ASRock Also Going the 2oz Copper Route?

Discussion in 'Motherboards' started by Rob Williams, Jun 15, 2009.

  1. Rob Williams

    Rob Williams Editor-in-Chief Staff Member Moderator

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    From our front-page news:
    When Gigabyte first introduced their "2oz copper" motherboard feature last year, many scoffed at their claims of better overclocking, improved power efficiency and lower board temps. ASUS was included in this mockery, and in some cases, I was with them. I failed to understand how twice the copper would improve things, but even to this day, I don't know if there's direct proof of improvements, so it's hard to conclude on anything.

    With Gigabyte's recent focus on extreme overclocking, it could be that the 2oz of copper does indeed make a difference, and with a new find made by the folks at BSN*, it looks like there may be some substance to this substance after all. How so? Well, it appears that ASRock, the budget split-off of ASUSTeK, had a motherboard on display at Computex that featured text at the bottom which stated, "2oz Copper PCB". Hah!

    This move is a little bizarre given ASUS' hardcore stance against the overuse of copper. So either the company stumbled on a fresh supply of the stuff, or there may really be value in adding twice as much to our motherboards. But, it could also simply be a way to draw some eyes away from the competition. Let's just hope ASRock doesn't have a 32 phase-power board on the horizon...

    [​IMG]

    However, most surprising news is that ASUS seems to be joining its adversaries, so to speak, with its M4A77TD PRO board, introduced last week, during Computex Taipei 2009. The board, which is based on the AMD 770 and SB710 chipset combo, offers support for DDR3 memory and ATI’s CrossFireX technology. These things aside, the board really brings little new to the table. Oh, perhaps we forgot to mention the white letters present at the bottom of the PCB?


    Source: Bright Side of News
     
  2. madmat

    madmat Soup Nazi

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    The heavier copper content does indeed make a considerable difference. Car amps use 4oz copper traces (which is touted as the heaviest that they can do with current technologies) to increase the current carrying capacities of the traces. It also helps the further the longevity of the amps.

    With smaller dies it means lower vCore which means that the current requirements are going to rise under load. Look at it this way, if a CPU uses 125W and the vCore is 1.25V stock that's 100A at 1.25V to make that 125W. That's the problem with these crazy die propagations, while each core might only need 32W, when you have four cores sucking down 32W it adds up in a hurry. Soon they'll start needing bus bars to pass the current required from the VREGs to the CPU.

    As the trace size narrows to accommodate ever increasing pin densities the amount of copper decreases in those traces so the thicker copper on the traces helps to make up for it.
     
  3. Kougar

    Kougar Techgage Staff Staff Member

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    Well, in Gigabyte's case the extra 2 ounces of copper is used on the power and grounding layers only, all other motherboard traces remained unchanged. It's generally accepted increasing the size of the power layer decreases power resistance, and increasing the grounding layer lowers impedience, but I couldn't say how much a difference it would make compared to their previous boards without it. It's nothing they don't already mention anyway Link

    I like it just because it makes the motherboard feel heavy and solid, and it helps disperse hotspots around the VRM area better... I don't need to see testing results to know that.
     
  4. Rob Williams

    Rob Williams Editor-in-Chief Staff Member Moderator

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    Good to know that it has a real use, thanks guys. I wish I had a thermal imaging machine... it'd be fun to test the heat dispersion on a 2oz copper board and a 1oz copper board, because common sense tells you that it <em>would</em> make a difference.
     
  5. Psi*

    Psi* Tech Monkey

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    This might be sort of mixing apples and oranges. I am only assuming that 2 oz copper refers to the inner ground planes and because they are the largest areas of continuous copper, this would suggest some kind of thermal performance advantage. The problem with that is ... where is the heat going once it is in the PCB. FR4 is not known for its thermal conductivity as in, it is an insulator.

    As far as handling more current ... yes. But this would be "return" current which is not a bad thing. The VCC layer or supply does not cover as much area as ground planes so the current carrying capability is limited by the "+" side.

    Also, narrow traces are for signal traces not power. Narrow traces == signal integrity and some attempt at constant impedance. Wide traces are used for power and for lowest impedance without some kind of funny interplane resonance screwing things up.

    I have at least a couple of mother boards with a very thick area (I assume copper is thicker) in the area of the CPU. But I don't know why. There doesn't seem to be any thermal coupling to an external radiator. If it is for power, then why all around the CPU? Current, like water, takes the path with least resistance so why not just thicker copper in the direct current path? Well, there could be some other reasons like the resonance thing above ... but, I think it could just as easily be marketing picking up on some influential engineer's hand wave presentation. :eek: That "this is better", prove it!!
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2009
  6. Rob Williams

    Rob Williams Editor-in-Chief Staff Member Moderator

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    Could that be due to your motherboard's phase solution? I'm not sure what board you have, but some nowadays can have in excess of 12 phases, and I'd assume that would result in a bit more material around the CPU socket.
     
