ULi's AP9567A Reference Motherboard
While at Computex this year in Taiwan we passed by ULi's booth and took a look at what ULi had to offer in the upcoming months ahead. While there we caught our first look at the reference board and simply had to get one in for testing. Thankfully the guys at ULi were very helpful and sent us one hot off the production line to our labs here in Australia to see just what can be done with the board.
ULi has based its latest K8 architecture system around a full ATX board measuring 30x25cm. This gives the ability to locate the components easier than using the more compact Standard ATX which some VIA K8T890 boards are being designed on. Due to the reference nature, we aren't going to be hard on the layout of the board in terms of connectors, however, we hope that the end manufacturers that pick up on this chipset will look at placement a bit better - case in point: the placement of the 24 pin ATX power connector is simply not on between the Northbridge and the I/O plate, and the 4 pin is too far away for the OEM power supply units that have smaller AUX power connectors.
ULi's reference board is designed to demonstrate the versatility of the current ULi setup. 1 PCI Express x16 slot takes care of current and future graphics cards with two PCI Express x1 slots for upcoming peripherals such as sound cards, TV tuners and various other PCI-E devices. 1 AGP 8x slot is also included to demonstrate the legacy application that is possible. Last but not least are two PCI slots to support legacy PCI devices. Overall this shows ULi has put a lot of thought into its current chipset line-up and allows third party motherboard manufacturers with plenty of options for retail products.
The ULI M1695 Northbridge uses the same Ceramic Ball Grid Array package that VIA and SiS use. We are surprised that this is currently being used with FC-BGA being a more effective cooling package; however, we surmise that the temperature isn't much of a problem as ULi only needs a passive cooler on its Northbridge. This is where all of the PCI Express lanes are located for ULi setups, similar to how VIA works. The Southbridge is also based on the same package technology as the Northbridge. This is where the AGP interface is located along with the SATA, PATA, MAC and all the other devices are located.