Intel 925XE - IntroductionIntroduction
For those who thought that the six month product cycle wasn't long enough for a product obviously haven't seen Intel lately. It's only been about four months since the release of the Pentium 4 on the LGA 775 socket and the I9xx chipsets, Intel has thrown its next chipset and processor into the mix. Today we take a look at the Intel Pentium 4 1066FSB processor along with the newest addition to the I9xx chipset family, the 925XE. Read on and find out if the 1066FSB results in any performance increase over the older 800FSB.
Intel 925XE - A Closer Look at 1066FSBA 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.
Intel 925XE - Benchmarks - Test System Setup and Sisoft SandraTest System SetupMemory
: 2x 512MB DDR2-533 Micron Hard Disk
: 2x Maxtor Maxline III 250GB RAID (RAID on ICH5R and ICH6R)Graphics Card
: nVidia GeForce PCX5900 (Supplied by Gigabyte
: Microsoft Windows XP Professional SP2Drivers
: nVidia Forceware 61.78We used the Pentium 4 3.4GHz Extreme Edition 800MHz FSB and the Extreme Edition 3.46GHz 1066MHz FSB in order to try and keep the results as even as possible. The memory modules were set to DDR-2 533MHz and at SPD in BIOS in all of our tests to give the most accurate readings.SiSoft SandraVersion and / or Patch Used:
2004 SP2bDeveloper Homepage: http://www.sisoftware.co.ukProduct Homepage: http://sisoftware.jaggedonline.com/index.php?location=home&a=TTA&lang=enBuy It Here
SiSoft Sandra (S
iagnostic and R
ssistant) is a synthetic Windows benchmark that features different tests used to evaluate different PC subsystems.
Here we can now see the benefits of DDR-2. When running 533MHz on an 800MHz FSB system the DRAM clocks are asynchronous but when on a 1066MHz FSB system 533MHz clocks are synchronous with the system bus which means less latencies between read and write cycles to the memory.On the CPU side, despite only a 60MHz advantage to the new 1066FSB CPU the performance has increased quite dramatically, guess a bus increase now and then does speed things along.
Intel 925XE - Benchmarks - PCMark04PCMarkVersion and / or Patch Used:
2004Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/pcmark04/Buy It Here
PCMark is a multipurpose benchmark, suited for benchmarking all kinds of PCs, from laptops to workstations, as well as across multiple Windows operating systems. This easy-to-use benchmark makes professional strength benchmarking software available even to novice users. PCMark consists of a series of tests that represent common tasks in home and office programs. PCMark also covers many additional areas outside the scope of other MadOnion.com benchmarks.
Here we can see that the memory and CPU readings have improved, while the rest has stayed the same - no tweaks to the PCI Express or other sub systems here.
Intel 925XE - Benchmarks - 3DMark033DMark03Version and / or Patch Used:
330Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark03/Buy It Here
3DMark03 is the latest version of the highly favored 3DMark series. By combining full DirectX9.0 support with completely new tests and graphics, 3DMark03 continues the legacy of being industry standard benchmark.Please Note: Due to recent events with the 3DMark03 series, we are adding results purely for those who are still in favor of 3DMark03. These results should not be taken too seriously and are only added for interest sakes.
Here the advantages between the two platforms aren't as great as we would have thought.
Intel 925XE - Benchmarks - 3DMark053DMark05Version and / or Patch Used:
110Developer Homepage: http://www.futuremark.comProduct Homepage: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark05/Buy It Here
3DMark05 is the latest version in the popular 3DMark "Gamers Benchmark" series. It includes a complete set of DX9 benchmarks which tests Shader Model 2.0 and higher.For more information on the 3DMark05 benchmark, we recommend you read our preview here
Here when the stress is on the newer 1066FSB it does give the extra edge needed for a few more points in 3DMark05.
