A number of you wrote me and sent me screenshots from the original article I talked about yesterday, which clearly identified the “future” chipsets as the Intel 845G and 845E. As mentioned yesterday, the 845G seems to have been tweaked up more than the 845E.
Of course, this is very preliminary information from just one source, and it would be wise to seek confirmation from other testers first before you buy. It appears that a portion of the performance increase looks to be due to an increase in the FSB from 100 to 133MHz, but only perhaps about a third of it for Quake, based on some other measurements.
Nonetheless, at least for some activities, there’s a real increase well worth waiting a few weeks for.
Why would Intel tweak the 845G board more than the 845E board? Pretty much for the same reason nVidia introduced dual-bank DDR; to feed the integrated video on the board.
However, unlike nVidia’s implementation, Intel’s memory tweaking seems to help under all circumstances.
The negative to buying an 845G board rather than an 845E is that hobbyists will end up buying integrated video they’ll never use, which will be more expensive under all circumstances.
This raises the question, “What is the nature of the tweaking?” Is it hardware- or software-based?
If it’s the first, there’s not much to be done about that. If it’s the second, and it’s a matter of some BIOS or driver code, it should not be too difficult for someone to provide hacked versions for the 845E which will give users the benefits of the additional tweaking.
If it really is the second, the hackers at home may not even get a chance; the mobo manufacturers may end up doing it for you.
The Real Issue
Right now, the current 2.4GHz PIV running at 100MHz holds a slight lead over a 1.73GHz Athlon XP2100+ running at 133MHz for most things.
The real question for overclockers over the next few months boils down to whether or not the Intel tweaks amount to appreciably more than the AMD tweaks.
I grant you, the items we’re talking about aren’t normally considered “tweaks”, and the performance gains are bigger than what you normally get from a “tweak,” but none of these in-and-of-themselves is especially substantial.
Get a PIV from 2.4 to 2.7GHz, that’s a tweak. Run the FSB at 166Mhz, that’s a tweak. Run the memory at 2-2-2-5-1 at 166MHz or better, that’s a tweak. Run the whole shebang with a tweaked motherboard, that’s the last tweak.
On the AMD side, unfortunately, at least the initial Thoroughbreds look like a tweak, too. A KT400 mobo is a tweak. You can do the 166Mhz FSB and high-end memory tweaks, too, though there’s some question about how much good it does you right now with current mobos and memory. The question will likely remain up in the air until at least we see KT400 mobos matched with truly high-end RAM (and that may not be for a while.
The problem with writing about this is the nagging feeling that for most people, this is all much ado about, if not nothing, little.
We’ll probably talk more about Intel than AMD the next few months, but it’s not because we feel Intel has become decisively better. It’s more like 90% looking for something new to do, and only 10% Intel may now be a little better at the moment, and specific advice is more “well, if you were going to do it anyway” rather than “this is something you need to do.”