Intel i925X & i915P/G Chipsets

..:: Introduction ::..

They’re calling it the most important platform change in over a decade. They’re dishing out marketing lingo left and right, up and down, but is this new platform all they say it is? With the recent launch of Intel’s i915G, i915P, and i925X chipsets, Intel has brought advanced Serial ATA features, PCI Express, Advanced High-Def Audio, DDR-II, and more to the computing world. If you’ve taken a look at some of the initial reviews that have already hit the web over the past few days, you’ll know that so far, few have been all that impressed with the current performance benefits seen by these new technologies, as well as being disappointed with the lack of base for several core components that will be needed to upgrade to this new platform.

As a re-cap of our article published earlier in the week, Intel also released the new LGA 775 based Pentium 4’s along with the i925X and i915P/G chipsets. Intel’s new LGA, or Land Grid Array, 775 processor socket takes a step away from traditional implementations in that the package no longer features pins, rather the bottom of the LGA 775 processors only have small gold contacts. With the LGA package, Intel has moved the pins into the bottom portion of the processor socket, something that will make installation of the processor easier in that there is no need to watch for bent pins on the package…although it will make it more difficult as well. You no longer need to worry about bent or damaged pins on the processor, rather now you have to worry twice as much about bent pins within the processor socket itself. We’ve heard some horror stories about the frailty of these pins, and from working first hand with LGA 775 motherboards, I can say that these stories likely can be taken with more than a grain of salt. In order to properly install the processor, you need to vertically drop it in the socket. If you angle the processor too much, we have found a slight angle to be alright, you risk bending some of the tiny pins and then smiling with delight at your now useless motherboard.

LGA 775 isn’t all bad, in fact it comes along with quite a few positive aspects. The processor can now deal with a higher amount of current flowing into it due to and increased number of power pins. This helps take the incredible current load off of many of the other power pins, and can help lower the amount of leakage, and also reduce some heat. Heat has been the primary issue with Intel’s latest processors, especially Prescott. Herein lies yet another positive aspect of LGA 775. With the plastic retention mechanisms used on 478 platforms, as heatsinks began to grow in mass due to increased thermal requirements, the motherboards would begin to bow due to the mechanical stress placed upon them. The heaviest heatsinks where mounted through the motherboard, as this helped relieve and disperse some of the stress. With the LGA 775 socket, Intel has allowed for similar implementations to be used as a standard. Many found the 478 heatsinks to offer incredibly easy installation, and with this new socket, Intel has made this task even easier. But enough about the LGA processors, if you’d like more information, take a look at our initial review!

Now, before we delve into the depth of both the i925X and i915 series of chipsets, we’re going to dabble into the prospects that several of the new chipset features such as PCI-Express, DDR-II, Intel’s High-Def. Audio, and more. To start things off, we’re going to take a quick look at PCI-Express, the replacement for AGP that offers a substantially larger amount of available bandwidth.