Articles: Mainboards
 

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Closer Look

The Foxconn 925A01-8EKRS2 and Foxconn 915A01-8EKRS2 mainboards are relatively inexpensive products, so most of their functionality is provided by their chipsets. Yet, Foxconn doesn’t employ the cheapest possible versions of the chipsets. For example, the ICH6R South Bridges used in these mainboards support RAID arrays of levels 0, 1 and 0+1 as well as Matrix RAID technology, besides the basic characteristics.

The 925A01-8EKRS2 and 915A01-8EKRS2 mainboards support the full range of LGA775 processors with 800MHz or 533MHz FSB, including not only Pentium 4 but also Pentium 4 Extreme Edition and Celeron D. By the way, the manufacturer is regularly providing BIOS updates on its website to add support of newer CPU models. Thus, the latest versions of the BIOS (you can download them from www.foxconnchannel.com) support the recently released CPUs on the E0 stepping of the Prescott core, i.e. they support the NX bit as well as Enhanced Halt Mode C1E and Thermal Monitoring 2 technologies.

Each mainboard can take up to 4GB of DDR2 SDRAM into its four 240-pin DIMM slots. The slots are color-coded and you must put a pair of DDR2-533/400 SDRAM modules into same-color slots for the memory to work in the dual-channel mode.

Each of these two mainboard also has one PCI Express x16 slot for the graphics card and three PCI Express x1 expansion slots. Besides that, the Foxconn 925A01-8EKRS2 is equipped with two PCI slots, and the Foxconn 915A01-8EKRS2 – with three PCI slots.

The Serial ATA and USB 2.0 interfaces are realized through the chipset’s South Bridge. Each of the mainboards has four USB 2.0 ports at its connections panel and two additional onboard headers for attaching four more ports; two ports can be output via the enclosed USB bracket, and two more ports are supposed to connect to the front panel of the system case. Foxconn puts much emphasis on the fact that the PCB is wired to minimize the distance between the South Bridge and the USB ports, which has a positive effect on the “purity” of the signal on the USB connectors.

The mainboards also carry four Serial ATA-150 ports each – the standard SATA connectivity of the ICH6 South Bridge. The 925A01-8EKRS2 and 915A01-8EKRS2 mainboards actually have a seat on their PCBs for an additional Serial ATA controller from Silicon Image that would provide two more SATA ports, but this seat was empty on our samples. Since the ICH6R South Bridge doesn’t support FireWire, Foxconn’s engineers realized this interface through an onboard VT6307 controller from VIA. One of the controller’s ports is found at the mainboards’ connections panels while the other is found on board and can be output to the front panel of your system case. The VIA VT6307 chip isn’t the latest and most advanced controller available as it only supports the IEEE1394a version of the standard; its FireWire ports have a maximum speed of 400 Mbps only.

Both mainboards feature an eight-channel audio solution from Realtek – the ALC880 codec compliant with Intel’s High Definition Audio standard. So, the mainboards can give out an eight-channel sound and support Universal Audio Jack technology (the function of an audio connector is adjusted depending on the attached device). The connections panels of the reviewed mainboards carry six audio jacks plus an onboard pin-connector for a coaxial SPDIF output. Neither the 925A01-8EKRS2 nor the 915A01-8EKRS2 supports an optical SPDIF output.

As for the network controller, the reviewed mainboards from Foxconn are both equipped with Gigabit Ethernet Realtek RTL8110S-32 chips. Unfortunately, these chips are connected across the PCI bus, which may be a limitation on their speed. Foxconn didn’t use the PCI Express bus for the networking needs for reasons of economy.

There are two more curious things about the 925A01-8EKRS2 and 915A01-8EKRS2 mainboard models. First, both mainboards have an IrDA connector, i.e. an infrared port. Second, they both have a seldom-seen connector for attaching a Trusted Platform Module for a hardware realization of various encryption algorithms.

 
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