Intel Skulltrail Motherboard Sneak Peek

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News Posted: Thu, Dec 27 2007 6:34 PM

A few months ago, at the fall Intel Developer’s Forum, we got some hands-on time with an Intel Skulltrail system and were able to snap a handful pictures and document a few benchmark scores.  At the time, Skulltrail was still in it the pre-production phase as Intel had a few changes in store for the platform, but it was mature enough for the company to show off what Skulltrail had in store.


As we mentioned in our initial look at Skulltrail, the platform is built around an Intel server-class motherboard tweaked for the enthusiast market.  It also features dual 45nm quad-core processors for a total of eight cores, and because the Skulltrail mobo is outfitted with a pair of NVIDIA-built chips, it would support SLI as well.  In our article from IDF we had a couple of pictures of a Skulltrail system, but because it was fully assembled and featured dual graphics cards, it was tough to see the foundation of the system – the motherboard – in all its glory.

    
 



What we have for you here, however, is an up close and personal look at the Skulltrail motherboard from a couple of different angles.  As you can see, the Southbridge and dual NVIDIA nForce 100 MCP chips are actively cooled by a large, flat active cooler; the pics of Skulltrail from IDF showed a trio of small, heatsinks.  The motherboard has four PCI Express x16 slots and dual standard PCI slots.  And aluminum heatsinks cover the Northbridge and some of the components around both LGA771 CPU sockets.


As for I/O, the board has six internal SATA ports, a single IDE port, and headers for additional USB and Firewire ports.  In the backplane, no legacy connectors are to be found, but it does have six USB ports, dual eSATA ports, single Firewire and Gigabit Ethernet jacks, and analog and digital HD audio inputs / outputs.


We should know more about Skulltrail in the coming weeks.  When we have more information regarding installation, overclocking, performance, pricing and availability, we’ll be sure to post the details.




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Freakin' awesome!!!

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jtm55 replied on Thu, Dec 27 2007 8:34 PM

 Hi All,

I want one!!! 

ASUS Z7S WS

EVGA 295 GTX

 HITACHI Deskstar 7K1000 RAID 5

Intel Xeon E5420 Harpertown

HT Omega Claro

CORSAIR CMPSU-1000HX

mushkin 6GB 3 x 2GB) DDR2 800 (PC2 6400)

Harmon Kardon HK 3490 W/ Energy RC 10

LG W3000H-Bn

SILVERSTONE SST-TJ07

Plextor PX 755 SA

Windows 7 Ultimate

Areca ARC-1210

 

 

 

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jtm55 replied on Thu, Dec 27 2007 10:59 PM

 Hi All,

What do you think Recovering, is this the Motherboard or what! I wonder how much it'll cost?

ASUS Z7S WS

EVGA 295 GTX

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Intel Xeon E5420 Harpertown

HT Omega Claro

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mushkin 6GB 3 x 2GB) DDR2 800 (PC2 6400)

Harmon Kardon HK 3490 W/ Energy RC 10

LG W3000H-Bn

SILVERSTONE SST-TJ07

Plextor PX 755 SA

Windows 7 Ultimate

Areca ARC-1210

 

 

 

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Dave_HH replied on Thu, Dec 27 2007 11:17 PM
I'm jonesing for this one too. I must be out of my mind. I gave it to Marco to cover. I should have at least rock-paper-scissors for it!

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Davo:
I should have at least rock-paper-scissors for it!

 

lol

It's not something I'll likely ever own, but It'd be fun to play around with a souped up system built on 1!!!

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Qualme replied on Fri, Dec 28 2007 11:38 AM
Considering it would be a waste to put anything less than the best components in this beast, $500 would make this MB the least expensive component.

2 x Q9650: $2000+
3 x 8800 Ultra: $1900+
4 x 2GB: $1200+
30" Monitor: $1000+
3 x Raptor150: $580+
Case + 1200W PS: $500+
Skulltrail MB: $500
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Pretty much, but it sure would be nice... wonder if I could do some freelance hits for the mob to make some extra cash???

