Articles: Mainboards

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Functionality Indepth

When working on this mainboard Supermicro Company tried to minimize the number of additional microchips onboard and to implement most of the features via the chipset. As we have already mentioned in the specification section, the mainboard is based on i955X chipset, namely it features i82955x North Bridge and ICH7R South Bridge. It is the top-of-the line core logic set from Intel with rich functionality. But let’s discuss everything from the very beginning.

The first thing worth mentioning here is the CPUs this mainboard is designed for. And Supermicro PDSGE will support the entire contemporary Pentium and Celeron line-up designed for LGA 775 socket type, starting with Pentium 4 5xx/6xx and finishing with Pentium D 8xx, including the Extreme models of these processors. The same is true for the Celeron product family. So, the process bus of our mainboard may be 533, 800 and 1600MHz. The processor voltage regulator is designed as a three-phase circuitry, which is currently used on most mainboards.

Supermicro PDSGE supports DDR2 SDRAM memory modules, which have already become traditional for all contemporary Intel platforms. There are four DIMM slots onboard and the memory controller of the i955X North Bridge supports up to 8GB of this memory. Moreover, the memory can work in single-channel as well as dual-channel mode, depending on the number of memory modules and their location in the memory slots.

If we disregard the morally outdated FDD, then the storage subsystem built around the Supermicro PDSGE platform may consist of two IDE PATA devices and four SATA devices. Serial ATA disk drives can be connected together as a RAID array of the following types: 0, 1, 0+1 and 5. The board also supports Intel Matrix Storage technology, which allows creating a RAID 0+1 array, for instance, with only two hard disk drives involved. All these features have been brought to this platform by the Intel ICH7R South Bridge, as we have already mentioned above.

However, you can significantly enlarge the storage subsystem capacity by adding a professional disk controller card to the system. You can install a controller like that into one of the two existing PCI-X bus slots.

PCI-X is actually none other but an enhanced PCI bus featuring optimized transactions processing, working at higher frequency of 133MHz and supporting 64-bit bus width. So, the bandwidth of the PCI-X bus reaches 1064MB/s. It is usually used in high-end server systems for functional network cards and disk controllers. There is a special Intel 6702PXH chip responsible for this bus implementation on the mainboard.

Since we came to speak about buses, we have to mention that there is a PCI-E x16 bus used for the graphics subsystem on the Supermicro PDSGE mainboard. The system allows installing only one graphics card (since there is only one graphics slot laid out), so you will not be able to arrange any SLI- or CrossFire-like configurations. By the way, there is also only one PCI-E x1 slot on the board.

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