Following the release by Intel of its latest specification of Pentium II processors and 440BX chipset, assemblers and resellers are having to make some strategic product decisions.
As well as the predictable pricing adjustments to superseded processors, OEM customers in the IT channel are being hit with offers of enhancements to motherboards which feature the new chipset. Some motherboard vendors are claiming to have products available for immediate delivery.
The 440BX Accelerated Graphics Port (AGPset) enables the new P6 100MHz system bus, thus substantially increasing the level of performance and bandwidth required for "visual computing" applications. The chipset is said to allow manufacturers and resellers maximum flexibility by its compatibility with the entire range of Pentium II processors. So although motherboard vendors can use a single design for all PIIs, it is unlikely the 100MHz enabling chipset will be used with anything less than the new 350- and 400MHz processors.
In last month's Australian presentation Intel president Craig Barrett made reference to the need for the new chipset to retain the linear increases in performance of the new PIIs. Simply upgrading the processor will not provide the increased performance increment normally expected of Intel, and Barrett highlighted the bottleneck which the 440BX AGPset overcomes.
So system and motherboard vendors who announce products featuring 350- and 400MHz Pentium processors will also be promoting their use of the new chipset as well as any other enhancements.
The channel can expect an avalanche of product announcements and comparative performance releases and reviews in computer publications coming to your desk soon.
Getting on the bus to high performance
The advent of the Pentium II has set in motion an impressive chain of advances:
May 1997. Intel introduces the Pentium II - a processor that combines the power of a Pentium Pro and a Pentium with MMX (multimedia) support.
September 1997. Intel debuts the 440LX chip set to enable its Accelerated Graphics Port and to serve as a better platform for the combined chip introduced in May.
January 1998. Intel unveils its 333MHz Deschutes processor. The chip uses the same micro-architecture as the 300MHz Pentium II, but gains the Dual Independent Bus.
April 1998. Intel announces the 440BX chip set, expected to increase bus speed from 66MHz to 100MHz and enable processor speeds of 350MHz and 400MHz, respectively. BX systems will support as much as 1GB of system memory, vs 512MB, and will scale to two processors.by Andre KvitkaAMI reveals MegaRUM IIby ARN staff writersThe MegaRUM II, featuring Intel's 440BX chipset, is AMI's second generation RAID upgradable motherboard. It targets two distinct market segments: mid-range servers and mid to high-end workstations. The high-performance disk and video subsystems make it ideal for a video editing workstation.
It is a technology update for the existing AMI MegaRUM board, which utlilises the Intel 440FX chipset. The existing MegaRUM board already has AMI's RAID upgrade features, supports 1GB RAM, six PCI slots, and has extensive server management features.
MegaRUM II's unique feature set provides valuable additional high-performance benefits for both the workstation and server environments.
For the mid to high-end workstation environment, the MegaRUM II supports multiple I/O paths including USB, Serial, Parallel, and dual channel IDE support. In addition, the MegaRUM II provides an integrated LVD SCSI channel, which delivers up to 80MBps of sustained data transfer, providing the fastest disk performance available to date.
MegaRUM II provides maximum CPU performance scalability with support for all Pentium II processors including the new 400MHz Pentium II Slot 1 processor. It also supports SDRAM, which delivers memory transaction performance superior to standard EDO or FPM modules. Furthermore, with an onboard AGP slot, the MegaRUM II enables the AGP video to utilise this high-bandwidth memory, providing the fast performance often demanded in a mid to high-end workstation.
Using the Intel 440BX chipset, the MegaRUM II provides extensive memory support for EDO Memory, SDRAM and registered SDRAM for up to 1GB of memory. It also has the ability to auto-detect memory types through Serial Presence Detection, as well as support for SDRAM access at both 66MHz and 100MHz.
AMIBIOS provides support for leading edge technologies such as the Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI) and Wired for Management (WfM).
According to Chris Dimmock, sales and marketing director for AMI distributor Genitech: "Support for the WfM initiative, coupled with MegaRUM II's extensive hardware monitoring and advanced AMI_ServerCare management software, delivers unparalleled system management capabilities."
