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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  • LoneWolf15 - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    Not that anyone will necessarily do so, but will RD580 support the building of Socket 939 boards as well? Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    RD580 socket 939 boards have already been made -- well, at least one of them has been made. http://www.anandtech.com/mb/showdoc.aspx?i=2752">DFI CFX3200-DR It is doubtful that we will see many more socket 939 boards using the chipset, since AM2 is basically going to replace socket 939 as fast as AMD can make it happen. Reply
  • LoneWolf15 - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    On Page 1, the table for the RD580 shows (8) SATA2 ports and dual-gig ethernet. The board specs on page two on the other hand, show 4 SATA2 ports, and single gig ethernet, but only if a PHY (i.e., Marvel or someone else) is used.

    Apparently ATI has added 4 additional SATA ports via Silicon image on the reference board; but I don't call that a feature of RD580. What am I missing here? The table on page 1 seems to contradict what is listed on page 2.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    We agree with you. The chipset has 4 SATA2 ports and the extra 4 ports come from 3132 Silicon Image controllers. I will try to edit the image. Reply
  • LoneWolf15 - Friday, June 02, 2006 - link

    Thanks. Also, what about FireWire? I think your article said that neither nVidia nor ATI has native Firewire (additional VIA/other vendor chipset required), but RD480 and RD580 are listed on your opening table as having 1/2 Firewire ports respectively. Reply
  • Stele - Friday, June 02, 2006 - link

    I think the opening table is just a platform chart that divides the target markets of each chipset. On the first column is the target price range of a certain motherboard range. The second column identifies which chipset is meant to cover that particular range. The third column then explains the primary target market for that particular range. Lastly the right-most column briefly describes the features such a motherboard in that particular range should have. Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, June 02, 2006 - link

    You are correct, Stele. With that said I now think a better way to handle this and remove confusion is to go back to the original chart and clarify that this is recommendations in the text. Thanks. Reply
  • Stele - Friday, June 02, 2006 - link

    Oh you're welcome. Looks like our replies to him were posted at the same time :P
    Yes I think that's a great idea, otherwise after all the editing you're not going to have very much on that chart anymore! Soon we'll have people saying "$250 for a chipset? Then what's the motherboard going to cost??" ;)
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Friday, June 02, 2006 - link

    The feature chart is from ATI literature and was a listing of recommended configurations for various market segments. I have changed the SATA and Gigabit LAN and will remove the Firewire, since it is not chipset specific for either nVidia or ATI. There is an excellent VIA Firewire controller on the Reference board, though we would rather see Firewire 800 which is very fast but disappearing from new board introductions. Reply
  • Stele - Friday, June 02, 2006 - link

    quote:

    ...we would rather see Firewire 800 which is very fast but disappearing from new board introductions


    Probably because of

    1) poor OS support - even Microsoft noted that Vista would not support 1394b at launch
    2) poor device support - the majority of appliances and peripherals seem to be quite happy at 1394a with no signs of an imminent and/or major switchover to 1394b

    so motherboard manufacturers probably thought "what the heck" and decided to keep costs low for now by sticking to the 1394a controllers, which are likely cheaper than their 1394b counterparts. Furthermore, the 1394a solutions are tried and tested, hence they also avoid unpleasant design surprises that may require time and effort to redesign around... resources which could be better used elsewhere for now.
    Reply

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