The Supermicro P4DC6 Motherboard

The Supermicro P4DC6 Motherboard

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THE SUPERMICRO P4DC6 MOTHERBOARD

Introduction

The supermicro P4DC6 Motherboard is a server motherboard that has the most up-to-date specifications and features. The PC motherboard was first introduced in 1960, when Digital Equipment introduced the first minicomputer (PC). The PDP-1, which sold for US$120,000, was the first commercial computer equipped with a keyboard and monitor. This motherboard was MUCH larger than the ones we see today. Today’s motherboards are merely one-tenth the size of the one’s in 1960. The SUPER P4DC6 is a little bigger than the normal ATX (8” x 10.5”) at 12” x 13”.

The SUPER P4DC6 is an extended ATX form factor (as stated earlier the extended is larger) motherboard. Using the latest Intel technology in the form of the i860 chipset means stability and reliability will be in the forefront of this board features. The Intel i860 chipset utilizes the new modular design of the 800 family of chipsets. Like other 800 series chipsets, the Intel i860 chipset has two core components. The first half is the 82860 Memory Controller Hub (MCH), which is the main interface to the processor host bus, the memory, and graphics interface. This is scalable design architecture with many benefits.
     
The second half of this chipset, the 82801BA I/O Controller Hub (ICH2) delivers twice the I/O (input/ output) bandwidth over traditional bridge architecture and provides dedicated data paths, which fully optimizes the additional bandwidth available for improved performance across the board. A prefetch cache (stores what it thinks your next process will be before you do it), integrated into the Intel i860 chipset, allows highly efficient data flow and also helps to minimize system inconsistencies enhancing stability in the board’s performance.
     
The P4DC6 utilizes Dual Intel 603 Xeon CPU’s in speeds from 1.5 GHZ – 2.0 GHZ, and will allow higher speed processors at the BIOS through flash updates. The i860 chipset supports a 400MHZ system bus which is quad piped 100MHZ FSB that uses the dual channel 600/800 MHZ RDRAM (Rambus Dynamic Read Only Memory) with memory transfer rates as high as 3.2 GB/s. Due to the large power requirements and to ensure system stability, a 400W (min.) ATX12V power supply (with both 4-pin and 8-pin +12V power connecter) is required for operating the SUPER P4DC6 correctly. There are many main parts of the SUPER P4DC6 motherboard, but the 3 main parts discussed in this paper are the memory slots, chipset and integrated I/O ports.



Figure 1.

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0 – SUPER P4DC6 Motherboard

Discussion
The memory slots
     The memory slots are made of highly heat resistant plastic (see Figure 1-1) with gold pin connectors lining the middle of the slot from end to end (see Figure 1-2). As well, there are tabs (one on each side) that hold on to the RAM when it is installed (see Figure 1-3). These tabs are also made of plastic and are very small in size. The memory slots hold 184- pin SIMM RDRAM with a total of 4 slots available on the SUPER P4DC6 motherboard. The slots are made specifically for this type of memory module (RDRAM) and are directly related to the PCI bus, thus shouldn’t be any other RAM.


Figure 1.1–RDRAM slots Figure 1.2-Gold contacts Figure 1.3-Tabs

Chipset
The chipset is a hard thin plastic (see Figure 2-1) chip, which coat millions of transistors squeezed inside. These transistors pass the data through gold plated pins (see figure 2-2) from the chip to the board. The pins connect directly onto the motherboard (see Figure 2-3), making them fully integrated to the board. The chips on the SUPER P4DC6 both look identical on the exterior by shape and texture, but are different in size. The 82860 MCH is 1.6 cm x 1.6 cm and the 82801BA is 1.1cm x 1.1 cm. They also have very different purposes, as stated in the intro.


Figure 2.1- Plastic cover Figure 2.2-Pins Figure 2.3-Connectors on board

Integrated USB I/O port
     The USB port is 1cm wide x 1/3 cm high and is a metal rectangle (see Figure 3-1) with a thin straight plastic divider in the upper half of the port (see figure 3-2). This is used as a guide as wells as to keep the pins from connecting with the wrong side. There are four gold plated pins (see Figure 3-3) that integrated to the metal casing. Two of the pins are slightly longer than the other two and are the power pins. The other two pins are the data pins. The pins are like this so that no matter what the device gets power before the data is sent (creating an error). This is also because the USB port is for “Plug and Play” devices (can just plug it in and use it right away).
     

Figure 3.1-Metal port Figure 3.2-Plastic divider Figure 3.3-Pins

Conclusion
SUPERMICRO has definitely come up with a super motherboard in the P4DC6, a feature filled board that offers the user a wide range of flexibility in its configuration options. This system never bat an eye at anything done when running real world applications including being used as a game server with many users accessing the machine at the same time.
The ability to use the new 10,000 RPM SCSI drives makes access times almost quicker than you can click the buttons when working in the Windows environment. Even when multitasking with many different applications running the system never missed a beat which was quite impressive making this a very reliable multi tasking product.
For just raw power this system will be hard to beat, SUPERMICRO did one hell of a job with this motherboard.
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