USB, AGP 8x, DDR333, ATA/133: The Perfect P4 Chipset?
The new chipsets that are introduced from time to time usually lack innovation. Not this time. VIA, formerly "just a chipset maker," has become the number two in the global chipset market, and now it is putting all its efforts into extending the good reputation that it achieved through a series of successful chipsets. As numerous tests have revealed, the Pentium 4 lacks the bandwidth that's needed to take advantage of its full potential. Is the P4X333 the platform to remedy this grievance?
It looks like VIA should be able to continue this success story - the new chipset does implement a bunch of features for which most of us have been impatiently waiting. USB 2.0 will be the most important external interface for all kind of computers, and obviously, VIA wouldn't do without it. The new Southbridge chip VT8235 not only offers USB 2.0, but also includes an IDE interface with support for UltraATA/133. Even though Maxtor is the only manufacturer that ships such drives, there's certainly nothing wrong in having this most advanced interface. Finally, VIA emphasizes that the bandwidth of their bus between the Northbridge and Southbridge has been doubled, now delivering 533 MB/s (just as fast as SiS, twice as fast as the Intel Hub architecture).
Last but not least, there is a question that this article won't be able to answer: What about AGP 8x? According to the specs, VIA has implemented the new graphics card interface that finally also doubles the bandwidth between the graphics adapter and the Northbridge. In the past, upgrading from AGP 1x to 2x and 4x always raised graphics performance. A separate article will discuss this topic later. Here, it's not a primary factor in evaluating the performance of the P4X333 and the new memory interface in particular. Instead, we stick to known factors, such as GeForce 4 TI4600, 512 MB DDR333 SDRAM (CL2.0) and a fast hard drive from Maxtor. Let's see what this chipset is all about.