CrossFire Xpress 3200: RD580 for AM2

by Wesley Fink on 6/1/2006 12:05 AM EST
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  • Saist - Friday, June 02, 2006 - link

    to quote

    "short life for AM2 dominance before the launch of Conroe"

    Um. Anandtech, if you actually do believe that Conroe's performance numbers are going to hold up in multithreaded applications that exceed 4megabytes of cache data, I think you need to redo you're calculations. After intel's showing of Conroe behind closed doors during E3, I think you should also be aware that the performance numbers are not adding up. Intel might finally be competitive, but even when Intel chips have been competitive in the past, AMD chips have won on price. AM2 may not be the only game in town come this fall, but to say it has a short life? Makes me wonder if you actually bothered even asking the game developers what they are getting out of the processors.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, June 02, 2006 - link

    ...multithreaded applications that exceed 4megabytes of cache data..."

    We believe in real world testing. I'm sure there will be applicaitons where AMD still comes out ahead, but synthetic scenarios don't really count. If http://techreport.com/etc/2006q2/woodcrest/index.x...">Intel wins in encoding tests, 3D rendering, gaming, office... and loses in a few specific benchmarks that require lots of memory and low latency RAM access, does it really mean AMD is competitive? I mean, there are still a few specific scenarios where P4 can beat A64, but you don't see us trumpeting those as being representative.

    What it comes down to is what most people will get out of each platform, and so far it's looking like a pretty clean sweep for Core Duo 2. Woodcrest vs. Opteron in HPC applications might be a different story (I doubt it), but that's really only relevant if you're running server workloads. As far as pricing, http://images.dailytech.com/nimage/1556_large_conr...">last I saw the $300+ prices of dual core AMD chips are going to have a difficult time competing with $185-$225 Intel chips. Overclocks are also looking promising as well, so a $185 chip running 2.8 GHz will be a force to be reconned with.
    Reply
  • R3MF - Friday, June 02, 2006 - link

    can you tell me the what and the when of this amzing revelation? Reply
  • Slaimus - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    quote:

    In the end, if you want ATI CrossFire video you must choose ATI AM2 and if you want NVIDIA SLI you must choose NVIDIA nForce5.


    You can run CrossFire on 975X as well. It should be a competitive platform once the new CPUs come out.
    Reply
  • Axbattler - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    Umm, the article made no mention of the Sil3132 performance on the A8R32-MVP, which I believe is bugged. Reply
  • Trisped - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    http://www.anandtech.com/mb/showdoc.aspx?i=2767&am...">http://www.anandtech.com/mb/showdoc.aspx?i=2767&am...
    First chart, #1 is the Silicon Image 3132 SATA2 (ATI) performance rating.
    Reply
  • Axbattler - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    I saw that. But if you look at the second graph, the performance of the Sil 3132 in the MSI board is considerably worse than in the ATI reference board.

    That is still quite usable, but the one from the Asus A8R32-MVP is basically unusable (slower than what modern drives are capable).
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    We retested Sil3132 on the ATI and some other controllers for this review, and the other 3132 data should have been deleted. Now corrected. We are not aware of the 3132 issue with the A8R32-MVP. The Sil3132 is one of the best SATA2 controllers on the market, and it is a much better performer than the Sil3114. Reply
  • Axbattler - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    The result does shown in the review does suggest a solid performance from the Sil3132 controller. However, this is what I have been experiencing:
    - http://img267.imageshack.us/my.php?image=burst4dh....">http://img267.imageshack.us/my.php?image=burst4dh.... (Sil controller)
    - http://img71.imageshack.us/my.php?image=burst27ja....">http://img71.imageshack.us/my.php?image=burst27ja.... (ULi controller)

    Two motherboard bioses were tested (0311, 0404), as well as all the drivers from 1.0.9.0 (bundled with the motherboard installation CD, to the latest 1.0.16.0

    The poor HDTach performance is reflected in real world application too, gaming loading, file copying are all slowed down to horrendous level.

