The ASUS P4C800 Deluxe
Intel’s 875P (Canterwood) chipset was built to address the most growing need of the Pentium 4: bandwidth. You see, as the Pentium 4’s clock speed rises, the discrepancy between the Pentium 4 processor and the rest of the components within the PC grows larger. And with its 20-stage pipeline, Intel has designed the P4 to scale to unprecedented clock speeds, reportedly as high as 10GHz.
For optimum performance, the key to the P4 is to keep the processor fed with data. To accomplish this, Intel has equipped the Pentium 4 with a 512KB, 256-bit interface to its L2 cache, and unlike the Pentium III and Athlon XP, the P4 can transfer data to its cache each clock cycle, in comparison, the Athlon XP can only transfer data on its eighth clock cycle. As a result, the P4’s cache scales dramatically as its clock speed increases, while the original 1.5GHz Pentium 4 offered up to 48GB/sec peak L2 cache bandwidth, today’s 3GHz processor doubles that at 96GB/sec.
To keep the processor from idling due to lack of bandwidth, Intel has persistently updated the Pentium 4’s system and memory buses. Last year we saw the introduction of the 533MHz system bus in the 850E and 845E chipsets, while Intel addressed the memory bus requirements for DDR platforms with the 845PE and E7205 chipsets. Each of these releases was critical to ensure the Pentium 4 platform remained balanced, as Intel subsequently released 2.8GHz and 3.06GHz Pentium 4 processors. But as good as they were, Intel decided to crank the platform’s performance even higher, and as you saw in our 875P preview, the Pentium 4 ate the additional bandwidth up with abandon, establishing new levels of performance and solidly placing the Pentium 4 at the head of the class in terms of performance.
Canterwood boards galore!
Now that the numbers are out on 875P and it’s a proven performer, motherboard manufacturers are busy promoting their 875P-based motherboards, and they’re not stepping halfway, these boards are loaded with all kinds of the latest technologies: ATA/133 and Serial ATA drive support, USB and FireWire ports galore, Gigabit LAN, some are even offering external Promise Serial ATA controllers for even more Serial ATA goodness with RAID supported as well.
Passive cooling on the North Bridge
Clean board layout
It should come as no surprise that ASUS is one of these manufacturers. Since its inception ASUS has been known for building high quality motherboards that offer both speed and stability. ASUS has recently expanded its line to include a “Deluxe” series of motherboards for each product family. These Deluxe boards build on the original line by including all kinds of additional features. For instance, ASUS’ nForce2-based A7N8X Deluxe was the first nForce2 board to offer DualNet networking with Dolby Digital audio built-in.
In a similar fashion, the ASUS P4C800 Deluxe is built to take the basic 875P feature set and expand on it. ASUS has added Analog Devices SoundMAX digital audio system, 3Com Gigabit LAN, Promise Serial ATA with RAID, and a few features unique to just the P4C800 Deluxe such as ASUS’ CrashFree BIOS 2 and Q-Fan, which dynamically adjusts the speed of fans in your system based on temperature. ASUS even adds the capability to listen to music without having to boot into the operating system!