AMD 690 chipset family is the first experience of joint AMD-ATI Company in terms of new product development. However, of course, AMD 690 is the ATI heritage in the first place, as ATI started working on this core logic set before the merger. AMD quit the desktop PC chipset market in the times of Socket A platforms, although even in those days their chipsets boasted pretty modest marketing potential: their primary goal was to make sure that the new platform gets sufficient supply of reference chipset at the time of launch, while later on most of AMD's hopes were with the third-party chipset developers, such as VIA, SiS and Nvidia.
However, Intel's business model in terms of being the major chipset supplier for their own processors turned out too attractive to pass. On the other hand, ATI's system logic with great performance and technical specifications didn't manage to win a big market share so far. It is not that surprising, actually, as ATI was the last one to enter the system chipset business and hence didn't have much free market to occupy. However after the AMD-ATI merger the joint company got every chance to strengthen its positions as a chipset supplier.
Of course, it is much more beneficial from the market prospective to have the chipsets and CPUs branded similarly. Therefore, even though the graphics division of AMD retains the ATI brand at this time, even the existing chipsets, such as Xpress 3200 were renamed according to the new AMD branding strategy.
Our today's hero is the first AMD chipset that has no analogues among the previous ATI chipset product range.
The first retail solution that we managed to get our hands on was the ECS mainboard called AMD690GM-M2. It belongs to the budget ECS product family that is why is has minimal accessories bundle, and its functionality is strictly determined by the chipset features. The only additional onboard controller is the Ethernet adapter.
Since Intel hasn't yet released the new drivers for their G965 chipset that should ensure the support of a few important 3D functions by the GMA X3000 core, we will refrain from performing a full-scale side-by-side platforms comparison this time. We will compare the AMD 690G based mainboard against the Foxconn MCP61SM2MA-ERS2H on the budget Nvidia nForce 405 chipset with the integrated GeForce 6100 graphics core. It is priced very similarly to the new ECS solution, unlike the majority of other more expensive models out there.