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WiFuzzy replied on Fri, Dec 28 2007 3:31 PM
This is a prime example of how fools and thier money are soon parted. An 8 core gaming rig, yup, great idea. Lets put as many cores as we can to run an app that is notoriuosly single threaded. Hell..you could play Quake 4, Crysis, Half Life 2 and encode a DivX file all at the same time and still have lots of CPU cycles left over for Folding at Home. Before the flaming starts...this would be one hell of a high end video editing comp and also great for the multi..multi..multi tasker. But as a gaming rig..a HUGE waste of money. Then again this is just my opinion. As a side note, this thing would make a great VISA/MC commercial.

2 x Q9650: $2000+
3 x 8800 Ultra: $1900+
4 x 2GB: $1200+
30" Monitor: $1000+
3 x Raptor150: $580+
Case + 1200W PS: $500+
Skulltrail MB: $500

Look on your wifes face when she sees the credit card statement....Priceless
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pina replied on Fri, Dec 28 2007 7:44 PM
Your totally right WiFuzzy, this is absolutly overkill for gaming, some "nextgen" games take advantage from dual core systems but NOT from a octo-core, you would have at least 6 cores free!! Indeed this would be a great video/compositing system and an even better rendering system. The only thing that bugs me it's that this is a LGA771 Xeon class board: It will only run on Xeon pcu's and those dont come cheap :s ( I wich it was 775, because with 2x Q6600 and 500€ you'd had a 8 core Killing machine :D )

so... besides the triple SLI I dont see any difference from a server class board :(
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Dave_HH replied on Fri, Dec 28 2007 10:24 PM
I would have to agree here as well Fuzz. You really don't need an octal-core rig to game, you need more GPU throughput and even then, you can reach diminishing returns at a certain level. I personally think 2-way SLI GeForce 8800 Ultras right now are the sweet spot but if you have money to burn and don't mind a louder system with proper cooling, 3-Way is pretty sweet if you're into overkill.

Video editing is definitely a better use of this rig, or other workstation type applications. Still, the geek in me likes to see it all put together so well.

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Davo:
Still, the geek in me likes to see it all put together so well.

 

That's all I was tryin to say.

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flyinrob replied on Sat, Dec 29 2007 11:37 AM
Would this work with the 3-way SLI?
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Birowsky replied on Sat, Dec 29 2007 9:37 PM
hhhhaaaaaaaaahhhhhaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhaaaaa!!!WiFuzzy .. u gotta warn me the nex time.. u almost killed me here..
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Tell me this will work with penryn (not xeon) and I can quad any Nvidia board (gts will overclock to gtx speed) and I'm IN. My next upgrade will be in 2015AD.
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Benchmarks have shown that tri-sli (gtx or ultra only may apply) will give you only 25 fps in Crysis maxed out. Spend 6 grand for 25fps? I don't think so. That is why the possible game of the year has not sold. I bought Flight Sim X when it released and have put it back in its box until I can get minimum 30fps maxed. Thank our game god for Bioschock. I set Bioshock at max
1900x1200 (HANNS-G 28) with my Pentium4 (3.52 oc) and have to give game of the year award.
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2 x penryn Q9650 $2200
4 X Nvidia GTS $1800
2gb Mem $800
Power supply Ultra XM3 1600 watts $400
Skull MB $500
HD 2x raptor $380 (use for os & games)
Case Lian Li 75B full tower Water Cooled (Frozen CPU custom) $600
Water cooling components $500.00
Extras (dvd drives, etc} $200
Hanss G 28 Monitor $600
Total $7180

Cost over 5 years $1540 per year and hopefully upgradeable.
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sheep replied on Sun, Dec 30 2007 5:16 PM
ppl, ive lots of comments about rigging this mobo with 2x qx9650 cpus but let me tell you that penryn desktop cpus (LGA775) will not work on this mobo. Only the the penryn xeons and the qx9775 (LGA771) will work on this mobo
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~retracted, but without apology~

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Dave_HH replied on Sun, Dec 30 2007 11:36 PM
That's right Sheep, this is a Xeon-based workstation board. Notice the reference to LGA771 for the socket and not LGA775? Good points all around.

