If you are assembling a workstation or server from individual components, one of the most important decisions you'll make is which motherboard to use. The motherboard will influence how much your system will cost, its performance, and its ability to keep up with new technology. Last year, Tyan Computer released Thunder 100, an outstanding motherboard for high-end Windows NT workstations and midrange servers. For a relatively modest price, you get everything you need for the core of a high-performance, expandable NT system.

Tyan based the Thunder 100, which carries the internal designation of S1836DLUAN dual-Pentium II motherboard, on the Intel 440BX chipset (Tyan based newer versions on the 440GX), and it has a 100MHz front-side bus. Two Pentium II/III CPU slots let you create a relatively inexpensive multiprocessor, and the slots can seat chips with clock speeds of 233MHz to 450MHz.

A major factor of the board's attractiveness is its standard components. For example, it comes with an onboard Adaptec AIC7895 Dual Channel Ultra Wide SCSI controller with two 68-pin Ultra Wide SCSI ports and a 50-pin SCSI-2 Port. It also comes with a built-in Intel 82558 10/100 Ethernet controller, and a Vibra 16XV Midi Audio Chip for legacy 16-bit Sound Blaster software compatibility. These components give you good mass storage, network, and sound support without you buying additional hardware.

This motherboard also has excellent expandability so that you can keep your Thunder 100-based computer viable as your hardware requirements grow. It has a requisite 16-bit ISA slot, six 32-bit bus-mastering PCI slots, a 32-bit Accelerated Graphics Port (AGP) slot for a high-performance video card, and one shared ISA/PCI slot. Six PCI slots are ample for most workstation and midrange server systems. The Thunder 100's IDE support includes two UltraDMA/33 PCI-bus-mastering EIDE ports for compatibility with up to four of the latest IDE devices. As for memory, the motherboard supports up to 1GB of main memory in four 168-pin DIMM sockets. The memory subsystem handles PC100 (100MHz) Synchronous DRAM (SDRAM) with Error-Correcting Code (ECC). Rounding out the package are two onboard USB ports, two 16550 high-speed serial ports, and one Standard Parallel Port (SPP)/Enhanced Capabilities Port (ECP)/Enhanced Parallel Port (EPP).

With its extended ATX profile, you can easily install cards and memory. The Thunder 100 is a motherboard with exemplary value, performance, and expandability. The product impressed me so much that I built a dream workstation around it; I spent at least 25 percent less than I would have for a comparably equipped system from a major system vendor.

Thunder100
Contact: Tyan Computer * 510-651-8868
Web: http://www.tyan.com