VIA K8T800 Chipset

The FIC K8-800T and MSI K8T Neo are built with the VIA K8T800 chipset. Since this is our first look at a board built on the K8T800 chipset, it is important to have a basic understanding of the features of the chipset compared to others for the Athlon64 processor.

One of the most exciting, and also controversial, features of the Opteron/Athlon64 is AMD’s decision to include the memory controller on the CPU. There are tremendous potential speed advantages to this solution. For a chipset maker, the move of the memory controller to the CPU itself means the chipset design is much simplified. In fact, about half of the requirements of the supporting chipset are eliminated, which allows a much simpler design — even the possibility of a single chip solution instead of the customary North and South bridges.

VIA chose to use a traditional North Bridge/South Bridge design instead of a single chip solution. The following Features and Benefits of the K8T800 come directly form VIA literature.

Key Features of VIA K8T800
  • Supports full range of AMD Opteron/Athlon64 processors

  • Hyper8 Technology enables 16-bit/1.6GHz HyperTransport processor-to-chipset link

  • Support for AGP 8X/4X

  • V-Link 533 MB/sec high bandwidth North/South Bridge interconnect

  • Support for VIA Vinyl 5.1 & Vinyl Gold 7.1 Multichannel Audio Suite

  • Serial ATA support for up to 4 devices

  • Integrated V-RAID with RAID 0, RAID 1

  • Parallel ATA133/100/66 support for up to 4 devices

  • Support for up to 8 USB 2.0/USB 1.1 ports, UHCI compliant

  • Support for VIA Gigabit Ethernet controller & Integrated 10/100 Fast Ethernet

  • Integrated MC'97 Modem

  • Advanced power management capabilities including ACPI/OnNow

  • 578-pin BGA North Bridge

  • 539-pin BGA VT8237 South Bridge

Benefits of VIA K8T800

VIA Hyper8™ Technology
VIA's unique Hyper8 technology eliminates noise on the HyperTransport link between the processor and chipset, enabling the industry's only full-speed, full-spec 16-bit/1.6GHz implementation of the processor-to-chipset HyperTransport link.

VIA Modular Architecture Platform
To best exploit the rapid pace of innovation in the PC industry, particularly with reference to I/O technology, VIA have opted for a classic North/South Bridge configuration allowing for the most scalable mainboard design, enabling new functionality to be integrated in an expedient and practical manner, thus providing the fastest time to market with new features and system performance enhancements.

Native Serial ATA/RAID Support
The VIA DriveStation™ Controller Suite with native dual channel Serial ATA/RAID controller, provides direct support for two 150MB/s Serial ATA devices and its unique SATAlite™ interface expands support for two additional SATA devices. The V-RAID controller features native RAID 0 & RAID 1. The user friendly V-RAID software interface enables easy disk array configuration and management.

VIA Vinyl Multichannel Audio Suite
Delivering rich, warm surround sound at resolutions as high as 24/96 through up to six- or eight-channel outputs, the VIA Vinyl Audio 5.1 surround sound and VIA Vinyl Gold Audio 7.1 surround sound enables crisp, clear performance, representing the highest levels of audio quality in a mainstream integrated or onboard solution.

Unified VIA Hyperion 4in1 Drivers
VIA's unified approach to drivers has been established for eight generations of chipsets, allowing end users to benefit from seamless hardware and software compatibility.


VIA has made quite a point lately in literature and press releases of the fact that they are the only chipset to support fully the full-speed 800Mhz (1.6GHz) Hypertransport bus. This is certainly true. A full 800MHz HT bus requires very low noise circuits, and VIA claims that others cannot yet implement 800 Hypertransport because of excessive circuit noise.

nVidia has a very different explanation, and they believe their single-chip solution is superior because it eliminates the 533 Mb/sec "bottleneck" that exists between VIA's 2-chip Northbridge and Southbridge solution. It is true that VIA runs a 3.2GHz uplink/downlink, while the nVidia nForce3-150 runs a 2.4GHz downlink and 1.2GHz uplink. However, nVidia says VIA's 3.2GHz must then be crammed into the 533mb/sec link between the north and south bridges which negates any advantage a 3.2GHz design might have. The nVidia nForce3-150 was designed with a 16-bit downlink/8-bit uplink running at 600MHz DDR (1.2GHz effectively) in a SINGLE chip that is connected to the CPU with a 3.6GHz connection. NVIDIA claims this is a much more efficient and faster solution, and they are confident that current nForce3-150 chipsets will not be penalized in performance as a result of the 600MHz HT speed.

nVidia has also announced that their upcoming nForce3-250 chipset, which we understand will likely be introduced with Socket 939 solutions, will run at the full 800MHz Hypertransport speed.

