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 New Intel D5400XS motherboard

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Damhieyu
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PostSubject: New Intel D5400XS motherboard   Sat May 01, 2010 9:44 am





One glance at the Intel D5400XS motherboard with its dual-CPU sockets and active chipset cooling is enough to tell you that this isn't your normal PC motherboard. Code named Skulltrail, the Intel D5400XS represents Intel's ultimate PC motherboard platform. Regular motherboards only have a single CPU socket, two PCI Express slots, and support for only one of the two competing dual-GPU formats. In comparison, the Skulltrail has two processor sockets, four x16 PCI Express video card slots, and built-in support for both SLI and CrossFire. If you set two Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9775 processors in the board, you have an 8-core monster ready to run.

The Skulltrail code name follows the pirate-naming theme started with the "Bonetrail" code name for Intel's X38 motherboard. Intel was able to supercharge the board by making a couple of aggressive design decisions. Engineers built the board around the Intel 5400 workstation chipset instead of using its standard X38 or P35 desktop chipset. The chipset choice gives Skulltrail advanced features not available on normal desktop motherboards, such as dual-CPU support, but it also brings new requirements, including a new CPU socket, LGA771, and DDR2 FBDIMM memory. We aren't thrilled with the FBDIMM requirement, but the modules aren't too difficult to find and don't cost much more than unbuffered DIMMS.

The board will work with the new Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9775 processor, as well as LGA771 Xeon processors. It won't be able to handle the more common LGA775 processors, such as the Core 2 Quads or Core 2 Duos, but the motherboard's limited CPU compatibility illustrates Skulltrail's elite status in Intel's product lineup. The motherboard's primary CPU option, the quad-core 3.2GHz QX9775 is more powerful than any LGA775 chip currently available. Intel hasn't announced any future Skulltrail-compatible processors besides the QX9775 and does not guarantee future compatibility with its upcoming "Nehalem" processors.

On the graphics side, the Intel D5400XS features four PCI Express x16 card slots and can handle both SLI and CrossFire. Support for the competing dual-video card standards from Nvidia and AMD are usually mutually exclusive on PC motherboards. If the motherboard supports CrossFire, it won't support SLI and vice versa. Intel boards commonly support CrossFire, but designers were able to drop a pair of Nvidia nForce 100 chips into the board to add two-way SLI support.

The Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9775 doesn't have much competition at the top. We benchmarked two QX9775 processors against a single chip to see the performance difference between eight and four cores. The LGS771 socket limitation prevented us from dropping a dual-core into the Skulltrail, so we had to run our Intel Core 2 Extreme X6800 in an LGA775 motherboard for our dual-core performance comparison. We selected a handful of multithreaded games and synthetic benchmarks including 3DMark06, Valve Particle Test, Unreal Tournament 3, Lost Planet, and Crysis. We also set up an ASUS P5K motherboard and a EVGA 780i to see how the Skulltrail's CrossFire and SLI performance compares to dedicated motherboards.
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