AMD 7-Series Chipsets
Next up, we have some details regarding the AMD 7 series chipset. The AMD 7 Series chipset will initially be comprised of the high-end 790FX, the 790X, and 770. All of the chipsets are being manufactured at 65nm and according to AMD they are twice as power efficient as the previous generation of AMD chipsets. In fact, the 790FX chipset has only a 10W TDP. They also support PCI Express 2.0 and HyperTransport 3.0 for massive amounts of bandwidth, and exploit the clock gating and dynamic power management capabilities of AMD’s new Phenom processors.
We should also note that all initial motherboards based on the 7-series chipset will feature the ATI SB600 Southbridge chip. Sometime next year the SB700 is due to arrive, but initial offerings will use the mature SB600 only.
The 790FX is the chipset that will power many high-end socket AM2+ motherboards. It is outfitted with 42 PCI Express lanes that can be configured in any number of ways. Because many 790FX-based motherboards will be touted as 4-way CrossFire capable, however, 32 of those lanes will be dedicated to PCI Express x16 graphics slots, while the rest are shared amongst other expansion slots, peripherals, and the chipset itself.
The 790X chipset is fundamentally very similar to the 790FX, but with fewer PCI Express lanes. Whereas the 790FX supports 3- and 4-way CrossFire configurations, the 790X will support only traditional dual-card CrossFire. The 770 takes things one step further down the line and supports only a single graphics card due to its PCI Express lane configuration.
Another feature common to all 7-series chipsets will be a new performance tuning application called AMD Overdrive. AMD Overdrive is similar to NVIDIA’s nTune System Utility and Intel’s Desktop Control Center in that it gives users access to numerous settings for overclocking and performance tweaking. Using Overdrive, users can alter the frequency of individual cores, memory timings, key voltages, etc. We have yet to test the AMD Overdrive application for ourselves, but screenshots of the interface are available in the slides above.