AMD 790FX Chipset
Of course the innovations introduced into the new AMD Phenom processors, at least those that deal with external interfaces, require appropriate chipset support. That is why Phenom processor launch was also accompanied with the announcement of the new “seventh series” AMD chipset family. There are three solutions in this series: AMD 790FX (RD790), AMD 790X (RD780) and AMD 770 (RX780). Their main peculiarity is the fully-fledged support of the new processors, namely, full compatibility with the new Socket AM2+. In other words, new chipsets work with HyperTransport 3.0 bus and mainboards based on them support DDR2-1066 and allow independent powering of the memory controller and processor cores.
Moreover, the new AMD chipsets were designed to meet contemporary graphics cards requirements, too. Here I am talking about high-speed PCI Express 2.0 interface support: new AMD chipsets have it fully implemented.
Of course, even thought the new Spider platform is naturally compatible with Nvidia based graphics accelerators, it is primarily targeted to accommodate AMD graphics solutions. That is why it is absolutely logical that the top chipsets support Crossfire technology. Moreover, AMD 790X can support this technology as PCI Express x8 + x8, and the top of the line AMD 790FX offers full-speed PCI Express x16 + x16 mode. Each of the graphics busses in 790FX may be split into two PCI Express x8 busses. This way they can build mainboards with four graphic slots each.
AMD offers a pretty old SB600 microchip as the South Bridge for the new chipsets. Unfortunately, its features do not look that appealing any more: it supports only ten USB 2.0 ports and four Serial ATA II channels.
However, AMD promises to replace this chip with a more up-to-date SB700 very soon. It should support 12 USB 2.0 ports and 6 Serial ATA II channels.
Mainboard makers welcomed AMD in the chipset market with solutions for their own processors with great enthusiasm. In the nearest future all leading board manufacturers will start shipping their solutions based on AMD 790FX, AMD 790X and AMD 770. Here I have to stress that AMD will insist that everyone sticks to their pretty smart price policy: contemporary mainboards for Phenom processors will be undoubtedly cheaper than analogous solutions for Intel CPUs.
Another advantage of the new AMD chipsets is their low heat dissipation, because they are manufactured with the most advanced 65nm process. For example, the typical heat dissipation of the AMD 790FX North Bridge will be about 10W, which is a few times lower than what the other manufacturers’ chipsets have to offer.
Aiming their new Spider platform for computer enthusiasts, AMD couldn’t help pleasing the overclocking fans with a little something. They introduced new AMD Overdrive utility for hardware monitoring and systems management on platforms with Phenom processors and AMD seventh series chipsets. This utility provides detailed info on the parameters of the system processor, memory and mainboard; helps monitor main system voltages and temperatures; adjust working frequencies of the processor cores, memory controller and other busses; change memory timings. Moreover, AMD Overdrive also offers a built-in system stability and performance benchmarks.