Intel 925XE - Benchmarks - Doom 3Doom 3Version and / or Patch Used:
1.0Timedemo or Level Used:
Custom TimedemoDeveloper Homepage: http://www.idsoftware.com Product Homepage: http://www.doom3.comBuy It Here
Doom 3 is the latest game to hit our test lab and is one of the most intensive games to dates. With our own custom time demo we are able to give a realistic rating on what kind of FPS you will be achieving.For more information on benchmarking Doom 3 we recommend you check out our extensive article regarding it here
Doom 3 shows improvements with the latest bus advancements.
Intel 925XE - Benchmarks - Far CryFar CryVersion and / or Patch Used:
1.3Timedemo or Level Used:
DefaultDeveloper Homepage: http://www.crytek.comProduct Homepage: http://www.farcrygame.comBuy It Here
There is no denying that Far Cry is currently one of the most graphic intensive games on the market, utilizing PS2.0 technology (the latest versions support Shader Model 3.0 with DX9c) and offering an exceptional visual experience there is no denying that even some of the faster graphics cards struggle.
Far Cry also shows improvement with the newer bus.
Intel 925XE - Benchmarks - Encoding TestsMainconcept MPEG Encoder 1.4.2
Mainconcept is a DV conversion utility to convert DV files into MPEG Layer 2 (DVD) quality video files. We use a 1.2GB test file and convert it into a MPEG-2 video at 720x576 at 25fps with stereo sound and calculate the time each system takes to encode the file - less time = better.
With a much faster sync rate between the DDR-2 memory and the 1066FSB the new I925XE pulls ahead quite well.XMPEG
XMPEG is a high quality converter based on lossless MPEG/AC3 decoders. It decodes MPEG1 (Audio & Video) and MPEG2 streams and offers you the possibility to re-encode them in the format you want. It exports video and audio frames through an Adobe Premiere interface. To keep the maximum quality of your film, it integrates HQ Bicubic (0, 0.75) and Bessel (for audio) filters. The plugins furnished in this package allow you to create your own DivX, DVD, SVCD with the maximum output quality.For this we used the same file for Mainconcept, however, this time we used XMPEG to convert the file into a MPEG-4 or DIVX video.
Again the new 1066FSB aids in the I925XE's win.
Intel 925XE - Final ThoughtsFinal Thoughts
All that can be said is better late than never. Intel really was under the knife when the I925X came to market lacking the 1066FSB support, speculating that a brand new chipset and board would be needed for users who wanted to run the latest bus technology. While a new chipset is in order, a new board certainly isn't. End users won't notice a difference in the motherboards coming out, as Intel has put a lot into making the I925XE pin compatible with the I925X. This is definitely a smart move as requiring a new electrical wiring system would have the market in revolt against 1066FSB.The I925XE has now shown that putting the faster DDR-2 533 in with the latest 1066FSB CPU does make a difference, as DDR-2 is the only available memory that officially can run at 266MHz, leaving DDR behind in its wake. Speeds are only set to get faster and faster with DDR-2 and the rising Intel FSB.The I925XE does lack some additional features, such as 533FSB support which leaves Celeron D users in the lurch but the older I925X chipset does still support this bus speed. Thoughts of a cheap Celeron D system on the I925XE and upgrading to a 1066FSB processor later on is simply not going to happen, however, users of the LGA775 Prescott and Gallatin on the 800FSB will be happy to note their processors will fit into and work on the I925XE without any problems.Overclocking is the big question, has PCI-E, PCI and Serial ATA clock dividers been added to allow overclocking? This isn't going to be answered here, as the reference board from Intel only supports minimal bus tweaks, which would easily be possible without divider locks. We'll need to wait and see what third party motherboard manufacturers come up with.Overall the Intel 925XE chipset will be a great replacement for users of older systems such as Intel 865 and 875. While we were hoping for Dual PCI Express x16 compatibility for SLI, Intel still hasn't thought about this for the desktop sector, in fact 64bit extensions are still only in the mill with Intel, so we have still a few things to wait for from the chip giant, none the less, I925XE has picked up where I925X started off and helps boost system performance.