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The company who used to be the chipset maker No.1 and who is now struggling to bring its positions back, has some nice products to come in the first half of the year. Quite some products in the new family migrated in 2004 from original 2003 plans, though, VIA’s family of chipsets now looks more consolidated and logical.

VIA’s answer to Intel’s Grantsdale-P and Alderwood chipsets will be the PT890 supporting 400, 533 and 800MHz Quad Pumped Bus; dual-channel DDR or DDR-II memory at the speeds of up to 400MHz and 667MHz in that order with or without ECC support; PCI Express x16 (PEG x16) and Ultra V-Link to connect with VIA VT8237 or VT8239 South Bridges. Sampling of the VIA PT890 chipset is expected to begin in January 2004, according to Chinese web-site.

In order to compete with Intel’s Grantsdale-G with integrated Intel Extreme Graphics 3 core, VIA will roll-out its PM890 chipset boasting the same capabilities as the PT890, but also packing UniChrome 3 Graphics with DirectX 9.0 capabilities support and excluding ECC support. Looks like the sampling of the chipset for NetBurst processors with integrated DirectX 9.0 core is slated at a bit later date than that of the PT890, but is also sometime in the Q1 2004 timeframe.

For the AMD64 computers VIA is planning to offer its K8T890 providing 1GHz HyperTransport bus, PEG x16 graphics and Ultra V-Link to attach VT8237 or VT8239 I/O controller. The K8M890 will provide the same capabilities in addition to UniChrome 3 graphics core with DirectX 9.0 support. The K8M890 will only support VIA VT8239 though, as the report claims.

Apparently, VIA’s KT880 chipset – VIA’s first and only core-logic for AMD Athlon XP chips with dual-channel memory controller – is slated for production only in the first quarter of the year, therefore, do not expect products on KT880 to emerge too soon.

VIA VT8239 I/O controller – pin-to-pin compatible with its VT8237 predecessor – is expected to work with Taipei Taiwan-based firm’s core-logic products in the first half of 2004. The part will sport 2-channel Parallel ATA-33/66/100/133, 4 Serial ATA-150 ports with RAID support, up to 8 USB 2.0 ports, 10/100Mb/s Ethernet, up to 7 PCI slots, Azalia 6-channel audio and other I/O features. The VT8239 will connect to North Bridges using Ultra V-Link bus.

VIA’s product portfolio seems to offer enough high-end product for the Q2 introduction to support LGA775 as well as Socket 939 processors from Intel and AMD. VIA may lack some features its rivals promise to support, such as Wi-Fi software access point brought by Intel’s ICH6W, or dual-monitor capability by Grantsdale-G, though, given VIA’s aggressive pricing policy, the company may still see some success next year.


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