VIA Technologies has announced the VIA PT series of chipsets for the Intel Pentium 4 platform, which provides a smooth transition for motherboard manufacturers and their customers to new technologies such as PCI Express (PCIe) and DDR2 memory.
The new chipsets include the VIA PT880 Pro and PT894 chipsets, which target the performance mainstream market, while the PT894 Pro is for the workstation and power-user segments. They all support the latest Intel Pentium 4 and Celeron processors operating with up to a 1066MHz FSB.
With the VIA PT880 Pro, VIA provides the ability to use either PCIe or AGP Graphics cards on the same motherboard, enabled by the VIA Universal Graphics Interface (UGI). For users requiring multitasking capabilities, enhanced multi-display support is provided by VIA DualGFX Express technology, which enables the connection of up to four monitors via dual graphics cards. VIA DualGFX Express support using dual PCIe graphics cards is offered by the VIA PT894 Pro chipset. The VIA PT880 Pro chipset, on the other hand, allows VIA DualGFX Express technology to operate via a PCIe and AGP graphics card combination.
All PT series chipsets offer the option of using either DDR or DDR2 system memory on the same motherboard, by means of VIA StepUp Technology. With support for DDR memory at up to 400MHz and DDR2 memory up to 667MHz, VIA StepUp Technology provides end-users and system integrators the flexibility to use whatever memory standard suits their requirements.
The PT series northbridges can be combined with either the VIA VT8237 southbridge or the forthcoming VIA VT8251 southbridge. The VT8251 southbridge offers support for a wide range of functionality, including SATA II, RAID 5 and high-definition audio.
VIAs architecture also allows motherboard manufacturers to utilize more affordable 4-layer PCBs, as opposed to more expensive 6-layer PCBs, without compromising on system performance or stability. By contrast, market research shows that the significant majority of current and forthcoming motherboards based on competitorschipsets require 6-layer PCBs in order to remain stable, thereby significantly increasing platform cost.