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Motherboard PCIe/PCI slot allocation (WAS: Re: Abit QuadGT is almost ready for prime-time.......)

 
 
Richard Hopkins
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      02-24-2007, 06:25 PM
"Dirk Dreidoppel" wrote in message...
> My issue with *all* modern boards is lack of usable PCI slots, and
> this one is no exception.


This is off-topic in the QuadGT thread Dirk, hence me pasting it into a new
one. Anyway...

> Let's say I want to go SLI. That leaves *one* usable PCI slot. I need
> at least two, for a Soundbaster X-Fi and a PhysX card. Add in a
> KillerNIC maybe, and I need *three* slots. Hardly any board has
> that and none have all three accessible with SLI.



That, unfortunately is a consequence of a market that becomes more segmented
and specialised by the minute, and the confusion that has resulted from the
evolution from PCI to Express, with the curveball of SLi/Crossfire.

As you say it's not like the QuadGT is significantly worse than any other
board, and a large part of the "blame" for this situation has to be laid at
the door of the peripheral manufacturers as much as the motherboard sellers.

PCIe has been mainstream for three years now, and all the hardware
manufacturers knew it was coming. Creative stand to take some criticism for
introducing the X-Fi line without at least offering a PCIe model. Indeed
from a marketing and technical point of view they'd have done well making it
a native PCIe design and offering PCI versions with onboard bridges. That
would have enabled them to make a positive selling point out of it, but
instead they just evolved the same old Audigy architecture yet again.

Similarly KillerNIC have no excuse not to be offering a PCIe-based card.
There are plenty of suitable chipsets around. Same goes for Ageia. Why base
a brand new idea around an old interconnect interface that the market is
moving away from?

Ultimately, as you say, if no "modern" motherboards offer you the
interconnects you want, it's ultimately your choice whether to stick with
what you've got, or find an alternative that fits your needs.
--


Richard Hopkins
Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom
(replace nospam with pipex in reply address)



 
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Dirk Dreidoppel
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      02-24-2007, 08:47 PM

"Richard Hopkins" <(E-Mail Removed)> schrieb im Newsbeitrag
news:(E-Mail Removed)...
> "Dirk Dreidoppel" wrote in message...
> > My issue with *all* modern boards is lack of usable PCI slots, and
> > this one is no exception.

>
> This is off-topic in the QuadGT thread Dirk, hence me pasting it into a

new
> one. Anyway...


My apologies for that.

> > Let's say I want to go SLI. That leaves *one* usable PCI slot. I need
> > at least two, for a Soundbaster X-Fi and a PhysX card. Add in a
> > KillerNIC maybe, and I need *three* slots. Hardly any board has
> > that and none have all three accessible with SLI.

>
> PCIe has been mainstream for three years now, and all the hardware
> manufacturers knew it was coming. Creative stand to take some criticism

for
> introducing the X-Fi line without at least offering a PCIe model. Indeed
> from a marketing and technical point of view they'd have done well making

it
> a native PCIe design and offering PCI versions with onboard bridges. That
> would have enabled them to make a positive selling point out of it, but
> instead they just evolved the same old Audigy architecture yet again.


As a matter of fact they will be introducing PCIe versions of the X-Fi this
year.

> Similarly KillerNIC have no excuse not to be offering a PCIe-based card.
> There are plenty of suitable chipsets around. Same goes for Ageia. Why

base
> a brand new idea around an old interconnect interface that the market is
> moving away from?


Would make no real difference, would it ? PCI or PCIe, boards still wouldn't
have room for enough expansion slots. The 16x PCIe slots could be placed one
slot closer together, there's two slots room between them where only one is
needed to accommodate the dual-slot cards. Which leads to the question if
video cards really need to be two slots wide, but the this is a new topic
again.

> Ultimately, as you say, if no "modern" motherboards offer you the
> interconnects you want, it's ultimately your choice whether to stick with
> what you've got, or find an alternative that fits your needs.


The only alternative are expensive E-ATX boards unfortunately...


 
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Richard Hopkins
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      02-25-2007, 01:57 AM
"Dirk Dreidoppel" wrote in message...
> As a matter of fact they will be introducing PCIe versions of the
> X-Fi this year.


I know. The point I was making was that this should have been part of the
range from its launch. Creative doing a PCIe soundcard would have driven the
adoption and development of PCIe peripherals more than any one other single
factor.

As mentioned earlier they could also have made a selling point of a fully
PCIe-based soundcard. Of course while we know that there is little practical
need for the extra bandwidth on a soundcard, it'd have made a neat marketing
line.

> Would make no real difference, would it ?


It would have given motherboard manufacturers a little more latitude with
their board layouts. Wholesale migration to PCIe by the peripheral
manufacturers would have cleared the decks for mainboard designers to
marginalise or eliminate PCI. Having said that, I think it was also a
shortcoming to maintain the board orientation of Express the same as regular
PCI. If they'd flipped it around there'd be the option to have a "shared"
port arrangements, as was the case when ISA was originally superseded by
PCI.

> Which leads to the question if video cards really need to be two slots
> wide, but the this is a new topic again.


Yeah that's the big problem, and ultimately this is a factor of the continal
arms race between nVidia and ATI, with the consequence that graphics
board(s) have become an ever more malevolent presence inside the PC case,
drawing more power and putting out more heat than many modern CPUs.

> The only alternative are expensive E-ATX boards unfortunately...


At the moment, yes. However, with the specification for external PCIe now
finalised, the way will be open in future for external GPUs. Once this step
is taken and the graphics board becomes housed in an external box, the
physical constraints of graphics board, power supply and cooling solution
design are all removed.

What I'm not sure of at the moment is whether external PCIe will only be
possible on a new generation of motherboards, or whether it is simply a case
of designing a simple break-out board that fits in a regular PCIe 16x slot
and brings the sockets out to the edge connector. If the latter, then it
should be possible for the GPU manufacturers to produce fully external
products in the near future and make them fully compatible with current
boards.
--


Richard Hopkins
Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom
(replace nospam with pipex in reply address)

 
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