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PC Hardware in a Nutshell, 3rd Edition by Barbara Fritchman Thompson, Robert Bruce Thompson

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Embedded feature support

The chipset also provides various embedded low-level system functions and features. Many low-level system functions—e.g., the PIC—are well-standardized and have been so for years, so there is little to choose from among different chipsets on that basis. But features differ between chipsets, not so much between competing chipset models as between generations. Chipsets of the same generation generally implement similar features in comparable ways, so these are not issues for choosing between current chipsets. The following features are important when evaluating the upgradability of a motherboard that uses an older chipset:

ATA interface

Any modern motherboard provides an embedded dual-channel ATA/ATAPI interface, which supports a total of four ATA/ATAPI devices, two per channel. But not all embedded ATA interfaces are equal. All current motherboards support ATA/100, and some support the ATA/133 standard, which has been rendered moot by the Serial ATA standard. The fastest current hard disks at peak throughput can barely saturate an ATA/66 interface, but choosing a chipset that supports at least ATA/100 makes hard disk upgrades easier. If you are upgrading a system with an old motherboard, the chipset should support at least PIO-4 and independent device timing, which allows two dissimilar devices on one channel to both run at their optimal speed. If you are upgrading a system that uses an otherwise suitable older motherboard that does not support these features, ...

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