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.|
The VIA Apollo 133A 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
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.
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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