We first saw the Ali M1683 at Computex 2003. At that time, no fully working samples were available, however, Ali was kind enough to take our details for full reference samples. In 2004 we received our first Ali reference sample of the M1683, and when we saw the implementations they had made, we were somewhat impressed.
The M1683 comes in two parts, as you would expect; the M1683 Northbridge and either the M1563 Southbridge. This Southbridge has been featured on another board from Ali; the ALI K8 chipset. How can this be when AMD64 uses HyperTransport? The M1683 and M1563 chips use a 800MB/s 8-bit HyperTransport link. This makes the Ali offering the second fastest data transfer rate between the bridges.
The M1683 supports the latest Pentium 4 processors including the new Prescott and soon to support LGA775 when it arrives with an 800MHz. According to Ali, it will also support 1000MHz FSB for the next generation Intel Pentium 4 bus along with AGP revision 3.0 specs for 4x and 8x transfer rates.
The memory controller is straight out of its previous generation Pentium 4 chipsets with a simple update to support DDR-400 maximum. Like the VIA and SiS chipsets, the memory controller on the Ali chipset isn't limited to two DIMM slots, a maximum of three can be supported for up to 4GB maximum DDR SDRAM.
The M1563 Southbridge has made its debut alongside its AMD K8 offering. The Southbridge is the first to support HyperTransport and won't be the last according to Ali, however, while having the latest in bus architecture, it lacks some of the additional features that make the VIA and Intel offerings so viable. First off this is a first generation Southbridge without any Serial ATA installed. This means that you won't want to be using Serial ATA hard disks on this chipset unless you get a board with an external SATA chip. The chip does contain a AC'97 Audio controller for 5.1 audio, built in Flash memory readers for Memory Stick and Secure Digital, the most common flash memory standards for today, as well as a 10/100 Ethernet controller and a six Master PCI bus.
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