ABIT's upcoming AM2 motherboards
Let's start in the area which should be of most interest to our readers - new motherboards from ABIT supporting the upcoming AMD AM2 processor. As a quick re-cap, AMD's AM2 processor is actually almost identical to the current Socket 939 Athlon 64 X2 processors with one major exception. The current breed of Athlon processors only supports DDR-1 memory which is quickly becoming a dieing memory technology and the new range of AM2 processors will support DDR-2 memory operating at 667MHz DDR. You can expect to see performance increases of around 10 - 15% but initially performance between the K8 and K9 processors will most likely be almost the same, we think.
The first and most impressive new product we want to look at from ABIT is their "Fatal1ty" AN9 32X motherboard. This motherboard is targeted at the gamer (fast and stable not necessarily a great overclocker) and will fully support the AM2 processor and will use the nVidia C51XE Northbridge and MCP 55PXE Southbridge, which is likely to be called nForce 5. Being a gamer's motherboard SLI support is included with two full speed PCI Express 16x slots and dual Gigabit LAN and the whole works.
ABIT also have the regular AN9 32X motherboard which is very similar to the "Fatal1ty" with less flare (such as single Gigabit LAN) - and a lower price tag.
The "Fatal1ty" AN9 32X motherboard uses ABIT's new "Silent OTES GT" heat pipe cooling technology which looks quite impressive. An additional feature which deserves mention is the ABIT "AudioMAX 7.1HD" card which takes the onboard sound off the motherboard (so to speak) and uses a separate card - this is supposed to increase the quality of sound since there is less signal interference from the components on the motherboard itself.
We'll let the pictures do the talking, because as they say, "a picture can speak one thousand words..."
The "Fatal1ty" AN9 32X motherboard looks very promising and we are looking forward to putting it to the test in our labs sometime in June. Could it be the ultimate AM2 motherboard for gamers? We'll find out.
The next ABIT AM2 motherboard on the list is the KN9 SLI. This motherboard is quite different to the "Fatal1ty" AN9 32X in that it is focused more towards high-end users who want to overclock. If you look closely you will notice subtle differences such as onboard sound being placed in the usual location, silent OTES heat pipe cooling and a single chipset design - these changes indicate the differences between the product segments, that being the "Fatal1ty" AN9 32X for gamers and the KN9 SLI for overclockers.
Being a cheaper and cut-down version of the "Fatal1ty" AN9 32X, the KN9 SLI motherboard supports SLI but only regular SLI, meaning two PCI Express graphics slots operating at 8x each when using SLI - if not using SLI, the first slot will run at the regular 16x speed. ABIT has decided the KN9 SLI to be their best AM2 overclocking motherboard, so you should be able to expect some good results in this department.
ABIT will also release the cheaper "entry-level" KN9 Ultra motherboard which is just like the KN9 SLI but drops the SLI dual graphics supports and also loses a Gigabit network port.
ABIT also let us know about their AT9 32X which is in a similar league to the "Fatal1ty" AN9 32X motherboard however is based on an ATI chipset solution. This motherboard will use the current RD580 Northbridge (which supports two full speed PCI Express 16x graphics slots for Crossfire) plus the upcoming SB600 Southbridge which we will see more of at Computex.
This new Southbridge from ATI promises to fix HDD performance and USB issues. Currently there is a shortage on Southbridges for ATI based motherboards and this motherboard will not be on the market till sometime in September, leaving the door open for nVidia to continue kicking ass in the AMD motherboard chipset market. Now that ULI has been sold to nVidia, ATI must work quickly to create a Southbridge solution equal to that of nVidia's solutions and also provide enough product quantity to motherboard manufacturers so they can continue selling ATI chipset based boards.
That concludes our look at ABIT's upcoming AM2 motherboards but now continue onto the next page to see the live demo which was setup for us.