This content was originally featured on Amdmb.com and has been converted to PC Perspective’s website. Some color changes and flaws may appear.The most noticeable feature of the layout of this board is its size. A whopping 12″ x 13″, making it the first Athlon motherboard to be wider than it is tall. Anyone considering this motherboard should take careful note to see if it will even fit in your case. Of course, the main market for this motherboard is not the desktop PC, but the workstation and server area, and these motherboard sizes are much more common in that field.
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The DDR DIMMs are actually angled at 25 degrees in order to allow the Tyan motherboard to fit in rack mount cases. While Tyan is claiming that the Thunder K7 will be able to fit in even a 1U size server, I find that pushing the limit a bit. The current Amdmb.com server, which runs off an Iwill KK266 motherboard and a 1.1 GHz Athlon Thunderbird, is housed in a 2U case, and I thought it was a bit tight. Factor in the extra heat from two processors, even at lower voltages, and you may across more problems in the 1U format than is worth the trouble.
The two 462-pin sockets for the Athlon MP processor are placed facing each other with a row of capacitors in between them. I did notice that installation of the TaiSol Copper Bottom HSF was a bit difficult with those capacitors there, but I was able to accomplish it after a bit of finessing.
Right there with the dual Socket-As is the AMD-760 MP Northbridge, the AMD-762. Fittingly looking just like the aged K6-2 processor, it this component that is the gateway that allows the dual processors to work in perfect harmony. For more information on this, check out the AMD-760 MP Chipset article. I think the shaping and molding of the 762 Northbridge is a great tribute to AMD’s past. Perhaps an allusion to how the technology of yesterday is still behind the technology of today? I am just guessing here, of course!
The configuration of expansion slots is in a 5/0/1/0 (PCI/ISA/AGP/AMR). The PCI slots are 64-bit slots, which I will cover on the next page. The AGP Pro slot should keep the workstation users of this motherboard appeased with giving more power to the AGP Pro video cards. Notice how close the main ATX power connector is to the AGP slot. During testing of the board, I noticed that the power cable itself was consistently touching the back of the AGP card. Not a major problem, unless one of the two overheats.
The storage device connectors, both IDE, floppy and SCSI are well placed along the bottom of the motherboard, allowing easy access to them after installation in any case, be it tower or rack. Mostly standard, the PS/2, USB, serial and parallel connectors are there as you would expect. New to most of you on this Thunder K7 is the addition of the on-board video and dual-LAN, which will also be covered on the next page.
You can also see the placement of the power connectors, including the new 4×2 supplemental power connector. The power supply and connectors will be covered later.
Towards the bottom of the 8-layer PCB you will also see the AMD-766 Southbridge as well as the Adaptec 7899 chipset for the on-board Ultra160 SCSI.