VIA PT880 Pro, PT894, PT894 Pro Chipset Preview
One of the technologies
in the new PT series is something VIA likes to call DualGFX. DualGFX essentially allows you to plug two graphics cards into a PT series motherboard, giving you the ability to use up to four monitors at once.
DualGFX is incorporated into the VIA PT880 Pro and the VIA PT894 Pro chipsets. With the PT880 Pro chipset, DualGFX is used by running both a PCI Express and AGP graphics card in the same system, while the PT894 Pro needs two PCI Express graphics cards to run in DualGFX. The interesting thing about DualGFX is that since it only works in 2D (it won’t work like SLI in 3D games), you do not need the same graphics card in both slots. You can mix and match new ATI and NVIDIA models with their previous generation counterparts, but can’t mix the two just yet on the PT chipsets.
VIA points out that this solution would be ideal for the digital workstation and finance segments, and would be much cheaper than buying a Matrox card that supports three monitors. However, since DualGFX does not offer any type of SLI 3D performance enhancement, it is a feature that will most likely be ignored by the gaming community.
Another technology that many will find useful is VIA’s StepUp Technology. Essentially, it allows for both DDR and DDR2 support on the PT series of chipsets, a good option for those not wanting to pay the premium for DDR2 just yet. StepUp is implemented directly through the chipset’s northbridge, and supports PC-2100 memory all the way through PC2-5400. The motherboard manufacturers can chose if they want support for only DDR, only DDR2, or both, so we should be seeing different memory layouts from different motherboard manufacturers using the same PT chipset when the boards finally hit retail in March.
On the hard-drive front, VIA is introducing a technology called DriveStation. Connected through the VT8251 Southbridge, DriveStation is a native SATA RAID solution that is the first to implement RAID 5 and full port multiplier support. For those unfamiliar, full port multiplier support allows for up to 60 SATA hard drives to be connected to a motherboard through a single SATA link.
Also supported with the new 8251 southbridge is VIA’s Vinyl Audio Suite. Essentially it’s support for HD Audio and 7.1 AC’97.