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Tyan's Trinity GC-SL motherboard

In a class all its own

ModelTrinity GC-SL
Price (street)US$325

TYAN'S TRINITY GC-SL is without a doubt the most unique motherboard I've ever had the opportunity to take a look at. For starters, the board is based on ServerWorks' Grand Champion SL chipset, which isn't the most common of core-logic engines. The board also supports a whopping 4GB of ECC memory and two PCI-X slots, something I'm used to seeing on multiprocessor server boards. The Trinity GC-SL, however, is designed to work with a single Socket 478 Pentium 4 processor.

Without an AGP slot, the Trinity GC-SL is squarely targeted at server environments where its integrated video won't be a handicap, but that doesn't mean that only server admins should pay attention to this review. In addition to throwing a stack of server-style benchmarks at the Trinity GC-SL, I've also paired up its swanky PCI-X slots with a little 15K SCSI love to see just how much of an impact 64-bit/133MHz PCI-X can have on high-end storage performance.

Is the Trinity GC-SL the most unique motherboard you've ever seen? Read on to find out.

The specs
So what's a single-processor server board packing for features these days? Check out the Trinity GC-SL spec sheet:

CPU supportSocket 478-based Pentium 4 processors
Form factorATX
ChipsetServerWorks Grand Champion SL
North bridgeServerWorks CMIC-SL
South bridgeServerWorks CSB5
InterconnectInter-Module Bus (3.2GB/sec) to PCI-X
Thin Inter-Module Bus to CSB5
PCI slots1 64-bit PCI-X 133/100/66MHz
1 64-bit PCI-X 100/66MHz
5 32-bit/33MHz (2 shared with PCI-X slots)
AGP slotsNone
AMR/CNR slotsNone
Memory4 184-pin DIMM sockets (Registered ECC only)
Maximum of 4GB of DDR266/200 SDRAM
Storage I/OFloppy disk
2 channels ATA/
Serial ATANone
Legacy ports1 PS/2 keyboard, 1 PS/2 mouse, Serial and Parallel ports
USB2 USB 2.0/1.1 ports
2 additional USB 2.0/1.1 ports via expansion header
VideoATI Rage XL (fixed 8MB frame buffer)
Ethernet10/100 Fast Ethernet via Intel 8255QM LAN controller
1000/100/10 Gigabit Ethernet via Intel 82545EM LAN controller
Bus speedsNone
Bus dividersNone
MonitoringVoltage, fan status, and temperature monitoring
Remote access via Serial port

I'll be covering each of the board's features and integrated peripherals in detail since there's plenty to talk about. In fact, there's very little about this board that will look familiar, at least to enthusiasts. ServerWorks chipsets, PCI-X, ECC memory, and Gigabit Ethernet are largely reserved for workstation and server environments.