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ASUS P5WD2-E Premium i975X Review

Storage Technology: Intel ICH7R and Marvell?88SE6141

The Marvell 88SE6141 Storage Host Controller

On the P5WD2-E Premium, we’ll see the Intel ICH7R Southbridge that will provides 4 SATA 3.0Gb/s ports and 1 ATA100 port. the Intel ICH7R southbridge is capable of Intel’s very own Matrix Storage Technology, which enables users to actually perform different RAID functions across different drives at the same time, i.e. on 2 80GB hard drive, you’ll be able to split the two drives up into 2 parts of 40GB, performing RAID 0 on the first 40GB of both drives and RAID 1 on the later 40GB part of the 2 drives. performance isn’t fantastic but this is definitely an innovation by Intel on te ICH7R silicon.

Apart from ICH7R, Asus took a twist away from the dual 3rd party storage controller that we saw in the P5WD2 Premium mainboard. Instead , Asus implemented an ATA/SATA Capable Marvell 88SE6141 Controller onto the P5WD2-E Premium, bringing a total of 8 SATA-II ports and 2 ATA ports as opposed to the 5 SATA ports and 3 ATA ports found on the P5WD2 Premium, increasing the total number of storage devices supported internally from 11 to 12.

The Storage ports found on the P5WD2-E Premium, top 4 SATA and ATA port provided by the ICH7R Silicon, and the bottom 4 SATA ports and 1 ATA port provided by the Marvell Host Controller

The Marvell 88SE6141 is an ATA/SATA hybrid controller that is capable of supporting up to 4 SATA 3.0Gb/s ports and a single IDE port that is able to take up to 2 IDE devices. Asus has also implemented an E-SATA port that’s capable of a 3.0Gb/s transfer rate as opposed to the e-SATA 1.5Gb/s port found on the P5WD2 Premium provided by the Silicon Image 3132 SATA-II Host Controller. The 88SE6141 is also capable of RAID 0,1, 10 and JBOD.

Do take note that the 4th port on the Marvell controller cannot be used simultaneously with the External SATA port, either will be disabled when the other is used. This is illustrated in the picture above, notice the single black SATA port as opposed to the 3 others on top of the ATA port, all provided by the Marvell host controller. This is definitely good news for storage-crazed users, as the implementation on both the P5LD2-Deluxe (945P Express) and the P5WD2 Premium(955X) of the SIL3132 Controller is such that only 1 port is available for use internally, and the other can only be used for e-SATA devices and cannot be used internally at all.

Network Connectivity: Marvell 88E8053 Gigabit PCI-E LAN x2

A couple of Gigabit NICs onboard by Marvell

The P5WD2-E Premium comes with a couple of Gigabit Network Interface Controllers (NICs) supplied by Marvell once again. The Marvell 88E8053 silicon is a common sight onboard Asus boards, sitting on the PCI-Express bus, This little monsters are provides Gigabit connectivity as well as featuring Asus’ exclusive AiNet2 technology, a feature that will allow users to detect anamolies within the network should any problems surface in regards to connectivity with the network.

This implementation is a slight improvement over the Network Connectivity options in the P5WD2 Premium, where Asus chose to place a Intel PCI-E GBe and Marvell GBe PCI Controller onboard. Asus has effectively removed the Marvell GBe PCI Controller, replacing it with a PCI-E one, removing the issue of bandwidth saturation on the 32bit PCI-bus.

Next, in the following page, we will be taking a look at the other connectivity options available onboard.

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