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New AMD and Intel chipsets coming from VIA

VIA intends to keep its current chipset lineup consisting of the PT890, PT880 Ultra, P4M800, P4M800 Pro and P4M890 for Intel processors. For AMD processors, VIA is keeping the K8T800 Pro, K8T890, K8T900 and K8M890 for AMD processors. The Intel chipsets are all compatible with Intel’s upcoming Conroe processors, though a new motherboard with proper a VRM is needed. VIA’s discrete Intel chipset lineup consists of the PT890, PT880 Ultra and upcoming PT900.

The current PT890 has a single channel memory controller with support for DDR400 and DDR2-533. It also supports a single PCI Express x16 slot. PT880 Ultra offers dual channel DDR400, DDR2-533/667MHz support and a Universal Graphics Interface -- another name for simultaneous AGP and PCI Express x16 support. VIA’s upcoming PT900 is a replacement for the PT890. It supports dual channel DDR400, DDR2-533/667/800MHz and dual PCI Express x16 slots for dual graphics, a neat novelty but most likely the only multi-GPU support the chipset is getting will be with VIA’s own Multi-Chrome, no SLI or CrossFire.

VIA’s previously announced P4M900 is in engineer sample stages with no word on mass production yet. The P4M900 will be fully compatible with Windows Vista Premium with Aeroglass support. It’s a basic IGP solution with VIA’s Chrome9 graphics core, DDR400, DDR2-533/667MHz and PCI Express support. There will also be support for VIA’s C7 processor with 400 and 533 MHz front-side buses. Until the P4M900 is available VIA will have its current P4M800, P4M800 Pro and P4M890 integrated graphics solutions for manufacturers, though the UniChrome/UniChrome Pro graphics core lacks support for Windows Vista with Aeroglass -- a feature ATI’s competing Radeon Xpress has.

On the AMD side of things VIA has the K8T800 Pro, K8T890 and K8T900. The K8T800 Pro supports AGP 8x while the K8T900 supports PCI Express. K8T900 is the newest AMD discrete chipset with support for dual PCI Express x16 slots—for all those users that have two S3 Chrome graphics cards. VIA’s integrated graphics AMD lineup consists of the K8M890 which has the Vista Premium Ready Chrome 9 integrated graphics core. It also supports socket AM2 processors and PCI Express. The K8M890 is pin-to-pin compatible with K8T890 and K8T900 chipsets.

Four south bridges will be offered: the VT8237R+, VT8237A, VT8251 and upcoming VT8237S. The VT8237R+ has been around for a while and has support for two PATA and two SATA ports. Only AC’97 audio is supported with the VT8237R+ though. VIA’s VT8237A is similar to the VT8237R but adds support for high definition Azalia audio. Moving onto newer south bridges VIA has the VT8251 which was announced a while ago and still yet to be seen on motherboards. Four SATA II and two PATA ports are supported as well as two PCI Express lanes and high definition Azalia audio. This is VIA’s top of the line south bridge yet its still lacking in the PCI Express department. Lastly VIA has the VT8237S which will be sampling in Q3’06 and expected to enter mass production in Q4’06. It will be an update to the VT8237A and adds support for SATA II ports, though it will still only have two ports.

All current VIA south bridges have support for RAID 0, 1, 0+1, JBOD and 10/100 Ethernet. This is quite disappointing as every other manufacturer has support for RAID 5 and six SATA II ports -- so much for VIA’s “RAID Done Right!” VIA is still behind the times with 10/100 Ethernet support while other manufacturers are integrating Gigabit Ethernet. While companies such as Marvell offer PCI Express based Gigabit Ethernet controllers, only the VT8251 south bridge has support for PCI Express peripherals and even than it only has two PCI Express lanes.

As for graphics integrated chipsets, VIA IGP solutions that feature the Chrome9 graphics core have support for HDMI. An HDMI transmitter is still required for full signal support.  At Computex we saw a whole slew of HDMI based products and Universal Abit previously announced motherboard integration HDMI and we can expect to see more products with HDMI support show up soon. A new HDMI specification is also about to be released.





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