|MSI 990FXA-GD80 AM3+ Motherboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by David Ramsey|
|Wednesday, 19 October 2011|
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The AMD 990FX Chipset
Officially, Bulldozer requires a motherboard with an AMD 9-series chipset-- that is, a 970X, 990X, or 990FX. Unofficially, several vendors have claimed they can support Bulldozer on an 800-series motherboard with a BIOS update. Although as of the time of this writing, nobody's actually shown such a BIOS, so what if any downsides there will be to an upgraded 890FX as compared to a 990FX remain unknown.
AMD provides this 990FX chipset architecture diagram:
You can be forgiven for thinking it looks very similar to an 890FX chipset architecture diagram. That's quite true, and it's because there are only three differences between the 890FX and the 990FX:
I find the last item the most interesting. NVIDIA SLI support for AMD platforms is something many enthusiasts have been wishing for, especially since the extra PCI-E lanes afforded by a 990FX system make multiple-card setups much more viable than Intel Cougar Point based systems. AMD distinguishes the three 9-series chipsets in their marketing materials by the number of graphics cards each will support: up to four for the 990FX used in the MSI 990FXA-GD80; up to two in the 990X; and one in the 970X. Actually the main difference is in the number of PCI-E lanes provided: for example, the 970X has only 16, so it actually can support a two-card CrossFireX system at 8x8.
Let's take a look at this motherboard in the next section.