The SiS, VIA and Intel Showdown at the Performance Chipset Corral


It may have taken a few months, but the Taiwanese chipmakers have optimized the SiS 655TX and the VIA PT880 to such an extent that they now largely hold their own against the performance of the 875P from Intel from a technical-performance standpoint.

In most benchmarks, SiS' 655TX was able to outperform VIA's PT880 and its predecessor 655FX. Assuming the lead in the odd category is VIA's PT880 chipset, which will grace the first boards mid December.

Intel's 875P remains an outstanding yet very pricey option. Its biggest advantages lie in the manufacturer's solid reputation and its integrated CSA network interface. SiS' 655TX is a lot cheaper and offers the bottom-line best price/performance ratio in our comparison. This is mostly due to the optimizations that SiS is touting under the HyperStreaming label, as its memory performance lags behind that of Via's PT880. That in turn, however, means that the VIA is better suited for processing graphics.

SiS is once again in a situation that should prove successful for the company: the 655TX works fast and the technnology behind it is obviously no rush job. The pricing shouldn't pose a problem for SiS, either.

But we haven't forgotten that SiS was able to wow us back in mid-2001 with its 735 chiopset for the Athlon. And yet the 735 did not become a breakthrough success as it was only used in low-cost products - nobody really took the chip seriously.

Gigabyte, on the other hand, has recognizd the potential of the TX and has turned out a mature board loaded with all the features power users want in the 8S655TX Ultra. Asus, another top brand from Taiwan, has joined the growing list of manufacturers who have announced their intentions to offer a board with the TX chipset. Unlike in 2001, support for the speedy newcomer seems about right, as more companies plan to jump on the wagon. However, the jury is still out on its commercial success.