When AMD's Athlon 64 was initially introduced, all of the major players in the core logic chipset business immediately jumped on board, and introduced, or released, full-featured chipsets for the new processor. And although SiS, ALi, VIA and NVIDIA all had similar Athlon 64 chipsets on their respective road maps, it was VIA and NVIDIA who ended up truly dominating the segment. VIA's K8T800 and NVIDIA nForce 3 150 Pro locked horns back then, and the battle has raged on ever since. NVIDIA and VIA essentially fought to a draw on the Socket 754 platform, with each chipset garnering its share of fans, but on the Socket 940 platform the K8T800 was declared the "best" choice, namely because of the excellent support VIA got from Asus in the SK8V. The SK8V was a top notch motherboard powered by the K8T800, that won numerous editor's choice awards from top technology publications the world over.
Both companies followed up their initial Athlon 64 chipsets a short while later, with NVIDIA introducing the nForce 3 250GB and nForce 3 Ultra, and VIA the K8T800 Pro. This time around both chipsets offered very similar features and performance. We recently compared four enthusiast class motherboards powered by the K8T800 Pro and nForce 3 Ultra, and found them all to be excellent choices, but gave the overall nod to NVIDIA's nForce 3 due to their overclockability and a dominant performance in the "real-world" Business and Content Creation Winstone benchmarks.
Today, VIA is upping the ante again with the introduction of the K8T890 and K8T890 Pro chipsets. The K8T890 series of chipsets brings with it support for the high-speed PCI Express bus standard, along with all of the features already incorporated into the K8T800 Pro.
|Support for the latest AMD Opteron, Athlon64, and Sempron Processors
·_Inherits excellent pedigree of existing VIA K8 Series chipsets, which command 90% market share on AMD64 platform
VIA Flex Express Architecture
·_PCI Express x16 Graphics
·_PCI Express x1 High Bandwidth Peripheral connections
Asynchronous Bus Architecture
·_AGP/PCI Lock allows easier tweaking of the CPU
·_Full 1GHz/16-bit implementation of HyperTransport bus link between CPU and chipset
·_Support for RAID 0, 1 and 0+1 arrays
·_Industry's most scalable system architecture
·_Unified driver base
VIA Flex Express Architecture
·_Industry's most flexible PCI Express chipset implementation
·_Multiple device configurations
·_Motherboard Manufacturers and SIs can meet the needs of various market segments with one scalable solution
Expanding PCI Express to Mature Platforms
·_Bringing PCI Express connectivity to mature platforms
|Distributed PCI Express Bandwidth
·_South Bridge bandwidth increasingly taken up by IDE/SATA drives, peripherals and multimedia devices
·_Peripheral bandwidth distributed across chipset's North and South Bridge to minimize bottlenecks
Flexible PCI Express Configurations
·_The shift to PCI Express is creating some compatibility headaches for the industry
·_New standards, bus architectures, interfaces and connectors to deal with
VIA's unique Flex Express Architecture designed to make the transition easier
·_With up to 22 PCI Express lanes, the industry's most flexible chipset implementation allows multiple configurations
·_Flexible, pin-compatible design approach across VIA chipsets minimizes motherboard design process and time-to-market
·_Motherboard partners can cover multiple segments with single core board design
The K8T890 is VIA's first chipset to support the emerging PCI Express bus standard that will eventually supplant both the AGP and PCI buses, for graphics and peripheral I/O. The K8T890 will support the full range of AMD's Athlon 64 processors, including the FX, Opteron and Sempron, in both Socket 754 and Socket 939 flavors. Along with support for a total of 22 PCI Express lanes, the K8T890 Northbridge, when coupled with the VT8251 Southbridge, offers a full 16-bit / 1GHz (2GHz DDR) HyperTransport link between the CPU and Northbridge, which VIA calls "Hyper8". The K8T890 / VT8251 combo also has support for VIA's Vinyl Audio, which can be configured for 6 or 8 channel operation, VIA's DriveStation with PATA and SATA support including V-RAID, 8 USB 2.0 ports, and the requisite floppy, serial, and parallel connections. Noticeably absent is an integrated Gigabit Ethernet controller into the Southbridge or SATA2 support, but a Gigabit Ethernet controller can be connected through a PCI Express X1 lane and have ample bandwidth available for full speed operation. And SATA2 support will likely be coming with an updated Southbridge.