Sapphire shows A75 mobo, passive Radeons

Computex — While visiting Sapphire in Taipei this week, we got a quick look at new motherboards based on AMD's 990FX and upcoming A75 chipsets. Unlike other 990FX boards, Sapphire's Pure Black 990FX-N won't support Nvidia's SLI technology. Anyone think the fact that Sapphire exclusively makes Radeon graphics cards might have something to do with the lack of multi-GeForce support?

SLI also won't be supported on Sapphire's A75-based Llano board, but then it only has one PCI Express x16 slot. Despite the open-ended nature of the PCIe x4 slot, the CMOS battery will likely prevent folks from installing a second graphics card. In an interesting twist, there's a Mini PCI Express slot on the board and built-in Bluetooth connectivity. The latter is probably going to be be more useful than the former, especially considering the wealth of full-sized expansion slots.

Graphics cards remain Sapphire's bread and butter, and the company will be bundling DiRT 3 with new flavors of the Radeon HD 6950 and 6870. The 6870 is a FleX edition that includes additional circuitry to allow Eyefinity configs to run on a trio of DVI monitors (the third needs to be connected via an included HDMI adapter). On standard 6870s, Eyefinity requires one monitor to be driven by the card's DisplayPort out, which requires a costly adapter if you want to use a DVI display.

For the home-theater PC crowd, Sapphire has whipped up passively cooled versions of the Radeon HD 6670 and 6570. The 6670 is a dual-slot design, while the 6570 comes on a low-profile card. Not that you can stuff the 6570 into a low-profile case—the passive cooler effectively makes the card a full-height design.

Sapphire's Edge-HD nettop is one of the slimmest I've seen, but its dual-core Atom D510 and second-gen Ion GPU are getting a little long in the tooth. Fortunately, a Brazos version is coming soon. The AMD model will reportedly fit into the same chassis, which measures less than an inch thick.

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