At the heart of the SB61G2 lies Shuttle’s FB61 motherboard. The FB61 is based on Intel’s 865G chipset, formerly known under the codename of “Springdale-G”. Springdale is the chipset we’ve been drooling for. Its 800MHz front-side bus is capable of delivering up to 6.4GB/sec of memory bandwidth to the Pentium 4 processor, which can be mated with up to 4GB of dual-channel DDR400 memory also offering up to 6.4GB/sec of peak memory bandwidth. This combination delivers truckloads of enhanced performance in applications that really tax the memory subsystem, video encoding and 3D games just eat up the added bandwidth, resulting in faster overall system performance. Springdale is based on the same design as the Canterwood chipset introduced last month, with a few key differences.
For starters, Springdale doesn’t feature Intel’s Performance Acceleration Technology, otherwise known as PAT. PAT accelerates the timings within the North Bridge of the 875P chipset, resulting in enhanced memory access performance. The end result is that motherboards based on the 875P chipset run a little faster than 865 series boards once PAT is enabled in BIOS.
This brings us to the second important distinction between the 875 family and 865: price. Intel has positioned 875 for use in high-end PCs and workstations, replacing the spot held by Intel’s 850E chipset with RDRAM. 865 on the other hand is meant for the mainstream market, the same position that was previously occupied by the 845 series. Finding 865 motherboards in the $100-150 range won’t be a problem; Pricewatch already has listings for 865PE boards right at $100!
Active cooling on the North Bridge
Extreme Graphics 2
The “G” in 865G denotes the graphics integrated on the North Bridge of the 865 chipset. Dubbed Intel Extreme Graphics 2, this updated graphics solution is largely more of the same of what we’ve come to expect from Intel integrated graphics. The core itself operates at the same 266MHz frequency of its predecessor; Intel has simply updated it with AGP 8X support. Fortunately the 865 chipset’s dual-channel memory subsystem is able to feed the graphics controller with more memory bandwidth than previous Intel graphics solutions, resulting in better performance. You can see those numbers a bit later in this article, but there’s nothing “extreme” to talk about here – performance is roughly on par with GeForce2 MX. Basically, while this is fine for typical 2D desktop applications (Word, email, surfing the Internet, etc), don’t get your hopes up to play Half-Life 2 with this setup.
Likewise, 2D image quality of Extreme Graphics 2 isn’t bad, but it isn’t anything extraordinary. 865G looks better than any core logic out of Taiwan, but that's not saying much. If you really want a sharp display you should upgrade to an external solution like the RADEON 7500 or Matrox G550.