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Product: Pentium 4 2GHz - Intel D850MD & D845HV Motherboards
Company: Intel
Estimated Street Price: $389.00 (for the CPU)
Review By: Julien Jay

Intel D850MD Motherboard

Table Of Contents
1: Introduction
2: CPU Architecture
3: SSE2 Instructions & P4 2GHz CPU Design
4: Celeron 1.2GHz & Tualatin 1.13/1.2GHz CPU Design
5: i82850 Chipset
6: i82845 Chipset
7: CNR & Audio Features
8: D850MD & D845HV Motherboards
9: Benchmarks
10: Benchmarks Analysis
11: Conclusion

Intel has launched two new motherboards to host the new socket478: we have received the Intel D850MD Motherboard. The other model available, the D850MV is strictly identical but comes with 5 PCI slots. The D850MD Pentium 4 motherboard is highly integrated and features the Micro-ATX form factor to reduce costs. At the heart of the D850MD beats an i850 chipset. The motherboard comes with 3 PCI 2.2 connectors and 1 AGP 4x 1.volts connector. The Pentium 4 architecture is a bit complex and as it offers a high bandwidth, compatible motherboards should now have six layers of printed circuits, instead of the four usual ones that standard main boards use, thus causing the prices to be slightly higher.

   Installing the D850MD in an existing PC box is relatively easy since with the new fixing mechanism there’s no need anymore to screw the retention part on the box. However the Micro-ATX format of the motherboard can lead to some annoyances: the right top corner of the motherboard may block a drive bay if your PC bed offers a 5”¼ bay in front of the motherboard.

Intel D850MD Motheboard

   The D850MD motherboard also requires an ATX 2.03 (ATX 12 Volts) 300 watt (300 watt is a minimum due to the power consumption of the CPU, the motherboard, etc.) compatible power supply. If your PC meets these requirements you can start installing the motherboard right away. Unlike Asus, Intel motherboards require the presence of an ATX 12volts power unit, otherwise you might experience lookups due to insufficient processor power. Inserting the Pentium 4 into the Socket 478 is a breeze and once you’re done you’ll have to apply a thermal paste to stick the heatsink over it, so the CPU heat will be dissipated and transmitted to the huge metallic heatsink itself covered by a wide and powerful fan. The whole system heats much than a normal PC, for instance the i850 chipset is even covered by a heatsink! During our tests at full charge the Pentium 4 2.0 GHz reaches the high temperature of 55° Celsius (131°F) however it remains very stable. Your PC box will have to be correctly cooled by numerous fans (we used four inside our test system) to ensure the reliability of the whole system: as you know the more a PC heats more you have chance to encounter strange fatal errors due to overheating.

   As this time the i850 chipset supports RAMBUS PC800 memory so the motherboard features 4 RIMM slots to install your RDRAM easily (note that if you use only two RDRAM barrettes continuity RIMM modules are provided with the motherboard). The good thing is that with four RIMM slots you have sufficient memory upgrade possibilities. We installed 256 MB of Rambus PC800 ECC memory on the motherboard before we plug the UDMA 100 controllers to the hard disks and DVD ROM cables. Then we mount the PCI cards and we finished by inserting the AGP graphic card using an AGP retention mechanism to avoid possible bad contact that may be caused by a heavy AGP card. Due to the new AGP voltage used by the i850 chipset some 3D graphic cards like the Voodoo 5500 won’t work with the motherboard since they only support 1.7 volts mode and not 1.5 volts.

   The Intel D850MD comes with a total of four external USB ports (2 are located near the PS/2 plugs for the mouse & the keyboard while the others are near the audio plugs). Integrators can add a Nec USB 2.0 chip to the motherboard to add support for the upcoming USB 2 transfer protocol. The D850MD motherboard comes with two serial ports which is great since many users still use various serial devices. The usual parallel port is also included and supports EPP mode for fast bi-directional communications. Once we’ve plugged everything correctly we were able to start the computer. First of all, we discover in front of our starring eyes a nice ‘Pentium 4’ screen that is displayed each time you power up the system thanks to the Intel friendly BIOS message feature that hides every obscures POST messages that scare many new byes.

   The firmware of the motherboard is stored on the Intel 82802AB 4 MB Firmware Hub component ensuring it can be updated. One really good thing is that the BIOS is Multilanguage enabled so it can speak English as well as German! Updating it is a child game since Intel provides an Express Bios Update that runs directly under Windows. Just like every actual Intel motherboard, the D850MD features a new unique technology named Intel Rapid Bios. This feature will surely interest every user: in order to reduce long booting time, user frustration and to increase the efficiency of today's computers the latest generation of Intel Bios now improves boot time without sacrificing features, quality, or reliability. The BIOS Power On Self Test (POST) was streamlined by parallelizing tasks, eliminating redundant code, reduction of legacy features, and selective hardware usage and configuration. To reduce the boot time you can even choose to disable hard disks tests so your PC will be ready to work faster than before. Underneath is an Intel chart showing the benefits of this new technology. This technology exceeds the PC 2001 Design Specification Guide and is compliant with Microsoft Windows Me (Millennium Edition) as well as Microsoft Windows XP.

