MSI intros Big Bang Marshal board with eight PCIe x16 slots

By on December 29, 2010, 3:26 PM
With Intel's Sandy Bridge processors set to debut at CES 2011, MSI has taken the opportunity to unveil its new flagship P67 motherboard offering, the "Big Bang Marshal." Demonstrating the very definition of overkill, MSI's upcoming board utilizes the XL-ATX format and sports eight PCI Express x16 slots, eight USB 3.0 ports, and three BIOS chips.

The PCIe slots can pump x16 speeds on up to four slots or x8 when occupying all eight. That bandwidth is courtesy of a new Lucid Hydra chip, which may not support the ability to mix and match different graphics cards (and that's probably for the best). The four true x16 slots can be disabled manually via onboard DIP switches dubbed "PCI-E CeaseFire".


The Big Bang Marshal also features a 24 phase DrMOS PWM design, two 8-pin CPU power connectors and one 6-pin for the PCIe slots, four DDR3 DIMM slots with support for up to 32GB of RAM, an LED POST display, power, reset and OC Genie buttons as well as a multimeter measurement point. There's also talk of "ClickBIOS," which is MSI's name for UEFI.

Connectivity includes four SATA 3Gb/s ports, four SATA 6Gb/s ports, and headers for six USB 2.0 and four USB 3.0 ports. The rear I/O plate is populated with two USB 2.0 ports, eight USB 3.0 ports (via a single host controller and two hubs), a PS/2 port, FireWire, dual-Gigabit Ethernet, and 7.1-channel audio with optical and coaxial S/PDIF output.




User Comments: 25

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CamaroMullet said:

"The Big Bang Marshal also features a 24 phase DrMOS PWM design, two 8-pin CPU power connectors and one 6-pin for the PCIe slots"

WOW, that's a ton of power going through that board! Uggh, going to need a raise to buy this thing probably.

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

LOL...OK, I'm trying to figure out how you could fill up 8 PCI-e slots. Of course there's the 4-way video card SLI you could do. Then add in a sound card. Maybe one of the SSD PCI-E cards TechSpot reviewed a couple of days ago. Then what? Two slots left.

On top of that, you'd probably need a nuclear reactor as a power supply to run everything that would fit on that board.

In a nutshell, is there really a practical use for a board like this?

Leeky Leeky said:

I don't understand why they supply 8x PCI-Express slots when any half decent GPU uses the space of two, per GPU anyway.

Or is the idea of the PCI-express slot numbering for different reasons I'm perhaps not considering?

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

This seems like just the thing that would annoy all your friends, just by telling them you have it. It would almost certainly throw them of their games......

If you can afford a copy of this to go with it; [link] so much the better.

Staff
Jesse Jesse said:

Leeky said:

I don't understand why they supply 8x PCI-Express slots when any half decent GPU uses the space of two, per GPU anyway.

Or is the idea of the PCI-express slot numbering for different reasons I'm perhaps not considering?

You could use water blocks for cooling, which only take up one slot.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Considering a lot of graphics cards will practically speaking take up 2 slots each, you're only going to have 4 free if using 2 GPUS, or 2 free if 3 GPUs.

When I had 2 4870s in Crossfire that took up all the PCIex slots on my P6T board and I was SOL and had to buy a new sound card.

its ironic, while computers like the Atom are getting smaller, a gaming enthusiast's computer is getting bigger. Bigger cards and motherboards, bigger cases and fans.

Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Leeky said:

I don't understand why they supply 8x PCI-Express slots when any half decent GPU uses the space of two, per GPU anyway.

Or is the idea of the PCI-express slot numbering for different reasons I'm perhaps not considering?

Just slap 8 EVGA GTX 580 FTW Hydro Copper 2's on it with 3 1Kw psu's and call it a day rofl.

Mizzou Mizzou said:

That is one radical motherboard, looks more extreme than the Gigabyte P67A-UD7. Just guessing that every other slot would be the true x16 PCI-express for Quad-Fire or Quad-SLI. Have never owned an MSI motherboard but this one looks really interesting.

stupidusernames said:

I have to say this seems like a waste of money... I don't think your friends would really give a damn if you had 4 gpu's in there. They'd probably laugh at you and how much money you wasted.

