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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  • bschuler2004 - Sunday, February 08, 2004 - link

    Can't wait to see these on Ebay and QVC.

    "Get a PCI-Express computer for just $299", of course they won't mention it comes with an Nvidia 440MX AGP card.

    What a mistake. Ripoffs are sure to be common.



    Reply
  • wrong - Friday, February 06, 2004 - link

    A really big disk controller could probably saturate 1x, making 2x or 4x desirable. 2x doesn't seem to have popped up much, though. Reply
  • TrogdorJW - Wednesday, February 04, 2004 - link

    Epic, they've demonstrated a DVD-RW on SATA, but are they available to the public for purchase? I don't think they are, yet.

    Coreyfro, you can be pretty confident that the x16 and x4 options on the Northbridges will be one each. Graphics are the only thing that could conceivably use x16 right now, and Gb Ethernet is the only thing that would possibly benefit from x4. Since x1 is actually 250 MB/s, Gb Ethernet is actually quite capable of using that. I suppose 10 Gb Ethernet could use the x4 port? (Yeah... I'm sure we'll all be using that any day now.)
    Reply
  • epicstruggle - Sunday, February 01, 2004 - link

    captante, here is a link to a press release from philips and the serial ata group

    http://www.serialata.org/news/press-releases/Phili...

    they have made a dvd-rw drive with a sata interface,

    later,
    epic
    Reply
  • lexxmac - Sunday, February 01, 2004 - link

    Will the new south bridges still have legacy PCI? Anybody know what the difference between the 8237 and 8237CE is? Any info about the north to south links? Reply
  • Captante - Sunday, February 01, 2004 - link

    epicstruggle... I've yet to read or hear about any type of optical drive that will use SATA..if you have please post the link to the info, as I would be very interested, but as far as I know SATA is only being used for hard-drives at the moment. Reply
  • epicstruggle - Sunday, February 01, 2004 - link

    Im just curious when we will dump the P-ATA channels and have all optical drives be seriel. Any ideas out there?

    later,
    epic
    Reply
  • Cygni - Sunday, February 01, 2004 - link

    Serioualy, take what you can get... Reply
  • Coreyfro - Saturday, January 31, 2004 - link

    They listed how many PCI-EX x1 ports the south bridge can have, but what about the northbridge? Howmany x4 ports can it have? x16? do the x16 and the x4 ports connect to the same switch? Can the x16, say, be carved up in to two x8 ports?

    I don't think these are limitations of PCI-EX, but are they limitations of the chipset?

    Pretty crappy article if you ask me. If Intel and Via had all this info to offer, why not just have a PCI-EX article and give us a low down on the whole damn technology instead of giving these two fragments of stories...
    Reply
  • wrong - Saturday, January 31, 2004 - link

    We have no data on the northbridge-southbridge interface. That's a significant omission. Reply

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