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Tyan S2662 Trinity i7205 Motherboard Review
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Date: Mar 10, 2003
Section:Motherboards
Author: HH Editor
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Tyan S2662 Trinity i7205 Motherboard Review - Page 1

 

Tyan S2662 Trinity i7205
Dual Channel DDR for the Pentium 4

By, Chris Angelini
February 24th, 2003


KISS - four letters that together, can mean so many different things.  It's a '70's rock band, it's a gesture of affection, and for Tyan, it's an acronym.  "Keep It Simple, Stupid" - quite possibly the best way to avoid costly mistakes that occur when a manufacture gets over-ambitious in its motherboard design.  Indeed, Tyan's corporate overview cites reliability as a primary focus of the company and its products reflect that.  And as a result, Tyan has established a reputation for dependable server and workstation boards, only recently venturing into graphics with ATI's RADEON family.  Competing manufacturers often release two or three boards based on the same chipset in order to capture various price points.  Not so with Tyan. Instead, they have historically manufactured a single board based on platforms known  to deliver stable operation.

As such, the S2662 Trinity i7205 board is Tyan's only "Granite Bay" product.  Tyan does offer i845GL and i845E boards, both clearly designed with integration in mind, as well as a rack mount-ready ServerWorks board, but none of these products appeals to the desktop enthusiast.  The Trinity i7205, however, is more well-rounded.  It features AGP 8X Pro, integrated audio, USB 2.0 and of course, dual channel DDR memory support.  But while it may be a stand-out in Tyan's own line of high-end products, we'd like to know how the board fares against competing products, and if that $200+ price tag can be justified.

Tyan S2662 Trinity i7205 Board Specifications
Simple, Yet Robust


 

Processors

Socket 478  processor
Supports one Pentium 4 processor up to 3.06GHz+

533/400MHz Front-Side Bus Support
 

Chipset
Intel E7205 chipset

MCH+ICH4+FWH

Winbond W83627 Super I/O chip

Analog Devices ADM1027 for system monitoring


Memory
Four
184-pin 2.5V DDR DIMM sockets

Supports up to 4GB of unbuffered DDR266/200

Dual channel memory bus

Supports ECC/non-ECC modules

 

Integrated LAN Controller
Intel 82540EM Gigabit Ethernet Controller

One RJ-45 LAN connector with LEDs


Intetelligent Audio

Intel ICH4 AC-97-compliant audio link

ADI 1981A codec

Line-in, line-out, mic-in rear jacks

One RCA S/PDIF connector

One front panel audio header

One 4-pin analog CD-ROM audio header

One 4-pin auxiliary audio header

 

Integrated PCI IDE

Provides two bus master channels for up to four EIDE devices

Support for UDMA 100/66/33 IDE drives

 

 

Integrated I/O Interface

One floppy connector supports one drive

Two 9-pin serial connectors

One 25-pin ECP/EPP/SPP parallel header

6 USB 2.0 ports (two rear, four via header)

PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports

 

System Management

Total of four 3-pin fan headers

Three fan headers with tachometer monitoring

One 3-pin chassis intrusion detection

Temperature, voltage, and fan monitoring

 

Expansion Slots

One 8X/4X AGP  Pro50 slot (1.5V)

Five 32-bit 33MHz (5V) PCI slots

Total of six usable slots


BIOS
Phoenix BIOS 6.0 on 4/8Mbit Flash ROM

LAN remote boot (PXE)

Quick boot and multiple boot support

ACPI v2.0 support

Auto configuration of IDE hard disk types

 

Form Factor

ATX footprint (12" x 9.6", 304 x 243mm)

6-layer design

ATX12V power connector


Intel E7205 Block Diagram

"Granite Bay" isn't so much about new technology, as it is the evolution of the technologies we are already familiar with.  The link between the processor and MCH is designed to run at 133MHz, quad-pumped, effectively 533MHz.  Each of the DDR memory channels supports up to DDR266 memory, which may seem like a step back from the PC3200 modules that power many single-channel systems, but combined, the E7205 chipset is able to offer 4.2GB per second of memory bandwidth.  Of course, this matches the 533MHz front side bus perfectly.  Moreover, "Granite Bay" is Intel's first consumer chipset with proper AGP 8x support, enabling a 2.1GB per second link between the graphics interface and MCH.  An 8-bit link connects the MCH and ICH4, providing 266MB per second between the two.  SiS and VIA have already implemented high speed links between these two components so it will be interesting to see how long it takes Intel to follow suit, especially with the addition of Gigabit Ethernet, USB 2.0 and other devices that can quickly gobble up available bandwidth under full utilization. 


