It seams like that is one of the first
words to come to mind when discussing the current
PC hardware scene.
When you think of video, the competition
between 3dfx and
nVidia always comes up. Think of
processors and immediately an Intel versus
debate breaks out.
Well folks, the bickering is about to get
worse! It seems like we may have another topic to
discuss, motherboard chipsets.
years, Intel was the dominant force in the chipset
and Intel also had a much better relationship; in
fact AMD actually manufactured some 286s for
put things very simply (and keep this intro short)
:-), because of this relationship there was very
little need for an array of motherboard chipsets
and competition was limited to the very high or
from Intel, AMD and Cyrix all worked properly with
chipsets manufactured by Intel.
Over time though, the relationships between
Intel and the others deteriorated.
AMD began manufacturing the Athlon CPUs,
which are obviously compatible with x86
instructions, but were not simply clones of the
This spawned a much greater need for
competitive chipsets in the huge mainstream market
and the need for motherboards compatible with
AMD's new Slot / Socket form factors.
AMD themselves even began manufacturing
their own chipsets. Another company though, VIA
Technologies, saw a huge opportunity.
Although they've been around for quite a
while, only recently have they been making waves
and eating into Intel's market share.
VIA began manufacturing chipsets with more
features and comparable performance to Intel's
parts, but at a lower price point.
They also have become the preferred chipset
manufacturer for Athlon motherboards.
VIA Apollo 133 and Apollo 133A were marketed
directly at current Intel 440BX owners looking to
upgrade, or new mainstream buyers.
Many people were compelled by the newer
features of the Apollos and began using VIA based
motherboards with their Intel processors.
Now that VIA has proven they can compete in
the mainstream market, they are targeting Intel's
current mainstream chipset the i815.
The new VIA PM133 chipset is squarely
targeted at the i815, offering similar (sometimes
better) performance and features, but again at a
lower price point.
has taken the PM133 chipset and implemented it on
their new SY-7MA motherboard. This board sports
some nice features at an affordable price.
Let's jump right in and find out what this
puppy is made of...
Of The 7VMA
of good stuff.
CLICK TO ENLARGE
FSB Socket 370 Based ATX Motherboard
- FC-PGA 370
Pentium III Processors 533+ MHz with
- Socket 370
for Celeron Processors 300A~500+MHz with
PM133 + 686B Chipset
66/100/133 MHz FSB
168-pin SDRAM DIMM sockets support up to
PC-100/PC-133 SDRAM/VCM SDRAM
ECC (Error Checking Correction)
32-bit Bus Mastering PCI slots (V2.2
- One 16-bit
Universal AGP slot (support 1x/2x/4x
Chipset Super I/O
- Two RS-232
serial ports (16550 UART compatible)
parallel printer port (SPP/EPP/ECP mode)
- One FDD
port (Supports LS120, 3 mode,
1.2/1.44/2.88 MB FDD
IrDA port with optional cable for
- Two Ultra
DMA 33/ 66/100 IDE ports
independent channels for four IDE
up to PIO mode 4 and Ultra DMA 33/66/100
- Two PCI
bus mastering ATA E-IDE ports
- Award PCI
BIOS with green, ACPI, APM, PnP, DMI,
functions and Year 2000 compliant
multiple-boot from E-IDE/ SCSI/ CD-ROM/
FDD/ LS120/ ZIP
- 2 Mbit
Embedded S3 Savage4 AGP
Board Audio Subsystem
- AC97 Codec
on board to provide software audio
layers, 30.5 cm x 20.0 cm (12" x
- ATX form
PC Health Monitoring
voltage monitors for CPU Vcore, VTT,
+5v, +12V and VBAT
- CPU fan
speed control & monitor
CPU temperature monitoring through CPU
on-die thermal diode
Stack Back-Panel I/O Connectors
Mini-DIN mouse & keyboard ports
- Two USB
- One D-Sub
25-pin female printer port
- One serial
- Audio I/O:
LINE-Outx1 , LINE-Inx1, MIC JACK x1
- One game
- VGA port
- FCC Class
B and CE EMI Regulation Compliant
- PC98 ACPI
up to 32 selectable sets of system and
PCI clock speeds inside the BIOS
on-board Hardware Monitoring and
includes Hardware Health Utility
- CPU core
voltage is adjustable
WOL (Wake On LAN)
power off control
- Modem Ring
Failure Resume Function
- Suspend To
- Suspend To
The Soyo SY-7VMA
has a very complete specification list.
The newer 686B south-bridge is used in
conjunction with the PM133 so UDMA/100 hard drive
transfers are now native.
There are a couple
of features whose names are exclusive to Soyo,
AI-BIOS and Voice Doctor.
I say only the names are exclusive because
similar features are available from competitors.
Nevertheless, they are welcome features.
The AI-BIOS implements a few basic changes
that basically make it harder to hose your BIOS
The Voice Doctor feature is very simple,
but also very useful.
More on this to come…
Installation, BIOS Settings and Over-Clocking