AOpen i915Ga-PLF with Power Master

Table of Contents

The full-featured i915Ga-PLF is one of several new AOpen socket T motherboards with a unique function they call Power Master. The board supports the Enhanced Speedstep Technology in the newest 600 series Intel processors, but the i915Ga-PLF’s Power Master can turn older chips without the new EIST into power misers, too.

April 13, 2005 by Mike Chin

Product
AOpen i915Ga-PLF (E)
Socket 775 ATX motherboard w/ IGC
Manufacturer
AOpen
Selling Price
~US$120

The differences between many PC components and products are often superficial. The shorter the product life cycle, the more this truism holds true; there’s no time and little incentive for manufacturers to do anything beyond the reference design that might take more money or effort, so the products are even more alike than usual under surface cosmetics.

Retail packaged motherboards are perfect examples of this trend. The time before the next chipset or improved chipset version seems no more than a few months. Manufacturers barely have time to copy the reference design from the chipset maker, create a few feature mixes that might be somewhat unique along with the next cosmetic / color theme, and get the new series out in the stores with enough marketing hooks to have a chance of grabbing the attention of bewildered potential buyers. Such is business as usual in the PC industry.

Once in a while, a genuine innovation is introduced by engineering, but it gets lost in the rush to market, in the marketing mix-blitz. We have a case in point in the AOpen i915Ga-PLF under review here. The specific feature in question is something their marketing department calls by the innocuous, generic-sounding term, Power Master. I won’t give it all away immediately; suffice it to say Power Master is a unique feature and can only be found on two other AOpen Intel 915 chipset boards at time of writing.

A quick introduction to this socket T Intel 915G chipset ATX motherboard:


The retail box has a peek-a-view window.


All the contents are held in a tough plastic box.

The i915Ga-PLF is a fairly full-featured board missing only the processor and memory. Here are the specs from AOpen web page:

AOpen i915Ga-PLF Specifications

Processor

Intel LGA775 CPU
Socket 775, 800Mhz

Chipset Intel 915G, ICH6
Super I/O Winbond (W83627THF)
Clock Gen Realtek
Memory Dual-channel DDR400 [PC3200] DDR DIMM x 4
DIMM Type: 256/512MB & 1GB
Max Memory: 4GB
Graphics 16X PCI Express slot
Integrated Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 900
Support ADD2 Card
Audio Realtek AC’97 CODEC on-board (AC97(ALC850) )
7.1 Channel and above
Network Realtek Gigabit PCI LAN Chip (8110S)
IDE ATA100 & Serial ATA 150 Controller
Max Disk: 136 million GB [by 48 bits LBA Spec.]
USB Integrated in chipset, 2.0 ports x 2
IEEE 1394 Agere 1394 Control Chip
Slots PCI Express (PCIe x1) x 2
PCI Express x16 Graphics (PCIe x16) x 1
PCI x 3
Storage & Back Panel I/O Floppy Drive Connector x 1
IDE Channel
ATA100 x 1Serial ATA Channel x 4
PS/2 Keyboard x 1
PS/2 Mouse x 1
USB Port x 4
LAN Port x 1
VGA Port x 1
COM Port x 1
Printer Port x 1
Speaker_Out x 1
Line_In x 1
MIC_In x 1
On Board Connector Front Panel x 1
Front Audio x 1
CPU FAN x 1
System FAN x 1
Chassis FAN x 1
Power FAN x 1
Power Temperature Connector x 1
Case Open Connector x 1
CD_IN x 1
IrDA x 1
COM2 x 1
Game Connector x 1
IEEE 1394 x 2
USB Port x 4
BIOS Award PnP 4Mb Flash ROM BIOS
Form Factor / Size ATX / 305 mm x 210 mm
Software & Utility Acrobat Reader
AOconfig utility
EzClock utility
EzInstall utility
EzSkin utility
EzWinFlash utility
Norton Anti-Virus
Online eBook Manual
SilentTek Software
WinDMI utility
Accessory Easy Installation Guide x 1
Enhanced Full Pictured Manual x 1
Bonus Pack CD disc x 1
Norton Anti-Virus CD disc x 1
Floppy Disk cable x 1
80-wire IDE cable x 1
Serial ATA cable x 1
Serial ATA Power cable x 1
Back Panel I/O Shield x 1

Here is the obligatory big picture for those who like to pore over the visual details. Click on the image below for a 1024 pixel width image.


