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Return To Castle Intel: 16 Years Of Motherboard History

Return To Castle Intel: 16 Years Of Motherboard History
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Return To Castle Intel

Last month, we took you deep into the hidden recesses of Intel’s Hawthorn Farm facility, where the company’s enthusiast motherboards are designed and refined. On our way out of the building, we walked down a long hallway that ends with the metal detector gate one passes through when entering the building. This hallway is lined with dozens of mounted, framed motherboards—a veritable walk-through museum documenting Intel’s many years of motherboard innovation.

As tech enthusiasts, we tend to be amnesiacs. There’s just so much good stuff to focus on now, and even better stuff coming soon, that we forget where we’ve been and the massive effort that went into moving through those stages. Walking this hallway, we felt a bit like archeologists or perhaps sudden visitors to the Galapagos Islands, granted a rare glimpse at the sweep of natural evolution. Some fits of creativity grew into the technologies we have today. Others blossomed for a moment and died ingloriously.

At the end of our last visit, we got about half-way down this hallway, then stalled in our tracks. After nearly two decades in the hardware business, it was impossible not to stop at each frame with a “I remember that!” or a “Oh, what was that called again?!” We wanted to stay for hours. So on a return visit with a camera and tripod, we did. Sure, we had to shoot the boards under poor lighting and through the high-glare glass of their frames, but it turned out well in the end.

What follows are our picks for the best dozen of the mobo brood, the ones that stood out as having exceptional historical significance. We had a blast taking this walk down memory lane and rediscovering our roots. Hopefully, you will, too.

           

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  • 0 Hide
    ravenware , March 16, 2009 6:49 AM
    Nice article. My only critique would be ending it with the skulltrail platform. It wasn't a breakthrough, both in terms of performance and innovation. AMD produced a similar system a year before Skulltrail in hopes of regaining its performance crown by pulling out the big guns, unfortunately that beast couldn't outperform Intel's quad core chip.
    The Skulltrail had similar results, offering very little performance gains over single socket systems while costing and arm and a leg to build and run.

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/intel-skulltrail-part-3,1770-25.html

    http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/brute-force-quad-cores,1371-13.html
  • 0 Hide
    old time jon , March 16, 2009 9:52 AM
    I am not even finish reading but have fond to many errors that I will stop

    EX:

    -AGP came from the LX chipset not the BX
    -PII starting clock where 233Mhz and 266Mhz
    -FX chipset had not cache on the board it was on the slot with the CPU

    actually the 233Mhz had a really strange cache mem divider that gave it really slow cache access compared to the 266Mhz variant if memory serv well?
  • 0 Hide
    old time jon , March 16, 2009 9:58 AM
    also could you please give us back the drop down menu for changing back to the right article page?
  • 5 Hide
    swyn01 , March 16, 2009 10:08 AM
    The unknown power connector you mention on the Plato motherboard is an ATX 6-pin auxiliary power connector. It was used if motherboard drain was to exceed 250 watts. With this many slots it must have been possible to exceed this. I still have ancient power supplies lying (as keep sakes) that have this connector. However, I have never found the need to connect it myself.
  • 4 Hide
    cangelini , March 16, 2009 10:17 AM
    old time jonI am not even finish reading but have fond to many errors that I will stop EX:-AGP came from the LX chipset not the BX-PII starting clock where 233Mhz and 266Mhz-FX chipset had not cache on the board it was on the slot with the CPUactually the 233Mhz had a really strange cache mem divider that gave it really slow cache access compared to the 266Mhz variant if memory serv well?


    Jon,
    You're right about the chipset--the LX was, in fact, first with AGP.
    I believe the author was referring to 100 MHz bus models--clarified that.
    I believe you're incorrect about the 430LX, though--it did support onboard pipelined burst cache memory.

    As for the drop-down menu, it appears on all reviews. However, you can navigate through picture stories using the little boxes up top, which also give you a preview of each page before you click.

    Thanks, and all the best.
    Chris
  • 0 Hide
    swyn01 , March 16, 2009 10:27 AM
    Quote:
    I believe you're incorrect about the 430LX, though--it did support onboard pipelined burst cache memory.


    You're correct that some slot 1 boards did offer onboard pipelined cache. Often it was an add on option with its own socket but some definitely did have soldered in out of the box.
  • 0 Hide
    Shadow703793 , March 16, 2009 10:42 AM
    Well done! Next, do a history of OCing. AFAIK OCing has existed as long as these boards.
  • 0 Hide
    old time jon , March 16, 2009 10:45 AM
    swyn01You're correct that some slot 1 boards did offer onboard pipelined cache. Often it was an add on option with its own socket but some definitely did have soldered in out of the box.


