I am back once again to give you the low-down on the motherboard scene from the players that didn't make it into my first Comdex report, COMDEX/Fall'99 - Motherboard Manufacturers Part 1 . Although we were able to bring you many of the big players, we still did not feel you saw enough of what was going on so after a bit of digging, we have information from AOpen, Asus, EPoX and Gigabyte. I will overview their newly released products as well as give you an inside scoop on what is going on at each company, if anything.
AOpen has recently contacted me to let me know about their newly released products as well as future plans for what is to come. The newcomers from AOpen are the AX6C and AX6C-L motherboards that are both based on the Intel i820 chipset. Both boards feature a Slot 1 connector, 1 AGP (4X but not PRO)/5 PCI/1AMR slot(s), RIMM memory and a FSB that is adjustable from 100 MHz to 160 MHz. Where the boards differ is in the number of RIMM slots available. The AX6C offers 3 RIMM slots while the AX6C-L offers just two. AOpen feels confident that this board is stable, although Intel finally decided in their last change of the i820-chipset specification, that i820 should support only two RIMMs. AOpen admitted however, that the AXC6 just happens to fail when checked with Intel testing software. It's up to you to decide if you want to play safe and go for the specified 2-RIMMs-version or for AOpen's special 3-RIMM-solution. In case of the latter you need to have faith in AOpen. At the same time we should remember that 2 RIMM-sockets restrict you to half a gigabyte for the time that only 256 MB-RIMMs are available or 1 GB once 512 RIMMs will hit the shops. As long as we are talking of close to $1000 per 128 MB I wonder who will be keen on spending the additional $2000 or $4000 to be able and take advantage of the additional 3rd RIMM-slot.
On the Athlon front, AOpen mentioned that their solution, AK72, would be available at the end of December sometime.