Details About ATI CrossFire Xpress 3200 And Motherboards On It
Today is the debut of CrossFire Xpress 3200 - a new chipset from ATI Technologies for AMD Socket 939 platform previously codenamed RD580 and Skeletor.
The 8 months of development resulted in a 39mm² chip (the smallest of all similar) with 22M transistors onboard. The production will take place at TSMC according to 110nm process technology.
Actually there's only a part of a chipset - its Northbridge. Until summer it will be used with ULi M1575 Southbridge. And later ATI is to release its own Southbridge variant more suitable for CrossFire Xpress 3200 that its existing solutions.
The key benefit of the novelty is that for the first time in the industry a Northbridge supports two fully-fledged PCI Express x16 (!) interfaces. In general, the chip provides 40 PCI Express lanes 32 of which are given to the graphics subsystem. Another 4 lanes are used for four PCI-Express x1 ports, and the last 4 lanes (1 x PCI Express x4) make the Alink2 Southbridge interconnect.
In other words, having two ATI Radeon X1300 based budget graphics cards and a motherboard like this a user gets a very price/performance attractive machine. Note that graphics cards on such GPUs will not require a master card to work in the CrossFire mode. This makes a PC simpler and less expensive. And an example of it you can see below:
The chip has low heat dissipation - up to 8W TDP. The company states the overclockability without raising voltage, etc. Clock rates at which CrossFire Xpress 3200 is claimed to be operable considerably exceed the nominal: HyperTransport - up to 1.5GHz (50% higher), PCI Express - up to 140MHz (40% higher). By the way, according to the vendor, the very first silicon demonstrated stable CrossFire operation after the first 24 hours of debugging.
The new platform is designed for AMD Athlon 64FX, Athlon 64 X2 and Athlon64 processors, features 6 x SATA 3Gbps (RAID 0,1,0+1, JBOD), 2 x 1394a, Dual Gigabit Ethernet, and High Definition Audio. It supports up to 4GB of RAM. For more details please read our article on A8R32-MVP Deluxe and also take a look at test results in the CrossFire mode.
In the second half of March other vendors, including Sapphire, DFI, ABIT and PCPartner are to unveil their own motherboards on the new chip (see above). Their specs are almost identical to A8R32-MVP Deluxe. All of these are designed for 4 x dual-channel DDR400 memory and have 2 x PCI Express x16, 2 x PCI-Express x1, one or two PCI (3 x PCI and 1 x PCI Express x1 on DFI's board). Interfaces include 2 x ATA133, 4 x SATA and 2 x SATA II (4 x SATA and SATA II on DFI and PCPartner boards). All boards also featur 8 x USB 2.0 (PCPartner and DFI also add 2 x 1394a).
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