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Chipset Primer

Modern chipsets are an integrated set of chips responsible for key functions of a computer system. They come in the form of packaged IC components and reside on the platform or system board.

Standard chip set functions
Today's chipsets perform many functions, they include operational control for the memory controller, EIDE controller, keyboard and mouse controller, DMA and Real time clock controls, secondary cache controller, PCI bridge, and low power CMOS SRAM.

Chip set manufactures
Many companies produce and market chipsets they include:

  • Intel
  • AMD
  • Acer Laboratories
  • OPTi
  • Chip and Technologies
  • SiS
  • VIA
  • Eteq Components
Chip set determinants
Each chipset has specific characteristics that are designed or matched to other determining components in the system. Some of these determinants are:

  • CPU type - 486,P5, Pentium Pro, Pentium II
  • PCI Bus - 32/64 bit bus lines
  • Support features - Accelerated graphics, USB, PS/2 mouse
  • Memory type - FPM, EDO, Burst EDO, SDRAM, ECC
  • Memory bus speed - 66, 100, 133
  • PCI support - synchronous or asynchronous
Northbridge - Predominate bus controller circuitry, includes memory, PCI, cache etc.

Southbridge - Peripheral controller circuitry, includes hard drive, and serial port controllers.

Socket 7 - Intel designed ZIF (zero insertion force) CPU socket. Socket 7 accommodates a wide variety of CPU's.

Socket 8 - ZIF connector for Pentium Pro CPU's





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