Just yesterday we brought you information about Intel's PCI Express transition on the desktop, reporting that the 925X and 915 series of chipsets would not offer AGP support in favor of a PCI Express only architecture.

We've been lucky enough to come across chipset roadmaps from both VIA and SiS and it looks like there will be transition chipsets for those not interested in making the full PCI Express plunge this year.

2004 Pentium 4 Chipset Roadmap

Chipset

PT880
PT890
FSB Support
400/533/800MHz
400/533/800MHz
Memory Bus Width
Dual 64-bit
Dual 64-bit
Memory Type(s) Supported
DDR266/333/400 - ECC
DDR266/333/400 - ECC
DDR2 400/533/667 - ECC
External Graphics Interface
AGP 8X
AGP 8X
PCI Express x16
Other Interfaces
N/A
PCI Express x4
Availability
Currently Available
Q1 '04

VIA's Pentium 4 chipset roadmap is finally exciting again; after being virtually absent for the majority of the Pentium 4's lifespan the PT890 chipset will offer Dual Channel DDR/DDR2 memory interfaces, PCI Express support and AGP support this quarter.

The inclusion of a PCI Express x4 interface off the North Bridge could pave the way for high speed networking or storage devices with no bandwidth constraints. A PCI Express channel off the North Bridge will undoubtedly take the place of propretary Gigabit Ethernet links that were common on this last generation of chispets.

VIA honestly needs to get boards out by March if they want the PT890 to gain any traction before Intel's April/May launch of 925X and the 915 series of chipsets.

2004 Athlon XP Chipset Roadmap

Chipset

KT600
KT880
FSB Support
200/266/333/400MHz
200/266/333/400MHz
Memory Bus Width
64-bit
Dual 64-bit
Memory Type(s) Supported
DDR266/333/400 - ECC
DDR266/333/400 - ECC
External Graphics Interface
AGP 8X

AGP 8X

Other Interfaces
N/A
N/A
Availability
Currently Available
Q1 '04

The Athlon XP will finally get Dual Channel memory support from VIA this quarter with the KT880. There is no PCI Express support slated for the Athlon XP meaning that the platform is surely being set up to fade away this year.

2004 Athlon 64/FX/Opteron Chipset Roadmap

Chipset

K8T800
K8T800Pro
K8T890
FSB Support
800MHz HyperTransport
1GHz HyperTransport
1GHz HyperTransport
Memory Bus Width
N/A
N/A
N/A
Memory Type(s) Supported
N/A
N/A
N/A
External Graphics Interface
AGP 8X
AGP 8X

AGP 8X
PCI Express x16

Other Interfaces
N/A
N/A
PCI Express x4
Availability
Currently Available
Q1 '04
Q2 '04

VIA's K8T800 is the chipset of choice for Socket-940 users right now, and later this quarter VIA will update the chipset to support a 1GHz Hyper Transport link. Then in Q2 VIA will add on to the 1GHz HT link and offer, once again, both AGP and PCI Express interfaces with the K8T890 chipset.

In theory, motherboard manufacturers could have both AGP 8X and PCI Express x16 slots on their motherboards, making those solutions extremely upgrade friendly for those who aren't ready to take the PCI Express plunge.

2004 South Bridge Roadmap

South Bridge

VT8237
VT8237CE
VT8251
Parallel ATA Channels
2 (4 devices)
2 (4 devices)
2 (4 devices)
Serial ATA Channels
2 (2 devices)
2 (2 devices)
4 (4 devices)
RAID Support
RAID 0, 1, 0+1, JBOD
RAID 0, 1, 0+1, JBOD
RAID 0, 1, 0+1, JBOD
USB 2.0 Support
8 ports

8 ports

8 ports

PCI Express Support
N/A
N/A
2 - PCI Express 1x
Audio
6 ch. AC'97
6 ch. AC'97
8 ch. 192khz/24bit
6 ch. AC'97
Ethernet
VIA 10/100
VIA 10/100
VIA 10/100/1000
Availability
Currently Available
Q1 '04
Q2 '04

VIA's South Bridges can be paired with any of VIA's North Bridges and looking at the roadmap we see that the VT8251 South Bridge will bring 4 SATA ports, Gigabit Ethernet and PCI Express support to motherboards that use it. In theory you could get PCI Express support on an Athlon XP platform by using this South Bridge but you would still lack a x16 interface for graphics. The VT8251 will also boast upgraded audio as an option.

It looks like VIA has the potential to pick up some P4 marketshare during the PCI Express transition if all goes well according to their roadmap.

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  • Boonesmi - Saturday, January 31, 2004 - link

    what happened to the Via southbrigde VT8239??

    i thought it was supposed to be about the same as the 8237, but support 4 sata devices
    Reply

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