Making a great motherboard may be largely about making great hardware, but Gigabyte is paying an increasing amount of attention to the software side of things—namely, BIOS features. The company's latest and upcoming X58 and P55 motherboards feature BIOS chips with 16MB capacities (up from the previous 8MB), which leaves room for a nice batch of extra functionality.
Here's the list of Smart 6 features, in Gigabyte's Engrish-tinged words:
- Smart DualBIOS
Smart DualBIOS not only allows double protection for the motherboard with two physical BIOS ROMs, it also includes a new feature that can record important passwords and dates.
- Smart QuickBoot
Smart QuickBoot speeds up the system boot-up process and shortens the waiting time for entering the operating system, delivering greater efficiency for daily use.
- Smart QuickBoost
Smart QuickBoost features quick and effortless CPU overclocking for novice and experienced users alike; users simply click on one of three levels of CPU performance levels [sic], and Smart QuickBoost automatically adjusts CPU performance.
- Smart Recovery
Smart Recovery allows users to easily roll-back system settings to a previous known working status. Users can [simply] select the day, week or month without prior setup of a backup time flag.
- Smart Recorder
Smart Recorder monitors and records the activities in a system such as the time when the PC was turned on/off or even when large data files were copied.
- Smart TimeLock
Smart TimeLock allows parents to schedule time limits for their children to use the PC. It makes the rules simple by, e.g. being able to select different usage times for weekdays and weekends.
Most of these need no explanation, except perhaps for Smart QuickBoot. Gigabyte told us that feature lets you bypass the lengthy power-on self test (POST) hardware detection procedure after three successful boots, assuming an unchanged hardware configuration. That ought to shave a few seconds off of boot times.
Gigabyte also showed us its new Smart TPM feature, which lets users keep protected data away from prying eyes on a special drive partition. They can unlock that partition with a 2048-bit key stored on a Bluetooth cell phone. In the demo we saw, the protected drive partition vanished from Vista's Computer window a few seconds after the phone's Bluetooth connection broke off. And if Bluetooth fails, you can load up your key via a good, old-fashioned USB thumb drive.
For AMD processors, Gigabyte has also added some special sauce to motherboards based on AMD's 770 chipset with SB750 and SB710 south bridge components. (That list includes the MA770T-UD3P, MA770-UD3 2.0, and MA770-US3 2.0.) From what we gathered, older versions of AMD's BIOS firmware allowed folks to unlock the disabled fourth core in Phenom II X3 processors. AMD has since "fixed" that little loophole in newer updates, but Gigabyte kept the old firmware around for core unlocking purposes. The feature is innoccuously titled "Hybrid Mode" in the BIOS, and it works like so:
Gigabyte says Hybrid Mode works with Phenom II X2, Phenom II X3, and still-unannounced Athlon II X3 processors. Of course, just because you can unlock an extra core or two doesn't mean they'll necessarily be stable or functional.