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Ready For The Future, Thanks To Serial ATA

Pentium 4 with Dual DDR: Endurance Test of Seven Motherboards with the Granite Bay Chipset
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One of the most frequently discussed issues is surely the new serial interface, which will offer hard drives and other ATA drives bandwidths of 150 MB/s and should significantly reduce the tangle of cables inside the computer.

It will still take several months before most available chipsets are factory-equipped with the necessary ports. Until then, however, motherboard manufacturers are offering attractive alternatives in which serial ATA controller chips from third-party manufacturers are integrated onto the boards.

The offerings have now become quite handsome: along with HighPoint and Promise, Silicon Image also makes a controller for serial ATA. The latter, however, is the only product (even in standalone cards for the PCI bus), that manages without performance-gobbling bridge chips. These converters make it possible for the manufacturers to rely on available controller hardware and simply convert the data signals from parallel to serial transmission.

The advantage of the converter solution: well-known, tried-and-tested controllers can continue to be used at a low cost and also allow for combined operation of serial ATA and UltraATA/ 100 or 133. The disadvantage is considerably poorer performance than the new standard actually promises: about 80 MB/s maximum is possible via bridges.

E7205: Replacement For 850E And RDRAM

The launch of the first dual-channel platform for the Pentium 4 marks the first time that a chipset is able to hold a candle to the 850E together with PC1066 RDRAM. Our previous comparison test contains a large number of the latest benchmarks. In most of them, the 7205 is not able to surpass the 850E, but it comes pretty darn close to its performance. However, Intel has officially specified the 7205 to become the successor to the 850E.

The market leader will also be launching further chipsets (codenamed Springdale and Canterwood) in time for the CeBIT. These are technically based on the E7205. To be more specific, an FSB of up to 800 MHz and a memory clock of up to 400 MHz will be possible. The enormous clock speeds will be made possible through two modes: Quad Data Rate (FSB) and Double Data Rate (DDR400).

Nevertheless, the E7205 is already the fundamentally better choice compared to the 850E, because there are a few arguments that speak against the RDRAM platform:

  • Overclocking a system with PC1066 RDRAM is very difficult. We attained a maximum of 145 MHz, which corresponds to a 10% increase.
  • PC1066 RDRAM gets really hot, thus compromising system stability in an environment without much air flow and necessitating the integration of powerful, and loud, fans.
  • RIMMs based on the PC1066 standard with 512 MB are rare and expensive. Memory capacities of over 1 GB are therefore more costly than with E7205, which can manage with PC266 SDRAM. 2 GB RAM modules are no longer a rarity, especially for workstation systems.
  • 850E only supports AGP 4X.
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