    I believe that Gary was able to replicate this issue (not sure if he eventually found a way around it), although I suppose that based on the result of the other board, it is an issue specific Asus board (perhaps the A8R32-MVP). Is there any chance you could run a test to confirm this?
    Very few people in forums that I've visited use the Sil controller, perhaps due to the positioning of the SATA socket (which is actually optimal to where my Raptor is installed: on a 5.25" drive bay).
    Reply
  • Trisped - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    ATI AM2.jpg is a bit blurry when blown up. You might want to set the camera on the highest quality setting so that doesn’t happen.

    quote:

    CPU Clock Multiplier 4x-25x in 0X increments
    0X looks like a typo

    Why did the Audio Performance charts not have any NVIDIA solutions?
    Reply
  • 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
  • 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
  • Stele - Friday, June 02, 2006 - link

    Odd that the board uses two 3132s to provide the extra 4 ports - probably for logistic and pricing reasons (easier to stock and better economy of scale when buying 2x one chip compared to 2 different chips).

    I say it's 'odd' because the 3132 was specifically designed to work with port multipliers, specifically their SiI 3726 1-to-5 drive multiplier. The 3132 thus has only 2 ports to save space and costs (for customers who only need 2, e.g. laptops). In this motherboard's case, instead of having two 3132s giving 4 ports, you could use one 3132 and one 3726 to provide (1 + 5 =) 6 extra SATA ports via the 3132, bringing the total number of SATA ports on the motherboard to 10.

    Indeed, this would probably be a useful combination: 4 from the SB600, 4/5 from the 3726 and the remaining 1/2 routed to the back as eSATA. For routing simplicity, I suspect board designers may keep all the ports from the 3726 in one cluster near the IC and hence as internal SATA, leaving the 3132's other channel available for eSATA.

    While we're on the SATA question, I'd like to ask if anyone has any confirmation about the RAID levels supported by the SB600. This is because on pg 2 of the AT review, it mentions in the diagram that SB600 supports, inter alia, RAID 5. However, on pg 3, the table does not list RAID 5 among the supported RAID levels.

    I then went to ATi's website to check out their own pages on the SB600. Interestingly enough, there was the same problem - the diagram was also there, showing RAID 5, but their own spec sheet does not mention RAID 5 either! So does the SB600 support RAID 5 or doesn't it? :P
    Reply
  • Chadder007 - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    I wish ATI and NVidia would get off of this Dual Card setup crap and get their act together and make a Single Dual Core video card, in the way Dual Core Processors are being made now. Reply
  • Trisped - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    That would be nice, but the power drain and heat dissipation problems would be un real. Then people would still want a dual card solution. I can see it now, you need a 1K power supply for your video cards and one for the rest of your system. Your video cards take up 6 slots and have fans that sound like a 1960s sports car. Your CPU has 4 cores and everything is over clocked 25-50%. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    There have actually been several dual GPU cards released in the past, although all of them still require SLI motherboards in order to function. (The SLI requirement is due to NVIDIA's drivers requiring an SLI chipset in order to function.) As far as making dual core GPU -- like the Pentium D, Athlon X2, Core Duo, etc. -- there's actually no point in doing so. Graphics functions are essentially infinitely parallel, so rather than making a dual core G70, they could just make a 48/16/32 (pixel pipelines/vertex pipelines/ROPs) chip instead. Of course, that would require something like 600 million transistors, so until we start getting GPUs made on 65 nm aren't likely to see such a design (or anything close to it). Reply
  • peternelson - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link


    On MAJOR difference not covered is in useable PCIE lanes.

    The review talks about

    x16 graphics
    x16 graphics
    no useable pci remain on the reference board
    1x pcie
    1x pcie

    whereas the nvidia 590 solution offers much more including pcix4.
    This is important for people who want to stick in extra raid controllers or specialist cards.

    It would be good to highlight this shortcoming and whether it is purely down to the reference motherboard design or to the chipset not supporting as many lanes as the 590.

    Also you mention that nvidia are working on putting both x16 in some future northbride (which will be nice). Can you give any hints as to timing, naming, or if this will be dubbed "nforce 6"
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    We are expecting a bit more information and we will then add this to our comparison chart.

    ATI RD580 AM2 has 40 PCIe Lanes - 32 for 2 x16 slots, 4 for interconnect between North and South bridge and 4 available for x1 x2, x4 slot(s). In addition the SB600 supports 6 PCI slots.

    nVidia has 46 PCIe lanes available with 9 links.
    Reply
  • psychobriggsy - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    This review says there is GigE in SB600, with a PCIe attached PHY.

    It also says that nVidia's dual GigE is via PCIe attached PHYs. PHYs do not connect via PCIe, they connect to a GigE controller (whereever it is located).

