Accelerating Athlon: VIA Releases KT266A Chipset


No Luck At The First Shot

When VIA finally released its Athlon chipset with DDR-memory support, named 'Apollo KT266', in early spring of this year, the new chipset was late and its performance less than impressive . The first DDR-solution for Athlon, AMD's 760 chipset, had not only been available almost six months earlier, it was also outperforming VIA's new product. As if this wasn't bad enough news, SiS had surprised everybody in May 2001 with the release of its SiS735 chipset for the same processor/memory configuration, which was not only cheaper than VIA's KT266, but also faster. ALi's MaGiK1 chipset was the only Athlon-DDR solution that was beaten by VIA's latecomer. Reviewers as well as customers were disappointed. Wasn't VIA one of the driving forces of 'Team DDR '? Shouldn't we have reasons to expect more of Taiwan's largest chipset maker?

Do It Again Sam

VIA was obviously not happy with the performance scores of Apollo KT266. It was one thing to lose against 'partner' AMD and its high-cost / high-performance solution AMD760. However, scoring worse than struggling competitor SiS was a shameful defeat that required immediate action. So it didn't take long after the first reports of the obvious superiority of SiS's 735 chipset that we heard rumors from VIA officials that a new version of KT266, dubbed 'Apollo KT266A', would reverse the painful situation. Several weeks had to pass by until VIA was finally able to substantiate its claims. VIA officials delivered a sample motherboard with the new KT266A chipset to our lab and we checked if VIA's second try would finally make up for the disappointments of its predecessor.