Thu 11 Oct 2007

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Intel pulls wool over eyes with "gaming rig"

The V8 is a joke
INTEL WAS SHOWING off a PC at CES ot called the V8, and that was basically a knee-jerk counter to AMD's 4x4.

The problem is that it is about the worst possible thing you could do for gaming and Intel should not have bothered.

The official line is that it took a server board and put it in a spiffy case on a whim. The resulting PC is what Fudo told you about a few days ago. The official line is that V8 isn't a gaming box - sure, lots of CAD stations have neon lights - and it was just whipped up on a whim. That's bull.

The "not a gaming box" is sort of true because the thing would be a joke if it tried gaming on it. It has the CPU power, no question about that, but it also sucks electricity like a sponge, most likely more than a 4x4. Unless you have a game that is optimised for the five to eight core range, the list of which is zero characters long, you will get no benefit from the added power use. Intel's biggest criticism of 4x4 has turned right back on them.

Then comes memory. The board can only take FB-DIMMs, so chalk up lots more power and a lot of latency. Intel has no 2S board that can do DDR3, so it is stuck with a minimum of +20W for the FBDs that are required.

The last criticism is the most damning, there is only one PCIe 16x slot. You can have at most a Geforce 8800, note the "one", not "a pair of". If you put this up against a 4x4 with a pair of 8800s in it, guess which one will be blown out of the water on all relevant gaming benches?

That is why Intel was showing off 3DMark CPU tests only and Lightwave beside it. No question, it is fast there, but it is not a gaming box. Anyone who claims that should have their junior reporter 3rd class badge taken away from them an put back in the crackerjack box it came from.

The other claim, that it was a spur of the moment thing doesn't fly either. Intel has been floating the claims of an eigh core gaming box around for a while, it looks like it finally did it. The problem is that they can't make a two socket gaming box.

Why? It gets back to the old problem of it screwing all its chipset partners. AMD is running circles around it there, and Intel has no one to back it up. There is no chipset that will do 2S without FBD. There is no chipset that will do 2S and more than 20 PCIe lanes, possibly 22. Intel can't counter the 4x4 with anything but powerful cores, and that's what it's attemmpting.

To step out of this self-imposed box, it needs a partner which can do many PCIe lanes, or offers a different memory config. To do that, it would have to open up the 2S chipset world to outsiders, and I think the Intel hierarchy would rather cut off the tips of their limbs with a rusty pair of scissors and eat them. So, it is screwed.

Intel does have the gaming performance lead, that is not in question. The problem is that when AMD comes out with Barcelona x8, Intel can't do anything. Intel rocks on cores, AMD has the chipset support.

In short, Intel should not have shown off this machine. It shows that AMD is leading it around by the nose in gaming. When you have the lead, being reactionary in a half-assed way is unseemly. Come out with a real chipset or don't bother. µ

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