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   Review : Intel 845G Chipset »  


 Intel 845G Chipset - Preamble
 Date  : May 22nd, 2002
 Category  : Chipsets
 Manufacturer   : Intel
 Author  : Jin-Wei Tioh

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Just last week, Intel introduced the first Celeron based on the 0.18-micron process "Willamette" core. As evidenced by previous trends, the launch of a budget processor always seems to be followed up with an embedded graphics solution. The older Celeron was accompanied by the i810 chipset, which quite frankly featured sub-par performance compared to the i815 or even the old faithful 440BX. However, it went over fairly well with its target market segment - low-end, value OEM PCs.

Another interesting fact is that the graphics cores with the largest sales are not those catering towards add-in solutions such as those from ATI, nVIDIA, or Matrox. By far, that title belongs to the cores that are integrated into chipsets, which is why both ATI and nVIDIA are scrambling to the market with their respective integrated chipset solutions. The chipset business is very lucrative, provided you can supply good volume. Intel is dead serious about its chipset venture, and has thus launched a brand new integrated solution for the Socket-478 platform - the Brookdale-G.

There are two versions of the Brookdale-G; the 845G and 845GL. Both chipsets are duplicates of the 845E, except that the 845G features Intel's integrated Extreme Graphics while the 845GL is a crippled 845G, lacking an AGP slot and support for the new quad-pumped 533MHz FSB.

In our P4 Chipset Roundup, we took at look at the 845 chipset. The 845G is also a two chip solution, consisting of the i82845G MCH (Memory Controller Hub) and the i82801DB ICH4 (I/O Controller Hub). The i82845G MCH supports either PC133, DDR200 or DDR266 memory. This time around, in addition to asynchronous memory bus and FSB operation for PC133 and DDR266 support with 400MHz FSB P4s, the i82845G adds synchronous operation of both buses to support the newly launched 533MHz FSB P4s. Strangely missing are AGP 8X and DDR333 support, which places the i82845G behind the P4X333 and the SiS645DX.

The i82801DB ICH4 is a long-needed breath of fresh air. The 845 sported the i82801BA ICH2, a carry-over from i850, i815 and i810 chipsets. ATA-133 and USB 2.0 are features that would logically be added to bring Intel's South Bridge up to speed with the VIA VT8235 and upcoming SiS 962. 3 USB 2.0 host controllers (6 USB ports) made it into the design, but ATA-133 support did not.

All in all, we can only speculate that Intel desires to closely guard its chipsets' reputations for compatibility and reliability. Adding the latest whiz-bang features is not always inline with that goal. Fortunately, at least two motherboard manufacturers have equipped their 845G motherboards with additional features. MSI will be integrating LAN and Bluetooth technology in the 845G MAX-L. EPoX has added LAN and ATA-133 RAID into the EP-4G4A+, the 845G test platform in this article. An excellent motherboard contender, the EP-4G4A+ has excellent layout, stability and feature set : 3 DIMM slots, 6 PCI slots (all full-length capable), hardware-based 6 channel integrated audio and EPoX's popular POST debug LED.

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