Features and Layout
This content was originally featured on Amdmb.com and has been converted to PC Perspective’s website. Some color changes and flaws may appear.Since the inception of the dual-Athlon segment of AMD’s market, Tyan has continually been the first and only on the side of manufacturers for the boards. And while this is no longer the case, they are still the first. The first two boards, the Tyan Thunder K7 and the Tyan Tiger MP were based around the original AMD-760 MP chipset and were very impressive for their market segments. The Thunder offered the very first glimpse at dual-Athlons running in a home system or server and the Tiger followed up with a lower cost solution to help even more home users enter in this new market with AMD’s Athlon MP processors.
Now the Tiger MPX will attempt to offer a mix of low-cost for home users and high-use for server usage.
The physical layout of the board is very similar to the Tiger MP motherboard, but has a few key differences that should be pointed out. The very first and one of the best new features on the board is in the power connectors. If you’ll remember, the Thunder K7, the original dual-Athlon motherboard, required a completely new standard of power supply that was previously used for any AMD system. This was a complete pain in my side, and the Tiger MP fixed this by cutting out many of the on-board features and allowing a standard ATX power connector to be the sole power source for the board. On the new Tiger MPX, there is a mix. Because Tyan is looking to supply the most stable motherboards out, they have combined the two ideas into a great powering option for the motherboard. If you are using a base load on the system (such as only a single hard drive, CD-Rom, etc) you only need to attach the standard ATX power connector to the board. However, as processor speeds increase, or you add more power-draining components to your system (like SCSI cards, RAID controllers, hard drives, etc) you’ll need to give the board more power to remain stable. You have two options for this: first, if you have the newer ATX 2.02 power supplies that have a 4-pin ATX 12V cable, simply hook that up to spot next to the ATX power connector. However, even if you don’t have that kind of power supply, you can use a standard 4-pin power connector (the same your hard drive uses). This allows nearly everyone to use the Tiger MPX in his or her system. Thus far, I have not seen this feature on any other MPX boards – Tyan may have an Ace in their hand here.
The CPU sockets are in exactly the same position as before, with a row of capacitors in between them. I must tell you that it can make installation of the heatsinks a little more work than you are used to, but unless your heatsinks are gargantuan, they will fit.
The north bridge of the 760 MPX chipset is covered by the same heatsink that the Tiger MP used, keeping the very hot running chipset from causing any kind of stability problems. An active cooling solution may have been a better solution, but because there is very little tweaking and overclocking you can do on the board, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
The Tyan Tiger MPX supports up to 4 GB of memory using the 4 DIMM slots on the board. Tyan may recommend that you have all of your memory be Registered for the best stability, but in my testing, standard PC2100 memory will work fine in the first and second slots, but if you go over into the third and fourth slot, you are taking a chance on the system’s over stability. I did run all four slots full of 256 MB standard Crucial PC2100 memory for a couple hours of testing, just to see, and I didn’t encounter any problems. But if you call Tyan complaining about issues with the board, be prepared to answer that question first.
The slot configuration of the motherboard is as follows: 1 4x AGP slot, 2 64-bit/66 MHz PCI slots, 4 32-bit/33 MHz PCI slots. This is probably new to most of you. The 64-bit/66 MHz PCI slots are mainly used for components cards that need incredibly high amounts of bandwidth to the processor and memory. A good example would be a SCSI/RAID controller. These controllers could take advantage of the extra speed that the bus offers them to the chipset to vastly increase performance. For a good introduction to this concept of how bandwidth effects are changed, see the first page of the AMI Elite 1600 SCSI card. There is a very good graph there that demonstrates what I am saying.
You should also note that your standard PCI cards will not work in the 64-bit slots, and vise-versa. So, that means you are limited to 4 PCI slots for your regular cards. And, in actuality, you are limited to 3 of them if you want to have USB functions.
Why is that? Well, as I mentioned earlier, AMD was having problems with the USB on the new south bridge, so as to avoid problems, Tyan has disable the USB functions of the south bridge on the Tyan Tiger MPX, meaning the headers for USB at the top of the motherboard are useless. To help you out, Tyan has included a USB 1.1 PCI card that offers 4 USB headers. While that will help those with more USB components and it isn’t a real hassle to install it, it is kind of a pain to see one of your few PCI slots gone before you install anything else.
Finally, the Tiger MPX has a working 10/100 NIC header on the board that can be used to save one of your PCI slots, so that is very good news. The board only includes two ATA100 IDE channels, and IDE-RAID is out of the question as far as Tyan is concerned.