    In the case of nVidia, the southbridge has two GigE controllers integrated. In the case of SB600, there is no GigE controller, you attach it via PCIe x1, allowing you to use decent controllers, or crappy realtek controllers (making motherboard purchases have another thing to check).
    Reply
  • Stele - Friday, June 02, 2006 - link

    quote:

    allowing you to use decent controllers, or crappy realtek controllers


    That's probably what ATi's thinking. There are pros and cons to both nVidia's ondie MAC and SB5600's lack of ondie MAC. By having no controller on the SB600, the chip cost is reduced while motherboard manufacturers have complete freedom to choose whichever controller they would like to include - Marvell, Realtek, etc. and single- or dual-port.

    The only downside is that you'd need extra real-estate on the motherboard, though arguably it's not that big a deal, especially if controllers with built-in MAC and PHY are used. After all, for dual-port networking capabilities that has server-like features like teaming and fail-over, manufacturers can just use such products as the very attractive Marvell 88E8062 PCIe x4 dual-port GbE controller - which some motherboards like the Asus P5WDG2-WS already do.

    Indeed, I'm hoping (dreaming?) that at least one of the top motherboard brands would use this controller in their RD580 solutions, but the fact that the controller is likely going to be quite expensive, along with the perceived lack of the need for such a high-end component would probably kill that idea.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    BOTH the ATI and nForce 590 use PHYs that connect to the chip and communicate over a PCIe lane. We were merely differentiating that the Gigabit LAN in both cases communicated over PCIe and was not connected to PCI. nVidia has 2 Gigabit PHY connections, while ATI has 1 Gigabit PHY connection. Reply
  • peternelson - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    He's right, the PHY (external or internal) connects to the MAC, which is subsequently connected to the pcie lanes. No pcie goes to any Gbe PHY. Reply
  • peternelson - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link


    a) Don't keep saying that GBethernet performance is just for bragging rights because broadband is only 100Mbps tops!

    GBE is great for peer to peer lan gaming, for network backup of files or communicating with a fileserver, or for streaming media files.

    b) The competitor to Crossfire Xpress 3200 is Nvidia 590 ie Nforce 5 not nforce 4.

    Repeated comparisons with nforce4 are thus irrelevant. eg networking, usb, sata performance.

    c) Usb performance of nvidia is NOT equal to ATI, it is OVER 20% faster than ATI.

    d) I suspect that although you hype up Intel's CSA architecture, that a GOOD pcie implementation might give better performance.

    If so the remote machine in your networking tests could be bottlenecking the test, which would explain why the high results all flatline at virtually the same.

    Repeat with a high end card (like myrinet 10GE on 8x pcie or at least a good pcie 1gbps target to establish if I'm right or not). If so stop using CSA cards.

    Say if you are using direct wiring or a switch in your network tests.

    Configure the nvidia 2xgbe lan in teaming, and bounce it at another 2xgbe in teaming mode. What is your speed and cpu performance then?

    It's unfair to compare cpu at high network traffic to cpu at low network traffic.

    You should be using net test against nforce 5. AND turn ON the hardware offload for a true comparison.

    e) to benchmark the SATA II properly, are you maxing all ports or just testing against one hard drive as I suspect. The raid performance may differ significantly from a single drive. In any case also compare with a high end raid card like Areca 1260 to show how lame chipset solutions are in comparison.

    f) The review summary should highlight that against the rival 590, the 590 has two more sata and an extra Gbe port.

    g) Since ATI cross fire and nvidia sli are not interchangeable (I wish they were), the choice of chipset is more down to graphics preference, which for me at the moment gives nvidia an advantage.

    h) So you have discussed ATI and Nvidia chipsets. WHAT ABOUT INTEL? ie a review of the similar generation Intel 965 chipset on some equivalent processor would tell if they are a valid competitor eg in terms of SATA, USB throughput speeds.

    i) Also you are not mentioning the speed boosting (auto overclocking) Nvidia offers on a fully nvidia platform. ATI does not appear to have an equivalent feature. On the otherhand the manual overclocking capabilities seem to be there.

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

    A) The only time you will ever get enough network traffic in a LAN game to saturate a 1Gb/s connection is if you are running a server for over 100 PCs. Most games are designed for online multi player, which means the MAX they will use for standard game play is 6Mb/s from host to client and 512 Kb/s from client to host. With so many people still on 56k and cheep DSL (1.5Mb/s DL and 128 Kb/s) that is a bit generous. So even with 100 computers using the 6Mb/s by 512Kb/s connection speeds you will still not saturate a 1Gb/s duplex connection. Plus, with that many connected computers you would be hard pressed to find a powerful enough processor and enough RAM (that works in an nForce 500 board) to drive a server receiving that much data.

