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Whitney, Intel's 810 Chipset - Part I

Other New Features Of I810

You have certainly already realized that i810-motherboards will not come with an AGP-slot. This means that you can only 'upgrade' to a different graphics solution by plugging in a PCI graphics card, which is pretty pointless nowadays. The next thing that's missing on i810-boards are the ISA-slots. Many of you will be happy about that, ISA's days are over indeed. Additional serial devices can be hooked up to the USB, so that there's indeed no reason for ISA anymore. Another new feature of Intel's latest chipsets i810 and the upcoming i820 is 'AC97'. This 'port' requires only an external modem/audio-codec, which won't cost much more than 10 bucks, to offer sound as well as a 56k-modem. However, be alarmed that these are no active devices as a modem or sound card from the good old times. AC97 lets the CPU 'emulate' a modem or a sound card, thus putting threat onto the CPU. Intel doesn't like anything better than 'innovations' that require more CPU-horsepower, so that they can sell more of their CPUs. The result is that your CPU is so busy supplying enough power to the AC97-soft modem and the AC97 soft sound controller that your online 3D-gaming experience is getting close to zero. However, what am I talking about? The i810 is anyway not the right chip for online 3D-gaming, is it?

Summary

i810 is certainly the first reasonable chipset solution with integrated 2D/3D-graphics. The previously released and competing SiS620 chipset could not really satisfy anyone with its poor 2D/3D-performance and the bad 2D-quality. It wouldn't be an Intel product if there weren't any cheesy issues like the 66 MHz CPU front side bus, but all in all the features of this chipset look pretty promising. One thing that's quite strange for Intel is the fact that current GMCH-chips are only in 'close to final' A2-stepping. This means that Intel isn't ready to ship final silicon yet, although the product has already been announced! The promises say however, that i810-systems will be shipping by end of May / beginning of June 1999. i810 Motherboards are supposed to be as cheap as 50 to 60 bucks, Celeron CPUs are getting cheaper every day as well, most boards will offer a chance to overclock the FSB to 100 MHz and a AC97 modem/sound-device will cost around 10 bucks. This way you can get a system with 2D/3D-graphics, the ability to do DVD-playback, a modem and sound for very little money. The following part two of this i810-article will be able to give you a very good idea of what the performance will be like.