The Intel P965 Express chipset is Intel's latest
mainstream chipset and it works with every Socket 775 processor on the market
from Intel Pentium 4/D/XE to Celeron D and right on through to the Core 2 Duo.
Along with the new Northbridge, Intel also released the ICH8 Southbridge to
replace the ICH7. The version found on the Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3 is the plain
ICH8 model, which does not include RAID.
Intel has increased
its DDR2 memory support to 800 MHz (although the Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3
unofficially has a 1066 MHz memory multiplier) with the P965 Express chipset,
putting Intel's latest and greatest at par with AMD's Socket AM2 Athlon64's.
Intel calls the new memory controller FMA or 'Fast Memory Access' and gives the
system a maximum theoretical bandwidth of 12.8GB/s.
The Intel P965 Express is a mainstream chipset, and thus
only supports a single PCI Express x16 graphics card.
A dedicated 2GB/s I/O bus connects the Intel P965
Express Northbridge and ICH8 Southbridge together, which might be a little tight
if you have many high bandwidth devices installed but should be just fine for
the average user.
The Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3 motherboard comes
installed with the ICH8 Southbridge which includes a ton of goodies. There are
four Serial ATA II channels as well a 7.1 channel Intel Azalia high definition
audio, 10 USB 2.0 slots (any, or all of which can be disabled which is an
important feature for businesses), six PCI Express x1 lanes and an integrated
Intel Gigabit MAC which runs through the PCI Express bus.
Noticeably lacking from the chipset itself is parallel
IDE support. This is forcing many motherboard manufacturers to integrate a
standalone IDE controller onto their motherboards (like the Gigabyte SATA2
controller added to include IDE support on the GA-965P-DS3). Rumor had it that
Intel brought the ICH8 back to the drawing board to add a single IDE controller
but that obviously didn't happen. A block chart of the P965 Express chipset's
major features is illustrated below.
Luckily parallel IDE technology isn't overly expensive
to add to a motherboard. While I admit that Intel is the leader in computer
technology, this idea of its to do away with IDE seems a bit premature to us;
especially with the lack of Serial ATA optical drives.
Next up, we take a tour of the Gigabyte GA-965P-DS3