Preparing you for the eight-core Bulldozers.
The new AMD 9-series chipsets brings with it the long awaited octa-core CPU support. These new AM3+ motherboards will support any AMD processor all the way till the good old Athlon processors of yore. With the 9-series chipsets, AMD brings support for SATA III (6gbps), PCI 2.0 2×16 lanes or 4×8 lanes, and up to 14 USB 2.0 connections. You will notice that USB 3.0 is sorely missing native support, but then that issue is moot because most motherboard manufacturers will just use a Marvell chip to control that.
Interestingly Nvidia cards can now run in SLI mode, but as I said earlier, the modes available will be 1×16, 2×16:16, 3×16:8:8 and 4×8:8:8:8 lanes in PCIe 2. Of course, the SB950 Southbridge is no slouch, perfectly complimenting the 990FX chipset with most of the I/O operations. It’s interesting to note that in addition for up to 6 SATA III port support, raid modes 0,1,5 and 10 are also supported on the 990FX platform.
Apart from the native support and future-proofing with support for the 32nm Bulldozer based Zambezi 8-core CPUs coming out later this year, there’s not much of an improvement over the 890FX. That means that aside from anything new the motherboard manufacturers choose to add as an extra, the 990FX platform doesn’t bring much new to the table; at least for the existing AMD processors.
For now, let’s take a look at our two contestants for today’s review of the 990FX platform.