ALTHOUGH A BIT later than some of its competitors, Asus has announced its own AMD 890GX board, the M4A89GTD PRO. However, compared to just about everyone else, Asus claims to have one killer feature, CPU core unlocking.
Yes, you did read that correctly, as apparently AMD has removed the Advanced Clock Calibration feature or ACC that was found in many of the 700-series southbridges, in the SB850. This means that those hoping to be able to unlock any additional CPU cores on their dual and triple-core AMD processors are out of luck. Well, that’s at least what would’ve been the case, but now it seems like Asus has come to the rescue.
What we’re not so clear about though is why Asus has implemented three different ways of making its core unlocking feature work. You can either flip a switch on the board, press and hold the “4” key at boot, or enable it in the BIOS settings. This seems like it could cause a bit of confusion, but hopefully it shouldn’t be too difficult to figure out.
Asus offers two different version of the M4A89GTD PRO, of which one carries the /USB3 suffix. This model features two USB 3.0 ports which the standard model doesn’t have. The rear I/O consists of six (or four) USB 2.0 ports, a PS/2 port, HDMI, DVI and a D-sub connector, eSATA, FireWire, Gigabit Ethernet and 7.1-channel analogue audio jacks as well as an optical S/PDIF out.
The board has two x16 PCI Express slots and it supports CrossFireX. It also has a single x1 and unusually a single x4 PCI Express slot, as well as two PCI slots. Asus has also implemented its Turbo Key II automatic overclocking feature, although again it’s a little switch on the board that activates this feature. Overall this looks like a decent board and the core unlocking feature is its greatest claim to fame.
On a side note, ASRock which is closely related to Asus, has developed its own solution for unlocking extra cores on AMD processors which goes under the acronym UCC or Unlock CPU Cores. It works slightly different as ASRock has implemented a small ASIC on its boards and then you enabled it through a BIOS setting. However, ASRock also claims that it has managed to get this working with Nvidia chipsets and will be releasing boards in the near future with UCC.S|A
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