MSI Graphics, Motherboards Make Big Bang

MSI brought a pile of new products to CES, including its complete line of LGA-1155 products, but the one product that brings it the most pride is its Big Bang Conqueror. Supporting AMD's next-generation desktop processor (can we even say Bulldozer?), three of its four PCIe x16 slots are spaced perfectly for hosting a trio of Radeon HD 6970 graphics cards in CrossFireX. As we await further announcements from AMD concerning the next CPU architecture, its faithful can rejoice that the firm already has a test CPU for its AM3+ socket!

Making a smaller bang is MSI’s first Mini-ITX board, the E350IA-E45 integrated motherboard. The model name tells the story, as the board hosts AMD's 18W, 1.6GHz E-350 Brazos platform.  Efficiency is a key selling point, though anyone who needs a little more graphics power can add a discrete card through its x16-length, four-lane PCI Express slot.

Far-removed from the noise of its January 5 debut, we prodded MSI a little more about its Big Bang Marshal. A PCIe hub from Lucidlogix expands the LGA-1155 package's 16 PCIe 2.0 lanes, supporting four of its eight slots at full x16 bandwidth. A ten-slot case will hold four dual-slot cards (such as MSI's Lightning Series) with a single spare space above the top card, and anyone who wants to fill even more slots need only search for single-slot models.

We should remind Hydra-haters that the same Lucid chip that's required for Hydra mode also functions as a  regular hub when its driver is disabled, allowing true four-way CrossFireX. We’ve no news from Nvidia whether its driver will allow more than two cards to be used with this non-NF200 design, but official word up to this point has been "no".

Thomas Soderstrom
Thomas Soderstrom is a Senior Staff Editor at Tom's Hardware US. He tests and reviews cases, cooling, memory and motherboards.
  • jazz84
    Looks pretty decent, though someone REALLY has to figure out a better way to secure DIMMs if a full-length PCIe card is expected to be installed on the E350IA-E45. I've had this issue on standard ATX boards as well. Why not use SO-DIMMs on such a small form factor?
  • apache_lives
    you cant tell me MSI makes good products
  • christop
    Stats sound nice..
  • joytech22
    Bloody hell, bring SLI to these motherboards or i'll be forced to switch to Intel before AM3+ is even released..

    Oh damn i just found that thread that Nvidia and Intel are pretty much hooked, Hello Intel, goodbye cheap but fast CPU's :(
  • eddieroolz
    Looks like we're transitioning from AM3 to AM3+ already eh.
  • henydiah
    how about overclock !
  • rhelme
    I think you will be able to run CrossfireX on Intel machines even with this NVidia agreement. There was no announcement that said that this would change and the the reason why it was so easy to find so many boards that ran both CfX and SLI but more that ran just CfX could be that AMD doesn't really need something special to hook its cards up in conjunction... even though I'm speaking out my butt... they will just all have to put the cards in the slot and build out a whole database sort of like they did with the dule GPU cards... just have to eliminate the "licensing" and do all the talking and syncing off the bus.

    That way Cfx can be on any platform and unless Nvidia wises up like Microsoft and its IE browsers will be stuck running only on intel chips. For those who say that intel will always be faster, remember how long AMD held the crown of fastest processors. AMD has a hell of a great GPU engineering team, just like NVidia, except that it seems that while NVidia claims it is supporting parallel processing, they are all doing it on one die and AMD/ATi has learned how to split that off into different die's on different cards and using CFX hook them together. For years we saw SLI's performance outshine CFX, but the latest generation shows equallity if not an edge in CFX. If AMD can engineer an effective bridge where timing will not be an issue, you won't have to lobby for PCI-E 3.0 or PCI-E 4.0 supporting 500 and then 1000 watts to support fast GPU's. NVidia is where ATi was with the 2xxx cards.... high power and HIGH LEAK CURRENT which is high heat. Thats where ATI decided transistor count is not the key to speed, put TRUE parallelism across physically separated cores. I mean just look at the GTX 580... GREAT card, but how long did it take to start to close in on the 5970?? Sure the ATi card was dual GPU but required less power, is a generation older, produced less heat had less transistors per GPU and shows what EFFICIENT engineering can do. Its like how do you lift a 100 ton wall. 100000 men Nvidia style or 10000 men and a pulley system ATi style.

    Thats why I love the wars between the GPU companies... they keep everything moving forward at light speed.... and while AMD may not be as fast as Intel in CPU technology.... they have some fairly decently fast processors for 1/5 the price...... we know they are not 1/5 the speed....

    Some of you may be dedicated Nvidites and Ati-ites and Intelite and AMD-ites, but some of us stand back and watch what each company brings to the table and support it.....

    Its amazing how many people don't know ATi graphics cards are in the XBOX and that NVidia graphic cards are in the PS3...
  • Crashman
    rhelmeI think you will be able to run CrossfireX on Intel machines even with this NVidia agreement...I think you're getting this backwards: The board already supports CrossFireX, because CrossFireX has no noteworthy platform restrictions.

    Now about the NVidia agreement: We don't know that the company will expand SLI support beyond two cards. Prior to the agreement the limit was two cards on the P67, and most of what I read points to this new licensing as being an extension of the old ones. Adding an NF200 controller "unlocked" three-way SLI support for the P67, that will likely continue as well. I believe two NF200 controllers were required for four way on P67, and I have no reason to believe that's changed.
  • henydiah
    crossfire/Sli make hot temperature ! better use 1 card dual GPU for nexttime
  • hardcore_gamer
    get a life ****ing spammers