When the Pentium 4 was originally released with the i850 chipset, there was an uproar in the hardware enthusiast community. This is mainly because the i850 only supports RDRAM, which was, and still is, way too expensive for most users. Some time later, VIA answered these cries with their P4X266 chipset. Afraid that VIA would steal a large chunk of their sales, Intel hit VIA with quite a serious lawsuit, saying that VIA did not have a license to produce a Pentium 4 based chipset. This resulted in many of the larger motherboard manufacturers, such as Asus, Abit, Gigabyte, etc deciding not to release boards based on the P4X266 chipset as to not sour relations with Intel. Although this gave the smaller motherboard manufacturers a good chance to cash in on the strong market demand, we never really saw many P4X266 based motherboards hit retail channels.
In September 2001, Intel released their i845 chipset sporting the now aging SDRAM. Although this was great for budget users, SDRAM does not provide enough bandwidth to allow the Pentium 4 to perform to its full potential. With the Intel vs. VIA law suit not looking to be over any time soon, users were left with a choice of either the high performing, yet very expensive RDRAM, or the cost effective, poor performing SDRAM.
Soon after, SiS came out of nowhere, introducing their 645 chipset that gave DDR support to the Pentium 4. Due to the fact that SiS had a Pentium 4 bus license, they were in a much better position than VIA was with their P4X266 chipset. Unfortunately, for some reason there ended up being even fewer SiS645 based motherboards in the retail channel than P4X266 boards.
Recently, Intel released their highly anticipated i845D chipset, bringing DDR memory support to the Pentium 4. Finally, a cost effective Pentium 4 chipset that is available in most stores. We were able to obtain Abit's i845D solution, the BD7-RAID. How does it compare to the P4X266 and i850 chipsets? Read on to find out!