Micron's Upcoming Samurai DDR Chipset - First Looks

The Samurai DDR Test Platform

The Samurai DDR platform we tested was no way near a production motherboard. The motherboard was an engineering prototype that was twice the size of a typical board.

The board supported dual CPU's, included an AGP Pro50-slot, 5 PCI slots, 2 USB ports, 2 serial ports, 1 parallel port, no ISA slots, and utilized the same south bridge as a 440BX based platform.

Even though the tested platform utilized the older south bridge, the Samurai DDR chipset was also designed to support VIA's south bridge as well. I wished that the reference platform we had in the lab was designed using VIA's new south bridge.

Although the performance of the older BX south bridge was decent, it lacked the important UDMA 66 IDE interface. To remove any performance deficits I might encounter with the onboard UDMA 33 IDE interface, I installed a Promise Ultra 66 PCI IDE controller. Anyway, the board ran without any problems, which amazed me since it was a prototype board running with alpha silicon!

DDR Performance Expectations

Given my experience with SDR vs. DDR graphic boards I definitely knew that DDR SDRAM memory should provide a performance boost over SDRAM. The only questionable thing in my mind was how good was the Samurai DDR chipset.

I didn't know if the chipset would artificially hide the performance advantage of the DDR memory. I figured that the DDR platform should at least come close to the performance we saw with the i840 board in our article The RDRAM Avenger - Intel's i840 Chipset .