AMD's Athlon64 4000 and FX-55: Nails in the P4 EE's Coffin?

The Asus A8V Test Motherboard

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There are only very minor differences between Athlon64 motherboards since the memory controller is not part of the chipset, but instead, is part of the processor. However, one of the fastest boards that we tested is Asus' A8V, which uses the VIA K8T800 Pro chipset.

PCI Express To Come

Regarding interfaces, Intel already has the advantage with the Pentium 4 chipset's PCI Express capabilities. However, Athlon64 chipsets with PCI Express will be available as early as this year. Although there is still no difference between a high-end AGP and PCI Express graphics solutions, the new interface will become important in 2005 - both for graphics and add-on components such as video cards, TV tuners, storage adapters, etc.

These days, the three chip makers ATi, NVIDIA and VIA are fighting in order to get their PCI Express enabling Athlon64 chipsets ready. VIA has paper-launched the capability, NVIDIA is launching it today and ATi will follow suit in a few weeks.

All three chipsets will have a different focus. While NVIDIA goes for maximum features with the nForce4 Ultra, followed by an nForce4 SLI for dual graphics applications, ATi will try to offer lower price points.

VIA's K8T890 Pro will likely aim to offer dual graphics capabilities at a more affordable price point than NVIDIA devices, with motherboards with decent features that will retail for more than $ 200.