After a delay of a few months, Taiwanese manufacturer SiS has advanced to the starting gate with a PCI Express chipset for the Athlon 64. Athlon chipsets differ only slightly in terms of performance, as the memory controller is already integrated into the processor. The number of functions, however, keeps increasing. In view of tough competition from NVIDIA and VIA, SiS must consistently put together an appealing package that will win over manufacturers and customers alike.
Today's mainboards come with all the major components that the average user needs. The lion's share of these are provided by the chipset itself, current versions of which have a multitude of integrated interfaces. These include not only PCI and PCI Express slots, but also USB 2.0 connections, serial ATA ports, network controllers, and other extra components such as FireWire and RAID functionality for example. Most throw in a functional sound system too.
So, in what ways are today's chipsets actually different from each other? One may well ask, as uninitiated users would only notice a difference between the various systems in a handful of situations. Yet there are reasons for deciding for or against a particular chipset compared to the others.