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In all the excitement surrounding Intel's upcoming Nehalem microarchitecture and, the associated, X58 platform, we've not heard much about NVIDIA's chipset offerings recently.
NVIDIA-loyal EVGA, has released a refresh of its nForce 790 SLI FTW motherboard, known as the nForce 790 SLI FTW Digital PWM, seen above.
In addition to the feature set of its predecessor, including 8-phase power and a sideways exhaust cooling system, the new offering boasts digital power management which is claimed to improve stability, efficiency and allow for improved overclocking prospects.
Intel's Core 2 Duo, Quad and Extreme CPUs are supported by EVGA's latest offering and a $339.99 price point, is gracing current stock availability.
Tonight GIGABYTE is formerly taking the covers off its Ultra Durable 3 (UD3) motherboard technology here in Taipei at the famous Taipei 101 building, to a mass of international press and overclockers, who are in town for the 2008 GO OC overclocking event.
Yesterday TweakTown was exclusively invited to the GIGABYTE HQ to get a closer hands-on look at what UD3 is all about and well ahead of the rest of the media crowd who are gathered here.
Yesterday, after looking at the final revision of the GA-X58-Extreme motherboard, we got onto UD3. A couple years ago GIGABYTE introduced Ultra Durable and that included all solid capacitor designs with high quality parts from Japan. Ultra Durable 2 introduced lower RDS MOSFETs, ferrite core choke and lower ESR solid capacitors among other things, including improvements to the cooling setups.
Ultra Durable 3 goes one step further again on improving GIGABYTE's line of motherboards by further introducing the use of even better Japanese capacitors that are said to last for 50,000 hours (almost 6 years of continuous use) and the big deal of the day, two ounce copper layers to the PCB. All motherboard PCBs have at least one copper layer, but on the vast majority out there, they are usually only one ounce thick. GIGABYTE claim to be the industry's first consumer desktop motherboard designer to feature two ounces of copper for both power and ground layers.
What is so exciting about that, though? A few things actually - let's try and explain them one by one.
Probably most important of all is that GIGABYTE reckons UD3 is able to decrease motherboard temperature by up to 50 degrees Celsius in the hottest areas of the motherboard - i.e. MOSFETs around the CPU. The claim was that the temperature in this area dropped from 178c to 125c, using a heat detecting machine. The thicker copper allows for greater electrical current flow, which in turn allows the circuits to produce less resistance (or impedance) by two times. Not only is there a clear advantage in temperatures, but boards using UD3 should use less power and suffer less from vdroop and voltage loss leaks. Of course, because it operates cooler, it should also provide more overclocking headroom and stability.
Another thing to keep in mind and this is purely for hardcore overclockers, due to the employment of the extra copper, UD3 boards will be less flexible and that's a good thing. Some overclockers use big and heavy copper LN2 cup pots and sometimes they do create an amount of flex on the boards - UD3 while not designed intentionally for this purpose, manages to solve much of this type of buckling and bending in those situations.
UD3 will be featured on a whole range of upcoming motherboards including GA-EP45-UD3P, GA-EP43-UD3, GA-EP43C-UD3, GA-EP45-UD3R, GA-EP43-UD3R, GA-EP45T-UD3P, GA-EP45-UD3, GA-EP45C-UD3R, GA-EP45T-UD3R, GA-EP43-UD3P, GA-EP45C-UD3 and GA-EP45T-UD3LR - yeah, all of those! We have one on the way already for review and we'll get it out just as soon as we can.
Luckily for us, GIGABYTE had a fancy USB microscope camera on hand for us (thanks Charles!) to compare the thickness of one ounce and two ounce copper layer PCBs on a couple magnified glass demos of the new cut out PCBs - that is them above. From the following pictures below, you can clearly see the difference in thickness.
We also got an exclusive look at an upcoming P45 motherboard that will begin selling in 2 - 3 weeks that uses UD3 technology. Not only does it get the thicker copper PCB treatment, but also a new cooling setup that looks great and matches perfectly with the PCB color scheme. Why has it taken you so long to add a blue cooler, GIGABYTE? Anyway... more of it please!
Below you can see a comparison between the typical one ounce copper PCB layer on top and two ounce PCB layer on the bottom:
Of course we'll need to test one of these UD3 motherboards soon before we can make any final judgments but one thing is for sure, you can bet our temperature gun will be getting a good work out in that review.
We'll see what else we can dig up at the GIGABYTE 2008 GO OC overclocking event tomorrow.
