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As we mentioned earlier, the primary addition Intel has brought to the 845GE/PE/GV chipset is DDR333 support. Now that Intelís validation unit has approved DDR333 memory for use with 845ís memory controller, end users of the 845PE chipset can now officially take advantage of the added bandwidth it provides. Intelís 845G chipset also provided DDR333 functionality, many third-party motherboards based on this chipset have offered this setting for months. However, in the eyes of Intel this has been considered overclocking and was not supported.
Besides DDR333 memory support, not much has changed with 845GE/PEís memory controller. Youíve still got support for up to 2GB of DDR SDRAM, and just like 845D/E/G the controller only supports two banks of DDR memory. This means that the chipset can only support up to two DIMM sockets when double-sided DIMMs are used. Many motherboard manufacturers offer three DIMM sockets on their DDR Pentium 4 motherboards based on Intel chipsets. But youíll have to keep in mind that if you wish to use all three DIMM sockets, DIMM sockets two and three will have to be populated with single-sided memory modules. Itís pretty tough finding single-sided memory modules these days, so weíre not really sure if itís necessary for motherboard manufacturers to continue to ship their 845 DDR products with more than two DIMM sockets. To avoid confusion, all of Intelís own DDR motherboards have only offered two DIMMs up to this point.
Another point to keep in mind is that the 845GE/PE chipsets only support DDR333 memory when the system bus is operating at 133MHz. Therefore, those of you with 400MHz Pentium 4 chips will not be able to take advantage of DDR333. For the record, the memory types supported at 400MHz bus are DDR200 (PC1600) and DDR266 (PC2100). The 533MHz bus supports DDR266 and DDR333 memory.
Overview of the 845PE chipset
AGP 8X, Hyper-Threading, and ICH4
AGP 8X is not supported by any of the Intel chipsets that have been announced today. This probably comes as a disappointment to many of you; especially since AGP 8X cards from ATI, NVIDIA, and SiS can be purchased on the market today. Weíll have to wait just a little bit longer for AGP 8X support, which will be available in upcoming Intelís dual-channel DDR chipset, codenamed Granite Bay.
845GE/PE are the first Intel chipsets for the desktop market to offer support for Intelís Hyper-Threading technology. Hyper-Threading support will be built into the 3.06GHz Pentium 4 that will be debuting later this year. With Hyper-Threading, multiple threads of software can be run simultaneously on one CPU, increasing performance. In laymanís terms, this simulates the effect of having multiple processors. In order to take advantage of this technology your software will also have to support multi-threading, but the real performance gains come from applications that have been optimized for Hyper-Threading. Weíll discuss Hyper-Threading in further detail in our review of the 3.06GHz Pentium 4, but 845E/850/850E are the only existing Intel chipsets that supports this technology (via a BIOS update).
On the South Bridge (the 82801DB chip) things remain unchanged from 845E. Thatís right, the ICH4 lives on in 845PE. That means support for up to six USB 2.0 ports, ATA/100 hard drive support (no Serial ATA), networking, and six-channel audio (among other things).