Computex was off to a hot and humid start today and what was obvious from the start is that both Nvidia and ATi are trying very hard to convince customers that they currently have the best performing solution. Many manufacturers however had both competing graphics solutions on display side by side, not bothered by any rivalry between the two manufacturers. What was obvious though is that almost all manufacturers followed the reference design to the letter and only in rare cases opted for a custom cooling solution. Others, like Asus and MSI, were brave enough to deviate from the reference design and offer a single slot solution for the GeForce 6800 Ultra.
From top to bottom, Asus, MSI and plain vanilla GigaByte GeForce 6800 Ultra.
There was also some confusion about Nvidia’s PCIE part, which, according to the roadmaps, would be using a bridge chip between the graphics processor and the PCIE slot, but appeared to be an integrated solution. Upon closer inspection this turned out not to be the case as the bridge chip is actually integrated onto the chip, close to the graphics processor core, so there’s actually two dies that touch the heatsink.
Miniature DFI, EpoX and EpoX micro-ATX Pentium-M motherboards.
We also saw many manufacturers offering motherboards for Intel’s Pentium-M processor, which due to its retail availability is an excellent choice for many applications. Manufacturers such as EpoX and DFI had miniature motherboards available with the Intel 855 GM chipset. EpoX even has a micro-ATX motherboard which has three PCI slots, Serial-ATA and two DIMM sockets to boot. The other motherboards were more or less meant for industry applications.
S3 Graphics Gamma Chrome PCIE and Deltra Chrome AGP.
S3 graphics seemed to have jumped on the PCIE bandwagon as well, offering their Gamma Chrome graphics accelerator, we couldn’t get any specific information about the performance, but we were told it would offer features and performance similar to ATi 9800 XT or Nvidia’s FX5950, obviously at a much lower pricepoint. S3’s Delta Chrome has also been given a rework and featured new features making it fully DirectX 9.0 compatible, at an entry level pricepoint with adequate performance for most games and applications.
A look inside Iwill's Zmax dual Opteron small form factor PC.
A genuine showstopper however was Iwill’s dual-Opteron Zmax system. Featuring a chassis the size of a SFF PC it packed dual AMD Opteron support, two memory slots, an AGP and PCI slot, two Serial-Ata ports and a digital VRM to make sure the Opterons will be supplied with sufficient power. The heatsink is a copper block with attaches to the Opterons and dissipates the heat away from the processors by using a number of heatpipes. The heatpipes are subsequently cooled by a fine finned passive copper heatsink which is cooled by the air flow through them from the two power supply fans.
To accommodate workstations graphics cards such as Nvidia’s Quadro the AGP slot is mounted inwards, so that a graphics card which requires two slots can be mounted inside the Zmax. To top it all off the Zmax has an attractive aluminum case and is very low noise considering the amount of processing power contained within. We made sure Iwill is going to send us a system for evaluation soon because who wouldn’t want to take a closer look at such an innovative and powerful solution?
[UPDATE: Computex 2004, June 2nd, Abit, SiS and ALi/ULi