The VIA PT800 chipset was released before the PT880 as you can guess by the name. In fact, the PT800 was VIA's first truly "legal" Pentium 4 chipset not under embargo by Intel. While VIA has had its P4X series chipsets, these have been under fire in the courts, and not many motherboard companies dared to take on Intel with the VIA offerings. Now that all has been settled, VIA chipsets for the Pentium 4 processors are set to hit the market and the PT800 looks to have what the budget users need.
The PT800 set is comprised of the PT800 Northbridge and either VIA's VT8235 or the VT8237 Southbridge. VIA uses its proprietary V-Link connection running at 533MB/s to interlink the North and Southbridge, being one of the fastest and most bandwidth available links on the market.
The PT800 is the first chipset from VIA to officially support the three main features Intel Pentium 4 chipsets require today: 800MHz FSB, DDR-400 and Hyper-Threading. While VIA claims support for DDR-400 on the older P4X400, we were never able to get it to work with any of our modules. This chipset, we are happy to say, worked with every module we tested without any compatibility issues. This also marks the first chipset from VIA to support Hyper-Threading Technology. While there is still debate whether or not Hyper-Threading is of benefit, if the feature is there it is nice to see it supported. AGP8x also makes its way into the PT800 as revision 3.0 specifications are indeed needed for today's high level graphics cards.
The memory controller on the PT800 is actually a borrowed design from the KT600. What do we mean? Faststream64. Faststream64 is VIA's new memory controller enhancement designed to reduce memory latency times in order to boost the KT600's performance to that of the nForce2, while it wasn't able to live up to these claims, it certainly does make a huge difference to memory performance for the KT600. Can it do it for the PT800?
The Southbridge of choice for the PT800 is, of course, the VT8237. This Southbridge debuted with the KT600 chipset to be the first to bring native Serial ATA support to the AMD Athlon XP platform. With eight USB 2.0 ports, 10/100 Ethernet as well as Serial ATA RAID support at the same price as the older VT8235, it is definitely the way to go.
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