Articles: CPU

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Since AOpen i975Xa-YDG is based on i975X chipset designed for high-performance systems this mainboard can be regarded as a high-speed PC platform. What proves this point is the availability of two PCI Express X16 slots, which means that this mainboard supports ATI CrossFire technology (when there are two graphics cards installed, the PCI Express x16 slots switch to PCI Express x8 working mode).

AOpen i975Xa-YDG is equipped with four DDR2 DIMM slots, so when you install the memory modules in pairs they work in dual-channel mode. Unfortunately, the mainboard can only clock the memory at 533MHz and 667MHz frequencies, AOpen engineers didn’t implement the support for any other DDR2 SDRAM dividers. Therefore, unlike many other mainboards based on i975X, our today’s hero doesn’t have any hidden unofficial support for faster memory work modes such as DDR2-800.

The features of the nominal ICH7 South Bridge that is used on this mainboard didn’t satisfy AOpen engineers, so they enhanced this list by adding a few extra controllers, some of which are truly quite unique. For example, one of them is the additional JMicron JMB360 Serial ATA controller.

This chip supports only one Serial ATA II port that is laid out on the rear panel of AOpen i975Xa-YDG mainboard. Thanks to the fact that Serial ATA II standard supports plug-n-play and hot swap connection type, this mainboard allows using replaceable hard drives even when the system case is closed. To make connection to the external Serial ATA II port quick and easy there is a corresponding power connector on the mainboard rear panel as well.

Also, AOpen i975Xa-YDG features an additional ITE IT8212F Parallel ATA RAID controller to ensure that this mainboard has 3 PATA channels. In other words, this solution offers great opportunity to use previous-generation hard disk drives, which is a rare feature on today’s mainboards.

But the most interesting controller on AOpen i975Xa-YDG mainboard is definitely the Firewire chip from Agere. It supports two IEEE1394 ports, however it seems to be far not its primary role. Our practical tests showed that this controller affects the overall system stability, although I cannot think of any logical explanation of this discovery. Our mainboard worked fine only if the controller is enabled. The moment you disable it in the BIOS Setup, the absolutely stable and reliable mainboard turns into a real mess including all sorts of unpleasant issues such as sudden rebooting or freezing dead. So, I believe that we have every right to state that AOpen engineers have done something very wrong and inaccurate when they were working on the BIOS for their AOpen i975Xa-YDG mainboard.

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