We were extremely impressed with the performance of the new ATI Radeon Xpress 200 for AMD in Crossfire dual video versions in ATI's Crossfire: Best Overclocker on the Market? and single video versions in Sapphire PURE Innovation - ATI's Chipset for the AMD Enthusiast. The Reference Boards showed the Xpress 200 for AMD to be a top-notch chipset aimed at the enthusiast with performance to match. However, we found an Achilles heel in our initial testing; namely, sub-par UBS 2.0 performance on the ATI SB450 South Bridge and the lack of up-to-date storage features like support for SATA2 and NCQ.

The ULi M1573 South Bridge could be used with the ATI North Bridge to add NCQ and improved USB performance, but the truly competitive South Bridge would not happen until SB600 from ATI early next year or the updated ULi M1575.

ULi apparently saw the potential and we have in our hands today an M1575 Reference Board that claims fully competitive USB 2.0 performance and full SATA2 support with NCQ. We never expected that AnandTech would be reviewing South Bridges, but we will go wherever we need to provide you with the best information and most up-to-date choices available. The South Bridge concerns also become more important as we have confirmation that we will receive ATI Crossfire AMD boards from DFI, ECS, and Asus in the next 10 days.


Click to enlarge.

ULi supplied the M1575 in a single PCIe slot configuration with an ATI RS480 North Bridge and a ULi M1575 South Bridge. The Reference Board was clearly designed for qualification of the M1575 South Bridge only. It does not offer memory timings, voltages, ratios, or any other features in BIOS to truly asses overclocking capabilities. While there are switch blocks on the Reference board with wide voltage adjustments for all the key components, there were no CPU ratio adjustments. For these reasons, our benchmarking will only test the features of the M1575. For additional Information on the performance and overclocking capabilities of the ATI North Bridge, refer to the Crossfire AMD launch article.

Features: ATI RS480/ULi M1575 Reference Board
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  • nlr_2000 - Saturday, October 15, 2005 - link

    quote:

    Finally, we decided to set try a RAM disk
    Reply
  • nlr_2000 - Saturday, October 15, 2005 - link

    It's on page 5. Reply
  • DRavisher - Friday, October 14, 2005 - link

    Just you wait. In a couple of years ATi will finaly figure out how USB works and release a self made southbridge under the slogan "USB done right!", where they will tout their superiority in USB over nvidia, and how important good USB performance from the same company that designed the northbridge is for a company. Reply
  • sprockkets - Friday, October 14, 2005 - link

    why bother with another southbridge? Keep it simple for linux driver support.

    But since video with nvidia is better supported anyhow, might as well just use the 6100 vs the exp 200
    Reply
  • LoneWolf15 - Friday, October 14, 2005 - link

    Good review. I guess for me it all comes down to the same thing though, economics.

    SLI and Crossfire have a high cost. Two video cards, a motherboard that supports them, a power supply that supports them, plus additional cooling. And then within 6-10 months, a new high-end card comes out that's a single-slot solution that can beat previous SLI/Crossfire solutions before it, and since it's single slot, doesn't need the special mainboard.

    I think we'll see in a year, maybe two tops, that vendors will begin implementing either dual-core GPU chips, or two GPU chips on a single PCIe card much more often, making SLI and Crossfire a moot point for all but people who need a high-performance multi-monitor setup. I think SLI and Crossfire are just stopgap solutions until this arrives, and a lot of money to spend when a mid-to-high-end single card will give you what you need for less.
    Reply
  • notposting - Thursday, October 13, 2005 - link

    Don't suppose there's been any word on more motherboard's based on ULi's 1695 North bridge?

    The Asrock looks like a pretty good board, but I when I toss my chips into the 64bit pile I'll be trying to get a top line mobo featurewise, Firewire, SATA2, gigabit Lan, great sound.

    Good to see some competition for Nvidia (and Intel ironically by Nvidia) in the chipset department. Better for us and pushes them (all the manufacturers) harder.
    Reply
  • tuteja1986 - Thursday, October 13, 2005 - link

    My main reason for wanting to buy a ATI chipset at the moment is because of Sata 2 performance and overclocking abilities. I couldn’t care less for USB since I only use a USB mouse, and Joystick that computer. If i really need a fast USB port than i would just buy a cheap $10 PCI USB/Firewire card from my local computer store. Reply
  • Madellga - Thursday, October 13, 2005 - link

    We got an important piece of information provided by Wesley: The Crossfire motherboards are not a paperlaunch due to ATI delays, they were delayed by the OEMs due a last minute change to the ULI1575 chipset.

    It is worth in my opinion the delay, as we can get a truly competitive solution, even if one doesn't need the Crossfire feature.

    I still have a question for Wesley: some say that the ATI/ULI combo chipsets run cooler than Nvidia's. Is that true?
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Thursday, October 13, 2005 - link

    I've had the bare ULi SB running for hours. It's very warm to the touch but not hot - without any heatsink at all. A passive heatsink should be plenty. The ATI RS480 north bridge has a passive heatsink which is completely cool to the touch. The final Crossfir RD482 uses the .11 process compared to the .13 on theis RS480.

    The ATI solution is 2 chips compared to the single-chip nVidia, which may partially account for the extra heat many complain about on the nVidia nF4.

    The ATI chipset delays are a result of several factors - the ULI M1575 being just one. I have been told the chipset has been ready for months, but the video component was a moving target. Final release needed a coordinated Crossfire video and chipset solution, and Crossfire has only recently been solidified to the point of production. The video delays made the chipset late since no manufacturer wanted to launch a new chipset only to face potentail board revisions in a month or two.

    Reply
  • Cygni - Thursday, October 13, 2005 - link

    Not entirly true... the boards NOT using ULi southbridges (using the ATI SB540) arent exactly flooding the market, ya know.

    No, the last minute change simply kept a few major players like ASUS from (not really) launching with the rest of the boards that are using the ATI southbridge.
    Reply

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