Comparing Athlon 64 chipsets has become quite an uninteresting affair from a performance point of view, because AMD's on-chip memory controller prevents chipset or motherboard makers from further fine-tuning. In addition, large L2 caches help blur the importance of fast memory. As a result, most chipsets that are currently available for AMD's Socket 939 platform perform alike, unless the chipset or motherboard manufacturer screws something up. At the same time, every Athlon chipset that is capable of supporting HyperTransport 2.0 at 16x16 configurations will also be ready for the Socket M2 generation, because HyperTransport is all the AMD processors require to communicate with the chipset.
It is of little surprise that ULi's last official product as a chipset maker has no problems keeping up with the performance levels of ATI, NVIDIA and VIA. Benchmark result differences between these platforms are minor, whether it is a dual graphics setup or a conventional one, and ULi proved that it can keep up with the its competitors on a technical level. Once again - and for the last time - ULi offers an interesting alternative for everyone who neither requires a dual graphics platform nor Gigabit Ethernet. The M1697 won't beat ATI's Radeon Xpress 200 or NVIDIA's nForce4 - but it's pretty close.
Although the ULi chipsets never made it into the upper segments of the retail market, and the firm cannot benefit from the exposure that its graphics-centered competitors ATI and NVIDIA enjoy, the engineering behind them certainly is up to date. Technically, ULi would be able to offer an impressive product range that could cover all the way from the lowest to the highest end. ULi's experience with HyperTransport, paired with considerable expertise when it comes to high level integration, should enable NVIDIA to really accelerate its core logic business.