AMD’s 890GX chipset is upon us

ECS, Gigabyte and MSI first with announcements

AMD’S LATEST IGP CHIPSET has been launched, and with CeBIT kicking off tomorrow we should be seeing a lot more announcements, but for now, ECS, Gigabyte and MSI have announced boards based on the 890GX chipset.

The new features we’re looking at are an improved IGP that goes under the name of ATI Radeon HD 4290 which offers DirectX 10.1 and UVD 2.0 support. The 890GX supports Sideport memory as with the previous generation of IGP chipsets from AMD and it also supports Hybrid Crossfire. We’re still waiting for the definite list of supported cards, but according to Gigabyte it’s the Radeon HD 5000-series that will work with the 890GX. As this is the higher-end version of AMD’s IGP range, there’s also support for CrossFireX, but each x16 PCI Express slot is still limited to x8 bandwidth as with the 790GX.

The new SB850 southbridge adds support for SATA3 6Gbps on all six SATA ports, which is a huge step forward and way ahead of Intel. There’s no support for USB 3.0 as yet, so for now we’ll have to keep relying on NEC’s products for this. You’ll also see some boards with an updated audio codec which adds support for bit-streaming audio. Most of the just announced boards feature not only HDMI, but also DisplayPort connectivity, although this will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.

One important aspect is that not all 890GX boards will work with 140W AMD processors. It appears that boards that work with the 140W TDP processors are required to have a 5+1 power phase configuration and those that have less will only be approved for use with 125W TDP processors.

ECS has announced three different models, although the A890GXM-AU and 890GXM-A are the same board with and without USB 3.0 support, while the IC890GXM-A is a more basic model. All three are full ATX board and the first two models feature 6+1 phase power regulation and as such support the 140W TDP CPU’s while the IC890GXM-A only has 3+1 power phases and as such can only support 125W TDP processors.

The A890GXM boards also features a more impressive feature set in general with both DisplayPort and HDMI output, in addition to DVI and D-sub, which are the only options for the lesser board. ECS has also implemented dual Gigabit Ethernet on these two models, and there’s also a third x16 PCI Express slot, although this is limited to x4 bandwidth. Final touches include optical S/PDIF out and heatpipe chipset cooling. All three models offer eSATA and a pair of x16 PCI Express slots for CrossFireX support.

We’ve already given you a sneak peek of the Gigabyte GA-890GPA-UD3H board just over a month ago, but Gigabyte has tweaked its design slightly and the board now has a new heatpipe chipset cooler which should make it easier to use the top x1 PCI Express slot. The overall features haven’t changed much though since our initial first look, although it appears that this board has a 5+1 power regulation design and not 4+1 as stated in the preview and as such it supports the 140W CPU’s.

MSI has gone for a mATX design for its 890GXM-G65 board, although this will still work in CrossFireX mode thanks to having a pair of x16 slots. MSI has added a NEC USB 3.0 controller and offers a single SATA 6Gbps port on the expense of one internal port. The rear I/O also consists of a PS/2 port, an optical S/PDIF out, a D-sub, DVI and HDMI display connectors, four USB 2.0 ports, a Gigabit Ethernet port and 7.1-channel analogue audio jacks. MSI has also implemented 128MB of DDR3 Sideport memory and the board supports 140W processors.

We should be seeing more boards launched this week, as Asus is missing, although we already know it has a board coming, as Charlie got a sneak peek at that back at CES. The 890FX and 880G chipsets have yet to launch and aren’t expected until May, although we’re hoping that AMD can speed up its launch schedule a bit, as we should be seeing some Thuban based processors this week at CeBIT. Charlie is on location and should hopefully be bringing us more details later in the week.S|A

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