2P Opteron Motherboards: Tyan and MSI
Tyan Thunder K8S
This content was originally featured on Amdmb.com and has been converted to PC Perspective's website. Some color changes and flaws may appear.Tyan has a long relationship with AMD when it comes to professional grade motherboard platforms. Back when the Athlon MP was launched, Tyan was the sole manufacturer to release a motherboard for the processor for several months. AMD chose Tyan to be their partner for that launch because of the quality of their products and their dedication to stable and reliable system boards. And though Tyan isn’t the only manufacturer producing Opteron motherboards for this launch, AMD still has faith in Tyan’s work, as you can see from the official AMD recommendation page for Opteron motherboards.
The Tyan Thunder K8S motherboard is based on an extended ATX design, and is a full 12”x13” in physical size. It is loaded with features for use in an intense server or workstation environment, and even has some of the little things that we are seeing on enthusiast motherboards as well.
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The Tyan Thunder K8S supports either one or two Opteron processors. If price is a big concern, which it usually isn’t for products in this segment, then you are free to only purchase a single Opteron CPU and upgrade to dual processing later. The Tyan board supports a full 12 GB of Registered DDR memory in 200/266/333 MHz memory speeds. Processor one has access to four DIMM slots or up to 8 banks of memory while the second processor is limited to two DIMM slots and 4 banks of memory.
The Thunder K8S uses the AMD-8111 I/O Hub (the chipset without a heatsink in the photo) for the standard IDE ports as well as the legacy PCI channel. All of the older components of the board are siphoned through this hub including the serial ports, PS/2, etc.
The AMD-8131 PCI-X Tunnel (covered by heatsink) is used by Tyan for the implementation of the four PCI-X slots on the board. The top two slots are ready for 64-bit 100/66/33 MHz expansion cards while the bottom two function also on 64-bits, but only on 66/33 MHz speeds.
Tyan has gone the distance when it comes to include storage options for buyers of their Thunder K8S motherboard. The UGNR version of the board includes Serial ATA powered by a Promise 20378 chipset that supports two channels of SATA and one channel of ATA133 as well as RAID 0, 1 and 0+1. The SATA controller is connected to the system via the legacy 32-bit 33 MHz PCI bus the AMD-8111 I/O Hub provides.
Taking it even further, the Thunder K8S UGNR version is stocked with an LSI 1030 U320 SCSI controller. There are two channels of U320 SCSI available (see photo above) and they communicate with the system via the primary PCI-X bridge. The LSI chipset does support Zero Channel RAID, a feature that our own servers at Amdmb.com use for inexpensive implementation of SCSI RAID functionality with only the need to install a riser card in the appropriate PCI-X slot.
There are two Broadcom Gigabit Ethernet ports on the Thunder K8S as well, connected to the primary PCI-X bridge. Tyan also has front panel LED headers on the motherboard to allow network traffic monitoring on the front of the case. An integrated ATI Rage XL 8MB PCI graphics solution is included as well to keep the buyer from needing to purchase a video card if their purposes are for server solutions only.
As you might guess, the Tyan Thunder K8S uses a lot of power, and the need for a higher power PSU means your standard ATX power supply isn’t going to fly here. You’ll need an EPS12V compatible PSU like the one Antec provided us with for the purposes of this review.
Finally, we’ll see the connectors on the Tyan Thunder K8S are aimed at the server market with only one serial port and two USB connectors. The ATI video header as well as the two on-board Gigabit Ethernet ports is there as well.