For years we've bought motherboards and installed them in cases based on the ATX (Advanced Technology eXtended) form factor. The move to ATX brought huge improvements over the previous AT standard not only in the cases, but in power supplies as well.

As is made evident by the proliferation of Small Form Factor (SFF) machines into the market, the need for a smaller, quieter successor to ATX has been building over the past 8 years. A couple of IDFs ago, Intel announced their development of the successor to ATX, which was codenamed Big Water. At the Fall 2003 Intel Developer Forum, Intel officially branded Big Water as the Balanced Technology eXtended form factor - or BTX for short.

With BTX motherboards and cases due out next year, it's time to start learning about what's changed with BTX and, what improvements the specification offers over ATX.

BTX - The Basics


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  • Anonymous User - Sunday, September 21, 2003 - link

    my thoughts are: only a retard could come up with this... Reply
  • Anonymous User - Sunday, September 21, 2003 - link

    #64 and #70. Like I said before, DUH, this is just NLX form factor again. I know because I am posting with it now. Go to IBM and look at 6862 model.

    Many of us are whining because it has been done before and INTEL will make make money, thru kickbacks or from changing the pinout so we'll have to buy a new motherboard. It'l' just be a COINCIDENCE that all the boards with the new pinouts are ONLY BTX. Intel will try to dictate that MOBO makers use the new factor or else their shipments of chips will be LATE. DUH!

    Don't think so, they did it before with AMD board makers, with DELL when they tried ATHLONS ....

  • Anonymous User - Saturday, September 20, 2003 - link

    What a load of incredible hype & bull,
    I had to pinch myself & check if its April 1st
    or something.

    Not to mention its ugly.
  • Anonymous User - Saturday, September 20, 2003 - link

    biggest load of horse shite....what sort of idiots do Intel think we are?
    its a load of marketing ploys and money spinners!!
    long live ATX
  • Anonymous User - Saturday, September 20, 2003 - link

    Some fucking inovation...if you fellas remeber back to the Pentium 1 days, I had an Impression mobo with the CPU mounted on the bottom corner of the mobo _directly_ in front of the case fan!! This BTX shit only puts into the middle wtf? im sure you could snag a few degrees less by going back to the old style of things.

    One other concern...I beleive this is just intel trying make some more money by retiring something good for something new so people will have to go out and buy compatible components when they want to you recall that lame 12+ addon connector for P4, AMR, CNR...VLB/EISA bus from old 486 days?? wtf?? its nothing but a money making raquet.

    Fuck Intel.
  • DieHardware - Saturday, September 20, 2003 - link

    Thanks for the article Anand. I wish they had put the CPU a little further down and front for full/midtower cases(a la AT boards of old). Reply
  • Anonymous User - Saturday, September 20, 2003 - link

    Hmmmm. I feel we have a bit of a mixed bag here.

    The move from AGP to PCI Express is reasonable enough. With the cost of memory so low these days, the whole point of AGP is getting a little lost. Just wack lots of memory on the card itself. Wether the GPU manufacturers will end up doing that remains to be seen.

    On the other hand, I can't help feeling that this standard is just there to patch up some of the problems with the current ATX standard rather than looking toward the future. Unfortunately it's also more restrictive than ATX.

    My main issue with it is that (as someone pointed out earlier) there is no provision for SMP at all. This is a real limitation. With all of AMD's CPU offerings being SMP capable and Intel's Extreme Edition processors hinting that it too may soon embrace SMP on desktop systems, to release a new standard that doesn't support this does suggest that BTX may have a very short lifespan.

    Hopefully sometime soon we'll get a new standard that opens the way for better designs. The Apple G5 is a really good example of motherboard design, also the design of servers like IBM's X360. Unfortunatley BTX isn't it. ATX will have to exist alongside BTX until a new and better standard is devised.

    Overall I feel it's a stopgap design and possibly a missed oportunity.
  • idsanity - Saturday, September 20, 2003 - link

    oh no, $150 for 3 new cases! Why would you need 3 new cases unless you also plan to buy 3 new CPU's and BTX motherboards as well? If you have that kind of money to throw around, I don't see what the big deal is.

    As for the other comments, how can anyone assume Intel is doing this to make a few extra bucks? They don't get anything from BTX licensing. They won't make money off new cases. And if you want one of the next gen CPU's, you're going to need a new motherboard anyway.

    Sure, you may have an ATX setup that keeps everything cool now. But, Prescott and Tejas are going to be putting out a hell of a lot more heat and a redesign is absolutely necessary to accommodate this.

    As for the mirror image, it makes sense in that it will now put GPU's facing the cooling channel and it will prevent people from trying to put a BTX board in a case that isn't designed for the proper airflow needed to cool the new CPU's.

    And regarding the PCI Express x1 resembling CSA... sure, it kinda looks like it, but it offers 2x the bandwidth of current PCI. OK, but why not have a board with all PCI Express x16 slots... because there is no point. It would add unnecessary cost and PCI Express x1 already doubles what we have now with PCI.
  • Anonymous User - Saturday, September 20, 2003 - link

    a) according to BTX-spec we WILL have to buy new PSUs - it's using 24-pin conectors (not 20 as ATX)
    so I hope that's a typo in the article...

    b) the design IS better then ATX - if they can manage the cases to use only 3-4 fans in total it's great! (1 intake, 1 exaust were the i/o ports are + the PSU-fans)

    c) my CPU is in the mid 40's - that means the air leaving the heatsink is probably in the 30's - that air can cool very well, I bet my videocard is using hotter air right now

    d) the power-connector is placed were it should be (great!) but they SHOULD add s-ata-conections above/beside the RAM - the way it's now those cables have to cross the "windtunnel" outlined by the cooling-unit

    e) can't they use 120mm fans?!?
  • Anonymous User - Saturday, September 20, 2003 - link

    Let's see...I have 3 computers....$50 each for a new BTX case....Sure, I'll unnecessarily waste $150. I'm sorry but I have better things to spend that money on like rent, car payments, school, etc. Reply

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