Tyan’s Tiger MPX motherboard

Manufacturer Tyan
Model Tiger MPX
Price (street) $220
Availability Now

FOR QUITE A WHILE, Tyan’s Tiger MP motherboard was the first and only dual-processor Athlon motherboard that was really intended to find its way into a desktop PC. Heck, the Tiger MP and its big brother, Tyan’s Thunder K7, were the only motherboards anywhere based on AMD’s 760MP chipset. We took a look at the Tiger MP when we previewed AMD’s Athlon MP 1800+ and again, more extensively, with our Athlon MP 1900+ review.

The Tiger MP was a good board, but it didn’t quite light up the enthusiast’s mobo scene, despite packing two—count ’em—front-side busses. Now, AMD’s 760MPX chipset promises to boost dually Athlon performance while cutting costs, and Tyan is back with the Tiger MPX. Can this new board bring the creamy smoothness of dual processing to a larger audience? More importantly, will Damage be able to make it through this review without going completely overboard waxing rhapsodic about the joys of multiple CPUs? Read on…

Introducing…
We’ve spent a fair amount of time playing with the Tiger MPX, and we’ll walk you through those ups and downs. But first, let’s take a look at the specs, so you can see just what the Tiger MPX has to offer.

CPU support Socket 462-based CPUs, including AMD Duron and Athlon/XP/MP processors (only Athlon MPs are officially supported in dual configurations)
Form factor ATX
Chipset AMD 760 MPX (762 North Bridge, 768 South Bridge, National Semi 83627 Super I/O ASIC)
Interconnect 64-bit/66MHz PCI  (533MB/s)
PCI slots 6 (2 64-bit/66MHz; 4 32-bit/33MHz)
AGP slots 1, 2X/4X AGP
AMR/CNR slots None
Memory 4 184-pin DIMM sockets for up to 4GB of PC1600/PC2100 Registered DDR SDRAM (w/ECC support)
Will support unbuffered DIMMs in slots 1 and 2
Storage I/O Floppy disk
2 channels ATA/100
Ports 1 PS/2 keyboard, 1 PS/2 mouse,
2 serial, 1 parallel, 2 USB (non functional),
4 additional USB ports via included PCI card
1 3Com 10/100 Ethernet NIC (optional)
BIOS Phoenix
Bus speeds 100/133MHz (200/266MHz DDR)
Monitoring Voltage, fan status, and temperature monitoring

That’s pretty much it for the spec sheet, but there are a number of things there that need explaining. We’ll discuss those below, after we take a look at the board’s layout.

The Tiger MPX is a relatively large mobo, if you’re comparing to competing single-processor boards. However, it’s not too big to fit into an average mid-tower ATX case with a little effort.


The Tiger MPX mobo—a little bigger than most boards, but not huge.
Those long expansion slots are 64-bit, 66MHz PCI slots.

The Tiger MPX’s layout is similar to the Tiger MP’s, but it’s clearly a different board, not just a minor revision. Overall, the Tiger MPX’s design is very solid. There are quite a few capacitors packed in close near the two CPU sockets, but none that got in my way during frequent CPU swapping as I prepared this review. In fact, my only substantial gripes are about the placement of the IDE and floppy drive connectors. They’re all grouped near the “bottom” edge of the board, and folks with tall tower cases will face an all-too-familiar quandary trying to figure out how to get drive cables to reach.

Beyond that, the Tiger MPX has a few unique quirks worth mentioning. Right next to the standard ATX power connector are two supplemental power connectors, and you’ll need to use at least one of them. There’s a four-pin ATX12V connector like on Pentium 4 motherboards, and there’s a standard hard drive power connector. Tyan included both connector types so those of us without ATX12V power supplies wouldn’t have to pony up for a new PSU.


Supplemental power can come from an ATX 12V connector or a hard drive power connector

The Tiger MPX also includes one very useful goodie that the Tiger MP lacks: a built-in 3Com 3C920 Ethernet controller with a 10/100 Ethernet port.


The Tiger MPX’s ports: nothing “extra” but Ethernet
 

The good stuff
Most of the Tiger MPX’s merits will be obvious to those of you familiar with the Tiger MP. This is one of a handful of motherboards capable of delivering AMD multiprocessing for a desktop system. As such, the Tiger MPX is endowed with all the goodness of AMD’s multiprocessor systems.

Many of those advantages are conferred by AMD’s 760MPX chipset, which consists of the AMD 762 north bridge chip and the 768 south bridge chip. The 760MPX differs from AMD’s original 760MP chipset only in the south bridge chip; the 762 north bridge is unchanged.

The key features of AMD multiprocessor systems—most of which are provided by the 762 north bridge—make this platform very potent, so we’ll review ’em:

  • Dual front-side busses — Unlike Intel’s multiprocessor systems, AMD’s multiprocessor systems give each CPU its own, dedicated front-side bus. A shared front-side bus has been a bottleneck in traditional desktop SMP systems, especially in Pentium III systems where the FSB only offers 1.06GB/s of bandwidth. The 762’s dual busses each offer 2.1GB/s of bandwidth per processor. Not only that, but Athlon systems use the EV6 bus protocol, borrowed from the (DEC-then-Compaq-then-Intel) Alpha, which is a bit more advanced in some respects than the GTL+ bus used in the Pentium III and Pentium 4. (Not that Pentium 4-based Xeons, with their 400MHz FSBs, are exactly hurting for bus bandwidth.)
  • Cache coherency — Athlon MP systems use a protocol called MOESI to manage data in the processors’ data caches. This mechanism, combined with the 762 north bridge, allows either processor in the system to fetch data stored in the other processor’s cache without first transferring that data into main memory. Instead, if CPU 1 wants to grab some data stored in CPU 2’s cache, it will request the data, and CPU2 will pass this data through the 762 memory controller and into CPU 1’s cache. Managing cached data in this way ought to offer much improved performance.
  • DDR SDRAM — AMD first brought DDR to the mainstream with the 760 chipset, and a dual-processor system is the perfect place to take advantage of the extra memory bandwidth DDR brings.

