Intel Redefines the Mainstream PC, Again

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.