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[ The PC Guide | Systems and Components Reference Guide | Motherboard and System Devices | System Chipset and Controllers ]

Popular Chipsets

This section discusses some of the more common chipsets used for various processor families. It also contrasts some of the more popular Intel chipsets to give you an idea of what their various strengths and weaknesses are--there are four members of the "430" series of chipsets and the differences between them can be somewhat confusing. This section also provides some concrete examples of the various chipset characteristics discussed in the preceding one, to hopefully give you a better feel for what all of this means.

The chipsets are grouped by "processor generation", much the way processors are in the Reference Guide chapter on processor families. Until 1997, this was a very clean and simple way to organize chipsets, but AMD and Cyrix have clouded the waters somewhat with their decision to make the AMD K6 and Cyrix 6x86MX compatible with Pentium-class chipsets and motherboards. Those two chips are really sixth generation in terms of technology, but they run on fifth-generation motherboards.

For the fifth-generation Intel chipsets, I describe them in "historical perspective". Intel produced six Pentium-class chipsets, and I find it useful to look at them based on what each chipset improved over its predecessor.

Next: Fourth Generation (486 Class) Chipsets

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