Don’t underestimate the potency of this combination of features. Implementing these things in any platform is by no means trivial, and the fact AMD and Tyan can deliver them on the desktop (or in low-to-mid-range server and workstations) is exceptional.

Face it, SMP on the desktop hasn’t exactly set the world on fire. Enthusiasts toyed with SMP Celeron rigs back in the day with BP6 motherboards and the like, but generally, the price premium hasn’t brought enough performance along with it. Folks soon discovered that, for a variety of reasons, two processors don’t usually perform anywhere near twice as fast as one. But with dual FSBs, superior cache management, and more memory bandwidth, AMD’s dually systems eliminate some of the key roadblocks to SMP performance.

Pant, pant.

The 768 south bridge chip in the 760MPX chipset adds a few new features to this mix. Among them:

  • A 64-bit, 66MHz PCI bus — The 760MPX now has a 66MHz PCI bus, so it can accommodate high-end PCI cards for server applications where regular old PCI won’t cut it—things like SCSI RAID controllers and Gigabit Ethernet NICs. With 533MB/s of bandwidth, 64-bit/66MHz PCI quadruples the available bandwidth over the usual 32-bit/33MHz standard. The 760MP, by contrast, offered 64-bit PCI, but only at 33MHz for peak bandwidth of 266MB/s.
  • A faster north-south bridge interconnect — Like many previous-gen desktop chipsets (think KT133 or Intel BX), the 760MP used the shared 32-bit/33MHz PCI bus for communication between north and south bridge chips. The 760MPX still uses the shared PCI bus, but it does so at 64 bits and 66MHz. As a consequence, the north-south bridge link jumps from 133MB/s to 533MB/s.

    The 762 chip has always been capable of sitting on a faster PCI bus, but the 766 south bridge chip in the 760MP chipset wasn’t. The 768 chip enables the faster interconnect.

  • A secondary 32-bit, 33MHz PCI bus — Since 66MHz PCI slots aren’t compatible with the vast majority of expansion cards out there, the 768 chip also integrates a traditional 32-bit/33MHz PCI bus. On the Tiger MPX, four of the six PCI slots are 32-bit/33MHz slots.
  • AC’97 audio — Although the Tiger MPX doesn’t take advantage of it, the 768 chip now incorporates an AC’97-compatible audio controller capable of powering on-board audio.


AMD’s 768 south bridge chip puts the ‘X’ in MPX
 

The not-so-good stuff
You’re probably all ready to sign up for the SMP brigades now that you’ve read about all the good things the Tiger MPX can do. Simmer down, though, and get a load of the downsides first. The 760MPX comes with a host of “gotchas.” They’re not necessarily dealbreakers, but they are annoying.

First, AMD didn’t design the 762 memory controller to work with regular old unbuffered DIMMs. Instead, the 762 usually requires registered DIMMs. If you’re like me, that means you can’t just transplant your DDR DIMMs from your previous motherboard when upgrading. Frustrating.

Fortunately, Tyan has made substantial improvements to the Tiger MPX’s memory handling. Now, unlike the Tiger MP, the Tiger MPX can make use of unbuffered DIMMs in memory slots one and two. If you want to use more than two DIMM slots, though, Tyan recommends registered DIMMs still.

Next, there’s the Tiger MPX’s tweaking options. The juiciest screen in the whole BIOS looks like this:


Not exactly chock full of overclocking options

..and that’s about it. You can’t tweak the RAM timings, can’t juice up the CPU voltage, can’t change a single default clock frequency or multiplier.

If you look at it wrong, a big, electronic hand will reach out of the screen and grab you by the collar while the motherboard chastises you for even thinking about overclocking. This is a serious computer, fool!

Even switching from a 200MHz to 266MHz front-side bus doesn’t happen in the BIOS or via CPU auto detection. Instead, you’ve gotta move a total of four different jumpers on the motherboard in order to make this change. Other FSB frequencies are not offered.

What’s more, Tyan won’t officially sanction running a pair of Durons or Athlon XPs; the board only supports Athlon MPs in dual configurations. (No doubt AMD had some say in this one.)

Then there’s the USB problem. Thanks to a bug in AMD’s 768 south bridge chip, all AMD 760MPX motherboards currently have a broken USB controller. Tyan says it will make a version of the Tiger MPX with working USB ports just as soon as AMD fixes the 768 chip. However, I’ve seen no indication that current Tiger MPX owners will be eligible for replacement boards. To compensate, Tyan includes a four-port USB controller card with the Tiger MPX. Unfortunately, the card is a USB 1.1 controller, not a USB 2.0 card like those included with some of the Tiger MPX’s competitors.

All of which leads to…

The quandary
The USB problem is worse than it seems at first, because the USB card will occupy one of the Tiger MPX’s four 32-bit/33MHz PCI slots. The two 66MHz/64-bit PCI slots on the Tiger MPX, meanwhile, aren’t compatible with the vast majority of PCI expansion cards out there. (The older Tiger MP could accommodate regular old 32-bit PCI cards in its 64-bit slots, but the Tiger MPX’s 66MHz PCI bus makes those slots incompatible.) Now, if you need 66MHz/64-bit PCI for a high-end SCSI RAID controller card or something like that, those 66MHz PCI slots are great. But for most folks, at the end of the day, what you’re getting with the Tiger MPX is three open PCI slots.

