Today we were invited to the Gigabyte headquarters here in Taipei, Taiwan to take a hands-on look at one of their special new motherboards which will use AMD's upcoming AM2 (formerly Socket M2) processor socket. The motherboard in question is the K8NDSLI Pro-RH that is based on an nVidia chipset, which is much the same as the current nForce4 SLI chipset.
AMD will launch its new 940-pin AM2 Athlon processors and platform on June 6th of this year during Computex. The new platform for AMD finally brings DDR-2 memory support to the Athlon family of processors. Besides the addition of DDR-2 support through the on-die memory controller, there is nothing much new about the processor, at least from what we were told by Gigabyte. As well as a bunch of new Athlon processors being ready at launch, Gigabyte will also have top-to-bottom motherboard solutions available.
AMD didn't actually need a new socket to bring DDR-2 support into the equation however to avoid consumer confusion (using the wrong CPU on the wrong motherboard), AMD decided to modify the socket. Even though the socket has 940 pins, you won't be able to use current Opteron processors on the new motherboards since the pin layout has been changed - so don't try!
The pictures you are about to see are of a motherboard which is a "dummy", meaning it doesn't work and it is still very much a prototype, as the Chinese characters indicate in this article's icon at the top (and no I cannot read Chinese characters, yet!). Gigabyte told us that the motherboard is going to go through a lot of changes (extra features) and maybe layout changes, but at least you have an idea of what AMD's Socket AM2 motherboards will look like in this single chipset solution.
Being based on an nVidia chipset, you'll get the usual SLI dual graphics support along with all the Gigabyte usual features such as DPS, plenty of SATA ports, Dual LAN and Dual BIOS. One new feature of the nVidia chipset is HD Audio over standard AC'97 audio. HD Audio is a requirement of the Windows Vista program, hence the reason why nVidia included HD Audio in their core logic this time around and no doubt in all other future chipsets.
Without further ado, here are a bunch of photos we took today still fresh from coming off the compact flash card. Unfortunately we weren't allowed to take any photos of the CPU itself nor the cooler but it seems like AMD is well on track with this new platform as Gigabyte told us they were testing the CPU up stairs, presumably in preparation for CeBIT.
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