We’ve repeated time and time again that AMD's Athlon is a worthy, and often superior competitor to Intel's lineup on almost every level. Almost, as one thing the Athlon has not been able to do is penetrate the business/workstation market, where the Pentium III still reigns supreme. There certainly are a number of reasons for this, and we won’t go into each and every one, however one very important reason can be summed up in three little letters: SMP.
Just about all current high-end x86 workstations are built around the Pentium III, for the simple reason that it has been the only processor available that supports SMP. Up until very recently, neither the Pentium 4 or K7 architecture had SMP solutions.
As if the lack of choice with respect to processors wasn't bad enough, try to find a chipset to use Intel's 820, which was supposed to replace the 440BX, was a flop, the 840 chipset is available, but expensive, and the 815 doesn't support multiple processors. That leaves the 440BX as the only proven Intel dual processor chipset. VIA’s 133A is available, but frankly, we wouldn’t put that in a high-end workstation where performance, stability and reliability are critical. There’s a definite gap right now in the SMP chipset lineup.
Enter VIA with a new offering, the Apollo Pro266, and Iwill, with the first Pro266-based dual processor board, the DVD266-R. The DVD266-R boasts support for some impressive features, and has the potential to become one of the best SMP options out there. Read on, as we put it to the test.
Fig 1. A shiny platinum heatsink on the VIA Apollo Pro 266 chipset, reading 'Powered by DDR'.