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Soyo's SY6ICA i820/RAMBUS Motherboard
Date: Dec 15, 2001
Author: HH Editor
Soyo's SY6ICA i820/RAMBUS Motherboard - Page 1

The Soyo SY-6ICA Motherboard
Soyo's RAMBUS Driven i820 Offering

By, Dave "Davo" Altavilla - 5/17/00

Here we are again with yet another look at a motherboard from a top notch supplier based on Intel's controversial chipset, the i820.  Whether you are interested in SDRAM supported designs with Intel's infamous MTH (memory transfer hub) or a somewhat expensive RAMBUS implementation, there is  definitely no shortage of opinions to go around about this new chipset and the motherboards designed with it.   We tend to avoid the rumor mill and chatter surrounding the industry and the products it spawns but rather approach reviews of the products made available to us with an unadulterated "benefit of the doubt" approach.  Yes, RAMBUS is expensive now but as we have all heard, it is coming down in price quickly.  Intel has a vested interest here and you can bet they are doing their best to work out the issues.

As a result, in the following pages we will evaluate the Soyo SY-6ICA i820/RAMBUS Motherboard based on its own merits, design quality and performance.  We'll save you the chatter and hype about the chipset that it is built on and just give you the facts about how the board is built and performs.  Fair enough?  Good, let's move out.

Specifications / Features Of The Soyo SY-6ICA
Features are nice but don't forget, location, location, location

click for the "big picture"



- 100/133 MHz FSB Slot 1 Based Intel 82820 Chipset ATX Motherboard 


Supports the following processors 

- 133MHz FSB Pentium III 

- 100MHz FSB Pentium III 

- 100MHz FSB Pentium II 


- Intel 82820 (Camino) Chipset 

- Supports 100/133 MHz FSB 

 System Memory 

- Two Direct RDRAM RIMM sockets support up to 512MB 

- Supports PC800/PC700/PC600 Type RDRAM  

- Provides ECC (Error Checking Correction) capability 

 Expansion Slots 

- One Universal AGP port supports 1X/2X/4X mode 

- Five 32-bit Bus Mastering PCI slots (V2.2 compliant)  

- One Audio/Modem Riser Connector (Revision 1.0)  

 On Board Audio Subsystem 

- AC97 Codec on board to provide software audio solution  

 On Board Ultra I/O Chip 

- Winbond W83627HF LPC I/O chip 

- Two RS-232 serial ports (16550 UART compatible) 

- One parallel printer port (SPP/EPP/ECP mode) 

- One FDD port (Supports LS120, 3 mode, 1.2/1.44/2.88 MB FDD 

- Provides IrDA port with optional cable for transceiver 

 Two Ultra DMA 33/ 66 IDE ports 

- Two independent channels for four IDE devices 

- Supports up to PIO mode 4 and Ultra DMA 33/66  

- Two PCI bus mastering ATA E-IDE ports 

 Boot-Block Flash BIOS 

- PCI BIOS with green, ACPI, APM, PnP, DMI, functions and Year 2000 compliant  

- Supports multiple-boot from E-IDE/ SCSI/ CD-ROM/ FDD/ LS120/ ZIP  

- 4 Mbit Flash ROM 

- Built-in Security Feature  

 Board Dimensions 

- Four layers, 30.5 cm x 20.0 cm

- ATX form factor 

 Enhanced PC Health Monitoring  

- Built-in I/O chip hardware monitoring functions  

- On-board voltage monitors for CPU Vcore, VTT, +5v, +12V, 3.3V, 5VSB and VBAT 

- CPU fan four speed control & monitor 

- FAN speed monitor 

- Precision CPU temperature monitoring through CPU on-die thermal diode 

- Battery Low detection  

Alright then, let's start with the basics.  Firstly, this board has a wealth of features including excellent on board "health monitoring" functions.  The on board Winbond chip does a nice job of keeping tabs on CPU Core temperature, voltages and fan speeds. 

The SY-6ICA also has an integrated audio codec for a quick software driven stereo sound fix.  For those of you that want high fidelity, 3D positional audio, this may not suffice.  However, if you just need some sort of decent sound and don't mind the small performance hit with the added processor overhead, this is basically a free bee.  Finally, the SY-6ICA has the ability to adjust processor speed in the BIOS.  It also has jumper adjustable core voltage tweaks, a welcome feature for those tough processor that like a little extra juice to really get moving.

