Intel Skulltrail high-end gaming system
Intel's showcase gets Nvidia SLI and AMD CrossFire
Review Intel’s old V8 gaming system used a chipset to support a pair of quad-core processors and a single PCI Express graphics card. Now the chip giant has added support for multiple graphics cards. The result: a new gaming board, Skulltrail.
Both V8 and Skulltrail use workstation motherboards that can take two quad-core Xeon processors. In the case of V8, it’s an S5000XVN, while Skulltrail uses the new D5400XS board, but it’s clear that the use of Xeon processors and FB-DIMM memory make these hardcore workstation products. Intel has added a sprinkling of marketing pixie dust to try and present these platforms as the "ultimate desktop system for PC enthusiasts", which covers "gaming, games developers and professional media creation". In fact, they’re showcases for Intel’s technology.
Intel's Skulltrail: silly name, impressive board
V8 added PCI Express graphics to a regular workstation motherboard but didn’t do much else, so the board retained two 64-bit PCI slots and a serial port along with a rudimentary cooling system on the chipset and two thundering server heatsinks on the Xeons. Eight cores of Intel power delivered impressive performance - as you can see from our review.
Skulltrail is a major overhaul of V8, and the layout of the EATX board has been completely changed. Four of the FB-DIMM slots have been ditched to leave four slots with support for up to 8GB of DDR2-800 memory to support the pair of Xeons. The new Intel 5400B chipset supports a 1600MHz frontside bus (FSB) and our board was supplied with a pair of Xeon QX9775 processors which run at 3.2GHz. The QX9775 is an LGA771-interconnect version of the Core 2 Extreme QX9770 and apparently costs $1500 (£750) per processor. We understand that the D5400XS motherboard costs around $600 (£300) so when you add in £200 for 4GB of FB-DIMM memory, you’ve got a system that costs a scary amount of money.
Yes, the case is mucho important, especially when I have to sit near it the whole day long to earn the money which bought that beast....
Are you thick?
Dunno if you know this but they are testing out an Alpha motherboard, not some packaged computer. Its a showcase for what Intel might be able to do in the future.
and if you wanted something with the V8 in it you could go Dell for cheaper and better (minus the shiny case, because those are oh-so important when shopping for workstations or servers).
Essentially the Mac Pro?
Correct me if I'm wrong, but it would seem that this is more or less the current Mac Pro (1600MHz FSB, DDR2-800 DIMMs, 8800GT, 3GHz SATA connectors, PCI Express 2, dual 3.2GHz quad-core Xeons, etc.) The Mac supports up to 32GB of RAM and has 4 PCIe2 slots, though it doesn't have the eSATA connectors. There are other minor differences of course, but it would seem that it's more or less equivalent. However, I suspect the Mac runs a bit quieter and you get a well-built aluminum case with it for a bit less money. (Aside from that whole UNIX-y OS X thing, which I won't even want to get into :-)
That'll be bad (or is it good?) news for the bank manager then
Finally Intel have pulled their finger out and put together a board that the money-no-object-water-cooled-behemoth-loving-LAN-showoff gamers will no-doubt snap up at the first available opportunity.
It's surprising to see that the 8800GT cards are able to keep pace (in most cases) with the AMD/ATI offerings...
It makes me wonder what the benchmark scores might be were this board paired with 8800GTX or ATI HD3870 cards...?
RE: Brian Miller
that'll change with new games as the programmers become more multithreaded/SLI compatable