Every once in a while a product comes along that really gets us worked into a frenzy. Typically, the latest and greatest processors and graphics cards generate a lot of buzz around here, but some other components aren’t always as enticing for one reason or another, like motherboards for example. Don’t get us wrong, we love a great enthusiast-class motherboard with a ton of features as much as the next guy, but the majority of them just don’t have the appeal of new CPU or GPU.
There are exceptions, of course. Most recently, a number of Asus’ RoG, Gigabyte’s Ultra Durable, and MSI’s Big Bang boards come to mind. And looking back boards like the legendary Abit BP6 and even the VP6 were great. The dual-socket configurations of the BP6 and VP6 were of particular interest to many enthusiasts, because when paired with the right processors and workloads they could offer performance that no single-socket board could match. The big two processors manufacturers have even used dual-socket or 2P platforms to showcase cutting-edge “desktop” products from time to time, like AMD’s Quad Father or Intel’s Skulltrail.
Dual socket motherboards have been a mainstay in the workstation market for ages, but they’re not as common in the enthusiast space. So, when we see one, we’re usually excited to check it out.
Such was the case with the EVGA Classified SR-2. We first laid our hands on the Classified SR-2 at CES 2010 and were recently given the opportunity to take one for a spin around the lab. While preparing to test the board, however, a couple of important points led us in a somewhat different direction than a straight-up motherboard review. The EVGA Classified SR-2’s requirements are unlike any other desktop motherboard you’ve seen to date. And to meet those requirements meant reeling in some other exciting hardware in its own right.
On the pages ahead, not only will we be checking out the EVGA Classified SR-2, but we’ll be showcasing a pair of the most powerful processors currently on the market, along with the only 6-Channel CAS 6 memory kit available and an as-yet-to-be released case capable of housing it all. The end result is arguably the most powerful foundation for desktop PC platform an enthusiast could wish for to date...
EVGA's Classified SR-2, two Intel Xeon 5680 Processors, and G.SKILL's CAS 6 RAM
The EVGA Classified SR-2's specifications hint at the board's extreme nature, but don't tell the whole story by any means. We'll dig deeper on the pages ahead, but first we should talk about the chipset at the heart of the SR-2, Intel's 5520. It, after all, is the foundations that brings all of the board's integrated features together.
Intel 5520 Chipset Block Diagram
The Intel 5520 chipset is somewhat similar to the X58 Express in terms of its features, but it obviously targeted at the high-end workstation market as is evidenced by its multiple QPI links and support for Xeon series processors. Like its desktop-bound counterpart, The 5520 IOH is paired to the ICH10R Southbridge, which adds PCI Express Gen 1, Serial ATA, USB 2.0, and Ethernet connectivity. Due to the fact that Xeon 5500 / 5600 series processors feature integrated on-die memory controllers, the 5520 IOH isn't a traditional Northbridge. It does, however, sport multiple QPI links and 36 lanes of PCI Express 2.0 connectivity.