|ASUS P7P55D-E Pro Motherboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by Bruce Normann|
|Thursday, 24 June 2010|
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ASUS P7P55D-E Pro Detailed Features
A common feature of ASUS' many P55-based boards is this multi-color "snowflake" of a heatsink mounted on the P55 Express Chipset. It's solid aluminum and the intricate pattern actually does serve to increase the surface area for improved cooling. It looks like it takes up valuable real estate, but it sits high enough that there are all sorts of SMD components resting in its shadow.
The basic functions of the motherboard are taken care of by these five support chips. The ICS 9LPRS140CKLF is the clock generator for most of the auxiliary clocks on the board. The VIA Vinyl VT1828S is a 10-channel audio codec, compatible with Intel High Definition Audio specification. Plus it supports stereo 24-bit resolution and up to 192 kHz sample rate for both the DAC and ADC sections; the SNR is 110 dB for the DAC and 100dB for the ADC. The Realtek RTL8112L onboard NIC supports 10/100/1000 Mb/s Ethernet and AI NET for enhanced functionality.
The VIA VT6308 provides IEEE 1394 Firewire capability, and the Winbond chip provides for the basic I/O functions like Keyboard, Mouse, and front panel controls.
The three ICs below are responsible for all the fancy footwork associated with energy management and overclocking. The TurboV chip handles all the high-level application programs like Auto Tuning, TurboV , CPU Level UP and Turbo Key. Any performance improvements that are not done manually in BIOS are handled by this IC. The EPU-2 IC (PEM ASP0800) handles the high level energy management tasks, like the ASUS 16 Hybrid Phase, T.Probe Technology for Active Cooling, and Fan Xpert. The control outputs from the EPU-2 direct the PEM ASP0801 to perform the low-level PWM control of the power MOSFETS and their driver ICs. Between the two devices, they have the ability to control 16 phase of PWM voltage regulation.
These next three ICs work together to provide the USB 3.0 connections as well as the SATA 6Gb/s ports on the motherboard. The PLX Technology chip on the left (PEX8608) takes the PCI-e 1.1 lanes that the P55 dishes out and converts them to PCI-e 2.0 lanes. That's what the two chips from NEC and Marvell are designed to interface with, and they need the extra capacity of the PCI-e 2.0 connection to provide the specified data rates. Even with this higher-bandwidth interface to the P55, the SATA connection is still limited to 5Gb/s because that's all the PCI-E 2.0 spec is good for. This is a very common situation right now, and we'll have to wait for the next generation (6 Series) hub controller from Intel to get native SATA 6Gb/s support on an Intel platform. AMD recently released their SB850 Southbridge with native support for six full-speed SATA 6Gb/s ports, so they're a bit ahead of the game. In case you missed it elsewhere in the article, the NEC chip provides two ports of USB connectivity, and the Marvell SE9123 provides two ports of SATA 6Gb/s.
One of the useful touches that ASUS has introduced lately is the MemOK! button. Every now and then, as you are fine tuning the base clock, the memory clock will get a little overboard. BAM, now you have to recover from a failed overclock. By pressing this button, you can be assured that the memory modules will pass POST, and there's a good chance all your other settings will be saved. The same thing goes for when you're trying to find a reasonable voltage for your RAM. You HAVE to get down to the point of instability in order to find the lowest possible voltage that works, and is stable. The only way to find that point is to go past it and then double back. Once again, this little button will allow you to get through POST on your first restart. It doesn't make the board perform any better, per se, but it sure helps to accelerate the process of tuning for maximum performance.
Speaking of the trials and tribulations of overclocking, let's look at that next.