The Basics (continued):
On to the whole reason you clicked this review, the ASUS AT3IONT-I Deluxe motherboard. The first image on the left, yup that's my left, gives you a bird's eye view of the layout. All of the major components are clumped together and packed very meticulously. With everything that's on here, the ASUS engineers did a good job placing things where it needed to be and not interfere with any other part. As you can see the heatsink takes up a good portion of real estate on the AT3IONT-I Deluxe - and for good reason. In the second image, sans heatsink, our Intel Atom processor and nVidia ION graphics processor are under there. What I found interesting is that the nVidia chip (on the left in the shot) is easily twice as big as the Intel CPU.
Let's take a closer look at the two main processing chips, starting first with the nVidia ION graphics processor, on the left below. The MCP7A-ION processor is in all actuality a GeForce 9400M which is a very popular mobile graphics chip. It's 128-bit memory bus has 16 CUDA cores which is perfect for decoding high-definition video and perhaps some light gaming. The other chip is the Intel Atom 330, which Intel has surprisingly deemed "End of Life". This dual core processor has 2 single core dies in one package, as opposed to the newer dual core CPUs which have both cores in a single die - perhaps this is why it is EOL. A quick check of the stepping code reveals it to be running at 1.6GHz and carries 1MB of L2 cache. Unfortunately, the front side bus runs at a paltry 533MHz - but for it's intended purpose here, should be plenty fast enough. Also of note, the Atom processor does support Hyper-Threading and running up to 4 simultaneous threads boosting overall performance.
Next we'll look at the individual components of the ASUS AT3IONT-I Deluxe, starting out back where we have the I/O ports.
Crammed in here, from left to right, we have the WiFi antenna and the DC power adapter port, standard PS2 port, (2) USB 2.0 ports, VGA and HDMI 1.3 ports, Optical-S/PDIF Audio Out, Bluetooth antenna, (2) USB 2.0 ports, 10/100/1000MB LAN port, (2) more USB 2.0 ports, RCA audio ports and surround sound jacks. Flipping the board over for a quick glamor shot reveals nothing overly spectacular, but you can see the 6 mounting screws that hold our massive heatsink onto the motherboard.