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Intel I865 "Springdale" Chipset Review

By: Cameron Johnson | Intel Chipsets in CPUs, Chipsets & SoCs | Posted: May 25, 2003 4:00 am
TweakTown Rating: 9.5%Manufacturer: Intel

Common Features in Detail


While we did go over these things in our Canterwood review, I know how annoying it can be to open two reviews to read about one product, for your benefit we have put a bit of information on the common features to the Springdale line.


- CSA, The new Bus


Gigabit Ethernet is slowly becoming the new standard for Ethernet. Most motherboard companies are now integrating Gigabit Ethernet controllers onto their motherboards. Gigabit Ethernet allows 1000 megabit along standard Cat5E Ethernet cable. This is a great increase in bandwidth but this comes at a price. Using the PCI interface increases a bottleneck on the PCI bus. With other devices like RAID and Sound systems the PCI bus can't handle the increased load of gigabit Ethernet. Intel's latest approach is to incorporate a new bus directly into the Northbridge. The Communications System Architecture or CSA The CSA is a 2nd hublink architecture running at 266MB/s, similar to the PCI64 bandwidth. This allows for a direct connection to the Northbridge.




The Intel I/O Controller Hub version 5 is the newest controller chip designed to work with the I875P and I865 chipsets. Without a doubt is the one of the most awaited hub from Intel. There are two major features of ICH5 that separate it from its predecessor, ICH4; the first feature is integrated support for a total of 8 USB 2.0 ports. Intel claims that this is the last time they will be upping the number of USB ports supported as 8 seems to meet the current and future demand.


The next, and by far the most important feature is the Native support for Serial ATA. Up till now, if you wanted Serial ATA you needed to have a Promise, Highpoint or Silicon Image Serial ATA controller chips. Intel is the first of the Chipset manufacturers to have a Serial ATA controller built into its Southbridge. VIA has announced the VT8237 Southbridge, however, this chip has not made a show on the market. if you look at the Serial ATA specification you'll notice that the maximum transfer rate is listed as 150MB/s, that's 13% more bandwidth than a 32-bit/33MHz PCI bus can provide! Whether or not drives are currently reaching even half of that maximum transfer rate isn't an issue, regardless of what the case is, you never want to create additional bottlenecks; by placing the Serial ATA controller off of the PCI bus, a bottleneck is created that would only be exposed down the road.


Intel's ICH5 gets around this problem by bringing the Serial ATA controller onto the ICH and bypassing the PCI bus all together. The Serial ATA controller has a direct link to the Hub Link 2.0 interface in ICH5 and thus can offer a full 150MB/s per channel. ICH5 features two Serial ATA channels (supporting a maximum of two drives) and two Parallel ATA channels (supporting a maximum of four drives), all of which may be enabled and used concurrently.


Intel also gives another reason to say goodbye to 3rd party SATA controllers is the inclusion of RAID function in the ICH5R version. This allows you to use RAID 0 or 1 on the Serial ATA drives connected to the ICH5R.


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