  Like with every motherboard release, you’ll have to install the latest Intel INF chipset drivers update so Windows can perfectly manage the motherboard you’ve just installed: it works great under Windows Me as well as Windows 2000 and Windows XP. Intel also provides UDMA ATA drivers to experience faster hard disk data transfers (increased by 15% in comparison when using Windows ones) especially if yours, use a UDMA 66 or UDMA 100 connection.

Intel Application Accelerator (click to enlarge)

Intel D845HV Motherboard

The Intel D845HV Motherboard is powered by the i845 chipset and features a Socket 478 to support the latest Pentium 4 CPUs (from mPGA 1.4GHz to 2GHz). It uses the microATX form factor with four layers and only supports ATX 2.03 power sources. The chipset is surrounded by a huge heatsink to prevent any hangs due to excessive heat. The card features 3 PCI 2.2 slots, 1 AGP 4X/2X (1.5 volt) slot and 1 CNR slot. We regret there’s no retention mechanism available for the AGP port. The D845HV has been manufactured in the purest Intel's tradition: finish is impeccable and the whole motherboard gives a quality impression. Since the motherboard is highly integrated audio features are also included: integrated features like those included not only brought end users with all the functions they might need, but it ensures the platform remains reliable and rock solid since Intel makes sure drivers are perfectly compliant between them and fully support power saving modes. The rear panel of the motherboard hosts 4 USB connectors, only one serial port connector and one parallel port connector supporting EPP & ECP modes along with a ramp of three coloured audio connectors (speakers, line-in, micro). Three memory banks will welcome up to 3 GB of PC 133 168 pin SDRAM. The motherboard features a special connector that lets you add two supplementary USB ports. You can also route an other USB port through an optional CNR card for a total of 7 USB ports! The motherboard obviously features the Rapid BIOS Boot technology explained above, so Power On Self Tests (POST) are accelerated for faster access to the system. Compliant with every power saving norms (APM, ACPI, etc.) the D845HV supports the Suspend-To-Ram feature. Power users can install Intel Active Monitor under Windows, to monitor in real time the status of the motherboard. With this software, users can check system temperatures, power supply voltages, and fan speeds.

Intel D845HV Motherboard

Just like every good Intel motherboards, owners can update Intel D845HV's BIOS fingers in the nose, thanks to the Intel Express BIOS technology. Updating the BIOS takes only a few seconds and can be done directly from Windows. The system BIOS of the D845HV is stored on a 4Mb Flash EEPROM (also known as the Intel 82802AB Firmware Hub [FWH]) with Intel/AMI BIOS featuring plug and play, IDE drive auto-configure. The D845HV motherboard was totally stable during our tests.

Windows XP 

The D850MD and D845HV motherboards are Windows XP ready and WHQL certified. It means they are already provided with Windows XP compliant drivers and bioses designed to get the most out of your platform. Microsoft Windows XP is the first truly optimized Pentium 4 operating system. Consumer enthusiasts and business professionals alike are demanding increasingly sophisticated tools and richer visual capabilities. Microsoft Windows XP caters to this demand by offering a new set of connected experiences that allow users to do more than ever before with the systemsbuilt around Intel platforms.

   But every new generation of software has its price: it adds to the demands on the desktop processor. To fully utilize the most sophisticated features of the Windows XP operating system, and maximize headroom for future releases, users will want to deploy Windows XP on Intel® Pentium® 4 processor-based platforms. From speech-recognition interfaces to 3-D business analysis and visualization software, the Intel Pentium 4 processor helps customers take full advantage of the advanced features of Windows XP.

Technical Analysis

   The Pentium 4 architecture reveals a strong potential specifically designed for video, high-demanding multimedia applications and rich 3D games. With so much power in this incredible revolutionary new architecture early adopters can see the future coming in all peace of mind. Pentium 4 processors also bring to reality speech recognition applications & encrypting tools while fastening ripping processes by example. But that’s not all! Even thought the Pentium 4 boosts every multimedia application it will also let developers create software or games you can’t even dream about yet for example more sophisticated artificial intelligence, and things like that. Intel will be able to push the limits behind one more time just like the Moore’s law says. Techies are holding their breath until Intel unleashes the Northwood 0,13µ  processor that’ll set the bar higher since it’ll come with a new high speed 533 MHz system bus. With such a complete line of Pentium 4 processors every users can find joy in the range of Intel CPUs.

   The addition of the i845 chipset to Intel’s family offers a new departure for the Pentium 4 and especially OEMs that are at last able to provide Pentium 4 platforms with descent prices. Intel has somewhat sacrificed performance with the i845 chipset with the only praiseworthy objective; the Pentium 4 platform would become an affordable computing system.


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