Without on-board RAID or built-in sound, those three open PCI slots are gonna get filled up quick. If it were my own system, for instance, I’d probably drop in a sound card, a Firewire card, and an IDE RAID controller. Assuming that IDE RAID controller isn’t compatible with 66MHz PCI, that’s the end of the road. If you want to add a TV tuner card or most anything else, you’re pretty much out of luck. Thank goodness the Tiger MPX includes a decent on-board NIC, or the PCI slot situation would be nearly impossible for most of us.

This mess makes the original Tiger MP look mighty attractive by comparison. If you don’t mind buying registered DIMMs, the Tiger MP will give you working USB and six PCI slots. (Yep, those 64-bit/33MHz slots on the Tiger MP will accept 32-bit/33MHz cards, as well.) Depending on your needs, the Tiger MP may be a better option than the MPX.

 

Doing things we ought not to do
Naturally, some of the Tiger MPX’s spec-sheet restrictions looked like challenges to us. So we tried a bunch of messed up configurations to see if they would really work. Among them:

  • Running a pair of 1GHz Durons — Running Durons in SMP is an attractive alternative to building a single-processor system based on a more expensive Athlon XP, so there’s some real interest in this one. Like the Tiger MP before it, the Tiger MPX had no trouble at all running a pair of “Morgan” Durons (the kind derived from the Athlon MP’s Palomino core) in a dually config. In fact, we’ve got a full set of benchmarks with dually Durons.
  • Running an Athlon MP 1800+ and an Athlon XP 1800+ — Again, no problems here. If you want to save a buck, you might be able to get away with running a pair of Athlon XPs on a Tiger MPX. Heck, other than the markings on the CPU cores and the fact the MP’s L1 bridges are not severed, the Athlon MP and XP look identical. They’ve just gotta be the same chip.
  • Running a Duron 1GHz and a Duron 1.1GHz — We put a Duron 1.1GHz chip into the CPU 1 socket and a Duron 1GHz into the second socket. The system booted into Windows and ran stable. Both WCPUID and SiSoft Sandra reported that both processors were running at 1.1GHz. Apparently, the system picked up the multiplier from CPU 1 and enforced it for CPU 2, as well.
  • Running a pair of Durons on a 266MHz bus — We tried this one inadvertently the first time we installed the Durons into the board. Unfortunately, our Durons weren’t up to the task. The system refused to POST.
  • Running a full load of unbuffered DIMMs — So if you slap four DIMMs full of high-quality DDR memory into the Tiger MPX’s DIMM slots, what happens? We put in a gig’s worth of Crucial and Kingmax (all based on Micron chips) and gave it a go. We were able to get the system to boot and run a solid mix of Windows apps, like so:


    The money shot. Click for the full-size picture.

    However, after a little while, the system locked up. We cut down to three DIMMs, but the results were the same. On the other hand, the system was stable with a pair of unbuffered DIMMs or with registered ECC memory. That’s disappointing, because we were so close to being able to get away with unbuffered memory modules. But there’s a reason Tyan’s specs call for registered DIMMs.

All told, the Tiger MPX took our abuse very well. Now, let’s see how it performs.

 

What to watch for in the test results
What follows is a series of benchmarks intended to show off the advantages (or non-advantages) of a dual-processor system in everyday use. It’s kind of like a cross between watching paint dry and a car wreck. On the one hand, we’ve got a series of graphs presenting test data. On the other hand, the SMP systems are going to be demonstrating vividly why traditional benchmarks just can’t do them justice.

Remember: adding a second processor doesn’t mean a 100% performance gain. Depending on kinds of software and the sort of tasks you throw at an SMP system, the performance gains can range from, heck, negative 10% (due to SMP overhead) to nearly 100% (in extreme, usually contrived scenarios). But most of the time, you’ll see something in between those two extremes.

Unfortunately, only some of our benchmarks are multithreaded, so only some of our tests can break out the work onto multiple processors in order to improve performance. Don’t think badly of SMP systems because 3DMark doesn’t run any faster on them. That’s 3DMark’s fault (and maybe Microsoft’s for Direct3D and maybe just a teensy bit NVIDIA’s for their drivers). The fact single applications are not multithreaded doesn’t mean SMP will have no value for you in everyday use, because nearly all modern OSes are SMP-aware, including Windows NT/2000/XP Pro, Linux, BeOS, and nearly every flavor of Unix. More on this after the test results.

Our testing methods
As ever, we did our best to deliver clean benchmark numbers. Tests were run at least twice, and the results were averaged.

Our test systems were configured like so:

  Tyan Tiger MP Tyan Tiger MPX
Processor 2 x AMD Athlon MP 1800+
2 x AMD Athlon MP 1800+
2 x AMD Duron 1GHz
AMD Athlon MP 1800+
Front-side bus 266MHz (133MHz double-pumped) for Athlon MPs
200MHz (100MHz double-pumped) for Durons
Chipset AMD 760MP AMD 760MPX
North bridge 762 762
South bridge 766 768
Memory size 256MB (1 DIMM) 256MB (1 DIMM)
Memory type Micron PC2100 DDR Registered ECC SDRAM (CAS 2.5)
Graphics NVIDIA GeForce3 Ti 500 64MB (Detonator XP 21.83 video drivers)
Sound Creative SoundBlaster Live!
Storage Maxtor DiamondMax Plus D740X 40GB 7200RPM ATA/133 hard drive
OS Microsoft Windows XP Professional
OS updates None

The test systems’ Windows desktops were set at 1024×768 in 32-bit color at an 85Hz screen refresh rate. Vertical refresh sync (vsync) was disabled for all tests.

