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Under The Kimono: Inside Intel's Hidden R&D

Under The Kimono: Inside Intel's Hidden R&D
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Introduction


We all know that Intel has a reputation for making stable motherboards. We also know that the company is two years into a long-range effort to make itself a top player in the enthusiast board space. Balancing stability with breakneck speed is no small task, and hardly anyone knows the lengths to which Intel goes in designing and redesigning components. Here at the Hawthorn Farms campus in Hillsboro, Oregon, a fleet of Intel teams and engineers pore over practically every aspect of motherboard design. When you check out a shiny new Smackover board, the number of man-hours devoted to making that board’s engineering as close to perfection as possible is staggering.

Intel invited Tom’s Hardware to take a rare look within the Hawthorn Farms facilites and show the world just what work goes into an Intel motherboard. Only a few months ago, we and every other press outlet were forbidden from setting foot past the lobby metal detector with a camera. So walk with us a bit and get a glimpse of the R&D fueling an Intel-based PC.

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  • 1 Hide
    randomizer , February 2, 2009 8:38 AM
    "In this test setup, the chassis gets hit with 25 G and the installed card with 50 G."

    Now that's quality control!
  • 2 Hide
    arkadi , February 2, 2009 11:07 AM
    Intel boards perfect, as long as you don't plan to over clock....
  • 3 Hide
    Pei-chen , February 2, 2009 12:01 PM
    Intel should move on to solid state (Japanese) capacitors. Better parts are better parts even if they are equally reliable in desktop environment.

    BTW, that “dark room” looks great. My office is too well lit.
  • -4 Hide
    enterco , February 2, 2009 12:54 PM
    They may have good testing environment, but it seems that it's used only for 'select' motherboard/chipset combinations. For example, they don't test Core2 E7xxx CPU's in combination with x965 chipsets. Anyway, x965 boards should be able to use all Core 2 Processors with 1066 MHz.
    The conclusion: why bother to test and certify such an old motherboard chipset, as long there are so many testers out there?
  • 2 Hide
    curnel_D , February 2, 2009 1:11 PM
    TheCapuletAhh, so this is what Toms got for this article: http://www.tomshardware.com/review [...] ,2138.html

    Probably. Lol. But at least it was worth the cool look into Intel.
  • -3 Hide
    Anonymous , February 2, 2009 3:02 PM
    So, if Intel is so great then, what happened with the X38, X48, and X58?
    All three performance Intel boards "suck"......X975 was a great motherboard, however it has been very average since.....Has Intel ever thought to use a "solid capacitor" motherboard for the Extreme tine of boards? What gives with the Intel board? Anyway they need an enthusist level bios such as Gigabyte, Evga, Asus, or Dfi anyway.....Greatest Cpu and Chipset combination around, however the MOBO's suck wind.......Mr. Bad Kat.........
  • 5 Hide
    Area51 , February 2, 2009 3:32 PM
    Quote:
    They may have good testing environment, but it seems that it's used only for 'select' motherboard/chipset combinations. For example, they don't test Core2 E7xxx CPU's in combination with x965 chipsets. Anyway, x965 boards should be able to use all Core 2 Processors with 1066 MHz.
    The conclusion: why bother to test and certify such an old motherboard chipset, as long there are so many testers out there?



    You sir are an idiot.
  • 0 Hide
    enterco , February 2, 2009 3:51 PM
    I believe you are wrong. There are few facts:
    1. Intel claims that their boards, specifically DG965OT can be used with 'Core 2 Processors with 1066 MHz FSB' (check this link)
    2. Intel has made the Core2 E5xxx and Core2 E7xxx processors with lower FSB than E8xxx series, and these CPU's FSB are 1066, and 800 MHz, but their statement is that 45nm CPUs are compatible with 3x series chipset and later. Perhaps, a good reason to make these variants of Wolfdale is to make them available for older chipsets. But that's true only for other vendors' boards.
    3. Intel's CPU compatibility tool claims that Core2 E7xxx (1066 MHz) cannot be used with DG965OT motherboard. This can be checked here.
    4. Intel's support specialists from the agree that 'this combination is not tested'
    5. Since I've asked them any details, Intel didn't update their DG965OT product specification page, and they did not include any statement regarding Wolfdale series Core2duo processors

    Now, how can anyone explain that a motherboard which can be used with 'Core2 processors with 1066 MHz' cannot be used with Wolfdale-derived Core2s? The only answer I found is: they don't have enough resources to waste TESTING a combination whch seems to be valid; or they are interested in selling only the new motherboards, so a customer won't upgrade only the CPU.
    Best regards,
  • 0 Hide
    enterco , February 2, 2009 4:47 PM
    It's about testing. I think it's good to know what's tested and what is not tested.
  • 1 Hide
    anonymous user , February 2, 2009 8:55 PM
    enterco.

    Is your motherboard tested to work with every DDR3 memory vendor, every SATA HDD model, every PCI-e Video card? - NO -

    As long as Motherboard and components meet common electrical specifications - they should work fine.

    Functional testing usually covers some common components as a sanity check, but never every possible combination (that would be a waste of resources).