GIGABYTE invited us down to its offices today in Taipei to get a close-up look at the final revision of its upcoming X58 motherboard that will begin shipping sometime next month, once Intel begins shipping its range of Core i7 processors.
GIGABYTE's Extreme new line of motherboards are designed purely for overclockers and the Taiwanese company is hoping its X58 Extreme will power as many Nehalem processors as possible against its main competitors such as ASUS and MSI. We already showed you an early version of this board about a month ago, but that was non-final, and actually based on a DS4 design.
Today we got a close up look at the final design that will ship to customers, besides the heatsink cooling setup, which GIGABYTE is still keeping under wraps for the moment - and this one is an actual working live sample. Besides the physical changes to the board layout, on this board and others, GIGABYTE will be introducing "Ultra Durable 3". GIGABYTE has already tweaked their boards to what we thought was the max and we really thought there wasn't much more left to improve, but we were wrong.
UD3 adds two 2 ounce copper layers to the 12-layer PCB motherboard - one is a ground layer and the other is a power layer. We got a chance to see the actual copper layers that slot into the regular PCB compared to normal one ounce copper layers, but we are not allowed to show you until the actual launch tomorrow. These thicker copper layers create less resistance (impedance) by up to two times, creating better electrical current flow according to GIGABYTE. In their labs, engineers measured a 50 degree Celsius drop in temperature in the hottest parts of the motherboard (mosfets around the CPU).
UPDATE - UD3 press release can now be found here.
On to the layout changes, you can see that from the first revision we saw, GIGABYTE has angled ALL SATA ports at 90 degrees - this is of big importance due to the monster graphics cards on the market.
X58 Extreme will get a total of 12 power phases for the CPU and two each for RAM and the Northbridge. The original board you saw only had six CPU power phases.
The expansion slots have also been tweaked - instead of having four PCI-E x16 slots bunched so closely to each other, one has been removed and they've been spaced out. This was done to allow for three dual slot cooled graphics cards to fit onto the motherboard. The top two blue slots are electronically 16 lanes and the last orange one is 8 lanes electronically. The top black slot is x1 and the small orange one is x4. You also get two PCI slots for legacy devices. Nothing was mentioned about SLI on this visit.
GIGABYTE acknowledged that overclockers want as many power pin headers on their motherboards as possible because these users will plug in as many fans as possible. Previous motherboards from GIGABYTE only had four pin headers, but the X58 Extreme gets a grand total of six.
The onboard power and reset buttons have had their location changed to the north of the motherboard, since where they were located was a little too "busy". Additionally, now every major component has debugging LEDs - there are stacks of them on the board, making it easy for you to work out which part of the motherboard is playing up. The rear I/O panel goes unchanged.
It was interesting to note that the non-final heatsinks you see on this board were plenty enough to keep the chipsets cool whilst in load operation. We asked one of the engineers about the temperature and thinking that the chips would probably get rather hot, the engineer said not really. Whack on a whopping big heatpipe cooler on and we think it will definitely run super cool - perfect for overclocking.
We can't wait to see what their motherboard is capable of in the overclocking department but we'll all have to wait another month or so yet to find out. We should see the final cooling setup for the X58 Xtreme either tomorrow night at the UD3 launch or on Thursday at the GIGABYTE GO OC overclocking event.
We recently reported on rumoured DDR3 overclocking woes with the upcoming Intel Nehalem platform, yet according to this article from Fudzilla, motherboard manufacturers have engineered a way around the situation.
It transpires that it will be possible to separate CPU and memory voltages, equating to users being able to set individual voltages for the CPU and memory, rather than them being synchronised. DDR3 memory modules will therefore be able to power their way to higher speeds and voltages, without have a detrimental effect on the CPU itself.
We can expect to see upcoming solutions from the likes of ASUS, Gigabyte and MSI adopting such methods to make overclocking the Nehalem platform, that little bit easier.
Gingle sent out a press release this morning claiming that its 2000MHz DDR3 4GB memory kit is one of the fastest out there.
In their internal testing and working with the folks over at DFI, they managed to clock one of their 4GB DDR3 memory kits all the way up to 2100MHz on a DFI LANParty X48 motherboard.
Gingle claim that their memory is faster since most other memory makers set the CAS latency to 10 whereas Gingle were able to run their memory at a CAS latency of 9.
Gingle also claimed a couple other memory performance feats, as you can see below.
2100MHz CL9: not like most 2100/ 2133MHz module running at CL10, Gingle can runs with a voltage of 1.94v and CAS latency of 9, it achieved an overall breaking performance speed of 2100MHz in 2GB single channel mode.