We used the following versions of our test applications:

All the tests and methods we employed are publicly available and reproducible. If you have questions about our methods, hit our forums to talk with us about them.

 

Memory performance
We’ll omit single-processor results for these memory performance tests, because Sandra’s memory benchmarks are multiprocessor-aware. Comparing single and dual-processor memory bandwidth results may not be valid here.

The Tiger MPX is just a tad bit faster than the original Tiger MP, but it’s nothing to write home about.

Content Creation Winstone 2002
The newest version of Content Creation Winstone ought to give us a good start, because it runs multiple tasks at once and ought to exercise that second processor quite a bit.

As you can see, the Tiger MPX is again just a little faster than the Tiger MP. And yep, two processors are better than one.

Quake III Arena
We tested Quake III both with and without its SMP support enabled. Quake III is one of the few games that makes use of multiple processors, but its SMP support is far from robust. We had to start Q3A with a “realtime” process priority in Windows XP in order to make it work.

For the dually systems, we tested both with and without Q3A’s SMP support enabled. The results below marked ‘r_smp 1’ are the ones with SMP support in use.

Quake III does benefit measurably with both processors pitching in. Once more, the Tiger MPX is just an eyelash faster than the Tiger MP. Also, notice how the dual-processor results without ‘r_smp’ enabled are slower than the single-CPU results. The overhead from keeping a second processor around without putting it to use causes the duallies turn in slightly lower scores.

3DMark 2001

Without any multithreading, 3DMark doesn’t benefit at all from a second processor.

 

picCOLOR image processing
The picCOLOR image processing tests were sent to us by Dr. Reinert H. G. Mueller of the FIBUS institute. He wanted to see how his test would perform on a dual-processor Athlon system, and we were glad to oblige. Not all of the tests were multithreaded in the version of picCOLOR we used, but by the time we finished testing, Dr. Mueller had already revised picCOLOR so more of its operations could benefit from SMP. By nature, image processing work is easily done in parallel, so dually systems can show great performance gains. We hope to use those newer versions of picCOLOR next time around.

For now, it will be easy to see which of the tests below were multithreaded.

AddressMem, Fixed interpolation, Convert, and Convert with video all make good use of SMP. For this sort of work, a dually Duron can outrun a single Athlon XP/MP 1800+.

Cinebench
We’ll wrap up our SMP tests with Cinebench, a benchmark based on Maxon’s Cinema 4D XL rendering software. Specifically, we’re testing raytracing, one of the most intensive and realistic 3D rendering methods. Cinema 4D can take advantage of multiple processors; we’ll test it both with and without dual-processor support turned on.

Like image processing, rendering is easily parallelized. We’re gaining in the neighborhood of 70% more performance with SMP. Here again, for serious work, a dually Duron outperforms a single-processor Athlon XP/MP 1800+ system.

 

Chipset benchmark results
The next set of tests is just something we did to satisfy our own curiosity, and we thought you might enjoy seeing the results, too. Our recent review of VIA’s KT333 chipset provided us a chance to do a massive, seven-way Socket A chipset shootout. We kind of wondered how the Tiger MPX and AMD’s 760MPX chipset would compare to the single-processor Socket A chipsets of the world, so we decided to test it against its single-CPU competition.

We used the same testing methods we employed in the KT333 review. You can see a full accounting of the system configs and benchmark versions here. Basically, what we did was put a single, unbuffered PC2100 DIMM on the Tiger MPX and install a single Athlon XP 2000+ processor. Then we ran it through the same set of tests we used for the KT333, nForce, KT266A, SiS 745, and the like. The resulting test scores may not prove much, because hey, the MPX can support two processors, but they are interesting.

I’ll go light on the commentary for these scores. If you want to know more about what these scores mean, see our KT333 review.

Memory performance

In both of the important basic measurements of memory performance, the 760MPX is at or near the bottom of the pack. But does this lackluster memory performance translate into real-world slowdowns? Let’s find out.

Content Creation Winstone 2001

Here the Tiger MPX is at the bottom of the pack. There’s no candy coating this one. If you’re not going to put two processors into your system, this motherboard’s not for you.

 

Quake III Arena

The MPX again is behind the pack in Q3A. Note that the MPX is faster here, with a single Athlon XP 2100+ and unbuffered CAS 2 RAM, than it is with registered DIMMs and a pair of Athlon MP 1800+ processors, even when SMP support is enabled—165.5 fps here versus 162.1 in our dually tests. And the fastest single-CPU solution just blows it away.

3DMark 2001

No surprises here, just more of the same.

Sphinx speech recognition

Speech recognition can be very memory intensive, and the MPX again doesn’t fare well.

 

Conclusions
So we’ve seen the Tiger MPX’s performance examined twelve ways from Sunday. What to make of it? The results are mixed, to put it mildly. We do know the Tiger MPX is consistently just a tad bit faster than the Tiger MP. Beyond that, we’ve seen some cases—specific ones like 3D rendering or image processing, and more general ones like Content Creation Winbench—where doing the dually thing will net some big performance gains.

However, the chipset tests have shown us the downside of desktop SMP. Quite simply, the pumped-up, pimped-out single-CPU hobbyists’ mobos with extensive performance tuning plus memory tweaking features make the conservatively tuned Tiger MPX look like a pussycat. They deliver gobs more memory bandwidth, which even a single CPU can put to great use. For absolute maximum performance in single-task applications like games, there’s no denying that single-processor rigs are the way to go. The Tiger MPX might have a beast lurking within, but Tyan hasn’t given us the keys to unlock it.

