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GIGABYTE's New Technologies: CloudOC, Unlocked Power & More

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MAC

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Gigabyte Technology Seminar



Continuing our Computex 2010 coverage, today we bring you some interesting motherboard news coming straight from the stratospheric Taipei 101.



Although Gigabyte haven't launched any new motherboard models (just new revisions) during Computex 2010, they have unveiled a few new interesting motherboard technologies during their aptly named Gigabyte Technology Seminar. This is where you will see the new features that will be added onto the company's upcoming motherboard models in the coming months.




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Following an introduction by Colin Brix, Technical Marketing Manager, everyone was welcomed to the press conference by Gigabyte's VP of Motherboard Business Unit Henry Kao. In his opening speech, Mr. Kao emphasized his company's dominance in the USB 3.0 arena, with Gigabyte having sold more USB 3.0 enabled motherboards than any other manufacturer, while also having the largest range of motherboards supporting USB 3.0, from the flagship X58A-UD9 to the budget-oriented GA-EP41T-USB3 (which is actually based on the Intel G41 chipset despite its model name).



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Tim Handley, Deputy Director of Motherboard Marketing, then officially began the presentation by revealing that the best overclocking results with the new Intel Core i5-655K and Core i7-875K processors have thus far been achieved on GIGABYTE P55 motherboards, and by highlighting the undeniable popularity of GB's P55 and H55 based motherboards in the enthusiast realm, based on the percentage of HWBot submissions. Afterwards Mr. Handley announced GIGABYTE's numerous new technological innovations like Unlocked Power, HotKey OC, and CloudOC, as well as reiterating noteworthy features like On-Off Charge and 3X USB Power.

Article Index:

Page 2: Unlocked Power
Page 3: HotKey OC
Page 4: CloudOC
Page 5: On-Off Charge / 3X USB Power
Page 6: Gigabyte Computex Booth
 
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MAC

Associate Review Editor
Joined
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1,141
Location
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Unlocked Power

Unlocked Power



Unlocked Power is GIGABYTE's term for its brand new CPU power design. To showcase the capabilities of the Unlocked Power technology, GIGABYTE demonstrated just how much power their high-end X58A-UD9 motherboard and its 24-phase PWM design could deliver to the CPU socket with this little video presentation:

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So you are probably wondering what is so special about the UD9's 24-phase design compared to the one that was debuted on the P55-UD6? Well without delving in too deep (we'll keep that for the review), the X58A-UD9 has have a true 24-phase design. Having said that, Unlocked Power is not solely about phases. Gigabyte have replaced their traditional motherboard power design and are now using more modern integrated Driver-MOSFET chips, which differ from standard MOSFETs in that they feature a 3-in-1 design with the Driver IC, top MOSFET, and bottom MOSFET all in one package. Among other things these new MOSFETs have faster transient response, provide more stable the power to the CPU, and more efficient.

Now although the 1500W figure that GIGABYTE demonstrated might be achievable in lab conditions, it is a little bit of a marketing gimmick since the UD9's two 8-pin CPU connectors can theoretically only provide up to 480W. However, the point behind the presentation is that they have developed a PWM design that can not only supply an inordinate amount of power to even the most insanely overclocked processor, but is also incredibly robust.

Arguably more important than this new design's maximum power delivery capabilities are the Dual Power Switching and Power Phase Boost features.



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When enabled, Dual Power Switching (DPS) splits the 24 phases into two separate sets of 12 phases. In doing so, during light/normal load conditions one set of 12 phases can be active while the other set is powered down. The sets of 12 phases alternate every time you shut down or hibernate your system in order to even out the wear & tear. The logic behind this approach is that is that unlike traditional power design's where the same powers phases are constantly in use and thus more likely to wear out and/or fail, by alternatively switching between the two sets the lifespan of the power phases can be effectively doubled. A bonus feature of the Unlocked Power design is Auto Failure Protection, which will automatically disable the group of 12 power phases if any one phase in that set is faulty, allowing the motherboard to continue operating using the remain twelve phases. This means the difference between a working motherboard and one unable to boot.

Full load scenarios are where Power Phase Boost comes into play. When the CPU requires more than 12 phases DPS is temporarily disabled and the 12 other phases are automatically activated. When the system returns to a normal load state, DPS is re-enabled and the motherboard drops back down to 12 phases to ensure better power efficiency and phase reliability. As expected, GIGABYTE have carried over the dynamic 6 gear switching feature that is part of Dynamic Energy Saver 2 software. Depending on whether DPS is enabled or disabled, the motherboard can operated with as little as 2 power phases in idle states.

Although the focus of Unlocked Power has thus far been on the flagship UD9, the X58A-UD7 and X58A-UD5 will also be receiving this updated power design, albeit in 16-phase form. These models will be identifiable by their revision 2.0 labels. Whether Unlocked Power will trickle down to other models is not known at this time.
 

