IF YOU’RE LOOKING for a somewhat more affordable Xeon system, then Intel’s latest 32nm Xeon L3406 might be of interest to you, as the new CPUs start at as little as $189 for a dual core, quad threaded model. Although this CPU will fit in various motherboards, the ideal companion would be a motherboard with the Intel 3450 chipset and guess what, Asus has just announced a new motherboard based on just that chipset.
The P7F7-E WS SuperComputer is Asus’ first motherboard based on the 3450 chipset, which appears to be very similar to the H57 cipset, as both are part of the Ibex Peak family of chipsets. The 3450 has a slightly higher TDP of 5.9W compared to 5.2W of the H57 chipset which is peculiar if nothing else, but otherwise the two appear to be identical in terms of functionality based on the information available from Intel.
However, Asus has added a few tweaks of its own to spice things up and the first feature that sticks out is the addition of a NF200 PCI Express bridge chip. This allows Asus to fit four x16 PCI Express slots, although the bandwidth is limited to x8 when all four slots are used. The board also has three x1 PCI Express slots. One feature that’s hard to miss is the six memory slots which Asus claims will allow you to lower your overall system cost by being able to use a mix of 4GB and 2GB module to reach a total of 16GB.
Asus has also thrown in just about every connectivity option available and the board boasts USB 3.0, SATA 6Gbps and even FireWire 800 (also known as IEEE 1394b) which is an interface you don’t really see on a lot of PC’s these days. Interestingly, Asus has also added a pair of USB ports internally as well and Asus refers to this feature as Quick Gate. There are also several more common features thrown in for good measures such a dual Gigabit Ethernet ports with support for teaming, 10-channel audio with DTS encoding, a DVI port to take advantage of CPUs with integrated graphics and a bundled diagnostics card.
There’s no word on when this feature packed “budget” workstation board will be available, nor any pricing details, but it should prove to be an interesting option for those that require most or all of the features on offer. On top of support for the Xeon L3406, the board also supports all of Intel’s Xeon 3400-series processors and the Core i3, i5 and i7 processors that use the LGA-1156 socket.S|A
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