Billy Newsom · 01-01-1997 · Category:
Q: What is the difference between the Intel Chipsets made for
A: There are four Intel chipsets
that are commonly found on Pentium motherboards. If your chipset is
not here, it is either not made by Intel, it predates Triton, or it
is for a notebook PC. One commonality for all of them is a built-in
dual channel EIDE controller, indicated by a companion chip called
the 82371SB or 82371AB, which is also known as the PIIX
- 430FX (82437FX & 82438FX): This is the chipset known
as the "Triton I" chipset. This chipset is no longer supported, but
you can still find a lot of old motherboards that use it. The
easiest way to identify the FX is that its motherboards topped
usually topped out at about 133 MHz or less, and it didn't support
the same type of COAST modules used in later motherboards. It was
also known to be buggy and many different versions of this chipset
- 430HX (82439HX): The "Triton II" chipset. Think "H" for
High-Quality. The HX lacks SDRAM support. The Triton II is superior
to all other Intel Pentium chipsets for the following reasons:
- Support for up to 512 MB of RAM, all of which can be cached.
It's not unusual to find 6 to 8 SIMM sockets on a 430HX
- Support for dual processors.
- Support for parity and ECC RAM.
- 430VX (82437VX & 82438VX): The "Triton III" chipset.
Think "V" for value. None of the features listed for the HX chipset
are available for the VX. But the VX has one advantage over the HX:
it supports up to 64 MB of SDRAM on 168-pin DIMM's. Both the HX and
VX support pipelined burst SRAM, and both perform about 10% faster
than the FX. Of course, EDO is supported by the HX and VX. One
drawback to the 430VX is that it will only cache the first 64 MB of
RAM. If you think that a VX board is to your liking, then look at
the latest chipset made by Intel, the 430TX.
- 430TX (82439TX): The TX chipset is rather new, but it
has taken over as the most popular Intel chipset in 1997. First,
it's not much faster than the HX or VX. It also shares most of the
shortcomings of the 430VX in that it lacks SMP support, it can't
use ECC memory, and it won't cache more than the first 64 MB of
RAM. It does support 64 MB SIMM's and up to 256 MB of system RAM,
but who cares if only 64 MB are cached? It also shares the VX's
support for SDRAM. New features include the entire PC/97
- The 82371AB Southbridge. This new PIIX4 controller supports
ATA-33 (Ultra DMA) for the next generation of IDE hard disks.
- Support for new 64 MB SDRAM in 168-pin DIMM's.
- Support for 128 MB EDO DIMM's.
- Support for a new power-saving API called DPMA.
- A single chipset for desktop and notebook PC's. This is a
radical concept, because it gives PCI 2.1 support to the laptop
users, and the latest power management modes to desktop users. As
far as I can tell, the TX replaces the VX and the MX chipset
(think "M" for mobile). The 430TX is a 3.3 V chipset, which has
caused some problems with certain 5 volt products.
Q: Are there any chipsets that are better than for
A: VIA and AMD have teamed up to compete with the
latest and greatest Intel PCIset, the 430TX. Their chipset is known
as the VIA Apollo VP2/97, or alternately as the AMD-640. It has
some major features not found in any of the Triton chipsets, and it
also has some similarities to the 430TX.
- Dual processor support.
- Up to 512 MB of RAM, all of which is cachable.
- Up to 2048 KB of pipelined-burst cache.
- SDRAM, EDO, BEDO, and FPM support, including ECC RAM.
- DMA-33 Mode 3 EIDE support.
- ACPI power-savings.
- Built-in RTC (real-time clock), mouse, and keyboard
Q: What are the VIA chipsets called?
A: VIA has Pentium chipsets known as the Apollo Master (570M),
VP-1 (580VP), and Apollo VP2/97 (590VP). This link explains the
difference between a VP-2 and V2/97 chipset, which is that VIA has
enhanced the VP-2 and renamed it the VP2/97, a.k.a. AMD-640.
Q: What about SiS chipsets?
A: SiS has chipsets known as the Genesis 5596/5513, 5597/5598,
5571 Trinity, and the 5511/5512/5513. SiS makes a lot of chipsets
with a built-in video controller, including a type of controller
that doesn't need seperate video memory. Their chipsets are capable
of asynchronous PCI buses and allow for secondary caches larger
than Intel's 512 KB limit.
Q: What about Pentium MMX support? Do I have to buy a new TX
motherboard or upgrade my BIOS?
A: No, no, no. The chipset has no bearing on whether an MMX
Pentium will work, no matter what Intel implies. You will need at
least a 66 MHz bus and a 2.5x, 3.0x, or 1.5x clock multiplier to
take advantage of the P55C at 166, 200, and 233 MHz respectively.
Also, your motherboard needs a 2.8/3.3 V split voltage regulators
to use the OEM version, or else you'll have to use an Overdrive
version that has its own 2.8 V regulator if your motherboard only
has 3.3 V. AMD K6 users will need different voltages depending on
the speed of the CPU, plus a BIOS upgrade is often required.
Q: Which chipset supports 75 or 83 MHz?
A: Intel doesn't officially support any bus speed above 66 MHz
with its chipsets, although the motherboard manufacturers routinely
allow faster speeds. Intel has a point, since the PCI spec does not
go beyond 33 MHz, and unless a motherboard uses an asynchronous PCI
bus, anything faster than 66 MHz will violate the PCI
specification. All Intel chipsets have a synchronous PCI bus. So a
75 MHz memory bus would mean a 37.5 MHz PCI bus, which is a no-no.
If you're wondering why people want a 75 MHz bus when Intel
Pentiums don't support it, then think about this:
- The Cyrix and IBM 6x86 PR200+ and 6x86MX PR233+ require a 75
- The Intel Pentium P54C and P55C can be "overclocked" and run at
a variety of speeds. This is certainly not supported by Intel, but
some people have run Intel CPU's at 262 MHz just for kicks.
- Some people like a faster PCI bus, because this speeds up
graphics. Beware that some PCI cards, like hard disk controllers
could possibly corrupt data.
- As a final note, VIA does make a chipset called the Apollo
VPX/97, which uses an asynchronous PCI bus, and some of SiS's
chipsets do, too. This allows you to run the memory bus at 75 MHz,
while keeping the PCI bus at 33 MHz. This is not a new idea: in
fact, I have on old Pentium 100 motherboard with Opti chipset that
had this feature in 1994.
Q: What are the Pentium Pro and Pentium II chipsets
A: There are three major chipsets available: the Intel 440FX
Natoma, 440LX, and the 450GX Orion. A brief summary
of these chipsets is here (5 KB). The
450KX Mars is not a popular chipset, and it is similar to
Only the 440LX supports SDRAM, AGP, and ACPI, but all of them
support at least two processors and 1 GB of EDO/FPM RAM. Each
chipset besides the 440LX uses the same PIIX3 EIDE controller found
in the 430HX and 430VX chipset, meaning they don't have ATA-33
support. The 440LX uses the PIIX4 southbridge, the same one as the
430TX, which gives it the Ultra-DMA support. The 450GX supports
four processors and 4 GB of RAM, while the 440FX, 450KX, and 440LX
support only two CPU's and 1 GB of RAM.
Q: What is a VXPro, VXTwo, HXPro, or TXPro
A: Slower clones of the Intel 430VX and 430HX. A large portion
of my Chipset Article has focused on
these chipsets, which are probably made by PCChips.
- CPUs, ROM BIOS, and Chipsets
- Chipset FAQ
- Chipset Features