And the Tiger MPX is still a fussy cat. You’ll need to plan your RAM and PCI card purchases carefully make sure everything fits well and works right. Even if you do, the PCI slot quandary might bite you down the road. Meanwhile, the non-dually competition is bristling with open PCI slots, IDE RAID ports, and optical audio outputs.

The Tiger MPX is a solid, stable (when properly configured) motherboard that deserves to make its way into loads of low-end workstations and servers. There’s no denying it. The Tiger MPX brings some of the most advanced SMP technology anywhere into the realm of us mortals. But this mobo isn’t quite as good as what I want to see in desktop SMP. I’d like to see all the goodness of a single-processor enthusiast’s board like a Soyo DRAGON combined with the SMP smoothness of the 760MPX, and this ain’t it. Consequently, I’m going to have to give this board an 8 on our world-famous 11-point scale.

Before you write off the Tiger MPX, though, hear me out. If you’ve read this far, seen all the benchmarks, and wondered why anyone would bother with the Tiger MPX, you’re just not getting it. None of the benchmarks and none of our niggling complaints can change the reality of the user experience on a dually Athlon system.

While fast single-processor rigs are screamers at many things, they can slow down. Fire off an install script for a Windows program, and even an Athlon XP or Pentium 4 will drop to its knees. Open an Explorer window after inserting a new CD and your expensive system will stop everything and wait. Watch an errant application go haywire and chew up all the CPU time, and that killer box won’t even respond to keyboard input.

A system fortified with the creamy smoothness of SMP, on the other hand, simply will not slow down. It’s friction-free computing. There’s nothing else like it. Yes, a good OS can multitask well with one CPU, but as always, some things are just better done in hardware. With SMP, you can run a few game servers in the background while you compute unaffected in the foreground. Or rip and compress MP3s—whatever. If you’re going to spend eight or more hours a day in front of the PC you’re about to build, and if you’re going to use it like I do—umpteen different windows open running a zillion things with your hair on fire—then there’s no substitute for some creamy smooth SMP action. That’s why I’d recommend investigating a dually Duron rig before dropping the cash on an Athlon XP 2000+ or the like. That’s also why this is one motherboard with an 8 rating that I’d really like to have in my own PC. 

Comments closed
    • Anonymous
    • 18 years ago

    I made a mistake in my previous post. The output files shouldn’t be bigger then the input files. At first I thought about nice big CD size files, but decided against it for the cashing reason. If only I had 1GB of RAM … wish …

    • Anonymous
    • 18 years ago

    – For the Creative SB issue, has anyone tried running Linux with ALSA on this mobo with a SBLive? If Linux worked without crashes, it would mean it

    • nrobison
    • 18 years ago

    AG 20 – a fine article dealing with the issue you note is at ยง[<http://www.aceshardware.com/read.jsp?id=45000255<]ยง - in short, for many workstation and server (below Sun-level) applications, a 760MP solution (not MPX, the fools at AMD! they were so close to breaking the professional envelope and sending Intel down Enron Avenue...and then released an immature chipset, giving all the upper-management folks an excuse to buy inferior Xeons for 4x the price again...argh!) - cough, cough, sorry... In short, a 760MP solution will deliver up to 50% greater performance at perfect stability for less than 1/2 the price. Enough said. I think each reasonable corporation should hire an aging techie and give him/her carte blanche to build workstations/servers custom to specifications for the offices/users who actually need them... as for the folks spending time typing and surfing, a P!!! 850 from most anybody is safe and quickly approaching free.

    • Anonymous
    • 18 years ago

    I would not recommend any Sound Blaster card, try some of the low end pro cards like the Hoontech DSP24 Value or something for decent 24/96 recording capabilities. I run a Hoontech DSP24 C-Port which was bundled with a AUS$600 condenser mic for AUS$1200 and it rocks (beware of Via chipsets though).

    blitze

    • Anonymous
    • 18 years ago

    AG 46#: Sounds interesting.

    What OS are you running?

    • Anonymous
    • 18 years ago

    AG41 owns the Promise Ultra100 TX2 ($30) and it is 66MHz capable. I’m operating it with WIN2K Server SOFTWARE RAID5 which probably moves about 3 times (I have 3 HDDs) as much data compared to a single disk ACROSS the PCI bus. I figured that buying this MB or some other MPX MB would reduce the PCI bus utilization percentage if the Promise was running at 66MHz.

    It’s really overkill: the server (used for sharing MP3s, DivX movies, digital photos, etc. ) only has 2 users max, along with Kazaa traffic, which is lo-bandwidth.

    BUT if you had this MB, you could also plug in a lo-end Gigabit Ethernet card (Netgear GA302T or similar 32 bit/66 MHz). Then buy an Ethernet switch with a gigabit uplink and see what kind of IOmeter numbers you could get with a few clients accessing the server. You would need a few clients aggregated into the gigabit link to really start stressing things.

    Even MORE overkill…

    • Anonymous
    • 18 years ago

    I use my Thunder K7 to encode Divx videos in the background while developing software in for foreground and don’t even notice the background processing… With my settings, I usually get about 40 fps encoding, even in the background.

    And the code sure compiles quick – about 50% faster in general.

    Although there have been some bumps in the road (mainly Nvidia driver compatiblity issues), I’d buy the same system again.

    • Alanzilla
    • 18 years ago

    adisor, by spec such things can exist. I personally have never run into any, but most cards I’m around are 64/66 anyway. PLX makes a 32/66 master controller chip (PCI9056 or something like that), but it’s used primarily for PMC and the like.

