A Look Back at CeBIT 2008: Motherboards

Motherboards drew much of the attention at this year’s CeBIT exhibition – many companies selected to debut their most recent developments in the field at the exhibition. This is a quickly developing field – AMD just introduced its newest integrated graphics chipsets and already motherboards based on the AMD chipsets were presented at another company’s stand! As expected, the ultimate buzz-word at Europe’s biggest IT show this year was…“overclocking”.

MSI

 MSI X48 Platinum (Credit: MSI)
MSI X48 Platinum (Credit: MSI)

The Taiwanese company MicroStar International (MSI) unveiled two new motherboard models based on Intel’s latest P45 chipset. Their “P45 Neo3”, which supports Intel’s 45nm processors – “Penryn” and “Wolfdale”, operates with DDR2 memory and employs a heat-pipe cooling solution. This is a cooling mechanism in which heated liquid evaporates and flows in gas form towards the cooler end of the system, then condenses and flows back towards the heated area. Another novel motherboard showcased by MSI for the first time was the “P45 Diamond” prototype. The P45 Diamond currently lacks a cooling system and supports only DDR3 memory running up to 1333 MHz. The “Diamond” board is equipped with 13 S-ATA connectors and one eSATA connector. According to the company, the motherboard’s high quality capacitors provide temperature stability and have an exceptionally high life expectancy.  

 MSI X48C Platinum (Credit: MSI)
MSI X48C Platinum (Credit: MSI)

One of the more interesting motherboards showcased by MSI was the “X48 Platinum” – a high-end model based on Intel’s latest X48 chipset. Designed to be especially “overclockable”, this mainboard sports four PCI Express slots – two of which are x16, and officially supports DDR3-1600 frequency. Other features include 6 S-ATA and 2 eSATA connectors, 8 USB ports, and MSI’s proprietary heat-pipe cooling system. The “X48C Platinum” model is very similar to the X48 model, and features support for DDR2-800 and two PCI Express x16 slots. With four S-ATA and two eSATA connectors on-board, this model also operates with MSI’s heat-pipe cooling solution, the “Circu-Pipe”. According to the company, the enthusiasts among us will truly appreciate the X48 models’ performance abilities. 

ASUS

ASUS Striker II Extreme (Credit: ASUS) 
ASUS Striker II Extreme (Credit: ASUS)

The state-of-the-art “Striker II Extreme” motherboard was presented by the “ASUS Republic of Gamers”. This high–end platform is aimed at the “hardcore” users of the gaming market. The motherboard is based on NVIDIA’s “nForce 790i UltraSLI” chipset, and supports DDR3 up to 2000 MHz. Professional overclockers will also enjoy the addition of multiple LEDs, which allow users to monitor the system’s state by providing information regarding the CPU, DDR, northbridge and southbridge voltages (green – normal, yellow- high-voltage, red-ultra overclocking). Additionally, “Striker II” includes the company’s “CPU Level Up” feature – a “one stop shop” application for overclocking. The application provides users who seek easy upgrading of their CPU performances with extensive options to fine-tune frequencies, over-voltage, or memory timings. 

Foxconn

Foxconn showcased its new ten-slot Ultra ATX motherboard – the “F1”. This is an Intel-based oversized model, which sports four x16 PCI Express slots, can handle up to 10 displays, and fit right into Foxconn’s robot-inspired 4×4 feet cases. According to the company, the F1 mainboard might qualify for a place in the company’s “Quantum Force” series of motherboards, which are designed exclusively to allow for premium overclocking range.  

 Foxconn A7GM-S (Credit: Foxconn)
Foxconn A7GM-S (Credit: Foxconn)

The company chose this year’s fair as the launch site for its new AM2+ integrated graphics motherboards, which support AMD’s Phenom processors and incorporate the latest HD playback technologies. The newest motherboards, dubbed A7GM-S and A7VMX, are based on AMD’s 780G and 780V chipsets, respectively. Both fully support HyperTransport and PCI Express technologies, which according to the company, dramatically increase available bandwidth between graphics and CPU processing cores and allow for a more balanced system performance. The A7GM-S model is capable of playing both Blu-Ray and HD DVD content without the need to upgrade the onboard graphics. Its ATI “Avivo HD1” graphics processor is said to be “rivaling high-end HD players even at 1080i resolution”. 

Gigabyte

Gigabyte GA-x48-DQ6 
Gigabyte GA-x48-DQ6

What about Green IT, you ask? Gigabyte introduced us to their Dynamic Energy Saver” (DES) motherboards of the ‘EagleLake’ series. This collection of motherboards is based on Intel’s P45 chipset. The motherboards offer support for DDR3 of up to 1600 MHz, have dual PCI Express x8 slots, and are equipped with a high-quality audio codec. According to the company, the DES technology allows power savings of up to 70% and improves power efficiency by 20% without sacrificing computing performance.  This is accomplished by a unique multiple-gear power phase design, which allows for efficient switching of “power phases” depending on CPU workload. For example, when CPU is idle, the DES only allows the operation of the minimum power phases required in order to accomplish the task. When the workload increases, the system simply shifts back into “higher gear”, turning on power phases as necessary.

Additionally, the company introduced its X48-based motherboards, which are dedicated to extreme overclocking. These boards, which operate DDR3 memory of up to 1900 MHz or DDR2 memory of up to 1200 MHz, are equipped with two PCI Express x16 slots, and support Intel’s 45nm CPUs with 1600 MHz FSB.

Gigabyte also showcased motherboards that support AMD’s AM2+ platform, like those based on AMD’s newly launched 780G chipset, as well as NVIDIA’s 780a SLI chipset that features three-way SLI support.

Sapphire

 Sapphire PC-AM2RX780
Sapphire PC-AM2RX780

The Chinese company unveiled two of its newest motherboard models. The first is the “PI-AM2RS780G”, a model based on the AMD 780G chipset, and the first motherboard to integrate the DirectX10 graphics core. The second model is the “PC-AM2RX780”, which is based on AMD’s new 770 chipset. ‘PI’ features the latest SB700 south bridge and supports AMD’s latest Hybrid “CrossFireX” Graphics driver, along with all AM2+ compatible processors, delivering exceptionally high performance on a DDR2 800MHz memory. The “PC” is more expensive, and is an ATX-styled DDR2 1066MHz motherboard, which sports four S-ATA devices and three PCI Express x16 slots, supports CrossFireX, and includes 10 USB-ports. According to the company, this mainboard was specifically designed for PC enthusiasts, high-performance gamers, and professional overclockers.