Intel's 925X & LGA-775: Are Prescott 3.6 and PCI Express Graphics any Faster?by Anand Lal Shimpi on June 21, 2004 12:05 PM EST
- Posted in
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.