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 - Saturday, September 20, 2003 - link

    Lets see here. Take the cool air and cool the hottest thing in the case, the cpu. Then use that same air which is now 50 to 60 degrees C to cool other parts of the computer. D-oh.
    Excuse me but not much cooling will take place if the coolant is 50 to 60 degrees C. What idiot thought that up.

    Sorry but this really sucks. I'm sitting here looking at my 5 computers knowing that when its time to upgrade the motherboard the case will have to be upgraded as well.
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Saturday, September 20, 2003 - link

    #64, It's not that the evoluionary improvements aren't good enough, it's that almost all these improvements could be implemented on an ATX board with just a small rearrangement of components. Some Asus boards already do some of these changes by moving the memory to the top of the motherboard and putting the CPU and northbridge in line with each other (P4T-series). And if the GPU could be fliped to the back side of the card, like they sometimes do with RAM on graphics cards, that problem would be solved too. And if not, just leave the PCI slot next to the AGP empty, like most people do. No problem.

    All these changes on an ATX board would be nearly as effective as BTX and would allow us to still use our ATX cases. That's the major argument that nearly everyone here is getting at. And it's an incredibly valid argument. So what if a new BTX case would cost me an additional $50. That's $50 I could put towards a better CPU, RAM, motherboard, or simply in my pocket.
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Saturday, September 20, 2003 - link

    i also like the solution that apple came up with. i would prefer to see something more like that instead. Reply
  • Anonymous User - Saturday, September 20, 2003 - link

    Man you guys are a tough room. Whine whine whine...not innovative enough...whine whine whine...Intel is trying to control the world...whine whine whine...cooling the CPU first is no good...whine whine whine...BTX is crap.

    Geez...please explain to me how ATX does a better job at *any* of the things you are trashing BTX over. Sure, BTX is going to blow warm air over your northbridge. ATX doesn't blow *ANY* air over your northbridge, but that's okay apparently. BTX will blow hot air over your video card. Once again, ATX doesn't try to blow ANY air over your video card, and in addition flips the video card upside down to trap the hot air underneath, but it gets a pass on this as well. Yet BTX is criticized, apparently because it doesn't create a hyperdimensional space-time warp in your case, allowing *all* the components to be the first one in front of the intake fan simultaneously. Someone said they should concentrate on adding more active cooling to the ATX spec. Great idea...just what we need, even more fans in our PC's. This is EXACTLY what they were trying to reduce (of course it remains to be seen if BTX will be effective in this area).

    Secondly, as for the charge of not being innovative, so? Evolutionary improvements aren't good enough for you? Does it have to have antigravity or something before you'll allow it in your house?

    Third, nobody is going to be forced to buy BTX. There is no magic pixie dust in the PCI Express or SATA spec that prevents it from being implemented on an ATX motherboard. I predict we will see many, many ATX PCI Express motherboards released. And even if BTX does take over the world some day, so what? You'll have to buy a new $50 case 5 years from now when the last ATX motherboard is discontinued and you want to upgrade. Big deal. All your cards and drives and so on will work just the same in a BTX motherboard.

    I'm not saying BTX is great (the jury is still out), but at least it tries to address some of the problems with ATX, and for that it gets trashed by people almost reflexively because they don't like Intel (neither do I particularly, but I like to withold judgement until we actually can see some real systems in action).
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Saturday, September 20, 2003 - link

    BTX = Broken Technology eXtended Reply
  • Anonymous User - Saturday, September 20, 2003 - link

    am i the only one who is reminded of 1980s style mobos, with the RISER cards?

    retro != innovation.
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Friday, September 19, 2003 - link

    This is rubbish.

    Why not just build motherboards with all the IO and video built in, and then use the slots to plug in CPU + RAM boards. (Opteron + 4 DDR ports per plug in board). Opteron hypertransport and built in memory controller should make this relatively trivial.

    Id buy that.

    Real innovation - retro style - would be to build the motherboard as a backplane switch like the (old) SGI Octane XBow board - plug in as many IO modules or CPU modules as you like, and have the backplane deliver guarnateed enormous bandwidth between disparate elements.

    PeeCees still suck.
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Friday, September 19, 2003 - link

    Intel's to do list:
    1. change ATX into BTX through the use of mirror technology
    b. change AGP to PCI-Express 16
    III. change change some PCI to PCI-Express
    D. move the processor to the lower front of the case
    - sell everyone a new computer that opens on the side opposite what everyone in the last 20 years has gotten used to

    P.S. somewhere in there, insert profit
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Friday, September 19, 2003 - link

    Only 7 slots in the reference case? No offence, but unless you are using only micro BTX boards, you WILL run out of slots space not by stupid expansion cards that wastes slot spaces with connector brackets. Reply
  • Anonymous User - Friday, September 19, 2003 - link

    Isn't BTX the comic[1] written by the same guy that did Saint Seiya?

    [1] http://www.silentwings.net/manga/btx/
    Reply

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