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Review: DFI NB76-EC

by Ryszard Sommefeldt on 5 July 2002, 00:00

Tags: DFI (TPE:2397)

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It's been a while since we last looked at a DFI board and being a fan of theirs it was a pleasure for them to let as look at a new product. In the time since the launch of the Intel Pentium 4 as you all know, we've seen a socket change and a host of new chipsets to compliment the initial Intel i850 chipset, launched with the processor, that paired it with RAMBUS RDRAM.

Market forces, among other reasons, forced Intel to look elsewhere for a memory technology to pair the Pentium 4 with and in the end i845 was released to sit along side i850 in Intel's chipset lineup. For reasons best known to the semi conductor behemoth, SDR SDRAM was the original memory type decreed to be used on i845 boards, despite DDR memory being supported by the memory controller and DDR memory itself being wide spread in use on AMD platforms. Users were keen to migrate to Pentium 4 after the socket change and wanted to take their memory with them.

Eventually this resulted in i845D, supporting DDR memory and opened the floodgates for other manufacturers, bus license or not, to create chipsets for the Pentium 4.

In the time since i845D's launch, we've seen a few companies say hello with a DDR chipset for P4 including SiS and VIA and DDR is now the memory platform of choice for the P4, despite RDRAM still having the absolute edge performance wise. Customers and consumer are looking for a non proprietary memory technology to use in their systems and benchmarks between DDR and RDRAM showing that in the real world, there is very little difference in performance between the two.

To this end, Intel haven't been sat on their haunches either and have futher improved i845 with a pair of new variations on the DDR for P4 theme as well as forging ahead with dual channel DDR technology in the server space with Plumas.

So this brings us to the present day and the two (3 if you count i854GL) new variations with i845E and i845G. They are broadly similar, both featuring the same base changes with support for the new 'B' Pentium 4 processors that run on 533MHz (133Mhz, quad pumped) front side busses.

The NB76 from DFI features the G version of the chipset so lets take a closer look at it before looking at the board itself. Since we've got a lot of i845G coverage on the way at Hexus, lets have a look at the chipset to get familiar before we look at this and other solutions.