Intel Launches Low-Power 65nm 4 Series Chipsets for the Desktopby Kris Boughton on June 5, 2008 12:00 AM EST
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What's New and Improved
|Intel Series 4 Chipset Overview|
|Intel X48 Express||Intel P45/P43 Express||Intel G45/G43 Express|
|Processor Support||Intel Core 2 Extreme, Core 2 Quad, and Core 2 Duo Processors|
|FSB Support||1600/1333/1066/800 MHz||1333/1066/800 MHz|
|DIMMs per Channel/
Number of Memory Channels
|2 DIMMs/2 Channels|
|Memory Performance Optimizations||Intel Fast Memory Access Technology|
|DDR3 up to 1600 (XMP)
DDR3 up to 1333
DDR2 up to 800
|DDR3 up to 1066
DDR2 up to 800
|Integrated Graphics||n/a||n/a||Intel GMA X4500HD*|
|DirectX Support||n/a||n/a||DirectX 10, DirectX 9|
|Additional Graphics Features||n/a||n/a||Intel Clear View Technology|
|Discrete Graphics||PCI-E 2.0 2x16||PCI-E 2.0 1x16 or 2x8**||PCI-E 2.0 1x16|
|PCI-E (ICH Only)||(6) x1|
|IDE/ATA Support||SATA 3GB/s (6 ports), eSATA, Port Disable|
|Storage Technology||Intel Matrix Sotrage Technology (RAID 0, 1, 5, 10)
Intel Rapid Recover Technology
|NAND Technology||Intel Turbo Memory|
|USB Ports Controllers||12 USB 2.0 Ports, 2 EHCI Controller, Post Disable|
|Audio||Intel HD Audio|
|LAN||Integrated Intel GbE MAC|
|Intel Quiet System Technology||Yes|
* G43 - Intel GMA X4500 variant
8GB of DDR3 Memory or 16GB of DDR2 Memory – Take Your Pick
As we mentioned before, the new Intel 4 Series Express chipsets support a total of 8GB of DDR3 memory at speeds of up to DDR3-1066 (667MHz). Individual motherboard manufactures are also free to develop products that feature an Intel 4 Series Express chipset and legacy DDR2 memory technology for consumers looking for low-cost alternatives to more expensive DDR3 modules. As an aside, with the exception of X48, all Intel 4 Series Express chipsets are officially able to address up to 16GB of DDR2 memory (but only 8GB of DDR3), making G43 an attractive candidate for consideration when it comes to assembling a 64-bit single-socket budget server.
PCI-E 2.0 Graphics and CrossFire(X) Support
Intel 4 Series chipsets are fully PCI-E 2.0 compliant, which increases the maximum theoretical bandwidth of any installed PCI-E 2.0-enabled component by a factor of two. However, unlike X48, P45 only provides 16 PCI-E 2.0 lanes, so AMD/ATI CrossFire setups will only receive half the bandwidth relative to an X38/X48 board. How much that actually impacts dual-GPU performance is still a topic of debate, as the PCI-E bandwidth generally does not seem to be the major limiting factor.
Unlike G45/P43/G43, P45's PCI-E 2.0 ports can be configured for either 1x16 or 2x8 operation, which is different from past mainstream/performance segment chipsets like P35 and P965 where it was impossible to directly connect more than one add-in graphics card to the Northbridge PCI-E resources. In this respect, P45 provides something new, allowing discerning gamers building on a budget the opportunity to experience multi-GPU 3D graphics acceleration without the need for an absolute top-end motherboard. Given time, P45 platforms could become quite the powerhouse when it comes to putting together an inexpensive CrossFire(X) gaming system. Systems based on either G45, P43, or G43 are left to 1x16 PCI-E lane configurations only, meaning they may not make very suitable gaming systems if you plan to install more than one PCI-E video card.
GMA X4500HD - DisplayPort and HDMI 1.3 Join the Fray
The G45 Express chipset represents the first major upgrade to Intel integrated graphics since G35 and features the updated Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) X4500HD. X4500HD promises to deliver full hardware-accelerated High Definition (HD) video decode capabilities for Blu-ray discs as well as other popular HD standards such as H.264, MPEG2, MPEG4, VC-1, and WMV9. G45 also includes Intel Clear Video Technology, a combination of video processing hardware and software technologies designed to enhance the already breathtaking image quality of high-resolution HD content. Advanced Digital Display Support, which has matured since its last appearance with G35, allows a broad range of digital displays to be connected including Digital Visual Interface (DVI), High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) 1.3, and DisplayPort at 720p, 1080i, and 1080p with up to eight channels of uncompressed audio. Naturally, that also means support for High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP), as well as dual independent displays.
The HDMI 1.3 specification increases the interface's maximum single-link bandwidth speed to 340MHz (10.2 Gbps), up from the minimum 165Mpixel/second rate needed to support 1080p at 60Hz (1920x1080). Support for deeper color profiles is also new, with earlier HDMI revisions only allowing for up to 8-bit colors. HDMI 1.3 brings 10-bit, 12-bit, and even 16-bit (RGB or YPrPb) color depths to the table allowing for a color palette of billions of colors. Those that purchase HDMI 1.3-compliant products may also notice the incorporation of a new mini connector intended to reduce the already small HDMI connector form factor for more efficient placement in today's small portable device market. Consumers will be happy to learn that HDMI 1.3 incorporates a new "Lip Sync" feature permitting automatic audio-to-video synchronizing capabilities without the need for user interaction. Finally, although the latest specification includes the ability to transmit compressed digital audio (Dolby Digital and DTS) and uncompressed digital audio (LPCM), the new standard adds support for the newest lossless compressed digital audio signals such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio.
Hardware Support for OpenGL 2.0 Graphics… Almost
While not the first DirectX 10 part from Intel, the X4500HD integrated graphics engine has been built from the ground up to deliver highly-optimized 2D and 3D graphics performance from applications based on Microsoft DirectX 10 and includes fully-compliant Shader Model 4.0 pixel pipelines with full support for the latest Aero desktop experience included in Windows Vista Premium or better. However, we should mention that the current platform development schedule indicates that drivers containing preliminary support for OpenGL 2.0-based graphics hardware acceleration are not slated for release until third quarter 2008, well after the June 2008 product launch date. This news is particularly concerning to us seeing as how Intel never really managed to their act together when it came to addressing a few of the more persistent driver performance issues plaguing G35.
User Pinning for Intel Turbo Memory (ICH10 Feature)
In addition to Intel Matrix Storage Technology (MST), Intel Rapid Recover Technology, and Intel Turbo Memory - features all included in Intel's ICH9(R) - when paired with an Intel G45 Express chipset, ICH10(R) now allows the user to easily control the application binary information or other data saved in the Turbo Memory cache. The technique, called User Pinning, can boost system performance by decreasing the time needed to access and load frequently referenced data or any other information the user prefers to be available in the prefetch storage space. Intel 4 Series chipsets are also rumored to support a Turbo Memory address space of up to 4GB.
Intel Extreme Tuning Utility
Originally intended for use with the X48 Express chipset launched in early 2008, Intel introduced a simple-to-use, wizard-based tool for manual or automatic PC performance tuning. Novices and power users alike can use the Extreme Tuning Utility to tweak the P45 Express chipset for the "ultimate" in overclocking performance. We have not yet had the time to test all this tool has to offer, so naturally we must pass on making any judgments at this time. However, our early exposure to overclocking with P45 was lackluster at best, as the chipset consistently required more voltage than would have normally been expected using a premium performance board based on X48.