No news isn’t always good news. AMD has been purposefully vague on the graphics specifications of its 8-series chipsets. Today we know why. The AMD 890GX has the exact same graphics horsepower as the 790GX:

  AMD 890GX AMD 790GX AMD 785G
CPU AMD Socket-AM3 AMD Socket-AM3/AM2+ AMD Socket-AM3/AM2+
Manufacturing Process 55nm 55nm 55nm
PCI Express 24 PCIe 2.0 lanes 22 PCIe 2.0 lanes 22 PCIe 2.0 lanes
Graphics Radeon HD 4290 (DirectX 10.1) Radeon HD 3300 (DirectX 10.0) Radeon HD 4200 (DirectX 10.1)
Core Clock 700MHz 700MHz 500MHz
Shader Processors 8 (5-way) 8 (5-way)  
Full H.264/VC-1/MPEG-2 HW Decode Yes (UVD2) Yes (UVD) Yes (UVD2)
8-channel LPCM No No No
South Bridge SB850 SB750 SB750
USB 14 USB 2.0 ports 12 USB 2.0 ports 12 USB 2.0 ports
SATA 6 SATA 6Gbps ports 6 SATA 3Gbps ports 6 SATA 3Gbps ports

 

In fact, it’s virtually the same graphics core as the 790GX and 785G built on the same 55nm process.


AMD 890GX North Bridge (left) vs. AMD 790GX North Bridge (right) - nothing has changed


SidePort memory on a motherboard

For those of you who aren’t familiar with AMD’s integrated graphics, it’s a 40 SP implementation of the RV6xx core running at 700MHz. The chipset supports optional SidePort memory. It’s an optional dedicated frame buffer that provides additional low latency bandwidth to the integrated graphics core. If your application demands more memory, the GPU can still use the CPU’s memory controller and system memory.

There haven’t been any improvements to the audio side of the chipset either. The 890GX still supports 2-channel LPCM or 5.1 Dolby Digital/DTS bitstreaming over HDMI. If you want more, AMD will happily sell you a Radeon HD 5450 to plug in to your new board.

AMD continues to offer full hardware H.264/MPEG-2/VC-1 video decode acceleration. The UVD2 engine responsible for the video acceleration remains unchanged from the 785G and 790GX.


Boards based on the 890GX will be well equipped with video outputs like this ASUS M4A89GTD Pro/USB3

Overall system performance remains unchanged. The 890GX performs no differently than the 790FX/GX chipsets:

  AMD 890GX AMD 790GX
x264 HD Encode - Average FPS 26.6 fps 26.6 fps
7-zip Benchmark 5962 MIPS 5917 MIPS

 

With nothing new on the integrated graphics front, the 890GX relies mostly on its new South Bridge, the SB850, to excite. AMD first doubled the bandwidth between its North and South Bridges. Then, it added a native 6Gbps SATA controller with 6 ports, a Gigabit Ethernet MAC and two PCIe 2.0 lanes. The SB850 doesn’t offer any native USB 3 support, so we’ll still see motherboard manufacturers rely on NEC’s external USB 3 controller. The new South Bridge does support two more USB 2.0 ports as well, bringing the total up to 14.

  AMD SB850 AMD SB750
NB-SB Link 2GB/s Each Direction 1GB/s Each Direction
Additional PCIe Two PCIe 2.0 x1 Lanes None
USB 14 USB 2.0 ports 12 USB 2.0 ports
SATA 6 SATA 6Gbps ports 6 SATA 3Gbps ports
PATA 2 Channels 2 Channels
HD Audio Interface Yes Yes
Integrated Gigabit Ethernet MAC Yes No

 

The first 890GX motherboards will be starting at $130. ASUS' M4A89GTD Pro will sell for $145, add another $10 if you want USB 3.0 support.


ASUS M4A89GTD Pro/USB3

I'd expect Gigabyte's pricing to be somewhere in line with that as well.


Gigabyte's GA-890GPA-UD3H

Ready for Integration

The 8-series of chipsets will be AMD’s last incarnation of traditional integrated graphics chipsets. Sometime next year we’ll get Llano, AMD’s first APU with a CPU and GPU on the same die.


AMD's Llano 32nm CPU/GPU due in 2011

At 55nm, the 890GX North Bridge is tiny. At 32nm the North Bridge would be about 1/3 the size. Now you can see why it makes sense to bring this on-die. The South Bridge is even smaller:


AMD SB750 (left) vs. AMD SB850 (right).

