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Swansong for the XP Era: VIA KT880 Chipset Challenges nForce2

KT880: Dual-Channel DDR And AGP 8X

While Intel is already laying the foundations with PCI Express, VIA is still going with the tried-and-true AGP interface (Accelerated Graphics Port). And with good reason, considering Socket A is a mature platform and thus the step up to PCIE graphics is not likely to make much sense at this late juncture.

This poses no disadvantage, as neither current and future apps nor games, will be able to tweak any performance increases with the higher bandwidths of x16 PCI Express (4 GB/s per direction) during the next nine to 12 months. Besides, it will mostly be top-of-the-line graphics cards that are offered with a PCIE interface.

VT8251 With PCIE From Mid-year

The unchanged Ultra V-Link also gives motherboard manufacturers the option of going with VIA's new Southbridge VT8251 starting in the middle of this year. In addition to two x1 PCI Express slots, it features a total of four Serial-ATA ports instead of today's two. Unlike Intel's new Southbridge, however, VIA is sticking with two high-quality UltraATA channels; plus, it uses the UltraATA/133 standard, while Intel stood by UltraATA/100 due to a lack of any discernible performance enhancement.

The four SATA ports are supposed to make it possible to convert several hard drives into a RAID array (called DriveThru). Whereas previously RAID Levels 0 and 1 were supported, four ports now enable RAID 0+1, which boosts both performance and data security.