Crossfire's new and improved southbridge

Subject: Motherboards | August 28, 2006 - 05:47 PM |
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The main achilles heel for ATI's motherboards have been the lack of features incorporated on the board.  The Crossfire issues of the first runs seem to have been fixed, but compared to the features found on nForce boards, they just can't compete.  The Tech Report looks at the Crossfire Xpress 3200, and the new SB600 southbridge, to see what ATI has done to remedy the situation.

"ATI'S ATHLON 64 CHIPSETS had a rough time winning over enthusiasts in the Socket 939 era.

Enthusiast-oriented motherboards based on the Radeon Xpress family weren't as plentiful as those

sporting one of Nvidia's many nForce4 variants, and for good reason. ATI's SB450 south bridge was

short on features and plagued with I/O performance problems that prompted many mobo makers to use an

alternative south bridge chip from ULi. ULi was eventually purchased by Nvidia, putting additional

pressure on ATI to nail the design of its next-gen SB600 south bridge.

That pressure apparently motivated ATI's chipset team, because it delivered a surprisingly solid SB600

south bridge back in May as a part of the CrossFire Xpress 3200 chipset for AMD's new AM2 socket. The

I/O performance problems that had sullied previous ATI chipsets were nowhere to be found, and the

Xpress 3200 delivered much lower power consumption than Nvidia's comparably gluttonous nForce 590

SLI."

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