SiS 648 Chipset Debuts

The SiS 648 Chipset Debuts - Page 3

The SiS 648 Chipset Debuts
A Comprehensive Look at a Pre-Production Shuttle AS45GT/R

By, Marco Chiappetta
August 12, 2002


Up to this point, the synthetic tests have shown that a Pentium 4, when coupled with an i850 chipset and RDRAM, still holds the "performance crown".  What kind of "real world" performance gains do these advantages in the synthetic tests equate to in actual games and desktop applications though?  Let's find out...

Performance Comparisons with Quake 3 Arena
Will it Ever End?

We took some Quake 3 Arena v1.31 Time Demo (demo four) scores at a resolution of 640X480, using 32-bit color and textures.  Running Quake 3 with a high-end graphics card at this low resolution isolates motherboard and processor performance.  Frame rates are limited by the number of polygons the CPU is able to push through the bus, without being limited by the graphics subsystem.

Again we see the i850 outperforming the SiS648, but by much smaller margins than we saw in the synthetic tests.  The i850 / RDRAM combo was only 1% faster than the SiS648 when running the memory at DDR400 speeds.  Even when using DDR333 memory speeds, the SiS648 proved to be a speedy chipset.  Keep in mind that when running at 200MHz (DDR400), the memory was set to CAS 2.5-3-3.  With a little maturity and an official JEDEC DDR400 specification, I'm sure we'll be seeing true PC3200 memory modules capable of running at 200MHz with CAS 2-2-2 timings.  With these more aggressive settings, the overall performance of the SiS648 would have been measurably higher.

Performance Comparisons with Comanche 4
DX Copter Sim

Novalogic's Comanche 4 benchmark is heavily CPU dependant.  We ran the built-in time demo at a low resolution of 640x480 with 32-Bit color in an attempt to isolate CPU performance.  Here, the SiS648 was still not able to overtake the i850, but we again see that the significant differences in performance we saw in the synthetic tests did not translate into any major "real world" advantages.

"Real World" Performance with the Stones
Simulated Application Performance

Next, to simulate "real world" application performance, we ran ZD Labs' Business Winstone 2001 benchmark.  We'll directly quote ZD's eTestingLabs website for an explanation as to what this test is comprised of:

"Business Winstone is a system-level, application-based benchmark that measures a PC's overall performance when running today's top-selling Windows-based 32-bit applications on Windows 98 SE, Windows NT 4.0 (SP6 or later), Windows 2000, Windows Me, or Windows XP. Business Winstone doesn't mimic what these packages do; it runs real applications through a series of scripted activities and uses the time a PC takes to complete those activities to produce its performance scores."

The Business Winstone tests include:

  • Five Microsoft Office 2000 applications (Access, Excel, FrontPage, PowerPoint, and Word)

  • Microsoft Project 98

  • Lotus Notes R5

  • NicoMak WinZip

  • Norton Antivirus

  • Netscape Communicator

The type of applications used in the Business Winstone tests are not terribly compute intensive so, in this test the SiS648 actually managed to nudge ahead of the i850, albeit by a very small margin.

Next we ran ZD's Content Creation Winstone 2002.  This benchmark runs a similar series of scripted activities, but the tests are comprised of more "bandwidth hungry" applications.  The applications used in the Content Creation Winstone 2002 tests include:

  • Adobe Photoshop 6.0.1

  • Adobe Premiere 6.0

  • Macromedia Director 8.5

  • Macromedia Dreamweaver UltraDev 4

  • Microsoft Windows Media Encoder

  • Netscape Navigator 6/6.01

  • Sonic Foundry Sound Forge 5.0c (build 184)

The SiS648 makes another strong showing in the Content Creation 2002 benchmark.  Although the i850 overtook the SiS648 again, at both DDR400 and DDR333 speeds, the SiS648 definitely held it's own.


We can't asses the overall performance and quality of the Shuttle AK45GT/R without focusing on the recently released SiS648 chipset powering this board.  Even though our pre-production AS45GT/R exhibited some instability, we feel the SiS648 itself has definite potential and may become the chipset of choice amongst enthusiasts looking to build a high-end Pentium 4 system.  We were told that our pre-production board was using the A1 revision of SiS' chipset, and that the stability problems we saw have been addressed in the A2 revision. 

The SiS648 Northbridge and 963 Southbridge together bring a new level of performance and integration to Pentium 4 DDR chipsets.  With official support for AGP8X and DDR333, integrated USB 2.0, 10/100 Ethernet, Audio, ATA/133 and IEEE1394 and unofficial support for DDR400 memory, the SiS648 is currently the most feature packed chipset available, bar none.  The SiS648 was also an excellent performer and over time, as high quality PC3200 memory modules, capable of running at more aggressive timings, become available and the SiS reference BIOS and drivers mature a bit, the overall performance of this chipset will surely improve.  VIA's P4X400 is the only other chipset on the immediate horizon that seems to rival the features and performance of the SiS648, but with the legal matters still surrounding the unlicensed P4X400, we're sure SiS's offering with be more widely adopted by motherboard manufactures.  Also, boards based on the SiS648 should sell in the $100 range, making it's price very appealing as well.  SiS (and Shuttle) may have a real winner here, we'll keep you updated as more "retail ready" products based on the SiS648 chipset arrive in the lab.

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Tags:  Chipset, Chip, chips, SIS, IPS, IP, BU

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