IntroductionASUS P5GD2 (915P) & P5DA2 (925X) Premium Socket-T Motherboards
Intel recently forged ahead with its plans modernise almost every facet of motherboard architecture. The traditional model's attributes were beginning to show their age. The PCI bus, for example, capable of a theoretical 133MB/s transfer speeds seemed just too slow, especially in the face of the increase in off-chipset SATA, Gigabit Ethernet and FireWire usage. That's precisely why chipset makers tried to graft as many high-speed features as possible on new south bridges. Potential problems didn't stop there, either. Both AMD and Intel had moved on to using DDR400 memory for their latest respective processors. The next official speed bump would likely require DDR500 RAM at a minimum. Such a speed begins to eat at DDR-I's headroom ceiling; you don't find too many modules that can run at, say, DDR600 with ease. Then there's problems of addressing the ever-escalating power requirements and improving integrated graphics performance. In short, Intel saw an immediate need for a major overhaul.
That overhaul came by way the funky new 900-series chipsets. The AGP port was eschewed in favour of PCI Express, a point-to-point link that allows oodles more system bandwidth for both peripherals and graphics cards. DDR-II was introduced to alleviate system RAM headroom (although a 915P variant still makes use of good ol' DDR-I), and newer south bridges beefed-up SATA storage and audio standards. Ryszard took a comprehensive look at the new technologies, here. It's definitely worth a read. There's so much that's totally new.
Over a month has passed since the reference material was reviewed. That interim period has seen 915P and 925X boards, separated on the basis of performance, being released by most major manufacturers. They don't come much bigger than ASUS, so we were chomping at the bit when premium boards based on each chipset landed at HEXUS Towers. Let's take a closer look.