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.
AMD looks poised to kick off 2009 with a bang. Earlier this week, rumors surfaced of an updated CPU roadmap for the chip maker, which showed the suits in Santa Clara gearing up to release six new Phenom II X4 processors, along with various Athlon-branded chips. According to DigiTimes, AMD also has a few new chipsets on tap for the new year.
On the lower end, AMD will release its 760G chipset, an entry-level IGP part based on the RS780 architecture. DirectX10 and Shader Model 4.0 will both be represented in the760G, but noticeably absent will be the company's Unified Video Decoder (UVD), Hybrid CrossFireX technology, and HDMI and DisplayPort connectors.
A bit higher on the performance scale will be AMD's 790FX and 790GX IGP chipsets, both of which will support AM3 and the SB750 southbridge. Later in the year, AMD will introduce its RS880 IGP chipset, followed by the RD890 in September.
Troubleshooting a dead motherboard can be enough of a pain in the backside all on its own, but once you've reached the conclusion that your board has given up the ghost, the prospect of a lengthy wait for a replacement only adds insult to injury. Asus seeks to alleviate this frustration with its new Asus Premium Service (APS) program, which offers eligible motherboard owners the option of having a replacement board cross-shipped free of charge.
"ASUS offers today’s discerning motherboard customer the widest range of choice for enthusiast platforms,” said Sales Director Timothy Lin of ASUS North America. “By combining the most stable motherboards and unique features with comprehensive customer support, we expect ASUS motherboards to remain the enthusiast’s first choice."
Initially, a pair of X58-based boards qualify for the program along with several other high end models, including the latest Republic of Gamers (ROG) mobos.The no-cost advance-RMA service is good for one year after the original purchase date and a valid credit card is required. More details can be found on Asus' APS Service Terms page.
Power users have long dreamed of the day when hitting their PC's power button would result in an instantaneous boot. Technologies like SplashTop's Instant-On Linux-based OS have brought this concept closer to reality, but unlike the Instant-On OS, which works on a flash chip embedded on select motherboards giving users quick access to basic online tasks, Asrock's new Instant Boot feature promises super speedy boot times into Windows to the tune of just 3-4 seconds and has posted a video to prove it.
Impossible? Well, yes, but Asrock's creative approach puts a unique spin on shutting down and turning on your system. After installing the Instant Boot application on a compatible Asrock motherboard, shutting down your PC triggers a shutdown and reboot process that ultimately puts your system in a Hibernate or Standby state. The next time you hit the power button, you'll be up and running in as little as 3 seconds.
The obvious question is why not just put your system in Standby or Hibernate in the first place, and according to Asrock, Instant Boot's advantages include a less cluttered OS from a clean boot with no "accumulated garbage data," nor will you lose any data during a power outage. Whether or not Instant Boot becomes an instant hit is yet to be determined, but kudos to Asrock for thinking outside of the box.
Hit the jump and tell us what you think of this new technology.
With Intel's new Core i7 platform nearing release, expect a deluge of X58 motherboard announcements by various manufacturers. EVGA has already offered a glimpse of its upcoming X58 SLI FTW board, and now Gigabyte follows suit with two boards of its own -- GA-EX58-EXTREME and GA-EX58-UD5 -- based on the enthusiast X58 chipset.
Both boards will sport six DIMM slots for three-channel DDR3 memory and support for up to a whopping 24GB of RAM, but the hardware ménage à trois doesn't end there. Both boards will also come ready for three-way SLI action, or if you prefer ATI brand videocards, you can get your groove on with three-way CrossFireX support. Other traits the two boards have in common include ten SATA 3Gb/s ports, a PATA connector, RAID support, 8-channel onboard audio, three Firewire ports, and a dozen USB 2.0 ports.
The GA-EX58-EXTREME separates itself by adding Gigabyte's "Hybrid Silent-Pipe 2" cooling solution and is being aimed at watercooling enthusiasts. By combining liquid cooling, screen cooling, and an external heatsink, Gigabyte claims users can expect upwards of a 30 percent drop in thermals. The GA-EX58-UD5, on the other hand, sticks to a more traditional air cooling scheme, while also adding LED onboard displays of system vitals.
Taiwanese company Silicon Integrated Systems has dismissed rumors that it is going to shut down its PC chipset business. It is now going to concentrate its resources on developing southbridges. SiS will persist with its PC chipset business and satisfy whatever demand there is for its products until 2011. It is currently concentrating on providing notebook chipsets. SiS supplies notebook chipsets to around 20 notebook manufacturers. Cut-throat competition and the precarious state of the global economy have made life difficult for SiS.
Citing un-named sources at channel vendors in China, DigiTimes says that Foxconn Electronics (otherwise known as Hon Hai Precision Industry) may be jumping out of the branded motherboard market. The overseas rumors stem from Foxconn reportedly cutting off its sales department from taking any new orders on select motherboard models, in addition to no longer putting together order volume forecasts for all of its new models. In other words, the company looks to be clearing its inventory.
While power users typically levitate towards the likes of Asus, Gigabyte, and MSI, Foxconn is far from being a small player in the motherboard market. The company has seen steady growth since shipping six million of its own branded boards back in 2005, and surpassed the 10 million mark in 2007. Estimated shipments for 2008 have the company seeing an annual growth of around 30 percent.
Having a tough time waiting for Intel's Core i7 platform to finally reach retail shelves? While power users patiently wait for next generation components to emerge, Evga has offered up an early look at its upcoming X58 SLI FTW motherboard.
"Evga is proud to show a sneak peek of a new motherboard based on the Intel X58 Express Chipset, supporting the upcoming Intel Core i7 processor," Evga wrote in in a statement. "The Evga X58 SLI FTW motherboard will feature 6 DIMMs of triple channel DDR3 memory, and a board layout optimized for the enthusiast including 2-way and 3-way SLI support."
The new board represents a departure from what has been an exclusive partnership with Nvidia, at least in terms of the chipset. Nvidia will still be represented on the all-black PCB with SLI support, which has been a long awaited marriage between Intel chipsets and Nvidia graphics.
As implied by the FTW moniker, Evga's upcoming motherboard boasts several features of interests to enthusiasts and overclockers, such as VDroop control, 100 percent solid state capacitors, and no less than 10 SATA ports with an eSATA port thrown in for good measure.
Evga says the board will be available in November for an as-yet undetermined amount.
If you thought EVGA was out of the motherboard game with Nvida sitting out the Core i7 chipset game, think again. EVGA just released the spec’s of an upcoming Nehalem motherboard with SLI support.
EVGA’s X58 SLI FTW mobo won’t be based on an nForce chip, instead it will use an Intel x58 chipset. The board will feature a six-DIMM slot configuration and support for both 2-way and 3-way SLI. The board is one of several that Nvidia will “bless” with SLI support in drivers. The other option to obtain SLI support is for board makers to integrate nForce 200 chips into the PCB. Most of the early X58 designs are foregoing the chip for now though. Nvidia did announce recently that Asus, MSI, Gigabyte and DFI as well as EVGA would support SLI.
The cost of the SLI certification for boards without the nForce 200 has been reported to be as high as $30. Recently, however, Expreview.com, reported that Nvidia was charging $5. Nvidia has not verified any of the pricing saying that the cost varied from contract to contract based on the volume and terms set up in each deal. The company did pooh pooh the earlier report of $30 though.
Click through for more details about this newly announced board!