Motherboard: GA-586ATE

Today we return to the series on motherboards with a Socket 7 Intel chipset board made by Gigabyte. The Socket 7 standard was popular in the mid to late 90’s, usually running Pentium and K5-K6 class chips. It would be considered unusual today as the standard supported CPUs from many different manufacturers, and was probably the last to really do so.


This board was donated to me quite some time ago, and luckily it works. Unfortunately the CMOS battery is dead and cannot be easily replaced on this particular board. At first glance this appears to be a high quality Intel chipset board with very few jumpers to configure.

GA-586ATE cache chipsThis board has some older style cache chips seen here, much like those found on old 486 boards. They are basic high speed static RAM chips, with the brains of the caching mechanism being embedded within the chipset. Being made in 1994 this would use the synchronous caching scheme as pipeline burst caching had not been released yet.

Unfortunately I couldn’t find any documentation at all so the detailed specs for this board are unknown. Although it is obvious that it only takes 72pin EDO or fast page RAM. CPU support seems to be up to 166Mhz from the jumper settings chart printed on the board.

CMOS and Clock chipHere is the annoying CMOS and real-time clock chip that has a built in battery along with the flash ROM chip. These chips are a pain in the butt because you can’t easily change the battery. I may be able to get a replacement, or I might have to hack this chip to disconnect the internal battery and attach my own external battery. Luckily this particular chip (and the ROM) are socketed so I shouldn’t have to do any soldering on the delicate main-board.

In service this probably would have been quite a good board and would have been capable of carrying some of the more cutting edge processors for the time. There are few jumpers required for set up, basically one set for the processor multiplier and another for the bus speed. The board silkscreen has enough details for setting the jumpers and the front panel, so the manual isn’t strictly necessary to getting this board up and running.

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These final two images are of the processor that is installed and the two main chips of the chipset. The processor is a pretty bog standard 100Mhz Pentium that performs surprisingly quite well. I had a quick look at benchmarks from the time and found it does nearly as well as some 120Mhz parts. This is likely due to limited memory bandwidth and perhaps the way the old cache on these boards worked. There is a socket near the main chipset that I haven’t seen before.

With no information available online there isn’t much more to be said about this particular board. It does still work, and if I can replace or hack that RTC chip it could be returned to service. The board feels and looks well made so I’d have to guess it was a higher end board, definitely capable of carrying a faster processor, and certainly quite reliable. It has managed to continue functioning even though it is a little over 20 years old. I guess technology of its era is more robust than much of what has come later.


2 Responses to “Motherboard: GA-586ATE”

  1. August 19, 2015 at 3:12 am

    I also hate those Dalla RTC style batteries. such a pain. Anyways I found this http://stason.org/TULARC/pc/motherboards/G/GIGA-BYTE-TECHNOLOGY-CO-LTD-Pentium-GA-586ATE.html#.VdNmUJcwCVI I was hoping there would be a place for an external battery but doesn’t look like it. Also that socket next to the CPU appears to be for a voltage regulator but I’m not sure why one is needed here. maybe for the older Pentiums? Looks like it can handle up to a 200mhz Pentium but I wouldn’t be surprised if a P1 233mhz worked as well.

    • August 19, 2015 at 4:35 pm

      Yeah the Dallas RTCs are a pain, they turn up in old Sun machines as well. Some have pins for external batteries and some do not, so you have to check the particular chip for the pins. Otherwise the only alternative is to hack the chip or get a replacement. Thanks for finding the setup information, I’m sure that will be handy. I couldn’t find it when I did a search. Like you I’m not sure what an external VRM would be for, but I’d suspect it would be for other voltage variants of the pentium and perhaps faster penitums that might require more power. Without the manual that will probably remain a mystery.


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