It's been such a long time since we've had as exciting a product as Intel's 925X platform arrive in our labs. The platform brings about a new CPU interface (LGA-775), a new graphics interface (PCI Express x16), a new memory interface (DDR2) and a slew of other tweaks that make for an impressive bundle of technology. Unfortunately for Intel, we are much more than just technologists - we are pragmatic technologists.

We have already shown how Intel's 925X and 915 platforms basically offer no performance increase over current generation 875P/865 platforms. The lack of performance improvement can essentially be attributed to the high latency of current DDR2 memory, combined with the lack of bandwidth utilization of DDR2-533. These two problems can and will be addressed in the future by lower latency DDR2 memory as well as Prescott's forthcoming 1066MHz FSB (which will be very well matched to a DDR2-533 memory bus). Once again, unfortunately for Intel, we are talking about present day performance and the situation isn't as perfect as it would be had we been given both of those things.

So, the launch of the 925X and 915 has come and gone, with very little excitement from the community in regards to platform performance - but are there any other diamonds in the rough to be discovered?

Alongside the LGA-775 socket interface, Intel gave Prescott a bit of a speed bump - taking it up to 3.6GHz, making it the highest clocked Intel processor available today. This article will be taking a look at the extra 200MHz and how it changes, if at all, the Prescott factor.

Then, we have this issue of PCI Express graphics; Intel has pretty much guaranteed a fast transition to PCI Express graphics cards by removing any AGP support from their 925X/915 chipsets. Intel is expecting that half of all Intel platforms will be 9xx based by the end of 2004, meaning that 50% of all of Intel's platforms shipped by the end of 2004 will not have AGP support. Like it or not, PCI Express as a graphics bus is here.

But what about performance? Both ATI and NVIDIA have been duking it out over the past several months about whose PCI Express solution is the best. And now, we're finally able to find out. Toning down the suspense a bit, you'll find that the whole PCI Express debate was really much ado about nothing, but we'll have some more explanation and benchmarks showing that in the coming pages.

With the above paragraphs, we've pretty much summed up what you can expect out of this article, but wait, there's more (cue TV salesman). This week, we will also take an in-depth look at one other feature offered by the platform and investigate the real world performance benefits of Native Command Queuing. NCQ is supported in the new ICH6 South Bridge and is claimed to improve performance significantly; we'll see what that means in the real world soon enough.

With that said and done, let's get to it.

LGA-775: Do we really need it?
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  • khirareq - Friday, April 01, 2005 - link

    Um, sorry, but i feel that i need to point something out


    You state a number of times that the pins need to be twisted in order to secure the HSF - If you read the leaflet thats included with the CPU, it staes that the Pins are twisted in order to relase the HSF for removal

    Intels Manual DOwnload (>10meg):
    http://support.intel.com/support/processors/sb/CS-...

    Screenshot of the page:
    http://photobucket.com/albums/v337/khirareq/?actio...

    I discovered this at work the other night after spending some time trying to work out how to remove one, and resigned to reading the manual (turn out the HSF was faulty and jammed in the board anyways)
    Reply
  • Pete - Tuesday, June 29, 2004 - link

    Anand, not to get too confrontational, but have I offended you in such a way that you choose not to reply to my questions? I'm not sure why my surprise at the 6800U's gains in Far Cry aren't worth remarking on.

    I'd appreciate an answer. If you take exception to my questioning your numbers, I'd be satisfied with a reply to that effect, and I'd readily apologize if I've offended you with my perhaps overly blunt questioning.
    Reply
  • justly - Sunday, June 27, 2004 - link

    Anand, thank you for the response, and for the effort you put forth in getting it.

    A few (minor) questions could still be asked about mechanical stability, but it is much more believable than the electrical issue.

    Again, thank you.
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, June 25, 2004 - link

    justly

    As promised, I got together with Intel to talk about their statement. Intel has revised their statement and instead state that the ~40 lbs of pressure is used for mechanical stability and not for the stability of the electrical connections - good call :)

    As you already mentioned, LGA-775 is a different story since it needs the pressure to keep the contact with the pins. Apparently the heatsink doesn't need to apply as much pressure as before since the mechanical stability isn't an issue with LGA-775.

    So in the end it wasn't a heat transfer issue or an electrical issue, purely mechanical.

    I've made the appropriate corrections to the piece.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • Pete - Tuesday, June 22, 2004 - link

    Hi Anand,

    Any comment re: my previous post on the 6800U Far Cry numbers? Just checking if they're right. Thanks.
    Reply
  • Cygni - Tuesday, June 22, 2004 - link

    Ive actually discussed Prescott a little with a designer at Intel's Folsom facility (although this person worked on the Granite Bay chipset and then some Centrino work). He cant really figure out the chip either, but he believes that the entire purpose of Prescott hasnt been taken out from under wraps yet. Possibly mechanisims to combat the problems with increases in clock speed etc... things that are on the core, just not activated (ala HT). I guess we will see. Maybe the purpose of Prescott is to ready technologies and proccesses to combat Hammer's successor when it appears? Neither of us were sure. Reply
  • stephenbrooks - Tuesday, June 22, 2004 - link

    Those software compilation scores do not look pretty for Intel. Looks like they'll be approaching 5GHz before a Prescott-like processor will beat even an FX-53! 8-\ New CPU core, please... Reply
  • araczynski - Tuesday, June 22, 2004 - link

    very nice article, like the depth.

    sounds like the bottom line (for my tastes) is to get the 6800U and forget the intel line for another year.
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Tuesday, June 22, 2004 - link

    ThePlagiarmaster

    Sorry, I completely forgot to post my reply to your post :)

    We started using Gordion Knot because that's what we found was most recommended for high quality DivX ripping. Instead of just benchmarking every codec/ripping tool for our CPU reviews, what I'd rather do is compare all of the codecs/tools and figure out which one truly offers the best quality - then it's the performance using that configuration that matters. After all, who cares if AMD or Intel is faster if it's on an application that no one actually uses; that's not the point of a real world benchmark.

    Give us time, and we will not disappoint. I've already talked to Derek about doing such an article, but now I think I'm going to push up its priority a bit.

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • ThePlagiarmaster - Tuesday, June 22, 2004 - link

    Anand.

    I take it no comment means you're off benchmarking dvd2avi for a divx showdown?? :)

    Pumpkinierre,

    You're welcome :) Hopefully we'll get some benchmarks here, proving once and for all who's rules the divx roost. At least Anand's users would be more informed in the end. For anyone interested LOOK HERE:
    http://www.hardocp.com/article.html?art=NjMwLDU=
    Looks like a 20% victory for AMD64 in Divx (dvd2avi). A quick look lower on the page shows Intel(3.6ghz 3.4EE) with about the same 20% victory in Divx(Xmpeg frontend). Perhaps Anand can end it all by testing one against the other?

    Maybe a whole article could be done on this? With say, Ripping to Divx, Ripping R9 Retail to DVD5 (CCE/Tmpeg etc?), Ripping MP3's etc. I'm sure there are more CPU intesive ideas, but the point is finding the best app to do the same job on both platforms. Rather than a blanket statement like 'intel is better than amd at divx' when it's not clear that's true. Not with so many frontends to choose from that do the same job, and CLEARLY they perform DRASTICALLY different on each cpu (amd/intel). With games it's cut and dried (no frontends, just the game itself), but apps are a different story.

    Plag
    Reply

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