While in this article we are focusing upon Gigabyte's P35 motherboard, this technology is also available on their X38 and X48 motherboards. Many of Gigabyte's recent motherboards can also have their BIOS re-flashed and the Dynamic Energy Saver utility will be supported. Among the Gigabyte motherboards that support this energy saving technology, but aren't branded with the "E" are the revision 2.1 of GA-P35-DS4, GA-P35C-DS3R, GA-P35-DS3P, GA-P35-DS3R, GA-P35-DS3. For the X38 and X48 motherboards there is the Gigabyte GA-EX38-DS4, GA-X48-DS5, GA-X48-DQ6, and GA-X48T-DQ6. Angela Lan with Gigabyte Public Relations department had informed us that by the end of 2008 they will implement DES technology on all of their product lines.
Added to the Gigabyte EP35-DS4 motherboard are a series of LEDs above the DDR2 memory slots for indicating the power saving status. Unfortunately, for Linux users, once the system POSTs and boots into Linux, the LEDs remain off. The different LED colors would otherwise indicate the current power activity.
Unfortunately as Gigabyte doesn't support this DES software on Linux, we were unable to test all aspects of it, but we had compared its power consumption between that and the P5K-E WiFi motherboard, which itself has its own power savings technology from ASUS. The P5K-E WiFi utilizes an 8-phase power design and claims that this motherboard can save 50% of the CPU power when using AI Gear 2. Last month they also debuted the ASUS EPU technology. This power-savings ASIC is designed to save up to 80% of the CPU power through attaining the maximum VRM efficiency. With the same hardware, when comparing the EP35-DS4 to the P5K-E WiFi, under load (running Enemy Territory: Quake Wars), this DES motherboard was only consuming five less Watts. However, when it was idling within the GNOME desktop in Ubuntu 7.10, the EP35-DS4 had a power consumption of 119W while the P5K-E WiFi was at 127W. Keep in mind, however, that this isn't a reliable comparison as they are between two distinctly different P35 motherboards. The power consumption was monitored using a SeaSonic PowerAngel at the AC power outlet.
As we had just benchmarked the GA-P35-DS4 in December with Ubuntu 7.10, we aren't repeating the same tests with the GA-EP35-DS4 as they are virtually the same motherboard -- the latter just ships with the Dynamic Energy Saver technology and have the power-indicating LEDs. Power saving technologies aren't exactly new, as features like EIST (Enhanced Intel SpeedStep Technology) and ATI's PowerPlay, have been around for years. Motherboard manufacturers though, as of late, have been stepping up on their side and offering more innovative technologies for power conservation. Gigabyte's Dynamic Energy Saver is just one of the choices now available to consumers with enthusiast desktop motherboards. DES is a combination of both hardware and software, but unfortunately, this software isn't supported under Linux at this time. With that said, we still seen the power drop slightly when the GA-EP35-DS4 was idling when compared to the similar P35 motherboard from ASUS.
Not only is this motherboard environmentally friendly with its DES technology and RoHS compliancy, but it also performs well under Linux and has features such as a heatpipe-based cooling solution, IEEE-1394a Firewire, CrossFireX, and supports 45nm Intel Core 2 processors. At the time of publishing, this Ultra Durable 2 motherboard is selling for approximately $160 USD, which is a bit more expensive than some of the other P35 enthusiast motherboards, but it comes with an expanded set of features. Look for Dynamic Energy Saver technology appearing on more Gigabyte motherboards in the future.
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