August 8, 2001

Review: Soyo SY-TISU motherboard attractive to overclockers

Author: JT Smith

- By Jeff Field -
With new CPUs come new motherboards, and the Intel Pentium III Tualatin 1.13/1.2 release has prompted new Pentium III motherboards, breathing a bit of life into an otherwise stagnant market. Soyo is one of the first manufacturers to create a motherboard to support the new Pentium IIIs with its SY-TISU board.The board and expansion
The SY-TISU is not much of a departure from Soyo's three other I815 ATX boards. It does not have on-board video, like the 7ISA/7ISA+ did, but otherwise, they are similar boards. Where the board differs is in the support of the new Tualatin-cored Pentium III 1.13 and 1.2 GHz CPUs. These CPUs differ from the previous Pentium IIIs because they use a new .13 micron core. This causes the CPUs themselves to have new voltage requirements, and more importantly, they require a new, lower voltage for the CPU bus signaling.

What does this mean to you? First, it means that if you had dreams of putting a 1.2GHz Pentium III on your current I815 board, you can forget it, because only these new boards can provide the correct bus voltage (1.25v versus the 1.50v of the previous Pentium IIIs). The lowering of the voltage and the smaller process also decrease the amount of heat produced by the CPU.

For expansion, the board comes with a fairly standard configuration -- six PCI slots, one AGP, three DIMM slots that accept up to 512MB total of PC133 SDRAM, due to a limitation of the i815 (and, indeed, all Intel SDRAM chipsets), and two ATA/100 ports for up to four IDE devices. For external expansion, the board has onboard sound, two serial ports, one parallel ports, and two on-board USB ports.

Layout and design
The layout of the TISU is clean and well thought out. There is nothing obstructing the PCI slots, there is a decent amount of clearance around the CPU, and nothing seems to be in a spot where it would get in the way.

Documentation and configuration
The documentation of the SY-TISU is the same as that on all recent Soyo boards -- light. The manual is 20 pages. It tells you how to physically install the CPU and how to configure the board. The documentation is well written but suffers from a lack of depth, serving as more than a reference than a comprehensive guide. An experienced builder will have no trouble, but the inexperienced will have to look for information at various Web sites dedicated to building PCs.

Configuration is one feature where the TISU shines. Taking a page from Soyo's newly released AMD board, the Dragon, the TISU has a front-side bus speed that is adjustable in 1MHz increments from 133MHz to 250MHz. Also, it is capable of changing voltages in 0.025v increments, crucial to overclocking. These surprising features could make the TISU an appealing board for the overclockers out there.

A note, a Pentium III Coppermine CPU was used in testing of this board, because a Tualatin core CPU was unavailable.
System Specifications
Pentium III Coppermine 933MHz
256 Megs PC133 SDRAM from
Western Digital 7200 RPM 10.2 Gig Hard Drive
3Com 3C905TX-C 10/100 NIC (PCI)
300 Watt AMD-Approved ATX Power Supply
Abit Siluro GeForce 2 MX400 64MB AGP

Mandrake 8.0 with Kernel 2.4.3

Kernel compiles
To test both the board's stability and speed, I ran three sets of Linux kernel compiles on this board. One is a normal, "uniprocessor" make, or make -j1, which is the default. This uses one process, and does not always maximize system usage. I then did make -j2, which spawns a second process. The last test I run is with make -j3, spawning two extra processes. I do this for several reasons -- to find the "sweet spot" for the board/CPU, as well as to stress the system as much as possible when trying to rate its stability. Also, the kernel is extremely useful as a measure of integer performance.

Kernel 2.4.6 Compile Times (Minutes:Seconds)
Board -j1 -j2 -j3
Soyo SY-TISU 6:08 6:09 5:59

The performance here is right on par with what you should expect out of a Pentium III 933 -- right around six minutes. Provided there is not a problem with the motherboard, this time should be expected in such a CPU-intensive task.

POVRay Benchmarks
POVRay is a multi-platform raytracing program. It is a floating point-intensive task and serves well to help measure the floating point performance of a CPU. For more information on this benchmark, head to the official POVBENCH homepage. The command to run for this benchmark, once you obtain POVRay, you run povray -i skyvase.pov +v1 +ft -x +mb25 +a0.300 +j1.000 +r3 -q9 -w640 -H480 -S1 -E480 -k0.000 -mv2.0 +b1000 from the command prompt. Results are in seconds.

Board Result
Soyo SY-TISU 30

The Pentium III is not as good at POVray as an equivalent Athlon, but it certainly is not slow.

Quake 3 Arena Timedemos (Frames Per Second)
Board 640x480 800x600 1024x768 1200x1024 1600x1200
Soyo SY-TISU 132.4 121.8 85.4 52.8 36.8

Quake 3 scores show the same thing we keep finding -- that the GeForce2MX is not CPU limited, but rather memory and clock speed limited. So, we see performance comparable to higher clocked processors with the GeForce2MX, simply because the GeForce2MX cannot do any better.

bonnie++ results
Bonnie++ is a hard drive benchmark that tests the writing and reading
from both a single large file (such as that of a database) and many small files (like a proxy, or mail program). It is
useful for simulating performance under such applications.

Bonnie++ results
Sequential Output
Controller Per-Character Block Rewrite
Soyo SY-TISU 10037 K/sec, 99% CPU 26571 K/sec, 32% CPU 8922 K/sec, 7% CPU
Sequential Input Random
Controller Per-Character Block Random
Soyo SY-TISU 8732 K/sec, 77% CPU 22278 K/sec, 9% CPU 157.6 Seeks/sec, 0% CPU
Sequential Create
Controller Create Read Delete
Soyo SY-TISU 12593 /sec, 99% CPU none 13872/sec, 100% CPU
Random Create
Controller Create Read Delete
Soyo SY-TISU 12054 /sec, 100% CPU none 11474/sec, 100% CPU

Here we see the drive controller on the SY-TISU performs quite well -- certainly on par with other IDE controllers I have tested, functioning fully with DMA under Linux with no trouble.

HDparm tests the maximum data transfer rate of a hard drive in using two methods, uncached (but buffered still by the hard drive's on-board buffer) and cached (buffered by the drive and cached via the operating system cache). While the uncached test should not vary between controllers that support the drive's ATA-version (such at ATA-66, which is what this drive uses), the cached test varies between boards because it is essentially a test of the CPU, cache and RAM on a system. This is what makes it interesting in this case -- it can help showcase the memory performance of the board.

hdparm -t (Uncached) Results
Soyo SY-TISU 23.53 MB/sec
hdparm -T (Cached) Results
Soyo SY-TISU 139.13 MB/sec

The first test is as expected -- the same as almost every other result I have gotten with this drive, because it depends physically on the drive. The second benchmark, however, shows the maximum transfer rate of the CPU-RAM-cache combination, which we find to be almost one hundred megabytes less than comparable Athlon boards, due to the increased memory bandwidth of the Athlon.

The SY-TISU is just what you would expect from what is now the third generation of board based on, basically, the same chipset. It's a stable board with a good amount of features for a range of users. The board fully supports all Socket370 processors, does so with stability and ease of use, and even throws overclocking into the mix. For the user looking for a stable platform on which to run a Celeron, Pentium III or Pentium III Tualatin, you would be hard pressed to find a more well-rounded board. The Soyo SY-TISU is available from SpecialtyTech for $106.


  • Unix
Click Here!