AMD 970 Chipset
Launched during Computex 2011, the AMD 970 chipset is the lesser of the three new northbridge options from AMD. All three feature several new features for the 9-Series chipsets, but the majority of technology is carried over from AMD’s previous 8-Series products. Featuring Hypertransport 3.0, and native SATA 6 Gb/s connectivity via the SB950, the 9-Series from AMD is an incremental upgrade. The big marquee difference, of course, is the new AM3+ CPU support, CPUs which have yet to arrive within the retail space, and are expected later this year. All 9-series chipsets provide DDR3-1866 memory support natively, providing a supporting CPU is installed. Also available is an IOMMU connection, allowing virtual machines to directly access hardware capabilities, rather than offering a software interface using hardware emulation. Although not natively supported in the Windows environment at this time, this feature is more intended for Linux users.
The AMD 970 chipset offers a single PCIe 2.0 x16 connection for a single graphics card, while the 990X allows that link to be split into two separate PCIe 2.0 x8 connections, for multi card configurations. The 990FX chipset features two full PCIe 2.0 x16 connections for graphics, with options to split the links into two separate PCIe 2.0 x8 links, as decided by OEM board layout and design. An extra x4 link is also available, and the AMD SB950 Southbridge chipset houses most of the I/O functionality, such as the six native SATA 6 Gb/s ports.
Of course, that leads to today's product, the ASUS M5A97 EVO. Will it offer an evolution for AMD products, as its name suggests? We put it through the paces, and find out.