    B) Yes, they didn’t have enough nForce 500 stats, but if you read the review of nForce 500 you would find
    quote:

    In truth nForce 500 is much more evolutionary in nature, with performance that is almost a dead ringer for the current nForce4 chipset. This is not really a surprise since we have not heard or seen anything that characterized nForce 500 as a new core logic.
    Which implies that there is no performance increase. Yes it would be nice to have the actual numbers, but since they just released the nForce 500 stats they probably didn’t have any boards available when doing that part of the testing. Plus, since the ATI board was a reference, they may have asked that AT not compare it to the nForce till actual boards are available.

    C) Actually the nForce4 is 16.4% faster, or the ATI SB600 is14.2% slower, but the ATI solution is noticeably slower, but not 20%. It should also be noted that the only other SB USB controller tested was the ULi 1575 which has pretty much the same performance as the SB600.

    D) True the results max out at about 950Mb/s but they are still progressing, so max bandwidth has not been reached. Also, the fact that you can get to 5% of a theoretical max transferee rate is amazing enough when you consider USB and Fire Wire are at 61% and 57% of their theoretical max transfer speeds. And don’t think that using a 10Gb card is going to fix the problem. The 10Gb card will just switch to 1Gb mode when connected to a network were the lowest devices is 1Gb, unless you connect it to a switch which would have to buffer everything, clean up, reformat, and retransmit it meaning that you would risk testing max speed of the router, rather then the max speed of the server. I think, if anything, these tests are becoming obsolete. Before they were important because not all Gb Ethernet connections were the same. Some were PCI, some were PCIe, some were well done, some were quite poor. Now that we are seeing that both ATI and NVIDIA solutions are performing very close to the max possible it doesn’t seem likely that a .02% difference is going to be all that important to anyone.

    E) Yes, RAID performance will differ, but most people do not have a RAID setup, so AT keeps it simple. I would like to voice my support for comprehensive RAID testing though. It is important to know if you are buying a board that has poor RAID 5 or JBOD performance. I would also like to see what kind of transferee rates we could get out of a Raptor RAID as compared to other, more economic solutions.

    F) I can see the 2 SATA ports, but the 590 only had 6, where the ATI reference board had 4+4, making the matter more complicated. AT was probably waiting for real boards to test before comparing something with such high potential to not be a point. The extra Gb Ethernet port is useless for everyone expect the small server market.

    G) They pointed out the Crossfire/SLI exclusivness in the review. They have also pointed out that for half of the games tested the Crossfire solution was better then SLI, and the other half the situation was reversed. Since the 7900GTX costs $460+ with most closer to $500 and the X1900XT for $420+ (most around $460) and the X1900XTX at $470+ with most around $500 ATI is the better solution for the $. AT also encourages you to buy ATI because they want to encourage competition. If people keep buying NVIDIA just because they like it prices on NVIDIA cards will go up while innovation stagnates (just like what the iPod has done)/

    H) Yes, a new Intel bench mark would be nice, but Intel doesn’t make AMD boards.

    I) Yes they did, as noted in this review and the one for the auto overclocking, there is barely any benefit. In this review they pointed out,
    quote:

    If you're new you might also choose the NVIDIA "LinkBoost" - overclocking for the common man - but just be aware that the items LinkBoost overclocks have almost no effect on performance at all. In fact, we find it just as easy to get great overclocks on the ATI leaving most choices at "Auto" as we do on the fanciest NVIDIA 590 chipset AM2.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    As we stated in the nF5 review, in comments, and in followup to questions on the nF5 launch review, the CORE of nf5 is the same as nF4. This is why feature performance of SATA, USB, and other items is exactly the same as nF4 - including some issues with nF4. We were not favoring ATI by using nF4 scores in some of our feature charts. The fact is the results for nF4 and nF5 are the SAME on those particular features.

