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Soyo P4S Dragon Ultra Mainboard

Not long ago we reviewed Soyo’s latest 845 SDRAM mainboard for the Pentium 4, while we didn’t recommend buying a product with SDRAM support for the Pentium 4 we found their P4ISR SDRAM product to be the best solution to get the most from the least. While we were in Las Vegas for CES earlier this month, Soyo provided us with their P4S DRAGON mainboard for testing, this particular board is based on the SIS645 chipset and has quite a few interesting features.

  • SIS 645 Chipset
  • 3GB DDR Support
  • DDR333 Support
  • USB 2.0 Controller
  • HighPoint Raid Controller
  • Onboard C-Media 6 Channel Sound
  • Onboard Ethernet via SIS
  • 6 USB ports in total


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There’s more than Intel’s 845 DDR

The Pentium 4 was introduced along with Intel’s 850 chipset, not long ago it was the only solution available for the Pentium 4; obligating people to use it without giving them choice to go with an alternative solution.

Intel introduced their 845 chipset last year in order to accommodate their Pentium 4 with a value segment chip which costs less to produce and eliminating the need of using the expensive RDRAM memory.

SDRAM PC133 memory was unfortunately the only choice due their agreement with Rambus stating that Intel was not allowed to produce a non RDRAM chipset supporting a memory subsystem with a bandwidth higher than 1.06/GB/sec until 2002, limiting the 845 only to the less powerful SDRAM PC133 memory. SDRAM’s 1.06GB/s bandwidth clearly wasn’t enough to accommodate the Pentium 4’s 3.2GB/sec bandwidth, the SDRAM performance was suffering compared to the 850 chip which takes full use of the 3.2GB/s bandwidth.
Intel knew that their competitors were working on DDR solutions that would offer similar chipsets in terms of features but with higher potential from its memory subsystem thanks to DDR memory.

Intel was from the beginning designing the 845 to support DDR SDRAM, making the 845/SDRAM a temporary, low-cost solution for the Pentium 4 and giving them more time to continue working on their DDR support for the 845.

While the 845 DDR offers a good performance and value ratio for the Pentium 4, Intel’s 845 DDR is not the only solution for the Pentium 4. VIA and SIS are the two other serious players in this market, offering in many cases superior and most importantly more affordable chipsets that in result are able to put the Pentium 4 into an even deeper mainstream market. You can catch a more in-depth look at the currently available chipsets for the Pentium 4 in our Pentium 4 Northwood article.

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