Oh, how times have changed. Remember the days when it was shameful to have an Athlon chipset on display? Or when motherboard manufacturers weren’t allowed to publicly talk about their Socket-A solutions, even while they were shipping to system integrators. Back then the future of the Athlon was uncertain, but times have changed.
Today the Athlon is easily AMD’s most successful product line ever both from a business standpoint and an end-user standpoint. And it success can be attributed to three things: price, architectural design and VIA.
Indeed if it weren’t for VIA, the Athlon would have definitely not been as successful of a CPU as it is today. The vast majority of Athlon platforms are running VIA chipsets in spite of the fact that there are three perfectly competent manufacturers out there other than VIA that make Socket-A chipsets. VIA brought the Athlon to the mainstream and more recently they brought DDR to that same market. Although clearly not as important as bringing the Athlon or DDR to the masses, armed with their KT333 chipset VIA will be bringing DDR333 and ATA/133 to the Socket-A world.
The KT333 chipset isn’t a revolutionary Athlon platform, rather it’s an evolution of VIA’s outstanding KT266A design. The added features are obvious as we just mentioned them, DDR333 and Ultra ATA/133 support and thus the performance benefits are not huge. For this reason we won’t spend much time covering the chipset’s performance but enough to characterize the KT333 as the logical replacement for the KT266A.