A Chat with Abit Engineers
After touring Abit's R&D facilities, we were split into groups and then taken through various conference rooms to be briefed on current and upcoming Abit products. The first discussion was about Abit's range of motherboards, more specifically, the MAX series. We were first shown a powerpoint presentation that detailed the various uses and applications for Abit's MAX products, as well as their roadmap of upcoming products.
As far as Intel are conerned, in September 2002 Abit will be introducing their GB7 MAX motherboard based on the Intel Granite Bay chipset. It will feature AGP 8x, Dual-channel DDR333 memory, Serial ATA, support for 533MHz FSB and USB 2.0. We were not shown anything past the GB7 on the Intel roadmap, and the products listed directly before it were the IT7 and IT7-S, which have already been released.
On AMD's side of the fence, Abit have their AT7II and NV7II-8x boards coming out in July 2002. The AT7II will feature the VIA KT400 chipset, four DDR333 memory slots, SerialATA, AGP 8x and USB2.0. The NV7II-8x will feature the nVidia Crush18D chipset (AKA: nForce II), Dual-channel DDR333, AGP 8x, ATA133 and USB2.0. Further down the track in August 2002 they also plan to release their K8 motherboard, based on the VIA K8HTA chipset for the upcoming ClawHammer processor from AMD. Not much information is available about the K8 at this time, however, it will feature V-Link II and will also be a MAX board. In August 2002, Abit plan to release a non-MAX version of the AT7II, coming with the same basic feature set, however, some of the AT7II's extra controllers (e.g. firewire) have been replaced by older legacy ports (e.g. PS/2 and Serial).
After having a brief chat about the roadmap, we then moved into the multimedia conference room where Abit's staff told us about their upcoming multimedia products. Not much was displayed on their VGA roadmap - There were no graphics cards listed past the Siluro Ti4600, which is most probably because nVidia has them under NDA. As mentioned in our Day 4 coverage, Abit have also just released their SP70 home theatre speaker system, featuring a similar design as Microsoft's XBox console and an inbuilt 5.1 Dolby Digital decoder. Abit were very pleased about their decision to design the system with the XBox in mind because it broadens their target market and doesn't limit them to just the PC.
Next up, Abit's head motherboard developer gave us a brief run down on various motherboard layers and how they are created. He also showed us physical examples of what the different layers look like, along with blueprint images of the board design. For obvious reasons, we were not allowed to take any pictures.