We have a bit of a problem here. Before reading any further, read this thread here
, and this one here
In short, matters with the Tyan Thunder K7 are not as rosy as can be. In fact, it seems like they’re rather grim. It looks from those threads, like a good one out of every two or three people who have bought this board are having problems. We’re talking everything from improper recognition of CPUs to serious stability issues.
The complaints range from everything to not recognizing the CPUs properly, to instability with even basic add-in PCI cards, to even failure to boot into Windows. Could it be just a bunch of people using strange or cheaper supporting hardware (power supplies, video cards, etc), or who don’t know how to set the board up properly in the first place? If there were one or two reports, then the answer would very likely be yes. But there are too many right now. And most of the folks in those threads are all using AMD/Tyan recommended components.
I can also tell you that we have one of these boards in-house, and that we have had issues with it as well. Our board seems to be suffering from the same afflictions as many of the others in those threads. And I can also tell you that our board is using 100% Tyan/AMD recommended components, right down to the case and power supply.
Why didn’t the other review sites report a problem? We don’t know -- it’s very probable that they didn’t have any. Their boards probably came directly from Tyan or AMD, and were likely the ‘hand-picked’ crop, as review samples sometimes are. Our board came from a distributor, and was therefore not chosen by Tyan or AMD selectively, rather just picked out from a bunch of shipping boards. That also means, unfortunately, that our board is more closely indicative of what actual consumers are getting. (in fact, it IS what actual consumers are getting)
Whose problem? Number one, Tyan. I’m not sure what kind of testing goes on at Tyan before a board is released, but clearly, something is amiss here. Problems such as the ones occurring now should NOT make it through any reasonable QA check.
Suppose, by some freak incident, they did. Mistakes can happen, right? We understand that. However, if that was the case, Tyan needs to start doing something about it, and doing it quickly. At a bare minimum, at least some revisions of the board need to be recalled, unless an appropriate BIOS can be released that will remedy the situation (judging by the severity of the problems, this doesn’t seem likely).
Number two, AMD. If you were AMD, and you were facing the kind of up hill battle AMD is as far as reputation of lack of stability, would you allow a situation and product like this to go unchecked? Not very smart. Many still perceive AMD as an unstable and unreliable solution (as false as that may be), and when they come across a board like this, they’re more likely to blame AMD for the situation than Tyan. After all, all of Tyan’s Intel Thunder boards work just fine, so it must be an AMD problem, right? Even if the fault here is completely Tyan’s, if we were AMD, we’d be testing these boards like crazy, and demanding that Tyan do something. The ‘ignore the situation’ approach is going to fly right back in AMD’s face on this one. If they wish to be viewed as a serious presence in the workstation and server arena, they need to act like it.
What’s next for AMD? That depends where the technical fault lies. We’re assuming, based on our experience, that the fault lies with Tyan’s motherboard, and not with the Athlon MP processors or 760MP chipset. If that’s the case, then hopefully, subsequent 760MP boards will be slightly better behaved, and AMD can get on about its business. It is possible (although unlikely, in our opinion), that there are technical issues with the 760MP chipset and/or Athlon MP. If that’s the case, unless AMD can resolve whatever issues exist, AMD needs to recall the entire platform, or risk damaging its reputation so badly that it may be impossible to recover. As for Tyan, in either case, Tyan needs a serious reality check as well. If the fault is theirs, then the ball is in Tyan’s court, and they need to step up and take action. If the fault is AMD’s, and Tyan’s board is as good as 760MP boards will ever get, then Tyan should have said NO in the first place. Whoever’s fault, Tyan should NOT be selling a board like this to it’s customers, branded as a workstation/server board. If it's the fault of a third-party component, then I would think it would be in Tyan's, and especially AMD's best interests to determine exactly what that component is.
In any event, it’s very clear that something needs to be done immediately, or both Tyan and AMD are looking at suffering some serious damage to their respective images.
We will continue to test our board, and keep you updated as to our experiences. In the mean time, if you have one of these boards, we’d like to hear about your experiences with it, both good and bad. Please email me with any information, or post it in the ‘Discuss This Article’ thread below for others to see. We’ll read all comments, and report back on them soon.
If this turns out to be nothing, I will personally apologize to both AMD and Tyan. However, I don't think that's likely -- this has already gone way beyond 'nothing'. Even if it proves to be something simple and easy to fix (there's a lot of discussion in those threads about the recommended NMB power supply), it's still something, and demands attention. At the very least, AMD and Tyan need to find out if some third-party component is causing issues, and make sure it is removed from the 'Recommended' list.