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Black Hat Conference: GSM Hacked

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InformationWeek Daily - Thursday, Feb 21, 2008

Editor's Note

How To Build An Intel QX9770 Quad-Core PC

Intel's newest top-of-the-line quad-core processor, the QX9770, won't officially ship until Q2, but we've got a review unit. It's the most interesting device to come out of Intel in a while, since it pushes desktop performance ahead on several serious fronts: It's fabricated at 45-nm (OK, the QX6850 is, too), supports ultra-fast DDR3 memory, and has a 1600-MHz front-side bus-- Intel's speediest yet. I've started building a PC so I can benchmark the chip, and I've got the video to prove it. Check it out.

I've written previously about the specs of the 3.2-GHz QX9770 (not "MHz," like I mistakenly say in the vid) and I've also blogged about the initial phase of my quad-core build project, which mostly involved scavenging a humungous old HP case (see "Build-A-PC Chronicles: Reviving A Dusty Old Case).

With the case cleaned out and prepped, I plunged headlong into the build. However, as is often the case when one acts without stopping to think or read directions (I don't need no stinkin' directions; actually, there aren't any directions for these things), I ran into a few unexpected roadblocks.

The first came after I popped the QX9770 into a nice Intel motherboard I had lying around, only to find out that the board, being based on a 975 core-logic chipset, didn't support the Core 2 Extreme's 1600-MHz front-side bus. Turns out there aren't many mobos out there right now which do.

Asus saved the day by provided us with a review motherboard in the form of its new P5E WS Professional "extreme workstation engine." This mobo uses the new Intel X38 chipset, and is one of not too many out there right now, which can go full speed on the QX9770's 1600-MHz front-side bus. It's got the usual Asus attention to cooling detail, as you'll see in the video, which shows the board's ample complement of copper cooling pipes.

As I perhaps go overboard in mentioning in the video, cooling considerations are key in building a modern PC. Indeed, if you don't do this part of the project correctly, you might as well not bother, because your machine won't perform up to snuff -- overly hot processors and graphics cards don't work right -- and you might even fry the thing.

As you can see from the video, I'm mainly grappling with the mechanical challenges of assembling the unit. I'll talk more about the computer's fine points, and getting the thing up and running, in my next episode.

Read the rest of my blog, watch the video, and post a comment here.

Alexander Wolfe

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