nForce2’s New Lease On Life
AMD’s Athlon 64 delay has had some pretty significant ramifications on the entire AMD processor family, as well as motherboard and chipset manufacturers that support these devices. Initially Athlon 64 was scheduled to launch only a month or two from today. Now consumers will have to wait seven more months for Athlon 64, putting the CPU’s release nearly a year behind schedule. This means that the Athlon XP family will continue to be the flagship of AMD’s desktop line for the entire first half of 2003, a plan that is sure to disappoint many AMD enthusiasts.
In any case, the news must have come as quite a delight to NVIDIA, whose nForce2 chipset is beginning to really gain ground in the chipset market. With Athlon XP holding the front lines for AMD a few months longer, NVIDIA has more time to sell its nForce2 SPP and, more recently, IGP chips.
If you recall the nForce2 launch, NVIDIA assured everyone that it had learned from its misfortunes with the original nForce chipset. It’s not that nForce was an inferior product; the problem NVIDIA ran into was availability. Motherboards based on the chipset didn’t arrive until November 2001, approximately two months later than NVIDIA was shooting for.
To complicate matters, the only motherboard that was initially available was from ASUS, motherboards from MSI, ABIT, and NVIDIA’s other partners didn’t arrive until later that year. By the time nForce motherboards were readily available at competitive prices, VIA’s KT333 chipset was already well established. nForce’s fate was sealed.
nForce2 looked like it was doomed to repeat many of nForce’s mistakes, but this new breath of life from AMD gives the chipset more time to flourish. Unless VIA does something soon with its KT400A chipset, NVIDIA could grab a significant share of the Athlon chipset market, as we’ve found that it easily outperforms KT400, is extremely price competitive, supports more features, and, in the eyes of many enthusiasts, is more reliable.
FIC’s Unique Product Portfolio
Don’t believe us? The fact that we’re reviewing an nForce2 motherboard from FIC should be enough to convince you. FIC has been one of VIA’s oldest partners (being sued along with VIA for patent infringement before the suit was eventually settled), the company even shared family ties to VIA at one point!
In addition, FIC has a separate line of the AMD products that utilizes ATI’s RADEON IGP graphics. They were actually ATI’s exclusive launch partner for the RADEON IGP. Now they’re adding nForce1 and nForce2 products to their lineup, making them the only motherboard manufacturer that we’re aware of with chipsets built by both ATI and NVIDIA.
Anyway, lets see what FIC brings to the table with the AU11 Chameleon.