The Intel 945PL
Express chipset is a mainstream offering that supports every Socket 775
processor on the market from the Intel Pentium 4/D/XE, Celeron D right on
through to the Intel Core 2 Duo.
The caveat being it only supports these CPUs on
an 800MHz or 533MHz front side bus.
The Intel 945PL Express is Intel's second most mainstream chipset that
supports the Intel Core 2 Duo (the other is the 945GZ
|Intel 945-Series Chipset Feature
||LGA775 Core 2 Duo|
|Front Side Bus (FSB)
|Intel Flex Memory Technology
|Dual Channel Memory Support
|Maximum Memory Capacity
||PCI Express x16
||PCI Express x1
|Intel Matrix Storage
||0, 1, 5, 10 (with ICH7R)|
||Hard Drive NCQ
|USB 2.0 Ports
||High Definition Audio (Azalia) |
While a full-fledged Core 2 Duo motherboard supports
1066MHz FSB's and DDR2-667 memory, the 945PL Express chipset accomodates up to
DDR2-400/533 memory, which put it at a slight disadvantage compared to other
models in the 945 Express family.
The 945PL is likely to find a warm reception with the new
family of Intel Celeron "Conroe-L" processors, which will operate
at 800MHz FSB when they are introduced. On the motherboard PCSTATS is testing
today, the 945PL Express is paired with the venerable Intel ICH7 Southbridge.
The detailed feature breakdown for the Intel 945PL chipset is noted below.
The Intel 945PL Express supports one PCI Express x16
graphics card, while the ICH7 southbridge has four additional PCI Express lanes
which are typically divvied up between PCI Express x1 slots and Gigabit network
A dedicated 2GB/s I/O bus connects the Intel 945PL
Express Northbridge and ICH7 Southbridge together, which might be a little tight
if you have many high bandwidth devices installed but should be just fine for
the average user.
The Gigabyte GA-945PL-S3 motherboard comes installed with
the ICH7 Southbridge which includes all the necessary goodies, though in
slightly smaller quantities than the ICH8 supports. There are four 3GB/s Serial
ATA II channels as well a 7.1-channel Intel Azalia High Definition audio codec,
eight USB 2.0 ports (split between the rear I/O and headers), 4 PCI Express x1
lanes and six PCI bus masters.
Noticeably lacking from the Intel 945PL Express and ICH7
chipsets are the standard allotment of two parallel IDE channels. The ICH7
supports one IDE channel alone, regrettably. Gone are the days of two UDMA
ATA100 IDE connectors per motherboard as a stock option; we're still not ready
to give up on our collection of IDE hard drives just yet, but we aren't buying
any new ones either. The 945PL Express chipset supports up to 2GB of dual
channel DDR2-400/533, and that's about it.
Next up, we take a tour of the Gigabyte GA-945PL-S3