M1697 Chipset Details
As we already mentioned, the M1697 is a reincarnation of what we know as the "M1695+M1567", merged into a single piece of silicon and minus the AGP port. The result is a highly integrated Athlon 64 (or Sempron) core logic product.
M1697 comes with a total of 20 PCI Express lanes that can be configured flexibly. Graphics can be powered by one single x16 slot or by two x16 connectors running x8 data modes. The remaining four lanes can either fuel one x4 PCI Express slot or three x1 slots.
Looking at the storage interfaces, the chipset features an ACHI-compliant Serial ATA controller with support for 300 MBit/s bandwidth and Native Command Queuing. ULi offers four ports and the option to run RAID 0, 1, 1+0, 5 or a JBOD setup. In addition to that, there are still two UltraATA/133 channels for old-style hard drives and optical storage devices. A High Definition Audio controller is a must-have today as well, and has not been forgotten.
However, the high level of integration comes at a price - one that many people tend to perceive as a shortcoming of the product, though it should not be seen this way. If a chip designer refuses to follow the path of maximum integration, it will never be possible to accommodate everything into the resulting silicon. As a consequence, the M1697 has a total of eight rather than ten USB 2.0 ports, and it comes with only a 100 Mbit Ethernet controller. Gigabit Ethernet has to be added via companion chips using PCI Express, since this requires some additional silicon real estate.