Albatron K8X800 Pro II Motherboard Review

k8x800-pro2

Introduction

The K8T800 is Via’s newest edition to their long line of AMD chipsets. Albatron has taken this chipset and used it in their new K8X800 Pro II motherboard. This motherboard packs a lot of features into a motherboard waiting to unleash the power of AMDs 64-bit CPU. I want to get right into this review so lets take a look at the chipset. The information below is from Via’s website.

The VIA K8T800 chipset with Hyper8 technology is powering next generation 64-bit compatible platforms based around AMD Opteron™ and new Athlon™ 64 processors, including Dual Opteron™ processor based workstations and servers, and Athlon™64 processor based performance PC platforms. Combined with the VIA VT8237 South Bridge and VIA companion chips, the K8T800 enables an unparalleled range of cutting edge I/O and multimedia features, including an 1.6GHz HyperTransport Bus Link, AGP 8X, Native Serial ATA/RAID, 7.1-surround audio, and Gigabit Ethernet.

The HyperTransport link between the AMD64 processor and chipset provides a 16-bit/1.6GHz data transfer rate for a total bandwidth of 6.4GB/s. To counter the massive data loads and high propensity for signal interference of a 16-bit/1.6GHz link, several AMD64 supporting motherboards currently available feature a below-spec HyperTransport implementation. By reducing the processor-to-chipset HyperTransport link to deal with signal interference, total bandwidth is reduced from 6.4GB/s to as little as 3.2GB/s. With support for VIA’s unique Hyper8™ technology the VIA K8T800 enables the industry’s first full 16-bit/1.6GHz implementation of the HyperTransport bus for the AMD64 platform, ensuring AMD Opteron and AMD Athlon 64 processor based systems achieve their full performance potential.

Featuring the VIA DriveStation™ Controller Suite, the VIA VT8237 South Bridge provides the most comprehensive support high-performance integrated storage interface technologies available on the market today. In addition to enabling high-speed 150MB/s dual channel connections to Serial ATA Hard Drives while retaining support for up to four Parallel ATA-133 devices, it combines exceptionally fast disk data transfer rates and optimal data integrity with easy installation and manageability through V-RAID, the first native RAID controller integrated into a South Bridge supporting multiple RAID Level 0, RAID Level 1, RAID 0+1, and JBOD configurations.

The VT8237 also features the VIA Vinyl™ Multichannel Audio Suite for superlative integrated and onboard 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound, and offers a host of high-bandwidth connectivity options, including support for the VIA Gigabit Ethernet companion chip, integrated 10/100Mbps Fast Ethernet and up to eight high-speed USB 2.0 ports.

The K8T800 benefits from VIA’s unique V-MAP (VIA Modular Architecture Platform) architecture that facilitates faster product development and speeds up time to market, and features the high-throughput V-Link interconnect running at speeds of up to 533 MB/s between the North and South Bridge.

Feature K8T800
Server/Workstation
K8T800
Performance PC
North Bridge
Processor Support AMD Opteron™
Single/Dual Processor Support
AMD Athlon™ 64
Single Processor support
Front Side Bus 1.6GHz (800MHz Upstream & Downstream) HyperTransport Bus Link 1.6GHz (800MHz Upstream & Downstream) HyperTransport Bus Link
Memory Bus 128-bit Dual Channel DDR memory controller integrated directly into processor 64-bit Single Channel DDR memory controller integrated directly into processor
AGP Support AGP4X/8X AGP4X/8X
Memory Type DDR266/333/400 DDR266/333/400
Max. Memory 4.0GB 4.0GB
South Bridge VT8237 VT8237
North/South Bridge Link 8X V-Link (533MB/sec) 8X V-Link (533MB/sec)
Audio VIA Vinyl™ Audio 5.1 surround sound (AC’97) VIA Vinyl™ Gold Audio 7.1 surround sound (PCI) VIA Vinyl™ Audio 5.1 surround sound (AC’97) VIA Vinyl™ Gold Audio 7.1 surround sound (PCI)
Network VIA Gigabit Ethernet companion controller VIA MAC 10/100 Ethernet VIA Gigabit Ethernet companion controller VIA MAC 10/100 Ethernet
Modem MC’97 MC’97
PCI Devices/Slots 6 slots Dual PCI-X bus support through VIA VPX2 I/O expansion bridge 6 slots
SATA Dual Channel Serial ATA supports 2 SATA devices SATALite™ interface for two additional SATA devices (4 total) Dual Channel Serial ATA supports 2 SATA devices SATALite™ interface for two additional SATA devices (4 total)
V-RAID RAID 0, RAID 1, and RAID 0+1* & JBOD (SATA) RAID 0, RAID 1, and RAID 0+1* & JBOD (SATA)
PATA Dual Channel Parallel ATA133 (up to 4 devices) Dual Channel Parallel ATA133 (up to 4 devices)
USB 8 ports 8 ports
I/O Protocols I/O APIC / LPC Super I/0 I/O APIC / LPC Super I/0
IO APIC Yes Yes
Power Management ACPI/APM/PCI/PM ACPI/APM/PCI/PM

