Abit's VP6 VIA Apollo Pro 133A Dual-CPU Motherboard

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Abit's VP6 VIA Apollo Pro 133A Dual-CPU Motherboard
Worth the trouble?

By Marco "BigWop" Chiappetta
February 22, 2001

Being afflicted with an addiction to PC hardware, I'm always on the lookout for my next major computer upgrade. Recently, Intel's Pentium 4 arrived on the scene but for me personally, that meant converting over to a whole new platform.  This was more than I wanted to chew on at the time but regardless, I still had that "power hungry" feeling.  Right around the same time as the P4 was making it's debut on "the net", Abit's much anticipated dual processor capable VP6 began shipping, and the wheels started turning...

The VP6 is Abit's much anticipated follow up product to the very popular BP6. The BP6 was a dual-processor capable board based on Intel's wildly successful 440BX. Abit's engineers worked a little magic with the BP6 though, and designed it in such a way that allowed users to run not only Pentium IIIs, but inexpensive Celerons in an SMP (Symmetrical Multi-Processing) configuration. These "tweaks" finally put dual-processor systems within reach of most users. Since then, prices on Pentium IIIs have dropped considerably and RAM prices have fallen through the floor. Also, the BX started to show it's age and Microsoft had released a far more user friendly, stable and powerful version of Windows based on the NT core, Windows 2000 (I didn't mention WinME because the 9x core doesn't have multi-processor support). Before we go too much further, lets get up close and personal with Abit's VP6.


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Specifications / Features of the Abit VP6
VIA and Intel X 2
CPU
  • Supports Pentium III Coppermine FC-PGA 370 processor (Based on 66/100/133MHz clock)

Chipset

  • VIA chipset (VT82C694X and VT82C686B)
  • Supports Advanced Configuration and Power Management Interface (ACPI)
  • Supports AGP 1X/2X/4X (Sideband) 3.3V device

Ultra DMA 100

  • High Point HTP370 IDE Controller
  • Ultra DMA 100MB/Sec data transfer rate
  • RAID 0(stripping mode for boosting performance)
  • RAID 1 (mirroring mode for data security)
  • RAID 0 +1(stripping and mirroring)

Memory

  • Four 168-pin DIMM sockets support SDRAM module
  • Supports up to 2 GB MAX. (8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256,512MB SDRAM)
  • Supports ECC
System BIOS
  • SoftMenuTM III to set CPU parameters
  • Award Plug and Play BIOS supports APM and DMI
  • Write-Protect Anti-Virus function by AWARD BIOS
  • Year 2000 Compliant

Multi I/O Functions

  • 2 Channels of Bus Master IDE Ports support Ultra DMA 33/66/100(up to 4 HDD devices)
  • 2 Channels of Bus Master IDE Ports supporting Ultra DMA 33/66/100
  • PS/2 Keyboard and PS/2 Mouse Connectors
  • 1x Floppy Port (up to 2.88MB)
  • 1x Parallel Port (EPP/ECP)
  • 2x Serial Ports
  • 2x USB Connectors
  • On board USB header for two extra USB channels

Miscellaneous

  • ATX form factor
  • 1 AGP slot, 5 PCI slots
  • Hardware monitoring (Including Fan speed, Voltages, System environment temperature and one Thermal header for CPU or other temperature monitoring)
  • Built-in Wake on LAN/Wake on Ring header

As you can see, it is evident Abit designed the VP6 with today's power user in mind, it's got all of the features we want (RAID, Dual-CPUs, 4 DIMMS) and none of the ones we don't (On-Board Video and Sound). The VP6 is packed with all the features found on the BP6 (with the exception of dual Celeron support) and more. Because the VP6 is based on VIA's Apollo Pro 133A, AGP 4X, true 133MHz FSB support and now that the VIA 686B Southbridge is used, native support for UDMA/100 hard drive transfers is also included. Abit (as usual) takes things one step further by incorporating a High-Point Technologies HPT-370 IDE RAID controller also!  If everything works as advertised, the VP6 should be a top notch performer.  Included in the box you'll find a comprehensive manual, two 80-Pin IDE cables, a floppy cable and all necessary drivers...it's a very complete package.

Unfortunately, I hit a few snags when our VP6 first arrived in the lab.  A dead power supply here... failed Windows 2000 installation there...our initial impression of the VP6 was poor.  I was personally was very disappointed.  I was hoping that the VP6 would earn it's way into my main system and it seemed that there was no way that was happening.  Before giving up though, we consulted with our contacts at Abit and made arrangements for a new board to get sent to us, and luckily the new board resolved all our previous issues!  If Abit treats their customers as well as they do reviewers, you won't be disappointed.  Their service and support was top notch.

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