Outsiders BX …

Outsiders BX ...

We’ve been waiting for it. That it should come to replace veteran 440BX. Only in such bottles bottled cocktail of sharp Technology: RDRAM, 133 MHz FSB, AGP 4X and Ultra ATA / 66. However, some prefer sake …

We will focus on the i820 — the latest chipset from Intel. From 440BX predecessor, it features a new hub architecture, as well as support for RDRAM, 133MHz system bus, AGP 4X and Ultra ATA / 66. However, some features of the new 440BX chipset is deprived of: a sacrifice brought support for 66-MHz system bus (and hence the compatibility with Celeron) and referee aging ISA. Consider some of the features of the i820 details.

HUBS replaced by BRIDGES

Hub architecture was first run-on chipste i810. Previous Intel chipsets it consisted of two chips (the so-called bridges): Northern and Southern. The north bridge devices have been integrated into the following: the referee system bus, memory controller, and the arbitrators AGP and PCI. South Bridge include a controller IDE, the bus arbiter ISA, real time clock, and a controller, direct memory access (DMA) and interrupts. Data exchanged via bus bridges PCI (actually, the south bridge was an ordinary PCI-device). This arrangement increases the load of PCI and hindered the development of new high-speed bus (eg an IEEE 1394).

The essence of the hub architecture — in the transfer of an arbitrator the PCI server bridge (now called MCH, Memory Controller Hub) to the south (the new name — ICH, or I / O Controller Hub) and connecting these components, a special high-speed bus (its capacity — 266 MB / c — twice the opportunity PCI). In addition, the chipset adds a third component — FWH (FirmWare Hub). This circuit comprises a 4 Mbit EEPROM (Electrically Erasable ROM) that stores a BIOS. Furthermore, FWH integrated random number generator that is useful for improving the cryptographic data.


Intel 820, unlike BX, supports RDRAM (Direct Rambus DRAM). This type of memory provides twice the bandwidth than standard PC100 SDRAM. However RDRAM is more latency (latency in accessing the data memory). In other words, a significant amount of information RDRAM transfers much faster than SDRAM, but when reading from memory a few bytes brainchild Rambus will fall short of its predecessor (the latency in this case is more important than bandwidth). Note that games and office applications need to exchange with RAM impressive pieces of data is relatively rare (usually memory accesses occur in the absence of the necessary information in the cache CPU). On the other hand, the new memory is a fantastic way: at the time of this writing, a 128-MB RIMM (module RDRAM) cost about $ 750. Quite naturally, wanting to spread that kind of money for a little RAM found.

Unfortunately, i820 not directly supported than the RDRAM memory types. The above applies to the currently common SDRAM. However, many motherboards on this chipset (including come to us P3C-2000) equipped with slots for DIMM. The fact that the corporation Intel, realizing the low popularity of RDRAM, released chip 82805AA, also called MTH (Memory Translator Hub). This chip converts the reference to the relevant questions in RDRAM SDRAM. Unfortunately, this operation does not free. Both types of RAM are connected to substantially different tires and the transformation of some requests to other inevitably leads to additional delays. In this test, we tried to test the effectiveness of new technologies (133MHz bus, AGP 4X) and evaluate the latest core logic chipset.

How We Tested

The system with the test motherboard installed processor Pentium III 600B (133 MHz X 4.5), 128 MB of 7 ns memory PC133 SDRAM, AGP-video card Creative 3D Blaster GeForce 256 Annihilator Pro hard drive and IBM DPTA-371360. For comparison, we present the results of tests motherboard Asus P3B-F (chipset Intel 440BX) with a Pentium III 600 (100 MHz X 6).

The measurements were carried out on the English version of Windows 98 installed DirectX 7. Before the test run of the game switched off VSync synchronization and sets the minimum frame rate monitor (60 Hz). All game tests were carried out in the resolution 800×600 High Color. The capacity of the RAM is measured by a test CPU / Memory Bandwidth package SiSoft Sandra 99. All parameters in CMOS Setup cards initialized with default values ​​(Setup defaults).

ASUS P3C-2000

Format ATX Motherboard

Chipset Intel 820

CPU socket Slot1 Number of expansion slots 4 DIMM RAM

By The number of expansion slots (AGP / PCI / ISA / AMR) 1 / 5/1/1

The clock frequency of the system bus (MHz)

100, 103, 105, 107, 109, 112, 114, 116, 118, 120, 122, 125, 128, 130, 132, 133, 138, 142, 146, 150, 153, 156, 159, 162, 165, 168, 171, 174, 177, 180

Support for Suspend-to-Ram have

Supports Ultra DMA / 66 is manufacturer BIOS AWARD BIOS version 1007

Price $ 180

Overall rating


The board is equipped with two IDE-loops (80-core devices for Ultra ATA / 66 and the common 40-wire) to the drive train, detailed (but, unfortunately, drawn up in English only) user manual and CD with drivers.

