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GIGABYTE GA-X99-SOC Force Motherboard Overview and Overclocking Guide

By: Steven Bassiri | Guides | Posted: Oct 20, 2014 12:59 pm

CPU Regulator Analysis


With more and more things being integrated into the CPU and PCH, there isn't much that sets motherboards apart from each other, but the voltage regulator is still one part of the motherboard that differs greatly between motherboards. On the X99 platform, the VRM area has been effectively reduced by half, while the current demand has been almost doubled due to the high TDP of the new CPUs. The X99 VRM is possibly one of the most important parts of any X99 motherboard, especially when it comes to overclocking.




The CPU VRM features a total of eight phases; each is powered by an integrated power stage, the well-known International Rectifier PowIRstages. There are eight high-capacity server grade inductors made by Cooper Bussmann. The FP1007R3-R15-R are 0.15uH Flat-Pac series power inductors that feature 76A saturation current at 25C; this is an extremely high current rating, employed to insure the VRM is able to sustain huge loads without damage.


GIGABYTE also chose to use Panasonic POSCAPs, which are tantalum based, and can handle lower temperatures better; they also should last longer than polymers. They use 14 POSCAPs each rated at 470uF, for a total of 6580uF. The high capacitor count is to control large current swings, but also to reduce the ESR of the tantalum based capacitors.




GIGABYTE is using the International Rectifier IR3580, an eight phase digital PWM - the latest one offered by International Rectifier. The difference between this PWM and the IR3563 is that this PWM features special low power operation modes, such as single and dual phase operations.




GIGABYTE used the IR3556 for the power stages; each one can output 50A at about 10W, and 90% efficiency. The IR3556 is a brand new PowIRstage, and it replaces the IR3551. These new IR power stages reduce switch node ringing, and offer better timing control in comparison to the first generation IR power stages such as the IR3550, IR3551, and IR3553. They also offer internal current sensing algorithms, and improved temperature sensing, which should, according to IR, greatly increase current sensing accuracy. Support for synchronous diode-emulation is a new feature that should help a lot with ultra-light load efficiency.



Memory Regulator Analysis




There are two sets of everything for the DDR4 power on X99; this is because there are two sets of DIMMs on every X99 motherboard. GIGABYTE chose to stay with digital PWM control for all four DDR4 VRMs; the International Rectifier IR3570 is a 3+2 phase digital PWM that is perfect for this. Two of these PWMs are in use, one on each side of the board. There are four DDR4 VRMs, because each set of DIMMs requires a DRAM voltage of 1.2v and a DRAM VPP voltage of 2.5v. The 1.2v rail is the most important, and on this board, each set of DIMMs gets two phases consisting of 40A International Rectifier IR3553.




These are the VRMs that provide the 2.5v VPP supply for each set of DIMMs. They consist of a single phase made up of IR3553 40A PowIRstages, which are controlled by the same IR3570 PWMs that are used for the main rail since the IR3570 has two separate sets of PWM outputs.


DDR VPP: is the voltage for the electrical high for DRAM row access. For DDR4, JEDEC decided to introduce a secondary external VRM that provides a 2.5v electrical high voltage for the word line (row access). Since the word line voltage is no longer pumped up from the DDR voltage (like it was for DDR3), the inefficiencies of pumping up the DDR voltage are gone, and instead you get power savings.




The RT8120 is a single phase PWM, and it powers a single phase VRM using two Vishay SiRA14MOSFETs, which controls the PCH voltage rail.

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