This is our first motherboard review with a NVIDIA nForce Professional 3600 Chipset. With many new features on the table, the nForce Professional 3600 is a big upgrade from the earlier nForce PRO Chipsets we have looked at before. Among the features for the NVIDIA nForce Professional 3600 are 28 PCI Express lanes, NVIDIA SLI support, six Serial ATA 2.0 ports, two IDE ports, RAID 0/1/0+1/5 support, NVIDIA Media Shield Technology, two ethernet MACs, network load balancing/failover (LBFO), IPMI 2.0 / ASF 2.0 remote management, and this chip provides ten USB 2.0 ports. While the n3600M doesn't take this route, the nForce Professional 3600 can be combined with the nForce Professional 3050 to offer even more possibilities. In an nForce 3600 + 3050 configuration, the PCI Express lanes are doubled to 56, twelve SATA 2.0 ports are provided, and there are then four ethernet MACs. Tyan does have two motherboards with this chipset configuration, the Thunder n6650W S2915 and S2915-E. With just a plain NVIDIA nForce Professional 3600 Chipset, Tyan has ten different motherboard models currently.
The 16 system memory slots on the Tyan Thunder n3600M are split up into two banks for the two processors on this motherboard. The motherboard requires Registered ECC DDR2 memory up to DDR2-667 speeds. If occupying all 16 slots, the maximum memory capacity supported is 64GB. Above the first bank of memory slots are the motherboard's power connectors. The n3600M has a 24-pin, 4-pin ATX, and 8-pin EPS power connections. All three of these power connections are necessary for full motherboard operation. Below the first DDR2 memory bank is the first CPU socket, which is of course Socket 1207 F. For both CPU sockets, on two of the sides are small aluminum heatsinks for cooling some of the power circuitry.
Immediately below this first CPU socket, the motherboard PCB is fully coated in connectors and ASICs. The major chipsets occupying this area is the NVIDIA nForce Professional 3600 (MCP 55), LSI 1068E, and an NEC UPD720400. The NEC chip is a PCI Express to PCI/PCI-X bridge while the LSI 1068E is used for providing the eight SAS ports. The MCP 55 and LSI controllers are covered with aluminum (passively cooled) heatsinks. Surrounding these chips are the BIOS battery, IDE PATA port, six Serial ATA 2.0 ports, eight SAS ports, front panel headers, five 4-pin fan headers, USB 2.0 headers, and a port 80 LED display.