The AOpen i915Ga-PLF is not too big, and there’s no little whiny fan on the northbridge chip.

About the only thing that is a bit awkward on this board is the position of the 24/20 pin ATX connector. It’s close to the PCIe graphic card slot, well past the CPU socket. It is positioned far away from the AUX 12V (2x12V) connector, and the wires have to reach over and around the CPU heatsink/fan. A position closer to the “top” edge of the board would have made for greater convenience and simpler cable management. However, the near-central position of the ATX connector
may have to do with optimizing current paths on the board, particularly to the PCIe slot, which calls for up to 75W to be delivered via the ATX cable.


The ATX connector is positioned almost in the center of the board.

Before we start digging into the feature that really fascinates us about the i915Ga-PLF, let’s sum up several weeks of working with the board:

  • It is a nice package of features without being completely over the top.
  • The price is nice.
  • The BIOS Vcore and FSB adjustments (both up and down!) were close to the most flexible and enthusiast-friendly I’ve seen. This is fairly typical of ATX AOpen boards.
  • The absence of a fan on the modest size NB heatsink may limit overclocking options.
  • The board always remained perfectly stable throughout the testing and in general use.

OK, that’s done, now let’s move on to the burning question.

WHAT IS POWER MASTER?

So let’s get back to the heart of the matter: AOpen describes Power Master this way:

Power Master is a hardware controller to detect your CPU actual loading. And give your system the real time performance. When the loading is really low, it can lower the CPU current and make the fan slower to provide you the quietest working environment. On the contrary, Power Master will increase the CPU current and overclock in time to provide you the best performance.

If you didn’t understand that, too bad, because that’s all there is from AOpen. There are no other explanations. Not in the manual, PDF brochure or elsewhere at the AOpen web site. It took many careful readings of the above paragraph, several hours of hands-on trial-and-error, and a phone chat with Sunny Wang, a customer service engineer at AOpen America, to fully understand what Power Master is about. Much of its functionality is, in fact, described by the above. It’s just not very clearly done. Let’s take each line one at a time.

1) Power Master is a hardware controller to detect your CPU actual loading. This tells us that the load on the processor is monitored.

2) And give your system the real time performance. Something to do with changing performance dynamically based on CPU load.

3) When the loading is really low, it can lower the CPU current and make the fan slower to provide you the quietest working environment. So the CPU power consumption is reduced when it is idling and the CPU cooling fan speed is also reduced.

4) On the contrary, Power Master will increase the CPU current and overclock in time to provide you the best performance. The phrase “on the contrary” is used to mean “on the other hand”. The CPU current and clock speed is increased when needed to provide the best performance.

This line-by-line breakdown still does not tell the complete story, and it’s lacking in many of the fine details. Let’s see if I can sum it up for you:

A Functional Summary of AOpen’s Power Master

Power Master is a dynamic, real-time, CPU clock speed adjustment utility built into the motherboard and controlled within the BIOS menu. It provides Cool ‘n’ Quiet type functionality for any socket-T processor that can be installed on this motherboard; it does not require any support to be built into the processor. It also ties CPU thermal monitoring along with CPU load monitoring with automatic fan speed adjustments for the CPU heatsink fan via the 4-pin PWM voltage output header. Despite AOpen’s description, the CPU core voltage is not changed, only its clock speed, via the front side bus.

In essence, Power Master is a simplified Cool ‘n’ Quiet built into the motherboard, independent of the CPU! As some of you are aware, dynamic idle throttling has finally come to Intel’s latest 600 series desktop processors, but exactly how this is implemented has not been examined in detail this far as far as I know. This also does nothing for all the other Prescott processors, which continue running hot either at idle or at load. AOpen’s motherboard-embedded feature can help all Prescott-core socket 775 Intel processors achieve considerably lower idle power.

Power Master can do nothing to stop the processors from running at their default power when there is a high work load. Prescott core P4s will continue to run hotter than the older Northwoods or the comparable AMD Athlon 64 processors. However, consider this data cited by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Typical office computers sit idle 90~98% of the time that they are turned on. This means that reducing idle heat / power is highly significant for improved thermals and acoustics as well as for reduced energy consumption.

TEST SYSTEM

The following components were used to assemble an open-bench test system with the AOpen i915Ga-PLF motherboard. It was as lean and minimalist a system as we could make.

