ATI SB600

SB600 has finally arrived with the ATI CrossFire Xpress 3200 AM2. This new Southbridge is here just in time to offset the disappearing ULi M1575 Southbridge chips. The SB600 introduction gives manufacturers the option to uses a full and up-to-date ATI chipset for AM2 and earlier Athlon64 processors.

Feature ATI SB450 ATI SB600 NVIDIA nForce4 NVIDIA 590
SATA Type SATA
No NCQ
SATA2
NCQ, AHCI
SATA2
NCQ
SATA2
NCQ
Maximum SATA Speed 1.5Gb/s 3Gb/s 3Gb/s 3Gb/s
SATA Ports 4 4 4 6
RAID Support 0, 1, 0+1, JBOD 0, 1, 0+1, 5, 10, JBOD 0, 1, 0+1, JBOD 0, 1, 0+1, 5, JBOD
USB Ports 8 USB 2.0 10 USB 2.0 10 USB 2.0 10 USB 2.0
LAN 10/100 PCI 1Gb Ethernet
PCIe for PHY
1Gb Ethernet
PCIe for PHY
2x1Gb Ethernet
PCIe for PHY
(Can be Combined)
IDE 4 devices
(2 Channels)
2 devices
(1 Channels)
4 devices
(2 Channels)
2 devices
(1 Channels)
AUDIO HD Azalia HD Azalia AC'97 HD Azalia
PCIe Lanes 40 40 Total
2 x16
4 lanes for x1,x2,x4
4 for NB/SB links
44 46 Total
7 links


SB600 provides the features users want, and our testing found USB 2.0 performance to be competitive. SATA and IDE performance are also excellent. Unfortunately for ATI, the standard for features in the industry is a moving target, and NVIDIA now offers 6 SATA2 ports vs.4 on their new Southbridge. NVIDIA also implements 2x1Gb PCIe Ethernet ports which can be combined to provide 2Gb/s Ethernet.



The good news for ATI is that unlike SB450, the new SB600 really does not give up any important performance or check list features. Manufacturers can then add whatever they wish to SB600 to target certain segments. To demonstrate this ATI included two Silicon Image 3132 SATA2 disk controllers on the reference board to bring the total to 8 SATA2 ports. ATI no longer has to apologize for their Southbridge, but the latest NVIDIA offering does provide more ports in the chipset. It is also worth noting that the NVIDIA 500 family fully supports High Definition audio now - a feature long supported by ATI but absent in the NVIDIA nForce4 chipsets.

Index Board & Basic Features
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  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    1X Increments corrected.

    We did not have audio performance data for nVidia chipsets in the 590 launch review, but it will be included in our roundup of 6 AM2 boards which is in process. I have added numbers for the Foxconn ( nForce 590) HD codec for reference. Foxconn is the nVidia Reference board.

    The board photo was captured at 12 Megapixels. Unfortunately, the "Save for Web" feature in Photoshop which gets the image to a reasonable file size for posting a 1280 image compromises sharpness at higher resolutions.
    Reply
  • Trisped - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    Thanks for the Foxconn numbers.

    So you used "Save for Web" and lowered the quality so it would be easier to download? That makes sense. A 43k file is much better then a 1M one.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    Or 422K vs. 5+ MB. ;) Reply
  • lopri - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    I truly appreciate AT staff's responses to my questions. It cleared so many things that I questioned while reading the review, so now I'm understanding better.

    quote:

    the fact is DDR400 was the fastest memory standard for DDR. Anything higher was overclocking. For DDR2, we have DDR2-800 as the current highest standard speed


    This is actually the only possible explanation that I could think of. You're right in that DDR400 is the fastest JEDEC approved speed. I sort of guessed but still, considering the ammount of memory reviews you've done in the past, thought a bit stranage. But thank you for explaining. Request, however: Please do a out-of-the spec DDR vs DDR2 reviews in the future. :D This can be a big factor for people who actually consider upgrading.

    quote:

    AMD introduced this platform with very conservative timings and tables for the board and memory suppliers to follow. We expect to see 1T timings at 800 later this year as AMD "massages" the memory controller. I ran tests at DDR2667 1T and they were basically the same or slightly worse than DDR2800 at 2T with all other settings being equal. The problem is we cannot run tRP and tRCD lower than 3 currently so any advantage of 1T is being wasted due to higher latencies. On a couple of our review boards we could also run DDR2800 at 4-4-4-15 1T but the 3-3-3-13/9 2T setting provided better memory bandwidth and lower latencies overall. We are still testing various memory settings as each board has been a little a different in optimizations made by each supplier. We will have a separate review on EPP and Memory settings for AM2 in the near future.


    Again, I appreciate the explanation. Not knowing about DDR2 much myself still, I could not have known it when reading the review. It'd have cleared up some misunderstanding if you have mentioned the 1T/2T issues in the review (like above), it'd have helped a ton to understand. I'm sure there are many different traits of DDR2 compared to DDR, without such knowledge I could not help but questioning. Thank you, Gary.

    Still the 1T/2T issue on AM2 is somewhat disappointing. (Not reviewers' fault) I have a bad feeling that AMD's IMC won't be able to handle 1T for DIMMs faster than DDR2-800, even with future revision. :( For entire lifespan of Socket 939, they couldn't get 4 sticks to run @1T timing.. (except a couple going-around of DFI's)



    Reply
  • lopri - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    quote:

    Our Corsair or OCZ PC8500 sticks will run at 3-3-3-9 2T at 800 with a small voltage increase to 2.2V easily although the memory is rated at 5-5-5-15 2T. I am working on a single versus dual channel DDR2 article at this time, cutting to the chase, single channel DDR2 with fast timings will provide up to 98% of the performance of dual channel DDR2 under the same conditions. It might be something to think about when looking at $350~$500 DDR2 2GB kits.


    Also if this is true, it's an absolutely fantastic news. Please let us know the detail as soon as you can. Thank you.
    Reply
  • DigitalFreak - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    quote:

    ATI did not need to develop a new chipset for the new Socket AM2. Why then has it been so difficult for ATI to have AM2 chipsets ready for launch?


    Maybe they didn't need to develop a new North bridge, but the South bridge is another matter. With ULi supplies drying up, it would have been extremely stupid to use the SB450 yet again.
    Reply
  • Myrandex - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    It was stated that the ATI solution was better tahn the ULI and less than Nvidia, however in the graphs it was less than both, although very close to ULI.
    Jason
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    The statement is correct. Going back to review notes there was a typo in the chart creation which has now been corrected. USB throughput for SB600 is 241.6 and not 231.6 as shown in the earlier chart. Reply
  • Alyster - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    I just wonder if SB600 will be available on 939 boards in future. I'm going to purchase ATI based MSI-RS482M4-ILD mATX motherboard with SB450 and may be I should wait untill they start offering SB600 on mATX boards. Any suggestions? Thanks Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    As we understand it, SB600 is not pin-compatible with SB450, so it is not a drop-in for the older chip. We therefore think it is unlikely you should wait for a board redesign on an older 939 board. Any new 939 boards - and there may be some if the market wants them - will likely use SB600. Reply

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