first Pentium 4 chipset had been a RDRAM-solution and it took a long while until Intel had finally been willing to add SDRAM and eventually DDR-SDRAM support for their flagship processor. While RDRAM has never become very popular due to several different reasons, Pentium 4 was always able to benefit from this memory type, making RDRAM chipsets the fastest Pentium 4 platforms. While in the past, i850 platforms were unpopular due to the high prices of RDRAM, today i850E seems a bad choice because it lacks Intel's official support of the new PC1066 RDRAM and it was not validated to run with Intel's latest "ICH4" south bridge that offers USB 2.0 support.
The chipsets Intel releases today do not share the problems mentioned above. DDR-SDRAM is more popular than ever, offering performance that is close enough to that of RDRAM. With i845E or i845G you will also not have to do without the new USB 2.0 standard, as 'ICH4' is the south bridge of choice for the two newcomers.