  • Intel 520 processor — P4-2.8 Prescott, 1Mb cache, 800 MHz FSB in 775 casing). Spec’d by Intel for a Thermal Design Power of 84W (and a calculated Maximum Power of 100W), and a maximum casing temperature of 67°C. Loan from Newegg.com
  • Intel 660 processor — P4-3.6 Prescott, 2Mb cache, 800 MHz FSB in 775 casing. The 660 is EM64T enabled (for 64-bit compatibility like the A64s), and features Enhanced SpeedStep (like Cool ‘n’ Quiet). Spec’d by Intel for a Thermal Design Power of 115W (and a calculated Maximum Power of 141W), and a maximum casing temperature of 67°C.
  • Stock Intel HSF
  • Zalman 7700AlCu – modified with Nexus 120 fan
  • Samsung SM-352B Combo Drive (CD-RW + DVD-ROM)
  • OCZ DDR400 512MB DDR Platinum SDRAM Memory (single stick)
  • Seagate Barracuda IV 40G – One of our original quiet reference drives.
  • Antec Phantom 500 power supply (pre-production sample) – This is a high efficiency PSU; the results of our testing would certainly vary with the PSU.
  • Microsoft Windows XP Pro SP2
  • On-board integrated graphics card (IGMA 900)

Tools

  • AOpen Power Master monitoring software
  • CPUBurn stress Program
  • Seasonic Power Angel AC power meter
  • CPU-Z
  • SpeedFan

The board boasts a user friendly BIOS with lots of controls. The SilentBIOS fan control feature we like and wrote about is here, albeit in somewhat modified form, as is a real enthusiast style CPU Frequency/Voltage control page. It is in the latter that the Power Master feature can be controlled.


Power Master feature accessed via Frequency /Voltage Control page in BIOS.

As the screen capture above shows, there are four settings for Power Master:

  • Performance
  • Normal
  • Automatic
  • Silent

The board seemed to default to the Automatic setting; however, the board was first operated in the Normal mode to establish benchmarks. After Windows was fully installed and updated, the Power Master software utility was downloaded from AOpen’s web site and installed. This software does not control Power Master; it simply allows you to monitor it. The parameters it monitors and displays on the screen are:

  • S: CPU clock speed
  • L: CPU load in percentage
  • F: Fan RPM
  • V: CPU Voltage
  • T: CPU diode temperature

The stock Intel HSF was installed initially. The temperature in the lab was 22°C throughout the testing.

NORMAL

With Power Master set to Normal, the system behaved… normally. CPU speed was 2.8 GHz as it should be. The SilentBIOS fan control was set to Smart Fan. Here is a quick summary of the observed parameters:

Power Master on NORMAL


CPU Load


CPU Speed


CPU Voltage


AC Power


Fan RPM

idle

2.80 GHz

1.38

76W

2150

max

2.80 GHz

1.35

141W

2600

In Normal mode, the SilentBIOS can be set to any of the three options: Full Speed, Smart Speed or Fixed Speed. (More about SilentBIOS later.)


All three Fan Modes selectable with Power Master in Normal.

AUTOMATIC

With Power Master set to Automatic, the SilentBIOS fan control defaulted to Smart Mode, with 55°C CPU temperature trigger ramp-up speed. The CPU boot speed was 2.94 GHz. This is a 5% overclock from the CPU’s 2.8 GHz default speed. It dropped to 1.96 GHz very soon after Windows came up. This is about a 33% underclock from the default CPU speed. Here’s a screen shot of the idle screen with the Power Master monitoring utility turned on.


In idle, with Power Master set to Auto.

When two instances of CPUBurn were turned on to apply 100% load to the CPU, the clock speed jumped instantly to 2.94 GHz, the 5% overclock setting observed at boot. The screen shot below shows the on-screen display after about half an hour of CPUBurn. The displayed 45°C temperature was the highest reached with the stock Intel HSF during testing.


After half an hour of CPUBurn with Power Master on Automatic.

These two clock speeds were the only ones observed at the Automatic setting. This was confirmed by running many different applications, singly and in combinations. Unlike CPUBurn, most applications do not keep a constant high load on the CPU. Instead, the load varies dynamically. The clock speed set by Power Master varied just about as dynamically as the load, jumping easily and smoothly between the 33% underclock and 5% overclock. The changes could not be noticed without the monitoring turn on. In other words, it was perfectly seamless throughout the testing.

I found DivX and Windows Media film clips useful in testing. Some screen shots are shown below.


