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Taking a break from the Spring Break benchmarking session, in the lobby of the Gigabyte HQ I noticed what is probably the world's biggest motherboard. Really, it's massive.
We're not sure if it works or not (kidding!) and the person standing next to it didn't get the "Hunny I shrunk the kids" treatment. It was made for the launch of Gigabyte DES.
Last week we showed you the world exclusive pictures of Gigabyte's EP45 Extreme and this week we thought we'd follow up with some more P45 motherboards from Gigabyte. First up we got the EP45-DQ6 which will be Gigabyte's flagship P45 based motherboard and unlike the Extreme, this is a normal retail board targeting high-end users looking for something out of the ordinary. It can't compete with the Extreme when it comes to chipset cooling, but it has a fair few extra features that you won't get with the Extreme board.
As you can see from the picture above, the design is quite different, as this time around Gigabyte has designed a very different PCB for each and every P45 based motherboard, unlike the P35 series which had a few boards that weren't all that different. There are three things that set this board apart and you've most likely already spotted two of them. First up is quad Gigabit Ethernet with teaming support, this means that you can run 4Gbit Ethernet if you have a switch with enough spare ports and something fast enough to connect it to. How useful this is, is a different question all together, but it might be useful on a LAN Party or a similar event or for anyone shuffling large amounts of data over their network. The Ethernet controllers used can also regulate the amount of power used for the signal transmission, so on a shorter length of cable, they'll use less power.
Next up is the small heatsink close to the southbridge. This hides a PCI Express switch for lack of better words, which allows for the two x4 PCI Express slots to share four PCI Express lanes while still operating at near full speed. This is similar to Nvidia's N200 chip that is used on several motherboards and even the 9800GX2 graphics cards. The two x16 slots will operate at x8 when both are used, just as with all other P45 boards. Having a pair of x4 slots aren't that useful at the moment, but hopefully more consumer devices that can take advantage of these slots will appear. The board also has a single x1 PCI Express slot and two PCI slots.
Then there's what Gigabyte calls Smart Backup, it consists of a pair of RAID controllers which can communicate with each other and as such allow for a RAID 5 setup across four hard drives. The key thing here is that it's meant to be very easy to set this up and you shouldn't have to install any drivers, which means that this will work with virtually all operating systems. We don't have any details of exactly how this is done, but it'll be interesting to see how well this works. It's also meant to lower the CPU utilization compared to normal motherboard RAID solutions and the controllers have a small amount of data cache, normally only found on more expensive RAID controllers.
Something you can't see from the picture is that Gigabyte has added seven LEDs around the board which will light up in sequence when you power the system on. This is similar to the debug LEDs found on many motherboards, but this is actually much easier to use, as if the light stops, then there's something wrong with whatever it stops next to. Say for example that the RAM in the system has stopped working, then there will be a static light next to the memory slots to indicate this. If everything is functional then the lights will flash up and then turn off once the system has booted. This board also features an updated version of Gigabyte's DES power saving technology and an onboard TPM (Trusted Platform Module) controller to which Gigabyte supplies a utility in which you can store your passwords.
We're sure you can figure out some of the remaining features of the board by yourself, but it has support for up to 12 USB 2.0 ports, three FireWire ports and it comes with a couple of eSATA brackets as well. It will most likely be an expensive board, but for those that don't need quite all of those features, then there's always the DS series of boards and although we've covered some of those boards before, we've got pictures of one model that hasn't been shown as yet.
The EP45T-DS5 is similar to the board that bit-tech covered a little while back, but the T in the name denotes DDR3 support. With DDR3 prices slowly coming down to a more reasonable level, this board might be interesting for those looking at jumping on the DDR3 bandwagon. The board looks more or less the same as the EP45-DS5, apart from the memory slots which are different. This board also features the same hardware RAID controllers as the EP45-DQ6, but it's only got a pair of Gigabit Ethernet ports and no x4 PCI Express slots.
Both boards also feature power, reset and CMOS reset buttons below the bottom PCI slot and although this location might not be ideal, it's a step forward for Gigabyte and a feature we really like to see. Another change from the DQ6 is that the DS5 only has 6-phase PWM instead of a 12-phase design on the DQ6, but they share the 2-phase memory and chipset PWM design with the Extreme board. The one model we've yet to see is the DS4 and this has generally just been a DS3 with improved cooling, but time will tell if Gigabyte has changed this model around this time as well. For now, it looks like Gigabyte has a pretty solid selection of P45 boards with some pretty decent features and it's just over a month until the official launch, so for those waiting, it's not too long to go.
Foxconn has today launched the second motherboard in its Quantum Force series and it's a ripper.
BLACKOPS is the name and this mighty motherboard may even make the most serious of overclockers cringe. It is based on Intel's new X48 Express chipset and is targeted specifically at overclockers. Out of the box, it includes a 4-in-1 chipset cooling arrangement that allows for regular air cooling as well as water cooling and even LN2 or dry ice.
It also features 8 phases digital PWM for solid stability under extreme conditions. You'll also get bundled the SONAR daughter card which includes Realtek's ALC885 chip for 8 channels of High Definition Audio with an impressive 106dB SNR.