    Surely if you consider that the sounth "chip" is the same C51 that was used in nForce4 dual X16, it should be obvious that basic performance is the same. It was also shown by anyone that reviewed 590 that "LinkBoost" makes almost no difference at all in performance. To me LinkBoost matters because nForce 590 can now do almost 1500 HTT or more across the board - which means you don't have to lower from 5X HT until well above 300 clock speed. That is a feature that was already there in RD580 939 and is continued in RD580 AM2.
    Reply
  • Spoelie - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    a) peer to peer GAMING does not even need 10mbps. Only file serving in memory or raid can reach the ceiling of GBE cards.
    b) I agree that the nforce 5 seems to be missing in some comparison graphs.
    c) What I would like to see as well is cpu usage during USB transferring, how does it compare to Firewire (is a usb2.0 connection to hd preferred or firewire?)
    d) The speeds are at about their theoretical ceiling, what difference is an extra 1-2mbps gonna make in the end? The 2xGBE is not gonna be of any use to any home desktop. 1GBE is hardly getting used. Didn't hardware offloading prevent firewalls to be used?

    f) The review is of the reference board and not a shipping one. The difference is already highlighted earlier in the review. It doesn't matter tho if shipping boards provide the extra sata en gbe controllers, equalising or surpassing the 590 feature set.
    g) The x1900xt is faster than the 7900gtx in most scenarios, tho the difference isn't huge. Besides, this was already highlighted in the summary.
    h) How about you ask that question again when Intel MAKES AN AMD CHIPSET! This is comparing chipsets for the AM2 platform, and last I checked, Intel isn't a competitor there.
    i) You clearly haven't read the article.
    Reply
  • peternelson - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link


    a) well a lan gaming SERVER might have that much traffic going to EACH lan client.

    My own interest is in computational cluster interconnect, or network rendering of graphics/3D. Such apps can use it.

    Even a gamer playing Half life might want to be saving his DVB tv card stream onto a NAS storage device, or download some new linux distro in the background, thus multiple apps use the network interface. With virtualisation, such multiple uses could become more widespread.

    c) Firewire and usb2 are both slow compared to ESATA. Firewire should be used for DV camcorders, and usb2 for peripherals like printers. Neither are preffered for disk as usb is HALF duplex, and firewire has troubles if you put multiple devices on one channel.

    d) 2GBE would help my clustering and rendering. There may also be some future NAS with 2xgbe in teaming which would increase storage to pc bandwidth.

    I would be using hardware firewall anyway, but I think in future a software workaround may come for that ie purposely written for the NF5.

    f) agreed, but if ati can add more features externally, so can nvidia. I am just thinking of comparing what is built in.

    g) gpus of ati and nvidia leapfrog each other on each subsequent launch. At the moment I personally am liking NV for the generation I would buy into.

    h) True, Intel are unlikely to ever make a chipset for an amd processor. BUT I mean compare how good is usb, sataraid etc in Intel. If it is say double that means ATI and nvidia have scope to improve up to that level.
    Reply
  • Missing Ghost - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    e-SATA is half duplex too (like almost all hdd interfaces except SAS), but I agree that it's the way to go. Anybody that would use USB 2.0 as an HDD interface does not know much about HDD interfaces. Reply
  • Stele - Friday, June 02, 2006 - link

    quote:

    Anybody that would use USB 2.0 as an HDD interface does not know much about HDD interfaces.

    or can't find an eSATA case where he/she is, and/or has other PCs/laptops on which the external HDD is also used but which don't have eSATA ports, and/or simply can't afford eSATA cases.

    Careful with sweeping statements ;)

    Having said that, USB is a bad choice for external HDDs. Until eSATA becomes more commonplace, Firewire is still arguably the better option in terms of overall price/performance/availability for now.
    Reply
  • lopri - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    I've raised this issue a couple times at the forum, but it didn't get much opinions - I'm guessing it's because of general lack of interest in AM2 platform. So I'd like to hear from AT staff - Wesley, Jared, Gary, anyone please.

    Q.1 In comparison of Socket 939 vs Socket AM2, why are DDR400 DIMMs used for Socket 939 platforms? I understand you guys are using very fast timing (2-2-2) and 1GB sticks, but I think the majority of Socket 939 users still have 512MB sticks. More than anything, I doubt many AMD "enthusiasts" run their memory @200MHz/2-2-2. Think about how many memory/motherboard reviews AT have conducted. They are countless. TCCD sticks running 270MHz+ @2.5-3-3 timing are very common. Even decent timing DDR500 1GB sticks (like 2.5-3-2/3-3-2) can be purchased for very, very low prices. I myself have 2 Socket 939 rigs, and the main one has 2 x 1G Infineon sticks running DDR500/2.5-3-2-6, and the second one has 2 x 512MB TCC5 sticks running DDR600/2.5-3-3-7 (2.5-4-3-7 for 3D). Wouldn't it be fair and more realistic, if you compare more common DDR configuration to DDR2 configuration? We've had manufacturers pumping out PC3700, PC4000, PC4200, PC4800, etc. memory sets for years.

