Via's Dual PCI Express Chipset Supports Two Displays

The K8T900 chipset from Taipei, Taiwan-based Via, which started sampling late last month and should be available in volume quantities by January, supports two x8 PCI Express graphics connections. Nvidia currently offers the dual graphics buses via its SLI technology, and ATI offers the same features with its Crossfire technology.

The new technology opens up two graphics buses that can support multiple video streams.

Though systems that support more than one monitor have been available for years, solution providers said that the new technology provides better performance for today&'s more robust video requirements.

Older systems with dual displays must squeeze graphics instructions for two displays through one bus, limiting throughput. The new technology, however, opens up two graphics buses that can support either multiple video streams or more robust graphics for high-end games.

CompAmerica, Cranford, N.J., has yet to see strong demand for the systems but believes sales will pick up in verticals that use dual monitors and high-end video.

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“I think when it comes around, the brokerage marketplace will become dominant buyer of that because they have been buying dual systems,” said William Blackthorn, an engineer and spokesman at CompAmerica. Without the dual ports, Blackthorn said it would be unlikely a solution provider could provide 30 frames per second on two wide-screen televisions through one system.

Of course, as the idea of media servers takes off in the home, dual graphics cards likely will be pushing a number of high-definition video streams to a number of displays in the house, chipset vendors said.

Meanwhile, Eric Cheung, vice president at Cyberpower, a Baldwin Park, Calif.-based systems builder that focuses on gaming systems, said end users can add two graphics cards right away for more gaming performance or they can leave one slot open for a future upgrade path as games become more complex.

Via is currently working with S3 Graphics to ensure the graphics chip manufacturer&'s new Chrome graphics cards will work with its new chipset. Unlike ATI and NVidia, Via does not manufacturer both chipsets and graphics cards and graphics controllers.