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Dave_HH replied on Sun, Dec 30 2007 11:40 PM

recoveringknowitall:

To HH forum regulars: This darn thread has attracted many lamos to infiltrate our fine forum with redundant useless comments about something that was posted just to showcase new technlogy that isn't intended for gamers or mainstream users of any kind!!!

 

I can't agree with this at all Recover, sorry.  I think there is some valuable input here from a lot of new folks and I for one, welcome them.  I'm not saying I agree with every comment but every one has a different opinion and that's what makes the world go-round.

That's my 2 cents anyway. Wink

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What ev.

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ZsDad replied on Tue, Jan 1 2008 9:47 AM
I don't know about you but my first reaction upon seeing the dual LGA771 sockets is, "The only way anyone is going to be able to purchase one of these is to bow down at the alter of Steve Jobs and pay up at the Apple store for a $4-5K Mac Pro." When is the Mac World Expo again...
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freman replied on Tue, Jan 1 2008 10:16 AM
I would choose a Mac Pro over this any day...
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I for one have no intention of becoming a sharecropper on Steve Jobs's plantation.

But the commenter who claims that the $7180 rig would make a "one h*** of a video comp" is only partly correct and merely shows that a fool nd their $ r indeed soon parted. I mean why hold back with 2xQ9650 when u could get 2xX7350 for $2500 a pop? Then every kid in ur school will know what a serious bad ass u really r.

A serious video editor would never stick nvidia 8800s in their rig but would definitely go with a Quadro FX card. My personal fav is the 4600 and at roughly $1500 a pop it is a much better option than wasting $1800 on 3 or 4 gaming GPUs.

Secondly, if ur gonna spend 7 g's on a vid rig, then it better be capable of handling HD video. And I gotta say, ur rig stinks for HD. ur gonna need a dedicated boot drive that's SAS 15k rpm. Then at least 5 or 6 of the fastest SATA drives striped to get at least 300 MB/s cuz ur gonna need every last bit of that throughput. And that's the everyman's choice who basically says, i'm willing to live with the specter of a drive failing cuz i'm not willing to spend the money for a SAS RAID 5 or fibre channel drives.
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artless1 replied on Tue, Feb 19 2008 5:30 PM

 

I have to agree all around to the various disparaging remarks here. If you maxed with all 8 cores and you ran QUAD SLI here, the slowest hardware in the box is ur hard drives. And further, you have to consider the limitation of socket 771 instead of 775, and the debilitating effect of the RAM sys on the D5400XS - with 4-channel memory, you get hellaciously fast writes, but the reads get beat by quality DDR2 and DDR3 RAM. So if I were going to start spending all the money it would take to soup up something like this SkullTrail, I would have to look more at GigaByte's Quad-X48 system wwhich is also Quad-SLI capable.
 
Nevertheless, give me one of these rigs and THAT would shut me tfU   LOL  ;P
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peti1212 replied on Tue, Feb 19 2008 11:08 PM

This motherboard is incredible. I can't wait to try one out. The best thing is that it is up for grabs here at this forum. :) Hopefully one of use will be lucky enough to bring happyness and joy to their life. :)

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viperfour replied on Thu, Feb 21 2008 7:22 PM

Davo:
Video editing is definitely a better use of this rig, or other workstation type applications. Still, the geek in me likes to see it all put together so well.

Video Editing is exactly what I would do with a system like this.  Though even with video editing you would not be able to use all the cores.  But for multi-tasking and such a system like this would be great to have the extra cores to use for many different programs running while your working.  A system like this would be a perfect match for the video editing I currently do and I could get into even HD video editing with the extra power as well.

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Kamrooz replied on Fri, Feb 22 2008 6:25 PM

 God...BEASTTTTT. Video editing would indeed be a dream, along with 3d modeling as well ^_^. The render power is just massive...Also coupled with the SSE4 instruction set, SSE4 capable encoding applications must seriously fly. Regarding the HD Video, only issue would be hard drives, need a raid solution in order to deal with massive HD files. Afterall, hard drives are the biggest bottle neck in systems =P...That is unless you have a Fusion IO =P.

