Producing concept boards is common in the automotive industry.  Every year, companies such as Ford, Audi, Jaguar or Volkswagen will produce a concept as an indication of 'this is what we could do if we wanted' or 'this is an idea, what do you think?'.  In the motherboard industry, seeing concept motherboards on display is something of an oddity.  However, innovation in the motherboard landscape doesn't come very often, so seeing ASUS go forth and provide a pair of concept boards was an interesting exercise.  Last year ASUS teased us with the Danshui Bay concept board, utilising 1366 and 2011 sockets on the same product - this year, the concept is a little more realistic.

Meet Zeus.  This motherboard is slightly mad.  Take a regular X79 chipset motherboard, but do away with all the PCIe lanes.  Then in their place, add two GPUs on the PCB itself, cover with heatsink, done.   Even though in the CPU market we are seeing consolidation of components, the very nature of computer building is that it is component driven - take the memory, the CPU, the motherboard and the GPU(s) you want and fit together.  The component market fluctuates in price, so this component philosophy works well for users.  But applying this concept to motherboards in a serious manner gives Zeus:

Most of the time, concepts are not put into production.  I have a distinct feeling that while Zeus may be a reasonable idea, it wouldn't be coming to market.

Also on display was the Wolverine.  The brief for the engineers on this motherboard was 'how many power phases can you put on a board?'.  The answer from ASUS was 40, which suggests 8x2x2 multiplexing + 8 for other things:

Similar to the Zeus, don't expect the Wolverine on sale any time soon.  40 phases is almost ridiculous and has no serious benefit to any user.

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  • IanCutress - Wednesday, June 6, 2012 - link

    In much the same way that sometimes car makers make concepts which are just empty shells, chances are that these boards were made purely for display rather than working samples.

  • etamin - Thursday, June 7, 2012 - link

    haha looks like I've made the mistake of assuming all concept cars all worked as "envisioned."
  • MGSsancho - Thursday, June 7, 2012 - link

    Might electrically work but I doubt it all the traces fall with in spec. It is possibly it was arranged automatically via software thus requiring lots on manual work not yet done. Another possibility is this has some new things going on board level but just not yet economical. It might even fall with in spec and work fine (alpha drivers/bios) then was given to designers to make it look pretty for the convention. Many possibilities but I think it works as a prototype. If this was a non working (non working as cosmetic and not a defective prototype) board it would have been cheaper to print many up in a 3D printer and paint it for the show. Prototypes cost large amounts of money to make and the resources are spent to making a working product for performance, economical and/or layout purposes.
  • etamin - Thursday, June 7, 2012 - link

    That's very reasonable.
  • Roland00Address - Wednesday, June 6, 2012 - link

    Bring on the onboard vrms
  • didis - Monday, June 11, 2012 - link


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