Friday, September 21, 2007

Intel Demos Dual-Socket Desktop Platform for Enthusiasts

Intel Corp. has demonstrated its ultra high-performance gaming platform code-named Skulltrail during the ongoing Intel Developer Forum trade-show. The company seems to be serious about offering an alternative to AMD’s dual-socket enthusiast platform FASN8 and will commercially release the product late this year.

Intel’s Skulltrail platform for gamers based on code-named Seaburg chipset resembles Stoakley platform for high-end dual-processor workstations, but in addition to features like support for two quad-core Intel Xeon microprocessor with up to 1600MHz processor system bus, up to 128GB of FB-DIMM memory, Intel virtualization technology and other capabilities, the Skulltrail offers four PCI Express x16 slots for graphics cards, something that high-end gamers may require.

The new platform for no compromise gamers will let end-users without limits of budget to obtain eight processing engines as well as four graphics processing units for ultimate performance. Still, Intel will have to ensure that ATI, graphics product group of Advanced Micro Devices, and Nvidia Corp. enable driver support for 4-way CrossFire or SLI multi-GPU configurations.

Even though it remains to be seen whether Intel allows overclocking of its Intel Xeon processors, Noctua, a well-known maker of high-performance liquid-cooling systems, announced on Wednesday that its popular liquid solutions now feature mounting mechanisms for Intel Xeon processors.

“Maximum cooling performance at minimum noise levels and excellent reliability can be particularly important in the world of high-end workstations and special server applications. We’ve received lots of requests regarding Xeon compatibility and we’re pleased that we’re now able to provide Xeon mounting-kits as well as a Xeon-Edition of the NH-U12F and NH-U9F upon request. Finally, Xeon-based systems can benefit from the performance and quality of our coolers too,” said Roland Mossig, Noctua chief executive.

The new Intel Xeon mounting-kit is compatible with socket 771 and socket 604 and makes it possible to use Noctua’s coolers on Intel Xeon 5000 and Xeon 7000 series processors.

Unfortunately, Intel still has not announced the exact launch and availability dates of the Skulltrail-based computers. It is very likely that the new systems will be available in mid-November at the earliest, still ahead of AMD’s FASN8 with two AMD Phenom FX quad-core chips, which is set to emerge in early 2008.

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