Features of the ASUS P4PE - Part 1
Package and Contents
ASUS have packaged the P4PE in the same colour scheme box that their previous Intel I845 boards. Designed with attractive colours on the top side and with information about the board and features on the bottom, you can get just about all the information about the board before you purchase it.
Inside the box you get an array of books, cables and connectors. All of which come in handy and are essential to the operation of the board. You get your motherboard, two user manuals (one for the RAID and one for the motherboard setup), IDE and FDD cables, Serial ATA cables, Firewire connection bracket and optical connection bracket.
Layout wise, the P4PE uses a 1/6/0 (AGP/PCI/Riser) expansion slot layout. This layout has been used for all of ASUS's I845 designed boards. Simply because the chipsets are pin compatible with each other, meaning very little to no changes are required to the PCB. Making the cost of upgrading the chipset negligible and the costs shouldn't pass onto the consumer.
One might wonder why one of the PCI slots is colored blue...Well, according to the user manual and the ASUS website, ASUS are producing a line of Wireless Ethernet and Bluetooth "Magic PCI" cards that will only work on ASUS motherboards with the "Blue Magic" PCI slot. On the motherboards, there is a jumper for setting the blue slot to magic blue or standard PCI.
Chipset - Hyper Threading Ready
At the heart of the board is the new Intel I845PE chipset. The I845PE is a long awaited chipset in terms of memory features for Pentium 4 owners from Intel. The I845PE is the first Intel produced chipset that officially supports 333Mhz DDR SDRAM, boosting the memory bandwidth to 2.7GB/s. While it still is a far cry from the 3.2GB/s the 400Mhz FSB CPU needs, or the 4.2GB/s the 533Mhz FSB P4 requires, but it does go along way compared to the I845E and G chipsets.
Another interesting feature of the I845PE is its support for Hyper Threading. Hyper Threading has already been used in the server market by Intel on the Xeon CPU. Simply put, Hyper Threading turns one physical CPU into two logical CPU's. By doing this, applications can be run under a Dual CPU environment. With the CPU able to do two CPU tasks in one single operation. Xeon CPU's using Hyper Threading applications have shown to gain upwards of 20% performance boost than when running without Hyper Threading.
Paired with the Intel ICH4, you receive your standard 6 USB 2.0 ports, AC'97 audio, Intel MAC as well as PCI 2.2 bus compliancy. The ICH4 is soon to be replaced with a new ICH from Intel with Serial ATA support right off the ball, without any parallel interface ports. Do not dispar on this though, if you still have parallel IDE when this new Southbridge comes, converters for Serial ATA to parallel ATA are already on the market.