So in the mid-range to high-end AMD segment you'll spot the AMD 990FX chipset motherboards. These motherboards will be based on Socket AM3+, and let me immediately make it very clear; it is backwards compatible with Phenom II and Athlon II series AM3 processors. This was a much discussed feature on the past months in our forums alright. Today we'll prove that Phenom II works excellently on Socket AM3+ as the six and eight-core Bulldozer processors that should go alongside this motherboard have not yet been announced and thus have not yet been launched.
We expect Bulldozer (Zambezi family) series processors to arrive as late as August, maybe even September. To get an idea of what you might expect, here's an overview (compilation courtesy DigiTimes):
So for now you can at the very least focus on the 990FX chipset, which can be used with the last generation Phenom II X4 and X6 processors. MSI submitted a 990FX motherboard which includes all the hippest gear like support for USB 3 and sure, SATA 3 (6G).
The Crosshair V Formula is what we'll be placing under our microscope today, styled in black and red with that oh so familiar ROG look. This AM3+ motherboard will be powered by a 10-phase VRM design - it actually is a CPU voltage regulator circuit that has eight phases for the CPU main voltage (VDD a.k.a. Vcore) and two for the CPU VDDNB voltage (integrated memory controller, HyperTransport bus controller, and L3 memory cache).
Therefore, it uses an 8+2 configuration. It comes with four DDR3 DIMM slots supporting DDR3 allowing to be clocked to 2133 MHz (overclocked).
You'll spot six slots of which are four PCI-Express 2.0 x16 supporting NVIDIA SLI and AMD CrossFire(X) and then there's a single legacy PCi and one x1 PCIe slot.
This board actulally supports 3-way SLI. In 2-way SLI eaach card will get x16 lanes assigned and in 3-way SLI it will configure as x16,x8,x8.
Storage is eight SATA 6 Gb/s ports, six from the SB850 Southbridge, and two from a third-party (ASMEDIA - proprietary to ASUS) controller feeding one additional SATA3 and one eSATA port.
So an interesting fact is that this motherboard series now is 3-way SLI compatible, and that's just an interesting feature for any motherboard. We'll need capable Bulldozer FX processors in order to make some sense out of that though.