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AMD Crossfire Xpress 3200 Chipset for Core 2 Rolls, But Doesn't Rock

AMD Crossfire Xpress 3200 Chipset for Core 2 Rolls, But Doesn't Rock
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It's interesting to see core logic for Intel processors in AMD's product portfolio. The Crossfire Xpress 3200 chipset for Intel Compare Prices on Xpress 3200 Motherboards, sometimes better known as RD600, is a byproduct of the firm's acquisition of graphics specialist ATI: "the new AMD" now consists of both AMD and ATI. Since high-end graphics processors, especially the upcoming ATI RV600, perform best with high-end processors, there has to be an ATI chipset choice for the champion: the Intel Core 2 Duo. Enthusiasts of the world, please welcome AMD's new Crossfire Xpress 3200 for Intel!

With the Intel P965/975X and Nvidia's nForce 680i SLI already available, AMD's Crossfire Xpress 3200 for Intel is the third (or fourth) serious option for enthusiasts looking into purchasing a decent Core 2 Duo platform with extensive interface choices for peripherals and graphics. Like its competitors, Crossfire Xpress 3200 for Intel is based on two chips: the Northbridge carries the CPU interface, the memory controller and PCI Express connectivity for your graphics card(s); the Southbridge is responsible for I/O components such as Serial ATA, USB 2.0, High Definition audio and 32-bit PCI slots.

This is pretty much what everybody offers, so it seems that there is not a great deal of differentiation between the chipsets for Intel's Socket 775 - but this is only at first glance. While performance differences are leveled by the efficient L2 cache architecture of the Core 2 Duo processor, enthusiasts care a lot about the differences that can still be found in the details.

The Nvidia nForce 680i SLI offers the most powerful integrated networking controller, superb software for overclocking and storage maintenance, plus a plethora of interfaces. In short: it's a features behemoth. Intel's products are ahead if you're looking for strong interface performance, particularly the ICH8 Southbridge, which is part of the P965 chipset and outperforms everyone else in RAID and USB 2.0 benchmarks.

You might wonder where AMD might be capable of gaining market share, given that there is already a chipset that supports ATI dual graphics setups: the Intel 975X. Nvidia clearly dominates its part of the market, supporting its SLI Multi-GPU platform based on GeForce graphics cards. Intel's P965 looks like the best overall choice, but we see the 975X being the soft spot: it has been the only choice to run Core 2 Duo to power an ATI Crossfire dual graphics setup. AMD's goal is pretty clear: Crossfire Xpress 3200 for Intel has to be more attractive for ATI users, because it cannot win against the other competitors from a features point of view.

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