Electronic Design

It's Fast, It's Bad, It's Intel's D975XBX2 With The Quad Core, Core Duo 2 Extreme QX6700 Processor

It's got four processor cores, four SATA interfaces and four more SATA interfaces with its built-in RAID controller. That's Intel's D975XBX2 motherboard, Bad Axe 2, with the 975X Express chip set that supports AMD/ATI's multiboard CrossFire video adapters.

The ATX D975XBX2 motherboard is designed to accept the quad core, Core Duo 2 Extreme QX6700 processor with its 775-landing multichip package. The cores run at 2.66 GHz using a 1066-MHz system bus to deliver unrivaled performance, at least for this year. It employs all of Intel's latest technology including 64-bit support, enhance SpeedStep and the latest virtualization technology.

The quad core processor comes with 8 Mbytes of L2 cache. The shared L2 cache is dynamically allocated to each processor core. The superscalar architecture allows each core to execute four instructions per clock cycle. A new pre-fetch algorithm is supposed to improve L2 cache access. Like AMD, Intel uses a core multiplexing technique that employs two dual core dies on the same substrate. They share the cache and system bus interface.

The 64-bit quad core processor supports Intel VT, its enhanced virtualization support. This will be significant as servers and power users migrate to virtual machine environments for flexibility and security.

This is a gamer's platform. The BIOS supports overclocking. There are three PCI Express slots spaced widely to handle a pair of AMD/ATI X1950XTX CrossFire video adapters. These are x16 PCI Express slots. The extra slot can be used for other PCI Express adapters such as Adaptec's 4805SAS PCI Express RAID SAS controller (EiED Online>> Building A SAS RAID File Server, ED Online ID 12386). There are two PCI slots as well sharing space with the PCI Express slots.

The board has the usual complement of connectors and peripheral support. There are PS/2 keyboard and mouse ports, four USB 2.0 ports and a 1394 Firewire port. There are four additional USB 2.0 ports available on the motherboard. The parallel and serial ports are somewhat superfluous these days, but handy if you need them. The built-in, 8-channel (7.1) audio subsystem uses the Sigmatel 9227 audio codec. It supports 5 analog audio outputs and coaxial and optical S/PDIF digital audio outputs. It also support 6-channel (5.1) audio. Both deliver impressive output with the right speaker system.

Ethernet support is based on Intel's 82573E/82573L Gigabit Ethernet Controller. The four memory slots can handle up to 8 Gbytes of 240-pin DDR2 800 SDRAM. The motherboard requires Serial Presence Detect (SPD) memory support.

There is a single IDE adapter and a floppy drive interface. These things never seem to go away. An external SATA interface bracket comes with the motherboard. It can be used with the new external SATA drives. The Enermax case has a connector on its top providing yet another external interface.

The D975XBX2 motherboard will fit the bill for a high performance desktop or low to mid range server.

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