Screen shot from clip of Shark Story. Note the 5% overclock speed and 35% CPU load.


Another film screen shot, this time with clock back down to 1.96 GHz.

In summary, the Automatic setting of Power Master had two direct effects on the system:

  1. In idle or low load, the CPU ran 30% slower than the default speed.
  2. At higher than ~35% load, the CPU ran 5% faster than the default speed.
  3. The clock speed changes were implemented via the front side bus (FSB), which dropped from the 200 MHz default to 140 MHz in idle, and up to 210 MHz at full load.

The clock speed changes had several effects on the system:

  1. At idle, the overall system power consumption dropped to below the norm.
  2. At idle, the CPU temperature also dropped below the the norm.
  3. At maximum load, the CPU performed slightly faster than the norm.
  4. At maximum load, the CPU ran slightly hotter than the norm.

The data is summarized in the table below.

Power Master on AUTOMATIC


CPU Load


CPU Speed


CPU Voltage


AC Power


Fan RPM

idle

1.96 GHz

1.38

68W

1960

max

2.95 GHz

1.35

141W

2600

SILENT

With Power Master set to Silent, the SilentBIOS fan control defaulted to Smart Mode again, with 55°C CPU temperature trigger ramp-up speed. The CPU boot speed was the normal 2.8 GHz. It dropped to 1.96 GHz very soon after Windows came up. This is the same 30% underclock from the default CPU speed as in the Automatic mode.

Power Master on SILENT


CPU Load


CPU Speed


CPU Voltage


AC Power


Fan RPM

idle

1.96 GHz

1.38

68W

1960

max
(final)

2.80 GHz

1.35

136W

2600

PERFORMANCE

With Power Master set to Performance, the SilentBIOS fan control could be set to any of the three modes. The CPU boot speed was 2.94 GHz. This is a 5% overclock. It dropped to the default 2.8 GHz very soon after Windows came up. When the CPU was loaded, the clock speed instantly jumped up to 2.95 GHz. These two speeds were the only ones seen in the Performance mode.

Power Master on PERFORMANCE


CPU Load


CPU Speed


CPU Voltage


AC Power


Fan RPM

idle

2.80 GHz

1.38

76W

2150

max

2.95 GHz

1.35

141W

2600

POWER MASTER SUMMARY

There’s little to say about Normal mode. There’s almost as little to say about Performance mode. It’s just a gesture towards overclockers, who would be totally unhappy with just a 5% overclock. Power Master has a significant impact only in the Automatic and Silent modes. The Automatic mode provides the 5% overclock benefit of the Performance mode as well as the 30% power drop in idle. It is probably the most practical mode for most users.

Note: The Vcore drop from 1.38V in idle to 1.35V at 100% load is due to the load on the voltage regulators on the motherboard. It is too small to be significant.


POWER MASTER w/ INTEL 520 CPU SUMMARY


CPU Load


CPU Speed


CPU Voltage


AC Power


Fan RPM
NORMAL

idle

2.80 GHz

1.38

76W

2150

max

2.80 GHz

1.35

136W

2600
PERFORMANCE

idle

2.80 GHz

1.38

76W

2150

max

2.95 GHz

1.35

141W

2600
AUTOMATIC

idle

1.96 GHz

1.38

68W

1960

max

2.95 GHz

1.35

141W

2600
SILENT

idle

1.96 GHz

1.38

68W

1960

max

2.80 GHz

1.35

136W

2600

The Silent mode is a benefit if lowest power consumption is desired. On the other hand, if that is your goal, why would you use a Prescott? Thermals will be improved, on average, especially for office applications where the CPU rarely gets a prolonged workout.

The most important data to compare is between the power draw of the system at full clock speed versus the reduced clock speed implemented by Power Master: 76W and 68W. This 8W difference is not exactly mindboggling. However, we are dealing here with a lowly 520, one of Intel’s slowest and coolest 775 P4 models at this time.

WITH AN INTEL 660

The new 600 series are equipped with several features that, in combination, are new for Intel desktop processors.

  • EM64T – Extended Memory 64-bit Technology is Intel’s term for the 64-bit extensions developed by AMD for the x86 architecture. Athlon 64s have had this technology for two years.
  • Execute Disable Bit – First introduced in the AMD A64, this technology denotes certain areas of main memory as “non-executable” and prevents some basic security threats on properly configured systems. Windows XP SP2 is required for support of this feature.
  • 2MB L2 Cache – A move up from from 1 MB of L2 cache to 2 MB of L2 cache to improve overall system performance.
  • Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology (EIST) – Intel’s desktop version of the feature on their moblie processors, which they’ve used for some years: It slows down CPU clock speed, by lowering the front side bus, the multiplier and voltage when the processor is idle. It reduces heat and power consumption at idle, like the AMD Athlon64’s Cool ‘n’ Quiet, but does nothing to change the power demand at full load.

