Abit AT8 32X Xpress 3200 motherboard
ATI has big plans to unseat NVIDIA's undisputed claim as the definitive AMD core logic

Later today, ATI will officially announce the Xpress 3200 core logic -- a 110nm low-k core logic for AMD Socket 939 and the still unannounced Socket AM2.  Xpress 3200 has all of the features found on Xpress 200 (RD480) with a few extra frills including dual Gigabit Ethernet PHYs, dual 1394 PHYs and eight SATA 3.0Gbps drive support. 

This is the first PC chipset to feature dual x16 PCIe lanes from a single core logic.  ATI will follow up the RD580 launch with a slightly cheaper RD550 Xpress chipset within the next few months, but RD550 will not feature true dual x16 CrossFire found on the RD580.  The documentation we have claims RD580 supports 36 total PCIe lanes; four of which are dedicated to the Southbridge interconnect.  The remaining 32 are split 16 and 16 to the PCIe graphics adaptors for CrossFire support.   

Interestingly enough, none of the dozen or so RD580 motherboards I have personally seen over the last three months use the ATI SB400, SB450 or SB460 southbridge.  Manufacturers mostly claim this is due to the fact that NVIDIA (ULi) has a superior product, although with ULi now becoming an NVIDIA brand all manufacturers have admitted to us they have SB600 on the roadmaps for all future ATI southbridge core logic.   

Initial reviews of RD580 motherboards, particularly the ASUS A8R32-MVP, have been extremely favorable.  ASUS notified us that A8R32-MVP motherboards have a MSRP of just $30 over the value oriented A8R-MVP motherboard, but merchants are readily selling the boards for over $200.  The ASUS A8R32-MVP is a slight bit of a fluke due to the fact that it is one of the few Xpress 3200 Socket 939 motherboards.  There will be five or six brands supporting 939 at launch, but the bulk of manufacturers with Xpress 3200 orders expect to wait until the Socket AM2 launch. 

Intel users have more to look forward to this year as well. RD600 will launch sometime around March this year with all the features of RD580, but of course on an Intel platform.  An IGP version of this chipset, RS600 will launch about the same time.  ATI roadmaps also reveal that RS600 will get an HDMI counterpart sometime in Q3'06 -- dubbed RS700.


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