ATi RADEON XPRESS 200 Series: AMD Platform Chipsets

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Using the sheer number of "NVIDIA vs. ATi" articles posted on-line or published in every popular computer magazine as a gauge, it would be easy to surmise that these two rivals battled each other for dominance in the desktop 3D graphics space alone.  Numerous head-to-head comparisons between NVIDIA's GeForce 6 series and ATi's Radeon X800 series line of video cards are published constantly.  And each company has since amassed a loyal following.  Point your browser to any number of public forums, and you'll see just how allegiant their fans can be.  Staunch NVIDIA and ATi users debate more feverishly than an auditorium filled with an equal number of conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats, with each side extolling the virtues of their favorite product.  But the fact of the matter is, NVIDIA and ATi are rivals in multiple markets, and in some of those markets they face some stiff competition from other companies as well.  They both have products available, or in development, for mobile phones, game consoles, laptop computers, and PDAs.  Both NVIDIA and ATi also have core logic chipsets available, but to this point each company has targeted a different group of buyers.

NVIDIA has had much success with their nForce series of chipsets for the Athlon platform; all the while ATi has been casually releasing chipsets for Intel platform.  In fact, according to ATi they have shipped over 15,000,000 chipsets in the past three years alone.  However, ATi's chipsets have not been targeted at the enthusiast community.  Here on HotHardware, we've had countless encounters with motherboards powered by NVIDIA, VIA, and Intel chipsets, but have had only limited contact with products equipped with ATi chipsets.  We've had first hand experience with the ATi Radeon 9100 IGP in Shuttle's ST61G4 and Asus' P4R800-V, and have had our hands on quite a few notebooks and laptops powered by ATi IGPs, but other than that, it has been comparatively quiet.  Things are about to change though.  ATi is now poised to join the likes of NVIDIA, VIA, SiS and ALi with the release of the ATi RADEON XPRESS 200 Series of chipsets for the AMD platform.

Specifications & Features: ATi RADEON XPRESS 200 Series
ATi & AMD!
RADEON XPRESS for the AMD Desktop:

RADEON XPRESS 200P -
_ATI's first discrete PCI Express chipset for AMD K8 platforms
_Offers flexible platform design options for the mainstream and enthusiast markets
_Pin and BIOS compatible with onboard graphics platform

RADEON XPRESS 200 -
_The industry's first AMD K8 PCI Express chipset with onboard DirectX 9.0 graphics
_The most cost effective PCI Express solution for mainstream computing
_Flexible design options
_Discrete chipset pin-compatibility
_UMA, UMA + local frame buffer

Onboard RADEON Graphics Plus...
_The industry's first truly playable onboard DirectX 9.0 graphics processor
_Based on the same core technology as the RADEON X300
_Vertex Shader 2.0
_Pixel Shader 2.0
_Full precision floating point pixel pipeline
_Anti-aliasing using multisampling algorithm with support for 2,4, and 6 samples
_HyperMemory support with local frame buffer
_Full CATALYST software support

Multi-Monitor Support:
_External ATI PCIe Graphics
_Affordable multi-monitor support for PCI Express
_Built in dual display on chipset (Analog and DVO)
_SURROUNDVIEW support for three or more monitors with the addition of an ATI add-in board
_Improved desktop productivity
_Immersive gaming experience
High Definition Video:
_RADEON XPRESS + Theater 550
_Low-cost media center solution
_Advanced 3D comb filter
_Intelligent noise reduction algorithm
_Advanced PVR capabilities with MPEG-2 encoding
_Built-in digital audio capture
_Onboard and add-in solutions
_Microsoft Windows XP Media Center Edition-ready

Security and Reliability:
TPM 1.1 & 1.2 support
_Improved security and authentication for:
_File storage, e-mail and personally identifiable information
_Remote Access and data decryption
Broadcom enhanced Gigabit Ethernet w/ TPM
_Standards based TPM security for corporate networks
RAID 1 support
_Higher date security with built in fault tolerance
_Improved capacity and performance
VPU Recover
_Detect graphics hang condition and reset the GPU back to normal operation
_Seamless user recovery from GPU hang
AMD integrated enhanced Virus Protection technology

Networking:
_Full support for Gigabit Ethernet and 10/100
_Gigabit Ethernet supported via PCI Express
_ATI provides increased flexibility for partners
_Choice of provider
_Cost savings for implementation
_Leading edge technology
_Best of breed partners ensure ATI can deliver the latest and fastest networking solutions on the market today (Marvell & Broadcom)
_Integrated GbE offers no performance or cost advantage

      

   

    

We recently got our hands on one of ATi's reference motherboards powered by the RADEON XPRESS 200 chipset, but there are two products in the series being announced today.  The RADEON XPRESS 200, with its integrated DirectX 9.0 compliant graphics core, is targeted at the mainstream and commercial markets and the RADEON XPRESS 200P is targeted squarely at enthusiasts and overclockers.  Both of these chipsets support socket 754 and socket 939 Athlon 64 and Sempron processors, and have virtually identical feature sets.

The early engineering sample RADEON XPRESS 200 motherboard we received for testing is not indicative of any products that will be available in retail stores, so we won't dwell on any layout or aesthetic issues, but we thought you'd like to get a close look nonetheless.  The board was equipped with four DIMM slots that support of total of 4GB of RAM, dual PATA and four SATA ports (with support for RAID 0 and 1), a single floppy connector, on-board audio, integrated Gigabit Ethernet, two standard PCI slots, three PCI Express X1 slots, a CNR slot and a single PCI Express X16 slot.  Both the Northbridge and Southbridge were covered with passive aluminum heatsinks, as were the MOSFETs in the VRM.  If you take a look at the rear I/O panel you'll see PS/2 mouse and keyboard ports, four USB 2.0 ports (8 supported), a single Firewire port, a parallel port, an RJ45 jack, and an assortment of audio connectors.  Just below the parallel port, you can see the dual display outputs.  This reference board was equipped with a single DB15 connector and a single DVI connector.  Each can be used to power independent displays.

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