Also, why not go for the EVGA SR-2 instead? it has room for 4 gpu's AND two CPU's...

If you're going to waste money, waste it in style.

[link]

[link]

[link]

That is mine

DokkRokken said:

More show than anything else. But hey, it gets people's attention and that can mean more sales.

I thought my 790FX board with four slots was overkill a year ago, but here I am with two GTX 470's and a soundcard and feeling kind of short on expansion options. =[

TomSEA said:

In a nutshell, is there really a practical use for a board like this?

Hey, if practicality governed system building, we'd all be content with E6600's and 9800GT's. :P

Leeky Leeky said:

You could use water blocks for cooling, which only take up one slot.

That might be true, but the backplate will still take up two slots worth of space, rendering the next PCI express slot useless.

Hence my original comment in the first place, because as far as I am aware, you cannot fit a single width backplate.

The last time I looked, the most you could go was 4x dual GPU boards in CF, so say 4x HD5970's, which would give you 8 GPUs in effect. I didn't think you could run 8 individual GPUs in CF or SLI.

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

That might be true, but the backplate will still take up two slots worth of space, rendering the next PCI express slot useless.

Hence my original comment in the first place, because as far as I am aware, you cannot fit a single width backplate..

Not on a standard card. That is why the Razor in all its guises and it's imitators were developed.

Folding farm material and/or GPGPU applications (basically a desktop mini-supercomputer)

The last time I looked, the most you could go was 4x dual GPU boards in CF, so say 4x HD5970's, which would give you 8 GPUs in effect. I didn't think you could run 8 individual GPUs in CF or SLI.

Four GPU's is the maximum for SLI and Crossfire. If the cards are being used for parallel rendering (both SLI and Crossfire utilise alternate frame rendering) then you are limited to two dual GPU cards (5970, 9800GX2, GTX 295 etc.) or four single GPU cards, or in Crossfire's case a dual GPU card plus two single GPU cards IF they ulitize the same GPU ( 5970 + 5870/5850 for example)

Getting back to the board in question...

Microstar yet again looking for cheap route to tech enthusiasts' adoration.

Whereas Asus built their reputation on a series of great boards (Commando (P965), P5W DH Deluxe (975X), Blitz Formula/Extreme (P35), Rampage (X48) and Crosshair ( AMD random 3-digit numbers et al ), EVGA by enlisting a talented bunch of EpoX engineers, and like Gigabyte, a determination to offer both the best customer satisfaction and an open chequebook approach to that most highly visible cutting-edge activity -namely benchmark world records, MSI once again take the approach of "bizarre naming hyperbole = a seat at the top table". Hopefully this board makes more of a splash than the Big Bang Trinergy.

Guest said:

Leeky you cant crossfire four 5970's the maximum is two. Also most decent waterblocks come with a single PCI slot backplate therefore making the cards fit in a single PCI slot without an issue. To the board itself this is complete overkill, though if it will fit my case I'm still very tempted to buy it its just a shame they decided to make it a form factor that most people are going to find rather difficult to fit in their cases.

Guest said:

Hi,

Someone fogotten it's still Lucid Hidra chip behind, the one that will support up to 8GPUs w/o need in SLI/CrossFire.

Guest said:

Seems the the new Lucid Hydra is a kind of a triple chip in a one (iether a totelly new or a three-die sandwich. BIOS would not support more than 8GPUs - so, no sence to install more.

Also, beware - the total bandwidth is still 8GB/s. The trick is possible only because real GPU bandwith does not exceed 1GB/s (even less for all AMD and nVidia pre-GF110).

So, do not overcrowd the board - do not expect the board to support 3 x LSI 2008-based controllers (12 SSD each) in software RAID 0 :)

As to not supporting different GPU brands - seemed LusidLogix desided to stop butting with nVidia (at least for a time).

Guest said:

MSI makes solid products. I know their products do not look flashy like competitors', but they last long and very hardy. I have owned an MSI laptop, a DELL, a Gateway and a Lenevo. Guess which Laptop never had any problems.

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

Hi,

Someone fogotten it's still Lucid Hidra chip behind, the one that will support up to 8GPUs w/o need in SLI/CrossFire.

