Intel's latest platform launches - The Motherboard
Intel's latest processor is a LGA775 series CPU only, you won't find them in Socket 478 - in fact you won't find socket 478 CPU's being made available for the retail market at all. The design of the CPU is almost identical to that of the previous generations of LGA775 CPU's, but it's under the surface that things change.
Under the heatspreader we see the way Intel has laid out the Presler Dual Core. Presler uses two separate cores spaced apart from each other and this is done for two reasons: 1) heat dissipation; moving the two cores away from each other allows for a even heat dissipation across the surface of the die. 2) Smithfield based processors were hard to get in high yields due to the way the die was made. Both cores were put into a single package. This meant that if one of the two cores were faulty, both had to be scrapped. In the Presler design, if one of the cores were faulty, it can be removed from the package and used as a single core CPU setup and a fresh core can be added to the package.
Now we get a first hand look at the motherboard Intel has manufactured to take advantage of the new processors. This board is not only a reference design, but also the very same board Intel will sell in its Desktop board range, under the name of D975KBX.
First we take a look at the general layout and placement of the primary connectors. For a board from Intel, it is laid out similar to a high-end motherboard. The 24 pin ATX connector along with the IDE and FDD connectors are on the right hand side of the board behind the colour coded DDR-2 memory slots. Intel also inverts the IDE connecter 90 degree pushing the cable on the horizontal giving the flat ribbon cable a better air flow profile. The 8 pin CPU voltage power plug is located at the top left of the board behind the I/O panel near the PS/2 ports. Intel has also put in a 4 pin Molex power connector behind the I/O panel as well mid way down. These are used when working with multiple graphics cards to give the PCI Express slots more power.
Now we come to the slots. You many have noticed three PCI Express x16 slots. This is Intel's top of the line board and Intel has moved in to take advantage of multiple graphics technology. The top most PCI Express x16 slot is a true electrically x16 slot, however, when going into Multiple Graphics mode, the slot reverts to an x8 slot. The second PCI Express x16 slot is electrically x8 only, this is used when a second graphics card is installed. The final PCI-E x16 slot works at only the x4 rate. This is if you want to add in a third graphics card to use up to 6 monitors. Also you can use server PCI-E x4 RAID controllers in this slot. There is simply no limit when it comes to PCI Express.
To add legacy support, there are two PCI slots, one at the very bottom of the board and one between PCI Express x16 slot 2 and 3.
Intel's power management for the D975KBX is FMB2.1. This new specifications are introduced for the 65nm Presler and Cider Mill cores. The new specifications calls for no less than 4-5 phase voltage regulation system to deliver a stable voltage to the new Presler cores which run at 1.3v with up to 130 watts needed for stability. While not a requirement, Intel has passively cooled the Mosfets with heatsinks, another score for Intel in the cooling department.
The I/O plane gives you all of the connectors you will need - two PS2/, one serial, one parallel, one SPDIF output, four USB, one Firewire-400, one Gigabit RJ-45, 5 Stereo Audio and one Toslink-in.
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