The last item listed, EIST, is what we’re most interested in here. As with Cool ‘n’ Quiet in the Athlon 64, there are a number of requirements for EIST to work. The following is summarized from Intel’s How-To Document about EIST.

Desktop System Requirements

To take advantaged of Enhanced Intel SpeedStep® technology, certain requirements must be met

  • CPU: An Intel® Pentium® 4 processor 6xx sequence.
  • Chipset: A motherboard with one of the following chipsets: Intel® 910 or Intel® 915x/925X/XE Express Chipsets.
  • Motherboard: The motherboard must support dynamic VID. All Intel® desktop boards support dynamic VID.
  • BIOS: A BIOS must have support for Enhanced Intel SpeedStep technology.
  • Operating System: Current supporting OSs include:, Microsoft Windows* XP SP2 includes native support for Enhanced Intel SpeedStep® technology. Linux* support is also available. (Public Kernal: 2.6.9, 2.6.10; Red Hat*: EL4 or higher; SUSE*: SLES-9 SP1).
  • Software/Drivers: No specific software or driver updates are currently required. However, it is recommended that you always have the latest drivers for you system hardware.

Integration

Standard integration procedures should be followed for installing all the various system hardware components. Once all the hardware components have been installed correctly (or if the system is already functional) take the following recommended steps:

  1. Download and run the latest BIOS update for you motherboard. Check with your motherboard manufacture to ensure their latest BIOS contains support for Enhanced Intel SpeedStep technology
  2. Ensure Enhanced Intel SpeedStep technology is enabled in your BIOS. For Intel desktop boards the Intel SpeedStep technology option is under the, “Power,” tab and labeled, “EIST.” Ensure it is set to, “Enabled.”
  3. Ensure your OS has support for Enhanced Intel SpeedStep technology. For Windows XP operating systems, install SP2 if you haven’t already done so.
  4. Finally Enhanced Intel SpeedStep technology must be turned on in the OS. Currently, for Windows XP SP2 operating systems Enhanced Intel SpeedStep technology by default is off. To turn it on do the following:
    • Under Control Panel – open Power Options
    • Under the Power Schemes pull down menu
    • To turn Enhanced Intel SpeedStep technology ON select, “Minimal Power Management,” power scheme.

NOTE: The default minimum clock speed in EIST for all 600 series processors at this time is 2.8 GHz or 200 MHz FSB x 14.

My checklist for EIST:

  • An Intel 660 processor test sample was on hand. This was not a retail product.
  • BIOS update R1.01 for the AOpen i915Ga-PLF promised “Added EIST support.” The motherboard was already running on this BIOS.
  • Windows XP SP2 was fully updated and running on the test system
  • All the items listed by Intel under Integration were followed.

AOpen i915Ga-PLF does fully support enable EIST with BIOS R1.01. With the Intel 660 installed, the boot screen flashes a message stating “C1E BIOS SUPPORT” — which means that dynamic CPU voltage management is engaged. This is one of the functions of EIST. There are no menu items anywhere in the BIOS that turns EIST on or off. If you install an EIST-featured CPU, the support appears to be automatically turned on.

Would there be any problems in running Power Master and EIST together? My instinct was to say no, because Power Master only changes the front side bus between 140 MHz, 200 MHz and 210 MHz, while EIST changes Vcore and the CPU multiplier.

A full set of data for Power Master settings were collected with the Intel 660 processor.


POWER MASTER w/ INTEL 660 CPU SUMMARY


CPU Load

EIST*

Power Master**

CPU Speed


AC Power

CPU Voltage

CPU Multiplier


FSB
Power Master set to NORMAL

idle

1.18

14

200 MHz

2.80 GHz

67W

max

1.35

18

200 MHz

3.60 GHz

162W
Power Master set to PERFORMANCE

idle

1.18

14

200 MHz

2.80 GHz

67W

max

1.35

18

210 MHz

3.79 GHz

168W
Power Master set to AUTOMATIC

idle

1.18

14

140 MHz

1.96 GHz

62W

max

1.35

18

210 MHz

3.79 GHz

168W
Power Master set to SILENT

idle

1.18

14

140 MHz

1.96 GHz

62W

max

1.35

18

200 MHz

3.80 GHz

162W
* The CPU Voltage and Multiplier are both always set by the EIST utility built into the CPU (and supported by the AOpen motherboard.
** The FSB is controlled by the Power Master feature in the motherboard.

