One reason that people started asking this question was Intel's "other" processor, the Pentium M. This chip could be described as Prescott's polar opposite, with extremely low power consumption, low cooling requirements and very impressive clock-for-clock performance. Some have even done the unthinkable, seriously considering a mobile chip for their desktop PC, of all things. Enough people have had this thought that more than one manufacturer has created a desktop motherboard for the Pentium M. The obvious question is: What's next?
A Pentium M cube, of course.
AOpen's XC Cube EY855-II is an attractive small form factor system with many of the common SFF features (USB 2.0 and Firewire, Gigabit Ethernet and an AGP slot) and at least one very uncommon feature: a 479-pin socket suitable for a Pentium M. But execution is everything, after all. Has AOpen put the right pieces around that nifty socket to create a worthwhile system? We'll soon find out.
Let's take a closer look at those pieces. Below is a chart detailing the specs of the EY855-II.
|CPU support||Socket 479 Intel Pentium M processors with 400MHz front-side bus|
|North bridge||Intel 82855GME MCH|
|South bridge||Intel ICH4M|
1 AGP 4X
1 32-bit/33MHz PCI
2 184-pin DIMM sockets
Maximum of 2GB of DDR266/333 SDRAM
|Storage I/O||Floppy disk
2 channels ATA/100
|Audio||6-channel audio via ICH4M integrated audio and Realtek ALC655 codec|
1 PS/2 keyboard
1 PS/2 mouse
1 serial (DB-9)
4 USB 2.0 (2 front, 2 rear)
3 Firewire via Agere FW323-06 (2 front (1 mini), 1 rear)
1 RJ45 10/100/1000 Ethernet via Realtek 8110SB
2 line out (1 front, 1 rear)
1 line in (rear)
2 microphone in (1 front, 1 rear)
1 optical digital in (rear)
1 coaxial digital out (rear)
1 optical digital out (front)
The EY855-II is based on Intel's 855GME chipset which is used in many notebooks. Notably, this chipset is limited to support for DDR266 or DDR333 memory. The 855GME includes on-board graphics processor that shares memory with the rest of the system. Fortunately, one may add an AGP video card and disable the on-board graphics. Other features include Gigabit Ethernet (hanging off the PCI bus, unfortunately), on-board audio with both optical and coaxial digital outs, and Firewire support.
Perhaps the most interesting item is the one that's missing from the list: Serial ATA. It's not like ATA/100 drives are hard to come by, but I can't remember the last time I reviewed a product that didn't have SATA support.
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