The performance of VIA's new VT82C686B is extremely close to Intel's ICH2 (82801BA) and the Promise Ultra100. It's also great to see that the new chip won't be more expensive than the known pin-compatible models 686A and 596B.
We expect that VIA chipset motherboards with UltraATA/100 support will not be more expensive than ATA/66 models (both 694X and KT133).
VIA's support of both Intel and AMD processors is to the advantage of all of us. The Intel ICH2 can only be used for Intel platforms, while VIA's South Bridge is suitable for Intel's Celeron/Pentium III and AMD's Duron/Athlon platforms.
Both the Intel and the VIA South Bridge can only be pushed to the limit in case you use two or more hard drives simultaneously. In turn that is only possible with Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000. Windows 98 users definitely need to purchase a PCI IDE RAID adapter card or a motherboard with integrated IDE RAID chip like, for example, the ABit KT7.
However, we can only recommend purchasing VIA motherboards with the new 686B South Bridge, as the predecessors, 686A and 596B, do not exceed 30 MB/s. That will definitely slow down next generation hard drives. The new 686B eliminates this bottle neck - at least for the time being.