4PLAI = Foreplay?
A while ago MSI teased me with an offer to look at their Intel 848P board. A $90 board, they bravely claimed (and still do) to factory support a 1400MHz front side bus with P4 (350MHz in real money) and support for DDR500 memory. I was just about to dive into an article on overclocking the Pentium 4 to silly speeds, so it seemed like an excellent base for testing, despite some limitations. However the board never appeared and I tested using something else entirely. That review turned out nicely, I got 4GHz out of a repackaged Xeon and Intel gave me a telling off.
I was more than a little disappointed though, 848P looked like an interesting product to take a look at. Here's why.
Intel 848PWho am I kidding, 848P isn't a strange beast really. Nothing more than 865PE with a single memory channel (865PE has two for dual channel operation), it has all the goodness of 865PE, including a CSA interface for a high bandwidth network controller, two port SATA, SATA RAID (with the ICH5/R bridge), built in Ethernet, a 6-channel audio controller, HyperThreading support and DDR400 memory support.
Not too bad then, especially since I had a hunch that with DDR400 memory and an 800MHz front side bus CPU, performance wouldn't be too bad. Good enough for the $90 market segment anyway.
If Intel are just quality testing 865PE cores (and therefore 875 cores too) for memory controller defects, the chipset might even support PAT, keeping performance as high as possible. So a curious chipset all round, one worth a look anyway, even if we do get obsessed with enthusiast hardware a little too much sometimes.
EPoX to the rescueWith MSI dithering in getting us a sample, 848P slipped out of my radar and I admit I forgot about it. Last week though, EPoX got in touch to talk about some new samples of their latest wares and 848P popped up again. It turns out they do a super cheap 848P with a couple of memory slots, networking, decent onboard audio and a couple of SATA ports. So rather than take a look at a Super Canterwood Hypermarket DDR Extreme nForceFX XT Stream Laser something or other, that we'd seen already, I said yay to 848P. Riding the cheap bus can be fun too.
A day later, Mr. Courier dropped it off. Codenamed 4PLAI, is it technological foreplay, a decent warmup act before you hop into bed with Miss Canterwood or Mistress Springdale? Let's have a look and see.