Bigamy?

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Prospective PIV owners have been wondering, “In my next relationship, do I or do I not want PAT?”

“PAT” really stands for “Performance Acceleration Technology.” It’s a means by which Intel promises to quicken memory access a bit.

All along, Intel has been saying that if you wanted PAT, the only way you could get her (or him) was to get a higher-priced Canterwood motherboard.

The cost-conscious would much rather get a much cheaper Springdale motherboard, but Intel said, “No Canterwood, no PAT.”

Asus now says otherwise.

In a recent press release, they announced that their Springdale 865PE boards will give you PAT, too.

Presumably, others will do the same sooner or later.

PAT isn’t monogamous any more. 🙂

What Does This Mean?

Some have said that PAT is a mythical being, like Santa Claus, a marketing tool. They cite this article (which is an interview with an Intel exec) as proof of that.

However, the article says no such thing. Here’s what Mr. Intel Exec actually said:

“Performance Acceleration Technology is one of the features of our 875P (Canterwood) chipset. We basically bin our Memory Controller Hub (MCH) chips like our CPUs, finding the fastest silicon. We can then use this fast silicon to shave off a couple of memory clock cycles, resulting in better performance.”

So PAT does exist. It’s a hardware feature, which, as XBit Labs astutely pointed out, is like AMD’s old Super Bypass Mode.

And apparently something that can be turned on and off for both Springdale and Canterwood mobos.

Is Intel’s Bin (Over)Laden?

Does that mean Canterwood is just BS and only a fool would pay extra for one? No, only a fool would jump to that conclusion at this point.

What we don’t know is how dependent PAT is on high-end silicon to function properly, and how much fast silicon Intel is making.

Put simply, with a Canterwood, you will get the best Intel has to offer when enabling PAT. With a Springdale, you may get it, or may not.

We just don’t know. May I remind you that overclockers do have the habit of running equipment beyond spec. 🙂 What could pass a test at 200MHz may not pass a test at overclocker speed.

Maybe 90% of MCHs Intel is making would make the Canterwood grade. Maybe it’s only 20%. We don’t know.

If I had to predict right now, the most likely outcome will be that some of the Springdales will, and some of them won’t be able to deal with PAT under overclocking conditions.

For those that won’t, we don’t know what the consequences will be. Will machines bypass the bypass and run a little slower, or will they crash? Don’t know.

Again, keep in mind that something that may work fine at 200MHz may well not work at 220 or 230 or 240MHz memory speed.

Well, What Are You Going To Do About It

I ordered an Asus P4P800 mobo this morning. That goes with the 2.4C, Abit IC7, Corsair XMS3500 and Raptors I ordered yesterday.

While my upcoming experience won’t necessarily be conclusive under these circumstances, at least I can beat the hell out of the equipment I do get methodically and tell you what happens.

In The Meantime

No matter what I say, there will be plenty of people who’ll buy Springdales anyway and knowingly or unknowingly play pioneer.

If you want to play pioneer, fine. Our job is to tell you that you are playing pioneer, this isn’t a sure thing, and there’s a risk of failure here.

Our point is not to discourage those who are willing to take the risk of failure. It is to inform those who don’t want to take any risks and think there’s no risk at all doing this.

In short, to get people to think first, do later. Not the other way around, which happens way too often.

For those who don’t want to play pioneer, your job (and mine) is to watch the pioneers in action, and see how they do. Especially see how they do in memory-intensive operations. You might want to ask the pioneers to turn PAT on and off and see how it affects not only performance, but stability.

There are times when it is foolish not to spend a lot, and there are times when it is foolish not to. We don’t know which category this one falls into yet. Nobody knows for sure, nobody will for some time to come, and the answer is unlikely to be unambiguous.

Ed

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