VIA KT266 Socket-A DDR Chipset: Third time's a charm?by Anand Lal Shimpi on April 10, 2001 3:44 AM EST
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Anticlimactic would be an appropriate word to describe the launch of the very first Socket-A chipset with support for DDR SDRAM, the AMD 760. The AMD 760 was released almost six months ago, and unfortunately its introduction was not met with much enthusiasm among those in the community simply because the price premium the chipset and its new memory commanded was not worth the 0 - 10% performance improvement it offered over present day PC133 solutions.
However, AMD's motives behind releasing the 760 chipset were not to show the immediate benefits of DDR SDRAM nor were they to sell hundreds of thousands of 760 chipsets. Instead AMD's goal, as a CPU manufacturer and not a chipset manufacturer, was to promote the technology that their CPUs would need in the future. By being a driving force behind DDR SDRAM technology, AMD took a strong position in encouraging the rest of the market, particularly 3rd party chipset manufacturers such as ALi, SiS and VIA, to adopt that technology in their upcoming solutions.
While we all knew a solution from VIA was in the works, ALi was actually the first to offer a DDR SDRAM chipset for the Athlon platform after the AMD 760 was released. Unfortunately, the ALi MAGiK1 didn't impress us when we were first introduced to it last November, and in our most recent comparison with a much more mature platform, the chipset has yet to shine as even an alternative to the current PC133 chipsets.
Speaking of which, it was a PC133 Socket-A chipset that took off in popularity instead of the AMD 760 at the end of last year. As you all probably know, that was the KT133A and it is still quite a popular solution simply because it offers compatibility with PC133 SDRAM and provides very low latency operation as we noticed in our latest comparison. Its low latency operation allows it to excel quite well in today's applications and games which is represented accurately in most of the benchmarks.
VIA does understand that they cannot live off of the laurels of their PC133 platforms forever so it came with no surprise that in the first month of the new year they announced volume shipments of their KT266 chipset, VIA's first DDR solution for the Socket-A platform.