Articles: Mainboards

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Now that we have discussed the features of the ATI RD600 chipset in detail we can see that it is slightly yielding to the contemporary alternatives from Intel and Nvidia. That is why DFI engineers used a few additional onboard controllers to implement the missing features.

In particular, DFI LANParty UT ICFX3200-T2R/G mainboard supports 8 Serial ATA-300 ports only thanks to the onboard promise PDC40719 controller. This controller services four out of eight ports available on the mainboard allowing the use of hard drives with NCQ and up to 3Gbit/s data transfer speed that can be united not only into RAID 0, 1 and 0+1 arrays, but also in RAID 5. However, despite the contemporary features, this controller has one unpleasant peculiarity: it is connected to the chipset South Bridge via the PCI bus that can limit its performance severely.

Nevertheless, this was the only option DFI engineers could use, because the two free PCI Express x1 lanes of the ATI RD600 chipset have already been used for the two Gigabit network controllers that also require high-speed connection to the chipset. LANParty UT ICFX3200-T2R/G uses Marvell 88E8052 and 88E8053 chips for that, and they also allow uniting the network ports into teaming mode if necessary.

Besides the ten USB 2.0 ports serviced by the chipset, the mainboard also offers two IEEE1394 ports. They are implemented via the common PCI controller – VIA VT6307.

The implementation of the sound tract on this mainboard is also pretty interesting. The thing is that just like on other LANParty UT solutions the analogue part of the sound tract has been moved onto a separate daughter card aka Karajan audio module (after the Austrian conductor Herbert von Karajan). This module carries one of the latest 8-channel High-Edfinition codecs – Realtek ALC885. Besides all its features this codec is also fully compatible with the Windows Vista Premium requirements.

Other features of the DFI LANParty UT ICFX3200-T2R/G mainboard are quite predictable. Most of them are determined by the features of the ATI RD600 chipset. The PCI Express slots layout on the mainboard PCB follows the strict recommendations of the chipset developer. As a result, this mainboard offers three PCI Express x16 slots. The first two are assigned to the graphics cards, and if the system is equipped with two graphics accelerators they will work in PCI Express x8 mode. If the second graphics card slot is empty, the first one will work at its full speed. The bus work modes are switched fully automatically. The third PCI Express x16 slot is connected to the PCI Express x2 bus and serves for graphics cards working as a physics accelerator or for expansion cards with PCI Express interface. The mainboard also features 3 regular PCI slots.

DFI LANParty UT ICFX3200-T2R/G has four DDR2 DIMM slots for the memory. Thanks to supported asynchronous clocking of the memory bus, the mainboard is compatible with a great variety of DDR2 SDRAM modules working at different speeds. The chipset memory controller supports single-channel and dual-channel modes. The memory slots on the mainboard PCB are color-coded accordingly.

Speaking about the main features of the RD600 chipset, ATI stressed the ability to configure its major parameters from Windows with the help of a special utility. When we got our hands on the board built on this chipset, we got a great opportunity to see that ATI’s promises were not unsubstantiated. The board is accompanied with a special AMD System Manager program that brings in the corresponding functionality.

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