Well, I’m back from Bible study (I was teaching on one of those things that can change your life, so I put all kinds of pressure on myself, and I have no idea whether I delivered), but we won’t talk about that right now. No surprises on the Daynotes circuit today; the Weblogs circuit is mostly talking about Kaycee still. I think I’m done with that. I haven’t had time (or will) to go do the cable re-routing necessary to get my new Duron-700 working perfectly.
So, what to talk about…?

How about DDR chipsets?

VIA makes more DDR chipsets than anyone else, and they’ve surprised everyone during the past 18 months, producing chipsets that were much better than anyone expected while Intel produced chipset after chipset that was, for the most part, far worse than anyone’s come to expect of them. Current Intel chipsets work, but they’ve yet to deliver a truly worthy successor to the classic BX chipset. But so far, VIA’s DDR chipsets so far have been disappointing, which makes me wonder if inability to follow up is contagious.

AMD makes a pretty good DDR chipset–at least it gives better performance than PC133 SDRAM, unlike ALi’s DDR chipset and VIA’s DDR chipsets most of the time, and, to be fair, unlike Rambus chipsets–but finding a motherboard based on it can be difficult. AMD’s not very interested in producing the 760, and it shows.

So what’s the DDR chipset to get for AMD CPUs?

Right now, it’s the AMD 760. But very soon, it looks like it’ll be the SiS 735.

Yes, I know, it sounds like I’ve been smoking crack. SiS has a well-deserved reputation for making underachieving chipsets. Just ask Steve DeLassus what he thinks of his SiS 530 integrated video. He’ll throw an Okidata 180 printer at you (ouch) and then tell you it’s almost as bad as the service you get from GPS Computer Services, that’s what.

And the SiS 735 probably isn’t ready for release just yet, as the problems discussed in this review seem to indicate–though whether the problem is with the chipset, the prototype board, or the BIOS, who knows. But the benchmarks indicate the SiS 735 is about 5 percent faster than the AMD 760-based FIC AD11 while costing much less.

Yes, the AD11 isn’t the best-performing 760 board out there, but then again, prototypes aren’t known for stellar performance either. So this sounds promising. Based on these results, it would seem that an Asus or an Abit could produce a very nice-performing board with the SiS735. And as for SiS’s ability to produce a good chipset? Well, these are strange times. Two years ago, AMD bet the company on the Athlon. They had a new, expensive fab they couldn’t afford, dwindling market share and reputation, and a history of botching product releases. If they did everything right and Intel did everything wrong, they had a chance of surviving. Well, AMD executed while Intel fumbled and fumbled. And VIA executed. Intel got caught off guard, and while they’re still king of the hill, they’re embarrassed.

And there was a time, about five or six years ago, when SiS chipsets were actually very sought after. SiS was the first company to produce a chipset that truly brought out the best in Cyrix CPUs, and people who were concerned with raw applications performance sought them out, because the SiS/Cyrix combination outperformed anything Intel was making at the time.

Can SiS rise again? Maybe. It looks like we’re about to find out.