Intel Skulltrail Unleashed: Core 2 Extreme QX9775 x 2 - HotHardware

Intel Skulltrail Unleashed: Core 2 Extreme QX9775 x 2

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Intel’s Skulltrail platform borrows heavily from its workstation-class roots.  At its core, Skulltrail is based on the Intel 5400 series chipset, but the D5400XS motherboard that is the foundation of Skulltrail also features a host of additional customizations that set it apart from Intel’s typical workstation-class motherboards.






This high-level block diagram illustrates exactly what the D5400XS motherboard has to offer and hints at a few of its enthusiast oriented features.  As you can see, the Intel 5400 MCH (Northbridge) is linked to a pair of a LGA771 processor sockets.  These sockets support standard Xeon processors in addition to the high-end Core 2 Extreme QX9775.

The Intel 5400 MCH in this configuration offers four Fully Buffered DIMM (FBDIMM) memory channels. The MCH's four memory channels are organized in to two branches and each branch is supported by a separate memory controller.  The two channels on each branch operate in lock step to increase FBD bandwidth.  This may lead you to believe that the platform requires four DIMMs to operate at full performance, but representatives from Intel have informed us that only synthetic memory benchmarks benefit from utilizing four memory channels and that in real-world situations a pair of DIMMs will perform just as well.

Also linked to the 5400 MCH is a pair of NVIDIA nForce-100 PCI Express 1.1 switches.  These switches take 32 PCI Express lanes from the MCH and fan them out to four PEG slots.  These nForce switches give the Intel D5400XS motherboard the ability to support NVIDIA’s SLI multi-GPU technology, and the chipset itself supports CrossFire.  This setup makes the D5400XS the only motherboard available that officially supports both multi-GPU technologies.  We should note, however, that the D5400 XS will only support 2-way SLI as per a recent conversation with NVIDIA.  It does support up to four-way CrossFireX though.

Hanging off of the MCH is the Intel 6321ESB I/O Controller Hub, or Southbridge.  The 6321ESB I/O Controller Hub gives the platform support for SATA and PATA with RAID, USB 2.0 and High Definition audio, among other things.  The Southbridge on the D5400XS is also supported by Firewire controller and a Marvell SATA controller that powers a pair of eSATA ports in the motherboard’s I/O backplane.



     

     
Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9775 and D5400XS CPU-Z Information

With our Skulltrail system assembled, we fired up the latest version of CPU-Z to give you all a glimpse into the platform’s inner workings.  As you can see, in its stock configuration the Core 2 Extreme QX9775 processors powering the platform are clocked at 3.2GHz (8 x 400MHz) with a 1.25v core voltage.  The processor technology is correctly identified as 45nm and the processors use Intel’s Socket 771 LGA packaging.  In essence, the QX9775 processors are identical to the QX9770 we recently tested, just in a different package (LGA771 vs. LGA775).  The processor cache and memory configuration are also available above, as are a few details regarding the motherboard and its BIOS configuration.

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Such a beast, but honestly, intel does have 2 flaws with Skulltrail. One being the price considering the combo you have to pick up in order to get a skulltrail board. The other, FB-Dimms kill overclockability due to their low clock speed. Regardless of that though, it's truly a monster.

 But curious, does anyone else have a bad taste in their mount considering intel ATM? They release this beast of a setup, along with the upcoming p45, x48, when the truth is, at the end of this year all upgradability is dead. I feel really bad for those dumping tons into these boards not realizing that they can't upgrade to anything past penryn due to Nehalem's architecture, socket, QPI, and IMC. X48, P45, and Skulltrail will seriously have IMO the shortest life span....=(. But considering intels CPU performance numbers atm, not many would care considering the overclockability of the core architecture. But it still is a bit bad, but nothing too much to fret about.

 For gaming, this setup isn't that great, but when we're talking workstation, this machine is a BEAST.

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Way too much power for gaming but just right when it comes to number crunching 

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Imagine the h264 encoding speed. two quad cores, based on Penryn which would give a boost with the SSE4 instruction set. Man, encoding must be dreamy ^_^. 

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Now that is pure prOn! Cool 

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Technolust.

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I've often wondered what the overclocking options (if any) would be available on such a setup. I'd love to see two near 5GHz Quad Processors paired with either two Radeon HD 3870X2's or two GeForce 9850GX2's.

 Can we say pWn@ge! (Not trademarked by Futuremark).

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I would love to OC them to 5 ghz...but FB dimms aren't very friendly for overclocking. =P...Once I get the system..I will probably make two profiles, one stock, and one with them at 4 ghz via a multiplier bump.

 Curious though, do these server 771 socket boards contain intels power saving technologies such as speedstep, etc?.

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Surely the board will have speed stepping as well.  Its more of a question what can be done in the bios to help to OC.

 

BTW after I find a stable clock to work with I re-enable speedstepping.  IMO its great for what it does and keeps the system nice and cool when not at full power.

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must be fun to mess with 

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