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Soltek 67KV Slot 1 VIA Apollo 133A Motherboard Review

Soltek 67KV Slot 1 VIA Apollo 133A Motherboard Review - PCSTATS
Abstract: Slowly but surely, 133Mhz front side bus speeds are becoming the evident standard being set. More so due to the recent release of the Intel Coppermine line of CPUs. For those of you who don't know, the Coppermine is actually the name given to the newest edition of Intel Pentium III CPUs.
 80% Rating:   
Filed under: Motherboards Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: Soltek Apr 12 2000   P. Masrani  
Home > Reviews > Motherboards > Soltek 67KV

The VIA Apollo 133A Chipset

The Chipset

The events that occurred with the delay and controversy of the Intel 820 chipset provided for an interesting situation. Intel's 820 chipset was postponed for release by several months due to stability issues. And as we all know in the computer industry, a few months is quite a bit of time. Even still, a chipset from Intel basically implies quality and stability.

Everything would have gone down fine for Intel except for one major thing... exclusive support for Rambus DRAM, or RDRAM. RDRAM was developed to overcome the memory bandwidth bottleneck by providing very high data transfer rates. Well, it was supposed to. Many tests done on RDRAM have shown little or no performance boost over the more common SDRAM. If that is not enough, RDRAM costs nearly 5 times as much as SDRAM.

So it certainly isn't surprising that RDRAM isn't gaining significant acceptance in the industry. Recent 820-based motherboards being made do have support for SDRAM. This is done using a Memory Translator Hub, or MTH for short. The problem with this type of solution is that you will face heavy performance penalties. In addition, this MTH does not run PC133 SDRAM at 133Mhz. Rather, it will operate it at 100Mhz only. To add fuel to the fire, the MTH will not support ECC SDRAM nor is installation of SDRAM a "taken for granted" procedure. With all this being said, it is easy to understand why the VIA Apollo Pro 133A chipset appears to be a more viable option in every respect.

Making up the Apollo Pro 133A chipset on this Soltek 67KV motherboard are the VIA VT82C694X North Bridge and the VT82C686X South Bridge chips. These North/South architecture certainly goes back a long way. Intel chipsets, starting from the 810, have incorporated a new design dubbed as "Accelerated Hub Architecture". But like the saying goes..."if it ain't broke, don't fix it". Suits me just fine.

This chipset is certainly a more affordable option overall than the 820 chipset offerings by Intel and supports every feature presented by the 820 except for support for RDRAM. But then again, who can afford RDRAM these days? Most people would certainly prefer PC133 as today's practical (the keyword here is practical) performance increase of RDRAM is insignificant compared to the cost, as mentioned earlier.

The memory peak bandwidth of PC133 SDRAM is 1.066 GB/s and thus less than the theoretical bandwidth offered by RDRAM, but it should still be an improve over PC100 and it will be a much cheaper platform for 133 MHz FSB processors such as the popular Intel Coppermine line of CPUs.

For the most part, the Apollo Pro 133A differs from the Apollo Pro 133 by way of adding AGP 4X. Support for Virtual Channel RAM or VCRAM was already present on the Apollo Pro 133. The VIA Apollo Pro 133A does also support 66MHz FSB speeds which means that you can currently use your older 66MHz based CPUs and upgrade to a Coppermine at a later date. This certainly adds a great deal of flexibility to a computer system. This fact is certainly overlooked by most.

The official word from Soltek is that although the 67KV does support AGP 4X, the incorporated BIOS does not support AGP 4X Fast Writes, a feature that is used with Nvidia's GeForce256 based 3D accelerators among others. Though few graphics cards use the "Fast Writes" features, adding this feature would have made the 67KV a board with nothing lacking, especially since we can certainly see graphic card manufacturers incorporating "Fast Writes" on their products in the future.

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Contents of Article: Soltek 67KV
 Pg 1.  Soltek 67KV Slot 1 VIA Apollo 133A Motherboard Review
 Pg 2.  First Look and Installation
 Pg 3.  — The VIA Apollo 133A Chipset
 Pg 4.  BIOS and Power Management
 Pg 5.  System Spec's
 Pg 6.  Overclocking and Conclusion

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