From zero to hero
While Silicon Integrated Systems (SiS) may not be a household name just yet, no other chipset manufacturer has been on as an incredible roll as the Taiwanese chip manufacturer. Just over a year ago SiS was a tiny player in the desktop chipset market, competing heavily with Acer Laboratories for that coveted third spot between industry veterans Intel and VIA Technologies. Rather than focusing on the desktop, SiSí primary hopes lied in its chipsets for the mobile market. With an expensive, delayed, 0.18-micron fabrication facility just coming online, many industry analysts wondered how SiS planned to grow its business, much less continue to exist at all.
Then SiS shocked the entire chipset world with its SiS 735 chip. We were the first publication to report on its impressive combination of performance and stability. Unlike traditional DDR platforms that existed for the Athlon at that time, SiS 735 featured an innovative, single-chip design. By going the single chip route, SiS 735 offered an incredible amount of flexibility to motherboard manufacturers and its 1.2GB/sec of bandwidth was nothing to laugh at.
In terms of performance, our tests found no other chipset for the Athlon platform that could touch SiS 735. With its leading performance and lower cost, we figured it would only take a matter of months for the tidal wave of SiS 735-based motherboards to flood the market. Patiently, we waited, May and June went by with no new developments. Then July came and went with no changes. We didnít get our hands on a retail SiS 735 motherboard until August: the ECS K7S5A. Performance of the board was excellent, just what we experienced a few months earlier with our SiS 735 reference board, and its sub-$100 price point made it an incredible value. However, the K7S5A had little room to work with for overclocking, turning off many hardware enthusiasts. Ultimately while many motherboard manufacturers designed their own SiS 735 boards, none of them came to market. As a result, SiS 735 was successful in the sense that SiS got their name in the heats and mind of the public, but SiS 735 itself was hardly a sales success.
Fast forward to Fall 2001. SiSí next product, SiS 645, was truly able to deliver. With VIAís well publicized legal battle with Intel over the Pentium 4 bus scaring away most motherboard manufacturers, an opening was created for SiS to step in and take the value and mainstream PC segments. SiS 645 offered performance that was extremely competitive with Intelís 850 chipset with RDRAM at a significantly lower cost. As a result, motherboard manufacturers were now eager to hop on with SiS and a plethora of SiS 645-based motherboards were introduced.
In March 2002 SiS introduced its follow-up to the SiS 645 chipset, SiS 645DX. Not only did SiS 645DX beat Intelís 850E chipset to the punch with its 533MHz bus, its release also predated the release of Intelís 533MHz Pentium 4 CPUs!
Now just a few months later, SiS is back again with SiS 648 and once again it boasts an impressive list of new features. Most compelling is its support for DDR400 memory, and just as eye catching is its AGP 8X interface. But thereís more to SiS 648 than just those two features.