    2. This boggs another very serious question. Have you check the prices of decent DDR2-800 sticks? I myself did for the first time today using RTPE, and they raised my eyebrows. Basically DDR2-800 @3-3-3 SPD (or even EPP) is non-existent. And DDR2-800 @4-4-4 sticks are incredibly expensive. Before, I never paid attention to DDR2 like many here, and just assumed they should be cheap considering how long they have been out there. Boy, was I wrong. I'd say sticks like what this review used (DDR2-800/3-3-3) would cost near $500. That's insane.

    3. Also, I noticed in the review that even with such uber sticks - 2T?! What's up with that? Is it the AM2 CPU, or the RD580, or Cosair? In the past, AT's memory/motherboard reviews always checked the command rate for us along with overclocking. But I didn't find any explanation on this (just a small footnote(?) in a table) What is(are) the limitation(s)? Can you at least run DDR2-667 @1T or all current AM2 platform can only run 2T regardless of memory speed? If you can indeed run memory @1T with reduced speed, what'd be the trade-offs and performance difference?

    Wesley's reviews are among my favorites on AT and in the past I used to be impressed by his clear (but through) explanation. But this review seems to have too many holes (whcich rather look intentional?) to just skip to next pages.

    Other than my above rant (again, I believe there probably were reasons why the reviews should have been written the way it has been), this review is absolutley superb. I've been waiting for ATI's competitive chipset (NV is getting way too big) and hopefully they can make up their lateness with the quality. Personally I'm waiting for DFI's incarnation of RD580 AM2 motherboard.

    Thanks again for hard work, Wesley. (and Jared/Gary)
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    quote:

    Q.1 In comparison of Socket 939 vs Socket AM2, why are DDR400 DIMMs used for Socket 939 platforms?

    We were doing our best to equalize the components and settings between the two platforms. This was done to show the absolute best performance of each platform during the initial chipset testing. As far as showing additional settings we can certainly look at those results in a separate article.

    quote:

    2. This boggs another very serious question. Have you check the prices of decent DDR2-800 sticks?

    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.

    quote:

    3. Also, I noticed in the review that even with such uber sticks - 2T?! What's up with that?

    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.

    Thanks...
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    It's worth mentioning that 2-2-2-7 1T DDR-400 ends up having slightly worse latencies than 4-4-4-14 2T DDR2-800 -- and I intentionally chose latencies that were exactly double. With the faster base clock speed, DDR2-800 has identical net latencies (2 cycles @ 200 MHz ~= 4 cycles @ 400 MHz) but a higher bandwidth, putting it on top. If you throw 3-3-3-9 2T into the equation, DDR2 clearly comes out on top in overall performance. (You would basically need 1.5-1.5-1.5-4.5 1T DDR-400 memory to match it, which obviously doesn't exist.)

    That doesn't mean we recommend you drop everything and go out and upgrade to socket AM2 *right now*, but if you're planning on buying a completely new system anyway you might as well go with the new platform. Our testing components are chosen in order to maximize longevity of the testing platform, and we once again don't recommend you go out and spend $500 on memory if you're building a typical PC. If you're planning on getting an FX-62 and a couple top-performing graphics cards to go with it, then you'll probably want the best memory available as well, in which case this Corsair RAM is great stuff.

    Your comments earlier about memory speeds (i.e. why do we use DDR-400 with 2-2-2-7 1T timings) are basically looking at overclocked systems. We haven't really gotten into the details of how the systems overclock right now, but the availability of very fast DDR2 memory definitely changes things. My experience so far is that most of the AM2 motherboards are easily breaking 300 MHz HyperTransport speeds, and you can do all that without sacrificing memory timings.

    Take care,
    Jarred Walton
    Reply
  • lopri - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    Most of responses below my post didn't read my points. I'll be paitently waiting for AT staff's responses. In the meantime, you guys can check:

    http://www.anandtech.com/memory/showdoc.aspx?i=267...">http://www.anandtech.com/memory/showdoc.aspx?i=267...
    http://www.anandtech.com/memory/showdoc.aspx?i=239...">http://www.anandtech.com/memory/showdoc.aspx?i=239...

