What Do You Like Today? Additional Features
In addition to the standard chipset features, the motherboard companies try to add value to their products by integrating more featutes, such as the following:
- On-Board IDE RAID Controller: Promise PDC20265R or HighPoint HPT372
This is an additional IDE interface for 1-4 drives in RAID mode (0, 1, 0+1) or single setup. RAID requires at least two drives. RAID 0 (striping) passes data to all attached drives simultaneously, resulting in a tremendous performance increase. RAID 1 (mirroring) copies the data simultaneously onto a second drive, ensuring excellent data safety. If one drive crashes, the other one remains operational.
Be careful: these controllers only support ATA devices, but not ATAPI devices such as CD-ROM or DVD drives.
- USB 2.0 Controller
Common USB controllers (USB 1.1) provide up to 12 Mbit/s. USB 2.0 widens this bottleneck and offers much better bandwidth and connectivity for scanners or external storage devices with a maximum of 480 Mbit/s. As long as USB 2.0 is not integrated into chipset circuits, the motherboard companies will sporadically offer this new interface by integrating 3rd party chips.
- FireWire Controller (IEEE1394)
In addition to USB 2.0, FireWire or IEEE1394 is a very well accepted, high-performance interface for storage devices or digital cameras. Using an isochronous protocol, FireWire is perfectly suited for real time data transfer (like e.g. audio or video streams). The bandwith is about 400 Mbit/s.
- Network Controller
Many companies, including Intel and Realtek, offer inexpensive network controllers that are designed for integration onto motherboards. If you are attached to a network or if you use DSL, you will need a network interface anyway. Thus, any on-board solution is quite valuable.
We will talk about this in another section of this article.
- Security Features
There are several ways to secure critical data or access to critical computers. One of them is the use of chassis intrusion detection pins. Thanks to this, unauthorised case openings can be detected and reported to administrators.
In addition, Soyo and MSI have developed access restricting systems. Both make use of a storage device (it's a chip card with Soyo and a Flash memory stick for USB with MSI) that contains a security ID. If this number cannot be found, the computer (and/or Windows) will deny access. Soyo includes the chip card plus the reader; with MSI, it's an extra that has to be bought separately.