FOR YEARS, AMD'S ATHLON desktop processors have had to negotiate access to other system components through third-party chipsets from ATI, Nvidia, SiS, and VIA. That arrangement has largely been successful, at least in part because AMD was able to move the traditionally chipset-level memory controller right onto the processor die. This move allowed chipset makers to focus on peripherals and connectivity options, and it gave AMD control over the one chipset feature most likely to affect overall system performance.
With AMD seemingly content to stay out of the core logic game, its chipset partners were left to battle each other for market share. Then, on July 24 of last year, AMD announced its intent to acquire ATI. That changed everything.
In acquiring ATI, AMD gained control over not only one of its more aggressive chipset partners, but also one of the big two in PC graphics. With that asset now in its pocket, it was only a matter of time before AMD rolled out a new chipset with integrated graphics for Athlon processors. Today that chipset arrives as the AMD 690G, which packs a familiar SB600 south bridge paired with a new Radeon X1250 graphics core with four DirectX 9-class pixel pipelines. How well does the 690G stack up against the competition? Read on to find out.