Sunday, March 14, 2010

A somewhat disappointing 8-series chipset from AMD

AMD's recent launch of their 890GX chipset @ CeBIT 2010 is a little disappointing to say the least. Depending on how you want to look at it, it's either a 790GX with DirectX 10.1 added, or it's a 789G with a slight IGP overclock. Somewhat understandable, I suppose, since AMD didn't do a process shrink with 890GX but still needed to keep ahead of Intel's new IGP while they continue work on Llano.

So 890GX turns out to be all about the new SB850 southbridge chip that adds SATA 6Gbps, and enough bandwidth to support USB 3.0. USB 3.0 will be a big selling point for this chipset since Intel's equivalents only provide half bandwidth. Both vendor's chipsets don't come with USB 3.0 but instead rely on third party chips to provide the capability.

Essentially, both vendors are making sure USB 3.0 can be optionally supported by board manufaturers, if that's what they want.

The really interesting stuff will only be coming next year with AMD's release of Llano APU for mainstream and high end notebooks. Bulldozer is also planned for an appearance in the enthusiast desktop market.

Of course, the fact that Intel's Clarkdale has only 12 shaders and can match AMD's 40 shaders IGP doesn't bode well for the green camp. With Intel promising similar gains in their next IGP things are really heating up in the IGP area. Thankfully AMD planned for 480 shaders in Llano... or so the rumors would have us believe.

It's still too early to know for sure. A lot depends on not just CPU & IGP performance, but power consumption and die size as well. AMD tends to have bigger dies than Intel at similar price points.

Interesting times are ahead, and it's all good for the consumer.