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Las Vegas (NV) - You didn't think that Intel would leave all that dual-socket fame for itself, did you? At CES, Intel showed off an 8-core desktop system build on a 2P workstation board with two quad-core processors. Intel claims that the system trumps AMD's fastest Quad-FX by 61% in one key benchmark. And yes, we do have pictures of this beast.
Technically, Intel's dual-socket prototype PC isn't that unusual and there are may be many enthusiasts who have built systems using a similar approach in the past. However, this specific PC takes the multi-core theme to the edge and shows what is possible today.
The PC uses a 2-processor workstation board with an Intel 5000-series (Blackford) and chipset supporting FSB1333. The board carries two Xeon 5300 series (Clovertown) processors. Intel also built four 120 mm side panel-mounted fans, which we heard were just for drama and not really necessary to cool the system. 4 GB of FB memory and an Nvidia GeForce 8800 card complement the computer.
The system was the brainchild of Francois Piednoel, an engineer with Intel's benchmarking team. He wanted to show how simple it was to make an 8-core workstation with regular parts. "We're not marketing it, but if you want it and need it, it's available."
Piednoel added that the parts weren't "crazy expensive" and could easily be purchased through online retailers like Newegg or Gamepc.com.
Before we mention the performance, let us drop a word on power consumption. AMD's Quad FX system was heavily criticized for its shameless hunger for power. While we did not hear anything from Intel about the power consumption of this 8-core monster, we do know that the two Clovertown processors are rated at a maximum power consumption of just 80 watts - compared to the 125 watts of each FX processor in the dual socket AMD system.
Performance-wise, Intel ran the 3DMark 2006, along with some other tests, on its system and the CPU portion of the benchmark was said to have achieved 6089 points in a test run and came in at 6065 when we pushed the button. The 3.0 GHz dual-socket dual-core system from AMD (FX-74) came in at 3764 points in Tom's Hardware's benchmarks, which gives the Intel system at least theoretically a lead of 61%.
Theoretically, because we can't compare those two system due to the different environments and different setups. In any case, this Intel prototype hints to exciting enthusiast computers that may be in our future. Not just at Intel, but AMD as well: The AgenaFX quad-core is due in mid-2007 and will be available as a drop-in upgrade for current QuadFX computers.