Introduction and i915 Architecture
Major product launches don't seem to be getting any easier these days, at least on our side of the fence here in the online media community. Competition is fiercer than ever in all of the major functional blocks for personal computing, whether it's Graphics, Platform Chipsets, Drive technology or Processors. It almost seems like major OEMs are driving too hard in an effort to trump the competition. On the other hand, high tech, as we all know, is a very unforgiving battleground. And so, it is with cramped weary fingers and bloodshot tired eyes, that we bring you this showcase of Intel's major platform launch centered around their new Alderwood and Grantsdale chipsets.
What's that? Quit whining? We expected you, our faithful readership, would cut us little slack here and we wouldn't have it any other way. However, we certainly would have liked to spend more time with the products (not to mention a few dozen more hours in the editor) we'll step through and analyze for you in the following pages. Regardless, the launch of the i925X and i915 based platforms from Intel, mark a major overhaul in PC architecture. Pulling all the pieces together, some of which come from 3rd party suppliers, is also no trivial task. As such, test results, analysis and commentary provided in this article were generated in only a few short days. Compressed and stressed? Yes, you might say that. Let's be honest here though, this is nothing new to us. Recently, AMD's new socket 939 based Athlons arrived to many of the top sites in our field, only a few days before its launch as well.
So then, in the interest of conserving our mutual bandwidth, let's cut through the chatter and dive right into the good stuff. Intel brings forth a host of new technology to the PC today, much of which will carry new architectures for years to come. There's a lot of ground to cover, so let's get busy
A picture tells the story quite nicely but we'll slice and dice things up for you further here as well. What you're looking at is the block diagram of Intel's i915G chipset. This product includes an integrated graphics block but there are other derivatives of the 915, including the i915P, that come sans graphics.
The major difference, beyond integrated graphics, between the i915 and i925X, is the fact that the i915 supports standard DDR and DDR2 DRAM. This will make it significantly more appealing to mainstream system integrators and end users, who are looking to stick with legacy system memory. As you'll see in the pages ahead, DDR2, with its current RAS/CAS and prefetch timing characteristics, even at 533MHz, provides negligible performance gains over standard DDR400 modules currently. When memory and module OEMs are able to deliver low latency DDR2 products, DDR2 will be a much more compelling solution.
Let's move on to the i925X and from there we can cover the rest of the architecture that is common to both i915P/G and i925X chipset families.