From the article:

That bandwidth is courtesy of a new Lucid Hydra chip, which may not support the ability to mix and match different graphics cards

The Lucidlogix chip used in this board is likely a simple bridge chip much the same as the NF200.

Seems the the new Lucid Hydra is a kind of a triple chip in a one (iether a totelly new or a three-die sandwich. BIOS would not support more than 8GPUs - so, no sence to install more.

...either that, or more likely an end-user programmable RISC. Hydra, in it's graphics agnostic load balancing guise is basically a driver + bridge chip

Hydra (GPU load-balancing SoC)

Virtu (no doubt TS will be covering this alternative to nvidia's Optimus solution in the near future)

...and the simple bridge chip- as seen on the Adventure expansion boards- which is a PCIE lane extender, albeit at the obvious expense of downgrading the spec to PCI-E 1.0

Leeky Leeky said:

@DBZ (and Guest #15), I stand corrected. Christ knows why I thought it was 4x HD5970's.

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

Wishful thinking or brain rot from too much interaction with the AMiDiot fanboys on the forums?

fpsgamerJR62 said:

Personally, I would prefer to have more DIMM slots and less PCI Express slots. Most upper mid-range boards sport 4 DIMM slots so an oversized board like this should have at least 6. Using dual-slot GPUs won't pose problems on boards with properly spaced PCI Express slots so they could probably lose 2 of the 8 PCI Express slots in favor of more DIMM slots.

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

Personally, I would prefer to have more DIMM slots and less PCI Express slots.

P67 just like it's predecessor, P55 is a dual-channel memory chipset

Most upper mid-range boards sport 4 DIMM slots so an oversized board like this should have at least 6.

Why? 4 or 6 slots -it's still limited to 16Gb capacity. The only dual-channel board with triple slots is the Gigabyte -UD6. The feature was so fantastic that they dropped it for the better specced -UD7. I think they realized that the only benefit six slots would bring is by using either 2Gb sticks (which only brings the total up to 12Gb) or using mis-matched densities. Populating all six slots also lowers overclocking headroom- not quite what an enthusiast board needs.

Using dual-slot GPUs won't pose problems on boards with properly spaced PCI Express slots so they could probably lose 2 of the 8 PCI Express slots in favor of more DIMM slots.

Mutually exclusive concepts. Memory bandwidth has nothing to do with PCIE lane availability. P67 uses the same layout as P55. Sixteen PCIE 2.0 spec lanes are available (via CPU) if no bridge chip (lane multiplier/splitter) is used. Extra PCI lanes are available to the chipset -these are split between PCIe x4, x1, PCI slots, USB 2.0/3.0, Gb LAN and any extra SATA controllers over and above what the chipset is specced for. All these resources must share the available lanes.

Bridge chips/lane extenders have no correlation to memory bandwidth. The memory controller is solely the province of the CPU.

fpsgamerJR62 said:

Thanks for the explanation. Just a small clarification. The article stated 4 DIMM slots with support for maximum of 32 GB DDR3. I would think you need more than 4 sticks to reach 32 GB even if 8 GB sticks are already available

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

My bad. I should have differentiated between what is available and what could be available. At present 4Gb density is about as good as it gets for desktop RAM (4x4 = 16Gb). Most entry level and mainstream boards will likely be limited to this figure due to the board manufacturers cheapening out with dedicated memory power phases to power higher density + all four slots (taking into account overclocking). The MSI boards, along with enthusiast boards from Asus and likely EVGA etc. will to some degree be "future-proofed" by having 2 or more VTT (dedicated memory) power phases -this basically means that the power to the is dedicated only to the RAM, which should in theory eliminate -or reduce- false electrical signals/fluctuations due to power draw from PCI lanes, I/O hubs etc. With these dedicated power phases the boards that have this feature should be able to accept 8Gb density RAM (8x4=32Gb)- once it becomes available as a four module kit.

At present, 8Gb modules are I think still limited to ECC (server) RAM and lower frequencies. This probably will not change until RAM IC's are using a smaller process node with lower voltage requirements (~1.3-1.35v). At todays level of tech even the best hand picked/hand tested kits are 4Gb module limited (specially at any decent bandwidth).

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