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ASUS kills PATA and PCI standards!

Back on the INQ, I wrote about dangers lying ahead for AGEIA, Creative Labs and Bigfoot Networks, representatives of these respected companies just told me that their business model is solid and that they are indeed, future-proof.
Well, that turned out nicely – AGEIA never took off because of $250 charge for a PCI card, Creative now exists almost solely on patent charges and selling off its own property, while Bigfoot networks made the greatest network card on the planet – and failed to pack it up in an attractive and future-proof package.
The reason for this rant is a story on Xfastest.com, introducing ASUS P6T6-WS Revolution motherboard . Under this name lies the look of all motherboards coming to market in the next couple of years.
P6T-WS is based on Intel’s X58 plus nForce 200 chipset, and the reason for naming it REVOLUTION is the fact that there are no PCI slots on the motherboard. Yes, P6T6-WS features no less than six PCI Express x16 slots – offering a possibility of installing six single-slot graphic cards.

The motherboard for the ultimate workstation

The motherboard for the ultimate workstation

The board supports both SLI and CrossFire in their respective maximum configurations (3 or 4 GPUs), but what makes this board really interesting is the fact that you could connect 12 LCD displays on it, or create a GPGPU/rendering/scientific/folding farm in a single case. Putting six ATI Radeon 4850 graphics cards would enable roughly 6TFLOPS of computing power. In case of Nvidia, you would have to pick up GeForce 9800GT (Palit has single-slot 1GB card) and have less theoretical computing power, but in terms of folding, you would be looking at 30-35.000 PPD system (at a cost of two GTX260 cards).
This is really impressive engineering feat from ASUS, with the only disappointment being usage of RealTek GbE controller. For a workstation motherboard, I would much happier if Marvell was on-board.
Storage-wise, you can install no less than eight SATA devices and not a single IDE device, since ASUS stayed in “Revolution” theme and killed of the PATA connector. Also, I found that a shared PS/2 port was also pretty neat solution, even though real revolution would be killing both PS/2 slots. This way, you still have one legacy part: PS/2.

There is one shared PS/2 port, for either keyboard or a mouse

There is one shared PS/2 port, for either keyboard or a mouse

Funny part of this story is that if anybody would have a time machine and go back to IBM engineers in 1986-7 frame and told them that only remain of their failed standard is going to be a keyboard/mouse connector, and that PS/2 connector will outlive PATA, I guess they would call you… crazy? Lunatic? Infidel? 😉

P.S. If you’re wondering… yes, the answer is true. There are no technical issues that would prevent you from installing 3-Way SLI and 4-Way CrossFireX setup, consisting out of three GTX280 and two 4870X2 cards. Only problem is that you would have to have a watercooling setup, since you are limited to single-slot cooling solutions. I guess Asetek, CoolIT or somebody similar could come up with a solution for this “problem”.

  • Wonder how much a workstation based on this motherboard, and with three GTX280 and two 4870X2 cards installed, would consume in terms of power… Maybe this could be really the only workstation needing a 1000W power supply…

  • True. Well, it depends…. for 30.000 points per day machine, you would consume 110W per card, so that would be 660W for GPUs alone, add around 120W for the CPU, 30W for the memory, 30W for hard drive and optical, additional 30-50 for motherboard and all the peripherals (note nForce 200 chip on it)…

    All in all, for this board in full configuration, you can’t go wrong with 1.2KW PSU.

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