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.The Tyan Thunder K7X motherboard is much larger than your standard ATX formatted board. The E-ATX format here is a whopping 12″ tall and 13″ wide! You will need to own a case that was specifically designed for a board this size or have one of the popular full tower cases that should fit it as well. The need for this size PCB will become apparent when we take a look at the features the board gives you.
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The external connectors on the board showcase the feature set included on it. Here we see the standard two PS/2 ports, two USB 1.1 ports, parallel and serial connections and also the video connector and the two network connectors. We’ll touch more on these later.
Just as with all of the dual-Athlon motherboards that we have seen at Amdmb.com, the area around the processor sockets is limited. The row of capacitors that goes between the sockets is the culprit, but they are a necessary evil and have no place else to be relocated to safely on the motherboard. This may make some of the larger heatsink installations a bit more difficult and even force you take a little more time and patience on the standard heatsinks.
The AMD-760 MPX north bridge is covered with a heatsink to help dissipate all the heat the chip produces. The DIMM slots to the right of the north bridge are unique in their angle. Because this is meant mainly as a server motherboard, the DIMM slots are angled so as to allow the board to fit in 2U and even 1U cases. (A U of height is 1.75″.) The slant can make installation somewhat of a pain, but again is not without necessity.
The ATXGES power connector is positioned between the north bridge and the AGP slot. Take note that a standard ATX power supply will not fit in this connection. You will need the special ATXGES dual-Athlon approved power supplies with the additional pins on the main power connector cable. Also, they have another power cable running to the motherboard up by the PS/2 connections. All of this power is necessary to keep the on-board features and processors extremely stable for the server market.
Moving down the board, we see the AGP Pro 4x slot to accommodate the workstation class video cards that need the additional power. Below that you see two 64-bit PCI slots and three 32-bit PCI slots. The 64-bit slots are the main reason behind the MPX chipset, and the fact they are able to carry twice as much data on their bus twice as fast (at 66 MHz rather than the 33 MHz standard) is key to gaining ground in the enterprise markets. Systems that are using large amounts of data flow like SCSI and SCSI RAID configuration can use all the additional bandwidth available to speed up the slowest of the computer industries standards – storage.
The beige colored 64-bit PCI slot is a standard one that can handle both 3.3v and 5.0v (standard PCI) cards. The green one below it, however, only accepts 3.3v cards. This green PCI slot also offers the Thunder K7X users another great feature: Adaptec Zero Channel Raid. This technology allows you to buy a relatively cheap Adaptec 0 Channel card (about $250) and plug it in this green slot. This card then uses the on-board Adaptec SCSI controller to make it a RAID controller. Many users are used to paying thousands of dollars for a SCSI/RAID configuration – but the Adaptec Zero Channel Raid slot makes it quite affordable and easy.
For storage, there are the standard two ATA100 IDE ports and a floppy channel as well. As I mentioned above, there is also an Adaptec SCSI option embedded into the K7X motherboard. The chipset that powers it is the 7899W from Adaptec and it gives you two channels of 68-pin SCSI. These can be used by themselves or with the 0-channel RAID option.
Powering the on-board video is the same chipset behind the original Thunder K7 motherboard, the ATI Rage XL. While this isn’t a gamer’s choice by any means, it was meant merely to allow for the board to be used in 1U and 2U server chassis solutions easily. It has moderate 2D performance, which is all you really need for that. Finally, there are two 3Com 920 chipsets on-board that power the dual 10/100 NICs that complete the package for a great server motherboard.