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Pure ambition – Sapphire prepares new MB assault on the majors

It was June 2010 when KitGuru spies discovered that Sapphire had managed to secure key elements of EVGA’s mainboard design team. In the 13 months since KitGuru broke the news, Sapphire has ramped up the number of designs coming to market – many of which have been Intel chipsets. Now, Sapphire has returned to home territory with the launch of its A75 board for the latest AMD Vision processors.

Despite AMD’s best efforts to encourage true competition, Sapphire is still its number one partner when it comes to graphics. For industry insiders, it’s something of a surprise that Sapphire has not managed to carry that GPU leadership across into the mainboard market.

But Sapphire is not sitting still.

Buying the EVGA mainboard team was a significant step forward – as was the decision to revisit the Intel chipset side of the market. Back in the days of the 480 chipset, ATI was one of Intel’s key chipset suppliers – so Sapphire has history in this area.

But the competition from established players like Asus, MSI and Gigabyte – as well as Asrock and even Intel itself – means that it’s hard to overtake people on the ‘market share’ ladder.

Fusion/Vision/APU is a different thing altogether.

This market gives Sapphire a chance to leverage its knowledge and relationships fully.

Ex-EVGA mainboard masters, Allen Lee and Thomas Wang, are now driving innovation into the AMD space for Sapphire. As you would expect, they have more than one eye on the overclocking aspects of the new chipsets.

The build quality of Sapphire’s Pure Platinum A75 is high, with a multi-layer PCB, gold plated connectors for USB 3.0/LAN and the use of high reliability solid capacitors throughout. Overclocking options are also part of the design, with multi-phase voltage regulation circuitry for both the APU and memory modules incorporate the patented Sapphire Diamond Black chokes with coolers that have featured on Sapphire’s high end graphic cards.

Design time has also been spent on the best way to offer clock and multiplier controls for peak performance.

Naturally, hardware monitoring tools and the Sapphire’s TriXX overclocking software allows users to review and adjust a range of system parameters – optimising APU performance.

It’s a lot of work, but Sapphire now has a team of 16 experts on the job – so expect more from this team over the next 6 months.

Sapphire’s senior management team believes that if they are able to offer enough technical advantages, while controlling the pricing and availability – then the company’s sales teams can be enthused that they do have a great set of mainboard products to offer.

Pure evolution has seen massive advances over Sapphire's early IGP9100 efforts, like the Axiom

KitGuru says: Will it be enough to loosen the strangle-hold the big guys have on this area of the market? For a company smaller than Sapphire, you’d have to say that they’d have almost no chance – but with the investment and drive being made by the graphics giant – you’d have to be very brave to bet against Sapphire.

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