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Streaming SIMD Extensions 2 (SSE2)

Intelís Pentium 4 architecture features 144 new instructions capable of delivering 128-bit SIMD integer arithmetic operation and 128-Bit SIMD Double Precision Floating Point. In order to take benefit of these new features, current software-games will need to be re-compiled; otherwise, there will be no benefit. As with SSE, Game/Software developers should be incorporating SSE2 features in their code with no delays. These instructions can reduce the overall number of instructions required to execute a specific task and at the same time can result in a performance increase.

Overview of the Intel 850 Chipset. 

Intel's Pentium 4, being built on new microprocessor architecture requires a new chipset that could take full advantage of its new features and design. Intel's latest 850 chipset was designed specifically for the Pentium 4. The i850 has very little differences over its expensive and high-end brother, the 840E chip. The 850 like the 840, is using a dual-Rambus channel memory architecture, of course this requires that you install the RIMM modules in pairs of two. If you already have some knowledge with the dual Rambus channel on the 840, you already know that this technique helps the latency issues to be lessened and at the same time doubles the bandwidth of the memory. Continuing with some other similar features to the 840, the 850 shares the same hub architecture (ICH2), meaning that the 850 chip offers pretty much what the 840 has to offer in features. The 850 of course includes AGPX4 support and the standard features that Intel's ICH2 hub has to offer, this includes ATA/100 support, an additional USB hub, resulting in a total of four USB ports, the implantation of the AC97 audio and 10/100Mpbs LAN. What differs most is the capability of handling Intel's latest Processor.

850 Block Diagram

The main difference between the 840 and 850 is the support of the new bus to the processor. The difference between the Pentium 4 AGTL+ bus and the Pentium III AGTL+ bus is that the Pentium 4 uses a 100MHz quad pumped bus, resulting in 400MHz compared to the 100/133MHz bus the Pentium III uses. Another important point to mention is that the 850 chip does not support dual processors (SMP) compared to the 840 that can fully take advantage of two Pentium III CPU's. At this specific moment, this really does not matter because the Pentium 4 is a single (unit) processor. This will change once the Pentium 4 (Foster) is released later this year.

To date Intel's 850 chipset is the only one capable of supporting the Pentium 4 processor, VIA is working on a chipset for the Pentium 4 that could take advantage of SDRAM and even possibly DDR support, but this is still under the works and might take a little while until we hear more on the subject. One thing is clear, the Pentium 4 could become a more attractive product if VIA could release a stable and somewhat equivalent product in performance to the 850 chipset that uses SDRAM or DDR and offers reasonable performance when compared to the 850 with RDRAM. Intel will also release a non-RDRAM platform for the Pentium 4. According to their latest roadmap, "Brookdale" should be available in the Third Quarter of this year. Brookdale will be a value segment for the Pentium 4 and will only support PC133 memory when released, DDR support should come in the First Quarter of 2002.

The Pentium 4 it self is already and expensive piece, not forgetting the Rambus memory that is priced twice the price of normal SDRAM memory, so will the 850 motherboards be another limitation for the average user in getting one? You bet. 850 motherboards are starting in the 200$ Range, and let's not forget that there is not many of them available at this time. The i850 Chip (MCH - ICH2) is retailing for almost twice the price of the 815E (EP) chip for the Pentium III.

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