INTEL‘S NEXT HIGH-END consumer platform has so far been a topic for much discussion on the interwebs as Intel hasn’t uttered a word so far as to what we can expect. However, thanks to a Chinese website and some blurred out pictures of an upcoming MSI motherboard, it’s not clear that Intel will be offering the LGA-2011 platform as a replacement for the current LGA-1366 platform.
Zol.com.cn is the source of most of the pictures below and they claim that the new chipset will be called X68 – although the X78 name has also been making the rounds – and even provide a picture of the chipset itself. This time around we’re looking at a single chipset solution, as Intel has moved most of what was left in the X58 chipset to the CPU die. This also means that we’re looking at Sandy Bridge EP rather than Sandy Bridge EN processors for the next generation high-end desktop CPUs.
We’re going to start with a picture from the Coolaler forums which shows the new CPU socket retention mechanism very clearly and which was posted a few days ago. There are more pictures on the forums as well for those of you interested in a back and side view. It appears that the new processors are so large that Intel has had to add two leavers and they have to be opened and closed in a specific way. Now this shouldn’t be a problem for most of us, as unless you’re an overclocker at competitive level, you’re unlikely to be swapping your CPU over on a regular basis.
Moving on to the pictures of the MSI board from Zol we have a shot of the socket open and it reveals what looks like a very similar pin layout as on the current LGA-1366 sockets, although it would be a fair bit larger, but it’s hard to judge how large it really is by the picture.
What gives away the new socket is that it has four little metal pieces sticking out instead of two for the current LGA-1366 socket and as you can see from the picture, the protective plastic cover looks different.
Although the next picture might not look that different, if you look carefully you can make out some additional details here and more specifically the fact that the board has two DIMMs on each side of the CPU socket. The LGA-2011 platform is said to have quad channel memory support, so let’s hope Intel has managed to take advantage of all the extra bandwidth on offer, but if the current LGA-1155 processors are anything to go by, it seems like Intel has managed to improve its memory bandwidth with Sandy Bridge.
This picture is meant to show off the new chipset, but it also reveals that the board has at least three x16 PCI Express slots and it’s worth noting that we’re looking at PCI Express 3.0 here. As far as we’re aware, the Sandy Bridge EP processors intended for these boards should have 40 lanes worth of bandwidth in total. That allows for two full x16 slots and one x8 slot. The chipset is connected via DMI 2 and as such has four lanes worth of PCI Express 2.0 worth of bandwidth available, just like the P67/H67 chipsets.
Make what you want of these pictures, but they do look authentic enough to us, despite coming from what is not an well-known source. However, with additional information already at hand, this is the first confirmation of Intel moving its high-end consumer platform from LGA-1366 to LGA-2011. We’re not sure how much the LGA-2011 platform is really needed in the consumer space and we’d presume Intel will keep the CPU count to only a handful of models, similar to the LGA-1366 platform. Hopefully we’ll be able to dig out some more details once CES is over.S|A
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