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Reports over Japanese web-sites claim that ASUSTeK Computer will start to put up for sale its Socket 939 mainboards in late May, days before AMD will reportedly officially unveil its AMD64 chips in PGA939 form-factor.

No PCI Express So Far

ASUSTeK’s mainboard for the new 64-bit microprocessors from AMD will not feature new technologies, such as PCI Express interconnection, despite of being very advanced in terms of capabilities. Because VIA Technologies had delayed the commercial release of its VIA KT890 core-logic from the second quarter to the third quarter of the year, ASUS had to stick with VIA’s latest K8T800 Pro chipset that sports 1000MHz HyperTransport bus – a requirement for all AMD’s new Athlon 64 and Athlon 64 FX products, but does not bring PCI Express bus – the next-generation interconnection bus for add-in graphics cards.

Sources familiar with certain plans of ASUSTeK Computer told X-bit labs earlier this year that there was A8V DX mainboard in the firm’s roadmap. The device was said to be based on VIA K8T890 North Bridge and VIA VT8237 I/O controller. The solution also features all necessary expansion capabilities, USB 2.0, Serial ATA-150 as well as 8-channel audio.

VIA K8T890 chipset sports 1GHz HyperTransport bus for next-generation AMD Athlon 64 and AMD Athlon 64 FX processors. The chip also boasts PCI Express x16 bus for upcoming graphics cards as well as Ultra V-Link interconnection for VIA’s VT8237 and VT8239 South Bridges.

Apparently, ASUS might be in a position to begin volume manufacturing of its A8V DX as early as in the first half of March and would be quite naturally deliver the actual commercial products by the time AMD formally starts to sell its new microprocessors. However, AMD delayed the release of its processors for Socket 939 a number of times, while VIA Technologies also does not seem to be in hurry with its PCI Express-supporting core-logic for AMD’s 64-bit platform.

Powerful Mainboard for Fast CPUs

The A8V mainboard from ASUS is likely to be the first platform available for AMD’s processors with 939 pins.

ASUS A8V. Please click to enlarge

UAC and Akiba PC Hotline web-sites report the brief specifications of ASUS A8V:

  • Supports Socket 939 AMD Athlon 64/AMD Athlon 64 FX processors with up to 1000MHz HyperTransport bus;
  • VIA K8T800 Pro chipset, including VT8237 I/O controller;
  • 4 DIMM slots for up to 4GB of PC3200 memory; Note that for dual-channel configurations you have to install a pair of identical memory modules;
  • 5 PCI slots and 1 AGP 8x slot;
  • 3-channel ATA-33/66/100/133 integrated controller;
  • 4 Serial ATA-150 ports with RAID;
  • 10/100/1000Mb/s Ethernet controller from Marvel;
  • Wireless LAN 802.11b/g Access Point;
  • 8 USB 2.0 ports;
  • 1 FireWire port;
  • 8-channel audio solution from VIA;
  • Overclocking, tuning and other advanced functions available with ASUSTeK’s mainboards;
  • ATX Form Factor.

The product will cost only about $165 at launch, which is pretty low price for Tokyo, Japan, where hardware components are substantially more expensive than in the rest of the world.

ASUS A8V. Please click to enlarge

AMD Athlon 64 processors with 939 pins will integrate 512KB of L2, only a half of the size incorporated into today’s 754-pin chips, but will benefit from very efficient dual-channel memory controller that is likely to decrease the impact of cut-down cache and even improve performance of 939-pin chips over 754-pin processors with 1MB on-die secondary-level cache, which is why CPUs in different types of packaging will not have similar model numbers at equal clock-speeds. The AMD Athlon 64 FX parts will continue to have 1MB of L2 after the transition to Socket 939.

Dual-channel memory controllers on the new AMD64 processors will not require registered memory modules that are compulsory for today’s Athlon 64 FX central processing units. AMD reportedly also considered adding DDR memory at 500MHz support into its new chips.

Tight Supply of New Chips?

While the new PGA939 AMD64 microprocessors seem to be advanced and are likely to solidify AMD’s positions in the market of high-performance desktop processors, the company may face massive supply constraints with such products. According to certain sources, the Sunnyvale, California-based chipmaker will be able to supply only 50 thousand, 260 thousand and 540 thousand of 939-pin chips in Q2 2004, Q3 2004 and Q4 2004 respectively, amid 700 thousand, 970 thousand and 900 thousand of chips in 754-pin packaging in the same timeframes.

According to existing estimates, only in the Q1 2005 the output of more advanced Athlon 64 processors will tangibly outstrip that of the AMD Athlon 64 chips with single-channel memory controller. Sources suggest 1.20 million of PGA939 and 250 thousand PGA754 processors from AMD to ship during the mentioned timeframe.

Advanced Micro Devices is likely to formally launch AMD Athlon 64 and AMD Athlon 64 FX processors on the 1st of June, 2004 in Taipei, Taiwan.

AMD did not comment on availability or announcements dates of the next-generation AMD64 products for desktops.


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