The various problems that had so delayed the introduction of Direct Rambus DRAM (DRDRAM), finally resulted in Intel doing what it had been so reluctant to do for so long – release a chipset supporting PC133 SDRAM. In fact, in mid-2000, it announced two such chipsets – formerly codenamed Solano – the 815 Chipset and the 815E Chipset.

Both chipsets use Intel’s Graphics and Memory Controller Hub (GMCH). This supports both PC133 and PC100 SDRAM and provides onboard graphics, with a 230MHz RAMDAC and limited 3D acceleration. This gives system integrators the option of using the on-board graphics – and system memory – for lower cost systems or upgrading via an external graphics card for either AGP 4x or AGP 2x graphics capabilities.

Additionally, and like the 820E Chipset before it, the 815E features a new I/O Controller Hub (ICH2) for greater system performance and flexibility. This provides an additional USB controller, a Local Area Network (LAN) Connect Interface, dual Ultra ATA /100 controllers and up to six-channel audio capabilities. Integrating a Fast Ethernet controller directly into the chipsets makes it easier for computer manufacturers and system integrators to implement cost-effective network connections into PCs. The ICH2’s enhanced AC97 interface supports full surround-sound for Dolby Digital audio found on DVD and simultaneously supports a soft modem connection.

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