Intel Skulltrail Platform Review :: Intel D5400XS Motherboard

02-04-2008 · Category: Hardware -

By Doc Overclock
Intel 5400XS Spec Sheet

Intel Skulltrail Platform Review

Part Number5400XS
Price CheckFind Best Price
North Bridge5400
SocketLGA775 Socket
Processor TypesQX9775 and earlier Socket LGA-771 CPUsx2
Number of CPUs2
Front Side Bus1600/1333/1066/800 mHz
Memory TypeDDR2
Memory ChannelsDual
Maximum Memory16GB
External GraphicsPCI Express x16
IGP None
South BridgeIntel 6321 ESB I/O
SATA3.0 GB/s
RAID0, 1, 0+1, 5, 10
LAN10/100/1000 x2
FirewireIEEE 1394a
Expansion Slots
Form FactorATX

Intel Skulltrail Platform Review

Feature Summary

Form Factor

SSI/EATX (330.20 millimeters [13.00 inches] x 304.80 millimeters [12.00 inches])

Processor Support

Up to two identical Intel® processors in the LGA771 package.

Main Memory

Four 240-pin, DDR2 SDRAM Fully-Buffered Dual Inline Memory Module (FBDIMM) sockets
Four 240-pin, DDR2 SDRAM Fully-Buffered Dual Inline Memory
Module (FBDIMM) sockets
Supports for 800/667 MHz SDRAM
Support for up to 16 GB of system memory

Chipset Intel® 5400 Chipset consisting of

Intel® 5400 Memory Controller Hub (MCH)
Intel® 6321ESB I/O Controller Hub


Support for multiple PCI Express* graphics cards


Independent multi-streaming 8-channel (7.1) audio and 2-channel audio subsystem, featuring:
Intel® High Definition Audio interface
IDT* STAC9274 audio codec
HD Audio Link header
HD Audio front panel header
Onboard 3-pin S/PDIF connector
ADAT* optical interface support from a back panel S/PDIF optical Port

Expansion Capabilities

Four PCI Express x16 ports
Two PCI* bus connectors
Legacy I/O Support Legacy I/O Controller that provides Consumer Infrared (CIR) support

Peripheral Interfaces

Up to 10 USB 2.0 ports:
- Six ports routed to the back panel
- Four ports routed to two onboard USB headers

Up to two IEEE 1394a ports:
- One port routed to a back panel connector
- One port routed to an IEEE 1394a header

Six Serial ATA (SATA) ports (3.0 Gb/s) via the Intel 6321ESB I/O

Controller Hub

Two external SATA (eSATA) ports via a discrete controller
One IDE interface with ATA-66/100 support (two devices) continued


Intel® Matrix Storage Technology for Serial ATA for the six onboard SATA ports
Marvell* Storage Technology for the two eSATA ports

LAN Support

Intel® 82573L Gigabit (10/100/1000 Mb/s) Ethernet LAN controller including an RJ-45 back panel connector with integrated status LEDs


Intel® Platform Innovation Framework for extensible firmware interface
16 Mb Firmware Hub
Support for SMBIOS
Intel® Rapid BIOS Boot
Intel® Express BIOS Update

Power Management

Support for Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI)
Suspend to RAM (STR)
Wake on USB, PCI, PCI Express, LAN, CIR, and front panel
ENERGY STAR* capable

Hardware Management

Four fan sensing inputs used to monitor fan activity
Intel® Precision Cooling Technology fan speed control
Voltage sensing to detect out of range values

Supported Operating Systems

Microsoft Windows Vista* Ultimate
Microsoft Windows Vista Enterprise
Microsoft Windows Vista Business
Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium
Microsoft Windows Vista Home Basic
Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit edition
Microsoft Windows Vista Enterprise 64-bit edition
Microsoft Windows Vista Business 64-bit edition
Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit edition
Microsoft Windows Vista Home Basic 64-bit edition
Microsoft Windows* XP Media Center Edition 2005
Microsoft Windows XP Professional
Microsoft Windows XP Professional x64 Edition
Microsoft Windows XP Home

Features and Benefits

Dual Independent Bus

The Dual Independent Bus provides independent point-to-point interconnects between each of the processors and the chipset.

