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CeBIT 2004 Update - Part 1
By CPU-zilla
Category : Events
Published by Vijay Anand on Friday, 19th March, 2004

MSI’s Booth

MSI’s booth was the first stop and we were introduced to some of their latest products. They had quite a number of items there, so, we’ll just take our time to cover some of them here and leave them for the next report.

One of the main focuses in CeBIT this year would be Intel’s upcoming chipsets known as Grantsdale and Alderwood. These are next generation products for the Intel Pentium 4 that would be introduced in a new Socket-T (LGA775) form factor. Other changes include PCI Express support, four SATA ports and DDR2 memory.

Here, we have MSI’s Grantsdale motherboard running a Pentium 4 3.2GHz processor (LGA775) with an NVIDIA PCI Express graphics card.

The new MSI 915P Apex is based on the LGA775 socket and it comes with support for three PCI slots, two PCI Express x1 slots and a PCI Express x16 graphics slot. You can see that there are now four SATA ports and ATA-100 support has been reduced to only one.

As the model name suggests, this is actually a Grantsdale board which has been built to support DDR400. It’s for those who wants to transition into Grantsdale but could not afford to pay a premium for DDR2 memory modules.

The MSI 925X Apex is the top end solution for Socket-T processors. It’s based on the Alderwood chipset and is paired with the Intel ICH6R Southbridge. Besides the usual stuff, it comes with an optional on-board PCI Express Gigabit Ethernet controller.

Here’s a closer look at the LGA775 socket. You can see that there are now tiny pins extended out to make contact with the CPU, which would be pin-less.

These fragile pins could damage easily as they are quite tiny and lack the mechanical strength.

We were told that the new socket alone would cost about seven times more than the current Socket-478. This increase in cost is mainly due to the complexity of the socket’s manufacturing process. Somehow, we felt that Intel has transferred the processor packaging complexity to the socket manufacturers. What’s worse is that the Socket-T would not be able to last through repeated use. From another reliable source, we were told that the Socket-T would get damaged quite easily and would only last an average of about five times of installation/un-installation of the CPU. This poses a grave concern for motherboard manufacturers, as Intel no longer bears the problem with bent pins, but has now transferred this to the responsibility of motherboard manufacturers. RMA would likely be the biggest issue here and this might skyrocket the cost of motherboards. It maybe possible that some manufacturers may not even accept returned boards with damaged pins, since that would likely be attributed to the user’s fault.

The question right now is this, since Intel’s packaging process has undoubtedly been made simpler, do we stand to gain from their cost savings? We certainly hope so, otherwise, everyone stands to lose as the user has to deal with higher prices, and motherboard manufacturers have to deal with more RMA issues due to bent/broken pins.

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