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Would you use a ball mouse? A VL-Bus graphics card? A Socket 7 board? Then why the hell are enthusiasts still embracing the 13-year-old ATX formfactor? It’s time we started thinking about moving beyond ATX.
Today, we’re running quad-core boxes with two or more GPUs in a formfactor created when people used serial and parallel ports and the Pentium was the hot chip in town. In the near future, USB 3 will appear on motherboards in the south-bridge chips. To route the ports, motherboard vendors must run traces all the way from the south bridge to the rear I/O shield. You might be able to do this with USB 3 data rates on a four-layer board, but can it be done with USB 5? If it requires more layers, it’ll add to the cost of the board.
|The failed BTX formfactor included many forward-thinking features.
Of course, Intel tried to fix these problems with its BTX formfactor, which cratered because of resistance from case-makers, a new emphasis on cooler CPUs, and complete resistance from AMD. But if I were hardware dictator for a day, I’d propose a new formfactor called GTX (Gordon TX) that mandates:
This probably sounds crazy because the push is for smaller, rather than larger, PCs, but I say it’s time. Average people are moving toward smaller machines or notebook PCs. Full-tower ATX boxes are increasingly focused on the workstation market; we really shouldn’t be handcuffed by formfactors designed to appeal to the masses.