Affordable Alternatives: DDR400 Dual-Channel Chipsets for the Pentium 4

Conclusion: 875P Is Fastest, VIA Comes Close, SiS Is More Reasonable

The test runs show a few benchmarks that are dominated either by SiS or by VIA, but the overall situation is clear: Those people who want maximum performance at all costs should still go for the Intel 875P. However, the performance difference is by far smaller than it was during the last years, which should make you think twice if you want to spend much more money on a platform that is just unnoticeably faster.

VIA manages to achieve the best memory bandwidth numbers, which obviously is made possible by the new memory interface. Yet it does only win in five real-world benchmarks, staying closely behind the Intel 875P. In exchange, SiS dominates the encoding and rendering benchmarks like XMPEG and Lame. As this kind of benchmarks primarily requires a fast CPU, minimal changes to the clock speed can affect the performance. Indeed, the SiS board ran at 3210 MHz, while all other boards were almost exactly at 3200 MHz or even slightly below, leaving this advantage in the dust.

VIA goes the path of matching Intel in terms of performance and features, and at the same time offering their chipset at more attractive prices. The SiS655 is a further development to the SiS655, which did not have such a good start in spring this year. The SiS655FX, however, also is pretty close to the 875P in terms of performance. Regarding features, SiS definitely tried to stick to the real important ones: ECC is unimportant for home users and hardly anybody goes for more than one gigabyte of RAM today. Maybe VIA should think about building a cheap Xeon platform with the PT880? Here, support for more than 4 GB memory is better appreciated.

In the end, we have almost a no-win situation. All three chipsets perform equally, while Intel has a very little advantage in terms of performance. VIA has it in terms of features and SiS in terms of price. However, success of will highly depend on the motherboard companies and on what chipset they want to rely on this time. If VIA sells cheap enough to push the 865PE and SiS apart for the Christmas business, they might even experience a comeback. If not, SiS has quite a chance to increase their market share in the high-performance desktop section, since the 655FX has no real disadvantages either.