Speeds up to 1600 MT/s

FB DIMM 533/667/800 MHz Memory Interface

Increased dual in-line memory modules (DIMMs) per system provide enhanced memory scalability for memory-intensive applications.

PCI Express*1 Gen 2 I/O

Serial I/O technology provides a direct connection between the MCH chipset and PCI Express* component/adapters with bandwidth up to 48 GB/s on each PCI Express gen 2 x8 interface. PCI Express offers higher bandwidth, lower latency and fewer I/O bottlenecks than PCI-X.

Intel® 6700PXH 64-bit PCI Hub

Optional component supports PCI/PCI-X performance and provides significant enhancements to platform flexibility. Supports two independent 64-bit, 133 MHz PCI-X segments and two Hot-Plug controllers (one per segment).

Advanced platform reliability, availability, and serviceability (RAS) (PDF 149KB)

Features such as memory Error Correction Code (ECC), Intel® x4 Single Device Data Correction (x4 SDDC), DIMM sparing and DIMM scrubbing for improved system reliability.

Enhanced Intel® Virtualization Technology

Enhancements to Intel Virtualization Technology performance that further speeds up virtual machine transition (entry/exit) times by an average of 25 to 75 percent. Supports hardware assist for I/O virtualization using Intel Virtualization Technology for directed I/O.

Packaging information



Intel® 5400 Memory Controller Hub (MCH) chipset

1520 Flip Chip-Ball Grid Array (FC-BGA)

Intel® 6700PXH 64-bit PCI Hub

567 Flip Chip-Ball Grid Array (FC-BGA)

Intel® 632xESB I/O Controller Hub

1284 Flip Chip - Ball Grid Array (PBGA)

First things first, this motherboard supports SLI out of the box. Intel in fact bought NVIDIA nForce 100 MCPs to enable SLI on their new motherboard. This is the only supported motherboard chipset Intel has bought chips for that supports SLI. The Skulltrail platform is designed to be the ultimate enthusiast solution and SLI support is a big part of it. A recent Steam Hardware survey shows that over 90% of the multiple graphics card systems playing on Steam use SLI. Skulltrail also supports AMD's Crossfire multi-GPU solution, giving the enthusiast the dream choice not possible on previous motherboards from any manufacturer. One of the major selling points of the Skulltrail is the ability to run either SLI or Crossfire, this is the first Intel platform to be able to choose which multi-GPU solution is used in your configuration.

Intel Skulltrail Platform Review
Intel Skulltrail Platform Review
Intel Skulltrail Platform Review
Intel Skulltrail Platform Review

To that end, four PCI Express x16 Generation 2 slots dominate the expansion area of the board. Expansion slots are placed in this order: PCI Express x16 slot 1, PCI, PCI Express x16 slot 2, PCI, PCI Express x16 slot 3, PCI Express slot 4. Three-way SLI is not supported which is only supported natively by NVIDIA's nForce 780i SLI chipset. Installing video cards in slots 1, 2 or 3 caused no problems. Slot 4 caused an issue with due to the two-slot nature of the 320MB GTS blocking the Molex connector.

Intel decided to place the LGA-771 CPU Sockets on the right hand side of the board. Each CPU has its own power circuitry and MOSFET heatsinks, making sure enough power is supplied to them. There is plenty of clearance around the CPU cooling area to mount after-market cooling solutions like the custom water-cooling kit we'll use later in the review.

Intel Skulltrail Platform Review
Intel Skulltrail Platform Review
Intel Skulltrail Platform Review
Intel Skulltrail Platform Review

On the board are four FBDIMM sockets for DDR2 memory. As a workstation class motherboard the 5400 supports 800/667MHz Fully Buffered DDR2 DIMMs only. The board supports up to 4GB of DDR2 memory if 1GB memory modules are used. With 4GB modules, the maximum memory on the board jumps to 16GB. ECC memory is the only type supported by the board and only the type that has a SPD rating incorporated.

