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Dual Graphics Platforms, Part II

VIA's New K8T900 Dual Graphics Player

The K8T900 basically is an upgrade to the K8T890 chipset that adds the dual graphics option to the north bridge and introduces the latest south bridge, called the VT8251. The interlink that VIA uses is still the 'good old' Ultra V-Link, running with a 266 MHz base clock speed at quad data rate mode, providing an effective clock of 1,066 MHz.

For the sake of prestige, the dual graphics option is something that VIA can't afford to lose out on. Technically, it's obviously not particularly hard to split 16 PCI Express lanes into two physical x16 slots, running them in x8 mode each. However, VIA does not have licenses for ATI Crossfire or NVIDIA SLI yet, and we could not get the reference system running with either of these technologies. Since ATI already supports Intel, it is probably going to grant VIA access to dual graphics as well, but this might not happen before ATI launches its dual x16 chipset early next year.

Thus, we can only focus on the new south bridge features. VIA supports both AC97 High Definition Audio as well as its own Vinly Gold PCI companion chips. Gigabit Ethernet is an option, but again the motherboard maker has to purchase an additional chip; at least there are PCI Express versions now. Five 32-bit PCI slots are supported, and the storage subsystem was bumped up to four Serial ATA ports running at 300 MB/s each and supporting Native Command Queuing (NCQ). RAID 5 support was added as well.

VIA's latest south bridge component is a powerful part, offering 300 MB/s SATA support including Native Command Queuing. Other than NVIDIA's nForce4 SLI chipset, this is the only core logic product for Socket 939 platforms that supports RAID 5.