Thunder before the storm!
MSI brought a pile of new products to CES, including its complete line of LGA-1155 products, but the one product that brings it the most pride is its Big Bang Conqueror. Supporting AMD's next-generation desktop processor (can we even say Bulldozer?), three of its four PCIe x16 slots are spaced perfectly for hosting a trio of Radeon HD 6970 graphics cards in CrossFireX. As we await further announcements from AMD concerning the next CPU architecture, its faithful can rejoice that the firm already has a test CPU for its AM3+ socket!
Making a smaller bang is MSI’s first Mini-ITX board, the E350IA-E45 integrated motherboard. The model name tells the story, as the board hosts AMD's 18W, 1.6GHz E-350 Brazos platform. Efficiency is a key selling point, though anyone who needs a little more graphics power can add a discrete card through its x16-length, four-lane PCI Express slot.
Far-removed from the noise of its January 5 debut, we prodded MSI a little more about its Big Bang Marshal. A PCIe hub from Lucidlogix expands the LGA-1155 package's 16 PCIe 2.0 lanes, supporting four of its eight slots at full x16 bandwidth. A ten-slot case will hold four dual-slot cards (such as MSI's Lightning Series) with a single spare space above the top card, and anyone who wants to fill even more slots need only search for single-slot models.
We should remind Hydra-haters that the same Lucid chip that's required for Hydra mode also functions as a regular hub when its driver is disabled, allowing true four-way CrossFireX. We’ve no news from Nvidia whether its driver will allow more than two cards to be used with this non-NF200 design, but official word up to this point has been "no".