Pentium 4 gets another new platform
It has now been a year since Intel introduced its Pentium 4 processor to the world. In that time quite a bit has changed in the marketplace. Processor prices have dropped drastically, while Pentium 4 1.5GHz processors initially sold for over $1,000 at some locations, today's fastest 2GHz chips are easily available for under $500. Prices on other components have fallen substantially as well, as has the variety of products available -- practically every motherboard manufacturer has at least one Pentium 4 product offering, most have multiple products at varying price points.
One of our main grips, the limited lifetime of the Socket 423 platform the Pentium 4 was originally launched on, has also been resolved. Socket 478 processors and motherboards are becoming increasingly popular and should completely phase out Socket 423 by the beginning of next year. The Socket 478 platform gives end users considerably more clock frequency headroom than Socket 423, and will be the sole platform capable of running Intel's upcoming revision to today's Pentium 4, codenamed "Northwood".
Despite all this, the Pentium 4 was slow to take off in the business segment, an area where its Pentium III processor reigned supreme. It turns out high clock frequencies weren't enough to attract IT managers, and subsequent price drops did little to help spur demand. (Of course, a lot of this can be explained by the economic downturn of the past 12 months, or the increased amount of spending that had taken place the year prior in preparation for Y2K, but we'll save that argument for another day).
To combat this, earlier this fall Intel introduced its 845 chipset, up to that point i850 was the only chipset available from Intel and higher component prices and the limited number of products available left it slow to be adopted by the corporate market. With 845's cheaper SDRAM memory support and a plethora of motherboard manufacturers behind it, Pentium 4 has been able to gain ground and system price levels have dipped well below the $1,000 price point.
While this made i845 the sole choice (from Intel) for price conscious consumers and the business sector, i845's performance with SDRAM just isn't enough for the end user who is more concerned with price/performance, much less the high-end performance crowd. No reader that follows this site should ever consider pairing a high-end CPU such as the Pentium 4 2GHz with PC133 SDRAM (especially after reading this article).
In an effort to cater to this market, Intel is officially unveiling their 845 chipset with DDR SDRAM support. Lets take a look at what's new with this chipset.