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i875P Roundup - Intel 875P chipset

The introduction of Intel's 875P chipset means that a lot of the functions that earlier were controlled by circuits from third party manufacturers are now integrated in the chipset. These functions are mainly controlled by the very interesting southbridge 82801E(B/R) which we will return to in just a moment. The new northbridge 82875P does actually not differ very much from Granite Bay's northbridge, which was launched already in autumn.

The major difference is that the northbridge now got support for 800MHz FSB processors and Dual Channel DDR333/400. In the optimal situation, where you got a 800MHz FSB processor together with two DDR400 memory modules, you would at least theoretically get an impressive 6.4GB/s memory bandwidth. Of course the AGP 8x support is available here too, which Intel first launched officially with Granite Bay. To increase the performance even more, Intel has equipped their Canterwood with something that is called Performance Acceleration Technology, PAT.

This technology together with tighter timings on the north bridge is what is going to give the chipset an advantage over the cheaper Springdale chipset, which in other ways is almost identical. One other major difference is that Canterwood supports ECC memories, which is a major factor in professional coherence's. Below you can see a schedule over the chipset's structure and features.

As you can see in the figure above, it is the earlier mentioned southbridge named ICH5(R) which handles the peripheral equipment. ICH5 exists in two versions where an R in the end of the label indicates that the southbridge, except its two channel S-ATA support, also got support for S-ATA RAID. The ICH5R version of the circuit will therefore be a little more expensive thus we will most likely not see it on low priced motherboards.

Furthermore the new southbridge has also support for 6 channel sound (AC97) and up to 8 USB 2.0 ports. Even a 10/100 NIC is controlled by the southbridge, but as we soon will see some manufacturers have not settled for this and therefore equipped their boards with GigabitLAN instead, which is supported by the northbridge.

Intel's Gigabit solution is rather costly for the manufacturers and therefore they have chosen to use a cheaper third party version for this. You can of course find hyperthreading this time also and considering the approaching mass launch of HT processors, the technology will soon be quite common even for the consumers who are concerned about prices. i875P is really an impressive chipset.
The changes are not unexpected but the fact that they have managed to squeeze in so much functionality in the chipset makes Intel well worth some praise. The integration is very welcome through the consumer's point of view because you get more for your money and extra cards become almost superfluous, as long it's not about special cards for video editing or similar.

That's the end of the theoretical class and it is time to see how the manufacturers have implemented the chipset. First we take a look at ABIT's IC7-G.

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