Peformance Summary and Conclusion
Performance Summary: Synthetic testing favored the nForce 4 SLI based test bed, topping the VIA K8T900 set up in both memory and CPU testing with PCMark05. However, when we started more specific tests, more often than not, the K8T900 held the upper hand over the nForce 4 by the slightest of margins. These leads were very close and in most cases should be interpreted as a tie. This shows the K8T900 brings comparable performance to that of the market leading nForce 4.
VIA's latest chipset for the AMD platform brings new competition to the foray with competitive performance and features. The K8T900, matched with the VT8251 Southbridge, has a lot to offer OEM's with the flexibility to easily configure various flavors of the K8T900 to existing designs. Since the K8T900 can replace the K8T890 pin-for-pin, OEM's will have an easier time adopting the newer chipset to existing board designs, which will have a positive impact on overall costs.
The only chink in the K8T900's armour is support for SLI and Crossfire which gives NVIDIA and ATI a bit of leverage. The hardware is in place, but it's up to them to make the necessary driver changes to support the K8T900. Certainly, the K8T900 does support S3's MultiChrome dual-GPU technology, however, that is a smaller market that focuses on the budget conscious and workstation consumer. Nonetheless, if MultiChrome fits your needs or SLI/Crossfire is not a concern, the K8T900 offers solid performance backed by a quality feature set.
You can expect K8T900 based motherboards to hit the market fairly soon. Once stock of existing K8T890 motherboards start to dwindle, the K8T900 will rise to replace it as the chipsets are pin-compatible and partners can use the new Northbridge with their existing motherboard designs. New designs with dual-PEG slots should arrive a little later. We were told RapidFire capable boards will arrive around February of 2006.