Articles: Mainboards

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Closer Look: Features

As I have mentioned, the FIS2R version of the MSI KT6 Delta mainboard offers the greatest functionality. Most of the functions, however, are common things and we won’t dwell upon them for long.

First, the connection of the mainboard to external devices. These are USB, FireWire and Ethernet interfaces. Let me repeat it once again that the MSI mainboard uses the VT8237 South Bridge to the full extent and supports 8 USB ports (2.0 or “High-Speed”, of course). Six of them are implemented in the connectors panel, while the remaining two are implemented through the onboard connectors and the D-Bracket.

The VT6306 controller from VIA supports three FireWire 100/200/400 ports. The bracket for the system case back panel carries all of them. Two of the ports are 6-pin and one is 4-pin. Most (if not all) digital camcorders use this 4-pin connector and come equipped with a 4-4 cable (it can sometimes be purchased separately). By the way, this cable also allows direct video copying from one camcorder to another.

The networking capabilities of the MSI KT6 Delta FIS2R are provided by the integrated Broadcom 5788 Gigabit Ethernet controller. I don’t think there is any need to describe the controller in detail. It is rather an ordinary thing. Note though that Gigabit Ethernet is becoming ever more popular as an integrated feature and is probably to become a standard soon, like 100Mbit Ethernet now.

The MSI mainboard provides wide opportunities with respect to hard disk drives. The PCB carries three Parallel ATA (two supported by the South Bridge and one by the Promise PDC20378 IDE RAID controller) and four Serial ATA (two supported by the South Bridge and two by the Promise controller) connectors. Thus, it is possible to attach as many as ten IDE devices to the MSI KT6 Delta. I guess this is more than enough for a vast majority of users. All four Serial ATA devices can then be united into RAID arrays, but only in pairs. That is, you can build a RAID array of level 0 or 1 only. By attaching two more Parallel ATA drives to the Promise controller you can also build a RAID 0+1, although I doubt any “home” user would ever require such a RAID.

Now, we have approached what is usually called “features”. These are the unique capabilities of the MSI mainboard only. First comes the D-LED feature, the diagnostic technology. It consists of four light-emitting diodes that can light in red and green, thus representing 16 phases of the POST procedure. The meaning behind each code should be looked up in the user manual. Maybe this is not the perfect implementation of a technology of such kind, but that’s much better than nothing. By the way, MSI declares the D-LED as optional, but doesn’t explicitly tell what mainboard versions it comes with. So, be careful when shopping.

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