VIA Apollo Pro 133: A Camino Previewby Anand Lal Shimpi on August 16, 1999 6:03 AM EST
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There are two types of successful people, those that climb their way to the top and slow down once they reach there, and those that never stop climbing. Intel has been enjoying the fruits of success for the past few years by being a company that climbed their way to the top with the power and finesse that we've come to expect from Intel. Unfortunately, after turning around to see the competition nowhere near the mountain Intel had just climbed, the company then began to slow down and thus gave room for a number of companies to step in and obtain some of the territory Intel had spent years on gaining and securing.
On the desktop microprocessor side of the mountain, AMD, with the recent release of their Athlon processor, has taken the lead over Intel in terms of producing a more advanced, architecturally, processor. And more relevant to the topic at hand, VIA Technologies is attempting to jump the gun on Intel's release of their Camino (820) chipset with the first Slot-1/Socket-370 chipset with official support for the 133MHz Front Side Bus (FSB), the Apollo Pro 133.
VIA's first real attempt at going head to head with Intel in the Slot-1 arena was with the Apollo Pro chipset. The Apollo Pro chipset was actually announced during the days of the Pentium Pro as the first non-Intel Socket-8 chipset, however the first time the chipset really made it into the eyes of the public was at Fall Comdex '98.
The situation was quite funny actually, at the time VIA was engaged in a court battle with Intel over the rights to manufacturer a chipset that supported the Pentium II's GTL+ bus. Because of the legal entanglements, VIA couldn't advertise their own Slot-1/Socket-370 chipset solution at Comdex, so in VIA's massive booth at Comdex in the Pentium II motherboard display all references to the VIA chipset in the specs of the motherboards displayed were covered up by a piece of tape just prior to the opening day of Comdex. Just a couple days later, VIA re-announced the Apollo Pro chipset after obtaining the legal rights to do so under the name Apollo Pro Plus. The Apollo Pro Plus, albeit a separate chipset (VT82C693) was essentially the Apollo Pro chipset with official support for Socket-370 platforms as well as Slot-1 platforms.
By this time, the Apollo Pro had made its way into the hands of some reviewers and had already proved itself much better at dealing with newer AGP cards than its Super7 counterpart, the MVP3. The Apollo Pro Plus was no different, the chipset featured the same compatibility list as the Intel BX but from the end user's perspective, full compatibility was an unspoken expectation. You don't normally find yourself purchasing a BX board and wondering whether or not it's going to work with your TNT2, and for the same reason VIA wanted to make sure that the end user could not tell the difference between the Apollo Pro Plus and the Intel BX, at least in a negative connotation.