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VIA Technologies, a designer of chipsets, on Friday announced its new core-logic that enables PCI Express bus on computers based on AMD Athlon 64 microprocessors. Fuelled by new technologies, forthcoming computers running VIA K8T890 and AMD Athlon 64 may offer extreme performance and future-proof.

VIA Rolls-Out New North Bridge

The newly announced K8T890 chipset supports AMD Athlon 64, AMD Sempron and AMD Opteron processors in various form-factors, including chips with 800MHz and 1000MHz HyperTransport bus. The main peculiarity of VIA’s new offering is support for a PCI Express x16 lane for graphics cards and support for 4 PCI Express x1 lanes for other kinds of add-in cards by the North Bridge.

“With the arrival of the VIA K8T890 Series chipsets, VIA continues its strong leadership on the AMD platform, delivering the features, performance, and stability that our customers have come to expect. By enabling PCI Express we believe that all the pieces are in place on the AMD64 processor platform, meaning all users can now upgrade to a 64-bit AMD processor, safe in the knowledge they have a future proof platform,” commented Wenchi Chen, CEO VIA Technologies.

Typically VIA releases new I/O controllers along with new North Bridge chips, the main part of every core-logic, but at this time the company decided to leave the customers with VIA VT8237 controller, though, the company gave a glimpse on the next-generation VIA VT8251 controller that is expected to sport 192KHz/24-bit high definition 7.1 audio as well as higher number of Serial ATA-150 connectors.

More AMD64 Chipsets to Follow

VIA, who once promised to be the first on the market with PCI Express-supporting chipset and swore to provide clients a flawless transition to PCI Express technology by incorporating support for both AGP and PCI Express graphics slots, now ends up with a chipset that sport only AMD64 processors and only one PCI Express x16 slot for graphics.

According to a VIA roadmap recently sneaked into the web, the company is expected to offer dual PCI Express slots for graphics cards capability for high-end AMD platforms along with K8T890 PRO core-logic that will also sport 1000MHz HyperTransport bus for AMD Athlon 64, AMD Sempron and AMD Opteron processors. For mainstream computers powered by AMD’s chips the Taipei, Taiwan-based chipset maker is expected to release K8T890 and possibly K8M890 core-logic products that sport single PCI Express x16 slots and integrated graphics core (K8M890 only).

Two PCI Express x16 slots are require to install a pair of NVIDIA’s GeForce 6800-series or GeForce 6600 GT graphics cards in order to set them work in the so-called SLI Multi-GPU mode. SLI is a technology that enables two NVIDIA-based graphics cards to operate in a single workstation or PC delivering higher graphics horsepower.

“While we do not comment on certain specific documents or plans, I can say that, based on the feedback we have received from the our customers, we have decided to develop a number of different variants of the PT890 Series and K8T890 Series chipset cores with different feature sets targeted at specific segments of the market… We are continuing engineering work on the AGP/PCI Express implementation and will be integrating this feature in future products in both the PT890 Series and K8T890 Series so that we can provide our customers with a complete family of solutions for different segments rather than a single “one-size-fits-all” PT890 and K8T890 product” Richard Brown, Associate Vice President, International Marketing, for VIA Technologies told X-bit labs commenting on the leaked roadmap.

Later during the year VIA is expected to ship its PCI Express-enabled chipsets for Intel-based computers.

Availability Dates Unknown

VIA did not reveal any information on the pricing and availability timeframe for the VIA K8T890 chipset. The Taipei, Taiwan-based chipset designer also did not name mainboard partners with the K8T890, which is not usual for VIA, who always tends to give an idea on the industrial support for its products. Besides, unlike typically, VIA did not provide samples of reference K8T890 mainboards to press, which may indicate limited availability of the chipset at the moment.

Some mainboard makers plan to release mainboards based on VIA’s new chipset sometime in Q4 2004 or later.

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