Block diagram
Below is a block diagram of how the chipset is laid out and how everying connects. Most of the I/O is handled by the VT8237 southbridge while the brunt of the work is done by the K8T800 chipset.


Key Features
· Supports full range of AMD Opteron/Athlon64 processors
· Hyper8 Technology enables 16-bit/1.6GHz HyperTransport processor-to-chipset link
· Support for AGP 8X/4X
· V-Link 533 MB/sec high bandwidth North/South Bridge interconnect
· Support for VIA Vinyl 5.1 & Vinyl Gold 7.1 Multichannel Audio Suite
· Serial ATA support for up to 4 devices
· Integrated V-RAID with RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 0+1*, and JBOD (SATA) support
· Parallel ATA133/100/66 support for up to 4 devices
· Support for up to 8 USB 2.0/USB 1.1 ports, UHCI compliant
· Support for VIA Gigabit Ethernet companion controller & Integrated 10/100 Fast Ethernet
· Integrated MC’97 Modem
· Advanced power management capabilities including ACPI/OnNow
· 578-pin BGA North Bridge
· 539-pin BGA VT8237 South Bridge

Benefits of VIA K8T800

VIA Hyper8™ Technology
VIA’s unique Hyper8 technology eliminates noise on the HyperTransport link between the processor and chipset, enabling the industry’s only full-speed, full-spec 16-bit/1.6GHz implementation of the processor-to-chipset HyperTransport link.

VIA Modular Architecture Platform
To best exploit the rapid pace of innovation in the PC industry, particularly with reference to I/O technology, VIA have opted for a classic North/South Bridge configuration allowing for the most scalable mainboard design, enabling new functionality to be integrated in an expedient and practical manner, thus providing the fastest time to market with new features and system performance enhancements.

Native Serial ATA/RAID Support
The VIA DriveStation™ Controller Suite with native dual channel Serial ATA/RAID controller, provides direct support for two 150MB/s Serial ATA devices and its unique SATAlite™ interface expands support for two additional SATA devices. The V-RAID controller features native RAID 0, RAID 1, RAID 0+1* and JBOD, ensuring optimum data integrity and system performance. The user friendly V-RAID software interface enables easy disk array configuration and management.

VIA Vinyl Multichannel Audio Suite
Delivering rich, warm surround sound at resolutions as high as 24/96 through up to six- or eight-channel outputs, the VIA Vinyl Audio 5.1 surround sound and VIA Vinyl Gold Audio 7.1 surround sound enables crisp, clear performance, representing the highest levels of audio quality in a mainstream integrated or onboard solution.

Unified VIA Hyperion 4in1 Drivers
VIA’s unified approach to drivers has been established for eight generations of chipsets, allowing end users to benefit from seamless hardware and software compatibility.

* RAID Level 0+1 requires four Serial ATA drives; support for the two additional drives can only be implemented with two external Serial ATA ports enabled through a SATALite PHY.