MAC

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HotKey OC

HotKey OC



Next up GIGABYTE showed off the HotKey OC feature, which should prove quite popular among competitive overclockers. Available on all GB motherboards that support EasyTune6, HotKey OC is a keyboard-based method to overclock and/or tweak system settings on-the-fly while a game or benchmarking is actually running. In the live demonstration, GIGABYTE in-house overclocker Hicookie demonstrated how he could overclock a Core i5-655K from 3.20Ghz to 3.84Ghz on a GA-P55A-UD4P motherboard using one key stroke, and while the Unigine Heaven Benchmark was running.



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Why would anyone need this feature? Well using Gigabyte's example, imagine if your CPU could run every GPU test in 3DMark06 at 4.81Ghz but would always crash at the CPU tests. Well with Hotkey OC you can simply switch profiles or manually downclock your CPU to a stable clock speed right before the CPU tests start, and then as soon as its over switch back to your original CPU overclock. This is easy process that can help you squeeze out those extra few 3DMarks or frames per second. It is also a heck of a lot easier than having to mess around with buttons and joysticks on the motherboard itself like previous implementations of this concept.

If the images aren't enough for you, here is a demonstration of this new feature in action featuring GIGABYTE Technical Marketing Manager Rockson Chiang and brought to us by our friends over at OverclockingTV.

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MAC

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CloudOC

CloudOC



During the past year we have seen a few remote overclocking features that simply weren't user-friendly, that relied on a bluetooth connection (which is iffy at the best of times) and has limited range, or that were only compatible with a small number of mobile platforms.

Well evidently GIGABYTE have learned from others mistakes because they have developed a solution that has none of the above shortcomings. Despite the name, CloudOC doesn't actually make use of a Cloud computing framework, but it is internet based. In brief, CloudOC is remote monitoring and overclocking tool that utilizes an HTML-based interface. What this means is that CloudOC can be used from any internet-enabled device, it is completely platform agnostic. As long as you can find an open WiFi connection, you can monitor and overclock your Gigabyte motherboard from anywhere in the world. This feature will be compatible with all Gigabyte motherboards, and all you will need is to install a piece of software on the host system.



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In the demonstration, Technical Marketing Manager Rockson Chiang used an Apple iPad to remotely overclock a Core i5-655K from 3.20Ghz to 3.84Ghz on a GA-P55A-UD4P motherboard using the CloudOC HTML interface.



Click on image to enlarge

As you can see, the CloudOC GUI is fairly simple, but it does provide most of the functionality that you would find in EasyTune6.

Once again, Rockson and the fine folks at OverclockingTV have brought us a video demonstration of this new feature in action:

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CloudOC was definitely one of the most interesting new features announced during Computex 2010, if only because of how much smarter it is to remotely control a system through the internet instead of via a proprietary cable or bluetooth connection, both of which aren't really 'remote' at all. Now the prospect of overclocking a system remotely might seem pointless or even worrisome to most people, and it probably is if you are within arms reach of your system.

Personally, I see CloudOC as an interesting way for a knowledgeable overclocker to remotely demonstrate to a novice user how to overclock in real-time. Trying to explain overclocking over the phone/Skype is nearly impossible, but with CloudOC the novice user would actually be able see frequency/voltage changes as their are happening. As a result, I think CloudOC could potentially be a worthwhile teaching tool.

It would also be interesting if GIGABYTE decided to expand the basic remote capabilities of CloudOC to develop a user-friendly Virtual Network Computing (VNC) feature, which would allow users to remotely access, manage, and control their data and every aspect of their desktop from a mobile device. Just a thought.
 

MAC

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On/Off Charge / 3X USB Power

On/Off Charge / 3X USB Power Boost





Click on image to enlarge

Although first announced a few months ago, the useful On/Off Charge and 3X USB Power Boost features were reiterated during the press conference.

When the Apple iPad was first released, people started realizing that the devices wouldn't charge on most PCs, only on newer Apple system's was charging guaranteed to be trouble-free. The reason for this is that most motherboard's have traditional USB 2.0 ports can only provide up to 0.5 amps, which isn't enough to charge the iPad.

As a result, GIGABYTE unveiled the 3X USB Power Boost feature that allowed all their Intel X58/P55/H55/H57 and AMD 800 series motherboards to supply up to 1.5 amps through USB 2.0 ports. Not only is this enough power to charge the iPad, but it also means you can "quick charge", ie: recharge all types of devices much faster than with a traditional motherboard. It is obviously also beneficial for powering external devices of any kind. As per its name, another benefit of On/Off Charge is that it allows users to charge their iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch even when the system is powered off. The On/Off Charge driver is all that is needed to bring this functionality to existing compatible motherboards. In some rare instances, some older revivisions of the iPhone/iPod Touch will not charge when the system is turned off, even with On/Off Charge. To counter this GIGABYTE have started including a special powered On/Off Charge USB header on their newer motherboards.

