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The Asus A8V-XE is a cheap, yet sufficient solution for most users based on the VIA KT890 and long delayed VT8251 Southbridge. At €50,-, it delivers all basic functions and a clean, sophisticated PCB layout.

Unfortunately, Asus doesn't seem to take support too seriously as there was just one single BIOS-update (0702) to fix ECC function. It is available here: [1] There aren't any known issues with this latest version though, and CPU-support for the whole Socket939 platform is rather complete: [2]

Concerning Linux-support, this is the first board I came across which turned out to be perfectly supported and stable except for the late inclusion of VT8251 into the kernel (well, so far, nothing surprising there) - and on the contrary, totally rubbish Windows-drivers (sound issues when using play/pause, VIA Rhine LAN deciding to break regularly).


More information about this mainboard can be gathered here: [3]

Firewire-support and Gbit-LAN would have been a nice addition for many users, however on the price tag of this board Asus decided not to include those. Included in the rather puny scope of delivery: SATA-cable, Molex->SATA-adapter, Floppy- and IDE-cable - one part of each, really just to get a most basic system to work.

Output of lspci

This will be useful later on.

PIC: VIA Technologies, Inc. K8T890 I/O APIC Interrupt Controller
PCI bridge: VIA Technologies, Inc. VT8237 PCI bridge [K8T800/K8T890 South]
IDE interface: VIA Technologies, Inc. VT8251 AHCI/SATA 4-Port Controller
IDE interface: VIA Technologies, Inc. VT82C586A/B/VT82C686/A/B/VT823x/A/C PIPC Bus Master IDE (rev 07)
USB Controller: VIA Technologies, Inc. VT82xxxxx UHCI USB 1.1 Controller (rev 90)
USB Controller: VIA Technologies, Inc. USB 2.0 (rev 90)
ISA bridge: VIA Technologies, Inc. VT8251 PCI to ISA Bridge
Host bridge: VIA Technologies, Inc. VT8251 Ultra VLINK Controller
Ethernet controller: VIA Technologies, Inc. VT6102 [Rhine-II] (rev 7c)

Kernel Configuration

The following settings are tested stable with gentoo-sources-2.6.20-r6.

Getting HDDs and optical drives to work

Enabling AHCI-SATA-Support

With kernel version 2.6.19, SATA-Support has moved out of SCSI Device Drivers and got its own Device Drivers Section. Our VT8251 southbridge finally got full AHCI-support.

Linux Kernel Configuration: AHCI-SATA
Device Drivers  --->
  Serial ATA (prod) and Parallel ATA (experimental) drivers  --->
      <*> ATA device support
      <*>   AHCI SATA support
      < >   VIA SATA support
      < >   VIA PATA support

On a side note, one stumbles over another two kernel options concerning VIA-support in this section. Using VIA SATA instead of AHCI will result in a non-booting system, and VIA PATA doesn't seem to do anything (read the next section for ATA-support); it is unclear which VIA hardware gets support with those options.

However, we still have to activate one option in SCSI Device Support:

Linux Kernel Configuration: SCSI
Device Drivers  --->
  SCSI device support  --->
      <*> SCSI disk support

Booting the resulting kernel image at this stage will ultimately fail[4]. We have to change the kernel boot line and append a kernel argument:

File: grub.conf
title Gentoo Linux 2.6.20-r6
root (hd0,0)
kernel /boot/kernel-2.6.20-gentoo-r6 root=/dev/sda1 pci=nomsi
Note: This fix applies to all boards with VT8251!


Nothing changed here compared to earlier kernels.

Linux Kernel Configuration: ATA
Device Drivers  --->
  ATA/ATAPI/MFM/RLL support  --->
      <*> ATA/ATAPI/MFM/RLL support
      <*>   Enhanced IDE/MFM/RLL disk/cdrom/tape/floppy support
      <*>     Include IDE/ATA-2 DISK support
      <*>     Include IDE/ATAPI CDROM support
      [*]     PCI IDE chipset support
      [*]       Generic PCI bus-master DMA support
      <*>         VIA82CXXX chipset support


Linux Kernel Configuration: Networking
Device Drivers  --->
  Network device support  --->
      Ethernet (10 or 100Mbit)  --->
      [*] Ethernet (10 or 100Mbit)
      [*] EISA, VLB, PCI and on board controllers
      <*>   VIA Rhine support
      [*]     Use MMIO instead of PIO
      [*]     Use Rx Polling (NAPI)
Note: I had to select VIA Rhine support compiled into the kernel, as it refused to work as module in former kernel versions. Of course you can give it a try.


  1. Ensure ALSA is not part of the kernel
  2. emerge alsa-driver && emerge alsa-utils && emerge alsa-tools
  3. Run alsaconf in terminal

It actually uses the snd-hda-intel driver; alsaconf should get everything configured correctly.


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Last modified: Tue, 12 Aug 2008 23:40:00 +0000 Hits: 7,102