Abit motherboard improves system monitoring for PCs

Taiwanese motherboard maker Abit Computer Corp. wants to make the task of keeping PCs healthy and running smoothly a bit easier.

To do this, the company has begun building a microcontroller, called µGuru, onto some motherboard models to improve system monitoring without draining resources from the processor, Abit spokeswoman Janet Webskowski said Tuesday at the Computex exhibition in Taipei. The first ATX boards (245 millimeters by 305 millimeters) to incorporate the new chip are on display at the show, which runs through Sept. 26.

The µGuru has four main functions: hardware monitoring, overclocking management, BIOS (Basic Input Output System) update and troubleshooting assistance.

The hardware monitoring function tracks voltage, fan speed, overclocking settings and temperature. The µGuru is able to shut down the system, even when the CPU (central processing unit) hangs, and can alert users when a PC is not operating properly, according to Webskowski.

The Intelligent Overclocking function is a Windows-based application, which allows users to overclock their systems without having to reboot and can provide automatic recovery when overclocking fails, she said. When overclocking fails, the µGuru automatically reboots the PC with the previous clock speed setting. The chip also allows users to save three preset overclocking profiles, which can be used for different user profiles or to meet specific needs, such as gaming.

The Smart BIOS Flash utility is a Windows-based BIOS update utility, which lets users download and install the latest BIOS updates to their PC, according to Webskowski. BIOS updates can be installed without having to reset overclocking and hardware monitoring settings.

The fourth function of µGuru is the Black Box feature, which allows users to record system operating conditions in the event of a hardware failure or if a PC is not running in a stable fashion. When a problem occurs, Black Box makes it easier for users to receive help from Abit's technical support by sending all of the system information to Abit via e-mail, according to the spokeswoman. Users can also configure Black Box to submit system information to other hardware vendors when help is needed, she said.

The first Abit motherboards with µGuru will be available next month.

In addition to µGuru, the KV8-MAX3 motherboard, which supports Advanced Micro Devices Inc.'s (AMD's) Athlon 64 processor, has a K8T800 chipset from Via Technologies Inc., on-board Gigabit Ethernet support, as well as a Serial ATA RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) controller. The KV8-MAX3 will be available worldwide in mid-October for around US$220, Webskowski said.

The AI7, designed for Intel Corp.'s Pentium 4 and Celeron processors., is based on Intel's 865PE chipset and includes µGuru, 10/100 Ethernet support, eight USB 2.0 ports and three IEEE 1364 ports. It will cost around $120 when it becomes available worldwide in early October, according to the spokeswoman.

The upcoming AN7 board, which will be based on Nvidia Corp.'s nForce Ultra 400 chipset and support AMD's Athlon XP chip, will also include µGuru. The AN7 offers 10/100 Ethernet support, a digital audio interface and Nvidia's SoundStorm technology with a real-time Dolby Digital 5.1 encoder. The board should be available at the end of October, Webskowski said. Pricing has not yet been determined.

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