About 6 months ago, we reported that ATI would be introducing their first chipset for AMD Athlon 64. Between that first report and today's introduction of the ATI RX480 chipset, a lot has happened. In round 2 of the A64 chipset wars, the industry moved from the single-channel memory Socket 754 to the dual-channel Socket 939. VIA morphed their successful K8T800 chipset into the K8T800 PRO by adding 1000 Hyper Transport and a PCI/AGP lock. nVidia performed a more massive transformation of their nForce3 chipset, moving from the pedestrian nForce3-150 to the leading-edge nForce3-250 family in May. Clearly, the stakes for a new player in the Athlon 64 chipset market went up as Athlon 64 chipsets evolved.

Fast forward just five months and round 3 begins. nVidia and VIA both introduce PCI Express graphics into the Athlon 64 equation. However, the pioneer for discrete PCI Express graphics has been ATI, so it should come as no surprise that ATI is choosing round 3 to launch their first chipset for the AMD Athlon 64 - the RX480 discrete graphics chipset and the sister RS480 with integrated graphics.

In the larger marketplace, ATI has timed this introduction perfectly. Athlon 64 is now the undisputed performance king among processors, and the retail market share has been growing rapidly for the Athlon 64 processors. Looking ahead, the next year is likely to continue to be a great climate for Athlon 64 processors as Intel regroups for their next CPU introductions. AMD is in the process of successfully moving production to 90nm, which will likely allow even further extension of their performance lead. AMD also seems to have avoided the power and heat problems that have plagued Intel's move of the Pentium 4 to 90nm. Microsoft should finally launch the long-awaited 64-bit version of Windows, which will make Athlon 64 ever more attractive.

All of these market developments are good news for the ATI introduction of their first Athlon 64 chipset - if the RX480 can compete effectively with nForce4 and the "as yet unseen" retail K8T890. If the RX480 is competitive or even better than competitive, the introduction of RX480 could be the most significant event of round 3.

The Radeon Xpress Family


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  • Sahrin - Monday, November 8, 2004 - link

    I'm really excited to see another performance player in the AMD chipset market. Ironically, despite the fact that Intel is considered to have the best quality chipsets, the AMD segment has the most players and the most options. This chipset looks very good to me, especially as an overclocker, but I'm kind of left hanging in the feature set, which traditionally has been the determinant in the A64 market. Sure, 6 SATA ports is nice...etc. etc. but where's my dual integrated GigE LAN? I will take a long hard look at this chipset if SB450 comes out in time, but I think I will likely be going nForce one more generation. Reply
  • SLIM - Monday, November 8, 2004 - link

    #6, of course you use an FX with the best gfx card available, he's trying to highlight small differences between chipsets. If you want P4 vs A64 look at a recent cpu review.

    However one large set of differences were the specviewperf benches? Huge differences when using ati/ati (some good and some bad) but no comments as to wtf is going on. Are those differences related to DX vs opengl, other driver issues, anybody know??
  • ipoh - Monday, November 8, 2004 - link

    Onboard graphics use to be not good but changed since ATi comes out with RS350...and with this RS480 DX9 VGA will be definitely good

    Currently using my RS350 playing Doom3 and still looks good :)

    I will spend my money for more HDD :)
  • Ivo - Monday, November 8, 2004 - link

    With DX9 included, the integrated graphics (IG) of RS480 is good. First of all, with guaranteed future OS compatibility, it's very good for the OEM - for both business machines and home-office PCs. Secondly, as stated it the review, it is good enough for high-end 2D users because of the Surround View option. Third, it is a reasonable option for gamers too, as it could serve in emergency cases, when your high-end overclocked graphic card is tired ;-(

    The IG could be even more interesting for occasional gamers and even business users if, in a thinkable upcoming chipset, the IG is involved in a SLI scheme with one graphic card. In that case the IG will add it's modest 10% to 20% to the overall gaming performance (small, but from heart). This 10%-20% could be interesting for the real gamers too, if the IG is involved in a triple SLI scheme with two additional graphic cards.

    My questions to this great article are:
    1. What about the Cool 'N Quiet operation - does it work properly on the reference board with all (DIMM etc.) configurations used?
    2. What is ATI suggesting about the SidePort - why it is limited to 32 bit and 16MB only?
  • byvis - Monday, November 8, 2004 - link

    It's very impressive. But I have one minor question about the benchmarking. Why didn't you test Nforce4 + X800XT in Winstone and other benchmarks? I see, that you DID test RX480 + GF6800U and RX480 + X800XT. Maybe the margins are very small, but I'd like to see them, I think other people would like that too. Reply
  • deathwalker - Monday, November 8, 2004 - link

    ATI might be right in the thick of it based on performance..however...from a marketing standpoint I think they will have a tough road to plow. Reply
  • bearxor - Monday, November 8, 2004 - link

    Sold Reply
  • Jalf - Monday, November 8, 2004 - link

    Onboard graphics makes perfect sense for non-gamers.
    If they can cram in something that works for normal desktop use, *and* can claim to support DirectX 9 as well, then it's a pretty good deal. It'll serve your needs under normal use, and it'll at least be able to run games, even if they might get an unplayable framerate.
  • DrDisconnect - Monday, November 8, 2004 - link

    I'm surprised that any of you are wondering why they are producing an integrated graphics versio. Haven't you taken a walk through any of the computer superstores lately? Entry level machines from HP etc. are using integrated graphics to hold prices down yet allow users to beef up their machines when they ahve some coin later on.

  • ranger203 - Monday, November 8, 2004 - link

    -1st of all, why does anandtech keep benchmarking AMD FX chips, sure they are the fastest hands down, but none of us are buying they. I.e. they are comparing apples to oranges, (FX vs. P4). They need to bench regular A64s!!!!

    -2nd, Onboard video still really sucks for gaming, but atleast they are making an effort, they should relize that $30 gaming cards are better quality than their onboard video and stop integrating it into their full size atx boards!!! Unless this was just a "show" board of ati's capability, then i could understand....

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