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ULi at it again, M1697 makes its presence known - Reference Motherboard

By: Cameron Johnson | Editorials in CPUs, Chipsets & SoCs | Posted: Dec 13, 2005 5:00 am
TweakTown Rating: 9.0%Manufacturer: ULi

ULi's AP970A Reference Board



Asrock 939Dual-SATA2 Motherboard

ULi's reference board is based on a small ATX form factor, as this board isn't designed to pack as many features as possible onto the board but to demonstrate the ease of layout as well as functionality of the board. However, being a board, we want to go over this layout, as we are sure many motherboard companies will simply follow this layout for their value based boards.


The placement of power connectors is a mixed bag. The 24-pin ATX power connector is placed between the CPU HSF retention plate and the I/O shield - not the spot for good air flow profile. The 4-pin CPU voltage connector is located on the right hand side of the board near the other accessories.


Placement of the IDE connectors is extremely efficient on the middle of the board's right hand edge, the FDD connector, on the other hand needs more thought. The SATA ports are located below the IDE ports with a Post 80 LED display.


Due to the location of the memory controller, it is pretty easy to relocate the DDR slots for AMD64 systems. The ULi reference board places them above the CPU at the top of the board, colour coded blue for channel 1 and black for channel 2.



The expansion slots on the reference board resembles what you will most likely see from the ULi based offerings from manufacturers. There is a single PCI-E x16 slot for graphics cards, two PCI-E x1 slots and three legacy PCI slots. Overall this is an ideal setup; however, we are hoping to see Dual Graphics setups with ULi's chipset to help spice things up in the enthusiast chipset market.



For a reference board, the rear I/O ports are pretty well what we would like to see and expect to see on retail ULi boards. There are two PS/2 ports, one Serial, one Parallel, two USB, one RJ-45 and six audio ports along with two SPDIF ports makes for one very interesting setup.



Being a single chip solution, the real estate taken up on the board is extremely clean, no additional trace wires for south bridges, but setting up something like this does result in a bit more heat due to all the peripherals being on one silicon chip. To this end the M1697 chipset is recommended to be actively cooled.



At the base of the board are the four SATA ports supporting all the SATA 2.5 specifications and also located at the bottom is a Post 80 port and the BIOS chip.


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