VIA Chipset Roadmap

Competition drives our industry, and so we are always glad to see alternatives for various computer components from more companies. Anyone who has followed computers for a reasonable amount of time will have had good experiences and bad experiences with products from every company, and so regardless of past experiences, we always look to future products with a ray of hope. Only final hardware and testing will truly tell whether a design is brilliant in all aspects or if it has flaws that need to be addressed.

VIA has had some great chipsets in the past - for a while they were really the only viable alternative to Intel chipsets. The early Pentium 4 chipsets from VIA faced legal concerns as well as performance problems, and so adoption by motherboard manufacturers was rather slow, but that does not seem to be a problem anymore. On the AMD front, VIA was arguably the better chipset at the time the Opteron and Athlon 64 launched and NVIDIA had to play catch-up, but catch-up they did. Performance between the K8T800 Pro and Nforce3 250 Ultra is very close, but NVIDIA offers additional features and improved overclocking. As we shift towards support for newer technologies like PCIe we will have to see who comes out on top.

VIA is one of the few companies that has a complete chipset portfolio for both AMD and Intel platforms, not to mention their own CPU and graphics chips - more on those in a moment. What this means is that they continue to produce chipsets both with and without integrated graphics for each platform, with multiple chipsets in each category. Their latest roadmap includes their chips that have recently started shipping as well as updates planned for the next few months. We'll provide a quick overview of all of these options, starting with their Intel parts.

VIA Chipsets for Socket 478/775
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  • Jii - Monday, January 17, 2005 - link

    VT8251 has support for PCI-e, but not for 10/100/1000 LAN?

    There must be an error on the southbridge chip comparison table - at least I hope so.
  • quanta - Wednesday, November 3, 2004 - link

    #7, it is possible count PCIE device as PCI. After all, PCIE software is supposed to be software compatible with PCI.
  • Fluff - Wednesday, October 20, 2004 - link

    Give us RAID-5 dammit.
  • Regs - Wednesday, October 20, 2004 - link

    I believe the VT8251 has 7 because of SLI. 2 slots that could be programmed to 8x PCI-Express. The remaining 5 are normal.
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, October 19, 2004 - link

    Pete, I must admit that I sort of wondered the same thing. With PCIe being the future and most people currently using at most three PCI boards, adding yet another PCI slot seems pointless. It may have something to do with the integrated PCI devices counting against that total. Just a guess. I doubt that we'll actually see any 7 slot PCI boards ship, regardless.
  • Pete84 - Monday, October 18, 2004 - link

    Any idea why the VT8251 has 7 PCI slot support? What board would use so many? With even three or four add in cars, the bandwidth would be so low it wouldn't be funny . . . so why??
  • TrogdorJW - Monday, October 18, 2004 - link

    #4 - I mention the overclocking not because some of the K8T800 Pro motherboards can't overclock - i.e. the Asus - but because we have had a few more issues getting reasonable overclocks out of the VIA chipset boards. Anyway, the NF3 250Gb still comes with better Gigabit Ethernet, as well as a hardware firewall. All things being equal, I still prefer that chipset. It's close, so if the K8T800 Pro comes with a less expensive motherboard (from a brand you trust), more power to you. We won't know for sure until boards ship, but we like to hope that the PCI/AGP lock will now function properly on all future VIA chipsets. :)

    5 - Typical time from sampling to first availability tends to be around 3 months, I would say. If the new chips are pin compatible, it can sometimes be less. With the new chipsets offering PCI Express, I would guess 3 or 4 months is more likely from most manufacturers, but I'm sure we'll see some before the end of 2004.
  • Noli - Sunday, October 17, 2004 - link

    When it says that the k8t890 and k8t890 pro are sampling now, does that mean anyone can work out when we will actually be able to buy motherboards with these chipsets on them?
  • thebluesgnr - Sunday, October 17, 2004 - link

    "Performance between the K8T800 Pro and Nforce3 250 Ultra is very close, but NVIDIA offers additional features and improved overclocking."

    The overclocking potential for both are pretty much the same. On AT's motherboard roundup for socket 939 the ASUS A8V overclocked just as good as the best nForce3 Ultra mobo. And although VIA K8T800 Pro had problems with its PCI/AGP lock at first, the issues are all fixed now while some nVidia boards are still having PCI/AGP lock issues.
  • xsilver - Saturday, October 16, 2004 - link

    what hasn't been mentioned is if the pci/agp lock will be fully functional on the k8t890pro or have I been under a rock for a while?

    Still I can't see why you would want to buy this over a nforce 4 (NOT a fanboy, they just have such a good track record)
    If the k8t890pro hits with 2x PCI express lanes nvidia surely much hit back with just as much if not more?

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