At the end of 2002, Intel announced the launch of a dozen Intel Xeon processor family products, including new processors, chipsets and platforms for Intel-based servers and workstations. Amongst these was one single-processor chipset, the E7205, formerly codenamed Granite Bay.
For some time the most viable way of balancing the bandwidth between the Pentium 4 CPU and its memory subsystem had been to couple the i850E chipset with dual-channel RDRAM. However, given the price and availability issues surrounding high-density RDRAM modules, this was a far from ideal solution. Despite – as its server/workstation class chipset nomenclature implies – not originally being intended for desktop use, the E7205 chipset was to provide an answer to this dilemma. With a specification which includes support for:
- Dual Channel DDR266 memory bus (4.2GBps memory bandwidth)
- 400/533MHz FSB support (3.2GBps – 4.2GBps FSB bandwidth)
- AGP 8x
- USB 2.0, and
- integrated LAN.
it didn’t take long for the motherboard manufacturers to produce boards based on the new chipset.
The E7205’s memory controller is fully synchronous, meaning that the memory in E7205-based motherboards is clocked at the rate equal to the FSB frequency. Consequently, only DDR200 SDRAM may be used with CPUs supporting a 400MHz FSB and only DDR266 SDRAM with processors supporting a 533MHz FSB. The E7205 does not support DDR333 SDRAM.
With the Pentium 4 family destined to make the transition to a 800MHz Quad Pumped Bus – at which time the CPU’s bus bandwidth will increase to 6.4GBps – it appears reasonable to assume that the likely way for memory subsystems to have comparable bandwidth will be the continued use of dual-channel DDR SDRAM. To that extent, the E7205 can be viewed as a prototype of the Canterwood and Springdale chipsets slated to appear in 2003.
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