If you're as excited as I am about Intel's new P67 chipset and Sandy Bridge microarchitecture, then you'll be happy to know that the ASUS P8P67 series motherboards are now available!!
The purpose of this overview is to introduce you to our new ASUS P8P67 series motherboards. Much of the design and implementation of these motherboards can be credited to the feedback we’ve received from you the users, so first, I would like to thank all of you in the community who have taken the time to give us your feedback whether it be making suggestions, telling us the layouts/features you like/dislike, and asking questions. This overview will introduce many of the new features and design ideas that we’ve implemented to work optimally with Intel’s P67 chipset and Intel’s new series of CPUs.
Some of the features that you will see on all of our P8P67 motherboards are dual slot spacing, right angle SATA ports, front and back USB 3.0, Bluetooth 2.1 +EDR, ESATA (300) and firewire 1394 ports. In addition to the rich I/O connectivity, we’ve also introduced Intel LAN into our mainstream series of motherboards. While the Intel LAN is not available on the standard P8P67, it is present on all other P67 models above the standard including the PRO, EVO, Deluxe, WS Revolution, Maximus IV Extreme, and SABERTOOTH P67. This specific implementation was a big commitment on our part from both a time and development standpoint. In the end we’re very proud to have this high performing, more compatible, and very robust controller. These consistent elements spanning across all of our P8P67 series motherboards bring together central tenets concerning features and innovative ideas that we wanted to ensure were present in the entire lineup.
For those of you interested in taking a comparative look at the specifications for our P8P67 series, I've included a spec chart below.
So now that we’ve referenced an overall spec comparison let’s dive into some of the features and implementations of our P8P67 series of motherboards. One of the most important aspects that is present throughout our entire P67 lineup (starting from the P8P67) is the design consistency. This includes fundamental features, layout, and class leading power delivery and component selection.
To begin the design process and development of these boards we went back to looking at the basic fundamental aspects of board design. After considering the feedback from multiple sources including the community as a whole and its users (overclockers, gamers, and general enthusiasts) as well as media and our internal assessments, we decided upon ensuring a strong and consistent focus on key areas of board design and implementation. This is quite different from most chipset launches where there is normally a refresh of design elements and implementations from previous chipsets. Part of this can be seen in the rich functionality and exceptional performance of every single board.
Another standout P8P67 series feature is our UEFI interface which allows for the use of hard drives larger than 2 TB and provides a graphical user interface to replace the antiquated keyboard driven BIOS interface of previous chipsets. Another advantage of the P67 chipset and UEFI is that of a larger option ROM space than the option ROM space available on previous chipsets. The UEFI BIOS has 2 modes of operation: Advanced, which gives access to all system frequencies, voltages, and other BIOS settings including advanced VRM tuning options. In Advanced mode you will have access to very precise and granular voltage and frequency controls. This precision and granularity of settings that you can tweak from within UEFI gives you ultimate control in customizing your system. Last but not least we also continued forward with our class leading BIOS fan control options offering full manual controls for both the CPU and chassis fans. The secondary interface and new to UEFI option is the ASUS EZ mode which provides a lot of functionality with a more simplified interface. Ease of use is one of the strong points for UEFI with both Advanced mode and EZ mode featuring point and click mouse usability as well as keyboard navigation.
The spacing of PCI-e and PCI slots also played a key role in our P8P67 motherboard hardware design / physical layout. Specifically, all of our P67 chipset motherboards feature dual slot x16 PCI-e spacing which allows for optimal GPU airflow and cooling with a focus on multi-GPU. Additionally, there was a lot of thought put into the placement of PCI-e x1 slots throughout the P67 lineup in order to maximize the sensibility of the board layout. Each board will have a PCI-e x1 at the top of the expansion slots so those of you who have PCI-e x1 add-on cards don’t have to worry about the x1 slot being blocked by another card.
Dual Intelligent Processors 2 with DIGI+ VRM
P8P67 EPU Overview
DIGI+ VRM on mainstream ASUS motherboards works alongside the Dual Intelligent Processors design. This was introduced early in 2010, pioneering the use of two co-processors right on the motherboard. The first of which is the EPU (Energy Processing Unit). The EPU co-processor allows users to decrease the power consumption of the system whenever possible by actively monitoring loads, voltages, temperatures, etc. of all key components including CPU, VGA, Chipsets, DRAM, Fan, and HDD. EPU can accurately detect the CPU load in real-time and intelligently manage the balance between performance and power consumption. EPU technology will also manage the supplied voltage to key components according to the respective load on the components. This results in a higher performance per watt ratio. Lastly, rounding out the functionality of EPU is its ability to allow the user to adjust vCore, chipset voltage, and other corresponding parameters. These adjustments can be made using a hardware switch on the motherboard, from within UEFI, or from within the AI Suite II software.
