The AMD Leo platform is finally coming together. The 5000 series graphic cards were released last year, and we recently reviewed the impressive Phenom II X6. Only one thing remains: AMD’s flagship chipset, the 890FX. The 890FX chipset is designed for maximum performance.
The 890FX is based on TSMC 65nm manufacturing technology, and features a TDP of 19.6W, which is cooler than 890GX, which is based on TSMC 55nm. TDP obviously lower due to the lack of an IGP, but it is still somewhat warm compared to other 8XX chipsets. This can be attributed to its included 42 PCIe lanes.
Having 42 PCIe lanes means you can run graphics in a few different setups, including 2×8, 4×8, 2×16 and other configurations, depending on your specific hardware. Of course, if you only have a single GPU, the 890FX is nothing to dismiss, as motherboards based on it will be the most expensive, and will feature the highest quality parts available.
The 890FX northbridge is also paired with SB850 southbridge, AMD’s first to features SATA III 6Gb/s including RAID support. Whereas the Intel P55 chipset, for example, necessitates additional bridge or even reduced graphics lanes, there are no such compromises here. There is tremendous bandwidth available for the hungriest draw, and the bus speed between the north and south has doubled with enormous bandwidth. AMD calls this increased bus the A-link Express III.
Many motherboard manufacturers are adding in USB 3.0 controllers. Missing from SB850 is Advanced Clock Calibration, but with most motherboard providers providing their own unlocking solution, this shouldn’t prove to be too big an issue. Gigabyte does have a core unlocker here in the 890FXA-UD5, and we’ll discuss this a bit further into the review.