Technical Information and System Setup

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The VIA Apollo KT333 chipset is here now, and will be here for some months to come. First, I’ll tell you as much information as I can about the marketing and naming aspect of this chipset as I am allowed to. First, there will be no KT333A chipset released on the market. There is, however, another AMD chipset being developed on the horizon. In it you will probably find the features that you may have heard would appear on the KT333A chipset. But as that is still some weeks away, we’ll stick to what is here and now.

As I mentioned on the first page, there is a lot of excitement and fervor on the Internet about this chipset and it is important to note that it was not VIA’s attempt to start this. 🙂 My meeting with them was very good, but they continued to stress this point to me – that the KT333 chipset was just a simple stepping upgrade of the KT266A chipset and nothing as spectacular as a lot of the media was making it out to be. In fact, the KT333 north and south bridges are simple drop-in replacements for the boards designed around the KT266A chipset. It is because of this that we are seeing a significant amount of leaked motherboards hitting the review scene – board manufacturers didn’t have to spend anytime working with the KT333 to get it to work. This, however, will be different in the next VIA chipset for the Athlon processor.

There are two basic changes to the chipset on the KT333 that will make it stand out from the crowd. First, there is the feature that gives the chipset its name: the asynchronous memory bus allowing for a +33 modifier on the frequency of the front-side bus. Where as the processor will still be running at 133/266 DDR frequency, the memory will be able to run at 166/333 DDR at the same time. This is exactly the same idea that was first introduced back in the opening appearances of the PC133 days. When processors and bus speeds still ran at 100 MHz, boards and chipsets began to support and use PC133 memory with the +33 option for the memory bus in the motherboard’s BIOS. That is the same idea here on the KT333 chipset today.

The memory bus increase of 33 MHz puts the KT333 chipset ahead of the KT266A chipset in terms of theoretical bandwidth limits at 2.7 GB/s. That is 25% faster than the 2.1 GB/s any standard PC2100 DDR memory bus will give you. These are only theoretical numbers, though, so real world performance difference will never mimic them exactly. The voltage specs for DDR333 are still set at 2.5v.

The other change to the chipset is actually in the south bridge of the chipset. The VIA VT8233A now supports what VIA has dubbed the ATA-133 FastDrive Technology that is basically the motherboard supporting the new ATA133 standards that are a recent release. Now, anyone with an ATA133 hard drive will not need a secondary RAID controller on-board to utilize the technology.

That’s pretty much all there is to it, folks. Now, on to our system setup followed by the benchmarks you all want to see.

Test System Setup
CPU 1 x 1.67 GHz AMD Athlon XP 2000+ Processor
Motherboards VIA Apollo KT333 Reference Board
MSI K7N420-D Pro
Memory 2 x 256MB Corsair Micro PC2700 DDR DRAM
Hard Drive 20.5GB 7200 RPM IBM EIDE
Video Card GeForce 3
Video Drivers Detonator 22.40
Operating System Windows XP


Quake III: Arena
3DMark 2001
Wolfenstein MP
SiSoft Sandra Memory Bench
SiSoft Sandra CPU Bench
Content Creation Winstone 2001
Content Creation Winstone 2002
Business Winstone 2001
4 different SPEC view perf tests
Sysmark 2001

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