KarbosGuide.com. Module 2d.02

The first chip sets for the Pentium boards

The contents:

  • Triton first and second
  • A bridge to the I/O system
  • USB and EIDE
  • The differences between HX and VX
  • The TX chip set
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  • Triton first and second

    The interest in chip sets and their performance started in late 1995, when the Pentium processor became more popular. The Triton controllers were the first chip sets in this trend.

    82430FX from late 1995 was Intel's next chip set and the first Triton. In February 1996 the second generation of Triton arrived. Two new chip sets were introduced: The 82430VX and 82430HX. The last (HX) was the fastest one.

    VX and HX

    The two sets were similar, yet different. 430HX consisted of two chips. It was designed for the more professional PCs. 430VX consisted of four chips, but the cost was slightly lower than HX. It was aimed at the home use PC market. Let us look at the contents of each chip set:

    Chip set
    82439HX System Controller (TXC)
    + 82371SB PCI ISA IDE Accelerator
    82437VX System Controller (TVX)
    + two 82438VX Data Path Units (TDX)
    + 82371SB PCI ISA IDE Accelerator

    Common to both chip sets is 82371SB, which is a "PCI ISA IDE accelerator chip". It is also called PIIX3, which some may recognize from the Windows 95 device driver, which comes with the ASUS T2P4 board.

    A bridge to the I/O system

    The chip makes a bridge between the CPU, ISA and PCI bus. The news was, that it permitted concurrent activity in all three locations, thus a new form of multitasking. This is significant for daily use. All data exchange to and from I/O units cross this intersection, which now has achieved greater width:


    US2 and EIDE

    New in the chip was also the host function for USB. It is the Universal Serial Bus, which was not much use at this time. Finally, the chip included a EIDE Bus Master control. In short that means, that EIDE components like hard disks, to some extent can deliver their data directly to RAM without taking up CPU time.

    Above, you see the 82371SB chip and below, again, its placement relative to CPU and buses:

    The differences between HX and VX

    It was generally accepted, that the HX set yielded the best performance of the two chip sets described. But the VX set had two other facilities to offer: Capability for SMBA (Shared Memory Buffer Architecture). That means among other things, that you can integrate the video card on the motherboard with 1 or 2 MB standard RAM, from the working RAM. A technology, which is used only in the lowest cost PCs, and which soon was abandoned.

    Also, the VX set also supported the fast RAM type SD-RAM. HX did not. The VX set could control up to 128 MB RAM, but it could not cache above 64 MB RAM.

    HX controlled 512 MB RAM and was the only Intel Pentium chip set to cache above 64 MB RAM.

    The VX and HX chip sets are both out. They were replaced by the TX chip set, which was the last Intel chip set for Socket 7 mounted CPUs. Today Ali and VIA produces chip sets for Socket 7 motherboards.

    Intel TX chip set

    The last chip set to Pentium processors were named 82430TX, which supports two new hot technologies:

  • SD-RAM
  • Ultra DMA

    Ultra DMA was also called ATA/33, and it is a standard for harddisk interface, which permits EIDE hard disks to transfer at up to 33 MBps.

    This improved EIDE standard is mostly marketed under the name Ultra DMA. Tests show that Ultra DMA results in a speed increase of 25-75 percent over the traditional EIDE PIO mode 4. Ultra DMA is the new EIDE standard and has been vastly enhanced since this chip set.

    The controllers in the TX chip set

    Chip set
    Chips included
    82439TX System Controller (TXC)
    82371AB PCI ISA IDE Accelerator

    The TX set is an update and improvement of the VX set. Relative to this, the TX firstly supports SD RAM and Ultra DMA hard disks. Two important technologies. But the TX-set cannot cache above 64 MB RAM, and that was a problem. Please see this article on this subject.

    Photos taken with Canon Powershot 600

    The TX chip set was Intel's last and final set for Socket 7 motherboards. After that VIA and ALi took over and continued this work.

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    Learn more

    Read more about RAM in module 2e

    Read about the Pentium in module 3c

    Read about the Pentium II's etc. in module 3e

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