The parts needed to build your very own system are pretty easy to find with the exception of the processor that we used. The Xeon (Clowertown) model X5365 processor works at 3.0GHz clock speed and uses 1333MHz bus should be available for purchase later this summer. For now the 2.66GHz Intel Xeon 5355 Processor is the best you can get and it features a lower multiplier, but the same 1333MHz bus speed. The Intel Xeon 5355 can be found between $1200 and $1600, but keep in mind two of these are needed for a true ‘V8’ system. These Xeon processors use Intel’s LGA771 packaging and are equipped with 8MB of L2 cache per processor. Using two of these processors in a single platform results in eight available cores and a total of 16MB of L2!
With memory prices falling, 1GB modules of FB-DIMM ECC Fully Buffered DDR2 667 Server Memory can be found for around $79.99 per module by companies like Kingston Technology. We used four 1GB sticks of Samsung M395T2953CZ4-CE60 PC2-5300 FB-DIMM memory in our test system, which is plenty for the majority of todays applications and game titles. The Intel Workstation Board S5000XVN runs roughly $600 and is readily available. This brings the rough cost of a V8 platform using Xeon 5355 processors to $3320 before the power supply, video card, case, optical drives and so on. We used Thermaltake, PC Power & Cooling and Silverston 850W power supplies on this system with no problems at all as well as the PC Power & Cooling 1000W power supply.
The chipsetused on the Intel Workstation Board S5000XVN mainboard is based on the i5000X chipset. This chipset fully supports 1333MHz bus processors and PCI Express x16 graphics cards. The S5000XVN mainboard also has two PCI Express x8 slots that are physically connected to PCI Express x4 bus, a PCI-X 100/133MHz slot and a PCI-X 100MHz slot. There are eight memory slots on the mainboard that can accommodate up to 32GB of FB-DIMM DDR2 memory working at 667MHz or 533MHz speeds (You’ll want to use 667MHz). Hard disks and optical drives can be connected to one Parallel ATA-100 port, two Serial ATA-100 ports supporting RAID 0, 1, 0+1 and four Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) ports also supporting RAID 0, 1, 0+1 and 5 arrays. The Intel Workstation Board S5000XVN also has two of the latest generation Gigabit network controllers and a dual-channel HD audio codec. The only thing missing on this board that most enthusiasts are used to is a second PCI Express x16 slot to run multiple graphics cards. With just a single PCI Express x16 slot the main limitation of this board is the graphics, but with cards like the NVIDIA GeForce 8800 Ultra on the market it shouldn’t impact performance greatly.
Intel suggests using specially designed all-copper heat sinks to cool the pair of Xeon X5365 processors. Pictured above are the PIB heat sinks that are included with the retail Xeon X5365 processors. These 1U heat sinks are are made completely of copper and get mounted through the board to a back plate by four screws at the corners of the heat sink. The noise level was a bit loud, but for a workstation board with the fastest Xeon processors it was to be expected. If you want to take this platform to the next level, just add high performance third party heat sinks or water-cooling!
Once the test system was up and running, we fired up CPU-Z 1.40 to take a look at what was detected and while it got the processor name wrong, everything else looked to be set correctly!