Besides the X38 chipset, the Maximus Formula makes good use of the ICH9R south bridge. Lets take a look at the chipset features...
In order to support the latest DDR2 memory types, the Memory Controller Hub (MCH) features wider buses that support Dual-Channel DDR2 at 533/677/800MHz, for up to 8.5 GB/s of peak memory bandwidth. ASUS supports native DDR2-1066 memory with Maximus Formula as well as DDR2-1200 through overclocking. For improved overclocking ASUS has used an embedded 2-Phase DDR2 design that is intended to help users reach higher memory frequencies. ASUS also claims that this will improve component lifespan and provide better overclocking due to cooler temperatures and efficiency.
Another chipset feature is Intel's HD Audio that features eight independent DMA audio engines that support multiple audio streams with audio codecs. This integrated audio solution is meant to rival the performance of high-end soundcards although we haven't delved deep enough to give a good recommendation on this aspect of the product. This HD audio solution (previously codenamed Azalia) enables high-quality 192KHz/24-bit audio output.
Other audio features include jack-sensing, re-tasking functions and multi-streaming technology that simultaneously sends different audio streams to different destinations. The Dolby Digital Live technology from Dolby Labs encodes the multi-channel audio source into AC-3 bit-stream and outputs it to S/PDIF port in real time.
In an effort to eventually get rid of the conventional IDE ATA standard, the X38 chipset removes IDE support altogether. Despite this, the Maximus Formula ships with a single IDE port thanks to the use of the JMicron JMB368 PATA controller. The ICH9R south bridge offers up to six Serial II ATA ports, boasting data transfer rates of up to 300MB/s. Intel also offers RAID functions for these four SATA ports, supporting RAID 0 for performance and RAID 1 for protection, along with RAID 5 and RAID10. Advanced Host Controller Interface (AHCI) further boosts performance with Native Command Queuing (NCQ), and provides native hot plug for drive swaps.
The board also supports IEEE1394a (FireWire 400), offering bandwidth up to 400 Mbps, 2 x 1394a ports, and of course the mandatory USB 2.0 ports (six on the back panel + six optional on-board).
The dual Gigabit LAN design allows a PC to serve as a network gateway for managing traffic between two separate networks. This capability ensures rapid transfer of data from WAN to LAN without any added arbitration or latency. No more bottleneck to handle large amounts of data such as video, audio, and voice. The Maximus Formula makes good use of dual Marvell PCI Express 88E8056 Gigabit LAN controllers.