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  Intel Socket-775 platform, what to expect? 
  Jun 16, 2004, 07:30am EDT 

Summary of Features

By: Dan Mepham

Second Generation DDR Memory

Both Grantsdale and Alderwood support new dual-channel DDR2 memory – Alderwood exclusively, while Grantsdale supports traditional dual-channel DDR as well. All new chipsets will support 400 and 533 MHz dual-channel DDR2 memory, providing for a maximum bandwidth of 6.4 GB/s or 8.5 GB/s, respectively. The 915 G/P Express chipsets will also continue to support 333 MHz and 400 MHz DDR memory, and will support slower 533 MHz FSB processors as well. Note that motherboard manufacturers will have the option of implementing DDR or DDR2, or both, with 915 Express boards.

PCI Express Interconnect Bus

Both new chipsets will feature the new PCI Express interconnect technology as well. All chipsets (except 915 GV Express, which has integrated graphics exclusively) support one x16 PCI Express slot, which is used for graphics cards, and up to four x1 PCI Express slots, which can be used for other hardware, such as sound cards, networking, and so on. Traditional PCI slots are supported as well, so it will be left to motherboard manufacturers to determine what blend of PCI and PCI Express slots to include. Note also that both of these chipsets offer no native support for AGP.

Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 900

915 G/V Express chipsets will feature on-chip graphics as well. The Graphics Media Accelerator 900 is the third generation integrated graphics core from Intel, and boasts significant improvements over the second generation core used with the 845 chipset. GMA900 offers DirectX 9 and OpenGL 1.4 support, and offers high-end features such as Pixel Shader 2.0 and Vertex Shader support.

Intel High Definition Audio

All new chipsets offer Intel’s latest on-board audio technology, called Intel High Definition Audio. Sonic quality has often lacked conspicuously with on-board audio solutions, and Intel has tackled that problem head on with HDA, by supporting higher sampling and quantization bit-rates, and support for future audio formats such as Dolby, DTS, and DVD-Audio. Another perhaps far-reaching feature is support for 16-element array microphones used for more accurate voice recognition.

Serial ATA & Intel Matrix Storage Technology

The new Grantsdale and Alderwood chipsets will feature four native Serial ATA ports. Both chipsets will also feature Intel’s Matrix Storage Technology, which is essentially a fancy name for RAID0/1 capability, but with one inventive addition – RAID0+1 with only two drives, instead of four. Instead of striping across two drives, and then mirroring across two additional drives, Matrix Storage Technology stripes across half of two drives, and mirrors across the remaining half. The result is speed equivalent to conventional RAID0 arrays, and almost as much protection as conventional RAID1 arrays, but with only two drives.

Intel Wireless Connect

Again, Intel Wireless Connect is simply a fancy marketing term for integrated 802.11g/b support. While not the most glamorous feature of the new chipsets, integrated wireless has arguably the most far-reaching implications. PCs equipped with the ICH6(R)W can be easily configured as wireless clients, or more importantly, access points, allowing a host of other devices throughout the home to connect wirelessly. We’ve talked before about the huge possibilities afforded by widespread wireless access, and this is certainly a step in that direction, and certainly one of our favorite Grantsdale/Alderwood features.

We'll explore all of the above mentioned features in greater detail once the products are officially introduced. We'll first have a look at the performance of this new platform, including more detailed looks at PCI Express, DDR2, and the LGA775 socket. We'll also offer a more thorough discussion of some of the more compelling features of the platform, including Intel HDA, GMA900, and Matrix Storage Technology and compare those to current or already established technologies. And obviously we investigate whether it is worthwhile to invest in this new technology or that you're better off just upgrading to the latest Socket-478 parts which probably will soon see a healthy price reduction as Intel readies itself to clean house and get rid of 'old' inventory.

Dan Mepham.

1. Sunset of an Era
2. Introduction, Dawn of the New
3. Summary of Features

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