VIA PT880 Pro Reference Motherboard
Board Revision: Reference Board
BIOS Version: December 17, 2004
The reference motherboard is pretty huge, even though it does not have any additional hardware beyond the chipset features. VIA decided to equip their reference system with 184 pin DDR sockets for up to DDR400 memory. The chipset could work with DDR2-533 and DDR2-667 as well, but it looks like VIA has positioned this chipset exactly as we figured: for upgrade use.
We ran into some bugs in our initial work with the board. The Phoenix BIOS offers a setting called 'Top Performance'. Sounds great, but whenever we tried to enable it, the system would no longer boot. We received an updated BIOS with the reference motherboard, but the AWDFLASH update utility refused to work due to insufficient memory, even though we started the system using a naked DOS boot disk.
Also, we were not able to benchmark using a GeForce 6800 GT PCIe graphics card. Whenever we launched a 3D application, the system crashed. This happened immediately when using 3DMark 2005 or 3DStudio Max; other applications ran for a while but crashed later. Sometimes, the board would also refuse to reboot after we told Windows XP to restart; turning off the system solved this.
Unfortunately, we had to do our tests over the weekend, which made it impossible to find a solution for these issues on short notice. Using a GeForce 6600 GT PCIe solved the problem, and while this means the graphics benchmark numbers are lower than they could be, we should point out that this scenario is also more realistic from an upgrade point of view.