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AMD's David Schwarzbach holding a DTX PCB panel
AMD works on new small form factor standard

AMD today announced the company is developing a new small form factor standard. The new form factor, dubbed DTX, is AMD’s attempt to unify the various proprietary small form factors currently in use. DTX will be an open industry standard available to all case, motherboard and system manufacturers, but will not be limited to AMD-based products.

There will be two DTX standards available -- DTX and mini-DTX. The current DTX specification will only define a few requirements, the primary of which are motherboard mounting points and keep-out areas. Alternative specifications, like Micro-BTX, have strict guidelines for everything from airflow regulation to legacy I/O definitions.

AMD claims the consumer market needs a small form factor standard for the following reasons:
  • Electricity cost savings
  • Take up less space for both practical and aesthetic purposes
  • Enables systems that are quiet
  • Do not generate excessive heat
The enterprise clients need a small form factor for the following reasons:
  • Lower energy bills to help reduce operating costs
  • Enables differentiated and competitive solutions
  • Smaller, sleeker form factors take up less space in offices and cubicles and are designed to operate quietly
DTX falls between the current Micro-ATX and Mini-ITX standards. DTX motherboards will measure in at 200mm by 244mm compared to the 170mm by 170mm footprint of Mini-ITX motherboards. MicroATX motherboards measure 244mm by 244mm.

Mini-DTX will initially target sub-6 liter enclosures and support processors with TDPs up to 35 watts. The footprint of Mini-DTX motherboards will be 200mm x 170mm -- just a tad wider than Mini-ITX motherboards.

While there are already plenty of other standards on the market such as ATX, Mini-ITX and BTX, AMD’s goal with DTX is greater flexibility and lower costs. Greater flexibility is achieved by making DTX motherboards backwards-compatible with ATX and Micro-ATX.  Lower costs will be addressed with DTX due to the clever sizing of DTX motherboards. Most manufacturers are able to produce two standard ATX motherboard PCBs per PCB panel, a manufacturer can now cut four DTX or six Mini-DTX motherboards from the same panel.

There will be room for two expansion slots on DTX motherboards. No constraints have been set for the expansion slot configuration, which leaves manufacturers to decide which slots are needed. An ExpressCard expansion slot is also planned for the DTX form factor.

Expect AMD to release the final DTX specification later this quarter. It is unknown when or if manufacturers will produce systems and components based around the DTX standard, but several motherboard and enclosure manufacturers have already announced DTX products will appear in their 2007 roadmaps.

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Make mine BTX
By The Boston Dangler on 1/11/2007 12:39:24 AM , Rating: 2
I lament at Intel's neglect for enthusiast BTX. The OEMs have the right idea, and the leverage to make any changes they want. The geeks, the ones who consider their PCs art as much as tool, are shut off from BTX because of chicken-and-egg syndrome in the aftermarket sector.

Technically speaking, BTX is easily still the best form factor, superior in every way. That's why over 50% of new computers sold in 2006 are BTX, and something like 98% in 2007.

FIC offers many BTX boards, in all kinds of chipsets and sockets. LGA775, 939, you name it. They even have a BX chipset BTX board, which to me is "the answer to a question nobody asked."

For the folks complaining about changing cases with form factors: Check the AT forums once in a while. It's full of people building, or buying, entirely new computers. At some point, all custom builders start from scratch, so who cares what form factor the old PC is? This is just like the people that whine about AGP going out of style.

RE: Make mine BTX
By JeffDM on 1/12/2007 12:47:56 PM , Rating: 2
BTX has nice stuff but the point I contend was that they didn't need to make it an incompatible form factor. I would bet it would be universally accepted if it was backward compatible. I happen to have a few commercially made eATX systems (Compaq Evo W8000) that predates BTX but happens to have most of the features that were "new" to the standard size BTX, save for the lame mirror-image bolt pattern that broke compatibility.

I don't know why one would bother mentioning FIC, I don't consider them to be a real option. Let's just say their track record for quality isn't.

"It looks like the iPhone 4 might be their Vista, and I'm okay with that." -- Microsoft COO Kevin Turner

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