Are we impressed? Yes we are, not only by the performance of PC-1066 and PC-1200 RDRAM but also by the fact that a manufacturer such as Asus is once more on the forefront of innovation. Many other manufacturers use a board layout and components that are not far from Intel’s reference designs. Asus however uses a different layout and clock generators, both for the FSB and the Rambus modules, which allows the P4T-E to go beyond 133MHz whilst remaining absolutely stable.
That this is no easy task to accomplish can by judged by the fact that until recently Rambus Inc. was sending out specially modified Asus P4T motherboards to demo PC-1066. We actually started off using such a motherboard for PC-1066 evaluation, but discontinued using it as the P4T-E turned out to be much more stable at PC-1200 speeds and less finicky over all. The good thing about it is that the P4T-E is available at most retailers and is no different than the one we’ve used during our testing. There’s only one minor issue that you’ll have to overcome if you want to use a 133 or even 150MHz FSB, and that’s finding an engineering sample Pentium 4 or a way to circumvent the multiplier lock.
That might change in the next few months however, if Northwood does indeed come out in 133MHz FSB versions and with a sub 2.5GHz clockspeed you might get lucky, just as with the 133MHz Pentium IIIs, and run it at an higher FSB. With the current batch of Pentium 4s you might have a chance with a 1.5GHz running at a 133MHz FSB as that equals 2GHz. As for PC-1066 capable RDRAM, we’re happy to report that PC-1066 speeds can be reached with most recently manufactured PC-800 RDRAM and many actually go a bit further than that.
Unfortunately it is still a bit unclear when we’ll see 133MHz FSBs and PC-1066 RDRAM debut officially, especially since Intel has stopped further development on the Tulloch chipset that was supposed to support 133MHz FSB and PC-1066. What other chipset(s) will be the successor(s) to the i850 still remains to be seen. From our perspective however the i850 is much like the 440BX, it has a lot of potential and headroom left, especially when the manufacturer carefully selects the components used and puts some time and effort into the board layout. We can tell from personal experience that PC-1066 was perfectly stable on the Asus P4T-E, only PC-1200 caused for some instability when running in a high case-temperature environment.
Other than that, we’ve not run into any issues with the motherboard or the RIMMs when running them at PC-1066 and PC-1200 speeds. PC-1066 RDRAM is certainly able to offer a nice increase in performance over PC-800, but honestly we feel that PC-1200 would be a worthy successor to PC-800, especially since DDR 333 and even faster DDR memory standards are in rapid development.
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