Intel's latest motherboard overhaul is based on the new 925x and 915x series chipsets. The new chipset designs incorporate PCI-Express, DDR2RAM and Matrix RAID technology, in an attempt to gain competitive ground on AMD and its line of 64 FX CPUs. These new architectures and technologies should increase system performance, especially for digital entertainment and communications platforms.
CRN Test Center engineers recently evaluated a preproduction release of the new desktop board D915GUXLW, code-named Luxemburg, which supports the 915x chipset. The board is expected to be available to the public in the fourth quarter of 2004.
The board features PCI-Express with x16 Graphics and supports up to 4 Gbytes of DDR2 RAM, a Gigabit Ethernet controller, 4 Serial ATA ports and Intel's Matrix RAID technology. The board also includes 802.11 b and g connectivity, but antenna functions are contained in a separate PCI card which was unavailable for testing.
The new design supports high definition audio technology which will support 8.1 speaker output.
During testing, the sound was crisp and clear through a set of BOSE speakers. Support for this technology means that system builders do not need to add a third-party sound card.
The motherboard was installed inside a micro-ATX chassis and populated with a 3.6-GHz Pentium 4 processor with 2 Gbytes of 400-MHz dual-channel DDR2 SDRAM and a Maxtor 160 Gbyte DiamondMax Plus 9 hard drive.
The board is based on the new Socket 775 CPU design. The design secures a CPU without using pins on the bottom. Instead, the pins are inside the socket, making it easier to swap CPUs without bending the pins.
In a benchmark test from BAPCo using SYSmark's 2004 PC benchmark tests, the Intel Luxemburg performed well, scoring a 240 in the Internet content creation portion of the test and a 198 in the office productivity portion. In comparison, an AMD Athlon64 FX-53 PC with GeForce 6800 Graphics received 223 points on the Internet rating and 192 in the office content area.
> Name: Intel D915GUXLW desktop motherboard code-named Luxemburg
> Price: Estimated $170-$180
> Distributors/Integrators: Not determined yet
>Warranty: 3 years
> Company: Intel
Santa Clara, Calif.