Review of Final i815/Solano Chipset


I would have loved to congratulate Intel for the development of i815, but the fact that BX133 is still faster in the majority of benchmarks leaves me unsatisfied. I still don't see any sensible reason why Solano should not be able to reach BX133-scores or even outperform its two-year-old predecessor. Solano's 'underperformance' is raising some serious questions. Was Intel unable to make i815 as fast as 440BX or did Intel simply not want to make it too fast? I am sure that we won't ever get an honest answer to this question, so I leave it up to you to answer this question for yourself.

After I pointed out my disapproval of i815's performance in comparison with BX133, I still have to praise it for leaving its Rambus-brothers behind in the majority of benchmarks. It may be that the overclockers amongst us are disappointed about Solano, but all the ones out there, who were afraid of running BX beyond spec, have now found their perfect solution. Solano is faster and cheaper than i820 or i840 and it beats VIA's Apollo Pro133A PC133 chipset too, so it deserves to be called 'Best Coppermine Solution', taking this title away from the Apollo Pro133A. The question now is how expensive i815-platforms will be. After all you have to pay for an integrated graphics solution, regardless if you want to use it or not. Motherboards with VIA's Apollo Pro 133A will remain the most cost effective choice, but i815-platforms will be able to deliver superior performance at a price that is significantly lower than i820 and i840. Should i815 ship in volume it will kill i820 sales completely. i840-sales have never been good in the first place and I wouldn't know why that should change. This leaves a happy smile on my face while I see my hands waving bye-bye to Rambus. Intel's 815 chipset is a good product and it makes me feel very sorry for all owners of i820-systems. Well guys, that's what you get if you believe in marketing hype!

The conclusions would not be complete without me pointing out that VIA will very soon release the successor of Apollo Pro 133A. This new chipset will support DDR266 SDRAM, which will most likely outperform Solano. Keep this in mind if you are planning to buy a new system within the next few months. Solano is good right now; it will be old news once the DDR266 systems become available.