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While Pentium users must be content for the time being with only Intel chipsets for the new socket 775, the Athlon64 crowd now has several chipset choices. Now, NVIDIA, SiS and VIA offer the nForce3, 755FX and K8T800 Pro, respectively. So, which device merits your cash the most?
Meanwhile, all three vendors face the challenge of adapting AMD chipsets to the PCI Express graphics standards. In particular, this applies to NVIDIA's nForce 4, the 756 from SiS and the K8T890 (Pro) from VIA. While NVIDIA will offer a newly developed product, the staples from SiS and VIA - 755FX and K8T800 Pro - are already compatible with the new Southbridges offering x1 PCI Express ports, which means they will be ready to support new peripherals down the road. The switch over to x16 PCI Express won't mean any real performance enhancement for the time being, however, since the AGP 8X graphic interface already packs enough power .
An exception will be graphic cards based on NVIDIA's SLI (Scalable Link Interface), which will require two PCI Express slots, of course. NVIDIA plans to offer a version of its nForce 4 for this setup, and VIA's K8T890 Pro is also supposed to be available with two x16 sized slots, both of which will offer x8 performance.
It's going to be several months before we get there, however. And we are talking about very exclusive products - available only to buyers with sufficient money to spend. The message for everyone else is that PCI components will still be available for years to come and the AGP isn't suddenly going to become obsolete.