First off, ASUS today is very unlike the company I knew tree years ago. Back then it was an als0-ran in the market, with the best products coming out of their ROG line, anything from the Maximus series and the DirectCU graphics line. Today things are very different with the company pushing their brand on all fronts and being generally the first name enthusiasts recommend. I’m done with their component announcements from Computex 2012, but cast thine eyes downwards, dear reader and salivate to your heart’s content.
What you see is something rather special. Its an ASUS P9X79 Deluxe motherboard that has gone through a Frankenstein-esque transformation. The board is a standard X79 affair up top with support for Intel’s Extreme chips on the LGA2011 socket, up to 128GB of RAM, ten SATA ports, two Thunderbolt ports, HDMI, DVI, USB 3.0 and full-on eight-channel audio. There’s also a kickass black-and-gold theme and a lot of thought went into the board’s design.
Oh, there’s also two graphics cards embedded into the board at the bottom. Yeah, I thought you should know that.
The board started off innocently, as I said before, with a P9X79 Deluxe being taken through a lab and spliced with some completely different beast. The result is two HD7900-series cards melded into the bottom of the board, taking up all the available PCI-Express space usually reserved for extra slots. There’s no indication from ASUS what cores are in there, but the 8+6-pin PCI-Express socket configuration should be enough to tell you – the Radeon HD7970. While there’s no details about how the cores are clocked and how much memory is available, you can bet your ass that its the same implementation as the HD7970X2 6GB monsters I’ve shown you before floating around the expo floor.
Its a mind-boggling achievement that this board even exists. Who cares about APUs when you have these beasts embedded into the same board your CPU fits into? The Zeus also features a 10+ phase power design which at least allows you to clock up your processor reliably without ripple and too much variation from the voltage you’re running it at. The graphics cards are connected to the on-board mini Displayport and Thunderbolt port, as well as to the regular-sized Displayport and DVI connection.
The board also features twelve USB 3.0 slots, support for everything up to RAID 10 setups, high-end 8-channel audio and a very flexible system on the backplane to switch between the graphics cards in use. Those two switches at the top manage which graphics card has power routed to it – both plugged in enables Crossfire, or one could alternately run just one for benchmarking and stability testing. Its a thing of beauty really but I’m going to have to stop the dreaming right there.
You won’t ever be able to buy one. ASUS hasn’t said whether it plans on putting this out in to retail or even if the passive cooling heatsinks actually work well enough to keep temperatures down. Remember, you’re putting 80° monsters next to a SATA chipset that doesn’t expect heat levels beyond 30°. Its a proof-of-concept project though and may even point to how things could look in the future for desktops that aren’t meant to be upgraded with extra cards. I can already see this working fantastically in an oil tank or even under LN2 so if this is ever sold to the public, expect some very rich enthusiasts doing a lot of tinkering with it.
Source: Nordic Hardware
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