At the core of the new P5AD2 motherboard is ASUS' suite of technologies named AI Proactive. As the name implies, AI Proactive is supposedly able to actively monitor and adjust system settings and features for optimum performance without user intervention. For the average Joe or technically challenged, these features should be welcomed wholeheartedly. Even the control freaks that believe anything 'Auto' is evil should have a glance at what AI Proactive offers. The four elements that make up this technology include AI NOS, Stack Cool, AI NET2 and WiFi-g. Let's take a look at what each component does.
Made popular by 'The Fast and the Furious' and 'Need for Speed: Underground' franchises, NOS is famous for automobile performance enhancements. By injecting nitrous oxide into the car engine, an instant boost of power is achieved.
ASUS' AI NOS rides on the name and borrows the concept. The term NOS here stands for Non-delay Overclocking System and is a technology that adjusts speed according to system load. In short, AI NOS is ASUS' implementation of dynamic overclocking. It is similar to the features from other manufacturers such as Gigabyte's C.I.A. or MSI's D.O.T.
There are currently two types of dynamic overclocking methods around, thermal based and load based. Thermal based solutions rely on CPU temperature reading as the criteria for overclocking. Since temperature changes happen gradually and may be affected by external parameters, this method is less effective. AI NOS is load based, monitoring CPU usage rather than temperature. As such, it is able to react faster when CPU intensive applications such as games are started. The parameters available for AI NOS are listed further down in the Overclocking section on page 7.
This is the second revision of the ASUS AI NET network diagnostics feature, the first AI NET was a software solution based on 3COM/Marvell technology. With the Virtual Cable Tester (VCT), the reporting feature will let you know if there are any errors with the LAN cable down to individual wires. AI NET2 has been updated with a hardware based, operating system independent solution. You can enable the feature within the BIOS and it is capable of detecting and reporting network cable faults up to a hundred meters. The highlight of AI NET2 is that it works immediately at boot up during system POST.
In an effort to develop a cooling solution that is effective and quiet, ASUS engineers came up with the Stack Cool implementation. A mini PCB is attached to the bottom of the motherboard, under the CPU socket and power components. In effect, heat is transferred to the extra PCB layer and has a higher dissipation rate. ASUS claims to achieve a 10° Celsius reduction using this method. Since different components and environments would yield different results, the 10° Celsius is probably a ballpark figure. However, we do note that Stack Cool does actually work to an extent. Even a few degrees is usually enough to make a difference for better overclocking and system stability. Stack Cool does not require any moving parts, does not require the use of bulky heat sinks and does not require additional power to operate. Kudos goes to ASUS for an inexpensive and unique cooling technique.
This is the last feature of the AI Proactive suite. Unlike other solutions that bundle an add-on card, ASUS has integrated wireless LAN directly onto the board itself. WiFi-g uses a Marvell IEEE 802.11g chipset to enable 54Mbps wireless data transfer. Conforming to the theme of AI Proactive, WiFi-g has a one-touch setup wizard to ease the configuration and setup process. It is actually quite a flexible solution as it can function as a network adapter, a bridge or an AP (access point).