  7. Psi*

    Psi* Tech Monkey

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    I think this is on a P5Q (ASUS Rock Solid - Heart Touching) written on the side of the box ... makes me smile, but I will be "PC" & not comment more on that.

    I will have to think & read with a little more attention about this "phase solution" term. My initial reaction is ... ehhhhh ... but my initial reactions have often been wrong so I stick with "ehhhh" when I don't really know. But either way it sounded as if I may have known.:cool:

    I have been assuming that "phase solution" is just about power efficiency by turning things on/off & voltages up/down depending on what is going on.

    Copper is expensive. It adds weight to the mother boards, but I have thought that 2 oz Cu was common for power & ground layers (inner layers) on PC mobos. This is definitely common for other industries using PCBs. But, PCs are in 1 of the most competitive markets ...

    In my business I don't care about having multiple video cards nor any high end video. Except there are applications written for GPUs and used as mathematic coprocessors (http://www.acceleware.com/default/index.cfm/our-products/). I don't have 1 of these & have never installed any so I don't know if they have separate power connector or are powered thru the mother board. Either way, those video cards are looking like a lot of weight & the extra Cu do make it feel stronger (is this what Kougar said?). ;)
     
  8. Rob Williams

    Rob Williams Editor-in-Chief Staff Member Moderator

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    I'm not sure even ASUS themselves understand their ridiculous motto. I'm confident that my version of what's rock solid and heart touching differs from theirs, though. For the most part, Asian manufacturers just don't seem to care about proper translation. I was given a mouse by Gigabyte at Computex, and the motto on the side of the box was, "Wherever have a fun!". Seriously.

    As far as I'm aware, power phases' primary job is to stabilize the power, and so they say, the more phases you have, the smoother the power delivery. I have to wonder why they didn't think about this a long time ago though. It's not until just recently that all of the motherboard vendors have put such importance in it. It is a good thing, but I'm doubtful that anything more than an 8-phase solution is really necessary (here's looking at your 24-phase solution, Gigabyte).

    I'm rather confident that any GPU, including the one you linked to would require a PCI-E power connector. Those are based on NVIDIA's Tesla, which do require extra power, just like regular graphics cards. To be honest though, the Tesla brand is mainly for excellent support. Regular GPUs are generally just as fast in these heavily-computational scenarios - hence why NVIDIA themselves have been pushing their CUDA technology so heavily in the desktop space for the last while.
     
  9. Kougar

    Kougar Techgage Staff Staff Member

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    Don't forget some board makers like ASUS use some marketing terms like StackCool to describe the thickened area around the socket... they increased the material or added an additional layer in order to better cool everything and use it as a marketing feature.

    In the same fashion, the phases are mostly a marketing gimmick. When motherboards used to only have 3 phases, buying a more expensive model with 4 phases often meant you had more room to overclock, or in the very least you didn't burn out the motherboard within a few years at stock clocks.

    I wouldn't know quite at what point the number of phases no longer does anything, but I think 8-12 is definitely the limit of usefulness. Gigabyte slapping 24 phases onto their LGA1156 motherboard is beyond ridiculous... it's embarassing as a Gigabyte owner and should be embarrassing for the company that they would stoop to such an extreme gimmick so obviously done purely for marketing reasons.
     
  10. Rob Williams

    Rob Williams Editor-in-Chief Staff Member Moderator

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    You got me to thinking... I wonder how many people run out to purchase a motherboard and base their decision on features such as "StackCool". I admit, most of these features even I don't pay attention to, so I'm really curious as to whether or not they are truly necessary, or if even 1% of people purchasing a motherboard stop to even read such features on the box.

    As for the 24-phase solution, you're right... it's beyond foolish. Even during our meeting at Computex, they had a hard time coming up with excuses for the usefulness. In briefly talking to a few overclockers during the GO OC event, no one could tell me if that was going to become beneficial or not, and we're talking about extreme overclockers here.

    From what I understand, the more phases on a board, the more power is drawn, meaning, more wattage being sucked from the wall. In talking to companies before, it's also been explained to me that at some point, having too many power phases could actually do more harm than good, although I'm REALLY not up to par on power to remotely understand whether that's the case or not.
     
  11. Kougar

    Kougar Techgage Staff Staff Member

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    Cooling and quality features like Stackcool and 8-16 phases have definitely sold plenty of motherboards. Not only can I say that based on my own buying habits, but I've seen no end of forum posts where the user decided on a specific brand because their board had one of these particular features and the other did not.

    It may not be neccesary but people like the idea of a better-than-standard, above average quality motherboard. Having more phases and better dispersal of heat away from hotspots are both good and obvious things, to a reasonable extent.. in the very least better overclocking or better longevity are good things... the former is questionable if a user actually will get it, but better longevity is all but a certainty.

    Yes, exactly. Not many people realize this... but even Gigabyte has said this is true. Their Energy Saver program is designed to communicate with the board and power off phases for this very reason.

