Intel-Nvidia screamer has lots of processors--and fans

A $12,000 Intel Skulltrail-based system using two top-line quad-core QX9775 processors and a bevy of Nvidia GPUs devotes a disproportionate amount of real estate to fans.

The first dual G4 PowerPC systems from Apple were all heat sinks and fans. In this tradition, a rarefied Intel Skulltrail-based powerhouse from Thirdwave uses two top-line quad-core QX9775 processors and a bevy of Nvidia GPUs--and plenty of fans.

The real estate in Thirdwave's $12,000 Skulltrail system is taken up mostly by fans and power supplies
The real estate in Thirdwave's $12,000 Skulltrail system is taken up mostly by fans and power supplies Thirdwave Corp.

The system (photo) in fact looks more like a stand-alone power supply box than a computer. Of course heat dissipation is paramount in enthusiast screamers.

The original Apple dual G4 systems (circa 2001) were a testimony to heat dissipation--and Rube Goldberg. So much heat that the system could quite literally raise the temperature in a small room. (Note: I can testify to this.) And so many fans--as many as nine in the original dual G4 system but less in later G5 versions--that Apple had to quickly release a system redesign to reduce noise (and heat) levels.

Intel's Skulltrail technology is much more advanced of course but fans still occupy a large chunk of real estate.

Skulltrail is a very high-end enthusiast platform based on Intel's 5400 "Seaburg" workstation chipset. The design distinguishes itself with dual CPU sockets that power eight processing cores (two QX9775 chips). Skulltrail also supports the Scalable Link Interface (SLI). The system can be maxed out with two dual-GPU graphics cards from Nvidia (such as the GeForce 9800 GX2) or up to four AMD graphics cards using ATI CrossFireX technology.

System pricing is stratospheric. The "Prime Galleria XS" system from Japan-based Thirdwave is listed at $12,740. The Intel QX9775 processor alone costs $1,499, more than most PCs. And the system uses two of these overclocked to 3.6GHz.

Other specifications: Two Nvidia GeForce 9800 GX2 boards, each housing two graphics processing units (GPUs). Thirdwave lists two Scalable Link Interface (SLI) boards plus one more 9800 GX2.

The system also offers an unusual storage option: one 64GB solid state drive.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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