VIA PT960 chipset diagram courtesy of HKEPC

VIA PM960 chipset diagram courtesy of HKEPC
VIA is readying its next-generation Intel chipsets

VIA’s latest chipset roadmap unveils two new chipsets for Intel processors – the PT960 and PM960. These new chipsets are designed with Intel’s Core 2 architecture in mind, supporting front-side-bus speeds up to 1333 MHz. Intel expects to launch its 1333 MHz front-side-bus Core 2 Duo E6x50-series processors later this year.

The VIA PT960 will be a discrete north bridge and rely on PCIe graphics cards. VIA's PT960 will be compliant with the PCIe 2.0 specification. There will be support for one PCIe 2.0 x16 and four PCIe 2.0 x1 slots. VIA’ PT960 only has a single-channel memory controller. This is strange as Intel offers dual-channel memory support across its entire Broadwater 96x chipset-lineup, however, it is in line with VIA’s previous chipset offerings such as the PT890. Nevertheless, the memory controller supports DDR2-1066 and DDR3-1333 MHz memory. Intel is already sampling its DDR3-supporting motherboards to partners.

VIA has kicked the previous P4M naming scheme out the door in favor of simply PM with the PM960, which sports a revised graphics core as well. The new integrated graphics core is dubbed S3 Chrome 9 HD and upgrades the video processing engine of the P4M900. New video processing features include hardware decoding acceleration for MPEG4, WMV9, VC1 and H.264 video formats. This makes the integrated S3 Chrome 9 HD graphics core ideal for high-definition video playback.

This time around VIA has integrated the TV encoder, DVI and HDMI output functions into the graphics core, unlike the P4M900, which requires external encoders for TV-out and external TMDS transmitters for DVI, outputs. Lastly, the S3 Chrome 9 HD graphics core fully supports Windows Vista’s Aero glass interface.

Other notable features of the VIA PM960 include PCIe 2.0 support like the PT960. It supports the same PCIe configuration of one PCIe 2.0 x16 and four PCIe 2.0 x1 slots. There’s no mention what type of memory controller the PM960 has, however, expect it to sport a single-channel memory controller like the PM960.

VIA PT960 and PM960 remain two-chip designs and will connect to existing VIA south bridges via the proprietary Ultra V-Link interconnect. Expect the PT960 to pair up with the VIA VT8251L south bridge while the PM960 will pair up with the VT8237S south bridges

Expect motherboards based on the PT960 and PM960 to arrive in 2008.

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