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- Panther Point: Z77, Z75 and H77 Express
- Gigabyte not abandoning P67
- Virtu on Intel H67 and Z68 motherboards
- 16 AM3+ motherboards from Gigabyte
- AM3+ compatibility: MSI too
- Intel Z77, Z75 and H77 Express chipsets
- 900 Series and AM3+ chipsets from Asus
- NVIDIA officialises SLI for AMD platforms
- Intel SSD 311: 20 GB of cache for the Z68
- AM3+ from ASRock
- Computex: All the Llano motherboards
- Computex: All the X79 motherboards
- mSATA on the Gigabyte Z68s
- Z68: ASUS, ASRock, Gigabyte and MSI
- Z68 Express, too much segmentation?

 Intel Z77, Z75 and H77 Express chipsets
  Posted on 09/05/2011 at 14:54 by Marc
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AnandTech has just published the specs for the forthcoming Intel Z77, Z75 and H77 Express chipsets which will accompany the 22nm Ivy Bridge processors as of the beginning of 2012.

While we were already aware of what’s new on the Intel Series 7 range, namely the arrival of USB 3, we didn’t yet know what would set these three desktop versions apart. First of all, the good news is that overclocking of K range processors will be enabled on these three chipsets, which isn’t so for the H67. Secondly, the IGP will be supported (not so on the P67). Abandoning this segmentation is obviously a good thing.

Intel hasn’t unfortunately completely left its old habits behind and the Z75 Express would only seem to have been introduced to add value to the Z77 Express, which will be on sale for a few $ less. Handling of the PCI-E lanes isn’t as supple on the Z75 Express, while SSD Caching (Smart Response Technology) won’t be available.

Note that on the Z77 Express, it will be possible to route the 16 PCI-Express 3.0 lanes on Ivy Bridge to the 3 different physical PCI-Express x16 ports: 8 for the first and 4 for the two others. In terms of bandwidth, this corresponds to a 16/8/8 bandwidth on PCI-Express 2.0! Of course you’ll need a PCI-Express 3.0 compatible graphics card to obtain this bandwidth on the equivalent number of lanes.

 900 Series and AM3+ chipsets from Asus
  Posted on 09/05/2011 at 12:38 by Guillaume
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Sweclockers have published a table unveiling the specifications of forthcoming socket AM3+ motherboards currently under preparation by Asus for the launch of the forthcoming AMD FXs (Bulldozer/Zambezi). While it’s no surprise to see a high end Crosshair model as well as the roll-out of a whole range of sub-models, a Sabertooth has also come on stream for the first time in Asus’ AMD range. In all there are six motherboards on the list but we don’t yet know if it’s exhaustive.

Three chipsets are represented with, first of all, three 970 cards: the M5A97, M5A97 Pro and M5A97 Evo. The common point is support for just 16 PCI Express lanes on the chipset. The motherboard will however have two physical 16x slots, with the second piloted by the southbridge. Multi-GPU systems are to be avoided on these motherboards. Note, in addition, that they don’t support SLI.

The M5A99X Evo uses the AMD 990X chipset which adds the option of splitting the 16x lanes into two 8x ports (making a total of 16x/0x/4x ou 8x/8x/4x). The highest end chipset, the 990FX, adds an extra port, the motherboards which use it (Sabertooth and Crosshair only) will have four 16x physical slots, configurable as 16x/8x/8x/4x. Only the 990 models have SLI support.

For the rest of the specs, DDR3 will, as previously announced, be supported by the Zambezis without overclocking. The chipset supports Serial ATA 6 GB/s ports, still with USB 2.0. Asus has added two USB 3.0 ports on the M5A97 and M5A97 Pro with an external chip, four ports (via an adaptor on the front for the extra two) on the M5A97 Evo, M5A 99X Evo and Sabertooth 990 FX and six on the Crosshair V Formula.

 NVIDIA officialises SLI for AMD platforms
  Posted on 28/04/2011 at 18:37 by Guillaume
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The rumours according to which SLI is being licensed for use on the forthcoming 990 FX and 990X AMD platforms were correct: Nvidia has just made this official on its blog. The announcement gives very few details but we know that in addition to the 990 FX and 990 X chipsets, the 970 chipsets are also included. Asus, Gigabyte, MSI and Asrock will be selling these SLI compatible cards.

Note that NVIDIA has taken the opportunity to weigh in against AMD (its main competitor on the graphics card market), saying “Intel CPUs have been the gamers’ choice” over the last few years. The optimists may prefer to see in this announcement proof of the fact that NVIDIA sees the forthcoming Zambezi CPUs and the Bulldozer architecture in a positive light. The Zambezis are likely to be launched in under two months!

 Intel SSD 311: 20 GB of cache for the Z68
  Posted on 28/04/2011 at 11:18 by Marc
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According to Nordic Hardware Intel is set to launch a new SSD, the Intel 311, at the same time as the Z68 Express chipset. With a capacity of just 20 GB, it has in fact been designed to be used with the SSD caching feature, Smart Response Technology, which will be available in the Intel Rapid Storage Technology 10.5 drivers

The principle is similar to the one used with hybrid hard drives by analysing hard drive accesses and placing the most used data on the flash drive. Here it is placed on a discrete physical peripheral, but the two drives (HDD and SSD) are recognised as just one peripheral (the size of the hard drive) by the system.

The gains announced in practice are impressive and the level of performance is similar to what you get on an SSD, but as is the case with hybrid drives, not necessarily representative. Naturally, when you launch the same test several times in a row, the data is placed on SSD and is then accessed more rapidly.

With just 20 GB of flash however, while more than on a hybrid drive, space is limited and it’s difficult to say what level of performance users will get… apart from the fact that it will be in between what you get on an HDD and an SDD, closer to the first if you’re handling a lot of data and closer to the second if you’re not handling very much.

It remains to be seen if this technology will be limited to the Z68 chipset, which would be purely a software limitation, or if it will also be available on other Intel Series 6 chipsets, or even Series 5. It would be a shame to limit it when the Z68 Express allows the grouping of P67 and H67 features.

 AM3+ from ASRock
  Posted on 26/04/2011 at 13:58 by Marc
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Like Gigabyte, ASRock has launched a new range of motherboards based on AMD 870/880G/890GX/890FX chipsets with a new Socket AM3+. To recap, ASUS and MSI have announced AM3+ CPU compatibility with AM3 motherboards via a simple bios update.

ASRock is now questioning the stability of this solution, no doubt for marketing reasons. They put forward several arguments:

- Socket AM3+ holes are 0.51mm in size, against 0.45 on AM3, which they say simplifies insertion of the CPU and gets rid of the likelihood of any pin-bent problems
- The link between the CPU and the motherboard power controller is at 3.4 MHz, against 400 KHz previously, which supports better power management
- Higher current support for the CPU: 145A on AM3+ compared to 110A on AM3

Other improvements specific to ASRock are also highlighted, such as better Vcore variation and lower CPU noise and a more compact backwards compatible cooler retention system.

Of course nothing stops an AM3 card from supplying 145A to the CPU, as long as its power stage is large enough and arguments such as Socket hole size or the speed of the link between the CPU and power stage seem thin.

Here’s the list of ASRock AM3+ cards:

- 890FX Deluxe5
- 890GX Extreme4 R2.0
- 890GX Pro3
- 890GM Pro3 R2.0
- 880GMH/U3S3
- 880GM Pro3 R2.0
- 880G Pro3
- 870 Extreme3 R2.0
- 870iCafe R2.0

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