P8P67 TPU & Turbo V Evo Overview
The 2nd of these co-processors is the TPU (TurboV Processing Unit) hardware controller. The TPU is a low-level controller that allows users to tweak system settings by interfacing with UEFI, AI Suite II, and the digital VRM. This tight level of integration offers advanced real-time adjustments and hardware monitoring of system frequencies such as multipliers, BCLK, and corresponding voltages such as vCore, DRAM, and VRM specific voltages. This advanced controller additionally allows for the only full real-time, hardware based auto overclocking algorithm; Auto Tuning. Auto Tuning produces system specific overclocks by automatically scaling to the limits of the corresponding components. The Auto Tuning feature is included in the AI Suite II software application that comes with every P8P67 series motherboard. We introduced Auto Tuning with our P55 motherboard launch and after a great deal of feedback and a considerable amount of time and effort, we have optimized Auto Tuning for the P67 chipset. Auto Tuning is a hardware based overclocking feature that uses the TPU micro-processor on the motherboard to overclock the CPU and memory frequencies. Auto Tuning uses prime derivative stability testing which allows for a high level overclock validated for stability and overall reliability. In most cases, Auto Tuning will get your CPU close, if not all the way, to the maximum capability of your CPU. It is important to remember that while software is the way you initialize the process, the actual process is completed in real-time by hardware on the board. This allows for the making of full adjustments to the Turbo multiplier, BCLK, voltages and other UEFI options during the Auto Tuning process.
Another way users can go about overclocking these systems is by running the OC Tuner from within UEFI. OC Tuner will automatically overclock the CPU using automatic scaling. The OC Tuner, also will test for stability when scaling the CPU however the testing is minimal due to UEFI being a pre-boot environment.
Since the P67 chipset and Intel’s Sandy Bridge CPUs are for the most part BCLK locked, overclocking of Sandy Bridge CPUs is done by increasing the Turbo multiplier. However, by using UEFI or our AI Suite II software, you can tweak the BCLK using decimal fractions to get the most out of your CPU; e.g., you can set BCLK to 102.6 instead of 102. In addition, the combination of our TPU chip (Turbo V EVO) and DIGI+ implementation has allowed us to offer unprecedented levels of controls and customization for the VRM real-time in the OS! When, before now, have you ever been able to make real-time PWM related changes in the OS?!
Digital Power Design: the New Standard
P8P67 Series Digi+ VRM Overview
Continuing on with the hardware layout and implementations of this new series is another very important design feature on all ASUS P8P67 series boards. This our new VRM design: DIGI+ VRM. The DIGI+ VRM was first introduced on our flagship ROG motherboards and now we’re proud to take our highest performing VRM design and put into our mainstream P67 lineup.
When put next to analog designs, the benefits of DIGI+ VRM truly stand out. First of all, it offers much greater flexibility and faster system response times so adjustments to voltages can be drastically more accurate and safer to implement. While analog power management has evolved a long way, it still has a limited range when it comes to fine adjustments. This leads to reduced tolerances as changes have to be made in more unrefined, larger increments. DIGI+ VRM is an industry-leading technology that fully integrates Intel® VRD12 specifications and enhances power output far beyond the limits of analog designs. It features a digital programmable microprocessor, matching Intel's VRD12 digital power signal (SVID) to ensure perfect power delivery. Another reason we’re using DIGI+ VRM is that Intel’s Turbo Boost design works best when utilizing a digital PWM since this allows for the fastest transient response (ramping up and down of CPU multiplier using Intel’s Turbo Boost). This technology yields the most efficiency and the best driving ability in regards to CPU frequency since the DIGI+ VRM design has been optimized to get the most out of any Sandy Bridge CPU, be it a ‘K’ part or non-K part. Altogether, this allows us to have peak VRM efficiency exceeding 90%.
Advantages of ASUS DIGI+ VRM Digital Power Design
Faster sensing and response: ASUS DIGI+ VRM acts as a digital controller eliminating digital-to-analog conversion lag.
Better cooling and temperatures + Super Low Interference: Our exclusive dual driver and MOS design doubles the heat dissipation area by expanding cooling surfaces for improved thermal performance. With DIGI+ VRM’s digital architecture, frequencies are varied dynamically by enabling VRM spread spectrum. This results in the electromagnetic interference emitted by the motherboard being cut in half which helps keep different parts of the system from clashing with each other. Coupled with real-time reduction of CPU vCore power noise, this lower cross-talk between different components vastly improves system stability and makes for a much safer and healthier computing environment for all users. This better stability which DIGI+ VRM provides translates into greater overclocking potential. Combined with the use of thermally-tuned materials on our motherboards, DIGI+ VRM’s efficient power design balances power phase loadings by detecting per phase (choke + driver + MOSFET = 1 phase) VRM temperatures to promote longer component lifespan, better cooling and greater system stability. Lastly, in addition to offering phase load management based on temperature, users can also access the UEFI or AI Suite II to make manual per phase adjustments or set phase management to current (power) which will allow for superior overclocking. The ability to adjust phase performance manually increases the flexibility of the entire system, and from our own experience, Dual Intelligent Processors 2 with DIGI+ VRM offers about twice the on-demand power precision of traditional analog designs. This allows the PC to reach its full performance potential and makes it easy for users to harness its capabilities through diverse but easy to use UEFI settings, or via the dedicated and exclusive user interface within AI Suite II.
