AMD today launched its new RS690 northbridge, dubbed the AMD 690G
chipset. Fresh inclusions are integrated HDMI with support for 1.3 spec and HDCP, an upgraded graphics core: changed from X300 in the RS480 (I reviewed
quite a while ago) to an X700 graphics core, rebranded
Unfortunately this isn't a true X1-series chip, so it cannot do FP16 HDR at all, regardless of antialising. It also lacks vertex shading units, of which calculations are now done on the CPU. That's not to say it still can't obliterate Intel integrated graphics and give NVIDIA's now ageing 6150 boards run for their money, though.
Also included is AVIVO support and acceleration for up to 720p High-Definition video. With integrated HDTV-out, cheaper motherboards can be made as there is no need for manufacturers to purchase extra chips to do provide this functionality.
The chipset contains 24 PCI-Express lanes: 16 for a discrete graphics card, four for peripherals and expansion ports and four more for the northbridge-southbridge interlink. The southbridge is still the SB600, with the SB700 taped out for later this year (although both should be pin-compatible).
An AMD 690V chipset is also available, but this "Value" northbridge lacks the integrated DVI, HDMI and HDCP. However, considering the low cost of the standard 690G chipset, the motherboards shouldn't be at all expensive - so the 690G should be the one to aim for. If you're interested in this for a Home Theatre PC, HDMI includes support for digital video and
audio, making it a perfect one cable solution.
In times past, there used to be extremely limited availability of ATI integrated motherboards, with very few manufacturers committing to them. However, since the acquisition by AMD more motherboard manufacturers are using the chipset than ever before - which should provide more choice and a more competitive marketplace.
The 690G chipset was originally slated for release this time last year
, but kept being pushed back. Initially, ATI was waiting for SB600, then AMD acquiring ATI and finally from alleged HDMI/HDCP licensing issues.
We're going to post the full details and retail motherboard reviews shortly, but here are a couple of shots to wet your whistle in the mean time.
Belated EDIT: I'm referring to this as an Armadillo launch: Hard on the outside, soft on the inside; where the chipset is out in the channel and the boards have been made, but the manufacturers are taking their time to get the boards to the shops for you to buy. We were under the assumption this would be available in the shops to buy, but it seems the board makers have other ideas.