All components communicate with the processor through the chipset � it is the hub of all data transfer. Each chipset consists of a Graphics and/or Memory Controller Hub, which interfaces directly with the processor, and the I/O Controller Hub. The I/O Controller Hub provides the PCI, disk drive, network, USB, audio and other I/O interfaces to peripherals. Thus, the chipset determines most of the add-on components that will work with the system, and how efficiently they can transfer data. Because chipsets have to be able to communicate with all PC components, choose one designed to optimize your processor and configuration.
For Pentium® 4 processor-based PCs, Intel currently offers two chipsets: the Intel® 850 chipset and Intel® 845 chipset. The Intel® 850 chipset supports dual-channel RDRAM memory. Its 3.2 GB/s peak memory bandwidth matches the processor-chipset peak bandwidth on a 400 MHz processor system bus. Thus, RDRAM offers the most performance and headroom for your Pentium® 4 processor. The Intel® 845 chipset provides an excellent price/performance choice, with support for DDR200/266 or PC 133 SDRAM. Both the Intel® 850 and 845 chipsets support AGP 4X graphics cards for graphics performance.
Intel's I/O Controller Hub (ICH2) is featured in the Intel® 850 and 845 chipsets. The ICH2 provides two full-bandwidth USB controllers that double the bandwidth to 24Mbps across four USB ports, representing a significant increase over integrated 1-4 port hubs at 12Mbps.
Integrated LAN Capability can be enabled for three distinct networking environments (1Mbps home PNA, 10/100Mbps LAN and managed 10/100Mbps LAN). All three solutions utilize Intel� SingleDriver" Technology, a common set of drivers, which simplifies network complexity and increases the ease of deployment.
ATA/100 Hard Disk Drive support stands ready for the latest storage technology while remaining compatible with today's most cost-effective and popular HDD solutions. The Intel® Application Accelerator provides exceptional performance over standard ATA drivers.
The Integrated AC97 audio option supports full surround sound with up to 6 channels and a soft modem implementation.
Further flexibility can be achieved by taking advantage of the Communication and Network Riser (CNR) card option, which allows for audio, modem, and/or LAN configuration on a single base board design.
Intel® chipsets are designed and extensively tested together with Intel® processors and are also validated with a wide range of memory, software, and other components. This testing maximizes compatibility with peripherals and software and minimizes the chances of conflicts when building a system.