With hexacore desktop chips apparently on the horizon, it looks as though six is the new lucky number in the tech world, and not just in terms of CPU cores. MSI has just given us a preview glimpse of its new Big Bang XPOWER X58 motherboard, which features no fewer than six PCI-E graphics slots.
MSI couldn’t tell us how many PCI-E lanes would be assigned to each slot, but the company says that both CrossFire and SLI will be supported by the new board.
Why would you need six slots? Well, MSI says you could run a four-way CrossFire X configuration, and then add another Nvidia card for PhysX. You could then and perhaps add another card to gain more monitor outputs.
However, it’s worth noting that MSI isn’t the first company to put six PCI-E graphics slots on a PC motherboard. EVGA’s recently-revealed W555 also has six slots, but this is for dual Xeon machines, and it’s based on Intel’s 5520 workstation chipset. By comparison, MSI’s Big Bang XPOWER is based on Intel’s high-end X58 desktop chipset, and only sports one CPU socket.
The Big Bang XPOWER ticks all the topical-interface checkboxes too, supporting both USB 3 and 6Gb/sec SATA. As well as this, it will also come with the QuantumWave Audio Card that MSI introduced with its previous Big Bang boards; the Trinergy and the Fuzion.
This card slots into the motherboard’s sole single-lane PCI-E slot, and brings support for Creative’s EAX 5.0 system for surround sound gaming; the same level of EAX found on Creative’s X-Fi cards. The card will also come with the THX TruStudio PC Suite.
In addition to the six PCI-E slots, the XPOWER X58 will also come equipped with six DDR3 DIMM slots for triple-channel memory, as well as plenty of features for overclockers. These include a two-digit LED read-out for POST codes, as well as support for MSI’s OC Dashboard for remote monitoring and tweaking.
On top of this, the XPOWER X58 also features a host of advanced power features to enable overclockers to get a solid voltage-supply to their CPU. These not only include Hi-C (highly conductive) capacitors in the PWM circuit, but also include two eight-pin 12V CPU power connectors. In addition to this, there’s an additional six-pin PCI-E power connector on the board to ensure that all those graphics cards get as much power as possible.
According to MSI’s roadmap, the board is scheduled for release in March 2010, which should tie in nicely with the launch of Intel’s six-core Gulftown CPU. Unsurprisingly, though, it won’t be cheap. An MSI spokesperson told us that it will priced between £250 and £300 at a guess, although this isn’t official yet. Then again, if you can afford six graphics cards, you can probably afford £250 for a motherboard too.