8GB (4pcs) 1800MHz CL9: the biggest challenge of high speed memory is the limitation of capacity. Occupying all the 4 DIMM slots of Intel X48 up to 8GB with a low timing of 9-9-9-22 the memory frequency speed was able to run at an amazing top speed of 1800MHz.
1800MHz 4GB 1T: Very few modules can run 1T command rate. Even Gingle's official spec define on 1800MHz CL8 at 2T command, but certain percentage of Gingle's kit still can runs 1800MHz CL8 at 1T on DFI LANParty X48!
You can find out more information over at the press release, which we uploaded here.
GIGABYTE has issued out a press release earlier today which lets us all know they have bumped up the native memory support of all their Intel P45 and P43 motherboards to 1333MHz and 1200MHz respectively; this via the means of a new readily available BIOS update.
The announcement also makes mention of some of the exclusive features of their P45/P43 range, including Dynamic Energy Saver Advanced, DualBIOS, Dolby Home Theater and more.
You can find all the details here.
Taipei, Taiwan, August 25, 2008 - GIGABYTE UNITED INC., a leading manufacturer of motherboards and graphics cards is proud to announce their entire lineup of Intel P45 and P43 chipset based motherboards have just received a DDR2 memory performance upgrade. By upgrading to the latest BIOS, GIGABYTE P45 motherboards are able to support native 1333MHz DDR2 memory, while the GIGABYTE P43 motherboards are able to support 1200MHz DDR2 memory natively.
We are pretty certain we saw a prototype of this motherboard at the MSI booth during Computex but we can't be certain - it may have been using a different chipset, though.
Nevertheless, MSI has just taken the covers off its P45-8D "Memory Lover" motherboard based on Intel's P45 Express chipset. It supports a mammoth 16GB of DDR2 (using 4 x 4GB modules) or 8GB of DDR3 (using 4 x 2GB modules).
P45-8D Memory Lover comes with the cooling heat-pipe design with high thermal efficiency to rule out the heat of the North Bridge and South Bridge quickly, ensuring better stability than other same level products. In addition, P45-8D Memory Lover also comes with the "Memory Identifier" and "Memory Runner" design.
The Memory Identifier is function for digital switch, which provide the best memory transmission signals also upgrade the memory compatibility and performance. The Memory Runner is function for memory voltage switch. It enhances the ease of overclocking process and ensures the memory can boot successfully on overclocking and over-voltage.
You can find out more over at the press release, which we just uploaded, over here.
MSI will brand its first X58 board with Eclipse naming, maybe suggesting that it can do just that to the competition... MSI explained that it has improved on DrMOS since its X48 and P45 boards and claims that generation two provides better power efficiency than before. FSB is out with Core i7 and has been replaced with QPI or QuickPath interconnect which MSI says provides bandwidth up to 25.6GB/s which is said to be twice as much as the previous processor FSB1600 quad pumped standard.
Eclipse will provide triple channel memory supporting up to six DDR3-1333 modules up to a total of 24GB. MSI went on to say that with this amount of memory, bandwidth is up to a massive 32GB/s.
When we begin to look at the board itself, the first thing we want to know when talking about any X58 mobo is if it has SLI support and while MSI neglected to mention anything about it, there is no visible NVIDIA nForce 200 SLI bridge chip to be seen but that's not to say that MSI will or won't be producing a more expensive X58 with SLI support.
The board has 6 phase CPU power, 10 onboard SATA2 ports, onboard power and reset buttons as well as clear CMOS on the back panel and a VERY interest turbo button which we weren't told anything about and we see the return of DIP switches which control some aspect of the CPU clock speed. There is a single IDE port providing support for up to two legacy devices such as an old hard drive or optical drive.
As far as expansion slot goes, it was rather odd to see not one but two legacy PCI slots but I guess there must be good reason for it. There are a total of three PCI-E 2.0 x16 slots and two PCI-E 2.0 x1 slots. MSI has also added protected shielding around the pins of the USB and 1394 headers.
We also see a row of diagnostic LED lights above the CPU socket which will let you know what is happening with the system without always referring to the screen. Audio output is missing from the back panel but knowing MSI there is a good chance an external X-Fi card will be provided for that.
It's looking pretty good so far and we look forward to testing it soon!
Yesterday during the IDF show in San Francisco, Intel announced news that it would be shipping its mini-ITX form factor based Desktop Board D945GCLF2 Essential Series motherboard sometime in September but that might turn into a little later from what we have heard.