    I may yet learn something here? Seing as the L2 cache on slot 1 CPUs was on the sloted card itself did this soldered on cache on the motherboard become L3 or was it just deactivated?
  • 0 Hide
    old time jon , March 16, 2009 10:48 AM
    swyn01You're correct that some slot 1 boards did offer onboard pipelined cache. Often it was an add on option with its own socket but some definitely did have soldered in out of the box.


    I do remember this option on the socket 5-6-7 motherboards. Some super 7 motherboard went a far as 1mb cache with depending on the CPU would be L2 or L3 cache.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , March 16, 2009 10:56 AM
    http://www.tomshardware.com/picturestory/498-29-intel-skulltrail-badaxe.html

    isn't the fan for the chipset and not the processor?
  • 0 Hide
    Shadow703793 , March 16, 2009 10:57 AM
    I just finished reading all of this. What surprises me is that from the old days there were barely any MOSFETS/caps. Today we have about 6+ MOSFETS just for the CPU.
  • 0 Hide
    swyn01 , March 16, 2009 11:24 AM
    old time jonI may yet learn something here? Seing as the L2 cache on slot 1 CPUs was on the sloted card itself did this soldered on cache on the motherboard become L3 or was it just deactivated?


    Adding on additional cache onto these motherboards created an L3 cache. It was really just a luxury with little performance boost in desktop markets. Its effect may have been more profound with server boards. Either way, most motherboard manufacturers never bothered to include additional L3 cache or at best the L3 expansion slot.
  • 0 Hide
    snarfies , March 16, 2009 11:34 AM
    This article brings back bad memories of SIMM chips. They had to be installed in pairs - no dual-channel action, it was just required for them to function, period!
  • 1 Hide
    swyn01 , March 16, 2009 11:39 AM
    default123http://www.tomshardware.com/pictur [...] adaxe.htmlisn't the fan for the chipset and not the processor?


    The heatsink with the fan is for the chipset and not the processor. The Atom processor is actually under the smaller heatsink to the left.
  • 0 Hide
    apache_lives , March 16, 2009 11:50 AM
    Intel 440FX (P6) was the first with AGP yes, NOT the 430FX

    P5 (Pentium 1) Designs had the L2 cache integrated into the motherboard and was accessed via the FSB rather then a sort of "back side bus" like the pentium 2's etc and NO P2's didnt have any cache on the motherboard, but the L2 was integrated on the cpu "package", this time directly accessed etc (but at a 1:2 ratio), this was only done because it wasnt cost effective at the time to integrate the cache into the cpu die/package (like the P6/Pentium Pro).

    L3 expansion slot? your talking about the "COAST" slots on a P5 based motherboard, right? They dont exist on P6 based motherboards ;) 

    That AUX power connector, i doubt any system listed here based on the P5's and P6's ever used anywhere near 250w, and you can find a far more modern motherboard even as far as the original Pentium 4 socket 423 with that connector or similar - iv seen them from ASUS (P4T??) and other OEM's - even in Dell's.

    Interesting side note i have used a Pentium 1 with 1gb of ram (Gigabyte GA-5AA, 2x512 SDR PC133), and Pentium Pro's with 256mb EDO etc, still got working samples of most Socket 5/7 CPU's (AMD, IBM/Cyrix, IDT, Intel etc) - the last socket shared by everyone!
  • 2 Hide
    sublifer , March 16, 2009 1:30 PM
    The power connector on pic 6 is the ATX auxilliary connector. It was optional but needed if you wanted to think about populating all of those card slots
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , March 16, 2009 1:53 PM
    Didn't RDRAM start with Pentium 4??? I don't remember dealing with RDRAM with Pentium 2 or 3. I had a Pentium 2/3 (Slot 1) board that used DDR.
  • 0 Hide
    sublifer , March 16, 2009 2:00 PM
    wtf is with safecount.net hijacking your page for a survey for? There are no signs what-so-ever that its a legitamate survey and with all the redirects to malware sites lately I'm getting sick of this. Your site will NOT be viewed by me any longer if this continues.
  • 1 Hide
    BallistaMan , March 16, 2009 3:18 PM
    subliferwtf is with safecount.net hijacking your page for a survey for? There are no signs what-so-ever that its a legitamate survey and with all the redirects to malware sites lately I'm getting sick of this. Your site will NOT be viewed by me any longer if this continues.

    Are you sure you don't have the hijack on your end? I have no such problem with the site.
  • 1 Hide
    cadder , March 16, 2009 4:07 PM
    Quote:
    Next, do a history of OCing. AFAIK OCing has existed as long as these boards.


    The original PC's with 8086 and 8088 processors could be overclocked in various ways. I remember some kind of add-on product for the IBM PC that upped the clock speed. I went to the local CompUSA (the original one!) to buy one and they told me it was a crappy product and talked me out of it. I remember various clone computers that upped the clock speed to 6 and 8MHz.
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