HardwareCanuck Review Editor
- Feb 26, 2007
AMD’s 890GX Chipset: Low-End Price, High-End Features
Before we really get into this article, let’s rewind to November of 2007 when the original AMD Phenom processors were first released as B2 stepping chips. As many of you will remember, those were tough times for AMD since Intel had already been heavily marketing their quad core Kentsfield for almost a year. To make matters even worse, the original Phenoms failed to perform up to expectations and featured a TBL bug that popped up in certain situations. AMD however retained their fighting spirit and pushed through adversity to release the B3 stepping Phenoms and eventually went on to introduce the highly successful Phenom II and Athlon II lines of dual, tri and quad core processors. With these products, they have been able to concentrate on brining value to the CPU market in the face of what seems to be rapidly increasing prices from Intel’s camp.
While AMD’s processors have quickly progressed from one generation to the next, the associated AM2+ and AM3 motherboards didn’t fare quite as well. 790FX-based boards were the flagship products back when they were released in 2007 and still remain so today. The same can be said about the other 790-series boards but many of them were replaced with the newer 785G products over the course of last year. Let’s be honest though; in terms of component lifecycles, nearly three years is a hell of a long time. The 700 series of chipsets were getting long in the tooth and while the 785G boards did breathe some life into things, AMD needed an update. This is where the new 800-series comes into play.
Today marks the official release of AMD’s new chipsets that are based on the new SB850 and SB810 southbridge chips. These new products are basically more evolved versions of the 700-series and will make up the backbone of the new Leo and Dorado platforms. At their most basic, the two new platforms will be targeting different ends of the market. AMD has stated the Leo will appeal to buyers looking at the upcoming Phenom II X6 and Zosma-based quad core processors while the Dorado aims for the lower end dual and quad core products. According to the information we have, these new chipsets pack a number of new features but will retail for almost the same amount as the outgoing products. If anything, this should cement AMD’s value-oriented goals into the mindsets of the buying public.
It should also be noted that today marks the first time the media is allowed to talk about the upcoming Thurban-based Phenom II X6 as a bona-fide product. You won’t see any firm benchmarks yet (at least not from us) and actual availability is slated for sometime in the April / May timeframe but at least we now know the name of this elusive 40nm, 6-core processor. However, the only reason AMD is announcing it now is to stave off some of the bleeding which will inevitably come with Intel’s upcoming Gulftown release.
For the purposes of this article we will be concentrating on the 890GX chipset since it targets a potentially lucrative market for AMD and one which will appeal to consumers looking at a value-oriented setup. There won’t be many benchmarks here since they will come in the separate motherboard reviews but we do have boards from ASUS and Gigabyte on-hand which will be on display a bit later in this article. So, treat this article like a primer for a whole series of 890-series reviews in the coming months.