    And the sub-reviews. If DDR400(2-2-2) are DDR600(2.5-3-3), I guess all those memory reviews on AT were wasting of time?

    Ahe here is the DIMM sticks this review used for AM2 platform.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82...">http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82...

    Oh that's not it. While searching, I found that decent DDR2-800 would cost >$250, and higher speed/same timing or same speed/timing sticks will (if you were to buy) dig a big hole in your packet. (think $500) Is that mainstream? What about the 1T issue??

    The top of the line Socket 939 vs Socket AM2 comparison could be something like this:

    2 x 512MB: DDR600 with 2.5-3-3-7 (less thanl $150) vs DDR2-800 with 3-3-3 ($500) or,
    2 x 1GB: DDR500 with 2.5-3-2-7 (less than $200) vs DDR200-800 with 4-4-4 ($250)

    Think about how mwny mobo/memory reviews we've seen here on AT? Why don't we use the knowledge we learned from those founding to compare Socket 939 and Socket AM2?


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

    You need a reality check. Lots of reviews have pointed out that the higher cost of TCCD memory and such is not worth the little extra performance, except if you're a serious overclocker that just really wants to run his mem on 1:1 and need the frequency headroom.

    The common setup out there is not 270-2.5/3/2 or whatever, it is 200-2.5/3/3/8 or even CL3. Especially with the higher density memories like 1GB sticks. THAT is what most persons are running. If anything, the 2/2/2 200 are a bit too high end for the majority of people. And they're also reading AT.
    Reply
  • lopri - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    What you're saying is not totally out of my context. My main meat was towards the reviewers. Does anyone here own a DDR2-800/3-3-3? (Forget about TCCD 270MHz) DO you know how much they are? Indeed, such memory is not even officially out yet. But AT is using those sticks for AM2 system but at the same time for Socket 939 system they use more "pedestrian" DDR400/2-2-2. These days you can by 2 x 1GB DDR400/2-3-2 for under $200.


    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    The Corsair 8500 we used for testing is NOT rated at DDR2-800 3-3-3 - it is actually rated at DDR2-1066 5-5-5-15. The fact is it will run at DDR2-800 3-3-3 with voltage in the 2.1 to 2.2v range. So will most other recent dimms based on Micron memory chips. At stock voltage of 1.8v it runs about 4-4-4-13.

    Where TCCD was capable of DDR400 2-2-2 and DDR500 2.5-2-3 or 2.5-3-3, Micron chips are currently the top-performing chips for DDR2. Infineon also has DDR2 chips that perform at lower latency and they are generally priced more reasonably.

    Our memory articles ALWAYS compare performance at different memory speeds, but 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, though there will likely be a DDR2-1066 speed in the near future.

    When we point out that the massive bandwidth increases in DDR2 on AM2 have almost no impact on performance, surely it is obvious that AM2 is not memory bandwidth starved. We found on DDR that the on-chip memory controller for AMD was very sensitive to latency improvements. In fact hte mad shrimp article unintentionally shows just that - gaming responded more to latency improvement than bandwidth improvement. That will also likely be the case in DDR2 EXCEPT with such a massive increase in bandwidth over DDR, latency may not matter nearly so much. We will take a closer look at htis in a future memory article.
    Reply
  • peternelson - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link


    Price of fast, low latency DDR2 will come down once AMD users start buying it in volume. That will come, so it is not unrealistic to benchmark now using fast expensive highend memory, because it won't be as expensive or uncommon in a month or two or three when boards are in most stores and consumers are buying them in bulk eg for "back to school/college" or "Christmas holidays season" which are when sales peak. Conroe should also improve the market availability for high performance DDR2 memory.

    On the other hand there are reports of far east short-term wholesale prices of ddr2 generally having a rise because of more demand.
    Reply
  • Spoelie - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    http://www.madshrimps.be/?action=getarticle&ar...">http://www.madshrimps.be/?action=getarticle&ar... Reply
  • peternelson - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link


    AMD are moving to AM2 with or without you.

    Get over it.

    You will not be able to get AMD's top performing new models if you stay with 939. Ditto the 65nm processors will also be on AM2.

    939 WILL be phased out sooner or later, and with it goes DDR support.

    Therefore it is somewhat irrelevant question to complain about the speed of the DDR. There won't BE any DDR support going forwards. Make the transition.
    Reply
  • lopri - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    Did you even read my post? What was I saying?
    It has nothing to do with AM2 transition and I have nothing against AM2.
    Reply
  • peternelson - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link


    Yes, the ddr comments relate to your Q1 section, not the DDR2 discussion.

