The good folks over at ASUS have sent over the P5E3 Deluxe, which is based upon Intel's new X38 Chipset and continues in the usual ASUS fashion of pushing new (and often unexpected) innovations onto the motherboard. Without spoiling the review of this motherboard that will be published shortly, the ASUS P5E3 Deluxe is one of the most innovative motherboards we have seen to date and it packs one very exciting and unusual feature. Embedded onto the P5E3 Deluxe is a Linux environment that features a Firefox-rebranded web browser and the Skype VoIP client! Within five seconds of turning on this $360 USD gaming/enthusiast motherboard, you can be using Linux and surfing the Internet. On this motherboard the feature is known as ASUS Express Gate, which is powered by something called SplashTop. SplashTop is an instant-on Linux desktop being created by DeviceVM. SplashTop isn't even launching for a few more days (October 10), but in this article we have more details on this embedded Linux environment as well as screenshots and our thoughts with what will hopefully come next for this Linux environment.
The P5E3 Deluxe is the first ASUS motherboard to feature this Express Gate (SplashTop) technology, and ASUS describes it as: "With a fast boot-up speed of only 5 seconds, the ASUS Express Gate offers an optional Linux OS boot-up that allows you to enjoy instant access to commonly used functions like accessing the Internet, VoIP, and Web emailing without entering the OS." Before cutting to the chase, some of the other features on this motherboard include an ASUS EPU (Energy Processing Unit), ASUS WiFi-AP @n (802.11n wireless), ASUS third generation 8-phase power design, Intel 45nm Core 2 Quad support, and two PCI Express 2.0 slots (ATI CrossFire supportive) powered by the Intel X38 Chipset.
At first when hearing about this Express Gate feature, we figured it was just some small feature being worked on by a couple ASUS engineers. When powering up the motherboard, we assumed you would just hit a key sequence and enter a quickly thrown together Linux environment that featured a basic web browser. Well, much to our surprise this was actually a finely crafted Linux desktop environment.