Citing un-named "sources in the channel," DigiTimes reports that second-tier motherboard maker Abit has decided to quit the consumer electronics branding business. Among the products affected are digital photo frames and digital speakers, neither of which have been prominent sellers in the U.S. market, if at all.
Still, the news comes as another reminder of Abit's fall from grace as a premier motherboard maker who once catered to overclockers. At one time on the level of the likes of Asus, questionable management decisions proved fatal for the Abit of old, who hit hard times financially and sold its brand name to Universal Scientific Industrial (USI) in 2006. Since then, the company has shifted its focus to becoming a second-tier mobo maker, with its latest Abit-brand motherboard being the Intel X48-based IX48 GT3.
Maybe the world has gone topsy-turvy on us, but Biostar, the company best known for its budget motherboards, has set another overclocking world record, this time on AMD's Phenom platform. Say what?
Using Biostar's recently released TA790GX A3+ motherboard, Japanese overclocker "PcCI2iminal" and his team (Yoko) pushed AMD's Phenom II 955 processor to 6.16GHz and 6.20GHz, respectively, claiming the top and third spots for highest OC for that processor. In both cases, liquid nitrogen cooling was used to push the processor nearly 94 percent higher than its stock speed. The fourth highest OC sits at a distant 4.09GHz using air cooling.
Last summer, a Biostar board was used to set the frontside bus world record when an overclocker who goes by the name Youngpro manged to maneuver the Biostar I45 board's FSB to 725MHz (2,900MHz quad-pumped).
If you're brand new to the DIY PC building scene, you may think Intel chipset-based motherboard owners have always been able to run multiple Nvidia videocards in SLI. You'd also be wrong. It was less than six months ago that Nvidia officially announced it was licensing its SLI technology to several top-tier motherboard makers for Intel's X58 chipset, in exchange for a fee. So we can't imagine anyone over at Nvidia doing cartwheels when end-users find a way to enable SLI on non-SLI certified boards with a relatively simple BIOS hack.
Citing an article in Taiwanese magazine PC Home Advance, TweakTown reports that not only is it possible, but it's been demonstrated on Gigabyte's EX58-UD4 motherboard. The magazine downloaded the latest F6 BIOS for a slightly different model, the EX58-UD4P, which comes with official SLI support, and slapped it on the less expensive non-SLI board.
Because the model numbers are different, the magazine noted the unsupported BIOS can't be installed using the built-in QFlash utility, and instead requires using the DOS-based SPIFLASH utility. Still a relatively easy hack considering no physical modifications to the board itself needs to be done.
It's unclear whether there were any undesirable side effects from using another board model's BIOS in place of the correct one. It's also unclear whether Nvidia will take measures to prevent this and future BIOS hacks from working with future driver releases.
Asus has been showing off its cool and quirky Marine Cool concept motherboard at CeBIT, and it's like nothing you've ever seen before. We say 'cool' in a literal sense, as the board's underbelly comes equipped with a backplate the company says utilizes "micro-porous ceramic" technology. According to Asus, the backplate provides "aerospace-grade thermal dissipating," while also adding to the board's structural integrity. Combined with the metal heat-pipe module covering the chipset and PWM, Asus says "these revolutionary designs improve heat dissipation by up to 2 fold."
The prototype board also boasts an onboard UPS consisting of a built-in polymer battery in the gray portion of the backplate, providing backup power and preventing damage in the case of a blackout. But the quirkiness comes in the form of SO-DIMM memory slots typically found on notebooks. We suppose the space-saving slots might have made sense on paper, but that's probably where it should have stayed. However, we do dig the built-in Failover Memory, which Asus says guarantees the system will boot when using incompatible or faulty memory.
Thoughts on the Marine Cool motherboard? Hit the jump and sound off.
If you're not yet ready to make the the jump to DDR3 memory but are itching to upgrade nonetheless, MSI has you covered, and it doesn't matter if you're an AMD or Intel fan. The motherboard maker has released a pair of hybrid motherboards, one for each camp, supporting both DDR2 and DDR3 RAM.
On the AMD side, MSI's AM3-based 790GX-8D supports both DDR2-1066 and DDR3-1333 memory when paired with an AM3 processor, and also works with AM2+ CPUs with DDR2 memory. Four slots of each are crammed onto the PCB, however you can't use both memory technologies at the same time. Moving away from the memory, the board also comes with two PCI-E x16 slots, two PCI-E x1 slots, and a single standard PCI slot. Using the onboard graphics, gamers can also set up a CrossFireX hybrid configuration.
