Intel's 900-Series Chipsets: PCI-Express and LGA775
Posted on: 08/13/2004 05:00 AM

Anyway, let's review the much more recent 865PE platform:

The 865 family of chipsets brought a number of new features to the table. Several of the most highly-touted were AGP 8x support, an 800 MHz front side bus, and dual channel DDR memory. You also got USB 2.0, and more of it at that. The ICH5R and a pair of Serial ATA150 ports were nice but not often used.

Now let's check out the new kids, starting with the 915 platform, which is aimed more at system integrators than retail buyers:

The 915 keeps the 865's 800 MHz front side bus, leaving us with 6.4 GB/sec of bandwidth. This is starting to look a little low, considering the 8.5 GB/sec that DDR2 can theoretically push. We gain a few interesting features, including:

  • Two more Serial ATA150 ports
  • Intel High Definition (24-bit, 192 kHz) audio
  • Up to 4 PCI Express x1 slots
  • PCI Express x16 Graphics slot
  • Intel Matrix Storage Technology
  • Intel GMA900 graphics

We'll want to talk about most of these, but let's wait until we look at the 925 block diagram:

One obvious difference is the lack of integrated graphics (good riddance). The 925X, being the high-end part and all that, is supposed to contain additional memory-access optimizations that are not present in 915. While I did see a difference in memory bandwidth between the 915 and 925X, I'm inclined to attribute the difference to the fact that we used the integrated video on the 915.

Speaking of memory, you probably noticed that the 915 family of chipsets supports both DDR and DDR2 memory, while the 925X chipset only supports DDR2. We'll double-check, but tests that I've read haven't shown much gain from going to DDR2, so keep that in mind if you're looking to minimize the costs of an upgrade.

Right now, let's talk about all these new features!

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