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Intel confirms 'Skulltrail' Quad SLI support

Nvidia gives D5400XS mobo the thumbs-up?

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Nvidia will be bringing Quad SLI to Intel's upcoming 'Skulltrail' eight-core gaming platform - at least, that's what the chip giant is telling companies it hopes will be selling the new motherboard.

Skulltrail will go on sale in Q1 2008 as the Intel D5400XS motherboard based on the company's as-yet-unlaunched 5400 workstation chipset, a leaked Intel presentation slide posted on Chinese-language site HKEPC reveals. Currently, Intel's top-of-the-line workstation chipset is the 5000X, which, like the 5400, supports up two CPUs. The 5400 primarily adds support for a 1600MHz frontside bus (FSB) frequency.

The D5400XS is designed to take two quad-core Core 2 Extreme QX9775 chips, which are expected to operate on said 1600MHz FSB, contain 12MB of L2 cache each and be initially clocked at 3.2GHz.

We say 'initially', because the chip has no overclocking limits - "overspeed protection removed", is how Intel puts it.

The slide confirms the D5400XS features four PCI Express slots for "quad graphics support", which Intel later specifies as "Nvidia Quad SLI support".

Intel demo'd Skulltrail running Quad SLI at this past September's Intel Developer Forum. At the time, it said Quad SLI support in the shipping product would depend entirely on Nvidia making the drivers available to buyers. Intel's slide suggests the GPU maker has decided to do just that.

Will that be enough to tempt buyers? Intel's slide doesn't indicate D5400XS pricing, but with the QX9775 expected to cost $1499 and the board taking pricey 800MHz FB-DIMM server memory - up to 8GB of it - complete systems are going to cost a pretty penny.

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