- VIA K8T800 Northbridge
The K8T800 from VIA Technology was the first chipset to bring performance to the Opteron processor from AMD. With the release of the Athlon 64 and Athlon FX around the corner, the chipset was ready to bring high performance 64-bit computing to everyone... who could afford it.
As far as the competition goes, ALI and SIS both have quite fast chips on their hands at the moment but are let down by very little support from motherboard manufacturers at this present time. In Q1 we should see more and more motherboards supporting these chipsets.
As we mentioned all motherboards feature VIA's K8T800 chipset which while we discovered isn't the fastest available, it does give you everything to get the most out of an Athlon 64 motherboard. While normally the Northbridge would take care of the memory, due to the memory controller being built into the processor it doesn't do as much as it use too and as such the importance of a winning chipset is not solely placed on the Northbridge anymore but the Southbridge also.
- VIA VT8237 Southbridge
The latest Southbridge which we have seen from VIA in a while now is the VT8237 which helps bring VIA Drive Station, VIA Connectivity and VIA Vinyl Audio to the party. VIA Drive Station brings native Serial ATA and Parallel ATA support to your motherboard. This combined with the V Raid tool helps make the setup of Serial ATA hard drives a very easy task.
VIA Vinyl Audio carries with it support for 6 channel and 8 channel sound otherwise respectively known to most people as 5.1 or 7.1 Surround Sound. While this still isn't as good as a totally separate PCI solution (like an Audigy 2), it helps bring higher quality audio onboard than cheaper AC'97 solutions.
Finally VIA Connectivity has everything you need to get all your peripherals up and running including support for up to eight USB 2.0 ports, six PCI slots, 10/100 networking via the VT6103 controller and all the other normal ports you would expect.
Now we've had a brief run down of the chipsets powering all three motherboards, let's take a closer look at our competitors!
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