VIA PT894 & PT880 Pro Chipset Preview
The high-end of VIA's value line, PT880 Pro, is more of a transitional product that appeals to the cavernous ravine separating Intel's older 865PE AGP chipset and its latest 915P PCI Express product. Between the two you'll find DDR and DDR2 memory support; however, the adoption of PCI Express graphics is required with 915P in addition to LGA775 processors.
PT880 Pro streamlines the entire upgrade process by supporting a bevy of different memory technologies, AGP and PCI Express graphics, and the entire range of front-side bus speeds currently represented by Intel's processor lineup.
|Support for Intel Pentium 4 processors on 533, 800, and 1066 MHz front side buses, including the upcoming 6xx series.
4 Lanes of PCI Express Connectivity
·_PT880 Pro north bridge includes one x4 link for graphics
VIA Universal Graphics Interface
·_Allows connection of AGP and PCI Express graphics cards on the same motherboard at the same time
VIA StepUp Technology
·_Flexible memory architecture supports DDR/DDR2 memory
VIA Ultra V-Link
·_Proprietary interconnect between north and south bridges transferring up to 1 GBps of data
VIA Vinyl Audio
·_Stylus audio drive with QSound technology and Immerzio gaming support
·_Six-channel audio through VIA Six-TRAC AC'97 codec
·_Eight-channel audio through VIA Envy24PT PCI controller
·_1.5Gbps with VT8237 south bridge
·_RAID 0 and 1
·_Management through V-RAID software interface
·_Support for four ATA133 devices
·_Fast 10/100 Ethernet
·_Eight USB 2.0 ports
·_Standard PCI bus
In its default configuration, you'll probably see PT880 Pro north bridges paired with VT8237 south bridges, though the architecture is modular and it's possible that some manufacturers may opt for the more robust VT8251. In those cases, you'll see the same SATA, Audio, and PCI Express features you'd expect from the PT894.
The principal differences between the two chipsets lie in their north bridges, of course. Whereas PT894 emphasizes PCI Express through its x16 graphics connection and x1 peripheral ports, PT880 Pro boasts connections for both AGP and PCI Express graphics cards. The AGP slot is full 8x, while the PCI Express connection is x4. Given the bandwidth similarities between the two, you shouldn't be alarmed. Just know that it isn't a full x16 PCIe you're getting there. After all, VIA's original intention was to enable existing AGP graphics cards and a migration to PCI Express whenever the end-user is comfortable making that jump. However, it has been discovered that the chipset supports simultaneous use of both interfaces, opening up possibilities for four-monitor display configurations.