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Exclusive Peek at Gigabyte’s GA-P55A-UD7

“7” might not be the most oft-used number for naming products this side of the globe, but Gigabyte has chosen to use the “UD7” moniker on it’s upcoming feature-packed mainboard. Today we landed our hands on a pre-production sample, so here we are with the photos.

We weren’t in the least guilty using our prying eyes and lenses upon this interesting piece, here’s a few shots while Gigabyte warms their wave soldering machines for production. Complete specifications are not with us at the moment, but keep watch of our news section for the press-release. This board is announced for February 2010.
The board comes in the same turquoise theme we’re familiar with from Gigabyte. No hint of having predecessors that had yellow and red daughterboard slots.

A plethora of I/O. Nice to see the good ‘ol PS/2 interface for old geeks stuck on their meticulously converted mechanical keyboards of the yesteryears.

The LGA1156 will take Intel’s existing processors, amongst them 32nm parts, promising better power performance and easier clock-scaling.

Here on the back, you see the 2oz copper planes and the black-chrome backplate of the processor socket. It is marketed as having a 24 phase VRM, which the 24 inductors on the topside are supposed to prove.

This is the RAM end of things. Onboard power buttons have become very much of a default feature these days, but the one here’s exceptionally big. More geared towards the Torture Rack sort, perhaps? You’d also notice the “PCB MADE IN TAIWAN” silkscreen. Gigabyte seems pretty proud of that, a good reason given how much consumer electronics manufacturing has shifted to Mainland China these days.

Of course we had the fancy blue heatpipes taken off to look at what is beneath.

Compared to the more ambitious offerings of the “DQ6” era, the lightweight affair supplied with the UD7 is actually pretty refreshing to see. Given the rising prices of copper, I do want to see more of it going into the PCB traces than into heatpipes running all over the board.

Look closer at the VRM FETs, and it looks like Intersil’s providing the VRM IC yet again!

This is where the excitement builds. The array of full-length PCIe graphics slots promises ATi Crossfire and NVIDIA SLI. Not just a one card addition, but possibly 2~3 for Triple SLI/Crossfire and more. The chipset on the right would point us towards what is on offer.

From top-left, clockwise: The NVIDIA NF200 which gives rise to the extraordinary number of PCIe lanes; NEC’s USB 3.0 chipset; The Intel P55 PCH; PLX PCIe switch.
The NF200 chipset has stood the test of time, proving to be a reliable option in a fair few configurations of the past. How it performs in this UD7 mainboard will remain a mystery till the dust settles. Interestingly, Gigabyte has also decided to trounce the competition in the USB 3.0 feature set by increasing the power capacity. The fuses have been uprated so you can draw off your 5V Vbus at some 2.7A. Older USB standards do get uprated too, so USB2.0 and the earlier USB devices can draw 1.5A off the Vbus.

Close your eyes and think of all those unwieldy portable hard drives with “Y” connectors. See them yet? Yes. Now, wave them all goodbye.

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