A computer science professor once said that if you?re going to enter into a business, regardless of the nature, your goal should be to find something that no one else has done, and do it. Although it is a highly idealistic approach when applied to many situations, that is the philosophy of one mainboard manufacturer that is truly a rags to riches story to tell the tweaking children of the future.

...and thus went the introduction of AnandTech's ABIT BX6 Revision 2.0 Review. Since then, ABIT has been dethroned as the only solution for overclockers, the times have changed, overclocking the 300A is no longer a topic on all bulletin boards, and most importantly, the changes have forced ABIT to move a bit quicker with their production. The delay of Intel's Camino chipset (i820) has given more than one company the opportunity to step in and succeed in what would otherwise be imminent failure. It's example time...

VIA Technologies, chief competitor to Intel in terms of chipsets, would have been beat to the punch if Intel began shipping their 133MHz FSB compliant 820 parts to motherboard manufacturers when they originally intended to.

AMD, chief competitor to Intel in terms of desktop processors, would have a difficult time convincing users of the strengths of their Athlon processor if Intel had stuck to the original deployment schedule of the Coppermine processor, intended to go hand in hand with the release of the Camino chipset.

And more relevant to the topic at hand, the delay of the Camino chipset has opened up the fields yet again for a mainboard manufacturer to step in and take the crown for best BX board. For a while that champion was ABIT with their extremely successful BH6/BX6 solutions, however with an apparent lack of attention from ABIT, companies like AOpen, ASUS, IWill, and Soyo stepped in to take what they felt belonged to them. With updated BX boards from those four companies and many more, and with a large portion of them featuring very ABIT-esque tweaking utilities (i.e. wide range of overclocked FSB settings, core voltage tweaking, etc...) it was time for the unofficial king of overclocking to make a return to the throne.

This time around ABIT isn't banking on overclocking to take them to the top, as the limits of the current technology have pretty much been reached. FSB speeds past 133MHz are nice to boast about, however they aren't feasible settings for most gamers with AGP video cards (the AGP clock runs too far out of spec) nor most users that don't have the highest of quality SDRAM. So what is ABIT betting the farm on? The success of a new line of BX boards, the most exotic of them being the BP6, the world's first Dual Socket-370 motherboard with on-board Ultra ATA 66 support. Sound sketchy? Let's take a look at what happens when the overclocking king meets the reality of the dual processing world...

New Anand Tech Report Card Rating

Motherboard Specifications

CPU Interface Dual Socket-370
Chipset Intel 440BX
L2 Cache N/A (on-chip)
Form Factor ATX
Bus Speeds 66 / 68 / 72 / 75 / 78
80 / 82 / 83 / 84 / 85 / 86 / 87 / 88 / 89
90 / 91 / 92 / 93 / 94 / 95 / 96 / 97 / 98 / 99
100 / 124 / 133
Clock Multipliers 2.0x - 8.0x
Voltages Supported 1.40v - 2.3v (0.05v increments)
Memory Slots 3 168pin DIMM Slots
Expansion Slots 0 AMR Slots
1 AGP Slot
5 PCI Slots (2 Full Length)
2 ISA Slots (1 Shared / 1 Full Length)
BIOS Award 4.51PG

The Good

If it ain't broke, don't fix it, right? Well, ABIT built the BP6 on a PCB that obviously wasn't "broke," more specifically, the PCB used on the BX6 Revision 2.0. The 5/2/1 expansion slot configuration (PCI/ISA/AGP) was ported over from the BX6R2 and now features only two full length PCI slots due to a new obstruction on the BP6. The 3 DIMM slots made it over from the BH6, space and cost concerns most likely kept the fourth DIMM slot from making it to the production BP6. Keep in mind that although the BP6 isn't technically an Extended ATX form factor motherboard, the BX6R2-sized PCB it is built on may prove to be a little tight in some smaller ATX cases. If you know your case will comfortably house a BX6R2, then you also know that it will comfortable provide a home for a BP6. ABIT's BP6
Click to Enlarge
The most eye catching feature of the BP6 is, of course, the Dual PPGA-370 sockets on the motherboard. The BP6 features the appropriate SMP IO controller for dual processor operation, however the first warning you see upon opening the BP6 User's Manual is the following paragraph:

"Based on peripheral specifications and other considerations, the BP6 SMP (Symmetric Multiple Processor) function is designed for testing only. The BP^ motherboard can't manage the SMP function alone. It must co-operate with the CPU and OS that support the SMP function. Therefore, if you employ an improper CPU or OS causing the SMP function to fail, resulting in any damage to your hardware or software damage, we will not take any responsibility"

What that basically says is that ABIT does not guarantee the BP6 will work in dual processor mode with two PPGA Celeron processors and the two sockets are there solely for the purpose of internal testing. Of course the manual does say the same thing about the overclocked FSB settings...

More Good
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