In our first Pre-CES article from Taiwan we mentioned OCZ Technology's upcoming product plans for early 2007 that include NVIDIA 8800 series graphics cards, affordable gaming mice, new cooling products, and a partnership with ASUS and Shuttle to build gaming specific kits that consist of motherboards, memory, custom SFF cases, and probably power supplies. Besides the product announcements OCZ Technology also hosted their first APAC Summit.

The purpose of the OCZ Summit 2006 was to bring together several different partners in the PC Industry to discuss current trends, showcase upcoming products, and demonstrate overclocking techniques utilizing today's latest hardware. The participants included abit, Albatron, ASUS, Biostar, DFI, Gigabyte, Shuttle, and SIS. Each of the participants presented their take on the current industry, displayed a few of their latest products, and openly spoke at length with the media members about their product's strengths and weaknesses in an honest manner. These discussions were lively at times and we have to admit some of the comments surprised us as we were expecting a full tilt public relations spiel from the collective group. Instead, we were mainly treated with engineering lingo along with a few technical demonstrations. Being the geeks we are, the technical demonstrations were the most exciting although we wish there would have been more of them.

What did we learn? Unfortunately, some of the more exciting items are under NDA until CES but we did pick up a few tidbits here and there. It appears the AMD/ATI R600 graphics cards are still on schedule for an early Q1 2007 launch and should provide some very serious competition to the GeForce 8800 series. However, all of the expected benefits and performance improvements of this release will also bring some serious power requirements. We heard power consumption numbers hovering around 430~450W for the high-end CrossFire setup while under full load. Those are power requirements just for the cards according to our sources who said the first silicon spins actually consumed even more power. What the final numbers will be is anyone's guess but be prepared to start looking at 800W+ power supplies in the near future if you want to run extreme performance GPU configurations.

Most of the manufacturers are very upbeat about the upcoming AMD 690G (RS690) chipset for the AM2 platform. This will be the first true competitor from AMD in response to the NVIDIA 6150/430 combination. This chipset features an enhanced Radeon X700 graphics core that will be renamed the Radeon X1250. It features full DX9 support (we're still trying to determine whether Shader Model 3.0 is supported) along with the AVIVO video engine for hardware accelerated H.264 and VC1 video playback on Blu-ray or HD-DVD drives. Power consumption with the accompanying SB600 is said to be very low with the chipset possibly being used in upcoming mini-ITX boards.

We were also informed that the upcoming enthusiast level Intel P965 motherboards from ASUS and Gigabyte among others should easily reach 550FSB levels with 500FSB being the minimum level of FSB overclocking capability. The manufacturers are very comfortable with the chipset now and the next wave of boards should show additional maturity in their designs. Of course, this comes right before the launch of BearLake in the spring so if you are currently using Intel be prepared for more growing pains with this new release.

Speaking of Intel, all of the manufacturers were excited about the upcoming E4000 series of processors as it will bring the Core 2 Duo technology further downstream in the market. This will open up opportunities for utilizing Intel chipsets such as the 946PL in the lower-end markets where VIA and SIS are having success. Also, we were told that motherboard requirements for the Quad Core series of processors have been clarified and to some degree "tightened" up by new Intel specifications. This is another reason why generation two P965 and generation three 975X boards will be introduced shortly. Finally, we expect a new set of Intel video drivers that should greatly enhance the performance of the X3000 graphics core in the G965 motherboards within the next thirty days. While we have had G965 motherboards for the past few weeks, we have delayed our reviews waiting on this driver set and are hoping it comes out quickly and delivers the promised performance expectations.

OCZ, DFI, ASUS, and Shuttle
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  • mikedice - Monday, December 18, 2006 - link

    When will we see these Generation 2 P965 boards start showing up and what can we expect from them? Are they worth waiting for?
  • sprockkets - Wednesday, December 13, 2006 - link

    Are you going to review any of the Via C7 cpu boards either? I'd love to see if they do have more performance per a watt than the older PM chips, as via claims.
  • Gary Key - Thursday, December 14, 2006 - link

    We talked to VIA about this, hoping to get a complete system from them after the first of the year. They are still discussing where they want to go as a company at this time.
  • therealnickdanger - Tuesday, December 12, 2006 - link

    I have been waiting for a review of this thing for quite a while! I'm glad Intel is finally releasing a driver for it. I hope it pans out!
  • MadAd - Tuesday, December 12, 2006 - link

    Is it just me or are others getting fed up with these honking great heatpipe setups on motherboards?

    Ok the Abit NF-M2 solution is quite neat and compact, definately +1 to them for making a sensible design consideration but the rest? omg give me my space back, ive enough damn fans to cope.

    I mean what about the gigabyte board? Looks like it wraps around the backside too!! What are they thinking?!?

    I know joe consumer thinks they vanish away the heat with some voodoo magic but we all know they just move it from one place to another in an attempt to catch a better airstream from power high/airflow low systems without having to re-site components.

    Its a cludge dressed up as enthusiast parts and I for one are sick of them already.
  • kleinwl - Tuesday, December 12, 2006 - link

    The heat pipes are just doing what your fans are doing... moving one heat source to another area to diffuse it. If heat pipes reduce the heat concentrations inside the case so all I have to worry about is evacuating the air from the case I am for one happy. All those small fans on the motherboard to keep things cool were annoying. Heat pipes are much better solution in my estimation.

    In addition, I like the fact that the motherboards are uping the phase calibration for cpu voltage. A more accurate signal means that I can potentially achieve higher overclocks with lower voltage. Now if we could all agree to change the PSU so it only outputs 12V and let the motherboard do all the voltage regulation, I for one would be happy. After all the motherboard is already doing voltage regulation... let the PSU become simplier!
  • MadAd - Tuesday, December 12, 2006 - link

    But fans evacuate it as well as move it about, heatpipes are just moving it from one place to another _inside_ the case (and taking up space doing it) and has no access to the outside world.

    There is no more or less heat being produced by the components nor is there any more or less heat evacuation to the outside world. You still need the same amount of in>out airflow with or without them.

    Its a cludge made to look all shiny and colourful. This cannot be the best way to replace the cheap and nasty wizzy noised little fans (that you rightly notice as annoying) can it?
  • sprockkets - Wednesday, December 13, 2006 - link

    True, but have you felt how hot those 6150 chipsets get? The MSI one doesn't have any active cooling on it, and you can burn your finger on it. The heat moves up to a larger heatsink on the mosfets, and is near a rear fan for cooling.
  • MadAd - Thursday, December 14, 2006 - link

    yes of course, my a8n32-sli has a hot southbridge too but where can I point the finger for these hot chipsets? Inefficient power planning, the Prescott of the mobo world.

    Instead of moving to a more efficient chipset design when the power densities rise, we get the same old process redesigned with a gargantuan heatpipe setup dressed up as something for the enthusiast. Its spin.

    Its like Intel trying to push BTX over a year ago because of their own power density troubles, except that one did'nt wash, noone bought the spin and intel stayed in the doghouse until the more recent C2D developments.

    Shame heatpipes are not also seen for what they really are- a cludge to keep selling us new designs of old processes.
  • sprockkets - Friday, December 15, 2006 - link

    True, but those chipsets from SiS, and perhaps even via are very cool.

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