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Trendsetter: DDR333 For Pentium 4

SiS Kicks Off: 10 Motherboards With The 645 Chipset and DDR333
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The advances in processor technology are so fast that the memory performance usually cannot keep pace. A quick look at today's processor multipliers (that's the ratio between system clock and CPU core clock) shows how acute this problem still is:

  • Pentium 4: 100 MHz x14 to 100 MHz x22 (100 MHz quad-pumped)
  • Pentium III: 100 MHz x4.5 to 133 MHz x10.5
  • Pentium II: 66 MHz x3.5 to 66 MHz x5.5
  • Pentium MMX: 66 MHz x1 to 66 MHz x3.5

As you can easily see, the system speed is only a fraction of the CPU clock. The main reason is that it's hardly possible for the signal to run the long distance between CPU, chipset and the main memory at high clock speeds. This can only be done through huge effort in systems of several hundred MHz.

In any case, SiS takes the only correct path: future processors will continue to have increasing core speeds, and if the memory clock does not grow proportionally, a huge part of the possible performance will go unused. Raising the memory speed from 133 to 166 MHz (DDR from 266 to 333 MHz) is about a 25% increase, which should be doable.

Is The SiS645 A Favorite?

Experienced users normally prefer Intel's chipsets because they combine several important virtues: they are fast, very reliable, offer easy motherboard setup and, above all, there is persistent continuity in Intel's products.

In the past, you could not say the same of products from ALi, SiS and VIA, all of which had aspects to be criticized. Sometimes it was the performance, with the next product it was the compatibility, and the stability problem continued to eat away at the image of the Taiwanese manufacturers now and again.

Within the last couple of years, these companies have improved the situation considerably, because they know that the market is not very forgiving of mistakes. The Taiwanese have done their homework thoroughly, and today, if you buy a motherboard with an ALi or SiS chipset, you can be quite sure that it works. The same is true even more so for VIA, as this manufacturer has strengthened its position to chipset maker number two within the last few years.

Now that former issues have been eliminated, there are several factors that speak to the benefits of motherboards, particularly those with SiS chipsets:

  • Excellent performance : SiS has come pretty close to Intel and VIA in this respect
  • Attractive prices : the chipsets and motherboards with the SiS chipset are clearly cheaper than products with the Intel chipset or even VIA-based motherboards
  • Platform switch : due to reasonable pricing, a change of platform will not have too much financial impact - regardless of whether it involves upgrading right now or changing to another processor architecture tomorrow.
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