Computex 2000 Coverage Day 1: Chipsetsby Anand Lal Shimpi on June 12, 2000 12:00 PM EST
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On the AMD side of things, the KX133 chipset took a back seat to VIA's latest offering, the KT133. As you now know from our AMD Athlon "Thunderbird" review as well as our Socket-A Motherboard Preview the KT133 chipset is basically a Socket-A version of the KX133 with the only major changes being most likely timing related. Every motherboard manufacturer we visited had a Socket-A motherboard on display, some had two (ATX & microATX). Most of the boards were relatively similar to each other, we will provide you with pictures in our Day 2 coverage of the show tomorrow. The notable exception to the similarity "rule" about Socket-A motherboards is the QDI Kinetiz 7T board which QDI claims is able to adjust the clock multiplier of the once thought to be clock locked Thunderbird CPU.
A couple of points of interest we discovered about Socket-A motherboards and the Athlon platform in general:
- Motherboard manufacturers
are having a very difficult time getting the Thunderbird/Duron platforms to
run on 145W power supplies which is what is necessary for FlexATX cases (think
of really small microATX). There is no official word from AMD on what can
be done to put Thunderbird/Duron in a FlexATX system with a 145W power supply
but one company we talked to mentioned that the workaround would be quite
"interesting" to say the least.
- Getting Socket-A motherboards
to work at 1GHz and above is quite tricky according to the motherboard manufacturers
we spoke with. Iwill was convinced that unless a Socket-A motherboard is very
well designed, getting 1.1GHz and faster Thunderbird CPUs to work will be
a difficult task.
- VIA seemed to indicate
that the reason current KX133/KT133 motherboards can't reach the 133MHz FSB
is because they physically made it impossible to reach that FSB setting on
current designs. According to the representatives we talked to they claim
that they "didn't want people messing around with [the setting]."
Just as the ProSavage PM133 is the 133A with an integrated Savage4 core, VIA's KM133 is basically the KT133 with an integrated Savage4 core (with Savage2000 2D of course). The KM133 is already pin compatible with the KT133 so motherboard manufacturers can use their current KT133 designs as KM133 designs as well by simply replacing the North Bridge and including a 15-pin VGA connector in the place of one of the 9-pin serial ports on the ATX backplane of the board.
While no manufacturer had the chip on display, VIA will be releasing an updated revision of their 686A South Bridge, the 686B. The 686B will basically add ATA 100 support to the 686A and will be pin compatible with the 686A as well so it will basically be a drop in replacement for all current motherboard designs that use the 686A.