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Intel Roadmap News 10/2000: Part One, Desktop Processors And Chipsets

Intel Desktop Chipsets

The I830 'Almador' Pentium III Chipset

A lot of speculation has been going on around this chipset since TheRegister first mentioned it several months ago. Even in the current roadmap Intel doesn't want to admit the obvious though, leaving a lot of room for even more theories.

Basically, Almador is the badly needed chipset to support the new advanced Pentium III processor with the 'Tualatin' core. It supplies the new clock, voltage and bus specs and will obviously be released together with 'Tualatin' within the next 9 months. The most important issue with 'Almador' however is the memory support. What we do know for certain is the fact that this future Pentium III platform will NOT support the dreaded RDRAM memory . The roadmap states that 'Almador' will run with PC133 SDRAM memory, but everybody at the right state of mind will realize that PC133 will be more than old news in Q3/2001 when AMD-platforms will benefit from the much faster DDR-SDRAM for almost a year already. Therefore it seems a pretty safe guess that 'Almador' will support DDR-SDRAM as well, which might not be admitted in Intel's current roadmaps because Intel has still got this unholy deal with Rambus, the company that pretty much hates DDR-SDRAM memory.

All in all, it seems rather likely that Intel will release the i830 or 'Almador' chipset and the 'Tualatin'-Pentium III quite ahead of Q3/2001, bundled with DDR-SDRAM support. This could be a very interesting product and it might save Intel's neck, which otherwise takes the risk of only supplying uncompetitive old Pentium III systems and a Pentium 4 that only runs with the unpopular RDRAM memory.

Here are the specs of the i830 'Almador' chipset:

Intel 830 'Almador' Pentium III Chipset
ProcessorAdvanced Pentium III with 'Tualatin ' or 'Coppermine-T ' coreSocket370 FCPGA2
FSB133 MHz (only?)
Memory SupportPC133 SDRAM, probably DDR-SDRAM, 3 DIMMs, up to 1.5 GB
ECCYes
AGP-SpecAGP4X 1.5 V
USB6 USB-Ports, USB 2.0 Spec
ATAUDMA100
Northbridge82830, 625 mBGA
SouthbridgeICH3, 421 mBGA
ReleaseQ2/2001? Maybe earlier?

You can see that i830 is quite advanced in comparison with i815. It does not come with an integrated graphics core, the memory support is not limited to the pathetic 512 MB of i815 and it supports ECC. This is a clear sign that Intel regards i830 as a full blown chipset, not a low-cost solution as with i815.

The i830 chipset will further more be accompanied by the upcoming ICH3 south bridge, which will support the new USB 2.0 spec and offer 6 USB-ports amongst other things.

The Intel 850 Pentium 4 Chipset

I won't say much about this chipset, as it will be released together with Intel's Pentium 4 processor in a bit more than a months time, the second half of November 2000. We all know that Intel will be trying to force RDRAM down its customer's throat once more, as there won't be an alternative Pentium 4 platform available for a while. I personally guess that if Intel won't be successful with the upcoming Pentium 4 / i850 bundle because of Rambus, it will finally drop this widely disliked company, which will most likely be the (well-deserved?) end of Rambus Inc.

Here are the (mostly well-known) specs of i850:

Intel 850 Pentium 4 Chipset
ProcessorPentium 4, Socket 423
FSB400 MHz (quad-pumped 100 MHz bus)
Memory Support4 RIMMs, PC600/800 RDRAM, up to 2 GB
ECCYes
AGP-SpecAGP4X 1.5 V
USB4 USB Ports
ATAUDMA100
Northbridge82850, 615 OLGA
SouthbridgeICH2, 360 EBGA (known from i815E, i820E, i840E)
ReleaseNovember 2000