As VIA and SiS seem to be declining in the chipset arena, ULi continues an aggressive push to capture a larger share of the chipset market. This is particularly true in the AMD arena, where ULi has produced the innovative AGP/PCIe M1695/M1567 chipset, and where ULi recently introduced the M1575 South Bridge for the ATI RD480 Crossfire chipset.

ULi also produces a single - chip Socket 754/939 chipset called the M1689, which is used by Gigabyte and other board makers for entry level AMD boards. However, the M1689 looks fairly basic in today's feature wars, which is exactly why ULi is introducing the M1697 single-chip for AMD Socket 939, 754, and 940.

The M1697 is ULi's answer to "What would you do to improve nForce4?" nForce4 is the other single chip AMD chipset, and the ULi M1697 can be considered very similar to NVIDIA nForce4-SLI - with the significant addition of 7.1 High Definition (HD Azalia) audio. The advantage of a single-chip chipset is there is no need to worry about the communication speed of the North Bridge to South Bridge. ULi also communicates with the AMD processor (64 or 64x2) by means of the 16 x 16 HyperTransport bus, which delivers continuous throughput of up to 8GB/sec. This ensures that the processor/ chipset link provides sufficient speed so that it does not become a bottleneck in system performance.

Please keep in mind that this is not a board review. We are evaluating a ULi M1697 Reference board, and Reference boards are designed for qualification - not production. The Reference board will give you a very good idea of the features and capabilities of the M1697 chipset, but it is not useful to look too closely at board layout or overclocking controls, unless they are exemplary as in recent ATI Reference designs. In the case of the M1697, the Reference board is clearly designed for qualification, and feature demonstration. It is not a board that will be copied in production.

This is particularly true in the overclocking arena. While the M1697 has basic voltage adjustments and an excellent range of memory adjustments, there are no memory voltage adjustments at all on this board revision. As a result, we decided that it was not reasonable to do any overclocking tests on this Reference board, since we could not use our standard test methods to evaluate OC capabilities. This was an easy decision, since Abit and other manufacturers have assured us that we will be receiving ULi M1697-based motherboards for review in the very near future.



ULi M1697 Chipset
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  • Diasper - Tuesday, December 13, 2005 - link

    Also, a suggestion to improve that section is to include RightMark Audio Analyzer benches. You don't even need to include all the pictures/benches of the results but at least include a summary of it eg scores out of 5 in the various tests and then comments afterwards.

    Areas to expand and improve in!
    Reply
  • semiconductorslave - Tuesday, December 13, 2005 - link

    Just hope it is Abit this time that comes out with a MB based on this chipset and not Asrock. Nothing like a lousy implementation of a chipset to steal its thunder. The Asrock 939 Dual SATA2 was a dog. I don't know how Anandtech got a good one, but my board would never run 1T command rate, limited Vcore and memory voltage, lousy Bios couldn't post with any lower multipliers, etc. Now im getting continuous drive errors on a perfectly good WD raptor, I didn't dare try the raid. The only plus is that I was able to run my AGP card, then upgrade to my 7800GT. Now that I have, it has no purpose. I'm so happy that my DFI SLI-DR is in the mail! Reply
  • Cygni - Tuesday, December 13, 2005 - link

    Everybody gets a crappy board from time to time. My Epox S754 SLI board died after only 2 weeks of use. SATA died first, then ethernet, then all the PCI slots, the finally the video cut out. :(

    The Abit board is seriously exciting, though. Judging by the 1695 Ref board, which was far more of a final production board than this Ref board... and judging by the fac that the 1695 is essentially the same chipset in a North/South bridge arrangement, i would say that the 1697 has even more room to grow in several areas. This combined with Abit throwing all the goodies at it... could make a seriously interesting and exciting board. 1697 even supports full AGP 8x from what i hear.

    Imagine an ABIT board with all the goodies, featuring 2 PCI-Ex 16x slots with an AGP8x slot inbetween, 1 PCI-Ex 4x, and 2 PCI... would be an amazing board.
    Reply
  • Avalon - Tuesday, December 13, 2005 - link

    ULi just keeps getting better and better. I'll be looking forward to the production boards coming out soon based on this chipset. Reply
  • kazumoda - Wednesday, December 14, 2005 - link

    that might never happen now that nvidia is buying uli Reply
  • Ozz1113 - Tuesday, December 13, 2005 - link

    nice audio for sure, gotta fix that board layout. I'll keep my eyes peeled. Reply
  • notposting - Tuesday, December 13, 2005 - link

    They have pics of the 4 boards at OCWorkbench:

    http://www.ocworkbench.com/2005/uli/m1697launch/g1...">http://www.ocworkbench.com/2005/uli/m1697launch/g1...
    Reply
  • Brian23 - Tuesday, December 13, 2005 - link

    Nice review. I'm curious though. Why do all the new motherboards have all these PCIe slots when there is nothing available to stick in them. Please write an article soon that rounds up all the cards out there that you can stick in a PCIe slot. (Of course leaving out video cards.) Reply
  • semiconductorslave - Tuesday, December 13, 2005 - link

    Peoply need to learn to think for themselves and find the answers they can first:
    But since I do not know your age, and was somewhat board I did the work for you. I went to newegg and typed PCIexpress in search box and then sorted by catagories and instantly came up with

    5 add on cards
    2 NIC cards
    9 HDD Controllers / RAID Cards
    1 Video Devices & TV Tuners
    & of course 345 Video Cards

    Searching Google I found some sound cards too, and the upcoming Ageia physics processor card has been rumored to be coming out on PCI express also.
    The real benifit will be anything that is speed limited by the PCI bus.
    Cheers, semiconductorslave
    Reply
  • mindless1 - Tuesday, December 13, 2005 - link

    Sure, we could all individually do redundant research with most people seeing a large % of cards but not all. It was a very good idea and it's rather narrow a focus to check newegg, with the point being that we're not wanting to just "see some" but rather, be able to evaluate and compare ALL of them to make best choice of what's avilable, not just what's at newegg.

    So you need to learn to think for someone other than yourself and realize that you may be failing to grasp the big picture if you feel a really simple task is a blanket answer. In other words, WE know how to search a website but YOU don't have the ability to see how the information's presentation is relevant.
    Reply

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