Opteron-based systems, without the added boost of expensive DDR2 memory, have slowly begun to erode the Xeon architecture's hegemony in the workstation market. In AMD's Opteron 250 vs. Intel's Xeon 3.6 GHz in a Workstation Duel of the Elite , we detailed how the Opteron's performance championed that of the Xeon. But that was in September.
Meanwhile, Intel hasn't remained sitting still, and has skillfully revamped its Xeon architecture. As a result, the current chipset called E7525 has no problem outclassing the current Opteron chipsets VIA K8T800 Pro and AMD 8000. While the PCI Express enabled versions from NVIDIA and VIA will help to bring Opteron systems back into the premier league, they will not see launch before next year.
Concerning Xeon, ambitious users still today can pick motherboards based on Intel's 875P chipset. This device still is able to profit from its fast Dual DDR400 memory interface, while the E7525 usually needs to live with Dual DDR2-400. The latter may be faster at higher memory clock speeds, but loses ground at conventional speeds due to unfavorable latencies. Also, E7525 requires registered memory, while 875P can be equipped with unbuffered DIMMs, but up to a maximum of 4 GB only.
The Asus NCCH-DL and IWill's DH800 represent the 875P class in this review. The ambassadors of Intel's E7525 chipsets are the Asus NCT-D, Gigabyte's GA-9ITDW, the Intel SE7525GP2, the X6DA8-G2 by Supermicro and Tyan's S2676.