Switching gears to Intel, MSI's P45-8D sports four each DDR2 and DDR3 slots as well, though it remains a generation behind as an LGA775 board with support for Intel's Core 2 processors. On the expansion front, the P45-8D comes outfitted with a one PCI-E x16 slot, one PCI-E x1 slots, and three standard PCI slots.
The P45-8D is available now for around $170 street. No word yet on price or availability for the 790GX-8D.
After a lengthy standoff that ultimately punished the consumer rather than each other, Intel and Nvidia recently came to an agreement over using Nvidia's SLI technology on Intel chipset-based motherboards, specifically the Core i7 friendly X58. And now for the first time, Intel has licensed SLI for use on its own DX58SO "Smackover" motherboard.
"The addition of Nvidia SLI technology to the Intel DX58SO motherboard has been a welcome addition," said Clem Russo, VP and GM of Channel Desktop Platform Group at Intel. "The pairing of our new Core i7 processors on our Extreme Series motherboard and Nvidia GeForce graphics has resulted in some of the world's fastest consumer gaming PC platforms. For playing any of today's hottest PC titles, this is one awesome combination that our customers have been asking for."
Nvidia says the DX58SO supports any combination of GeForce GPUs, including support for quad-SLI, which will come as a boon to Smackover owners who have been lusing over Nvidia's new dual-GPU GeForce GTX 295 videocard.
Asus’s P6T Deluxe isn’t the most over-the-top Core i7 board we’ve tested, but it certainly has a leg up on Intel’s bare-bones DX58SO. For one thing, it finally brings us graphics reunification by supporting both two-card SLI and CrossFire X configurations.
And instead of the gimpy four-slot DIMM setup of Intel’s DX58SO, the P6T Deluxe features six DDR3 DIMM slots. The board, of course, supports all Core i7 CPUs. Since Intel is the sole chipset provider for X58 and the memory controller is in the CPU itself, most performance differences will be the result of BIOS tweaks each manufacturer implements. We found Asus’s BIOS to be far friendlier than the Intel board’s, which at first glance seems designed for engineers. Truth be told, though, the Asus BIOS can be just as daunting if you tread into the Advanced section.
Following Intel's P55 chipset, which is expected to launch sometime late this summer, Intel will release four more mainstream chipsets in the first quarter of 2010. These include the H57, P57, Q57, and H55.
DigiTimes says the higher end H57, P57, and Q57 chipsets will boast support for a revamped version of Intel's Turbo Memory technology currently codenamed Braidwood. This will help with boot times by moving frequently accessed data away from the hard drive and over to Flash memory. The memory chips will also sport a dedicated NVRAM controller for SSD-like read and write speeds, Fudzilla says.
All chipsets will support up to 14 USB 2.0 ports (save for the H55, which checks in with 12), up to 6 SATA ports, and up to 8 PCI-E x1 ports (H55 again being the exception with 6 PCI-E x1 ports).
As the memory market can attest, it's become a tough proposition to try and sell computer components for a profit. But it's not just memory; motherboards and videocards have been on the decline since Q3 2008, and according to Henry Lu, VP of products at MSI, the market won't see any further expansion.
It gets even worse. Lu contends that a top four motherboard maker -- Asus, Gigabyte, ECS, or MSI -- will drop out of the market within the next few years due to the inability of the market to support the growth of all four. It may seem inconceivable that one of the industry's stalwarts should ultimately exit stage left, but one only need look back at Abit's recent fall from grace as a grim reminder of how quickly the game can change.
And speaking of Abit, it's because of them and other second-tier mobo makers exiting the market that the big four can scrape by for the next three years, Lu says, but then something has to give. If Lu's prediction comes true, the question is, who will be the one to leave? Ironically, it's MSI who seems poised to fall if looking strictly at motherboard shipments. In 2008, Asus shipped around 21 million mobos, the same amount as ECS. Gigabyte trailed slightly behind at 19 million, and MSI was the least active shipping around 16 million.
Pardon us, but crowing that your integrated graphics chip is better than your competitor’s integrated graphics chip is a bit like bragging that your D is better than your friend’s D-.
As sad as that is, it’s the tack AMD is taking with its 790GX chipset, which Gigabyte’s MA790GP-DS4H mobo is based on. While the chipset features DirectX 10 support and indeed might be faster than other integrated graphics solutions, it’s still slower than the ancient GeForce 7600 GS we compared it to.