Taipei, Monday, May 22, 2017 23:45 (GMT+8)
scattered thunderstorms
Taipei
31°C
Computex 2008: Highlights from the motherboard booths
Ricky Morris, DIGITIMES, Taipei [Thursday 5 June 2008]

What quickly becomes clear as you walk among the various booths of Taiwan's motherboard and graphics card makers at this year's Computex is that the main attraction is boards based on Intel's new 4-series chipsets. With practically everyone offering the same basic lines – G43 for the low-end, G45 and P45 for mid-range, and X48 for the high-end – each vendor is trying to find a unique way to make its products and booth stand out among the many others in the Nangang exhibition hall.

Gigabyte is demoing a range of motherboards which are targeted at overclockers, including a pair of "Extreme" models sporting the company's extravagant Hybrid Silent Pipe cooling solution. A Gigabyte representative said the company has listened to feedback from professional overclockers, reviewers and its customers and rolled several unique features into its boards specifically aimed at enthusiasts, including the ability to tweak voltage increments by as little as 0.002V and onboard power and reset switches for when the boards are set up on a test bench.

On some new mid-range Gigabyte motherboards, system builders will now find Diagnostic LEDs scattered around the board that can help pin-point the source of a hardware issue, for example, incorrectly inserted RAM when putting together a new system, while high-end boards include the company's Debug LEDs system which goes even further in helping to resolve problems.

In addition to showing off its Dynamic Energy Saver (DES) technology which can be found on the majority of the company's motherboards, Gigabyte is also introducing TPM-based security on select models which is particularly useful to users who want to secure their data using encryption such as Windows BitLocker. The company is highlighting another new feature called Smart Backup on some motherboards, which consists of a RAID controller chip from Silicon Image that allows hardware-based, operating system independent (no need for drivers) support for RAID 0 or 1. Gigabyte seems to be a pioneer of this feature and it is, in our opinion, one of the more interesting developments at Gigabyte's booth, if not all the motherboard booths.

Over at the booth of Micro-Star International (MSI), you will find another host of Intel 4-series motherboards. MSI is also highlighting is own DrMOS energy-saving technology, but at the moment this solution is not as sophisticated as Gigabyte's DES.

However, one stand out product at the booth of MSI is the P4S8D, a DRR2/DDR3 "hybrid" motherboard with a total of eight memory slots (four DDR2/four DDR3). Models like this usually appeal to cost-conscious enthusiast as they let you build a system using cheap DDR2 memory now, while making it possible to upgrade to DRR3 when prices come down. However, boards in the past have only supported up to six slots (four DDR2/two DDR3) meaning users had to compromise a little.

Foxconn (Hon Hai Precision Industry) continues to try and promote itself as an enthusiast brand and is hosting live demonstrations at its booth with professional overclockers trying to push the company's Quantum Force series motherboards as far they can, with a little help from liquid nitrogen (LN2). Meanwhile, Elitegroup Computer Systems (ECS) is also trying to break back into the high-end segment with its Black and Black-Extreme series.

More Intel 4-series boards and products can be found at the booths of Albatron, Abit, Biostar International and Shuttle. To see something slightly different, however, you need to head over to Zotac where the company is showing a complete range of Nvidia chipset-based motherboards, including the high-end nForce 790i-Supreme.

Among all the traditional motherboards are scattered a couple of Atom-based boards for people hoping to build their own systems like the Eee Box and Wind PC. Gigabyte has one but says it will not be available in the channel, MSI has one also. ECS has two, including one based on the AMD-founded DTX form factor rather than the usual mini-ITX, while Foxconn also has several versions, some offering a mini PCI slot rather than the typical full size PCI. According to an ECS representative, the company expects to start offering these products in the next few months priced around US$50-60.

To take a look at the booth of Taiwan's other top motherboard maker, Asustek Computer, you have to leave the Nangang exhibition hall and take a shuttle bus to the Taipei International Convention Center (TICC). There you will find yet more Intel 4-series, motherboards, another take on energy saving technology – Energy Processing Unit (EPU), and more motherboards that encourage you to tweak every last drop of performance out of them. That isn't to say Asustek's lineup isn't strong, it's just the 30-minute journey is a long way to go to see more of the same.

