"Davo" Altavilla - 5/17/00
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.
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
/ Features Of The Soyo SY-6ICA
are nice but don't forget,
location, location, location
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
- Two Direct RDRAM RIMM sockets support up to 512MB
- Supports PC800/PC700/PC600 Type RDRAM
- Provides ECC (Error Checking Correction) capability
- 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
- 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
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
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.
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
and Setup With The SY-6ICA
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.
for full view
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.
there is really not much else to report in this
section since things were uneventful, just the
way we like it.
hit the switch, shall we?