As a starting
point for this article, we'll offer some confessions.
We admit it. For a long time now we've been die hard
RDRAM fans, when it comes to Pentium 4 configurations.
It was just too hard to ignore the simple fact that RAMBUS
driven i850/i850E setups offered the best performance, hands
down. We're performance enthusiasts around the HH Lab
and there is no way we'll settle for second best, when we
have the top dog at our disposal. As a result, our
platform of choice for the Pentium 4 had to be the one that
delivered the best performance, regardless of price.
Price was relative back in the hay day of RDRAM, everything
was cratering, along with the economy. However, all of
this may change with the introduction of Intel's latest
chipsets for the Pentium 4, the i845PE and i845GE.
The problem with
previous i845 board incarnations, was that they just
couldn't keep up with i850s or even boards based on the SiS
648 or VIA P4X333. This was largely due to the fact
that Intel's limitation of DDR266 speeds across the memory
bus, left them a notch behind others in the pack.
However, a new day has dawned for Intel's "value" chipset,
and with official DDR333, the high end enthusiast may be
sitting up to take notice. Let's have a look at our
|Dueling i845s - The i845PE Driven
Asus P4PE and The Intel i845GE Driven D845GEBV2
The new face of DDR
Powered Pentium 4 Performance
The i845PE and
GE chipsets both bring highly anticipated official DDR333 support to
Intel's DDR memory controller. In addition, 6 USB 2.0
interfaces are now supported as well as the standard 6
channel audio that also exists in the i845E of old. The
system bus speeds supported are 533MHz with a full 4.2GB/sec
of bandwidth to the Pentium 4 or 400MHz for 3.2GB/sec.
Again these bus speeds are nothing new for the i845 but DDR333
is what we've all been waiting for. The only difference
between the GE and PE version of the chipset, would be the
obvious addition of integrated graphics that the i845GE
brings to the table. We look more into this later.
Asus P4PE - Up close and personal:
The Asus P4PE is
one fully loaded board. Since this board is being
officially launched today, we don't have "canned" specs for
you. We will however, cover the highlights
here and this board has many of them.
10/100/1000 Ethernet comes courtesy of
BCM5702 Gigabit Ethernet MAC, on the version of the P4PE we
tested. This is an optional feature for the board but
we get the feeling that there will be more of these boards
built this way than not. The version we received also
has dual integrated IEEE1394 Firewire Ports. But wait,
Technologies' PDC20376 SATA 150 RAID Controller was also
installed on our board. The setup that Asus provides,
consists of two SATA channels and one EIDE channel.
This makes it a little more cumbersome if you are setting up
EIDE RAID, since Serial ATA drives are pretty much
non-existent at this point in time. You'll have to
configure a Master/Slave setup if you are going the EIDE
RAID route, which is less than optimal in terms of
performance. Regardless, this is a great feature, one
that will prove to be even more valuable as SATA hard drives
become more prevalent in the market place.
Stats On The Intel D845GEBV2