Mechanically, things drop off a little for the SY-6ICA.  There are two rather significant annoyances with respect to the layout of this board.  First, the pin headers for the case led, power and control buttons, are somewhat out of reach.  As a matter of fact, we could barely get the ATX Power On Switch cable in our LiteON case, to reach it.  The reset switch wires were a total no go.  In addition, the ATX Power Supply connector is right smack dab in the way of where a large heat sink and fan cooler would protrude from the CPU Slot.  With this board you will need a fairly low profile cooler to fit in the area in front of the ATX Power Connector.  A retail Intel heat sink fits easily as does the Vantec P3-D5030.  With one of the larger Global Win coolers, for example, you could be out of luck.  Why Soyo?  Surely the layout engineer could have found a better location.

Installation and Setup With The SY-6ICA
Smooth sailing

Once we got the mechanicals in order, things moved along nicely.  Installation of the various INF files and ATA66 EIDE Controller Drivers, were crisp and clean.  Soyo packs in there standard suite of Symantec Software with the board including, Norton Ghost, Virtual Drive and Anti-Virus.  Nice touch Soyo.  In addition, they include Winbond's "Hardware Doctor" program for monitoring various vital signs within your PC.  Here is a snap of it in action.

click for full view

This board was also fairly forgiving with respect to IRQ assignments and DMA resources.  We even loaded all 5 PCI slots up without a single conflict.  Soyo does give you the ability in the BIOS, to adjust IRQ designations to the PCI slots as well.

Well, there is really not much else to report in this section since things were uneventful, just the way we like it.

Let's hit the switch, shall we? 

Overclocking, Benchmarks and The Rating

Soyo's SY6ICA i820/RAMBUS Motherboard - Page 2

The Soyo SY-6ICA Motherboard
Soyo's RAMBUS Driven i820 Offering

By Dave "Davo" Altavilla - 5/17/00

Hot Hardware's Test System
The latest from the Big I

LiteOn Mid Tower ATX Case w/ 300W PS (fantastic and supplied by Outside Loop Computers), Pentium III 750E and  also P3-800E overclocked to 943MHz.,  Soyo SY-6ICA i820 Motherboard, 128MB of  800MHz (400MHz. DDR) Techworks  RDRAM, WD Expert AC418000 7200 RPM ATA66 Hard Drive, 3dfx Voodoo5-5500 AGP , Kenwood 72X CDROM, Win 98SE, DirectX 7.0a

Overclocking The GA-6CXC
Not too shabby at all

We didn't list the number of front side bus speed settings in the specs, so we'll list them here.  The following speeds are user selectable in the BIOS:  Default, 100, 105, 110, 115, 117, 120, 125, 127, 133, 137, 140, 145 and 150MHz.  There no settings below 100MHz. but there is good granularity between the settings from 100 on up.  Also, as we noted, this board has the ability to set the CPU core voltage from 2.5 - 7.5% over default with a jumper.  As a result, we were able to overclock our trusty P3-800E to a new high of 943MHz.  The board was also extremely stable at this speed.  The only suggestion we would make here is for the addition of bus speeds above 150MHz.  All in all, the SY-6ICA is a stable and competent overclocker.

WCPUID @ 943MHz.
click for full view


Benchmarks For The Soyo SY-6ICA
Zippy indeed

Let's take a look at what that chick Sandra has to say...

SiSoft's Sandra 2000

CPU Test @ 750MHz.

Memory Test  @ 750MHz.

M.M. Test @ 750MHz.

CPU Test @ 943MHz.

Memory Test @ 943MHz.

M.M. Test @ 943MHz.

All around excellent performance from the SY-6ICA.  The memory scores a great as you would expect from RAMBUS.  Intel really needs to get the situation straight here with respect to pricing.  Think how many users would flock to this kind of performance, if it was affordable.  The 943MHz. scores here are total sweetness.  

Ziff Davis Winbench 99

Great scores garnered by the SY-6ICA here at both 750 and 943MHz.  The disk utilization numbers are low and the overall drive performance with Intel's new integrated DMA66 EIDE controller, is excellent.  These scores should make any power user happy.

Ziff Davis Winstone 2000

A guy like me can create a lot of web content with this type of performance.  No complaints!


The SY-6ICA is another high quality board that Soyo is known for.  We have actually never received a board from Soyo here at HotHardware that wasn't totally stable and made of top notch components.  We have come to expect great products from Soyo and this board is no exception.  However, clearly the SY-6ICA would have scored a strong 9 if it had been laid out a little better and not kept us from using the type of CPU Coolers that the power user has become a custom to. 

That being said, the board held up well under heavy testing with a fully loaded system and showed rock stability when overclocked to an extreme level.  Now all that has to happen is for Intel to keep driving the price of RAMBUS down so the average user (without money to burn) can swing this new platform for performance.

We give the Soyo SY-6ICA a Hot Hardware Heat Meter Rating of...

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