AMD may be having a rough time competing against the powerful Core 2 in the desktop processor market, but the company is doing much better with chipsets and video cards. The Spider platform is a success, as were the Radeon HD 3000 and 4000 product launches, but we're zoning in on the AMD 7-Series chipsets, specifically the flagship AMD 790FX. This is the top-of-the-line model from AMD, offering all the cutting-edge features that enthusiasts demand. This is also what powers the Gigabyte GA-MA790FX-DS5 motherboard, and helps make it a real contender in the AMD platform market.
The 790FX chipset sits right at the top of the AMD 7-series line, ahead of the AMD 790X and 770 chipsets. This naturally translates into a very high-end feature set, and AMD has tailored the 790FX directly for the PC enthusiast market. It starts off with full support for all AM2+ Phenom processors, as well as backwards compatibility with all AMD Athlon and Sempron-based AM2 processors. This flexibility means low-cost motherboard upgrades for existing Athlon 64 X2 owners, along with quad and tri-core Phenom X3/X4 processors for new system buyers.
The AMD 790FX includes other cutting edge features, like HyperTransport 3.0, which doubles the available bandwidth compared to the HT 1.0 implementation. This is especially important with multi-core processors like the Phenom X3 and X4. Graphics support is PCI Express 2.0, which again doubles the bandwidth for your video card, and the 790FX offers full CrossFireX support with GPU-Plex technology, for dual-GPU PCIe x16 lanes, or even quad CrossFire, using four PCIe x8 lanes. AMD's Auto Express feature rewards the entire Spider platform by activating a performance boost when the proper AMD/ATI components are present.
While DDR2 remains the default memory type, the chipset's top speed has been upgraded to DDR2-1066, which in a dual-channel configuration provides a maximum memory bandwidth of approximately 17 GB/second. This is a noticeable increase from DDR2-800, and it can help maximize the HT 3.0 CPU bandwidth, but really isn't required, even with the highest-speed Phenom X4. Other features include support for AMD OverDrive and RAIDXpert, along with a low-power design. Our Gigabyte motherboard is coupled with the SB600 Southbridge, which features SATA 3.0 Gb/s, USB 2.0, IEEE 1394a, HD Audio, and full hardware monitoring.