Foxconn 945P7AA-8EKRS2 - Page 4

..:: 945P7AA-8EKRS2 Layout: Northbridge ::..

Foxconn has implemented a large, aluminum heatsink that has been anodized green. The heatsink on the 945P7AA-8EKRS2 fared quite well for being a passive solution. This green heatsink is a familiar sight with Foxconn. Unlike their high performance products which feature smaller, active cooling solutions, this larger aluminum solution is far more common on Foxconn’s standard products. Typically on the i9xx chipsets you’re going to want to see active cooling, but in the case of mid-range products that won’t see a wealth of overclocking, passive solutions do the job just fine.

The area to the left of the i945P Northbridge chip is quite clean featuring no more than a few low-profile capacitors, an IDT clock generator chip, and the secondary, 12V core voltage power connector. Normally, this area houses items ranging from audio controllers to LAN controllers. This is not he case with the 945P7AA-8EKRS2. As we’ll soon see, Foxconn has implemented these items into the rear of the PCB.

..:: 945P7AA-8EKRS2 Layout: Expansion Slots ::..

The expansion slot portion of the 945P7AA-8EKRS2 features a single x16 PCI-Express slot, along with two x1 PCI-Express slots. At the bottom portion of the board, we also find three regular PCI slots. This is a typical setup found on most of the latest i9xx boards. This design goes back to a more traditional touch versus the 955X board which housed the PCI-E slots along the bottom portion of the PCB. Given that there are more PCI devices available than PCI-E x1, this setup allows for breathing room around the graphics card.

The majority of the core IC’s for this portion of the board are, as always, located along the rear edge of the PCB, as well as within the area of the board near the x1 PCI-E slots. This area has been put to further use due to the miniscule size of the PCI-E x1 slots in comparison to the typical PCI slots. Along the rear portion of the PCB, we find both of the Broadcom Gigabit Ethernet controllers. Foxconn has opted to supply one controller which runs off of the regular PCI bus, and another which operates off of the PCI-E bus. Obviously, utilizing the PCI-E bus is the better decision here, though it is nice to have two Gigabit capable ports available at your disposal. This is an identical setup to the 955X offering we’ve seen prior.

In the rear corner, we find the High Definition Audio CODEC that Foxconn has chosen to power the 945P7AA-8EKRS2, the Realtek ALC880 CODEC. The ALC880 offers full 7.1 channel audio support, features two 24-bit DACs and three 20-bit stereo ADCs for high quality, high resolution audio, and also features 32-bit, 96kHz support for both input and output S/PDIF connections. Just below the right hand side of the ALC880 CODEC, we find the black CD audio header. The remaining audio components such as the front panel audio header are along the bottom edge of the PCB in an excellent location that will allow for ease of cable routing as well as cable reach.

The final item located in the expansion slot portion of the 945P7AA-8EKRS2 is the Texas Instruments IEEE1394a controller. This controller allows for the motherboard to support the IEEE1394a standard. The main IEEE1394 port is located on the rear I/O panel of the motherboard as well, though there is an on-PCB header to allow for an expansion bracket connection. This is a bit of a cut down from the 955X product which supported both the IEEE1394a and IEEE1394b standards.