    I have run across a Colorgraphics 4-port video card that didn’t have the 66EN pin pulled low, so the system i[

    • Anonymous
    • 18 years ago

    one comment about the audigy. You are write that the live series allways caused problems with SMP boards, even intel ones. But, you had to install creatives liveware for it to happen. The Plain vanilla windows drivers that ship with 2000 and XP worked in dual boxes without error. The audigy seems to crashs these boards even with the plain vanilla oem driver. I seriously doubt its a chipset/board level issue as several audio sites have reported audigy causing spontaneous reboots in all sorts of systems, but it seems to be exacerbated on the MPX boards. As for my previous comments about pci buss problems and audio recording it was some very high end gear not “cd ripping”. Mark of the unicorn stuff mostly. There was also some termoil in getting a pinacle DVDstudio + board working aceptably. It droped frames all over the place and the unicorn audio stuff could not handle more than two tracks simultaneously even though the same board in a single processor BX box could handle 16 track recording. I am still tempted to get one of these as they seem like great complining workstations, but i also do alot of video and audio work, so its xeons for me unless I buy two differnt systems.

    • Khopesh
    • 18 years ago

    Promise TX2 I believe is a 32bit 66mhz card.

    • Anonymous
    • 18 years ago

    *[

    • Anonymous
    • 18 years ago

    66 MHz slots: that’s really the big gotcha for 32bit cards, not the 64 bit extension connector. By PCI SPEC, all 66HMz capable slots use 3.3V signaling: that’s what the keying in the slot REALLY means. Theoretically, the signaling voltage has NOTHING to do with the supply voltages used by the chips on the plug in card: all PCI slots MUST supply both 5V and 3.3V power supply voltages.
    Theoretically, you can have 33MHz 3.3V signaling slots, but MB mfgs do not do that: it would exclude a LOT of old and/or inexpensive cards. The next PCI spec rev (2.3): ELIMINATES 5V signaling cards: they are try to switch the industry to 3.3V signaling.
    WRT 33MHz/3.3V signaling cards in a 66MHz slot, the ONLY GOTCHA is that the entire 66MHz bus segment (in this case the other 66MHz slot) will switch to 33MHz operation. This is done by the 66MHzEN pin on 33MHZ cards being connected to GROUND: it’s not as easy to see as the 3.3V signaling notch. The 66MHzEN pin is bused between all the 66MHz slots: once that pin is grounded, the clock generator for the 66MHz slots switch to 33Mhz.

    WRT to availability of 3.3V signaling cards, a lot of the “better” cards support UNIVERSAL signaling now: they have TWO notches in the PCI connector. Universal sognaling cards can be plugged into either 3.3V or 5V signaling slots. Examples are SB Live! & Audigy, most good NICs, a number of IDE controllers (Promise, etc.)

    ANYWAY, the reviewer’s argument isn’t correct: you can always plug your SBLive/Audigy or current Promise controllers AND LOTS OTHERS into the 66MHz slots and use the other slots for cards that do NOT support 3.3V signaling. 5V signaling cards have only a single notch, at the end of the PCI connector furthest from the rear panel.

    I’ve been thinking about buying this MB because I’ve got a server with a SOFTWARE RAID5 array (Win2K Server can do SOFTWARE RAIDs) that uses a $30 Promise IDE controller that is 66MHz capable. If I had this MB, the $30 Promise IDE card would run at 66MHz.

    • Anonymous
    • 18 years ago

    Valid points WRT the compatbility with current vid card drivers, but the following makes me add a comment:

    […] Also there have been a huge amount of complaints about the audigy crashing these boards in certain situations.[…]

    I *very* strongly doubt this has anything to do with either the chipset, the Tyan board or the AMD CPUs.

    Creative Labs have been totally unwilling and/or unable to provide “SMP usable” drivers for the entire SBLive! card range, and since the Audigy is similar in design, I doubt it will do better in SMP boxes. I say SMP boxes because IME the SBLive series does not work correctly in any that I worked with (PPros, PIIs and PIIIs on FX, BX, GX and VIA Apollo based mobos).

    On last thing while I’m ranting. I’ve seen a lot of whining since the Tiger MP debut from “enthusiasts” not capable of building a usable SMP box with it.

    If you say “video editing” but mean “DivX coding”, if you say “audio applications” but mean “MP3 ripping”, if you say “OpenGL applications” but think “FP shooter” — this board is not for you. Find some other toy to brag with.

    • Alanzilla
    • 18 years ago

    Yeah, PCIX cards should work in a 66/64.

    • Anonymous
    • 18 years ago

    Steel said it, but I want to emphasize it.

    For your PCI card to operate in a 66MHz/64bit slot it must not only fit (duh) but it must operate at 3.3 volts. Standard 33 MHz (32 or 64 bit) PCI is 5 volts.

    There are cards that are keyed for 3.3 volts that do not support it.

    Most people do not have any of these cards, the most common are _some_ RAID and gigE cards. Hopefully this will change…I assume PCI-X cards will work in 66/64 slots?

    • VooBass
    • 18 years ago

    Thanks! Got it working now.

    • R2P2
    • 18 years ago

    [q]As well, why doesn’t my user name and password that I use for Tech Report forums work for posting comments? [/q][b]Because the forum is separate from the comments.[/b]

    You guys should really add that info to the comments and forum registration pages, unless you plan to combine them.

    • Anonymous
    • 18 years ago

    BTW: there is a new Adobe Photoshop plugin.dll version 6.02 that is supposed to help multiprocessor system performance (among other things)

    ยง[<http://www.adobe.com/support/downloads/detail.jsp?ftpID=1188<]ยง As well, why doesn't my user name and password that I use for Tech Report forums work for posting comments?

