Intel Redefines the Mainstream PC, Again

By Loyd Case  |  Posted 2003-05-21 Print this article Print

Intel's new 865PE (aka Springdale) dual-channel DDR chip set brings near-workstation multimedia performance to mainstream consumer and business systems.

This is an era of rich media for both home and business. But multimedia and real time 3-D applications—ripping CDs, playing the latest 3-D computer games, authoring multimedia content, and the like—require substantial memory bandwidth, which has demanded high-end systems, in the past. Intel is altering that equation with the launch of the 865PE chip set, formerly codenamed Springdale. The Santa Clara chip giant recently introduced the 875P, its new dual-channel chip set that lets high-end systems use DDR400 memory. (See "Intel Opens Up Headroom with Canterwood" and "Intel Hits a Home Run"). The high-end desktop systems the 875P targets typically cost $2,000 or more.
The 875P allows for faster memory timing throughout the memory controller than the 865PE, which can result in better performance for memory-intensive applications. The 865PE, a lower-clocked version of the 875P, is slightly less efficient at some memory-based operations. Still, the new offering supports DDR400 memory, just like its older brother, and when combined with a Pentium 4 running an 800MHz FSB (front-side bus), the result is a staggering 6.4GB/s of memory bandwidth.
Intel also announced two other variants of the 865—the 865G, which has the same integrated graphics core as the previous incarnation, the 845GE, and the 865P. The 865P supports only 533-MHz and 400-MHz FSB processors, but is otherwise identical to the 865PE. That brings us to the second puzzle piece Intel is announcing—new 800-MHz FSB processors. Along with the 865PE, Intel is releasing the Pentium 4 2.4C, 2.6C and 2.8C, which run at speeds of 2.4, 2.6, and 2.8GHz, respectively, and support the 800-MHz front-side bus. They also support Hyper-Threading, Intels simultaneous multithreading technology. For more details on these announcements see our news story.

Loyd Case came to computing by way of physical chemistry. He began modestly on a DEC PDP-11 by learning the intricacies of the TROFF text formatter while working on his master's thesis. After a brief, painful stint as an analytical chemist, he took over a laboratory network at Lockheed in the early 80's and never looked back. His first 'real' computer was an HP 1000 RTE-6/VM system.

In 1988, he figured out that building his own PC was vastly more interesting than buying off-the-shelf systems ad he ditched his aging Compaq portable. The Sony 3.5-inch floppy drive from his first homebrew rig is still running today. Since then, he's done some programming, been a systems engineer for Hewlett-Packard, worked in technical marketing in the workstation biz, and even dabbled in 3-D modeling and Web design during the Web's early years.

Loyd was also bitten by the writing bug at a very early age, and even has dim memories of reading his creative efforts to his third grade class. Later, he wrote for various user group magazines, culminating in a near-career ending incident at his employer when a humor-impaired senior manager took exception at one of his more flippant efforts. In 1994, Loyd took on the task of writing the first roundup of PC graphics cards for Computer Gaming World -- the first ever written specifically for computer gamers. A year later, Mike Weksler, then tech editor at Computer Gaming World, twisted his arm and forced him to start writing CGW's tech column. The gaming world -- and Loyd -- has never quite recovered despite repeated efforts to find a normal job. Now he's busy with the whole fatherhood thing, working hard to turn his two daughters into avid gamers. When he doesn't have his head buried inside a PC, he dabbles in downhill skiing, military history and home theater.

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