VIA forecasts rapid take-up of KT333

Making it easy for mobo makers

VIA yesterday officially launched the Apollo KT333 chipset. It's the world's first to support new fast memory DDR333 for Socket A (i.e. AMD Athlon and Duron) processors.

Here's some KT333 benchmarks, supplied by VIA:

8% faster than KT266A in StreamD 2000
7% faster in SoSoft Sandra 2001
14% faster in JKBench Write DWord
3 per cent better performance in Quake III
2.5 per cent better content creation in Sysmark 2001 Internet CC

You can expect more improvements, once the mobo makers work their magic with the BIOS, VIA says.

So what else? There's support for Ultra ATA-133, delivering more bandwith - i.e. the data goes faster - between (typcially higher capacity) hard drive and chipset, and this is handy for data intensive apps.

The reviews of VIA's official reference boards have duly made their way on to the Web (You can check out Tom's Hardware's take here).

Of course, the reviews of KT333-supporting motherboards have been out for a few weeks now - although some of these boards may not have KT333 in
its absolutely final iteration.

It's never easy to keep enthusiastic Taiwanese companies from jumping the PR gun. And VIA was remarkably relaxed about customers stealing its European launch-day thunder, when we caught up with the company yesterday in windswept Munich.

However, international marketing director Richard Brown was keen to correct a recent rumour floating around the Web concerning the nomenclature/future revision of the KT333.

"I'd like to emphasise that there will be no KT333a in the future," he said. "We are very proud of our tradition (of 'a' versions of VIA chipsets), but we like to do it right first time."

The next chipset on the roadmap will be the DDR400-supporting KT400, he said.

Brown takes issue with analysts who reckon that there will be a slow take-up among mobo makers for KT333. "We believe the transition (from DDR 266)will be very quick - it's unavoidable progression", he says.

Initially, support will drum up from hardware enthusiasts and workstation makers; they want performance and they want it now. And they're willing to pay. But then KT333 adoption will move PDQ into the mainstream, according to VIA.

The company has taken soundings from its mobo making customers, who forecast that 40-50 per cent of their designs will support DDR333 by the end of this year.
So why so quick? According to VIA, the key to success lies in its modular chipset design architecture, dubbed V-MAP. This means that mobo makers can effect seamless product transitions on a single motherboard platform - in other words, it doesn't take much time or effort to make the swap over to KT333 and improved performance.

Slow, Slow, Quick, Quick, Slow

It's perhaps a moot point, but it seemed to us that Brown sought to provide a rationale for launching the KT333, an intermediary technology, he acknowledges, in the first place. The company is damned for launching products too frequently, and it's damned for not launching products frequently enough - and competitors get a chance to play catch-up in the latter case.

"The uptake of our products is getting faster and faster - it's almost becoming like being on a treadmill - you just have to get out products as quickly as you can," he says.

By getting intermediary technologies out on to the market first, or as near as damnit, VIA gets to do some standards-setting, and customers get the immediate benefit of step improvements. By way of example of this approach, Brown cites the company's new discrete USB 2.0 controller, the first to market, along with NEC. ®

VIA press release

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