2X CPU power supply: The same exclusive dual driver and MOS design also provides twice the CPU power supply with two complete power stages.
2X Precise Power Control for Optimized Performance (Maximizes Overclocking Potential): ASUS DIGI+ VRM delivers twice the power precision, intelligently adjusting PWM voltage and frequency modulation to minimize power loss while performance reaches its full potential. In addition to doubling power precision, DIGI+ VRM minimizes power loss and maximizes power efficiency. Its specially-tailored digital controller optimizes switching performance and reduces power latency exponentially, so users benefit from a much more effective power management architecture.
P8P67 BT GO! Overview
BT GO! is an on-board Bluetooth solution and suite of software that allows for all of the normal Bluetooth functions including pairing, transferring, connecting to peripherals, etc. We've also diversified Bluetooth capability with new functions that are exclusive to BT GO! One of these functions is the ability to remotely access your system using a Bluetooth handheld device like an iPhone or Android phone. You also have access to overclocking settings so you can remotely overclock your system from your favorite handheld device. Some other functions BT GO! provides are the ability to play music from a Bluetooth device on your BT GO! system, internet tethering from your system with BT GO! onto a Bluetooth device that lacks an internet connection, file transferring, etc.
As you move up from the standard to the PRO, EVO, or Deluxe, the higher end P8P67 series boards will have increasingly higher PCB layer counts and higher VRM phase counts. For example, the higher VRM phase count of the P8P67 Deluxe board makes for a better likelihood of achieving sustained higher frequencies and/or loads for a long duration. We’ve also expanded and improved the high quality components already in place and have taken them to the next level on boards such as our SABERTOOTH P67 and Maximus IV Extreme.
So now let’s get down to business and take a look at the boards 😄
P8P67 Motherboard Overview
The P8P67 Standard motherboard has of course all of the features described above that I mentioned were present on the entire P8P67 series, i.e. dual slot PCI-e spacing, on-board Bluetooth module, front and back USB 3.0, right angle SATA ports, etc. It also features a DRAM LED on the board to help diagnose memory issues. The P8P67 Standard is aimed towards those of you who want to have a powerful system with a lot of features and will most likely only use 1 GPU. Therefore, the P8P67 Standard does not support SLI. However, the Standard does support CrossFireX for the use of 2 AMD graphics cards in x8/x8 configuration.
P8P67 PRO Overview
The big things to note regarding the differences between the Standard and the P8P67 PRO are that the PRO supports both CrossFireX and SLI making it the better choice for multi-GPU configurations. Another great reason to go with the PRO is the addition of powered eSATA and Intel Gigabit LAN. The PRO features Q-LED debug LED's on the board for CPU, DRAM, VGA, and boot device. The PRO also comes with a USB 3.0 bracket.
Below is a screenshot showing the auto tuning results on a P8P67 PRO using a 2600K CPU.
P8P67 EVO Overview
The P8P67 EVO comes equipped with all of the features present in the P8P67 PRO and more. The P8P67 EVO might be used more by benchers and overclockers since it has a power button and a reset button on the board making it more feasible for users who will run the system outside of the case. The EVO also comes equipped with dual Gigabit LAN ports, one of which is an Intel LAN port. We anticipate that users of this motherboard will be pushing the board to the max so we've also added a heatpipe to ensure optimum thermal conditions.
P8P67 Deluxe Overview
The P8P67 Deluxe features everything from the EVO down to the standard and also has 4 more phases on the DIGI+ VRM than the other P8P67 series boards. The industry leading 16+2 digital power phases give you access to even more power! We've also increased the effective heat dissipation by implementing a larger thermal heatsink assembly with a heatpipe. The Deluxe also comes with an ASUS breakout front panel USB 3.0 box to attach to the front USB 3.0 header to give you 2 more USB 3.0 ports in the front of your case. Like the previous P8P67 series boards, the Deluxe has the 2 extra SATA 6GB/s ports; however, the Deluxe offers dual RAID (RAID on both sets of SATA 6GB/s ports. The Deluxe also sports the 2 buttons for power and reset, dual Gigabit LAN (one of which is Intel LAN), and supports both CrossFireX and SLI.
Below is a screenshot showing an AIDA64 stable 5.1GHz O.C. on the P8P67 Deluxe!
See AIDA64 Report below from P8P67 Deluxe with a 5GHz O.C.