Shuttle's AV30 VIA Apollo Pro 266 Motherboard - HotHardware

Shuttle's AV30 VIA Apollo Pro 266 Motherboard

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Shuttle's AV30 VIA Apollo Pro 266 DDR Motherboard
With a Dash of Crucial PC1600 DDR RAM...

By Marco "BigWop" Chiappetta
2/8/2001

 

The motherboard market is about to go through yet another large transition...maybe. In the year 2000 we saw the once omni-present, dominant Intel take a few too many punches on the chin, and they ended up losing a ton of ground in the motherboard chipset market. AMD's Athlon was selling in droves, and one company especially, VIA Technologies, took advantage and met the demand with a whole line of chipsets to compliment AMD's CPU. VIA also took full advantage of the void left in the Intel Pentium III motherboard market when the i820 turned off power-users with it's high price and dependency on expensive RDRAM. VIA released the Apollo Pro line of chipsets that were comparable to Intel solutions and offered more features at a lower price point. At first performance wasn't quite up to par with Intel's products, but as the Apollo line matured performance increased proportionately.

With the growing acceptance of VIA based solutions, more and more manufacturers began offering products based on VIA Chipsets. Almost a year ago, the first review I did for H.H. was of the Shuttle AV61 motherboard. Well, Shuttle is still here and today we're going to take a look at their newest board, the AV30, based on the VIA Apollo Pro 266 chipset. With VIA's new found confidence (and funds) :) they've decided to head in a new direction. No longer are they comfortable following Intel's or AMD's  lead.  They are now introducing new products that innovate rather than imitate. The Apollo Pro 266 is their first in what will hopefully be a string of new products that offer cutting edge performance and features at a reasonable price.

The major new feature that the Apollo Pro 266 brings to the table is it's ability to use newer, "faster" DDR RAM. DDR RAM or Double-Data-Rate RAM is capable of processing data on both the rising and falling peaks of the sine wave, which effectively doubles it's bandwidth clock-for-clock. Take a look at this simple graph...

This is a very simple drawing of a sine wave. Standard SDRAM is only capable of processing data on the rising peak (represented by the blue line), DDR RAM can execute commands at both the rising and falling peaks (represented by the red lines). This capability is why DDR RAM running at 100MHz can effectively process 200MHz worth of data. Please understand this explanation is not 100% scientifically accurate, but bear with us, we're just trying to explain the technology in a simplified manor that almost anyone will understand. :)

That's enough background info, let's get down to the nitty-gritty!


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Specifications / Features of the Shuttle AV30
VIA is at it again...
Chipset
  • VIA VT8633, North Bridge
  • Integrated High Performance DDR DRAM Controller
  • VIA VT8233, South Bridge

Form Factor

  • ATX
  • Size: 305mm x 245mm

Processor

  • Socket 370
  • Intel PPGA Celeron 300 ~ 500+/66 MHz FSB
  • Pentium III FC-PGA 500 ~ 933+/100/133 MHz FSB

Expansion Slot

  • 1 x AGP (4x AGP)
  • 6 x PCI
  • 1 x ANR

Memory

  • 184-pin DIMM x 3
  • Supports DDR or SDR SDRAM module

Sound

  • Onboard AC97 Sound Card
On board IDE Controller
  • Support PIO Mode 4 and DMA Mode 2
  • Support Ultra 33/66/100 Synchronous DMA mode
  • Transfer rate up to 100 MBytes/sec

LAN

  • Onboard 10/100Mb Fast Ethernet card

Winbond 83697HF Super I/O Controller

  • 1 x Floppy port
  • 2 x Serial port (16550 fast UART compatible)
  • 1 x Parallel port (SPP, EPP, ECP port)
  • 4 x USB port
  • 1 x Game port
  • Li/Lo/Mic
  • IrDA Header

Flash EEPROM

  • Award PCI BIOS with PnP, Green and DMI Features

Other features

  • Wake-On-Ring & Alarm
  • KB/Mouse wake up
  • Support 4X AGP
  • Support PC133 SDRAM

We grabbed this image directly from VIA's DDR-Zone site for our more techno-savvy readers....

The Shuttle AV30's bundle is standard fare.  We did have a pre-release board, so the bundle in the full retail product may be a little different...

Included in the box was a CD containing all of the necessary drivers to get our AV30 up and running properly, a large user's manual and a package holding a floppy and an 80-Pin IDE cable.  We've seen quite a few new motherboards that ship with an extra connector to add 2 or more USB ports, as well as some sort of software bundle.  We would have liked to see these items included with our AV30, let's hope that Shuttle includes these items in the full retail product.

The RAM, Setup, Installation and Quality

 

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