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Intel Skulltrail 3: 8 vs 4 Core Performance

Intel Skulltrail 3: 8 vs 4 Core Performance
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Performance Analysis
2 Years Too Early And No Software Support

Considering its price tag, the Skulltrail system offers absolutely catastrophic performance. To be fair, though, it is not Intel's hardware that is at fault here, but today's software. If a program only uses four of the eight processor cores, then the Skulltrail system is noticeably slower than a single-socket quad-core computer. Since there are practically no current games or desktop applications around that can utilize more than four cores (if that many), the Skulltrail system does not offer any benefit here.

There are a few exceptions to this statement, namely 3D rendering, scenarios that require many virtual machines or situations where several video streams need to be encoded/recoded simultaneously. Still, in most cases you'll save money by opting for a second dual-core computer that offers better overclocking potential. Moreover, such a system is guaranteed to run quieter than that of the Skulltrail.

When running software that can take advantage of eight cores, the Skulltrail offers performance that is second to none in the desktop arena.

By assigning threads directly to one of the CPU cores, the L2 cache available to a quad-core-capable application can be increased from 12 MB to 24 MB. However, the Core 2 Technology is already saturated even with the smaller amount of cache and does not show any performance gains as a result. Another problem is that today's applications are not designed to take advantage of large amounts of CPU cache.

System Single Socket Dual Socket
Thread 1 CPU 1 - 3 MB CPU 1 - 6 MB
Thread 2 CPU 1 - 3 MB CPU 1 - 6 MB
Thread 3 CPU 1 - 3 MB CPU 2 - 6 MB
Thread 4 CPU 1 - 3 MB CPU 2 - 6 MB
Total 12 MB 24 MB

Because of the board's design and layout, Nvidia's SLI and ATI's Crossfire are very badly implemented. There are better choices available on the market.

While the Skulltrail system makes for a very fast computer, its availability is at least two years too soon. At present, there isn't really any way to really use its performance to its full potential. Even Adobe's expensive Premiere video editing suite can't utilize eight processor cores.

Due to the pronounced performance hits when using dual-core or quad-core optimized applications and board designs, the Skulltrail platform is simply not a good choice for gamers. A single quad-core processor is faster, more energy efficient and cheaper.

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