SiS672FX - Budget for Budget's Sake


Introduction

Introduction

There is a new Intel Core 2 Duo chipset on the block that is vying for a position in the mainstream entry-level desktop scene and that is the SiS672FX. This is actually a very interesting turn of events since SiS' previous SIS671FX based boards has only entered the market in recent times. Showcased in all major trade shows this year such as CeBIT and Computex, it came to our attention that the new SIS672FX is really just a minor update to the SIS671FX featuring a refreshed Mirage 3 IGP engine dubbed the Mirage 3+, which is now certified for Vista Premium Edition (the SiS671FX was only certified up to Vista Basic).

The actual specifications of the SiS672FX chipset is pretty straightforward, sharing almost all the characteristics of its predecessor, the SiS671FX except for the enhanced graphics engine. The chipset is made up of two parts, the SiS672FX Northbridge and SiS968 Southbridge. The Northbridge is an advanced core logic chipset that fully supports dual and quad-core processors on Intel's LGA775 platform including the Core 2 Duo and Core 2 Quad. However, according to SiS, the chipset only supports a system bus up to FSB 1066MHz, which may rule out official support for Intel's new FSB 1333MHz processors.

The SiS968 Southbridge is also one of SiS' newer Southbridges that was launched at the beginning of the year. It features two PCIe x1 lanes, two SATA 3.0Gbps ports with RAID and AHCI capabilities, one IDE port, eight USB 2.0 ports, Gigabit LAN and HD Audio. The Northbridge and Southbridge is connected via SiS' proprietary MuTIOL 1G interface.

As mentioned, the SiS672FX will feature a slightly enhanced Mirage 3+ IGP engine. The Mirage 3+ is a DirectX 9.0 / OpenGL 1.5 part supporting Pixel Shader 2.0 only with no Vertex Shaders as yet. It can be configured for up to 256MB shared memory, and while not particularly improved over the Mirage 3, it is capable enough to support Vista's Aero interface. According to SiS engineers, the gist of the improvements in the Mirage 3+ engine is that the graphics core runs at a faster clock rate than its predecessor and now qualifies for Vista Premium Edition certification. The Mirage 3+ may not be as advanced as either NVIDIA or ATI or Intel's IGP offerings, but it does include SiS Real Video technology with notable features such as motion adaptive de-interlacing, noise reduction and 3:2/2:2 pull-down detection.

Its memory controller on the other hand is underwhelming, especially considering today's standards and the fact that the SiS672FX is an IGP chipset. When SiS announced the SiS672FX, we had initially thought that the memory controller would see an upgrade as well, but the SiS672FX still supports single-channel memory configurations with only two slots supporting a maximum 4GB memory capacity. Officially, the chipset supports up to DDR2-667, but we've tested it to work well with DDR2-800. Now, if we follow the official configuration, a single-channel DDR2-667 setup will only give you a measly 5.4GB/s memory bandwidth. Using DDR2-800 will give you 6.4GB/s, hardly enough to even support the 8.5GB/s CPU bandwidth (of the current 1066MHz FSB Intel processors), let alone having to share with onboard graphics.

The main feature of the SiS672FX is its advanced power management features and low operational TDP. The chipset supports throttling of the graphics core in 2D mode to save power and reduce heat and to prove a point, the reference motherboard from SiS works without any form of cooling on the chipset.

SiS672FX Chipset Specification Table
NorthBridge Chipset
  • SiS672FX
  • SiS MuTIOL 1G interconnect to Southbridge
CPU Support
  • Supports Intel Core 2 Quad / Core 2 Duo / Pentium D / Pentium 4 processors
  • 533 / 800 / 1066MHz Front Side Bus support
Memory
  • Supports two unbuffered DIMM of 1.8 Volt DDR2 SDRAM
  • Supports 677/533/400 single channel DDR2 memory architecture
Graphics
  • SiS Mirage 3 + graphics engine
    • Built-in high performance DirectX 9 graphics engine
    • Supports high definition video interface for TV or LCD displays
    • SiS Real Video Technology
    • Maximum 256MB shared memory
    • Certified for Windows Vista Premium
  • One PCI Express x16 port for external graphics or SiS video bridge support
Southbridge Chipset
  • SiS968
  • SiS MuTIOL 1G interconnect to Northbridge
Storage
  • 2 x SATA 3.0Gbps interface 
  • Supports RAID 0, RAID 1, JBOD
  • 1 x Ultra ATA 33/66/100/133 (data transfer rate up to 133MB/sec.)
Audio
  • HD Audio v1.0 compliance
Networking
  • 10/100/1000Mbps onboard Gigabit MAC
  • SiS196 Gigabit LAN PHY (Optional support for onboard LAN MAC)
Expansion Ports
  • PCI Express v1.1 compliant
  • Supports two PCI Express x1 ports
USB 2.0
  • One EHCI USB 2.0 controller and 2 OHCI USB 1.1 controllers
  • Supports up to 8 USB 2.0/1.1 ports
Advanced Power Management
  • ACPI 3.0 and APM 1.2 compliant