Intel's i845 The MSI 845 Ultra and DFI NB70 DDR Motherboards - HotHardware

Intel's i845 The MSI 845 Ultra and DFI NB70 DDR Motherboards

5 thumbs up

 

Intel's i845 DDR Chipset Debuts
MSI's 845 Ultra-ARU & DFI's NB70-SC
DDR Solutions Based On Intel's New Value Platform

By, Dave Altavilla
December 17 2001

The market has been waiting for this one for a long time.  Intel has authorized OEMs to begin shipping Brookdale (i845) based solutions, now with DDR SDRAM support.  Finally, an Intel native alternative to RDRAM, for their flagship Pentium 4 Processor has arrived.  Current success in the OEM sector, for Intel's PC133 incarnation of this platform, has paved the way for a natural migration path.  With PC2100 DDR SDRAM on price parity with PC133 solutions, it is the proverbial "no brainer" for motherboard manufacturers and system level OEMs, to shift their product offerings to this higher performance solution at very competitive price points.  Frankly, why Intel didn't roll the i845 out with DDR support initially, is a bit of a mystery that most likely, only the corporate legal types at Intel and RAMBUS can completely comprehend.  Regardless, we're not looking a gift horse in the mouth. We're here for the hardware and not for explaining life's mysteries such as these.

Which bring us to our next topic of discussion, since we have a new higher end DDR based solution for the P4, what are the motherboard manufacturers capable of with respect to building solutions with this new memory interface on the Brookdale chipset.  Fortunately for you, we will try to answer that question and more in the pages to follow, as we look at the features, functionality and performance of two motherboards, one from MSI and one from DFI.  We'll also try to give you a good feel for what these products can do, against the back drop of our reference Intel test system, based on their D845BG motherboard, an i850/RDRAM combination and even a new VIA P4X266A board.

    

i845D Motherboards
The P4, DDR and all the trimmings

The i845 Chipset - Block Diagram - Socket 478 System Architecture W/ DDR Support

DFI NB70-SC

Chipset
Intel 845 /ICH2
CPU Socket
Socket 478
CPU Supported
Intel Pentium 4 processor (Supports 400MHz system data bus)
Memory
2  DDR DIMM sockets
max. 2GB
PC1600/PC2100 DDR SDRAM
PCI IDE
Dual PIO mode 4 EIDE channels up to 4 IDE devices
UltraDMA/100 transfer rate up to 100MB/sec
Super I/O
2 x NS16C550A compatible UARTs
1 x SPP/ECP/EPP parallel port
External Connectors
2 x USB 1.1 ports, 2 x DB-9, 1 x DB-25, 1 x mouse,1 x keyboard, 1 x game/MIDI, 3 x Audio jacks
Internal Connectors
1 x connector for 2 additional external USB, 1x IrDA, 2 x IDE, 1x Floppy, 3 x ATX power, 3 x fan, 1 x WOL,1 x WOR, 2 x internal audio connectors
Power Management
ACPI and OS direct power management
Wake-on event: RTC/USB Keyboard/Modem/LAN/Keyboard/Mouse
Hardware Monitor

System, processor temperature, voltage and fan speed
Expansion Slots
1 AGP slot (Supports 1.5V AGP 4x)
5 PCI slots
1 CNR slot
Audio On Board
AC`97 Audio codec
 

 

Intel D845BG

Chipset
Intel 845 /ICH2
CPU Socket
Socket 478
CPU Supported
Intel Pentium 4 processor (Supports 400MHz system data bus)
Memory
2  DDR DIMM sockets
max. 2GB
PC1600/PC2100 DDR SDRAM  
PCI IDE
Dual PIO mode 4 EIDE channels up to 4 IDE devices
UltraDMA/100 transfer rate up to 100MB/sec
Super I/O
2 x NS16C550A compatible UARTs
1 x SPP/ECP/EPP parallel port
External Connectors
7 x USB 1.1 ports, 2 x DB-9, 1 x DB-25, 1 x mouse,1 x keyboard, 1 x game/MIDI, 3 x Audio jacks
Internal Connectors
1 x connector for 2 additional external USB, 1x IrDA, 2 x IDE, 1x Floppy, 3 x ATX power, 3 x fan, 1 x WOL,1 x WOR, 2 x internal audio connectors
Power Management
ACPI and OS direct power management
Wake-on event: RTC/USB Keyboard/Modem/LAN/Keyboard/Mouse
Hardware Monitor

System, processor temperature, voltage and fan speed
Expansion Slots
1 AGP slot (Supports 1.5V AGP 4x)
6 PCI slots
1 CNR slot
Audio On Board
AC`97 Audio codec
 

 

MSI 845 Ultra-ARU

Chipset
Intel 845 /ICH2
CPU Socket
Socket 478
CPU Supported
Intel Pentium 4 processor (Supports 400MHz system data bus)
Memory
2  DDR DIMM sockets
max. 2GB
PC1600/PC2100 DDR SDRAM  
PCI IDE
Dual PIO mode 4 EIDE channels up to 4 IDE devices
UltraDMA/100 transfer rate up to 100MB/sec
Super I/O
2 x NS16C550A compatible UARTs
1 x SPP/ECP/EPP parallel port
External Connectors
4 x USB 2.0 ports supported by NEC chipset, 2 x DB-9, 1 x DB-25, 1 x mouse,1 x keyboard, 1 x game/MIDI, 3 x Audio jacks
Internal Connectors
1 x connector for 2 additional external USB, 1x IrDA, 2 x IDE, 1x Floppy, 3 x ATX power, 3 x fan, 1 x WOL,1 x WOR, 2 x internal audio connectors
Power Management
ACPI and OS direct power management
Wake-on event: RTC/USB Keyboard/Modem/LAN/Keyboard/Mouse
Hardware Monitor
System, processor temperature, voltage and fan speed
Expansion Slots
1 AGP slot (Supports 1.5V AGP 4x)
6 PCI slots
1 CNR slot
Audio On Board
CMI8738/PCI - 2/4/6 channel audio
IDE RAID (for 845 Ultra ARU)
ATA133 w/ RAID 0,1 support by Promise PDC20276


Our apologies for the fine print here but there is a lot of information to squeeze into one place.  There are a few notables with respect to the above specifications for the three boards we tested in this piece.  First amazingly enough, the Intel board is the only one in the round-up with 6 PCI slots.  Our first thoughts were, come on now MSI and DFI, if Intel can do it, so can you!  In the future, we hope to see more i845D boards with 6 PCI slots.  This Intel board is the only  one we've seen thus far.

 

Other than that, the  board is a fairly straight forward design with the typical bells and whistles including hardware monitoring functions.  On the backside header however, we were treated to a nice surprise.  There are 4 USB port connectors bolted on, which eliminates the need for one of those header cable assemblies we've seen in some kits.

Let's have a look at our other two contenders here.


DFI's NB70-SC and MSI's 845 Ultra-ARU, Details

 

Article Index:

Login or Register to Comment
Post a Comment