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Digital-Daily : Motherboard Reviews : gigabyte_ma78gm_s2h

Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H (AMD 780G)

Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H (AMD 780G)
Author: Aleksandr Mitrofanov
Date: 28.03.2008

Gigabyte MA78GM-S2H
Chipset AMD 780G
CPU Socket AM2 Phenom/Athlon64 HTT 200 MHz
Memory DDR2 400/533/667/800/1066
HDD 1x UltraDMA/133(RAID)
6x SerialATA II (2xRAID)
Extras High Definition Audio
12 USB 2.0
Gigabit Ethernet LAN
2õ IEEE-1394a
Price: -

Up till now, 690G(V) inherited from ATI has been the most functional integrated chipset in AMD's assortment. In fact, all the motherboards based on this chipset have been equipped with the south bridge SB600 which was outdated over a year ago. Although its specifications were quite acceptable for value systems, motherboards based on 690G have not proved popular. The thing is, NVIDIA's integrated chipsets offered better "price/functionality" ratio.

With the release of AMD 780G, situation on the market of value systems may seriously change. There is a simple cause of that - at last, AMD has released the new south bridge SB700 which can boast support for six SerialATA II links (with RAID features) as well as support for twelve USB 2.0 + two USB 1.1 ports. Apart from the quantitative improvements, engineers at AMD have gained a certain progress in terms of quality. In particular, the new south bridge supports technologies like HyperFlash (an analog to the Intel TurboMemory which increases the OS performance through caching at an additional Flash disk), Hybrid Drives (support for the Hybrid Hard Drive or HHD, fully compatible to the MS Vista ReadyDrive specifications), RAIDXpert (management of RAID arrays), and Remote IT (remote system administration).


The new north bridge 780G as well offers a lot of attractive advantages. To start with, the chip itself is made following the 55-nm process technology, which means low power consumption and a good frequency capability. Certainly, the number of users overclocking the integrated video core is very small, but high operating frequencies guarantee a high performance in 3D applications. This performance will be in in demand because this chipset is aimed at Vista-compatible motherboards. In other words, the chipset 780G offers the integrated graphic core with support for DX10, high-definition hardware video decoding ( MPEG-2, H.264 è VC-1), and support for HDMI with HDCP, HDTV.

Another advantage of the chipset (codenamed RS780) is about support for the HyperTransport 3.0 and PCI Express 2.0. While PCI-E v2.0 is to some extent a marketing hype and does not bring a real performance gain, the situation with HT 3.0 is different. In particular, the HT 3.0 bus operates at 2.6 GHz, which provides a greater bandwidth as compared to HT 2.0 whose maximum frequency is 1 GHz. The higher bandwidth will be in demand for quad-core Phenom processors.

By the way, the number of PCI Express lanes has been increased to 26. That means one full-featured x16 slot can be installed. Moreover, the chipset 780G allows for a symmetrical separation of lanes following the 8+8 scheme, which allows motherboard developers to install two PCI Express x16 slots (eight lanes per each) and thus implement the Crossfire technology. Most interestingly, you can make use of the Crossfire advantages even with a single video card. The thing is, 780G supports the Hybrid Crossfire technology which consolidates the computing resources of the integrated video core and the external video card (with a chip of the Radeon HD34xx series). But in case the board uses two PCI-E x16 slots and, respectively, two video cards, the Hybrid Crossfire won't be able to integrated three graphic cores. The marketing people at AMD presumed that users have already got enough and a feature like that is in the more expensive 790G (codenamed Hybrid CrossfireX).

Diagram of the 780G+SB700 chipset.


This is a scheme of the chip implementation on Gigabyte MA78GM-S2H.


The chipset offers the following specifications: number of transistors - 205 mln (which is almost three times as much than in 690G), with the area of the chip remained almost the same (which is no wonder in view of the "finer" process technology). The chip offers a FCBGA package with 528 pins, 1.1V operating voltage. By the way, the heat emission of 780G is at a record low level: 11.4 W at full load, and below 1 W in the idle mode (to be more precise, 0.94 W).


Let's dwell on the graphic core of the chipset 780G, which is called Radeon HD3200.

