Intel has undoubtedly regained all that they have lost in the chipset market. There was a period in time when Intel was only able to claim sales by forcing motherboard manufacturers to produce motherboards based on their chipsets but today, most motherboard manufacturers are more than excited about virtually all of Intel's chipset lines.

One interesting chipset that has been on the radar for months is Granite Bay; the first dual channel DDR solution for the Pentium 4, Granite Bay was supposed to be an entry-level Pentium 4 workstation solution. However, its feature set combined with a very pro-DDR market made Granite Bay the perfect successor to Intel's RDRAM based 850E solution as the top performer in the Pentium 4 market.

Today, Intel has finally unveiled Granite Bay and dubbed the chipset E7205 to go along with their server/workstation class chipset nomenclature. Despite the target market for the chipset, the three motherboards we have rounded up today based on the new 7205 chipset can be used as either entry level workstations or high-end desktop motherboards. In fact, a good number of E7205 partners will have enthusiast boards as well as entry level workstation solutions available.

Before we get to the boards themselves it's important to look at a few of the key features of the E7205 chipset:

  • Dual Channel DDR266 Memory Bus (4.2GB/s memory bandwidth)
  • 400/533MHz FSB Support (3.2GB/s - 4.2GB/s FSB bandwidth)
  • AGP 8X support
  • USB 2.0 support

What's interesting to note here is that the chipset only supports dual channel DDR266 and is not validated for dual channel DDR333 operation. It won't be until Intel moves to a 667MHz FSB before we see dual channel DDR333 support for single processor Pentium 4 systems simply because of bandwidth requirements.

With that out of the way, let's start looking at the first E7205 based motherboards.

ASUS P4G8X Deluxe: Basic Features
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  • hrumsey - Friday, January 7, 2005 - link

    Regarding previous comment:

    And I told this thing to show e-mail address. if anyone has questions.

    It also removed paragraph indents that would make the above post a bit more readable- apologies.

    And a clarification: The ZCR card could be seen to be flashed only because a jumper change is needed to put them in flash mode. In normal mode, the Thunder K8S Pro S2882 BIOS was squashing the Adaptec 2010S / 2015S BIOS.

    Damn, I hope Google indexes that comment well.

    Speaking of which, for you-know-who:

    Tyan Thunder K8S Pro Adaptec 2010S 2015S ZCR RAID BIOS problem incompatibility bug hang failure download flash PCI-X

    Tyan 2882 K8S Pro Thunder ZCR Adaptec 2015S 2010S RAID bug hang failure problem incompatibility PCI-X flash BIOS download

    Thunder Tyan 2882 K8S Pro ZCR Adaptec RAID 2010S 2015S BIOS incompatibility problem failure hang PCI-X BIOS bug flash download

    wildly incompetent screen-reading technical support monkeys

    beta-testing on customers

    See previous comment
  • hrumsey - Friday, January 7, 2005 - link

    Anandtech's evaluation covers how good Tyan's tech support is in the absence of any real problem for them to deal with. I would suggest that this is not an adequate criterion.
    Our experiences were different.
    The issue of product quality is relevant here, since it makes the quality of technical support more important if the product is poor. My company tried Tyan boards several years ago, and gave up when along with 4 DOAs, 3 quick in-service failures gave a defective rate of almost 50%. I mistakenly thought almost 10 years would be enough for the company to straighten out.
    We ordered 3 Thunder Pro S2882s for a client taking a website inhouse who wanted a 64-bit option- this was before Intel's 64-bit Xeons showed up.
    All of the following happened under time pressure, which isn't unusual, and why better support than Tyan's is necessary:
    One of the three boards was DOA; wouldn't flash any of three Adaptec 2010S ZCR cards; the other two would. Tyan's tech support essentially kept assuming we were doing something wrong and, and at one point asked if we had the current BIOS on the ZCR cards. They must not have any sort of decent database, since the problem had to be explained anew every call. After they admitted the board was bad, they failed to warn us of their shipping deadline for replacing the board (which they will do, and with an E. Coast vendor and them in CA was necessary).
    All the boards failed to see the ZCR cards. First tech said that couldn't be happening, second knew about the problem and said the "E" BIOS fixed it. It didn't. We delivered servers with drives unmirrored.
    Site setup was busy for a while. When I finally had a chance to work on ZCR problem, Tyan could find no record of the problem (none of the emails we exchanged except ones I sent had case #s in the header). I explained everything again, and once again had to assure them again that we'd gotten the obvious stuff right. First tech said he didn't know how it could be happening, and thought I was missing something. Got email next day from supervisor acknowledging there was a problem and saying (again) they had a new BIOS out that would fix the problem. Downloaded, sent tech onsite to install. Didn't work, same result- ZCR card option grayed out in BIOS, system hangs. When I had a chance to go down and work on it personally, once again, no record of case. I went through everything from scratch once more, assuring them that yes, we'd read the FAQs and yes, the system was plugged in, and yes, we had tried every possible combination of their two blasted relevant jumpers, and that in fact there were about eight other germane parameters we had tried which none of them had thought of- and all of this while wasting valuable onsite time. When I finally convinced them that 1) we were competent and 2) it wasn't working, I was told I'd get a call back "shortly" from the responsible engineer. Three hours later, in a darkened factory, at 5:14:55 just as I was leaving, I got a call back from the engineer who actually knew what was going on. He finally admitted we had everything right. He had no solution, but agreed with my suggestion for testing and said he'd check- he lacked authority(!)- to see if management would authorize the replacement board I'd been asking for. And they did, but there shouldn't have been any question.
    Next trip down I replaced the board in one server, picking the server in whichhe Gigabit Ethernet ports had failed- and it still didn't #$%^& work. Tyan said it had been working the day before for them with a 2010S ZCR card, and until today, I didn't know whether they were lying or not. I cussed some and ordered $1200 worth of controllers to replace what Tyan couldn't get right 5 months after the product's release.
    Today I checked and saw that they have a new BIOS for the board available that "Fixes PCI ZCR card hangs system during POST". It's the third BIOS for which they've made that claim, and you know, it really doesn't matter whether they're right this time or not. And if they're not, it doesn't matter whether they're just mistaken or actually lying- theend result is the same.
    We saw five of their high-end server boards. One DOA, one in-service failure, all five with a major design flaw. Eight years is enough time to take care of company-wide failures. Any company that will release a $500 server board with a 40% failure rate, and without first ensuring that everything on it actually works, and who then can't tell for five months whether or not they've fixed the resulting problems, and whose tech support is staffed with folks who can't deal those problems- well, that's a company whose products you want to steer very clear of.

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