If you want to see both technologies in action, watch the following YouTube clip:

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MAC

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Gigabyte Computex Booth

Gigabyte Computex Booth




Click on image to enlarge

As in previous years, GIGABYTE have a very large booth on the first floor of the Taipei World Trade Center (TWTC) Exhibition Hall 1, and while we visited some newer products caught our eye.


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If you're a true enthusiast, there's no need for us to introduce GIGABYTE's record-breaking X58A-UD9 motherboard. This large XL-ATX motherboard features the company's new 24-phase 'Unlocked Power' PWM design, SATA 6Gb/s, USB 3.0, and support for 4-way CrossFireX & 4-Way SLI. Its $700 price tag caused some serious waves when it was first spotted in the retail channel, but if it continues to prove itself serious overclockers will inevitably come to love it.

We also spotted revision 2.0 boards of both the X58A-UD7 and X58A-UD5. Both models have received the redesigned 'Unlocked Power' power design, although in 16-phase form. They have also both gained the new white & orange On/Off Charge USB header. Interestingly, the UD7 has received a slightly refreshed northbridge cooler which replaces the water cooling block with some air-cooling friendly fins.


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The X58A-UD3R has also received the 2.0 treatment. It now comes with a new 12-phase power design (compared to 8 for the 1.0) and also sports the On/Off Charge USB header. There was also a P55A-UD4P 2.0, which also went from a 8 to 12-phase PWM, and which also gained the On/Off Charge USB header.

The diminutive H55N-USB3 is billed by GIGABYTE as the first USB 3.0 Mini-ITX form factor motherboard. This model is based on the Intel H55 chipset and supports all the Intel LGA1156 processors, but is specially designed for Clarkdale's. My only minor complaint is that while it does features an HDMI interface, it doesn't support DisplayPort. Not a big deal for most people.



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On the AMD front, GIGABYTE were showing off five of their eight AMD 800 series motherboards, of which support SATA 6Gb/s, USB 3.0, and On/Off Charge. SATA They were also showing off the flagship 890FXA-UD7, which supports 4-Way CrossFireX, and which we will be reviewing shortly.


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GIGABYTE were also showing off their brand new GV-N465UD-1GI Geforce GTX 465 1GB graphics card, which features a customer cooler and "anti-turbulence Inclined Dual Fan" design.

We don't have a close-up, but the second card from the top in the second row to the left is the new Radeon HD 5770 Super Overclock edition model. It features a 900Mhz core clock (reference is 850Mhz), a standard 4800Mhz GDDR5 128-bit memory interface, and a custom cooler.

Although nowhere in sight, there was a banner for a very sexy looking GeForce GTX 470 Super OverClock edition model with a triple-fan cooler design. I would expect it to be available in about 4-5 weeks.


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There was also a new and improved ODIN Pro 1200W power supply, which has a new exterior design and now sports an impressive 80PLUS Silver efficiency rating.


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GIGABYTE had a few interesting models on the mobile side. First was the Q1585N, a full-size notebook based on the Intel Calpella platform. This model will be available with Intel Core i7/i5/i3 processors and comes with an NVIDIA GeForce GT 335M discrete GPU. It features a 15.6" 16:9 LED backlit panel, although for that size screen the 1366x768 resolution is low. This model was running a 3D video, but you did need 3D glasses to enjoy the experience.

Next up was the T1000P convertible tablet-netbook. This model, which was first unveiled at CES, is the successor to the original Gigabyte M912 and subsequent T1028M. First and foremost the T1000P features a swiveling 10.1" LED backlit panel supports multi-touch and features handwriting input recognition. It also has a pleasingly high 1366x768 resolution. It also features the new Intel 'Pine Trail' platform which means that it comes with the latest generation of Atom N400 series processors and Intel GMA 3150 IGP. Neither will blow you away with their performance, but they are extremely energy efficient. Connectivity-wise, all bases are covered with WiFi B/G/N, Bluetooth V2.1, and optional 3.5G mobile broadband.

Another sexy convertible that GIGABYTE showed off was the new M1125N. This model features the new Intel Arrandale ULV (Ultra-Low Voltage) Core i3/i5 processors, has an 11.6" LED backlit 1366x768 multi-touch display, and also has an NVIDIA GPU that supports NVIDIA Optimus technology. GIGABYTE have also wisely included USB 3.0 connectivity, which is something that far too few notebooks have at this point. Overall, it looks like a very well-rounded package.


 
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