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Gigabyte's Monstrous 6 TFlops Core i7 Prototype Motherboard Pictured

San Jose (CA) - Believe it or not, NVISION 08 is not just about Nvidia. Earlier today we met with Gigabyte to see what we can expect from the Taiwanese manufacturer - and got a glimpse at an upcoming motherboard for Intel’s Core i7 processors with Nehalem core. The board, called Extreme Edition, sets several highlights, including the ability to transform your PC in a true deskside supercomputer that offers the processing horsepower of thousands of processors ten years ago.

The prototype board on display was based on Intel’s X58 chipset and supports up to six graphics cards, four PCIe Gen2 x16 slots and two wide-open Gen 2 x4 slots. Due to space constraints there is only Crossfire and no SLI support. So, what can you do with six graphics cards - for example six Radeon 4850 or six Nvidia 9800 GT models?

You could run up to 12 monitors, which should be a dream for any flight simulator enthusiast. While you can run up to four cards in Crossfire (graphics) mode, you can employ all six cards for GPGPU applications and floating point acceleration. The theoretical performance potential of such an environment would be in the 6 TFlops neighborhood for single-precision applications (double precision will cause the performance to drop by 80 to 90 percent.) To put this performance into perspective, consider the fact that Intel’s 1997 Pentium Pro supercomputer with 10,000 CPUs was rated at 1 TFlops.

The actual performance advantage of supercomputers is not entirely based on pure processing horsepower, but also memory capacity, which GPUs cannot match. But the simple thought that you can add six graphics cards with 4,800 processors for about $1,200 to rival the performance of supercomputers that cost billions of dollars a decade ago (at least in some applications) is stunning.

On the power side, Gigabyte’s engineers developed a separated 12-phase power supply for the CPU; a 2-Phase structure is in place for the memory and a separate 2-Phase regulation for the PCI Express slots. The company indicated that there will be room for overclocking and special attention was paid to ensure "workstation-class stability under any conditions."

The board can support up to 24 GB DDR3-1333, or 6 GB of DDR3-1900/2000 memory (using overclocked 2 GB DIMMs). Thanks to the 2-Phase regulation, there should be enough juice to hold future 4 GB DDR3-1333 modules.

The board is still being worked on and the prototype will undergo significant modifications in the storage and cooling department, we were told. The combined air/water-cooling block will be modified so that the six graphics cards can fit. All six SATA ports will be rotated to support extend-length PCIe cards.