Chipset vs Capture Board Performance at

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Old August 7th, 2005, 02:12 PM   #1
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Chipset vs Capture Board Performance

In my quest for the answer to the question: "Should I care a didly about chipsets when chosing an computer for NLE?" I found the following article at the above-referenced web site ( The conclusion I'm getting is that the chipset is an issue between the processor and the motherboard; so that if a capture card is advertised to work with a given processor/RAM/hard disk/operating sytem configuration, then I shouldn't have to give a didly..., EXCEPT...

That I want a computer that's got the latest, like Intel's 945 series, which, according to one web site works with both th ePentium 4 and the Pentium D and PCI Express and PCI 2.3. MEANING it should work with the widest range of peripherals (e.g., capture boards).


article quote--

System Chipset and Controllers
The system chipset and controllers are the logic circuits that are the intelligence of the motherboard. They are the "traffic cops" of the computer, controlling data transfers between the processor, cache, system buses, peripherals--basically everything inside the computer. Since data flow is such a critical issue in the operation and performance of so many parts of the computer, the chipset is one of the few components that have a truly major impact on your PC's quality, feature set, and speed.
What exactly is a "chipset"? It sounds like something very complex but really is not, although many of the functions it performs are. A chipset is just a set of chips. (He ducks to avoid the flying vegetables. :^) ) At one time, most of the functions of the chipset were performed by multiple, smaller controller chips. There was a separate chip (often more than one) for each function: controlling the cache, performing direct memory access (DMA), handling interrupts, transferring data over the I/O bus, etc. Over time these chips were integrated to form a single set of chips, or chipset, that implements the various control features on the motherboard. This mirrors the evolution of the microprocessor itself: at one time many of the features on a Pentium for example were on separate chips.
There are several advantages to integration, but the two primary ones are cost reduction and better compatibility (the more things that are done by a single chip or group of chips from one manufacturer, the simpler the design is, and the less chance of a problem). Sometimes the chipset chips are referred to as "ASICs" (application-specific integration circuits), which I suppose they are, although there are many other types of ASICs as well.
Note: Intel also calls their chipsets "PCIsets" and "AGPsets", refering to the system bus technologies the chipsets implement.

The system chipset in most cases does not integrate all of the circuitry needed by the motherboard. Most motherboards have the following controllers on them:
The system chipset itself.
The keyboard controller, which manages not only the keyboard but also the integrated PS/2 mouse
The "Super I/O" chip, which handles input and output from the serial ports, parallel port, floppy disks, and in some cases, the IDE hard disks as well
Additional built-in controllers that are normally found in expansion cards: video, sound, network and SCSI controllers being the most common.
Note: The term "chipset" is also used to refer to the main processing circuitry on many video cards. The name is used because the concept is similar: a highly-integrated circuit used to perform a set of functions. However, this is a totally different type of chipset, and is not the same as a motherboard (system) chipset.
A chipset is designed to work with a specific set of processors in mind. In general, most chipsets only support one "class" or generation of processors: most chipsets are geared specifically for 486 type systems, Pentium class systems, or Pentium Pro / Pentium II systems. The reason for this is simple: the design of the control circuitry must be different for each of these processor families due to the different ways they employ cache, access memory, etc. For example, the Pentium Pro and Pentium II have level 2 cache within the CPU package itself, so obviously these need different logic than the Pentium, which has level 2 cache on the motherboard. These issues are discussed in more detail in this section on processors.
Most good motherboards that support Pentium processors also support their equivalents (or near-equivalents) from AMD (the K5 and K6) and Cyrix (the 6x86 and 6x86MX). Since they were designed specifically to be Intel alternatives, they work with Intel chipsets (in most cases), although they sometimes need a different jumper setting. Another optimization factor to consider is that these compatibles are not always identical to the Intel chip they are intended to replace, and in some cases they add additional performance features that can only be taken advantage of by the chipset.
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Old August 7th, 2005, 08:00 PM   #2
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If you are trying to argue the fact that you don't need to pay attention to the chipset, I am going to disagree with you.. Now I didn't take the time to read that extensive pasting you did :), but I think the point is this:You are saying that, for instance, you should be able to build a machine around the Matrox RTX100 on any Intel Motherboard just because the Matrox card works with the P4, and that's not true. Guaranteed.

More specific example, the Canopus EdiusNX boards won't work on machines with the 6300ESB southbridge for HD. Limitation of the chipset that has to do with specific chipset specs and features.

Why don't you just look at the manufacturer's recommendations for a motherboard for whatever hardware you are looking for?
Edward Borden
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Video Editing/3D Workstation Integrators
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Old August 8th, 2005, 09:41 AM   #3
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Edward is right. If you are building a computer for an editing card, check the editing card manufacterer's Web site for hardware recommendations, and make sure to follow them. Otherwise you're just setting yourself up for trouble.
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