    • Steel
    • 18 years ago

    To guys like us this [i]is[/i] pr0n… ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Dposcorp
    • 18 years ago

    Very good review; nice and thorough.
    Thats why i support the site.

    now WHERES MY DAMN PORN?

    • Steel
    • 18 years ago

    66MHz PCI slots [i]will[/i] slow down when a 33MHz card is plugged into them. The slot is keyed for voltage, not speed. (3.3v vs. 5v)

    • Anonymous
    • 18 years ago

    *[

    • Anonymous
    • 18 years ago

    Well, I’ve been running my Tiger MPX with 1800+s for three weeks now and it seems just about perfect. Very fast for everything I use it for and I can run numerous apps while Photoshop is simultaneously pulling out its hair in a 8 minute render of a 1000dpi file. Nothing I’ve ever experienced compares. The only problem occurred when I was doing all the above while simultaneously using WinAmp to play MP3s over the network. Using WMP, no problem, but with WinAmp the occasional BSOD. Obviously, I uninstalled WinAmp and haven’t had a problem since. Probably Creative’s fault.

    Tyan Tiger MPX, 2 x Athlon 1800+ XPs, 2 x ThermalRight SK-6 w/ Pabst 8412-NGL 80mm fans, 1024MB Registered PC2100, Matrox G550, Creative Audigy, Adaptec 39160 dual SCSI, Seagate 36 Gig X-15, Seagate 18 Gig X-15, Western Digital 100 Gig, Lite-On DVD, Antec 1040 w/ 400w Antec, Sony 19

    • Anonymous
    • 18 years ago

    Same comment as always: INDEX PLEASE!

    did they even mention the suggested price?

    I still havent seen anything that makes ide-raid worth bothering with. Sounds nifty, but prob as practical as getting a convertible as my family car.

    • cRock
    • 18 years ago

    Forge: one thing I can tell you is that the AGP implemtation in the 762/761 north bridge isn’t quite standard. A browse through linux/FreeBSD device driver comments is very enlightening! I’m no programming genius, but it seems to me that some kind of memory mapping/allocation problem is most likely to blame for nvidia’s woes given how much the AMD AGP implementation varies from textbook. The proposed registry fix “PushBufferMemorySpace” also seems to point in the direction of AGP memory allocation. Add to this the knowledge that nvidia cards run fine as PCI devices, and I’d say we’re mightly close to reaching an explanation.

    The 761/762 have basically the same AGP controller so it would be interesting to see if 761 boards are having NMI problems too.

    • Damage
    • 18 years ago

    Forge:

    Some 33MHz/32-bit PCI cards will fit into one of the Tiger MPX’s 66MHz/64-bit PCI slots, but many won’t because of a physical incompatiblity.

    Assuming your 33MHz/32-bit PCI card will fit into the 66MHz slot, the whole of that PCI bus will drop down to 33MHz, reducing the bandwidth between north and south bridges (probably no great loss). So yes, some 32-bit/33MHz cards will work, but there’s still a comparative disadvantage to the MPX versus the Tiger MP.

    • Anonymous
    • 18 years ago

    Corrado, You’ve experience has been the total opposite of mine, I recently had an i815E board die, so I replaced the P3 with a 1700+ AXP and the Abit SH6 with an ECS K7S5A, it was the EASIEST board swap I’ve ever done, ever.

    • Forge
    • 18 years ago

    Damage – While I agree the 23.11 drivers are evil voodoo shite, there is a fix for the GF3/MP NMI BSOD, at long last. Looks like something on the 766 southbridge is somehow off or broken, and that *somehow* makes the AGP go loopy.

    768 boards are not affected, though the 23/25.** drivers are far from high quality, and 27.** isn’t 100% matured yet. Nvidia should be releasing 28.02 for Linux any minute now, and The Windows 28.** WHQLed release should be imminent as well.

    • Forge
    • 18 years ago

    Ahem. The 66/64 slots on the MPX boards are PERFECTLY capable of running 33/32 cards. 66MHz 32bit cards (Like Promise’s recent TX* cards) run with no slowdown, in full 66/64 mode, while older 33/32 only cards will degrade the newer highspeed PCI bus to 33/32, which has a negligable/unmeasurable effect on the southbridge’s speed.

    All the slots on my TK7 are 33/64, and I’ve never put a 64bit card in (cause I don’t have any for it, damned 3ware).

    Since the MPs are already on a 33MHz only PCI, this issue shouldn’t be considered a drawback to the MPXes.

    • Spune
    • 18 years ago

    Corrado if I were you I would be glad that at least there was a new BIOS available. I always seem to run into the situtation where either they will/can not fix my problem. Its very annoying.

    • Corrado
    • 18 years ago

    Well, this is sort of OT, but still chipset related… SiS chipsets SUCK ASS. I have built machines with 3 different SiS based mobos and NONE of them have worked properly without a BIOS flash. Most recent (today) was a SiS 650 P4 machine. This box REFUSED to install 2k without locking up. Flashed the newest BIOS and its fine, but HOW can there be a motherboard released without a BIOS that works? This particular board is an MSI board, but ECS and ACorp are all guilty of the same thing too. I had to flash all 3 of those boards before they worked. *sigh* </rant>

    • Anonymous
    • 18 years ago

    Ug. I’m even more scared of running dual AMD than I was before.

    Is there a decent board out there for <$200 that doesn’t have some huge drawback like 66mhz only PCI slots, broken USB, or registered DIMM only capability?

