At last the first K8 Socket is reviewed at OCW Labs. This is one of the most amazing chipset I would say because it was all ready since 2002 June. We saw a similar board during our visit at Computex last year. We have seen and heard a lot about Athlon64 and at last we have a chance to test it out ourselves.
As with the introduction of an embedded memory controller within the CPU, it is now practically be difficult to differentiate between the various chipset offerings except the design of the architecture. e.g. integrated chipset or north-south pairs. If north south pair, the bandwidth dedicated for it and also what sort of features are supported on the South Bridge.
The performance is highly dependent on the CPU and the components used. In our tests comparing it with the K7 platforms - nForce2, SiS 748 and VIA KT600, we can easily see where the A64 (3100+, now probably 2900+) stands in comparison to a AXP3200+ on the various chipsets.
The high scores in CCWS 2002 is a good indicator of the high speed IDE interface since the old days of the ALiMAGiK1 chipset. Its amazingly blazing speed is comparable to SiS 963. From our findings, the AGP performance is good but there is room for improvement because I was told Integrated driver 2.05 AGP driver has bugs. We used Integrated 2.04 in our tests.
In our tests, we didn't face major issues. The board works well in both CAS 2, 2.5 under aggressive timings without a fault. We even stress test the system running it with SUPERPI together with FoldingClient and it is still running right now when I type this (all at CAS 2, 5-2-2). With this reference board, we can overclock the FSB to 218MHz FSB and it is rock stable at CAS 2.5, 6-3-3.
In terms of features, the South Bridge seems to be a bit outdated since it does not support SATA nor RAID. It does support memory stick and secure digital interface (via south bridge). There is a growing trend of having such features integrated into the south bridge. As we have just begun testing the K8 platforms, It is too early to give a conclusion which chipset offers the best performance as retail boards are currently unavailable. We do have word that SOYO will be releasing one based on the ALi chipset which supports IDE and SATA RAID using an additional chipset.
I would recommend this chipset as it is fast and rock stable.
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