However, what does make the trip worthwhile is the opportunity to take a look at the new 10-inch Eee PC and the Eee Box, as well as the Eee Stick GMC, a motion control device similar to the Nintendo Wiimote, which looks like it could become a more natural way to control your PC or play games, turning the Eee Box into a family room entertainment system.

Finally, Asustek is showing some concept devices, including a notebook that has two touch screen displays. The demo shows how you can interact with the system using touch and gestures with the displays changing to suit different activities, e.g. showing a traditional-looking soft-keyboard and track-pad when editing documents. With Microsoft recently revealing that Windows 7 will place a large emphasis on touch-based controls, this prototype could be a design that is quite common within just a few years.

Gigabyte Hybrid Silent Pipe

Gigabyte's Hybrid Silent Pipe can be found on its Extreme series motherboards
Photo: Ricky Morris, Digitimes, June 2008

MSI P4S8D

MSI's P4S8D has a total of eight memory slots
Photo: Ricky Morris, Digitimes, June 2008

Asustek concept notebook

Asustek's concept notebook with two touch screens
Photo: Ricky Morris, Digitimes, June 2008

Realtime news
  • Taiwan attracts foreign direct investment of US$1.462 billion in January-April, says MOEA

    Bits + chips | 1h 44min ago

  • Taiwan April export order value down on month, up on year, says MOEA

    Bits + chips | 1h 48min ago

  • Digitimes Research: Taiwan makers to ship nearly 21 million handsets in 2Q17

    Mobile + telecom | 1h 51min ago

  • Phison still eyeing stake in Toshiba chip unit

    Bits + chips | 1h 54min ago

  • Robust chip demand from China smartphone firms to boost revenues at IC distributors

    Bits + chips | 1h 56min ago

  • 1Q17 global cloud computing infrastructure services valued at US$11.4 billion, says Canalys

    Before Going to Press | 1h 21min ago

  • Taiwan April export order value down on month, up on year, says MOEA

    Before Going to Press | 1h 21min ago

  • China market: Advantech offers SPMS for cloud-computing management of distributed PV systems

    Before Going to Press | 1h 22min ago

  • Digitimes Research: Taiwan makers to ship nearly 21 million handsets in 2Q17

    Before Going to Press | 1h 23min ago

  • Robust chip demand from China smartphone firms to boost revenues at Taiwan IC distributors in 3Q17

    Before Going to Press | 1h 28min ago

  • Foxconn Electronics to set up innovation R&D center in central China

    Before Going to Press | 1h 32min ago

  • Taiwan attracts foreign direct investment of US$1.462 billion in January-April, says MOEA

    Before Going to Press | 1h 39min ago

  • Taiwan market: Alliance Digital Tech to boost mobile e-payment services

    Before Going to Press | 1h 40min ago

  • 3S teaming up with Marvell to develop 28nm controller chips

    Before Going to Press | 1h 41min ago

  • Taiwan market: FET offers rental online consulting services about use of handsets, consumer electronics

    Before Going to Press | 1h 42min ago

  • Axiomtek announces revenues for 2016

    Before Going to Press | 1h 43min ago

  • China outpaces Taiwan in IC design, backend industry output value

    Before Going to Press | 1h 50min ago

  • Vapor chamber becoming new cooling choice for smartphones

    Before Going to Press | 1h 50min ago

Pause
 | 
View more
UMC
Intel strategies in the mobile device market
Analysis of China revised domestic semiconductor industry goals
  • Wireless broadband developments in Southeast Asia markets

    As of 2013, the 10 ASEAN nations had a total of over 700 million mobile subscriptions, with the CAGR from 2003-2013 reaching 24%. This Digitimes Research Special Report analyzes the various mobile broadband markets in ASEAN and looks at the respective trends in 4G LTE development for those markets.

  • 2015 global tablet demand forecast

    This Digitimes Research Special Report provides a 2015 forecast for the global tablet market and analyzes the strategies of key market players such as Google, Apple, Intel, and Microsoft.

  • 2015 China smartphone panel trend forecast

    This Digitimes Research Special Report analyzes the strategies of key China-based major panel makers BOE, Tianma and IVO for attacking the different market segments through technology and pricing, and their relationship to local vendors Huawei, Lenovo, ZTE, Xiaomi and Coolpad.