Chipset Updates and Gigabyte's MA69GM-S2H
There were few technical details available as to the nature of the optimizations AMD has made to the 690 chipset, but the slide below illustrates the three main points the company is trying to get across.
As you can see, AMD is touting the platform as an HD multimedia solution, now with overclocking capabilities and performance improvements. We should say that this update is NOT a new revision of the chipset. AMD has simply made BIOS and driver / software level optimizations that increase the performance of the IGP and increase available memory bandwidth to the system when the IGP is in use.
The motherboard that we'll be using to evaluate these new optimization comes by way of Gigabyte. The Gigabyte GA-MA69GM-S2H is a Micro-ATX motherboard built around the AMD 690G / SB600 chipset, complete with VGA, DVI, Component, and HDMI outputs.
The GA-MA69GM-S2H ships with your basic assortment of accessories, including floppy. IDE, and SATA cables, a custom I/O shield, software for Vista and XP, a user's manual, and a case bracket with S-Video and Component outputs.
Due to the fact that the GA-MA69GM-S2H adheres to the micro ATX form factor, the board is compact and every square centimeter of real estate is accounted for. All of the board's connectors are situated around the edge of the PCB and the chipset is passively cooled by a couple of aluminum heatsinks. There are two standard PCI slots on the board, a PCI Express X4 slot, and a PCI Express x16 graphics slot. We should note that when a compatible, ATI GPU-based graphics card is installed in the PEG slot, you can still use the IGP for support of up to 4 monitors.
The I/O backplane houses a pair of standard PS/2 mouse and keyboard ports, VGA, DVI, and HDMI outputs, four USB ports, a Gigabit LAN jack, a Firewire port, an optical audio output and 6 assorted analog audio outputs. The Firewire support comes by way of a TI controller, while audio and LAN duties are handled by a couple of Realtek chips. In case you're wondering, that HDMI output does carry audio signals as well, making this board an ideal candidate for HTPC applications.