The boys at Intel are fixin' to release a new chipset next month. This chipset consists of *two* chips (a matched set), commonly known as the "north-bridge" and the "south-bridge". These chips connect together everything else in your computer, such as your CPU, RAM, hard drives, CD/DVD burners, graphics card/monitor, printer, network, etc. Those you who visually-oriented, see HERE (60-KB).
Most people think the CPU is the most important component in a PC, but it's not. The chipset is. Because the chipset (also called "core-logic") determines which CPUs your computer can use--not the other way around. Actually, Intel will be releasing *two* new chipsets (on the 21st):
Unlike a CPU (such as the popular Pentium 4 processor) which can be easily upgraded/replaced. The chipset comes embedded on the motherboard and cannot be upgraded without replacing the motherboard itself (not a simple upgrade).
When someone decides to build a new system, they first select the chipset, and build the computer around the chipset (motherboard). This is why a new chipset is such big news in the world of Technolusters. It means we get to use new toys: better, faster, shinier ones.
One of the chips in the chipset is called the "northbridge" (graphics and memory controller hub), which controls how your memory (RAM) and CPU work together. See HERE (27-KB) for a graphic illustration. (Image grabbed from Corsair.)
The two Grantsdale chipsets are the same except that the one designated "G" comes with onboard (on the motherboard) graphics, so you could save money by NOT having to purchase a separate graphics card. But both Grantsdale chipsets are merely watered down versions of the Alderwood, which is the high-performance "rocket-sled" of the three. So that's the one we-technolusters are really interested in.
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You cannot yet purchase a motherboard containing any of these new chipsets. When they first come out, it's usually a good idea to wait a month or two and allow someone else (called "early adopters") to work out the initial kinks. Unless you have lots of patience, and well-developed troubleshooting skills, let someome else blaze the trail for you. Some people (such as the Doc, who wrote the FDISK Partitioning guide) are good at that sort of thing. Soon, they will learn what works, and what doesn't .. and will post their findings at online forums such as ABXZone.
So what features will the Alderwood (i925X) have? And how will they be different from features currently-existing in today's chipsets/motherboards? In what follows, I tried to distill & organized the info I gathered from many different web sites.
• Support for CPUs that run at a FSB (Front Side Bus) of both 800-MHz and 1066-MHz (266x4). Current chipsets max out at 800-MHz. Grantsdale will support 533 and 800. I'm not sure if Alderwood will support the lower 533, but it doesn't matter because no one is likely to use this lower speed.
• Support for new Prescott CPUs with LGA-775 packaging, with 775 pins, which are located on the *motherboard*, not the CPU itself, like current CPUs are designed. LGA = Land Grid Array. LGA-775 packaging will also be know as Socket-T. Current CPUs have 478 pins, which are attached to the CPU itself. You'll be able to purchase a CPU with *either* (both) 478 or the new 775-pin packaging at the following rated speeds: 2.8-GHz, 3.0, 3.2 and 3.4. At the 3.6-GHz speed and above, only LGA-775 packaging will be available. (linkage)
• Pricing for these new processors will be as follows (linkage):
* Pentium 4 560 - 3.60-GHz - $637
• None of these new chipsets will work with Windows 98 or ME. (linkage)
• Support for new DDR-II memory (RAM), up to 4-GB of it, also in dual-channel configuration, like current motherboard designs, which use DDR-I. New chipsets will support both 400 and 533 speeds. (Current motherboards max out at DDR-400 and do not support DDR2) Alderwood will support DDR-II only, not DDR-I, which Grantsdale will still support, along with DDR2.
• Another chip in the chipset is the ICH6-R. It is known as the "southbridge" controller hub and will support the following 5 features listed below (Note: ICH = Input/Output Controller Hub, R = RAID):
1. 4 Serial-ATA ports (Current boards support only 2)
• "Azalia" high-definition audio: 192-KHz, 32-bit. This used to be called "Dolby Pro Logic IIx".
• New BTX form factor (BTX = Balance Technology eXxtended) Current boards use the ATX form factor. This change will come close to, but independent to the chipset release. BTX will involve a new power supply unit and different (quieter/better) CPU cooling.
The two features I want most in my next rig will be:
With so many design changes in this chipset, it might take the "early-adopters" longer to work out all the kinks. I know it's hard, but we need to be patient. If you need more info, here is a Google search pre-configured for the query-string "intel+alderwood+i925x+chipset"