So, Asus P3C-2000 was the first motherboard based on Intel 820 trapped in our laboratory. At the first examination of the patient, we drew attention to the unusual design connector AGP: it was considerably longer than the standard slots and had additional contacts. So we met with the AGP Pro …

This slot format has been specifically designed for professional 3D-accelerator, often consume much more energy than playing accelerators. From «unprofessional» ancestor AGP Pro differs only additional power supply circuits that allow the graphics card to consume four times more energy (110 watts). No other differences between these formats have slots. AGP Pro slot is compatible with any accelerators to AGP. The converse is not true: accelerators for AGP Pro, when any will (we have not yet heard of any), must live only in the appropriate slot.

On P3C-2000 there is another trendy connector — Slot AMR (Audio / Modem Riser). This connector is designed for low-cost installation of software modems and sound cards. In fact, these cards have only DAC and ADC circuits and are responsible only for the conversion of digital to analog and back again. Digital signal processing (mixing audio streams, wavetable synthesis, modulation / demodulation) is assigned to the CPU. We assume that some office PC users can go to such a compromise, but a serious player would hardly be pleased primitive sound card, to the same-eating CPU cycles.

Since i820 deprived arbitrator ISA, to support a rapidly aging tires had to be installed on Asus P3C-2000 single chip bridge PCI-ISA. Also produced modifications of this board with four PCI and two ISA.

P3C-2000 like we tested in the November issue P3B-F, you can configure the system bus as by means located on the power switches and software (via the CMOS Setup). Setting multiplier FSB frequency as a function of irrelevant (almost all new Intel CPU, this factor is strictly fixed) is available only in software. Interface CMOS Setup of this motherboard is also borrowed from the P3B-F: for navigation in blue and white and change the setting quite the arrow keys, Enter and Esc.

Settings P3C-2000 is not deprived: Setup allows you to change almost all conceivable options, including distributed hardware interrupt (IRQ) for x PCI (function is very useful in resolving conflicts of expansion cards) and to increase the CPU core voltage 0.05V increments (nod followers acceleration). Squeeze out a few extra megahertz processor will also help bridge located on the motherboard, allowing to increase the voltage applied to the memory bus, AGP, PCI, as well as chips and MCH MTH. We also note a fairly wide range of frequencies of system bus. Unfortunately, not all of these values ​​are achievable: at FSB above 162 MHz board simply refuses to include (most likely to blame capriciously related to overclocking MTH).

Measuring capacity of RAM (we used the test CPU / Memory bandwidth in SiSoft Sandra tools 99) showed that the old BX SDRAM data is exchanged with approximately 20% faster than a set of i820 + MTH. It is worth noting that the P3C-2000 in contrast to most other motherboards based on i820, you can manually (via the CMOS Setup) to set duration of the wait loop (CAS latency, RAS to CAS delay, RAS precharge time) when accessing RAM. Without these settings, the card showed would be even more dismal results.

Sluggishness interaction with RAM to affect the results of other tests Asus P3C-2000. Despite the support of AGP 4X and Fast Writes, board behind the P3B-F predecessor in almost all the 30 tests of performance. Perhaps the only exception was the synthetic test polygon throughput speed up 3D-la (High Polygon Count) from the package 3DMark2000. It P3C-2000 broke minor 4%, and the prohibition Fast Writes (AGP 4X mode remain on) returned P3B-F lead. In real 3D-games 4X prohibition generally does not affect the fps.

Maybe support Ultra ATA / 66 will P3C-2000 significantly off from its predecessor even when working with hard drive? To study the effectiveness of the fashionable protocol, we connected to board one of the fastest hard drives on today with the interface IDE (IBM DPTA371360) and conducted a series of measurements of the performance of the disk subsystem. The effect of the inclusion of Ultra ATA / 66 was only noticeable in the test ZD High-End Disk WinMark, the results of which growth was a paltry 3%. Note that such a small difference in the fit measurement error, because even a small disk fragmentation affects the result of this test is much stronger. We assume that after the appearance of IDE-drives, read from the disc more than 33 MB / s mode, Ultra ATA / 66 will be really useful. But in order to get compliant with the protocol controller it is not necessary to change the motherboard. Enough to buy a cheap ($ 25-30) Ultra ATA / 66 soBmes-invertible IDE-bus controller for PCI (eg Abit HotRod or the Promise Ultra66).

So, the main problem of couples i820 + MTH remains relatively low speed of the RAM. Unfortunately, memory problems have P3C-2000 is not exhausted by the modest performance. The fact that the official MTH supports only two modules DIMM, running at 100 MHz, regardless of the frequency FSB (actually negates all advantages of 133MHz). Asus engineers have tried to circumvent these restrictions. Theoretically, P3C-2000 allows you to use all four DIMM slots at the same time, however, it will have to observe a number of sophisticated requirements (all modules in this case should be a single-bank, and their volume should meet the inequality DIMM1gt; = — DIMM3gt; = DIMM2gt; = DIMM4). In fact, you’ll hardly be able to persuade the board to recognize more than two DIMM. Moreover, we have heard about the problems when installed in P3C-2000 even two modules SDRAM (each card individually identifiable, but to get them to live together failed). So good expandable memory P3C-2000 proud, alas, can not.

