The Motherboards

Interestingly enough, today's Xeon launch is met with motherboards from only two manufacturers: Iwill and TyanTyan did not have samples ready for review at press time (they have another interesting DP project they're working on) but Iwill managed to get us their DX400-SN.  This board is based off of the Intel Maplegrove reference design although Intel won't be manufacturing and selling a motherboard of their own based on the i860.  In fact, Intel won't be making any Xeon motherboards anytime soon since they won't make a ServerWorks based board for the Xeon MP that will debut late this year/early next year. 

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The board features eight RDRAM RIMM slots which is made possible by using two Memory Repeater Hubs (MRH) that split each of the two RDRAM channels into two more channels that can each support two RIMMs.  This is the only way that the board could gain acceptance in the server market since it isn't uncommon to have servers like this with multiple gigabytes of memory. 

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In order to make room for all of these memory slots they are located on a riser card that sticks up out of the board.  This unfortunately means that there is no hope of getting either of these boards (the Tyan is designed the same way) to fit in anything smaller than a 4U or 5U rackmountable case. 

Both the Iwill and the Tyan boards require the use of a WTX power supply which features a longer connector than an ATX power supply as well as a 4 x 2 secondary connector. We tested using a 430W WTX Power Supply.

The Iwill board was actually quite impressive from the smallest motherboard manufacturer in Taiwan.  We had no stability problems with the motherboard in spite of the tests we bombarded it with. 

A New Platform The Quirks of MP

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