    Sorry if my response seemed overly critical.
    Reply
  • lopri - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    On page 3, in the table

    PCIe Speeds | 100 to 2000 in 1MHz Increments
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    And you thought LinkBoost was fast! ;)

    Typo fixed, thanks.
    Reply
  • Stele - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    A main attraction of HD audio over AC'97 other than 100.1 setups is probably better sound quality. As such, perhaps Anandtech needs to develop a test method and/or utility with which to assess precisely this aspect of motherboards' sound subsystems. Low CPU utilisation is well and good but ultimately it's reaching the point where these figures are fairly meaningless, as this review underscored.

    Instead, besides just testing CPU utilisation, Anandtech could test/measure characteristics such as SNR ratio, THD at a reference frequency etc. at the output ports. The test can then be rounded off with subjective hearing tests through reference speakers or headphones, e.g. for irritating crossover noise from the mouse (A7N8X anyone?) or some other EMI source, and so on.

    That way, we can judge if a motherboard manufacturer's implementation and motherboard design are sound (pun intended) because ultimately, it's about what you hear, not see; an 8.1 with terrific speakers, built in DTS/AC3/etc and other paper-spec niceties isn't going to cut it if the codec was, say, jammed right next to the CPU PWM controller with barely any grounding.
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    quote:

    Instead, besides just testing CPU utilisation, Anandtech could test/measure characteristics such as SNR ratio, THD at a reference frequency etc. at the output ports. The test can then be rounded off with subjective hearing tests through reference speakers or headphones, e.g. for irritating crossover noise from the mouse (A7N8X anyone?) or some other EMI source, and so on.


    We are still debating our "subjective" results and comments for the audio section. However, at some point this summer we will expand our testing to include additional testing outside the CPU utilization and game results.
    Reply
  • Stele - Friday, June 02, 2006 - link

    Subjective is, understandably, subjective. Thus such results are bound to differ depending on the person assessing the product as well as the circumstances under which the test was done. IMHO, it should therefore only play a small part in the extended test, complementing the objective, measured figures which should play the dominant role in an extended audio test.

    Indeed, accurately measuring such performance characteristics (SNR, THD, no-signal background noise level) would probably be more useful because even if the subjective part of the test is completely left out, the figures would generally be a sufficient gauge of the quality of the components and implementation (circuit design, manufacture etc).

    Having said that, the subjective opinions do give the review a human perspective and a broader picture which numbers alone may not fully convey - another good example being noise level measurements. Again, nice to have but won't be fatal without it.

    Just my 2 cents' :)
    Reply
  • Beenthere - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    ...and you can be certain that production mobos will NOT perform as well as the reference mobo. Expect Asus to use a hack design, DFI to have a pretty good design less proper ports, Sapphire to not have a clue at copying the ATI reference mobo, Abit to talk shitza but not deliver, etc. and the prices will be sky high. Ya gotta wonder how much longer people are going to buy crap mobos just because they have a good chipset? Reply
  • Stele - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    Perhaps it's because there're aren't many seriously viable choices - if any - other than the 'crap mobo' brands you listed? The manufacturers know this too, and rest in the relative comfort of the knowledge that since no brand's perfect, buyers aren't likely to suddenly all jump ship in a hurry. They're probably expecting people to grumble and complain, as always, but buy from one of them anyway... as always. Reply
  • xsilver - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    Does ATI have license to product intel chipsets either now or in the future?

    or was their some exclusivity when nvidia made their cross licensing agreement?
    Reply
  • Gary Key - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    quote:

    Does ATI have license to product intel chipsets either now or in the future?


    ATI has been producing Intel compatible chipsets for a few years now and we should see a "RD580" type chipset for Conroe later this summer.
    Reply
  • fzkl - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    Why are the setups using different hard drives? The ATI system has a 16MB buffer whereas the Nvidia system has an 8 MB buffer. Does that contribute to any performance difference? Reply
  • peternelson - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    I spotted that too. I imagine the HD might change the PCMark result. Reply
  • Gary Key - Thursday, June 01, 2006 - link

    Wes's original hard drive met an untimely death during testing. However, the chart is incorrect as the Maxtor drive has a 16MB cache also and in our IPEAK tests the two drives are very comparable if not the same. We did not see any differences in the game scores and PCMark was off about 20 points, well within the margin of error for testing for this application. Reply

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