Skip to main content

Intel Skulltrail Part 1: The Power of 8 Cores

Motherboard: Nvidia nForce 100 SLI Bridge For 4 Graphics Cards

Nvidia's nForce 100 SLI Bridge

Dual nForce 100 SLI Bridges

The 5400 Northbridge doesn't possess a sufficient number of PCI-Express lanes to provide four x16 PEG slots. For this reason, Intel partnered with Nvidia for the Skulltrail project, using two PCI-Express port switchers. The two nForce 100 SLI bridges split the 32 lanes of the 5400 Northbridge into 64 lanes, with each of the nForce chips providing 32 lanes in this manner.

Both the 5400 Northbridge chip and Nvidia's nForce 100 SLI port switchers support PCI-Express 2.0. If the system is equipped with two graphics cards, each can utilize a transfer rate of x16. With four graphics cards installed, each of the cards is still able to take advantage of an x16 connection, although all of them together have to share the bandwidth of an electrical x32 connection. Thus, the four cards cannot take advantage of the x16 bandwidth simultaneously, so the bandwidth is allocated dynamically.

The Southbridge fan is very loud

The large heatsink that covers the Southbridge and the Nvidia SLI-chips is equipped with a 60 mm fan. It runs at a very high speed and is so loud that a headache is almost guaranteed.

The Southbridge cooler

The hood made of thin plastic is attached using sticky tape.

  • 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....