As noted above, i820 officially supports only SDRAM at 100 MHz (at Intel for a long time did not recognize the standard PC133, preferring RDRAM). In fact, MTH calculates the frequency of SDRAM, multiplying the frequency of the system bus to one of two factors: 1 (for 100 MHz FSB) and 3/4 (for 133 MHz FSB). In principle, CMOS Setup this card can select any of the ratios provided that the FSB does not exceed 132 megahertz (for higher frequencies the factor 3/4 is automatically selected). Unfortunately, the MTH chip is very sensitive about overclocking, refusing to work whenever the frequency exceeds 122 MHz SDRAM. So called P3C-2000 overclocker’s dream, we can not. Quality on board BX (eg Asus P3B-F and Abit BX6 rev. 2.0) provide better performance, promising not worse overclocking.

It should also be noted compatibility issues early copies P3C-2000 video cards based on the GeForce 256. Asus has corrected this deficiency in all cards issued after January of this year.

Outcome. In our opinion, the design P3C-2000 Asus engineers have tried to make the most of the latest chipset Intel. Unfortunately, they did not manage to overcome the sluggishness ligament i820 + MTH. If you absolutely need a motherboard with the official support of 133MHz system bus — make P3C-2000 list of candidates. Otherwise — a decision should prefer the good old BX.


Format ATX Motherboard

Chipset VIA Apollo Pro133

CPU socket Slot1 Number of expansion slots 3 DIMM RAM

Number of expansion slots (AGP / PCI / ISA / AMR) 1 / 4/2/1

The clock frequency of the system bus (MHz)

66, 75, 83, 100-152 in steps of 1 MHz Supports Suspend-to-Ram is not

Supports Ultra DMA / 66 is manufacturer BIOS AWARD BIOS 10/19/99 version

Price $ 85

Overall rating


In order to go beyond chipset Intel, we decided to test the card, built on the chipset VIA Apollo Pro133. Unlike 440BX, this chipset officially supports the system bus at 133 MHz (in other words, Apollo Pro133 can clock the AGP, multiplying the FSB not only 1 and 2/3, and 1/2). In addition, the built-in VIA chipset IDE controller is compatible with the protocol Ultra ATA / 66. It is worth noting that the Apollo Pro133 does not support AGP 4X, but VIA releases compatible with this protocol chipset Apollo

Pro133A (unfortunately we did not manage to get on the testing board with this chipset).

Recall that in the November issue of .EXE we have dissected a fee on the Apollo Pro133 (patient name Iwill VD133). Then autopsy revealed a number of compatibility issues and the extremely poor performance of the test. Trying to find the source of these problems (bad Iwill board design or the chipset), we decided to explore one more fee to Apollo Pro133. So filled with solder cutting table testlaba Game.EXE met with the new victim — Chaintech 6ATA2.

Besides the board itself in the box are Ultra ATA / 66-compatible cable for IDE-devices, a cable for the drive in the language of Shakespeare user manual and CD with drivers and utilities. Note worthy packaging so inexpensive motherboard: 6ATA2 equipped with not only the slot AMR, and audio codec, playing the role unpretentious synthesizer sound. Such a decision can hardly be considered a serious alternative to the sound card, since all the digital sound processing to take on the CPU. However, serve as a temporary replacement «saundblasteru» This integrated codec is quite capable. We are forbidden to board audio during the tests, so as not to distract the CPU with additional calculations.

Not without pleasure, we note that there are no problems with the installation and configuration of the board we did not have. The base frequency of the system bus (66, 100 or 133 MHz) is given at 6ATA2 jumpers and SeePU option in CMOS Setup allows you to increase the value exhibited by jumpers. I would like to highlight a wide range of system bus speed settings: in the range of 100-152 MHz FSB frequency can be changed in steps of 1 MHz. Fans of processors to speed up the first cosmic velocity will certainly appreciate the opportunity to knock the stone a few extra megahertz. Also, their services to Setup provides the option to increase the CPU core voltage of 0.1 and 0.2 V. In addition, board trained asynchronously clocked FSB, and memory bus (the latter can run on the system bus frequency, 33 MHz faster or slower as much her). Selection of memory frequency through CMOS Setup.

Unfortunately, the test results of this board we were disappointed. First of all surprised by the extremely low speed of the memory in the test bandwidth RAM 6ATA2 behind the P3B-F is almost twice (and the memory of the Chaintech lived at 133 MHz, while the memory brainchild Asus labor in the standard for the 440BX 100 MHz). The 3D ^ -tah 6ATA not pleased with the high performance, trailing in games from P3B-F for 12-15%.

Outcome. Chaintech 6ATA2 — an inexpensive board with ample opportunities, but mediocre performance. It is possible that a new version of the BIOS will be able to correct this deficiency, however, is the board based on the 440BX, in our opinion, are the best solution.

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