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Crème De La Crème: Special Edition 815 Boards and Useful Add-Ons

The 815 Chipset

The so-called 'Solano' chipset is a constant today, even though it wasn't Intel's initial intention to ship it in large quantities. For general information about the 815 chipset, please read one of the following articles:

Two chips make up the 815 chipset: The MCH or GMCH (Graphics and Memory Controller Hub) - which is equal to the term 'north bridge' - and the ICH (I/O Controller Hub) - or 'south bridge'. Intel favors the hub descriptions and thus the terms MCH and ICH, since those two chips are not linked via the PCI bus, but through a proprietary interface that is able to perform twice as well (266 MB/s maximum).

While the MCH comes with the CPU and memory interface, the GMCH also features a graphics controller. The ICH1 (82801AA) has an UltraATA/66 interface and an USB controller. There is also a bigger brother, the 82801BA, which supports UltraATA/100, comes with two USB controllers and a LAN controller. Depending on how you combine those chips, the chipset has slightly different names:

815 (graphics, ATA66)GMCH (82815) + ICH1 (82801AA)
815E (graphics, ATA100)GMCH (82815) + ICH2 (82801BA)
815P (no graphics, ATA66)MCH (82815EP) + ICH1 (82801AA)
815EP (no graphics, ATA100)MCH (82815EP) + ICH2 (82801BA)

The 'p' type chipsets came to the market later; probably due to complaints of customers that did not want to pay for the graphics engine their computers where unwilling to use.

Compared to the good old warhorse 440BX, the 815 chipset is technically more advanced, but unable to surpass BX's excellent performance. A 440BX system overclocked to 133 MHz FSB is slightly faster, as lots of readers keep reminding me. However, overclocking a BX-motherboard is a touchy affair and will not turn back time: The 440BX is simply somewhat out of date.

I recommend the following articles to overclockers: