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  Daily Column, December 18th 
  Dec 18, 2001, 12:00pm EST 
 
By: Sander Sassen

Uneventful, that I think describes the past few weeks best. Sure, there are the usual press releases for new chipsets, yet another motherboard or a CPU with a 66MHz higher clockspeed than the previous top-of-the-line model, thus nothing to write home about really. One thing that I was looking forward to was the DDR capable i845 however. Unfortunately Intel chose to do a stealthy launch and didn’t even issue a full-blown media onslaught, as they did with the launch of the original i845.

Not surprising though considering the i845 was just launched two months ago in an attempt to make the Pentium 4 the CPU of choice for as many OEM and retail PCs as possible. As we already discussed in our ‘i845, Performance Bottlenecks’ the i845 chipset didn’t exactly do wonders for the Pentium 4’s performance. Now that the i845D has been introduced, offering somewhat better performance, it has made life even more complex for the average consumer as the Pentium 4 can now be had with SDRAM, DDR SDRAM and RDRAM, confusing to say the least.

One thing you can be sure of is that the cheapest Pentium 4 PCs you can buy most likely have SDRAM and suffer a huge performance penalty as a result, while those that are prices somewhere in between have DDR SDRAM which is a bit faster, and the ones that are priced, on average, $200 over the cheapest have RDRAM memory. Now correct me if I’m wrong, but what’s the use of having three chipsets, with three different memory architectures, all costing a few dollars extra, not a couple of hundred, for one CPU?

I mean, to make a popular car analogy, would you rather go with the Integra Type R with standard steel rims and nylon interior or spend a few bucks extra and go with the aluminum alloy rims and leather? If you do happen to decide to go with the steel rims and nylon interior you’ll have a though time ever getting aluminum alloy rims and leather interior for just a few bucks extra if decide you want it later. Just think of the i845D as somewhere in between, say, standard steel rims and leather interior, doesn’t make sense does it?

But anyway, other things that were introduced are AMD’s 1900+ and 1900+ MP CPUs, another text-book example of an uneventful new product. That 66MHz clockspeed increase is going to yield me less than 2% increase in performance, so why bother making a big fuss about it. I’d have been more impressed if they’d simply pushed past the 2000+ performance index and finally caught up with Intel and their numbers game, even if only in the eye of the public.

Oh, and all those rumors about the 760MPX chipset having issues, USB not working, dual XPs not supported, etc. All I can say is that one individual, or a couple, not being able to get it to work is nothing to get all worked up about. There’s plenty of people to be found in newsgroups that can’t even get the simplest piece of hardware properly setup and working, so I’ll reserve judgment until I’ve seen it myself or hear about it from someone whom I trust to know his stuff. Forums and newsgroups are where people vent their opinions and post their experiences, it is a personal thing, nothing like an article or an editorial where the author does an in-depth and hopefully objective evaluation to determine a product’s strengths and weaknesses.

In the meanwhile we’re still waiting for both ATi and Tyan to see whether they can make their products compatible as our Tiger MP equipped with a Radeon 8500 still has some quirks. We’ll also be receiving an Asus 760MPX motherboard shortly and we’ll be sure to address any concerns that have been raised over the past few weeks. And naturally we’ll be sure to compare it to the Tyan Tiger MP just to see just how well it stacks up. Nothing like a good head-to-head comparison to bring out the best, or worst, in both of them and see just how well Asus’ first entry into the AMD SMP arena is able to hold up.

Sander Sassen

 

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