Intel had already taken care of the Pentium market, or so they believed, with the Triton series of chipsets, however how were they supposed to support their expensive "new" creation, the Pentium Pro (and now the Pentium II)? The 440FX Chipset, commonly known as the Natoma Chipset, was designed to be a real monster of a chipset, to be the strong base for a powerful Pentium Pro/II based system.

Unlike previous chipsets, the 440FX didn't have the problem of a cacheable memory area being limited, since the Pentium Pro's internal L2 cache and the Pentium II's on-card L2 cache takes care of all RAM caching, instead of the chipset. With that bottleneck taken care of, the 440FX already appears to be an excellent reason to upgrade from a Socket-7 CPU to. However it does lack features such as support for SDRAM and APM (Advanced Power Management) but it compensates by adding support for BEDO DRAM and lower CPU utilization for simple operations.

To fit its server role, the Natoma Chipset allows a maximum of 2 processors to be used using the Symmetric Multiprocessing standalone I/O APIC component, a 64-pin lead QFP chip. The 440FX chipset also continues to make excellent use of Intel's Concurrent PCI Architecture which allows for lower CPU utilization when performing operations which take advantage of the integrated multi-transaction timer such as video playback. Like the 430VX and HX chipsets, the Natoma uses the PIIX3 Busmastering EIDE controller to ensure backwards compatibility with all previously released products.

Intel 82440FX Chipset
Common Name Natoma
Chipset Packaging Number of chips 3 (82441FX PMC, 82442FX DBX, 82371SB)
1 (optional - 82093AA for SMP)
Packaging Type 3 x 208-pin QFP
1 x 64-pin lead QFP (optional)
CPU Support Number of CPUs 2 (SMP)
AMD CPUs Supported N/A
Cyrix CPUs Supported N/A
Intel CPUs Supported Pentium Pro, Pentium II
Cache Type N/A on chip
Maximum Supported Size N/A on chip
Maximum Cacheable DRAM Area N/A on chip
Memory Maximum DRAM Supported 1024MB
BEDO DRAM Read Timings (66MHz) 5-1-1-1
EDO DRAM Read Timings (66MHz) 5-2-2-2
FPM DRAM Read Timings (66MHz) 5-3-3-3
SDRAM Read Timings (66MHz) N/A
Data Path to Memory 64-bits
ECC Support Yes
Hard Disk Controller Chip PIIX3 (82371SB Controller)
Busmastering Support Yes
UltraDMA Support No
Max. Theoretical Transfer Rate PIO Mode 4/DMA Mode 2 (16.6MB/S)
PCI Interface Supported PCI Bus Speeds 30, 33 MHz
Async. PCI Bus Speed No
PCI Specification 2.1 (66 MHz max.)
Power Management PC97 Compliance Yes
Suspend to Disk Yes
HDD Power Down Yes
Modem Wakeup Yes
System Suspend Yes
Video AGP Support No
Unified Memory Architecture No
Peripheral Support USB Support Yes
Plug and Play Port Yes
Write Buffers CPU-to-DRAM 16 QWords
CPU-to-PCI 6 DWords
PCI-to-DRAM 20 DWords
Officially Supported Bus Speeds 60, 66 MHz
Unofficially Achieved Bus Speeds 68, 75, 83.3 MHz
Intel 430VX Intel 440BX


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