The Intel 5400 chipset consists of two chips, the Intel 5400 Memory Controller Hub and the Intel 6321ESB I/O Controller Hub. The MCH provides access to the processors, memory and the PCI Express bus and the Intel 6321ESB I/O Controller Hub is a centralized controller for the board's I/O paths. As we move into 2008 every motherboard chipset will likely support PCI Express 2.0 functionality. Intel states that the 5400XS can handle four PCI Express x16 cards though we haven't seen a driver from NVIDIA or AMD to support four cards in gaming mode as of yet. We are waiting though.

Intel Skulltrail Platform Review
Intel Skulltrail Platform Review
Intel Skulltrail Platform Review
Intel Skulltrail Platform Review

SATA HDDs are the norm and have been for a while now on the enthusiast gaming platform. Intel's 5400XS motherboard supports up to six Serial ATA 3.0 Gb/second drives natively with six SATA ports on the board. Intel's Matrix RAID technology allows SATA HDDs to be set into RAID 0, 1, 5 or 10 modes. A legacy IDE port is on the board for the legacy DVD drive or HDD. External SATA devices are supported via an external chipset. USB 2.0 support on the motherboard comes in the form of six USB 2.0 ports on the rear I/O and four more via external headers. The rear I/O has no legacy PS/2 devices replacing it with two USB ports. As no serious gamer has used PS/2 mice in a long time this is not a hindrance. Two external SATA ports, a RJ-45 jack for the onboard LAN, an IEEE-1394 Firewire port and the audio jacks round out the rear I/O. The motherboard has a pretty decent layout and only the 4th VGA slot seems to have any ergonomic difficulties.
Intel uses an IDT STAC 9274 CODEC for their High Definition Audio CODEC on the 5400XS motherboard.

Here's IDT's description of their CODEC.

The STAC9271/74 CODEC is a Theater Quality 10-channel audio CODEC that enable systems with 7.1 audio playing simultaneously with VoIP or another stereo audio stream. IDT's proprietary S? technology provides high fidelity with an estimated DAC SNR up to 105dB. Up to four digital microphones are supported enabling high quality voice input for increased usability of voice applications.


  • High performance HD Audio CODEC provides Theater Quality Audio
  • High performance ΣΔ technology
  • 105dB DAC SNR
  • 90dB ADC SNR
  • Five Stereo DACs and three stereo ADCs
  • Supports 7.1 Audio with simultaneous Real Time Communication (RTC) channel such as VoIP or separate stereo audio stream
  • 24-bit resolution with up to 192 KHz sample rates
  • Digital Microphone Interface (STAC9274)
  • Direct interface up to four Digital Microphones
  • Analog Stereo Microphone
  • Microphone Boost 0, 10, 20, 30, 40dB
  • Six adjustable Vref outputs for microphone bias
  • Integrated Headphone Amps (3)
  • S/PDIF In and Out
  • ADAT® Optical “Lightpipe” Output Support (STAC9274)
  • Volume Up/Down Control
  • Jack Insertion Detect and Impedance Sensing support Jack Retasking and Universal Jacks
  • Digital PC Beep to all outputs
  • +5 V analog power supply options
  • Environmental 48-pin LQFP package Software Support
  • SKPI (Kernel Processing Interface)
  • Enables plug-ins that can operate globally on all audio streams of the system
  • 12 band parametric equalizer SKPI plug-in
  • Constant, system-level effects tuned to optimize a particular platform can be combined with user-mode “presets” tailored for specific acoustical environments and applications
  • System-level effects automatically disabled when external connections made
  • Dynamics Processing SKPI plug-in
  • Enables improved voice articulation
  • Compressor/limiter allows higher average noise level without resonances
  • Dolby PC Entertainment Experience Logo Program
  • Dolby Master Studio™ (STAC9274D)
  • Dolby Home Theater™ (STAC9271D, STAC9274D)
  • Dolby Sound Room™(STAC9271D, STAC9274D)
  • Dolby Technologies
  • Dolby Headphone™, Dolby Virtual Speaker™
  • Dolby ProLogic II™, Dolby ProLogic IIx™
  • Dolby Digital Live™
  • Intel Audio Studio™ from Sonic Focus
  • Maxx Player™ from Waves
  • Microphone Beam Forming, Acoustic Echo Cancellation, & Noise Suppression from Knowles™