During the past few weeks, we held live discussions with ASUS and Intel, trying to pose questions that some of you submitted to us. The topics ranged from processors, to chipsets, to power supplies and more. We took the juicy details of our four forums and compiled them into a nice handy guide for those of you who couldn't attend. Enjoy!

You can check out the logs from the:
Nov 14 chat here
Nov 17 chat here
Nov 21 chat here

Introduction

ASUS kicked off the discussion by first answering some of our questions about the marketing acceptance of Intel's push to move to socket LGA-775. Initially when Intel was first introducing the LGA-775 interface, several early images and web posts indicated that there were faulty issues with the new socket. There were also floating reports of several motherboard manufacturers who were also reluctant in supporting the new socket.

ASUS however, indicated that the initial pictures were of another socket. Unfortunately, problems were reported to increase as ASUS said that they noticed an increase in RMA claims with motherboards that were using the new LGA-775 interface. To the socket's defense, ASUS did say that as LGA-775 became more mainstream and more widely accepted, problems were reduced to a minimum.

We asked them if AMD was considering the use of a similar mechanism for securing their processors but ASUS indicated that they had not yet heard whether or not AMD had made any decisions on what interface to use next. It is entirely possible that AMD will develop a similar socket to LGA-775 but be electronically incompatible so as to help motherboard manufacturers develop AMD based motherboards quickly. This was a similar tactic AMD used when Intel had introduced the slot interface.

Intel expanded more on LGA-775 and said that its next-generation Conroe desktop processor will be released for socket LGA-775, along with Cedar Mill and Pressler. Intel also mentioned that the next chipset currently in development will also be supporting LGA-775. In retrospect, socket LGA-775 is turning out to be one of Intel's most successful platforms in terms of acceptance and longevity.

Revolving around sockets, chipsets and processors, we asked ASUS to elaborate more about Intel's upcoming solutions for the market. We asked them about support for Cedar Mill and Pressler and they said:

Only Intel 975/955/945 base board & some 3rd party board can support Cedarmill & Pressler.

However, only Intel's 975 chipset is currently able to support Extreme Edition processors. ASUS indicated to us that Intel had revised some of the pin-outs on Pressler Extreme Edition processors and this caused the incompatibility with 955 and 945 chipsets and was not an issue with motherboard design. While we were in Taiwan a few months back, we were also told that Intel's 865 and 875 chipsets were also capable of supporting dual core processors and ASUS confirmed dual core support for those chipsets in our discussion.

Intel also confirmed in the discussion that its 975X is its current top-end chipset, able to support the latest processors and even next-generation Extreme Edition models. ASUS agreed, saying that the 975X is currently the best performing chipset it uses in developing Intel-based motherboards, especially because it supports ATI's Crossfire graphics configurations. However, Intel did clarify that its 975X chipset will support SLI configurations regardless of graphics card vendor. ASUS raised a question if support for ATI solutions came earlier than NVIDIA was because Intel and ATI had established cross-licensing for SLI technology before NVIDIA but Intel assured that no licensing is required and all that is needed is driver support.

Interestingly enough, NVIDIA just announced that it has entered into an agreement with ULi to for acquisition. The process is currently moving quite steadily and NVIDIA should acquire all of ULi (intellectual property as well as employees) by the end of the first quarter in 2006. During the discussion ASUS continually expressed its support of ULi products and now it seems that they will be using more NVIDIA chipset.

We asked ASUS about its support for upcoming ATI chipsets and ASUS said that they plan to continue to develop motherboards using ATI solutions from RD580 and forward but RD580 is still under evaluation. Some readers asked if there will be support for dual x16 PCIe slots for graphics cards on future motherboards but ASUS said that it is depending on future chipset support from chipset manufacturers. Market movement and acceptance is also a factor to consider. Neither ASUS nor Intel proceeded to comment further on the expansion of PCIe.

Moving forward with future processor supports, ASUS gave indication that support for Intel's Yonah processor will arrive sometime in February 2006 with the 945GM chipset. For those who are not familiar with Intel's 945GM chipset, you may want to take a look at some of our more recent insider articles. 945GM is essentially 945G with support for SODIMM DDR2. A version of 945GM with support for DDR2 dubbed 945GT is also on the way. Delivery dates are still unconfirmed.

Over in the AMD camp, ASUS confirmed with us that they have received and are testing samples of AMD's upcoming M2 socket based processors. ASUS said it has received samples that range from 2.4GHz to 2.6GHz and are based on 940 pins but is not compatible with Opteron processors based on the same pin count. Performance wise, ASUS was unable to comment.

Unification of computers and consumer electronics
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  • Beenthere - Saturday, December 17, 2005 - link

    I don't know where all this "market" is for living room or office PC toys for multi-media, but I haven't seen it and none of my friends are looking for this type of PC hardware.

    This paragraph of the story doesn't make sense to me either:

    "With stability being a concern for most users, we asked ASUS about the rising concerns of power supply compatibility with motherboards and ASUS acknowledged that while there is a problem currently, it believes what's needed is needed is strong stability for power lines from the power supply unit and for motherboard manufacturers to design more flexible power supply requirements. ASUS didn't lay blame on any specific company but are aware there are issues."

    The only people with PSU induced PC "stability" issues that I have heard of were folks using low priced, inferior PSUs. I don't know of any PSU "compatibility" issues with Mobos if you're using a QUALITY (as in ELECTRICAL QUALITY - NOT pretty boxes or LEDs), PSU. I am aware that certain PC companies who think quite highly of their technical skills, have contracted with a 3rd party to produce low cost, questionable quality PSUs that have had compatibility issues with certain Mobos, but this is a cost/design issue you encounter when trying to make cheap PSUs instead of quality PSUs. Most PC enthusiasts can't differential between PSU electrical quality and pretty lights and lotsa fans on a PSU, so they are easy targets for marketeers laughing all the way to the bank.

    You can be certain that with Intel's current and future systems requiring significantly more electrical power than AMD CPUs, that high quality and high power output PSUs will continue to be required along with the BTX form factor for Intel's new, excessively hot products. There was no reason for BTX other than to deal with the excessive power consumption and related heat from Intel's defective design CPUs.
    Reply
  • Doormat - Sunday, December 18, 2005 - link

    Actually, there is a market. I'm a used-to-be-enthusiast. I used to try and o/c the hell out of my system and tweak for all the performance I could get out of it.

    But then I graduated college and got a real job and a life. I dont have all day to spend tweaking my computer and modding it. I just want a nice small computer (smaller than a shuttle SFF) that would interface with my TV digitally (DVI/HDMI) and provide both internet surfing and other multimedia playback from a PC. From watching podcasts/videocasts like DL.tv to surfing the internet at 61" in HD, its that whole "convergence" thing we've been hearing about for 5 years now. I think 2006 will be it and the box I'll choose for this will be the new intel-based Mac Mini with Front Row.
    Reply
  • bob661 - Monday, December 19, 2005 - link

    Beenthere is sort of right. The major manufacturers could've taken advantage of the growing HTPC market but failed so as far as I'm concerned there is no market. People have either moved on or figured out how to make a HTPC themselves. Reply

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