What's new with the 890GX
As we mentioned in our intro, the 890GX is a brand new game. Unlike the PCIe 1.0 limited P55 and H55, the 890GX has shifted to all PCIe 2.0 lanes.
This means that each lane has twice the bandwidth (500MB/s vs. 250MB/s) that the Intel chipsets offer (or at least the P55 and H5x ones). This gives the 890GX much more headroom and has allowed AMD to implement SATA 3.0 in the Southbridge and a wider and more efficient path to the USB 3.0 controller, too.
This is going to give AMD an advantage over Intel's P55 and H5x chipsets in terms of SATA 3.0 and USB 3.0 performance. This is even when compared to solutions like the ones that ASUS and GIGABYTE are using (with a bridge chip providing the extra lanes).
A New IGP
But the use of all PCIe 2.0 lanes and SATA 3.0 ports are not the only new things. AMD has also stuffed in a new and more powerful IGP; this is the 4290. The 4290 has a cluster of 40 unified shaders, a 700MHz clock speed and a 64/128-bit memory interface.
The HD 4290 also has some exciting features for the HTPC and mainstream market. For the HTPC crowd you will be happy to know that the HD 4290 includes hardware accelerated up scaling, Stream accelerated transcoding, AVIVO and real time color correction. It also has support for Blu-ray 1.1 features and DX10.1.
The last of the above features is a little interesting given AMD's push for DX11. Still, considering there is not another IGP out with full DX11 support, AMD does seem to be in a good position with the HD 4290.
Some old friends
But with the new there are some old friends that you have come to know and love from AMD chipsets. There is the popular core unlocking feature that has allowed more than one tri and even dual core owner to become a full-fledged quad owner. The AM3 socket brings DDR3 support and allows you to use just about any of the AMD CPUs on the market. Hybrid Crossfire and AMD Overdrive slip in there, too.