Paired to the SiS655TX North Bridge is SiSí 964 South Bridge. The chips are connected by SiSí proprietary MuTIOL interconnect technology. This is the same interconnect SiS has used on previous AMD and Intel chipsets. MuTIOL is 16 bits wide and operates at 533MHz.
P4S800D-E back plate
Power connector and DIMMs
Network controller on left edge of board
MuTIOL consists of two independent pathways, which are used to link the chips together. One pathway can be sending data from the SiS655TX North Bridge to the SiS964 South Bridge, while the other pathway is sending data in the opposite direction. The end result is up to 1GB/sec of peak bandwidth between the two chips.
The rest of SiS964ís feature set is pretty complete. It has an integrated USB 2.0/1.1 controller that supports up to eight USB ports, matching the specs of Intelís 875P/865PE chipsets. The P4S800D-E Deluxe provides connections for up to six devices (four on the boardís back plate and two more via an external header). SiS964 is also SiSí first chipset to offer native Serial ATA support and, also like Intel, adds RAID support to its list of features. RAID levels 0, 1, and JBOD (just a bunch of disks) are supported. Of course, if you donít have a Serial ATA hard drive, donít worry. SiS964 also provides dual IDE controllers supporting ATA133/ATA100, which is of course backward-compatible with older IDE devices such as ATA66 and ATA33.
The only feature SiS964 lacks which Intel has in its ICH5 South Bridge is Gigabit Ethernet networking support (with Intelís CSA architecture). SiS964ís network controller is limited to 10/100Mb Ethernet.
Keep in mind that this probably wonít be a significant oversight for most of you, as Gigabit networking equipment isnít exactly mainstream just yet. After all, how many of you have Gigabit switches lying around in your home?
ASUS does get around this though by integrating a Gigabit network controller from Marvell on the P4S800D-E Deluxe. To be honest, this is more of a checkbox feature the ASUS board can boast on its list of features more than anything else, as the PCI bus it utilizes is capped at 133MB/sec of peak bandwidth. This is one bottleneck Intel has gotten around by incorporating its CSA link between the Intel Gigabit network controller and the rest of the system.
In addition to the native Serial ATA support provided by the SiS964 South Bridge, ASUS goes the extra mile by integrating SiSí SiS180 Serial ATA controller, which supports two additional Serial ATA devices. By incorporating SiS180, the ASUS P4S800D-E Deluxe not only supports two additional Serial ATA drives, it also adds RAID level 0+1 (striping+mirroring) to the P4S800D-Eís list of features.
Audio and IEEE-1394
Since the SiS964 chipset doesnít offer native FireWire support, ASUS has implemented VIAís popular VT6307 controller to provide this functionality. Two ports are supported by VT6307, ASUS has integrated one port on the boardís back plate and the second port on an external header.
One of the least talked about features ASUS has been putting on its motherboards lately is wireless networking. For years ASUS has been designing boards with Wi-Fi slots, at first under the name BlueMagic. This was the navy blue slot located just beneath the last PCI slot on their motherboards that ASUS had intended to be paired with their own Wi-Fi card.
Ultimately, BlueMagic never came to market; it has instead been replaced with ASUS Wi-Fi@Home.
Wi-Fi@Home is the same concept as BlueMagic (built-in wireless networking support), only now itís actually made it off the drawing boards and into retail. All of ASUSí newer boards have the Wi-Fi@Home slot located beneath the last PCI slot on the motherboard. The slot supports 802.11b and 802.11g. ASUS then offers an 802.11b card that you plug into the Wi-Fi slot as well as its accompanying external antenna.
Some of ASUSí motherboards actually ship with the antenna and card inside the box, although ASUS hasnít announced a P4S800D-E variant that includes these extras. It is however good to see ASUS offering this feature as an option, as wireless networking is quickly taking off and you donít lose a PCI slot in the process. Weíve found that installation is seamless, even if youíve already got a wireless network up and running you shouldnít run into any problems setting everything up.
Closer shot of network/audio controllers
SiS180 SATA controller
ASUS uses Analog Devices AD1888 CODEC to handle audio duties. If youíve read a few of our motherboard reviews, you probably know that weíve been praising Analog Devices SoundMAX CODECs for two years now, due to their performance, audio quality, and support for audio extensions such as Sensauraís 3D positional audio, EAX, A3D, and SoundMAXís own sound product extensions (SPX) for 3D gaming audio applications. But weíre not quite as well versed on this particular CODEC.
Unlike the newer AD1985 CODEC ASUS uses on its P4C800 Deluxe motherboards, the AD1888 CODEC doesnít offer support for jack-sensing technology. This is helpful for setting up audio devices, especially 5.1 speaker systems, as it shows you if you have a device hooked up incorrectly.
Keep in mind that the ADI AD1988 should suffice for most light duty tasks, during testing we didnít hear any unusual hissing or other line noise from our speakers, but this CODEC will not be capable of keeping up with an Audigy, much less one of the newer Audigy 2/Audigy2 ZS or VIA Envy24HT/PT-based cards like the M-Audio Revolution 7.1 we reviewed last year, so if you have a decent set of speakers you will probably want to upgrade to a discrete sound card like one of the aforementioned cards. (Many of which can be found online for under $80.)
ASUS Q-Fan is another ASUS unique technology that weíve appreciated ever since its inception. Q-Fan dynamically adjusts the speed of your systems fans depending on settings that you can define. This is great for those of you who donít want your fan running at full speed all the time, especially if you find yourself doing mundane tasks such as checking mail and writing documents.