 

http://www.tgdaily.com/content/view/34065/135/ 

http://www.fusionio.com/ 

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methious replied on Sat, Feb 23 2008 8:12 PM

I'd have to figure out what to do with it after I wiped up all the drool. For a while at least there'd be a market to box it up and carry it around to different tech functions which I'm sure you could manage to get paid for.  Then while your there hook up with the booth babes and tech ladies.  That alone would make it worth it.

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SiGfever replied on Sun, Feb 24 2008 8:19 AM

 If the Skulltrail doesn't give you Motherboard Wood then you might need Viagra. LOL

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 When I saw no legacy ports, my heart just fell.  I wouldn't be able to fit this into my Iogear 4 port crunching complex!  This was going to displace the last AMD in my farm, the FX-60.  Perhaps someone else will make this board with some PS2 ports?

Hey, Pam, remember when I said this car was death proof? Well, that wasn't a lie. This car is 100% death proof. Only to get the benefit of it, honey, you REALLY need to be sitting in my seat.
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Just to let you guys know that "Zsdad", "freman", and "Isadobereaderfree" are all the same person. its really intresting when you get to see the IP's for everyone, some people make some really intresting coversations with themself...lol

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artless1 replied on Tue, Feb 26 2008 1:03 AM

Admittedly, we all have little pieces in our system(s) we cherish, the use of which over time has become so ingrained that we hardly notice we're reaching out and using them until they fail, OR won'tplug in anywhere. But that is also the beauty of so many different manufacturers andvendors, with wide varieties of specialized products. My personal qualm with many newer boards is the single or non-existent IDE connector, as I still have many IDE hard disc and dual-layer DVD drives, still under warranty even! However, there are always work-arounds to be had: USB/FireWire enclosures for 3.5" and 5.25" drives, and for those with multi-PS2 requirements there are USB-adapters; I am using one such cable adapter right now for both mouse and keyboard :D One of my personal pet peeves for a couple three four years now has been one of the most primally DINOSAURIC devices still around, the FLOPPY DRIVE. I can't stand them, and when I have to repair a system that has one I can feel not only its slowdown effect on that PC but its creepy tentacles grabbing at MY ankles too! ;(   So I am glad there is no floppy connector onboard, but with 1000s of folks out there cherishing this and that essay from college on their collection of 1.44MB diskettes, I can understand why Intel integrated a floppy controller via a 3rd-party I/O chip. While there are certains aspects of this system any of us might ppick upon, the whole shlameel is certainly the heart of a PC that I wouldn't have to upgrade for YEARS, no matter what killer game or app just hit the scene. So, thanks Intel, and thanx HotHardware for giving the most of us the chance to win and play on one of these gems! HOO-AH!!!  Stick out tongue

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SiGfever replied on Tue, Feb 26 2008 8:20 PM

 The Skulltrail is very tempting but it is hard to justify it when just around the corner a whole new platform looms. The lower power consumptions, higher performance, and new pin patterns make this the last dance for the 771.

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viperfour replied on Tue, Feb 26 2008 8:57 PM

SiGfever:

 The Skulltrail is very tempting but it is hard to justify it when just around the corner a whole new platform looms. The lower power consumptions, higher performance, and new pin patterns make this the last dance for the 771.

True, but you "ALWAYS" have something around the corner and this is especially true with computers.  So, you can wait for the next best thing....and wait....and wait....and wait.....or you can go with what you can get or afford at the time.  2 to 6 months later what you buy today even if it is THE THING to get it will be outdated.  Buy the newest platform and it will soon be outdated.  Always!  Welcome to the computer age!  Surprise

For me right now, this would be an ideal system build for the video editing and video effects that I do as I said in my post above.  And as well be a chance to get into computer-generated animation which I am interested in doing in conjunction with the video editing.
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Kamrooz replied on Tue, Feb 26 2008 9:23 PM

viperfour:

True, but you "ALWAYS" have something around the corner and this is especially true with computers.  So, you can wait for the next best thing....and wait....and wait....and wait.....or you can go with what you can get or afford at the time.  2 to 6 months later what you buy today even if it is THE THING to get it will be outdated.  Buy the newest platform and it will soon be outdated.  Always!  Welcome to the computer age!  Surprise

For me right now, this would be an ideal system build for the video editing and video effects that I do as I said in my post above.  And as well be a chance to get into computer-generated animation which I am interested in doing in conjunction with the video editing.