The Intel 660s AC power for idle with Power Master turned off (Normal) is marginally lower than the 520 at idle with Power Master turned on. The relative effects of Power Master and EIST render the settings for the two processors identical except for the Vcore. The combination of EIST and Power Master together are more effective at reducing power consummation that either alone. Some salient comparisons:


Processor / state

CPU Voltage

CPU Multiplier


FSB

CPU Speed

AC Power


520 at idle, Power Master
ON
 

1.38

14

200 MHz

2.80 GHz

67W


660 at idle Power Master
OFF

1.18

14

200 MHz

2.80 GHz

67W

660 at idle w/ Power Master
ON

1.18

14

140 MHz

1.96 GHz

62W

NO FAN CONTROL OPTIONS w/POWER MASTER

Acoustically, the only potential problem with both the Silent and Automatic modes is that the SilentBIOS fan control defaults to Smart Control with the trigger speed set to 55°C. There are no other options if Power Master is engaged.

While many users might think this is perfectly reasonable, there is a sonic advantage to letting the CPU hit a higher temperature before having the fan ramp up in speed. With the highly sensitive PWM speed controlled fan on the stock Intel cooler, the Smart Control setting at 55°C makes for frequent and annoying changes in fan speed. A better heatsink fan can solve the problem, however.

A Zalman 7700Alcu modified with a Nexus 120mm fan was pressed into service. Despite this being a 3-wire fan rather than the 4-wire fan used on the Intel, it connected perfectly fine on the motherboard header. The fan worked well with the SilentBIOS set Smart Control, ramping up and down between 500 and 1000 RPM with nary any audible noise.

UNDERVOLTED & POWER MASTERED?

An obvious question comes to mind: Can the CPU core voltage (Vcore) be reduced manually while Power Master is engaged?

Savvy PC silencers know that most processors can easily take a 0.1V reduction in Vcore without any penalty of instability. This small drop in voltage can lead to a drop of several degrees in CPU temperature. It is difficult to calculate what the power drop might be when the CPU is in idle, but at full load, a 0.1V drop in Vcore from 1.4V to 1.3V would lead to the Intel 520 TDP falling from 84W down to 72.4W. At idle and at the reduced 1.96 GHz clock speed, the power reduction will be no more than a few watts, but this could still make total AC power drop down to the mid-high 50W range for our test system, which is nothing to scoff at.

The answer to the question is: It depends on which CPU.

Non-EIST: The full range of AOpen’s Vcore adjustments (in 0.025V increments down to well below 1V) is accessible with the the Intel 520 regardeless of Power Master setting; logic would suggest this probably applies to any non-EIST processor.

EIST: With the 660 processor, changing the CPU core voltage is not an option in the BIOS at all, regardless of the Power Master setting; logic would suggest this probably applies to any EIST processor.

CONCLUSIONS

The AOpen i915Ga-PLF stands out from the crowd by virtue of Power Master. Yes, it has a nice BIOS, it does have SilentBIOS and Silent TEK, it is full-featured and stable without being costly… but the real attraction of this board is Power Master.

We hope dynamic Vcore adjustments will find their way into Power Master as it develops and evolves, along with a broader range of user controls. We also hope this feature will be integrated into more than just the three motherboards that have it now. It may also be just a question of time before Intel adopts a similar technology for their own boards, especially if they plan to continue selling non-EIST processors.

Regular SPCR visitors will recognize that this board and the Intel 660 are perfect to try with CrystalCPUID which we posted an article about few days ago. We will tackle this topic, but in a separate article a little later in the future.

Aside from the obvious for silent PC builders, there are other significant benefits of Power Master, most of which relate to cooler operation and reduced power consumption. The latter should be a concern for everyone in our age, but it may be especially significant for corporate buyers seeking to equip an entire office or branch or building.

Kudos to AOpen for Power Master.

Much thanks to AOpen for providing us the i915Ga-PLF sample, to Intel for the 660 Test Sample, and to Newegg.com for the Intel 520 CPU loaner.

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