    • Anonymous
    • 18 years ago

    I would have loved to see some SQL or Exchange tests or something. My clients are sick of giving big jack to Dell or Compaq for duallie servers and still getting nothing but problems.

    • Damage
    • 18 years ago

    18: The Tiger MP and MPX neither one gave us any trouble with AGP apps. They ran 3DMark and Q3A fine in our tests, and the MPX runs Serious Sam SE well, too. Heck, the MPX ran Q3 for 24 hours straight in our stability test. No problems.

    Stay away from the 23.11 NVIDIA drivers, though. Those will make it crash quick. Hardly something to blame on the Tiger.

    • Anonymous
    • 18 years ago

    Nice review. One thing though. You did not make any mention of the NMI parity errors everyone is getting in agp intensive apps. It seems there is also a problem with the MPX agp controller. Many many people are getting these crashes in games or anything graphics related. It mostly happens with nvidia drivers, but it has been duplicated with the radeon as well. Also there have been a huge amount of complaints about the audigy crashing these boards in certain situations. Also the PCI latency has not lived up to spec either. Several fellows on a couple boards bught these for video and sound encoding/recording and got some very bad results due to the PCI bus issue. Its to bad too I really wanted these but it looks like I will have to settle for xeons as the only thing that really seems to run reliably is very basic hardware. Oh you can fix the agp issue by not installing the agp driver from amd but if you do AGP is disabled and all agp acess occurs in PCI mode reducing performance by a good margin. This can be verified in device manager as the AGp controller will show up as pci-pci bridge when its configured this way.

    • cRock
    • 18 years ago

    XPs running dual is NOT a shady, nebulous issues. XPs run fine in SMP and no one has presented any concrete evidence to the contrary.

    Beware of using old spitfire core durons in SMP. There have been some scattered reports of problems and I believe they are not supported on the MPX boards.

    • Anonymous
    • 18 years ago

    *[

    • Anonymous
    • 18 years ago

    Great review. I’ve been thinking about the Asus MPX board myself. I was just wondering though. I have two 650MHz (please don’t cry) Durons sitting on the shelf that both run stable at 950 and crash at 1Ghz. Does anyone know if you can run those in dual mode, or at 133 fsb?
    So in stead of buying two XP’s with it, I can spend my money over time and first run a dual old style duron.

    • Anonymous
    • 18 years ago

    *[

    • Anonymous
    • 18 years ago

    *[

    • cRock
    • 18 years ago

    The OC situation is not as bad as it seems. The Tiger MP rev 3 can have it’s bus speed controlled by softFSB. The guys over in the 2cpu.com forums are hitting 140-150 FSB speeds with MP/XPs and stock multipliers. On the Duron front, there is an undocumented jumper setting for 115 Mhz FSB. This is perfect for juicing up a couple of 1 gig Durons with good cooling.

    I really wish Damage had included dual P3s so we could see them get rocked by the durons!

    • Steel
    • 18 years ago

    This one is definatly my next motherboard. Come on Thoroughbred!

    • Anonymous
    • 18 years ago

    *[

    • EasyRhino
    • 18 years ago

    OH man, we need some tweakin’ boards. Course, it would also help to get some wicked fast super overclockable Durons, then we’d be back to the salad days of the BP6. Gee, maybe someday I’ll upgrade my BP6 ๐Ÿ™‚

    Oh, and damage, YOUR HAIR’S ON FIRE PUT IT OUT!!!

    ๐Ÿ™‚
    ER

    • Anonymous
    • 18 years ago

    Why haven’t they fixed the USB ports yet? Been a few months. Can’t be that difficult can it?

    • Mr Bill
    • 18 years ago

    The MSI K7D looks pretty attractive to me and looks laid out so it might take a bolt on heatsink like the PAL8045. The Iwill MPX2 looks interesting also. Anybody have opinions about MSI or Iwill? I’ve mostly had FIC, Abit, and Tyan boards.
    Me ->>>>sleep now

    • Anonymous
    • 18 years ago

    I’ve been running one of these for the last month, primarily doing stuff like VMware stuff. I’ve gotta say that a VMware virtual machine (which is single-threaded BTW) really screams! And that leaves me plenty of interrupt power to service what other apps I might want to run in parallel, too. A definite improvement over my dual PIII box.

    • monaco
    • 18 years ago

    Wow, I’ve really wanted to switch to SMP lately, and this board looks pretty cool. But the lack of tweaking kills it for me- it just won’t be any fun to play with!

    Definately the board I’d want at work, tho.

    • TwoFer
    • 18 years ago

    Nice review, Damage.

    And nice to hear you yearning for dually goodness again, too — welcome back!

    • Mr Bill
    • 18 years ago

    It would also be interesting to see if Linux for example is better at dealing with two processors and multitasking than NT, 2000, or XP. It used to frustrate me no end in the early 90’s when PC magazine would pit single windows applications in OS/2 against the same single windows applications in windows and declare windows the winner. Aggg! I was running two copies of the same application multitasking in OS/2 each controlling four 15 point/sec AD channels and OS/2 was still useable and windows could barely deal with one copy of the program and froze if you tried to do any other tasks. Lets see a single processor board stacked up with two or more multitasked applications compared to same on a dualie board. Then we will see if all your threads are belong to SMP.

    • Mr Bill
    • 18 years ago

    Nice sum-up at the end there. But on a Dissonant note: How about a follow up “…Love me two times, baby… …Love me twice today…”?
    ยง[<http://www.tech-report.com/reviews/2001q2/vp6/index.x?pg=13<]ยง The same link pointed out earlier by Forge, I think.

    • Forge
    • 18 years ago

    Booyah. All your productivity is belong to SMP.

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