|Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD4P X58 Motherboard|
|Reviews - Featured Reviews: Motherboards|
|Written by Olin Coles|
|Saturday, 24 January 2009|
Page 16 of 17
Intel X58 Final Thoughts
While I didn't write the Intel Core i7 CPU & DX58SO X58 Platform article featured here at Benchmark Reviews, I've come to agree with Miles Cheatham on all points covered in his comprehensive review. The X58 'Tylersburg' platform is Intel's first offering for the Core i7 'Nehalem' processor, with several more already in the works. No sooner can I cheer the Core i7/X58 marriage before Intel already has a quad-core 'Lynnfield' and dual-core 'Havendale' processor poised for release on the LGA1160 socket ready for sometime in H1 2009. Later into 2009 Intel will offer the P55 'Ibexpeak' platform, which changes the game once again and ditches the term 'chipset' in place of Platform Controller Hub (PCH).
With DRAM being sold at the lowest prices we've seen in many years, the introduction of a motherboard willing to harness 24GB of DDR3 may be a blessing in disguise. Even though enthusiasts have yet to fall in love with Windows Vista, the 64-bit version of Windows Vista (and to a lesser extent Windows XP 64) have seen renewed interest since the launch of Intel's X58 platform. The market has already begun to sell 6GB tri-channel kits, and it will be a short matter of time before we have 12GB kits pieced together from 4GB modules. Despite my protest, we'll even begin using Vista 64 Ultimate for testing tri-channel system memory kits. Thankfully, the Windows 7 launch isn't too far away.
There is still one minor drawback for the X58 platform which effects enthusiasts: the difference in CPU cooler mounting dimensions. Many overclockers and enthusiasts have grown to cherish their favorite cooler, and trust them to cool the hottest setup. The problem now is that many manufacturers are offering free adapter kits, or include an adapter with their current model coolers, which leads to bigger problems.
CPU coolers made for the LGA775 platform were designed for use with a Core 2 (Duo or Quad) or Pentium 4 and D processor with an integrated heat-spreader measuring 28.5 x 28.5mm (812.25mm total), but the LGA1366 socket requires a much larger 32 x 35mm (1120mm total) footprint to accommodate the extra 591 'pins'. If you use an LGA775 cooler on a LGA1366 socket, your missing out on 38% (307.75mm) of the contact surface.
Regardless of whether the X58 is the last 'chipset' motherboard we see from Intel, or a stepping stone for future PCH-based designs, the future of computing has paved the way for Moore's law to continue as predicted. Herein lies the problem though, because software hasn't been keeping up with its end of the deal, and most of us still use the 32-bit technology introduced back in Windows 95; it's sad but true. Games like Crysis helped give reason for advancing graphics technology, just like virtualization technology and Terminal Services helped push processor power.
But heading into 2009 we now have Crysis: Warhead, a game which require less graphics power than the former version, and newer server and virtualization technology that uses fewer CPU cycles. Essentially the wheels are slowly turning in opposite directions; although more accurately put, the software 'wheel' is barely turning at all while hardware is laying rubber). Which raises the question: to what end?
I used to overclock my Pentium 4 (and later Pentium D and Core 2) processor to get a few extra frames out of Battlefield 2 and earn more work units per day with Folding @ Home. But now I have a graphics card that performs 600x better at folding proteins than my CPU ever did, and a processor that can encode my authored DVD's in a fraction of the time. We haven't hit the wall, but the light at the end of the tunnel is a long ways off. If software doesn't come around soon, we'll soon share automobile dilemma: faster engines with more horsepower, so we can all still drive at 65 MPH. I personally feel that this has been the case since Core 2 was launched, which is why we're already sharing another auto-industry dilemma: efficiency.