As we will see in benchmarks, the practical effect of 600MHz vs. 800MHz Hypertransport on performance of desktop Athlon64 machines is nil at present. However, as we see Athlon64/Opteron chipsets mature, we may see that this has a greater impact on future performance. More information on VIA K8T800 is available at http://www.viatech.com/en/k8-series/k8t800.jsp.

If you are interested in learning more about the features and architecture of Opteron and Athlon 64, you can access Anand’s excellent 3-part article.

nVidia nForce3 Chipset Chaintech ZNF3-150: Athlon64 with Every Option
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  • Anonymous User - Friday, September 26, 2003 - link

    #5
    I old too, but still keep buing from AMD, Intel is way too expensive for as in Latin America, and give no clear advantage for a programmer/gamer like me.
    If you been having problems with AMD, surely your are building AMD chips with PCCHIPs mainboards, and Pentiums with Intel boards, you are a smart guy!
    So, if you gonna build a modern PC, you'll experience problems becouse WinXP didn't include drivers for new chipsets, so, for it all going like a charm, you need an Intel Pentium III and a Intel 2001's mainboard, anything newer, you gonna have to look for drivers, whatever the platform you choose.
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Wednesday, September 24, 2003 - link

    #10 -
    You are absolutely correct in theory. However, when we moved from the Ti4600 to the ATI 9800 PRO, our encoding scores on the P4 went up about 35-45%. Don't ask me why. They did not change on the Athlon, which had led in this area before. That is one of several reasons we will be changing to another encoding benchmark.

    If you doubt what I say, check Evan's 20-board 865/875 roundup done with the Ti 4600, then check the retest of some of the top boards we include in our more recent P4 reviews. Evan did the original and the update tests, and I have confirmed his results.
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, September 24, 2003 - link

    Since when does the video card have ANYTHING to do with DivX encoding? That is a purely CPU and RAM issue, even playback is not influenced too much by the video card anymore (speed not quality...that is an entirely different issue). Reply
  • Zoomer - Wednesday, September 24, 2003 - link

    Hey, could you please touch on what DAC chip is powering these setups? A picture would be nice too.

    Envy 24bit audio would be an utter waste if some crap Realtek codec was used. It would be good if this was highlighted so that motherboard manufacturers catering to the higher end of the market will take notice.

    Chaintech apparantly took note of the fact that you guys bashed every single board that had the ATX connector near the board i/o ports. Despite it being a non issue. That thick bundle can be routed so that the interference with airflow is minimised.
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Wednesday, September 24, 2003 - link

    Please, please, please stop using Flash for graphs. Reply
  • dvinnen - Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - link

    #5: Youe funny. Constant screw ups? It's Intell who has had to have 3 or so recalls over the last 4-5 years. And theres that bug with the Itantic which the only way to fix is to lower the clock to 800 mhz. AMD is the one who keeps screwing up? Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - link

    #3 and #4 - Thank you. Now corrected.

    Just before posting we decided to combine the 3 reviews into one larger launch review. Unfortunately I had used the same name for two different pictures and the first one was picked up. There is a socket closeup of the FIC that never made it to the server.
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - link

    yeah, about the only good thing coming out of this is the price drops soon. Otherwise still the same stupid +-5FPS differences = waste of time/effert to get excited about.

    i used to love amd, but just got tired of their constant screw ups, so anymore i personally don't care what stupid thing they come out with, i won't waste my time with it.

    Perhaps that's cuz i'm older now and have a good job/salary and don't need/care about overclocking and or paying a few bucks more for intel quality/stability. yeah, must be just getting to be an old fogey, cuz this whole amd/intel wanna-be-war doesn't give me a hardon like it used to ;)
    Reply
  • Thoreau - Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - link

    Correction, Page 11 in the index list. First pic. Reply
  • Thoreau - Tuesday, September 23, 2003 - link

    The 2nd page of the FIC section shows a pic from the Chaintech board. Think you got that a little mixed up there. Reply

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