Foxconn 945P7AA-8EKRS2 - Page 5

..:: 945P7AA-8EKRS2 Layout: Southbridge & DIMM ::..

The Southbridge portion of the 945P7AA-8EKRS2 houses an immense number of ports, headers, connectors, as well as chips and electrical components. Foxconn has done an excellent job in keeping this portion of the board clean, and has been able to provide the end user with an organized layout allowing easy access to all of the core components. To start things off, we find both of the IDE RAID connectors supported by the ITE chip located along the bottom edge of the board. This is an excellent layout and an excellent use of available real estate.

Along the right hand edge of the board, we find all of the main jumpers of importance, as well as the front panel header for connection of your various LEDs and switches. You may also notice a large header between the jump blocks and the front panel header. This larger header allows for use of a TPM, or Trusted Platform Module, with the 945P7AA-8EKRS2. Above the TPM block, we find an additional three-pin power connector for a front intake fan, as well as the Clear CMOS block.

The ICH7-R Southbridge chip is passively cooled by another green aluminum heatsink, emblazon with the Foxconn namesake across the center. The area to the left of the ICH7-R houses a series of electrical components that likely make up the core voltage supply for the PCI-Express related devices. There are also two USB 2.0 headers located to the southwest of the ICH7-R. Foxconn has placed all four of the Serial ATA connectors supported by the ICH7-R to its right, near the TPM block.

Finally, we come across the DIMM slots. Here, we see that Foxconn has opted to go with different colors for the two DDR-II channels, blue and yellow, again keeping intact the color scheme from the 945P7AA-8EKRS2 product. The 24-pin ATX power connector is in an excellent location, right below the floppy connector powered by the ICH7-R Southbridge. The BIOS for the 945P7AA-8EKRS2 is actually located in the upper right portion of the PCB, next to the floppy connector. This is an atypical location, but weíve seen such implementations in the past.

When you take into account the number of headers, connectors, and chips that had to be thrown onto one ATX sized motherboard, it should be a surprise to see such an excellent layout. Iíve said these exact words time and time again, and Foxconn has always proven me wrong. Foxconn has constantly provided some of the cleanest PCB designs Iíve come across. BY no means are the perfect, but on boards supporting as many features, totally ergonomic designs are hard to come by, if ever found. My main gripe with this board is similar to others from Foxconn, I thought it was missing was an additional fan power connector for a rear exhaust fan.