The Mother of Boards: Gigabyte EP45-DQ6 Preview


Introduction & LAN Mania

A Board That Probably has it All

Just a couple of days back, we brought you a preview of Gigabyte's upcoming GA-EP45-DS4 motherboard that's targeted at the high performance user group. Since then we've had more time to twiddle with Gigabyte's top P45 motherboard SKU and better understand its board design as we spoke with the respective technical managers. As you would have expected, this is none other than the all-encompassing DQ6 variant. To-date every DQ6 board model since the P965 Express chipset has been designed to impress and cram every possible feature of their time. For Gigabyte's new Intel P45 flagship, this was the scenario once again as the GA-EP45-DQ6 once again outdoes all its previous incarnations as it throws in everything but the kitchen-sink.

And here she is - the GA-EP45-DQ6 motherboard. While not appearing anything out of the ordinary for a high-end board from the company, you'll soon find out that there's a lot more features crammed into this seemingly 'normal' board.

The first clue of this board's power and class is revealed on its rear-I/O panel where you'll find an impressive array of four Gigabit Ethernet ports, eight USB 2.0 ports and other usual accompanying ports. FireWire support is still available on the board, but that's been moved to the dedicated brackets to make way for the onboard 'router'. Serial and Parallel ports have long been abolished, but PS/2 ports still linger on for those of us still holding on to our older tried and trusted keyboard/mouse combos.

The DQ6 class of motherboards have a way of creating their own headlines as each revision comes into existence and GA-EP45-DQ6 has several landmark features to make the DQ6 family proud of this newcomer. On board, you'll find four PCIe based Realtek 8111C Gigabit LAN controllers and this is readily seen by the rear-I/O panel's impressive quad Gigabit LAN ports. Before your jaw drops to the floor, we'll jog your memory that this isn't the world's first consumer board with quad LAN ports - that honor while still belonging to Gigabyte, was first introduced in their nForce 680i implementation in the GA-N680SLI-DQ6 motherboard . So that makes the GA-EP45-DQ6 the second board in history to feature four Gigabit LAN ports.

That's not to say that that this isn't one-of-a-kind, because the Realtek Gigabit controllers as well as the new software stack now supports teaming functionality across all these ports which enables four discreet connections to act as a singe massive connection with four times the bandwidth. Simply put, you've the equivalent of a single 4Gbps connection at your disposal for an ultra high performance digital media home server. Factor in Duplex operational modes and your theoretically have an 8Gbps connection! And unlike previous onboard LAN incarnations, these new network connection standards support Receive Side Scaling (RSS) that helps balance network traffic load among dual-core processors for better overall system performance. Furthermore, the network ports and the software stack are more resilient than ever before with fault tolerance support. Should any link suffer from a hardware failure, it is able to prevent network downtime by transferring the load to the other remaining working ports - be it in teaming mode or not. Sounds almost as if you're getting an onboard router with this motherboard, doesn't it?