We’re not too far away from having nearly all of this technology integrated into the CPU.

The Test

Motherboard: ASUS M4A89GTD Pro/USB3 (AMD 890GX)
Intel DH55TC (Intel H55)
Gigabyte's GA-890GPA-UD3H (AMD 890GX)
Chipset Drivers: Intel 9.1.1.1020 (Intel)
AMD Catalyst 10.3
Hard Disk: Corsair P256 SSD
Memory: Corsair DDR3-1333 2 x 2GB (7-7-7-20)
Video Card: ATI Radeon HD 5450
Video Drivers: AMD Catalyst 10.3
Desktop Resolution: 1920 x 1200
OS: Windows Vista 7 64-bit
AMD’s Integrated HD 4290 vs. Intel Integrated HD Graphics
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  • Paladin1211 - Tuesday, March 2, 2010 - link

    TechReport has pointed out the 890GX has very good overclock capabilities. I want to know if it can really get the Athlon II X4 630 to over 4Ghz. You have been praising the overclocking potential of the Core i3/i5 + H55/57 all lately. How about the same test with a few sensible AMD CPUs?

    Thank you.

    Reference link:
    http://techreport.com/articles.x/18539/10">http://techreport.com/articles.x/18539/10
    Reply
  • Rajinder Gill - Wednesday, March 3, 2010 - link

    Hi,

    From the looks of it, those were simply bus frequency tests made possible by a low CPU multiplier. I doubt that CPU's are hitting higher overall core frequencies (at normal CPU multiplier ratios) just by a change of Southbridge.

    regards
    Raja
    Reply
  • Paladin1211 - Wednesday, March 3, 2010 - link

    Wasn't it a change of southbridge that "Enabled higher Phenom overclocks?"

    http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?...">http://www.anandtech.com/cpuchipsets/showdoc.aspx?...
    Reply
  • Rajinder Gill - Wednesday, March 3, 2010 - link

    I'd have thought once you get to 4GHz or so most people are limited by cooling because the AMD substrate seems to favour lower temperatures for outright CPU frequency.

    We can test it against 790 at some point (assuming both boards have been 'engineered' to the same level).

    later
    Raja
    Reply
  • Paladin1211 - Wednesday, March 3, 2010 - link

    Waiting for boards, BIOSes, drivers to be more mature is always a good idea. I do care about 24/7 stable overclocking at stock voltage and highest possible core speed on air.

    Thank you, I'll stay tuned :)
    Reply
  • Rajinder Gill - Wednesday, March 3, 2010 - link

    Hi,

    Waiting for things to mature would be a good idea based upon what I'm seeing with the Sharkoon Drive Port..

    regards
    Raja
    Reply
  • chucky2 - Tuesday, March 2, 2010 - link

    What was the point of this release, other than to come out with a "new" product to increase sales from the Gotta Have It crowd...?

    1. STILL no 8 channel over HDMI???? It's something that should have been done in 780G, then 790GX, then 785G, and now 890GX does not support it?!?!?! I don't need to buy an add-in card AMD, I can just buy an Intel box. Insanity.

    2. Would it seriously have been so hard to put in a 5000 series core to one-up Intel and actually have SOME reason to buy this over cheaper - and essentially just as good - mature 790GX alternatives (which can also still do core unlocking btw)? Exactly why buy this over a cheaper, more stable 790GX, or competing Intel product?

    They should have called this 795GX and saved themselves the embarrassment. <- 690G and 790GX user, not an Intel fanboi.

    Chuck
    Reply
  • leexgx - Wednesday, March 3, 2010 - link

    the audio is very good point, it still can unlock cores and do ACC Reply
  • geok1ng - Tuesday, March 2, 2010 - link

    I once again request a side by side image quality comparison.

    AT is almost making me concede that Intel graphics are good enough, now all the matter is to proof once and for all that Intel is not cheating ( again, i would kindly remember)on image quality, as it did on the past.
    Reply
  • swaaye - Tuesday, March 2, 2010 - link

    I'm guessing that one big reason for the IGP being the same is that the bandwidth to RAM, across the HT bus, is unchanged since Phenom came out. The peak bandwidth is a measly 8.8GB/s assuming you have a CPU with a 2.2GHz HT clock, and that is shared with the rest of data going across HT. Reply

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