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i820 ATXflex, low profile PCI cards

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Intel Developer Forum The Intel Developers Forum ran a series of tracks on designing the next generation performance desktop system. Richard Malinowski, engineering director of the personal computer group at Intel, talked the talk about the i820 chipset and the sort of bottlenecks Intel hoped to address. He was also keen to promote AGP 4X. Malinowski claimed the next generation of AGP 4X graphics will deliver up to 1GB/sec transfer rate, twice the rate of AGP 2X, and has broad industry support from ATI, Matrox, Nvidia, S3 and 3DFX. IO bottlenecks, he said, included a PCI arbitration overhead. That protocol is asynchronous based, with no guaranteed quality of service. The 133MHz FSB gives a 33 per cent increase on the processor bus, a 100 per cent using AGP 4X, and accelerated hub architecture on IO will mean a 100 per cent performance boost. RDRAM gives up to 300 per cent improvement on the memory subsystem, Malinowski claimed. (At this point we must enter a caveat. We met several people at IDF who suggested to us that using the i820 with Rambus memory gave less performance than using the 82440BX chipset with SDRAM. We are currently investigating this.) Intel is working directly with 10 mobo vendors to enable RDRAM, he said. Fifty more are being trained to make Rambus work. Intel is pushing for a 2 x 2, that is two RIMM and two DIMM solution for transitioning to Rambus technology. Its DIMM riser enablement scheme has been cancelled. The second track in the next generation PC design series covered the FlexATX form factor. This motherboard design is used in Concept PCs. Intel says its mission with its low profile initiative is to offer NLX a lower cost alternative and produce low profile designs based on the ATX family in the first half of next year. To that end, it will produce ATX riser spec 1.0 by Comdex next, and display LP (low profile) PCI cards at the same show. The trend is an alignment in the industry around the ATX family of specifications, using both FlexATX and other Low Profile solutions. ®

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