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Review: VIA PT800 Chipset

by Tarinder Sandhu on 29 August 2003, 00:00

Tags: VIA Technologies (TPE:2388)

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VIA's serious return to the P4 market ?

VIA Technologies has always been a bit player in the P4 market, according to most observers who follow the trials and tribulations of chipset manufacturing companies. We've no doubt that it intended to dominate the S478 platform in much the same way it had monopolised the SoA market with its KT266A / KT333 chipsets, but Intel's refusal to grant the Taiwanese outfit a proper production license always hindered VIA's inexorable march to P4 chipset dominance, at least that's what VIA would say. Perhaps the ill feeling between the two chipset giants was borne from VIA's disregard for Intel when the former launched a PC133 memory-based chipset for the Pentium III CPU, all without Intel's official rubber-stamped approval.

Whatever the history between the two firms, it's been clear that VIA had the innate ability to be a big player in the lucrative Pentium 4 chipset market. NVIDIA kept itself busy with the nForce / nForce2, and SiS attempted to be the jack of all trades with numerous chipsets for both camps. Intel, this year, ploughed on with its new wave of dual-channel chipsets and 800FSB CPUs, thereby giving its chipset team a definite performance advantage over rivals'. The end result was and is rather predictable. If you want the fastest P4 combination, pick a 3.2GHz P4 (duh!) and take your pick of Canterwood or PAT-equipped Springdale boards. No-one else is really in the picture, are they ?

VIA hopes to change all that with the PT800; its newest and most potent S478 chipset to date. We saw VIA update its AMD catalogue with the ever-improving KT600, featuring a whole host of new features, so it was only a matter of time before VIA updated the P4 range. The Canterwood and various Springdale boards have set a high performance and feature standard over the past few months, therefore VIA has its work cut out. Let's now see just how good VIA is at cutting.