    As long as motherboard and CPU meet common spec (and CPU is supported by BIOS) the combination should work, even if it is "untested"

    In the end, that is the whole purpose of having electrical specificion for components.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , February 2, 2009 9:42 PM
    The facilities don't look very professional... the equipment looks old and dirty. I've seen reports from ECS factories in China and they look much better than this.
  • 1 Hide
    cl_spdhax1 , February 3, 2009 3:51 AM
    ^- that must be why most of ECS boards are defective in some way. in a "either this works and that part dont, or it doesn't work at all," type of Q&A.
  • 0 Hide
    enterco , February 3, 2009 4:31 AM
    anonymous userenterco.Is your motherboard tested to work with every DDR3 memory vendor, every SATA HDD model, every PCI-e Video card? - NO - As long as Motherboard and components meet common electrical specifications - they should work fine.Functional testing usually covers some common components as a sanity check, but never every possible combination (that would be a waste of resources).As long as motherboard and CPU meet common spec (and CPU is supported by BIOS) the combination should work, even if it is "untested"In the end, that is the whole purpose of having electrical specificion for components.

    I'm sure it is not tested with every peripheral. But I think that it's absurd to say that a Wolfdale-based E7xxx is not a Core2 with 1066 MHz FSB, that's what I'm trying to tell. The one saying this are the guys at Intel. And I'm wondering what would feel if you intend to upgrade your 1066 MHz with another, and the online compatibility tool would tell you that 'It's incompatible!' instead of 'It's untested'.
  • 1 Hide
    that_aznpride101 , February 3, 2009 4:35 AM
    This isn't related to the content of this article, but rather the title. Does the writer William Van Winkle know what a "kimono" is? It's a type of Japanese garment worn by women. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kimono) What is he trying to imply by "under the kimono"? Trying to get in the inside of a woman's dress? C'mon, Will, pick another title!
  • 1 Hide
    randomizer , February 3, 2009 5:19 AM
    that_aznpride101What is he trying to imply by "under the kimono"? Trying to get in the inside of a woman's dress? C'mon, Will, pick another title!

    It's a secret place isn't it? :kaola: 
  • 0 Hide
    average joe , February 3, 2009 12:52 PM
    As a former Portland, OR. resident it was nice to finally see inside the Intel Building. I had a small repair business there three or four years ago while my resume slowly decomposed in some huge file cabinet inside their campus. I had dozens of Intel employees as customers who wants to bother with spyware on their kids PC after working on the core 2 design all day. I always told them that they need to support the enthusiast market. At the time AMD was still king. AMD had always been great at supporting not only the enthusiast Market but always the small time mechanics like me. During the years before AMD 64 and AMD 64 x2 when the stock Intel offers were on top, AMD hung in there by having a dedicated community of overclockers and enthusiasts. It's just like Ford or Chevy supporting racing. It's true today for AMD with the Black edition chips.
    Intel branded motherboards are not quite up to snuff compared to gigabyte or Asus motherboards because the BIOS features are lacking. But the chipsets themselves are getting faster. The x48 chipset is 20% faster than the 975 and 10% faster than the X38 all else being equal. That is quite an impressive feat in and of itself.
  • 1 Hide
    average joe , February 3, 2009 1:07 PM
    I have an MSI 975 Platinum motherboard. It's not a great board. It doesn't overclock worth a darn. I bought it because it was an Editors Choice Award winner. It will any 1066 FSB chip. It will handle any E6X00 series chip. It will not run a 7x00 or 8x00 series dual core to my knowledge. I just ordered a q6600 for it to replace an e6400 that going in a HTPC. I just couldn't pass up the $190 and free shipping.
  • 1 Hide
    Pei-chen , February 3, 2009 1:17 PM
    Average JoeI have an MSI 975 Platinum motherboard. It's not a great board. It doesn't overclock worth a darn. I bought it because it was an Editors Choice Award winner. It will any 1066 FSB chip. It will handle any E6X00 series chip. It will not run a 7x00 or 8x00 series dual core to my knowledge. I just ordered a q6600 for it to replace an e6400 that going in a HTPC. I just couldn't pass up the $190 and free shipping.

    Do you live in Forest Hills, NY and went to Forest Hills high school? Your system sounds like one of my friends with similar parts and performance parameters.

    BTW, I upgraded from E6400 to Q6600 G0 3 days ago. It is now running at 3.0GHz at 1.2v. 3.6GHz requires 1.485v and would being the temperature to 81*C. VID is 1.2625 and cooling is AC7 Pro.
  • 0 Hide
    e_sandrs , February 3, 2009 1:38 PM
    that_aznpride101This isn't related to the content of this article, but rather the title. Does the writer William Van Winkle know what a "kimono" is? It's a type of Japanese garment worn by women. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kimono) What is he trying to imply by "under the kimono"? Trying to get in the inside of a woman's dress? C'mon, Will, pick another title!


    It's slightly misused slang - here's the first hit I got on defining a definition:

    Open the Kimono: Basically a somewhat sexist synonym for "open the books," it means to reveal the inner workings of a project or company to a prospective new partner.

    http://www.csl.sri.com/users/mwfong/Humor/Meanings/
  • 0 Hide
    enterco , February 3, 2009 3:47 PM
    Average JoeI have an MSI 975 Platinum motherboard. It's not a great board. It doesn't overclock worth a darn. I bought it because it was an Editors Choice Award winner. It will any 1066 FSB chip. It will handle any E6X00 series chip. It will not run a 7x00 or 8x00 series dual core to my knowledge. I just ordered a q6600 for it to replace an e6400 that going in a HTPC. I just couldn't pass up the $190 and free shipping.

    It seems that MSI 975X Platinum can be used with Wolfdale based processors, check MSI Support site. Now, can anyone show me a mobo manufacturer (other than Intel) who doesn't support Wolfdale core on 9xx chipsets?
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