    I have also heard this but have no idea as to the principles behind it. Honestly, to much of anything often becomes a bad thing... so I can easily see this being true here as well.
     
  12. Rob Williams

    Rob Williams Editor-in-Chief Staff Member Moderator

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    That's still the enthusiast market, though, and for the most part, that's about what... 1% of total motherboard sales? I admit, I truly don't seem to care much about those added features, but I'm glad they're there. I tend to care a little more about the extras included, or how well the included software works. I'm really not an overclocker though, so that might explain why.

    Well, it's too bad that some companies, like Gigabyte, feel like they have to try so hard to impress. Launching a motherboard with 24 phases is simply foolish. I could see it maybe if the board supported four CPUs, but it doesn't... it supports one.
     
  13. Kougar

    Kougar Techgage Staff Staff Member

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    The enthusiast market might be a smaller portion of the overall motherboard market, but it is also a higher margin segment. ;) I don't know what the percentages are, but honsetly if you include OEM orders, then the entire consumer level discrete motherboard market itself isn't that large.

    I used to care about included software, but I've never seen anything come on a software disc that I didn't already have a program I regularly used for, or could get for free from their website regardless of what board I ordered from that specific manufacturer. In fact these CD's are notorious for having outdated or downright early, buggy software versions on them so they almost never even make it into my DVD drive because of it. The only software I'd consider unique and worth something would be EVGA's Voltage Tuner because it's a great deal less of a hassle than using RivaTuner and spending 30 minutes testing to find the correct registers to modify. Even the EVGA Precision software, while nice, can easily be duplicated with Rivatuner. But even that doesn't come on the CD, as long as I own an EVGA branded card I can download then run it.

    I do care about extras such as cables, connectors, or little freebies. And especially anything that's actually useful such as those motherboard header plugs ASUS started packaging with their enthusiast boards. But many serious enthusiasts tend to have their own preferred programs, preferred hardware already. For example would I care that XYZ cooler incudes a tiny packet of worthless silicon paste, or even a tube of their own brand of TIM? No, I only use Ceramique because it's designed for watercooling setups, or AS5 because I have a tube of it laying around and the stuff lasts for years and bests most brands. I didn't use up the first tube of AS5 I bought until last year, and the stuff was starting to go bad it was so old. So really it's useful, functional design or software features that I care about most in a motherboard or GPU, and if it's built with overclocking in mind then all the better.
     
  14. Rob Williams

    Rob Williams Editor-in-Chief Staff Member Moderator

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    I don't think I gave the pro-software thing I said much thought, because since I run Linux, it rarely matters anyway. For some reason I was thinking of notebook software when I said that. I agree though... it's rare for motherboard software to be worth anything, especially from ASUS (they go seriously pro-gamer with their GUIs, and I don't even think gamers are keen on it), with Gigabyte doing a wee bit better in that department.

    If there's one thing I do care about, it's a robust BIOS that's simple to use. I've never seen anything compare to the BIOS on the Rampage II Extreme... it's fantastic.

    Also, we should form a club based around the fact that we never use included thermal paste with CPU coolers ;-) I've always found that weird... they include thermal paste but tell you NOTHING about it. I'd love to know the real performance differences between that and a known good brand though. I also wonder that if in some cases, they DO include a good brand of paste, but they just don't tell you because it'd cost them money.
     
  15. Kougar

    Kougar Techgage Staff Staff Member

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    I can answer yes. I recall one cooler included a tube of Ceramique, but the syringe had no label at all and I wouldn't have known what it was except that I was already familiar with Ceramique by then and figured it out.

    To be fair, the performance differences between TIM's is negligible with just a few degrees Celsius difference between most, but nevertheless I still have my brand preferences. And because I watercool there is a larger difference between brands than would be seen in an aircooled setup... Still, the only TIM that should be avoided except as a last resort would be those tiny, clear plastic pouches that have white goop in them.From the couple reviews that tested it the stuff is exceptional in its atrocious performance. But, the vast majority of coolers include packets of this stuff, go figure.

    That's an excellent point. If I'd been thinking more I would have named this the most important thing, I fully agree with ya. If Gigabyte hadn't finally gotten their BIOS act together with X58 I would be using an ASUS board right now. It was pitiful how limited their P35 board BIOS's were, even the 1.1 and 2.0 hardware revisions weren't really any better. Some times I still think they don't provide enough end-user support and that they only develop the BIOS for a couple months after release, and anything after that is just microcode or CPU type updates.
     
  16. Rob Williams

    Rob Williams Editor-in-Chief Staff Member Moderator

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    To be honest, I still don't care much for Gigabyte's BIOS, but there are others who vastly prefer them over ASUS'... it's a matter of preference, really. They've gotten a lot better, but I've been spoiled by ASUS' BIOS... they've proven very easy to use, and the RIIE just takes things to the next level.
     

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