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The Thunder K7 also only provides support for registered DRR SDRAM and will not work with regular DDR SDRAM.  Luckily, courtesy of extremely low DDR memory prices from companies like Crucial, registered DDR SDRAM isn’t much more expensive than regular DDR SDRAM. 

The Thunder K7 uses a heat spreader on the 762 North Bridge which gets extremely hot. It may eventually make more sense for manufacturers to stick with a heatsink and fan in order to cool the North Bridge. It is definitely the hottest running North Bridge we have ever seen.

The on-board PCI video and SCSI, coupled with the two 3Com 10/100 Ethernet ports make this the perfect 1U server board since absolutely no add-in cards are necessary for operation as a full fledged server.  While it’s difficult to get more than three or four hard drives into a 1U server, the Thunder K7 can easily be the base for a very powerful 1U web server.

Many of Tyan’s OEM customers are interested in using the Thunder K7 in truly high-end 3D workstations, most of which require AGP Pro50 or AGP Pro110 support.  Because of the incredible power required by an AGP Pro110 card (110W), the Thunder K7 comes with some very unique power requirements. 

24-pin WTX, 20-pin ATX, 8-pin secondary WTX connector (from top to bottom)

The motherboard features two power connectors on it: a 24-pin WTX connector and a secondary 8-pin power connector (standard ATX power connectors have 20 pins).  While the connectors themselves are compatible with the WTX specification and look identical to the two connectors that were present on the Iwill Dual Xeon motherboard, the pinouts are different.  Unfortunately, this difference means that the Thunder K7 uses a non-standard power supply. 

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Currently, we are aware of two manufacturers that make power supplies for the Thunder K7: Delta and NMB Technologies.  Delta has a 450W model and NMB uses a 460W power supply; we used the NMB unit for our tests. 

Tyan’s goal with the Thunder K7 was to make it a time-to-market board, meaning that it would bring the technology to the market as soon as possible.  When other manufacturers release their channel boards later this year, these may either be WTX specification or even potentially use regular ATX power supplies.  Future boards should also be able to work with regular DDR SDRAM and not just registered DDR.  The Thunder K7 also has no overclocking options, you will have to wait for a board from another manufacturer for things such as clock multiplier, FSB and voltage adjustment.

ABIT’s first 760MPX board will be a WTX solution while MSI has been showing off a regular ATX design. 

The Tyan board ships to distributors at $500, meaning that the retail price will be above that.  The final retail price could be as “low” as $550 or as high as $700. 

Tyan: Still the King The Test

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