ASUS and Gigabyte are the first to announce an i955X motherboard after Intel of course.
The GA-8I955X Royal, manufactured by Gigabyte features one PCI-E x16 slot, two x1 and 3 standard PCI slots. Additionally to all functionalities supported by the i955X/ICH7R duo, Gigabyte has added a Silicon Image PCI-Express chip to support two additional Serial ATA channels, one Texas Instruments chips for FireWire 800, one ITE chip which supports two 2 additional ATA RAID channels, 2 Gigabit Ethernet Broadcom PCI Express chips and one CODEC HD Audio Realtek.
It is interesting to notice that Gigabyte announced the support of the DDR2-888. It is done by combining the FSB1066 and the 3:5 FSB: DRAM ratio to get the DDR2-533 in FSB800. The manufacturer also indicated that the motherboard is « designed for Dolby Master Studio ». This is the highest norm for integrated HD Audio, but the word “designed” means that if all functionalities are included, other characteristics such as the noise signal report aren’t necessarily verified. As usual with Gigabyte are also included the DualBios and the Dual Power System. The motherboard is also sold with a Bluetooth USB adapter.
ASUSTeK has chosen a relatively different design. Two PCI Express x16 slots are included with one cabled in x4. It gives the possibility to have two graphic cards (but not in SLI as it is still not compatible). One PCI-E x1 and 3 standard PCI slots are also included. Additional chips includes one ITE chip which supports two ATA RAID channels, one FireWire TI chip, 2 Gigabit Ethernet (Intel and Marvell) chips, one Silicon Image PCI-E chip which supports two additional SATA RAID channels including one external and one CODEC HD Audio Realtek.
The HD Audio functionality, Dolby Home Theater, isn’t as high as Gigabyte’s motherboard. It doesn’t include Dolby Digital EX decoding or Dolby Digital encoding to encode any AC-3 audio flow and send it to an external decoder via S/PDIF output. ASUS also announced the DDR2-800 support, which is accessible in FSB800 with the 1:2 FSB: DRAM ratio usually used for the DDR2-533 support in FSB1066. As with Gigabyte, this won’t however bring any major improvement in practice as the gap between the bus processor and dual channel bandwidth will be important. The motherboard is sold with a WiFi-TV PCI board which act as wireless IEEE 802.11a/b/g network controller and TV/FM board.
These two motherboards will be available end of April / early may for more than 200€…