An oldie, but goodie
One of the best reasons to
benchmark with Quake III is the application's remarkable
consistency. Updated to the latest point release, we
set Quake III to run at its "Fastest" detail setting,
effectively eliminating graphics as a potential source of
interference. Insane frame rates aside, all three
Pentium 4 motherboards place very close to each other.
The 875P takes a narrow first-place, followed by Intel's
865PE, and rounded out by the VIA PT880. The thing
to remember here is that PT880 is doing incredibly
well considering its price point. VIA may have a lot more
to prove right now, but at some point, Intel is going to
have to drop its prices in order to compete against VIA's
heavy hitter in the discrete market, and ATI's RADEON 9100 IGP on the
integrated graphics side.
Professional Graphics Suite
SPECviewperf benchmark is an OpenGL metric written in C.
Originally developed by IBM, several other companies have
contributed to the benchmark, which claims to focus on
real-world performance testing. It's currently
comprised of six "viewsets," or a group of individual runs
intended to characterize the graphics rendering portion of
a given ISV's application. The current applications
represented are: 3ds max 3.1, IBM's Data Explorer,
Intergraph's DesignReview, Discreet's Lightscape,
Pro/ENGINEER 2001, and Unigraphics V17.
The results for SPECviewperf
have been broken down on a per-application basis.
The top bar in each segment represents the PT880 chipset,
the middle is 875P, and the bottom divulges 865PE's
performance. Clearly, Intel's 875P is best
suited for workstation graphics, while the 865PE and PT880
seem to alternate victories after that. A robust benchmarking suite like SPECviewperf
shows that VIA that it still has some work to do if it wants to compete in
such a demanding space.
witnessing mediocre performance from the PT800 chipset,
VIA's new PT880 is full of pleasant surprises. From
a feature standpoint alone, it has nearly every
enthusiast-oriented extra that we could ask for. The
only significant omission that our reference board lacked
was IEEE 1394 support. However, faced with surround
sound audio, six Serial ATA ports (with RAID 0, 1, and 0+1
capabilities), eight USB 2.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet, and
a dual-channel, DDR400 memory controller, there is very
little room for complaining.
On top of it's
feature set, PT880 performs remarkably well against the
two fastest Pentium 4 chipsets currently available.
At the very least, PT880 packs sufficient horsepower to
usurp the 865 family and in some instances it zips right
on past 875P as well. Optimistic
previews need to be validated with evaluations of retail
hardware, though, so you can count on PT880 motherboard reviews
as motherboards start emerging on shelves. A representative
at VIA believes the next week or two will start to see
availability. The same gentleman also listed nine
manufacturers with plans for PT880 boards, so there
shouldn't be a shortage of variety, either.
when a company has a killer feature set and compelling
performance, price becomes a prohibitive factor. Not
so with PT880. As VIA pushes for its fair share of
recognition in the AMD64 and Pentium 4 marketplaces, it is
offering well-rounded hardware at a very low cost.
Of course, we'll reserve final judgment on the platform
until third-party boards start arriving with suggested
retail prices. But the fact that VIA anticipates the
platform to sell for as low as $70 is exciting. MSI has already announced its take on PT880, and so has ABIT. Unfortunately, neither of those two boards are
quite so complete as VIA's reference design.
Now that we've
had the pleasure of sampling PT880, the next stop on VIA's
Pentium 4 roadmap is PT890. PT880's successor, set
to sport DDR-2 400/533/667 memory support and PCI Express,
will start sampling in December of this year, and if all
goes according to plan, will enter mass production in the
first quarter of next year. Expect that one to come
with a new South Bridge, too. VT8239 is reportedly
already sampling, featuring an extra pair of Serial ATA
ports and an upgraded audio solution. VIA might have
a contender for Grantsdale yet.