Skip to main content

Preview of VIA's upcoming Apollo Pro+ 133 Chipset

Is There Any Reason To Get All Excited About 133 MHz FSB, 1.6 GB/s Memory Bandwidth And AGP 4x?

The short answer is `NO'. Before I get to VIA's solution, I'd still like to remind you of the time when the BX-chipset was released last year and we had the chance to take advantage of the new 100 MHz FSB and memory clock. The performance gain we achieved by switching from 66 to 100 MHz was between 0-5 % in business applications and 3-10% in 3D-games. The latter was mainly due to the reduced arbitration problems of the AGP. There was also not much more than a 0-10% gain in 3D-game performance from AGP 1x to AGP 2x. Now we should expect even less than these performance gains from Camino's RDRAM architecture and AGP 4x, because the increase in CPU memory interface bandwidth is only 33%, as opposed to 50% when we switched from 66 to 100 MHz FSB, and unless games are using a huge amount of either triangles or large textures, the gain through AGP 4x will also be less than substantial. The main reason why we will try to get platforms that offer 133 MHz FSB will be the fact that future Pentium III processors will be based on this FSB clock. This means that there won't be a PIII 600 that runs at 6 x 100 MHz, and the next step will be 666 MHz and then 733 MHz, all only achievable with a FSB of 133 MHz. Now some of you may ask "why not overclocking my BX-platform to 133 MHz?" This would certainly be an option, since BX runs fine at 133 MHz FSB as long as you are using SDRAM that can cope with this speed, but what you forget is that BX can only run the AGP at either the FSB clock or at 2/3 of the FSB clock, which makes 88 MHz. An AGP running at 88 MHz is way out of spec and it will cause crashes as soon as your 3D-game is heavily using the AGP for textures or even only triangles.

VIA's Apollo Pro 133 Offers A Platform For 133 MHz FSB At Much Lower Costs Than Camino

VIA designed the Apollo Pro 133 chipset to offer an alternative to BX as well as Camino. Instead of depending on the expensive RDRAM it can use PC133 SDRAM and later PC133 DDR-SDRAM as well as virtual channel RAM. Apollo Pro 133 will therefore offer you a platform to run a Pentium III (or for all overclockers of course also a Pentium II) at 133 MHz FSB safely, it runs the AGP within spec at 66 MHz = ½ the FSB-clock, and you can take advantage of PC133 SDRAM, which is available right now and not much more expensive than PC100 SDRAM. The memory peak bandwidth of PC133 SDRAM is 1.066 GB/s and thus less than the bandwidth offered by RDRAM, but it should still be an improve over PC100 and it will be a much cheaper platform for 133 MHz FSB-processors.