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Grantsdale and Alderwood Primer Grantsdale and Alderwood Primer: Today marks the release of one of the most innovative tech launches in Intel's history. We outline the new technology today.
Date: June 19, 2004
Written By:

Did they do something about AC'97?

We already touched upon Intel's High Definition Audio, code named Azalia, but to expand on this, Intel is going to be replacing the dated AC'97 standard we've come to know and not really loved these many years. The High Definition Audio will support 192-kHz quality sound at 32-bits, and offer a number of input/output options, which will depend on the codecs and connections implemented by the motherboard manufacturer.

What's new with their integrated graphics?

Something you'll hear more of is the Intel Graphics Media Accelerator (GMA) 900. This will be replacing the Intel Extreme Graphics 2 we're familiar with on the Springdale. The GMA 900 integrated graphics will be offered on the Grantsdale (915G), and not something you will find on the Alderwood.


Although the GMA 900 won't be competing against the high-end parts from the usual suspects, the onboard graphics will be a DirectX 9 part armed with four pixel pipelines. Pixel Shaders 2.0 will be supported in hardware, whereas Vertex Shader 2.0 in software. OpenGL 1.4 will also be supported. The GMA 900 will also support dual monitors, DVI, and the full range of HDTV via S-Video, composite and component. It will be up to the motherboard manufacturers to make what they feel is needed available, but Intel has left the door open for manufacturers to create HTPC boxes at a fairly low cost when coupled with their High Definition Audio.

What networking standard does their WAP support?

The Intel WAP is another feature intended for ease of setting up a home network (as well as making WAP manufacturers very angry). According to their technical documents, it should be very easy to setup. The WAP will support both 802.11b and 802.11G wireless connectivity via the ICH6RW. Remember that you still need a wireless "B" or "G" card to go along with this to work.

Can I use my current DDR?

DDR2 will be offered on both the 915 and 925, with DDR an option for the 915. In case you're wondering, no, you cannot drop in your current DDR into a DDR2 board. DDR2 has 240 pins, while DDR only has 184 pins, and use the Ball Grid Array (BGA) style of memory as a standard. Most DDR brands should introduce with 400MHz parts, and ramp up as high as 667MHz. On launch, most of the reviews should be using the 533MHz variety of DDR2. All of this speed only consumes 1.8v of power, which is quite a drop from DDR's 2.5v.

Are there any form factor changes for motherboards?


There will not be any changes to start. The first batches of boards you'll see will still be based on the ATX and M-ATX form factor. BTX is on the way though, but I do not think we will see widescale adoption before the end of this year. In the meantime, you should be all right with your current cases and PSUs.

How about the CPUs?

Get used to the terms Socket T and Land Grid Array (LGA), because the good ole Socket 478 is being moved aside as the Pentium 4 matures. The LGA775 will have as the name suggests, 775 pins and the main reason for the move is for electrical engineering and cost.

These CPUs will be based on the Prescott core with the 90nm fabrication process and SSE3. These new CPUs will be launched at speeds up to 3.6GHz, and require a new cooler. The heat issues the Prescott ran into earlier should be addressed with this new change. These processors will all run at 800FSB, and pack in 1MB of L2 cache. There will be an Extreme Edition version at 3.4GHz, and it will sport 512KB of L2, 2MB of L3. Here are the prices at launch in 1000-unit quantities.

Speed in GHz
Extreme Edition 3.40
Pentium 4 560
Pentium 4 550
Pentium 4 540
Pentium 4 530
Pentium 4 520

We've discussed it in the forums, but as you've probably noticed, gone are the conventional names such as the "Pentium 4 2.4C". These have been replaced by model numbers, similar to AMD's performance rating. This is to address some of the shopper confusion as clock speed is not always indicative of the system's performance. The clock speeds won't be hidden though, and informed shoppers can still look those up before purchasing.

Final Words

Depending on the chipset, be it the mainstream level 915P/G or 925X, almost every aspect of the consumer market is being targeted with this release. Over the remainder of 2004, you can expect some form factor changes thrown into the mix, but the core features should go unchanged. Intel is throwing a lot of eggs into the basket with the launch of the Grantsdale and Alderwood. Below is a quick look at their Digital Home Vision:

A big push is being made to make your PC the central hub the home entertainment. Items like 8-channel sound, and high definition video won't necessarily force you to toss aside 3rd party products, but depending on your requirements, Intel is doing their best to actually reduce your overall costs in putting a computer together. This may seem like fluff for home enthusiasts, but think of the IT manager. If the audio, video and networking are solid, it will save money (less money to waste on 3rd party peripherals), and save money in the time spent creating disk images and multiple driver CDs. They can consolidate their inventory easier when they have a set platform to deploy.

At this time, Intel is going to have a real fight on their hands until more PCI Express products are readily available. A number of colleagues I have spoken to do not yet have PCI-E video cards, which is cause for some concern since we (as tech site owners) normally have first crack at products. Both ATI and NVIDIA are committed to the PCI-E spec, so it's not like there will be nothing ever, and by the time we see Grantsdale and Alderwood in the retail sector, there should be a fair number of PCI-E products.

Another potential issue is the upcoming BTX standard. BTX will be incompatible with ATX, and you will not be able to migrate your ATX 915/925 to a BTX case and PSU. Again, this won't happen overnight, and I think for those of you who update their systems fairly regularly is not going to have much of an issue with this. The problem is going to be for IT managers who need to plan and forecast their network setups for the next 12 months. Truth be told, even with the prospect of a fully integrated system, I doubt many of them will jump to the 915/925 platform out of the gate, and will likely stick with their current setups until some of the standards stabilize.

Is your current setup going to be obsolete as of today? Despite our intro, I don't think it's all doom and gloom for those of you who just picked up a Prescott and Canterwood this past week. Intel is still committed in supporting past products, and the overall costs at the moment with the Canterwood platform is lower in comparison with the cost of setting up a full blown Alderwood platform.

In six months, it can easily be a different story, as the Socket 478 based CPUs will be very scarce as will the Springdales and Canterwoods you've come to love. By then, we should also see a fair number of reliable products as all the kinks are worked out.

If you have any comments, be sure to hit us up in our forums.


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