GIGABYTE's New Technologies: CloudOC, Unlocked Power & More

Author: MAC
Date: June 21, 2010
Product Name: GIGABYTE: CloudOC, Unlocked Power & More
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Unlocked Power

Unlocked Power is GIGABYTE's term for its brand new CPU power design. To showcase the capabilities of the Unlocked Power technology, GIGABYTE demonstrated just how much power their high-end X58A-UD9 motherboard and its 24-phase PWM design could deliver to the CPU socket with this little video presentation:

So you are probably wondering what is so special about the UD9's 24-phase design compared to the one that was debuted on the P55-UD6? Well without delving in too deep (we'll keep that for the review), the X58A-UD9 has have a true 24-phase design. Having said that, Unlocked Power is not solely about phases. Gigabyte have replaced their traditional motherboard power design and are now using more modern integrated Driver-MOSFET chips, which differ from standard MOSFETs in that they feature a 3-in-1 design with the Driver IC, top MOSFET, and bottom MOSFET all in one package. Among other things these new MOSFETs have faster transient response, provide more stable the power to the CPU, and more efficient.

Now although the 1500W figure that GIGABYTE demonstrated might be achievable in lab conditions, it is a little bit of a marketing gimmick since the UD9's two 8-pin CPU connectors can theoretically only provide up to 480W. However, the point behind the presentation is that they have developed a PWM design that can not only supply an inordinate amount of power to even the most insanely overclocked processor, but is also incredibly robust.

Arguably more important than this new design's maximum power delivery capabilities are the Dual Power Switching and Power Phase Boost features.

Click on image to enlarge

When enabled, Dual Power Switching (DPS) splits the 24 phases into two separate sets of 12 phases. In doing so, during light/normal load conditions one set of 12 phases can be active while the other set is powered down. The sets of 12 phases alternate every time you shut down or hibernate your system in order to even out the wear & tear. The logic behind this approach is that is that unlike traditional power design's where the same powers phases are constantly in use and thus more likely to wear out and/or fail, by alternatively switching between the two sets the lifespan of the power phases can be effectively doubled. A bonus feature of the Unlocked Power design is Auto Failure Protection, which will automatically disable the group of 12 power phases if any one phase in that set is faulty, allowing the motherboard to continue operating using the remain twelve phases. This means the difference between a working motherboard and one unable to boot.

Full load scenarios are where Power Phase Boost comes into play. When the CPU requires more than 12 phases DPS is temporarily disabled and the 12 other phases are automatically activated. When the system returns to a normal load state, DPS is re-enabled and the motherboard drops back down to 12 phases to ensure better power efficiency and phase reliability. As expected, GIGABYTE have carried over the dynamic 6 gear switching feature that is part of Dynamic Energy Saver 2 software. Depending on whether DPS is enabled or disabled, the motherboard can operated with as little as 2 power phases in idle states.

Although the focus of Unlocked Power has thus far been on the flagship UD9, the X58A-UD7 and X58A-UD5 will also be receiving this updated power design, albeit in 16-phase form. These models will be identifiable by their revision 2.0 labels. Whether Unlocked Power will trickle down to other models is not known at this time.

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