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| Tyan Trinity i7205 - Board Level Analysis |
| Under the Hood |
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 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.
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