Genitech is scheduled to ship the AMI MegaRUM II in May, as a board product for OEM's, and in June as a blueprinted system under its "private label programme" for Australian Integrators and OEMS. It will also be available in rack (MegaRack 774) and floorstanding (MegaServer 774) variants as part of the Genitech Server "MegaRange" for resellers in June.
AMI (American Megatrends) specialises in creating system level technologies, including desktop BIOS, mobile BIOS, server BIOS, USB Solutions, RAID products, motherboards, and utilities. Genitech is the Australian distributor for AMI.
Tel (02) 9476 4277ÊFax (02) 9477 7561
MSI announces the Pentium II-ready ATX mainboardby ARN staff writersMicro-Star International (MSI) has announced the MS-6116 Pentium II system mainboard. Designed for the ATX form factor, the new motherboard is claimed to be the foundation for high performance. The performance of the MS-6116 is optimised by Intel's new 440BX AGPset, which enables users to take full advantage of the performance capability of the faster Pentium II processors. The MS-6116 is PC 98-compliant for increased system performance, reliability and ease of use.
The enhanced functions of this ATX mainboard include TOP Tech. TOP Tech accurately monitors CPU temperature as well as the status of other system hardware. Using PC Alert Monitor Software, it enables close checking of the health of the system. Other hardware monitors such as system voltage, CPU fan speed, and chassis intrusion alert users when abnormal conditions occur while their systems are in operation, thereby enhancing the reliability and stability of your systems.
The MS-6116 has four-168 pin DIMM sockets supporting up to 512MB or 1GB registered DIMM. ECC (Error Code Correction) is supported. Four 32-bit Bus Master PCI bus slots and three 16-bit ISA bus slots are provided. Maximising data storage performance, the Bus Mastering IDE interface supports 33MBps Ultra DMA. Up to four IDE devices can be connected. It's ideal for OEMs and system integrators who commit to a product year long.
MSI is represented in Australia by Mystar Computers.
Tel (02) 9868 6962ÊFax (02) 9868 6968
Intel's own motherboard offering
The Intel SE440BX motherboard is a high-performance platform that combines support for a high-frequency Pentium II processor with the superior bandwidth of both the Dual Independent Bus (DIB) and the 100MHz system bus.
By integrating the Accelerated Graphics Port and the increased 100MHz system bus throughput, the SE440BX motherboard is claimed to deliver the highest performance available for the demanding system applications of today and tomorrow.
Intel's SE440BX motherboard boosts performance from the traditional 66MHz to 100MHz. The SE440BX motherboard incorporates the Intel 440BX AGPset that enables the Accelerated Graphics Port, while increasing the system bus throughput between the processor, graphics accelerator and system memory.
The SE440BX motherboard supports both 66MHz and 100MHz system bus speeds for Pentium II processors and system memory, providing flexibility to accommodate different memory and processor combinations.
Tel (02) 9937 5800ÊFax (02) 9937 5899
Other 440BX motherboard offerings
The following motherboard models feature the Intel 440BX AGPset:
Tekram P6B40-A4X. This model includes 4 PCI Bus Master Slots; 3 ISA Bus Slots, Bus Mastering PCI IDE and Super I/O, and Advanced Hardware Monitoring.
Tel (02) 9319 6411
Fax (02) 9319 6797
Tel (02) 9526 2688
Fax (02) 9526 2650
Tel (02) 9417 7898
Fax (02) 9417 3417
Tyan Computer Corporation S1846S/L/A. This board supports CPU speeds of 233MHz to 400MHz and beyond, as well as the new Intel Celeron CPU.
Intelligent Printing Systems (IPS)
Tel (02) 9923 1777
Fax (02)9923 2226
Legend QDI 440BX Brilliant Series. The Brilliant I is for desktops and the Brilliant IV, supporting dual Pentium II processors, is designed for servers.
Tel (02) 9904 8199
Fax (02) 9904 8207