Intel's D945GCLF2 motherboard has the 45nm manufactured Atom dual-core 330 soldered onto it (now with active fan cooling due to extra heat generated by the additional core) and is designed for nettop systems such as the low cost ASUS Eee Box and MSI Wind desktop. Intel reckons it will work brilliantly as a second home system or for Internet kiosks, thin clients or POS (point-of-sale and not piece of... never mind) systems.
The Atom 330 runs on a 533MHz FSB which is the same as its single core brother and is powered by the 945GC Express chipset with built-in Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950 - and no, you won't be able to play Crysis using this onboard GPU. There is a single DIMM socket designed to support up to 2GB of DDR2 667/533 SDRAM, which should be enough even for fairly basic Windows Vista usage.
As far as expansion goes, Intel was kind enough to include two SATAII ports as well as an IDE connector supporting up to two ATA 100/66 devices for something like a DVD burner or a couple old hard drives being this mobo will support up to four drives. You could use the PCI expansion slot to add in an old RAID controller or maybe add in a TV tuner card. Let's hope in future versions the PCI slot is ditched in favor of a PCI-E slot, a single PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot would be lovely.
It also gets a single Gigabit Ethernet port and eight Hi-Speed USB 2.0 ports (four back panel ports and two onboard headers supporting four additional USB 2.0 ports). As far as video output goes, you can output via VGA or S-Video. A tweaked up version of this board with the PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot and HDMI output would surely begin to get more interested but it wasn't to be this time around.
You can read the full press release right here.
Intel has just loosened the restrictions on what can be said and posted about the X58 Express supporting Socket 1366 Nehalem Core i7 chipset this week. And that is great for us as it allows us to report some juice bits of information to you, from here in Taipei.
We visited the GIGABYTE HQ this afternoon and they had a single X58 board to show us. It is a dummy sample right now which doesn't work (dammit - no benchmarks!) and is labeled GA-X58-Extreme but it will actually turn out to be the GA-X58-DS4, which is a cut down and cheaper version.
We were told that board you are looking at here is also not 100% complete and the final X58 Extreme will see some changes such as a different color cooling setup, 12 phase power (DS4 is 6 phases) and all onboard SATA ports will be angled 90 degrees.
GIGABYTE's X58 Extreme lacks some features such as onboard hardware RAID and TPM (which are found on DQ6 and some other models) with the philosophy being that the Extreme range of mobos is designed purely for overclockers and high-end enthusiasts and they don't need these extra features. They only drive up the price and may influence overclockability - and that makes perfect sense to us really.
Instead of including those features, GIGABYTE spends more money on adding extra power phases and fancy cooling and whatever other tricks it has up its sleeves to push the FSB increasingly higher. Stuff the real enthusiast will appreciate more. GIGABYTE has some nifty ideas for the final X58 Extreme but unfortunately we were sworn to secrecy but we really look forward to pushing it to the max in our OC tests later on.
One feature that was focused on though was the huge amount of LEDs that GIGABYTE has added - not only do you get the usual DES power phase indication but added are LED diagnostic lights for RAM as well as a series of LEDs above the CPU socket that indicate things such as CPU and case temperatures. These are aids for overclockers to assist in knowing exactly what is going on without having to always refer back to the BIOS and monitor.
X58 brings Triple Channel memory support and as you can see from the pictures, the version of the DS4 we saw today will get the triple memory loving treatment.
X58 Extreme will have four PCI-E 2.0 x16 slots but there is a bit of a story to tell here. The PCI-E slots are paired in groups of two - if you use just the two blue x16 slots (one from each group), they will operate electronically at x16. If you use one x16 and one orange x16 slot in the same group, each will operate at x8 electronically. If you use all four x16 slots, they will all operate electronically at x8. The top two PCI-E x4 slots always run at x4 electronically, no matter what type of setup is in use.
As far as the I/O panel goes, we see the return of two PS/2 ports for keyboard and mouse. GIGABYTE said that these were included purely for overclockers as when they are overclocking, many commented to GIGABYTE's engineers that they like to have USB disabled to find the highest clock speeds. GIGABYTE also mentioned that their engineers discovered that when USB is enabled and when a device is plugged in (even if it's not being used), it drives up power consumption by 3 - 4 watts.
On the back I/O panel there are a total of eight USB 2.0 ports, two Gigabit Ethernet ports, optical and coaxial SPDIF audio out, 1394 firewire port and the very handy clear CMOS button.
That's all the X58 goods we have for you at this stage but stay tuned for more over the following weeks until Intel get it out on shop shelves.