Vendors line up to support new Intel chipset

Several PC and workstation vendors released new models Monday that take advantage of Intel's new 875P chipset to improve overall system performance with support for a faster front-side bus.

Intel's new chipset, formerly known as Canterwood, increases the top speed at which data travels between the memory modules and the processor from 533MHz to 800MHz. Increased front-side bus speeds allow the processor to access data stored in the main memory more quickly and more frequently, improving overall performance.

The chipset also supports Intel's hyperthreading technology, a technique used to fool an operating system into believing it is running on two processors. The operating system then sends more instructions for execution, which are absorbed by unused portions of the real processor.

Canterwood also supports a faster version of dual-channel DDR (double data rate) memory, known as DDR400. Most PCs with DDR memory currently use DDR266 or DDR333, but DDR400 is catching on among high-end users that need the quickest memory technology available.

Along with Canterwood, Intel released a 3GHz Pentium 4 processor that supports the faster front-side bus speed. The company will add the faster front-side bus to other Pentium 4 processors by May, such as the 2.6GHz and 2.8GHz Pentium 4 processors.

Hewlett-Packard (HP) updated its workstation line with the new xw4100, which replaces the xw4000 and xw5000 workstations, said Jeff Wood, director of product marketing for HP's personal workstations. The base workstation does not feature the new Intel technology, but users can add the 3.0GHz processor and 875P chipset for use with high-end graphics manipulation programs and computer-aided design applications.

The base model is only US$799 with a 2.4GHz Pentium 4 processor, 128M bytes of DDR333 ECC (error correcting code) memory, a 40G-byte hard drive, and a CD-ROM drive. In order to get the new Intel processor and chipset, customers will have to spend $1,649 for a xw4100 with the 3GHz Pentium 4 processor, the 875P chipset, 512M bytes of DDR400 ECC memory, a 40G-byte hard drive, and a DVD-ROM drive.

Dell Computer's new Dimension 8300 uses the 875 chipset and the new 3GHz processor in a base configuration that costs $1,689. Dell included 128M bytes of DDR400 memory, a 60G-byte hard drive, a 17-inch monitor, and a DVD-ROM drive in the base model, but customers can configure the system as they choose. However, only PCs with the 3GHz processor are available at this time.

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