Normally the latest official BIOS releases from the various motherboard manufacturers go unannounced here at Phoronix but Abit's most recent release for the AW8 series comes with an enticing change log for those who have been concerned by its past memory abilities as well as future CPU support. This release addresses the solution for those who have long been desiring the ability to run memory at DDR2-800MHz speeds with a 200MHz FSB in 1:2 (CPU:DRAM) ratio. Also implemented in the BIOS 15 release for the AW8 and AW8-MAX motherboards is support for Intel's upcoming Presler and Cedar Mill processors. These respective dual and single core processors will carry a 65nm technology process along with the usual Execute Disable Bit and Extended Memory 64 Technology (EM64T) while the single-core Cedar Mill will continue to sport Hyper-Threading Technology. Another one of the new implementations with the Presler is Intel's Virtualization Technology (VT) and 2MB of L2 cache for each of the cores, although they will fall short of the upcoming Conroe that will put an end to the NetBurst architecture. The benefits of Intel Virtualization Technology will allow the system to handle running multiple operating systems and programs through independent partitions. Abit has been advertising Dual DDR2-800 support in its AW8 series since their launch and they have finally delivered its marketing promise in the version 15 release. Of course, not all memory will be able to withstand the greater frequency but for those running DDR2-800 SPD modules or running enthusiast oriented modules such as Corsair's XMS2-5400UL will finally be able to benefit from the enhanced bandwidth. Yet another implementation in Abit's AW8 v15 BIOS release pertaining to the system memory is support for 8GB of DDR2 in a 2 x 4GB configuration. Intel's Glenwood i955X, for which the AW8 series is based, supports dual-channel DDR2 with capacities up to 8GB and 10.7GB/s bandwidth. The memory specifications are also identical to what is expected in the upcoming i975X Chipset and for which we expect Abit USA is planning to bombard with a spectacular array of motherboards. The last major change making its way into the v15 release for the AW8, AW8-MAX, and AW8-MAX 3rd Eye is enhanced compatibility for some PCI SCSI devices. The extent of the enhanced compatibility is not presently known but we are aware of improvements with particular Promise Technology controllers. The latest BIOS for the AW8 series was released on December 19, 2005, while its compilation date was November 30, and is available from Abit's FTP servers. We have tested this latest BIOS on various AW8 and AW8-MAX motherboards and can certify its workability.
Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the web-site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience and being the largest web-site devoted to Linux hardware reviews, particularly for products relevant to Linux gamers and enthusiasts but also commonly reviewing servers/workstations and embedded Linux devices. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics hardware drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated testing software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.