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VIA KT400 Chipset Preview

Author: Ryan Shrout
Subject: Chipsets
Manufacturer: VIA
Tagged:

No Official DDR400 Support

This content was originally featured on Amdmb.com and has been converted to PC Perspective's website. Some color changes and flaws may appear.

The fourth and final important feature is the enhanced memory bus and controller that the KT400 chipset implements. They are claiming to get at least a 5% increase in the performance of the memory just with the tweaks and settings they have done, running at the 166 MHz memory bus, or DDR333.


To cut to the chase, there will not be official support for DDR400 speeds from the VIA KT400 chipset. As confusing as that may be for some of you, they have several reasons why. First, there is no official standard for the DDR400 platform. Without it, there really can be no “official” support for it. With that aside, in my discussions with the VIA reps on the show floor, it was told to me that the new KT400 chipset will be able to run the 400 MHz DDR speeds, but it will be up to the motherboard manufacturer to implement in properly.


The changes that the manufacturer will have to make are in the design phase of the motherboard. The traces and interconnects between the north bridge and the memory slots will be the deciding factor in whether a board can claim to support DDR speeds of up to 400 MHz. If the traces have lots of turns and corners, the interference and signal disruption may not allow anything over the current DDR333 speeds. However, if a company does a little design work and changes the layout appropriately, you may get to see DDR400 speeds running at CAS 2.5 or something like that. Finally, if the motherboard company spends a lot of R&D on the design and maybe ads a new layer to the PCB, you can get a strong enough and straight enough line from the chipset to the memory that you could enjoy the DDR400 memory with all the memory settings on maximum. In truth, this is the same kind of setup that was going on with the first run of the KT333 chipset motherboards.


I’ll be the first to admit I was disappointed with the lack of official DDR400 support from VIA, especially since I did see it from NVIDIA on their nForce2 chipset, I feel better knowing that is it possible to do. Motherboard makers like MSI and Epox will surely have their engineering teams hard at work to produce the most stable DDR400 motherboard based on the KT400 chipset, and should lead to some interesting reviews once the boards start arrive at our labs.


Conclusion


One thing the KT400 does have behind is motherboard manufacturer support. Every company that you can think of from Asus to QDI has plans for the KT400 chipset. If you want to see pictures of a lot of them, head over and look at my Quakecon Day 1 coverage. Expect to start seeing these available towards the middle of September in a retail or online outlet near you.


Yes, this was a short article indeed. Not a lot has changed from the KT333 chipset, but the KT400 chipset still looks like it could be a winner in the enthusiast heart. If motherboard manufacturers are able to get DDR400 speeds out of the chipset rather quickly and in mass quantities, the lack of “official” support for it really won’t matter much. But, if we don’t see the DDR400 out of the boards quickly, you may just see the nForce2 boards catching on more than the nForce1 boards did. Let’s hope VIA and the manufacturers we know and love don’t let us down and can make the motherboard market a very competitive one for some time to come.


Note: I'll be at the official press conference for the VIA KT400 launch today at 5 pm CST and I'll bring some pictures back for you all to see!

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