A Closer Look
The Intel I925XE is a direct descendant of the original I925X chipset with only a few changes to the mix. First off is the new FSB speed boost and ECC Memory.
First let's look at the FSB. Intel's plans for some time have called for the jump from 800MHz FSB to the new 1066MHz FSB. Many expected this to happen with the I925X chipset, however, this didn't eventuate. Intel has introduced this new FSB speed on the I925XE chipset which calls for a brand new Northbridge in order to support this design.
Increasing the FSB to 1066MHz gives the Intel Pentium 4 a theoretical maximum FSB throughput of 8.5GB/s which matches the DDR-2 533 Dual Channel max throughput. With the Introduction of 1066MHz FSB, Intel has dropped the 533MHz FSB support from the I925XE chipset, which means Celeron D CPU's in the LGA775 socket won't be able to run on this chipset, however, they will be able to run on the I925X chipset. This makes the I925XE a Pentium 4 only chipset.
With the ECC Memory part, Intel has dropped the support for ECC modules on the I925XE. This is simply because the aim of the I925XE is high-end gamers and enthusiast PC users and coupled with the Pentium 4 Extreme Edition CPU, you aren't going to be putting this chipset into a server or workstation environment. With this in mind the I925XE is able to lower its shelf price for the core logic.
When it comes to the peripheral side, things haven't changed. PCI Express x16 is the only graphics slot supported, so AGP users are out of luck here. The ICH6 series Southbridge is still the chip of choice when it comes to adding the onboard features, the ICH6R is the most common Southbridge to be partnered with this, ICH6RW would be a nice addition for users who want the 802.11g wireless LAN built in, however, we haven't seen much of this Southbridge yet.
Now we come to the CPU side of things. Intel only has one CPU at the moment that runs on the 1066MHz FSB - the Gallatin core Intel Pentium 4 Extreme Edition. Pentium 4 Prescott CPU's are set to push into this realm with new models coming out up to 3.8GHz, however, since Intel is going more on the number features, we will see speeds from 2.8GHz up to the 3.8GHz in the Intel Pentium 4 6xx series taking hold in the market.
The CPU only comes in one socket, LGA775. From a standpoint there are no advancements in technology on the CPU itself, apart from the 1066 MHz FSB. The fabrication is still on the 0.13um process with 512K L2 cache and the 2MB L3 cache that's made it a gaming wonder.
When it comes to the first of the I925XE boards, Intel simply has updated its I925X board with the latest chipset and named it the D925XECV2.
Since the Intel I925XE is pin compatible with the original I925X chipset, it has made the upgrade path easy for both Intel with their desktop boards (as well as third party vendors), as existing PCB's that have carried the I925X chipset can be used for the I925XE. This is why Intel has used the exact same board layout as the original I925X.
For a quick run down, DDR-2 modules are only supported as the I925XE has no DDR memory controller built into the MCH. PCI Express x16 is the graphics interface of choice. It comes with two PCI Express x1 slots with one of the PCI Express x1 lanes taken up by the Marvell Yukon PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet controller. An Agree Firewire controller is installed to give three Firewire ports. All of this runs off the ICH6R Southbridge which brings Azalia HD Audio, four Serial ATA ports with RAID and Matrix RAID along with all the other goodies like eight USB 2.0 ports.
One thing to note is the cooling unit. The original unit that Intel supplied on the first LGA775 system was of a different design, that is, it didn't have the mini shroud around the fan. This did cause some problems with wires getting hit by the blades. The new cooler Intel supplies with the LGA775 series has resolved this with a shroud around the fan and a lighter feel to the cooler. On the bottom a heat pad is installed rather than using thermal goo, kind of like the AMD approach with their retail coolers.
The cooler attaches to the board with 4 pins that push into the board to secure the unit down hard on the CPU, no need to worry about crushed dies, as the Heatspreader on the P4 keeps this baby safe.
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