Not only that, Foxconn goes much further by providing variable resistors for volt-modding, motherboard tray for convenient workbench access to all parts of the motherboard and the Quantum Flow fan kit - which improves airflow around installed VGA cards. The Quantum Flow fan can be installed in a horizontal or vertical position and is said to lower temperatures around multi-VGA rigs by around 5ºC.
Foxconn are shooting directly for ultra high-end with BLACKOPS and if you are prepared to spend $400 USD (about $450 AUD), you'll get just that.
While over in Taiwan recently, Tim from bit-tech stopped by the MSI HQ and discovered some Intel P45 Express based motherboards laying around on his spy mission.
You can check out the rest of the shots and other info over here.
AMD is set to release its next chipset next month and it is the 790GX. You could think of it as a 790FX with onboard graphics, Radeon HD 3300 to be exact. It's a faster onboard graphics solution than the 780G which uses Radeon HD 3200. It even includes a memory chip onboard using Side-Port Memory technology.
Rumors are floating around that the 790GX will support CrossfireX (not full speed but half speed two x8 slots) as well as Hybrid Crossfire to reduce power consumption and boost performance when teamed up with a discrete graphics card such as the Radeon HD 3450.
This chipset could spell trouble for Nvidia who has only just launched its new AMD based chipsets (750a and 780a). You will just have to wait and see till the reviews come out in May.
You can probably expect to see many ODM based 790GX boards on display at Computex Taipei 2008 in June.
Consumers in Indonesia be warned!
DFI has alerted media today that motherboards are selling in the Indonesian market which claim to be DFI motherboards but are not. The models circulating around are the "MCP73V" and "MCP68PV".
DFI has alerted its legal team and will begin tracking down who is producing and selling these faked DFI motherboards. Read more over at this DFI website.
ABIT, once the mighty king of all motherboard manufacturers, is still in the game and has just announced its A-S78H AM2+ motherboard based on AMD's 780G chipset.
It doesn't seem to include anything overly spectacular besides the AMD chipset features such as Hybrid Crossfire. It does manage to fit in not only a DVI and VGA port but also HDMI.
It would have been nice to see an optical out port for digital audio but I guess HDMI is going to take over from that soon enough for newer HD audio such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD.
April 9,2008- abit announced the latest AMD platform motherboard, the A-S78H, supporting ATI Hybrid CrossFireX Technology for advanced 3D graphics performance. The A-S78H is based on the AMD 780G chipset with ATI Radeon HD3200 Graphics and the SB700. It supports AMD AM2+/AM2 processors running HT3.0 up to 5200MT/s. Four 240-pin DIMM sockets offer a maximum of 8GB memory capacity for Dual Channel DDR2 1066 modules. 1 x PCI-E X16, 1 x PCI-E X1, and 2 x PCI slots hold enough potential for further expansion and system upgrades with different add-on cards.
The A-S78H features stunning graphics performance, supporting ATI Hybid CrossFireX Technology, ATI UVD hardware decoding, and Surround View Technology.
MSI has just announced its latest Socket 775 motherboard supporting all new 45nm Intel processors called the P7N2 Diamond.
It is based on Nvidia's high-end NForce 790i Ultra SLI chipset and uses a non-reference design which is a fresh change from all the other reference based boards from companies like XFX, EVGA and BFG.
It supports an official FSB of 1600MHz quad-pumped and DDR3 memory up to 2000MHz with EPP. Its four PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots are capable of supporting up to three-way SLI using Nvidia's latest graphics cards such as the upcoming 9800 GTX.
As far as what MSI has done to the P7N2 Diamond, it sees Creative X-Fi Xtreme Audio via an add-on card. MSI's crazy rollercoaster Circu-Pipe heat pipe design has been slightly modified for better cooling performance, too. As you would expect it features more expensive Japanese solid capacitors and the PWM capacitors on this motherboard are based on "Hi-c CAP" which has better ripple current and dissipation factor characteristics.
We should have a full review of this motherboard next month.
First pictures of Intel's codenamed 45nm Bloomfield high-end desktop processor based motherboard recently appeared online.
It is an Intel Desktop Board brand motherboard which is quite different to anything else we have seen in the past. It is a very early sample so the design and layout will probably change throughout the year until the first Nehalem processors are due to launch sometime in the Q4 timeframe.
The memory slots for one are right at the top of the board above the new LGA1366 socket. There are three blue colored 1600MHz DDR3 slots which are probably designed to easier identify support for triple channel memory. There are two PCI Express x16 slots for dual graphics along with a single x4 slot and two x1 slots. Legacy support for PCI is still included with a single slot - when will it ever die?
Onboard there appears to be six SATA II ports but there is probably also two (or more) eSATA ports on the I/O panel which we cannot see - they are probably powered by the ICHR10 Southbridge, we would guess.
That is about all we can tell you at the moment.
Intel is not due to officially release their P45 chipset until sometime in April but that hasn't stopped information being leaked early.
Pictures and details of Foxconn's upcoming "ELA" P45 motherboard have appeared on the Internet. This particular board will included three PCI-E x16 slots but it is unclear whether or not they will all run electronically at x16 or not - we would assume not since it is a cheaper chipset.
Based on the Intel ICH10R southbridge there are a total of eight SATAII ports with six being on the board and two routed as eSATA.
It has official support for all Intel 45nm processors up to 1333MHz FSB, at least officially - we know this board and others should at least do 400MHz FSB OC.