DFI 855GME-MGF and Pentium-M Dothan Desktop Performance

DFI 855GME-MGF Closer Look


What's really interesting about the 855GME-MGF motherboard is that DFI took a page from Intel's Pentium M embedded reference design schematics for their implementation.  Since many of the features and components of a laptop design requirement are different than what is optimal for desktop designs, this was a perfect opportunity for DFI to architect their board from a customizable feature set that Intel had put together for use with the Pentium M in embedded computing applications beyond laptop designs.

Intel Pentium M Embedded Architecture Reference Design
Pentium M outside the laptop

Intel Pentium M Embedded - Schematic Block Diagram, courtesy Intel Corp.

As you'll note here, the Northbridge is the standard 855GME used in mobile designs, but the magic comes in with Intel's 6300ESB Southbridge I/O Controller Hub.  This little chip is a thing of beauty, offering Serial ATA, IDE, USB2.0, PCI and PCI-X 2.2 buses.  Additionally, the PCI-X 2.2 slot supports the most recent version of the PCI-X standard, offering a 133MHz ( 66MHz DDR) 64 bit interface. 

Micro ATX Goodness

Loosely based on the above reference design the board does offer quite a bit of leading edge technology I/O wise, in a very petite form factor.  Of note are  the board's 2 SATA channels which can support RAID 0 and 1 configurations, two PCI slots and one 133MHz 64-bit PCI-X 2.2 slot, Realtek Gigabit Ethernet controller, four USB 2.0 ports, one Firewire port, on board Realtek ALC655 6 channel audio, and integrated Intel 2D/3D graphics. 



Above you'll notice the longer PCI-X slot in between two standard PCI slots.  The latest Ultra 320 SCSI controllers will find a happy home here in this slot with up to 320MB/sec of bandwidth per channel.  Drop in a 15K RPM Ultra 320 hard drive from the likes of Hitachi, Seagate, etc. and you'll be stylin'.   



The heatsink that DFI supplies with the board is a fairly standard looking design that is extremely small for a modern CPU cooler.  In fact, this cooler is about the size of many Northbridge chipset coolers you'll find on some high-end motherboards.  It comes with a four post through-hole mounting bracket for the backside of the motherboard and spring loaded retention screws that provide ample downward force to hold the sink firmly atop the processor core. The mounting holes in the motherboard are a completely unique spacing, so although this is a socket 478 design (sort of, more on this later), you won't be able to plug just any Pentium 4 sink into this setup.  In fact, we scanned the web thoroughly and couldn't find any aftermarket Pentium M embedded heat sinks available anywhere.  If you are looking for more aggressive cooling, it's more than likely going to require a custom design effort on the part of the enthusiast, at least for now. 

Tags:  Desktop, performance, rf, GM, ium, Pentium, RMA, pen, GF, 5G, and, K

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