 

That may be true, but you can't relate it to nehalem. This is a entire platform change, grab a skulltrail board and you can't upgrade to anything. That isn't very convenient. The something around the corner mindset only relates to products of the same platform..But a complete platform change is something else. Especially considering the massive performance gap between core and Nehalem.  I stated it in another thread, if this was speaking in regards of having 65nm core and 45nm penryn around the corner...I would agree..But not when a new platform that will kill all prior chipsets and sockets....

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Dave_HH replied on Tue, Feb 26 2008 10:00 PM

Kamrooz:

viperfour:

True, but you "ALWAYS" have something around the corner and this is especially true with computers.  So, you can wait for the next best thing....and wait....and wait....and wait.....or you can go with what you can get or afford at the time.  2 to 6 months later what you buy today even if it is THE THING to get it will be outdated.  Buy the newest platform and it will soon be outdated.  Always!  Welcome to the computer age!  Surprise

For me right now, this would be an ideal system build for the video editing and video effects that I do as I said in my post above.  And as well be a chance to get into computer-generated animation which I am interested in doing in conjunction with the video editing.

 

That may be true, but you can't relate it to nehalem. This is a entire platform change, grab a skulltrail board and you can't upgrade to anything. That isn't very convenient. The something around the corner mindset only relates to products of the same platform..But a complete platform change is something else. Especially considering the massive performance gap between core and Nehalem.  I stated it in another thread, if this was speaking in regards of having 65nm core and 45nm penryn around the corner...I would agree..But not when a new platform that will kill all prior chipsets and sockets....


And you'll be waiting a while for Nehalem and a free Skulltrail system pretty much rox, period. Cool

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viperfour replied on Tue, Feb 26 2008 10:39 PM

While true again, there will always be new platforms after nehalem as well.  I see your point though, but things change all the time.  Platforms, sockets, ect.  Sandy Bridge confirms this as true.  So, should a person wait till Sandy Bridge to upgrade or should they go with what they can get and afford now?  Big Smile  Being on the bleeding edge of technology is not for everyone.  Nor can everyone afford to do so.  Sure, there is always something better around the corner as I said before and when that something comes out then the prices for the others come down. Even though nehalem is so great not everyone will be able to jump on the bandwagon, besides its a while before nehalem gets here anyways.  Skulltrail is NOW!  Party!!!

For me, let me have a skulltrail now and I won't "need" to upgrade for a LONG while.  There are faster computers out there now than what I am running, A LOT faster and also will be, but to have a skulltrail now that would be AWESOME!

Besides reading up on Intel's plans they plan to change platforms every two years.  That's fine by me.  Doesn't mean I have to upgrade each and every platform.

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viperfour replied on Tue, Feb 26 2008 10:44 PM

Davo:

Kamrooz:

viperfour:

True, but you "ALWAYS" have something around the corner and this is especially true with computers.  So, you can wait for the next best thing....and wait....and wait....and wait.....or you can go with what you can get or afford at the time.  2 to 6 months later what you buy today even if it is THE THING to get it will be outdated.  Buy the newest platform and it will soon be outdated.  Always!  Welcome to the computer age!  Surprise

For me right now, this would be an ideal system build for the video editing and video effects that I do as I said in my post above.  And as well be a chance to get into computer-generated animation which I am interested in doing in conjunction with the video editing.

 

That may be true, but you can't relate it to nehalem. This is a entire platform change, grab a skulltrail board and you can't upgrade to anything. That isn't very convenient. The something around the corner mindset only relates to products of the same platform..But a complete platform change is something else. Especially considering the massive performance gap between core and Nehalem.  I stated it in another thread, if this was speaking in regards of having 65nm core and 45nm penryn around the corner...I would agree..But not when a new platform that will kill all prior chipsets and sockets....


And you'll be waiting a while for Nehalem and a free Skulltrail system pretty much rox, period. Cool

EXACTLY!  Bring on the Skulltrail!  Party!!!

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