Intel Skulltrail Part 1: The Power of 8 Cores

Memory: Memory Interface And Quad-Channel

Current desktop chipsets are equipped with a dual-channel memory interface. The 5400, on the other hand, sports a quad-channel memory interface, allowing it to access four memory modules simultaneously. Theoretically, the memory bandwidth should thus be much higher than that of the desktop chipset. However, this is not the case.

Since the 5400 Northbridge also has to manage several other additional tasks that are not normally required of a desktop chipset, its overall performance is reduced.

For example, it runs error checking routines such as ECC. Then, there is also the snoop filter, which improves the utilization of the front-side bus. Additionally, the 5400 Northbridge has to manage two processors through two separate FSB interfaces while also communicating with the Southbridge through a separate ESI bus.

All of these additional features together affect performance to such an extent that the memory bandwidth of this quad-channel interface is effectively lower than that of a desktop chipset.

According to the measurements, the memory interface and the FB-DIMMs are optimized for fast writes and short access times. In these areas, the 5400 Northbridge and its memory do outpace the desktop chipset at the specified memory clock speeds. When reading from memory, it offers only half the bandwidth of its desktop counterpart, though.

Write performance of the FB-DIMMs doubles thanks to the quad-channel memory interface.

Quad memory channels

Intel's Skulltrail board features a quad-channel memory interface.

  • white1widow
    I agree that the Skulltrail rig with two QX9775's is hands down the most incredible thing as of late. with a dual 9800gx2 SLI option its the gamers dream and could devour any game. As far as 8 core dual proc setups its the most powerful and obviously the most expensive. Being the most powerful means that everyone wants it and being the most expensive means that only the few, dedicated and rich enthusiast will have it... The rest of people who realize the power of a dual quad system will go Quad FX - the drasticaly cheaper route. I paid $600 for two FX72 at 2.8ghz and the quadfather motherboard. And I get incredible performance not far behind what skulltrail benchmarks indicate. I can multitask and an astounding level using XP64bit and a 5 drive raid + 4gb DDR2. So basically my point is this: Intel has created the most incredible rig (skulltrail), but nobody can afford it. thats not bringing power to the masses, its ripping folks off. That is why whenever Intel comes out with something awesome, I will always go and purchase the immensesly comparable AMD alternative at 1/4 the price. Dual FX72's is more than any nerd will ever need, if need be, I will simply upgrade to dual quad opterons and ECC memory.
  • xcorat
    So does anybody have a recommendation on a northbridge fan I can use?
    preferably easy to install?( I really hate to take the motherboard out on that monster.)
    I agree W1W, Performance and Value have to balance for most of us these days....