The Board: Tyan Trinity i7205

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Tyan S2662 Trinity i7205 Motherboard Review - Page 2

 

Tyan S2662 Trinity i7205
Dual Channel DDR for the Pentium 4

By, Chris Angelini
February 24th, 2003

Tyan Trinity i7205 - Board Level Analysis
Under the Hood

The Bundle

Part of keeping costs down involves limiting a board's bundle to the components that are absolutely necessary and even more importantly, useful.  Tyan opted for a minimalist approach with the Trinity i7205, including little more than a single floppy drive cable, a single IDE cable, a customized I/O shield to fit the board's back panel, a heat sink retention device, which usually comes installed on most other boards, a manual and driver CD.  Manufacturers like ASUS and MSI are including extra USB headers, S/PDIF audio brackets and diagnostic LEDs.  Meanwhile, Tyan is neglecting all of these "extras" we've come to take for granted from others. 

The Layout

The Trinity i7205 is laid out neatly.  Perhaps that is one of the benefits associated with designing a board that isn't bogged down with extra features.  The processor interface is flanked by six, 3300 microfarad electrolytic capacitors that, while close to the processor interface, do not interfere with heat sink installation.  Power delivery comes compliments of a three-phase solution controlled by Intersil's HIP6301CB multi-phase buck chip and three 6601B companion gate drivers.  The desired effect of this design is the use of smaller (lower cost) MOSFET transistors and the need for fewer capacitors.  We've always been particular about the ATX power connector, and Tyan has addressed this by placing the 20-pin connector at the top of the board, away from the processor interface.  On the other hand, the 12V auxiliary power connector is located below the processor socket. 

Unlike NVIDIA's nForce2 chipset, which utilizes three memory slots to populate two DDR channels, the "Granite Bay" chipset is able to accommodate four slots (one of its biggest benefits).  The channels are physically organized into pairs and power is regulated by Intersil's ISL6225CA controller.  Keep in mind that the chipset was designed to operate in dual-channel mode.  But, if you've only got a single module, it will function with one, 64-bit channel, albeit with a maximum throughput of 2.1GB per second. In considering layout, Tyan's engineers wisely placed the DIMM slots far enough from the AGP Pro slot so that installing memory doesn't necessitate removing the graphics card.

The bottom of the board enjoys the same spacious layout.  On one side, Intel's RC82540EM Gigabit MAC/PHY interfaces with an RJ-45 connector on the back of the motherboard.  Also, Analog Device's AD1981A provides analog audio output and an S/PDIF connector for digital output.  The other side of the board was clearly designed with a SCSI controller in mind, but that spot is left vacant on the Trinity i7205.  At least we can enjoy six USB 2.0 ports, right?  Actually, no - the board comes standard sporting a pair of USB ports, and if you'd like to take advantage of the rest, you'll have to find an optional front-panel header. 

The BIOS

If I had to summarize the S2662's BIOS in two words, I'd say "passing thought."  Even the most recent BIOS file is disappointingly simple.  Then again, this is a workstation board, is it not?  Yet, Tyan's Trinity i7205 product page claims that the S2662 is the "solution for the demands of the workstation and high-end desktop market."  As far as we're concerned, a high-end desktop board should be tunable to some degree, offering additional performance to the enthusiast willing to pay extra for faster memory and a beefy heat sink.  Yet, the S2662 offers no semblance of frequency modifications, no voltage settings and it lacks the ability to tune memory settings.  In contrast, we were able to run CAS 1.5 timings with the ASUS P4G8X Deluxe board in the lab.  Tyan's Trinity i7205 does provide hardware monitoring, but beyond basic settings, you can't do much more than toggle Hyper Threading on or off.

It is entirely possible that Tyan may have a BIOS update planned for the board with a few extra features, but we haven't heard anything to indicate this may be true.  Be forewarned: unless you're running a system you know will never be tweaked, the S2662 won't provide flexibility in terms of BIOS settings.

