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Intel 845G Pentium 4-DDR Chipset Review

By Vince Freeman :  May 20, 2002

The Intel 845G Graphics Memory Controller Hub (GMCH)

The Intel 845G Northbridge is an enhancement to the existing 845 line, which follows the i845E in supporting both a 400 and 533 MHz system bus. This allows the newer Pentium 4 533 MHz processors an additional Intel DDR platform supporting the faster system bus speeds. But like i845E, the i845G does not fully utilize a 333 MHz memory bus, and instead includes support for PC133, DDR200 and DDR266.

Although we have seen a few DDR333 benchmarks for the i845G, for now at least, we are sticking with the DDR200/266 i845G specifications that Intel has provided us. We also read some of the manufacturer specs for upcoming i845G motherboards and DDR266 was the fastest option listed. This has all the markings of an unofficial or undocumented feature that may be brought out later or enabled through an overclocking feature of particular motherboards. So if you require PC2700 with your i845G, please check the manufacturer's specs before ordering.

The i845G once again supports 4-banks for memory, for a maximum of 2 GB of non-ECC RAM. As we found with the original i845 and i845D, the default configuration is two DIMM sockets, but with the presence of single-sided DIMMs, manufacturers could choose to supply additional sockets, like MSI did with their 845 Ultra. From an overall design point of view, not forgetting about the entry-level SDRAM crowd is a good move by Intel, but the performance-minded buyer will likely be a bit disappointed that 333 MHz DDR is not listed as a standard option.

One of the most important parts of the i845G is naturally its integrated graphics component. The whole enchilada is being called Intel Extreme Graphics, which includes basic 2D and 3D video functionality. It supports the major 3D APIs and includes Dynamic Video Memory Technology, which balances memory usage between the graphics controller and system.

The integrated chip runs at a 200 MHz core speed, and supports multi-texturing, bump mapping, 2Kx2K textures and many other 3D options. Although the Intel Extreme Graphics feature set is quite good for an integrated video option, there are a few missing elements, such as a true T&L engine or hardware anti aliasing. The 2D side of the equation is covered by a 350 MHz Integrated 24-bit RAMDAC and supports dual-display through an add-in VGA card. For those not interested in integrated graphics, the i845G also features a dedicated AGP 4X slot.

The Intel 845G I/O Controller Hub (ICH4)

The i845G Southbridge has also had its fair share of improvements, with Hi-Speed USB 2.0 being the most prominent. There is support for up to 6 ports, with the chipset keeping tabs on USB attachments and using smart monitoring to allocate bandwidth between low and high-speed USB devices. This is important because the i845G Southbridge supports both high and low-speed USB transfers over the same pins.

Other integrated options such as audio and LAN are also found on the i845G. The AC '97 sound portion supports 20-bit audio and a CODEC for up to six channels of full surround sound audio. The Intel 845G also supplies a 10/100 Mbps Ethernet, complete with LAN manageability and Alert on LAN capabilities. And from a purely aesthetic view, the actual size of the i845G Southbridge has just about doubled compared to our i845D reference board.

The only area that Intel continues to hold back on is with ATA transfer rates, and includes only basic ATA100. Since Intel is one of the main proponents of Serial ATA technology, the lack of ATA133 is not surprising, but the longer Serial ATA takes to emerge, the more noticeable the old school ATA100 Southbridge becomes.

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  • Page 2

    Intel 845G Chipset Features

    Page 3

    Intel 845G Chipset Specifications

    Page 4

    Performance and Test Systems

    Page 5

    Business and Content Creation Winstone Performance

    Page 6

    SANDRA 2002 and PCMark 2002 Pro Performance

    Page 7

    Quake 3 & Return to Castle Wolfenstein Performance

    Page 8

    i845G Integrated 3D Video Performance

    Page 9

    Benchmark Analysis, Value and Conclusion

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