The most interesting is that the core of Radeon HD3200 allows using both DDR2 and GDDR3 as the memory. In the case with DDR2 all is simple: the graphic core makes use of the RAM installed in the system for its own needs. The capacity of the memory is user-defined in the BIOS (within 128 MB to 512 MB). As regards the GDDR3, all depends on the motherboard manufacturer: if it installs additional GDDR3 memory chips on board or not. In this case, much depends on the current prices for GDDR3. Currently, this type of memory is relatively cheap, according to the standards of middle- and high-end video cards. This is well seen from the way tier-two manufacturers are equipping video cards based on 9600GT and 8800GT with 1 GB or even 2 GB memory (read the coverage of CeBIT). But let's keep closer to reality - Gigabyte MA78GM-S2H offers no soldered-in GDDR3.

If we compare the graphic core Radeon HD3200 versus the GMA3500 integrated into the G35 chipset, we note that both the cores support DirectX 10, OpenGL version 2.0, pixel and vertex shaders of specifications 4.0. At the same time, the Intel core offers a higher operating speed (667 MHz versus 500 MHz in HD3200), but the AMD core in more extent supports the hardware decoding of HD video + HDMI.

In conclusion, we note that the core Radeon HD3200 allows for a simultaneous operation with two monitors (VGA+DVI, or VGA+HDMI). At the same time, if the user installs an external video cards as well, the core Radeon HD3200 won't disable! That is, the user can plug in already as many as 4 monitors!

Gigabyte MA78GM-S2H Specifications


Gigabyte MA78GM-S2H

Gigabyte MA78GM-S2H
CPU - AMD Phenom/Athlon 64/Sempron with the bus speeds 200 MHz (at least)
- Socket AM2+
Chipset - North bridge 780G
- South bridge SB700
- Interbridge communications: PCI Express x4
System memory - Four 240-pin slots for DDR-II SDRAM DIMM;
- Maximum memory capacity 16 GB
- Dual-channel memory access;
- Supported memory DDR2 533/667/800/1066(*)
Graphics - One PCI Express x16 (v2.0) slot
- Integrated graphic core Radeon HD3200
Expansion options - Two 32-bit PCI Bus Master slots
- One PCI Express x1 slot
- Twelve USB 2.0 (4 integrated + 8 additional)
- Two IEEE1394 (Firewire; 1 integrated + 1 additional)
- Integrated High Definition Audio
- Gigabit Ethernet LAN controller
Overclocking options - FSB adjustable within 200 to 500 MHz; multiplier adjustable
- Adjustable frequency of the integrated video core within 150 to 1100 MHz
- Adjustable voltages on the CPU, memory, and the chipset (nb)
- Gigabyte Easy Tune 5 Pro
- AMD OverDrive
Disk subsystem - 1 UltraDMA133/100/66/33 Bus Master IDE link (with support for up to 2 ATAPI-devices & RAID 0, 1 )
- Support for SerialATA II (6 links - SB700, with support for RAID 0,1,0+1)
- Support for LS-120 / ZIP / ATAPI CD-ROM
BIOS - 8 Mbit Flash ROM
- Award Phoenix BIOS with support for Enhanced ACPI, DMI, Green, PnP Features and Trend Chip Away Virus
- Gigabyte Q-Flash
- Gigabyte @BIOS and Face-Wizard
- Gigabyte Virtual Dual BIOS
Misc - One port for FDD, one serial and one parallel port, ports for PS/2 mouse and keyboard
- IrDA
- STR (Suspend to RAM)
- SPDIF In/Out
Power management - Wake-up on modem, mouse, keyboard, LAN, timer, and USB
- 24-pin ATX (ATX-PW) power connector
- Additional 4-pin power connector
Monitoring - Monitoring the temperatures of the CPU, system, monitoring of voltages, determination of rotational speed of the two fans
- Gigabyte Smart Fan
Dimensions - ATX form factor, 244x244 mm (9.63" x 9.63")

The board arrived at our test lab as part of an AMD demo system, so it is still premature to make any judgments regarding its package bundle. Nevertheless, we note the rather detailed and well-made user's guide, as well as CD with a pack of Gigabyte's drivers and proprietary utilities.


Gigabyte MA78GM-S2H

Content:

  • Page 1 - Specifications
  • Page 2 - Layout
  • Page 3 - Expansion options
  • Page 4 - BIOS, system monitoring
  • Page 6 - Overclocking and stability
  • Page 6 - Performance and conclusions




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