During Intel’s launch of the 875 chipset, there was mention that the Canterwood chipset had the ability to support Dual processors. Many who saw that news and heard about the development of a Canterwood dually believed it might be all part of an elaborate hoax. Well, we’re here to tell you it is not a hoax, and the proof is coming from Asus, one of the world’s largest motherboard makers. When Asus first asked AnandTech if we would be interested in taking a look at their new Dual Xeon 875, we jumped at the opportunity.

The PC-DL is unique in more that just the capability of its 875 to run two Xeon chips. It is also one of the most affordable dual-processor boards on the market. We are told it will sell for below $300 – somewhere in the $240 to $300 range. Asus believes this relatively low price also will make the board attractive to gamers and Performance Enthusiasts, in addition to the natural target of the Workstation and Small Server Market.

So, is this the same 875 chipset that is currently dominating the high end of the Pentium 4 market? In general the answer is, “yes, it is.” Intel’s 875 and earlier E7205 share almost the same architecture, but they have different memory speed capabilities. It is expected that the 875 will eventually replace the E7205, Intel’s first Dual-Channel workstation/server design. What is unique about the new Asus is that it is almost a step backwards in terms of processor support. Intel has been expected to update Xeon with the latest 875 features like 800FSB, but it has not happened yet. So, Asus has introduced PC-DL with support for dual 533FSB Xeons. This is likely the first step on the road to the new 800FSB Xeons, because many have recently complained that Xeons are falling behind in the performance area to the latest in the Pentium 4 family.

While the PC-DL appears quite unique right now, this is the beginning, not the end, of the many variations we will likely be seeing with the new dual processor boards based on the 875 chipset. When you’re looking at results with the Dual Xeon 3.06 Processors, keep in mind that Xeons with 800FSB capabilities will undoubtedly make their appearance in the near future. As we saw with the move of Pentium 4 from 533 to 800FSB, this change alone will bring a significant boost in performance. The 875 chipset, of course, is already 800FSB capable, so the move to 800FSB Processors should be an easy one.

However excited we may be about the prospect of new higher FSB Xeons, what we have to evaluate right now is a Dual 3.06 Xeon 875 with two 533FSB CPUs. Since Asus is touting this dually as a potential gaming platform and a board for Computer Enthusiasts, we decided to evaluate it from that perspective. The features such as Serial ATA Raid, Firewire, 8X AGP 3.0, onboard CSA LAN, and Promise RAID will remind you more of the Asus P4C800-E than they will of other Xeon boards. We will do some workstation comparisons later in the review, but we are reviewing the PC-DL, and comparing it to the performance from the current top Pentium 4, Barton, and Opteron/Athlon64 boards that we have tested.

Asus PC-DL: Basic Features
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  • Kiwi42084 - Tuesday, March 02, 2004 - link

    This Benchmark is totally unfair!!!!!
    The PC-DL has the avalibility to produce 4 usable CPUs...2 Physical and 2 Logical....
    Windows XP will only see 2 of these. The benchmarks are being done with Half of the POWER POTENTIAL.
    Reply
  • vppaul - Wednesday, February 25, 2004 - link

    I am having a problem with my PC-DL board. The System Management BIOS is reporting that there is 4096 MB of RAM, but Windows reports that 2048 MB is available. Anybody ideas? I am trying to get help from Asus tech support but any help would be appreciated. Running dual 3.06 with 4 x 1GB sticks. Reply
  • piperfect - Monday, February 23, 2004 - link

    I totally agree with FutureShock999. Why not run several instances of the a divx encoder. For instance do a 2 part movie on an encoder that runs two threads per instance then run both of the parts at the same time in two instances of the program on the xeon and see who finishes first. What you guys are doing is like comparing an f-16 fighter jet to a f-15 and saying the f-15 can only use one of its engines. Reply
  • piperfect - Wednesday, February 11, 2004 - link

    I got my pc-dl with 2.8GHz Xeons with raptor drives in RAID0 to 3361MHz 160FSB with a dram clock of 200MHz. 4:5 It ran Sandra burnin overnight. Maybe my board is a newer revision. I read this article after I bought the Raptor so I didn't try to overclock it until yeaterday but it did and it runs well!!!!! Reply
  • FutureShock999 - Monday, October 06, 2003 - link

    Wesley,
    A nice review, but I believe the wrong benchmarks. No one should buy a dual-processor machine to execute a single-threaded application faster, especially when that single proc is slower than others on the market. Dual-proc boards are bought to do multi-threaded stuff, either runnig a single multi-threaded application, or running several different single-threaded applications. In no place did I see benchmarks that explicitly looked like that.

    As such, your review was a good cautionary tale for people that didn't KNOW the above, and hopefully will stop some people from spending a lot of money on a this board hoping to have a great UT setup.

    Now if you had shown what it was like to play a game, encode media, and download a few gigs of content SIMULTANEOUSLY, then we could really see how this board stacks up to the competition you evaluated it against. And I think it might have beaten them rather handily...
    Reply
  • Wesley Fink - Tuesday, September 09, 2003 - link

    #23 -
    We recently changed our standard video card from nVidia's Ti4600 to the ATI RADEON 9800 PRO. Theoretically this should have no impact on encoding scores, but we reran all benchmarks with our new standard hadware on a few of the highest performing boards. Evan ran about half the new encoding benchmarks on the west coast, and I ran the other half on the east coast. As you can see our new results compare very well to each other.

    I have no other explanation, but perhaps Evan can shed some light on this. I have used the new ATI Radeon 9800 PRO from day 1 and my benchmarks have been cumulative over the last couple of months with no dramatic change that you point out.
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, September 09, 2003 - link

    The 865/875 P4 boards in this test all perform 50% faster in the media encoding benchmark in this review than they did in the round-up a couple weeks ago.

    Has anyone else noticed this dicrepancy? The Abit IS7-G has gone from 64.45 fps to 104 fps. Both times they used a P4 3.0Ghz, 800mhz FSB, with HT enabled. Nothing seems to have changed except the encoding speed. I wish I could do that to my rig ; )

    A 50% increase in as linear and consistent a benchmark as DivX encoding is simply astounding.

    I just wanted to point this out to everybody around here.

    Thank you for your time.
    Reply
  • Anonymous User - Tuesday, September 09, 2003 - link

    It' will not overclock with the SATA drives on the intel controller. BUT it will if you run them on the onboard promise controller. I have 2 WD Raptor's running RAID0 and the 2800/533's running @3250 100% stable. Reply
  • Anonymous User - Monday, September 08, 2003 - link

    Which brings up the question about whether or not HT was enabled on it. And the fact is they used a regular consumer card for video Most workstations would have a workstation class card in them such as a Quadro, FireGL, or even a 3DLabs card in them. It all depends on the applications that one uses. Most normal people wouldn't use a dual machine for gaming anyways. They'd use them for graphical processing or media encoding or file serving and such. Just talk to those guys over at 2CPU.com they know what I'm talking about. ;) Reply
  • Anonymous User - Monday, September 08, 2003 - link

    From the looks of it, there would be little if any reason to spend gobs of extra money on a system that is beat by AMD in gaming, and by single P4 siblings in high-end workstation tasks. Reply

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