Skip to main content

Intel Skulltrail Part 1: The Power of 8 Cores

Motherboard - The Intel 5400 Northbridge

Northbridge heatsink

Since none of the current desktop chipsets supports two front-side buses and thus would be unable to handle two processor sockets, Intel had to use one of its workstation chipsets instead. Therefore, the Skulltrail motherboard is based on the 5400 chipset, code-named Seaburg.

The Intel 5400 Northbridge has been used for workstations for a while now and is currently the top-of-the-line model in this area. It offers support for a maximum default FSB speed of 400 MHz (1600QDR). Additionally, it supports FSB333 (1333QDR) and FSB266 (1066QDR). The clock speed for the Northbridge can be selected through a BIOS setting.

Compared t the X38 or X48 chipsets, the 5400 workstation Northbridge brings several advantages to the table. However, it also has some definite drawbacks.

There is neither a DDR2 nor a DDR3 memory interface integrated into the 5400 Northbridge. Instead, the only memory type that the 5400 Northbridge is able to use is FB-DIMM (Fully Buffered DIMM). While desktop chipsets currently work with a dual-channel memory interface, the workstation part uses a quad-channel interface. Production costs for this chipset are rather high, though, contributing to the high price of the Skulltrail motherboard.

Intel's 5400 Northbridge chip

  • 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....