Articles :: Introduction to Chipsets ::

Billy Newsom · 01-01-1997 · Category: Tech-planations

Intel Pentium Chipsets

First and foremost for me is the Intel 430HX, the beloved Triton II. It is still the workhorse for dual-processor systems like the one I have. It also runs single-CPU systems. It supports up to four banks of SIMM's for a whopping 512 MB, up to 512 KB of synchronous pipeline-burst cache, up to four PCI 2.1 devices (plus the built-in EIDE controller), USB, and it can cache all 512 MB of RAM. It supports EDO, ECC, and parity RAM. The EIDE controller is called the PIIX3. Intel has no plans to supersede the Triton II.

Drawbacks: no SDRAM support, no ATA-33 Mode 5, no ACPI, relatively small 512 KB cache size which must be shared among both CPU's

The next chipset is a relative newcomer. The 430TX may be referred to as the Triton IV, although I do not call it that. In early 1997 & effectively replaced the 430VX Triton III and the 430MX, a laptop chipset. It is not pin-compatible with either chipset, so most of these boards started arriving in March. By replaced, I mean that there is no good reason to keep using the old chipsets now that the 430TX is here. Some of its features include: PC97 compliance, ATA-33/PIO Mode 5, USB, up to three banks of RAM, up to five PCI 2.1 devices besides the EIDE controller, up to 512 KB of cache, and up to 256 MB of RAM. The 430TX can use FPM, EDO, and SDRAM. ACPI is supported along with APM for backwards-compatibility.

Drawbacks: no ECC or parity support, no SMP, only 64 MB of system RAM can be cached, 512 KB max cache size

Under most conditions, the 430TX and the 430HX run relatively the same speed. Obviously the 430TX can use the faster SDRAM, while the 430HX is optimized for the large amounts of EDO and ECC needed for high-end servers.

The 430VX Triton III was crippled by the introduction of the 430TX. Its only advantage over the 430TX is its low price. It supports PCI 2.1, USB, SDRAM, EDO, and 512 KB of asynchronous or synchronous cache, including pipeline-burst. The Triton III has only one major improvement over the Triton II, which is SDRAM support. In that regard, the Triton III has been on most low-end systems geared toward the consumer market, while the Triton II with its speed and features is for the high-end business systems. The 430VX is hopefully on its way out.

Drawbacks: only 128 MB of system RAM, no ECC support, no SMP, only 64 MB of system RAM can be cached, plus Intel may not make them anymore, a rumor I heard.


  1. Introduction
  2. What Is a Chipset?
  3. A Brief History of Pentium Chipsets
  4. Triton: It All Started Here
  5. Intel Pentium Chipsets
  6. Non-Intel Pentium Chipsets
  7. Pentium Pro/II Chipsets
  8. The $69.00 Motherboard
  9. High-End Chipsets