Setup and Benchmarking

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Tyan S2662 Trinity i7205 Motherboard Review - Page 3

 

Tyan S2662 Trinity i7205
Dual Channel DDR for the Pentium 4

By, Chris Angelini
February 24th, 2003

 

 

Quake 3 and Comanche 4
OpenGL and Direct 3D Gaming Performance

Again, it's difficult to discern an overall victor based on scattered results.  The P4G8X takes a narrow win over the P4PE, followed by Intel's own i845PE solution and finally the Tyan "Granite Bay" board.  The apparent conclusion?  A gaming board the Trinity i7205 is not.

 

The Comanche demo, which serves as a platform test here, yields similar results.  Both ASUS boards take notable leads, followed by the Intel and then the Tyan board.  We saw that the board is able to achieve acceptable memory bandwidth scores in Sandra 2003, so Tyan must be using conservative timings elsewhere, slowing things down a bit relative to competing products.

3D Mark 2001 SE v.330
Synthetic DirectX 8 Gaming Performance

Run at the default resolution of 1024x768, 3D Mark 2001 SE is less of a platform test than the other gaming environments, but tells the same tale we've been hearing for a couple of pages now.  Mainly, if you are looking to garner top performance, you'll want to opt for a board aimed more directly at the enthusiast.  Or, you can take a negligible step down to the i845PE chipset and save a lot of money.  Quite frankly, the performance difference between Intel's E7205 workstation chipset and the enthusiast i845PE chipset is nonexistent in real-world usage.

 

Unreal Tournament 2003 and The Ratings

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Tyan S2662 Trinity i7205 Motherboard Review - Page 4

 

Tyan S2662 Trinity i7205
Dual Channel DDR for the Pentium 4

By, Chris Angelini
February 24th, 2003

Unreal Tournament 2003
DirectX 8 Gaming Performance

 

Once again, the Tyan S2662 plays second fiddle to competing products from ASUS and Intel, despite a lofty price tag.

 

 

So here's the skinny... Tyan has done a wonderful job at ensuring a system equipped with a Trinity 2662 will function, as advertised.  We didn't encounter any stability problems and performance with our 3.06GHz Pentium 4 was impressive, as expected.  However, it was still below what we've already seen from competing manufacturers.  Unfortunately, the good news ends there.

While the board does feature an impressively clean layout, it is missing a lot of the features that have become, dare I say, common on competing boards.  It's missing Serial ATA, IEEE 1394 and most surprisingly, a tunable BIOS.  Admittedly, it does feature AGP 8X Pro, making it an ideal candidate for a graphics workstation, but before you jump into a $200 motherboard, make sure you've given some thought to the applications you'll be running.  If your primary use will indeed be in an office environment, rendering 3D scenes, this might be an ideal platform.  But it's a niche and those of us who aren't in that niche have several other options.  First, you could opt for another "Granite Bay" board.  Or, you could save some money and go with an 845PE board, of which there are many.  Finally, you could wait a little while for Intel's 800MHz platforms that should be surfacing within a couple of months. 

Regardless, we walk away from the Trinity i7205 somewhat indifferent.  If I had to make a cliché analogy, I'd liken the board to the stereotypical "girl next door."  She's cool, has a wonderful personality, but without any of the physical features that the boys will paw over, she rarely turns heads.  And the "Granite Bay" chipset is somewhat of an enigma in this regard.  We'd love to say that the advent of Intel's dual channel DDR memory architecture has yielded phenomenal results, but as was just seen, it isn't that much of a departure from the chipsets we've already got at our disposal.  Don't write it off yet, though.  Once those 800MHz front side bus processors arrive, dual channel DDR will be necessary to provide the chip with sufficient memory bandwidth.  Yes, the future is where we'll (hopefully) see a more tangible gain in performance.

 

  • Features the stability that has made Tyan a workstation favorite

  • Intel's Gigabit Ethernet solution

  • AGP 8X Pro

  • Prohibitive $200+ price tag
  • Completely void of adjustable BIOS settings the enthusiast would want
  • Performance is often times below Intel's more affordable i845PE platform.

 

 

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Tyan S2662 Trinity i7205 Motherboard Review - Page 5
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