No more desktop chipsets are coming from Intel this year

Next generation is unlikely to impress

DON’T EXPECT ANYTHING new from Intel this year in terms of desktop chipsets, at least not the way Intel’s current roadmap is planned. We’re going to have to make do with what’s on offer for the rest of 2010, despite some “missing features” in all three of Intel’s latest chipsets. What’s worse is that there’s not much to look forward to next year either, if our sources are correct.

If you’ve been considering buying a new computer, or at least building your own, you might’ve noticed two features that pretty much every motherboard manufacturer out there is touting at the moment – USB 3.0 and SATA3 6Gbps. Currently both of these features are being implemented by third-party chipsets from NEC and Marvell. However, AMD is getting ready to add full SATA3 6Gbps support to all six SATA ports on its upcoming SB850 southbridge.

Intel has no plans on adding any of these features to its chipset line-up this year and although SATA3 6Gbps is penciled in on the roadmap for 2011 we’re hearing that Intel isn’t exactly planning on going down the same route as AMD. We’re not sure if the implementation we’ve been told about is limited to only some chipsets or not, but according to our source, Intel will be offering only a single native SATA3 6Gbps port.

We can’t really figure out why Intel would even bother implementing SATA3 6Gbps at all if the company is planning on adding just a single port. The only plausible reason we can think of is that Intel thinks SATA2 3Gbps is more than fast enough for hard drives and as such is kind enough to provide a single port for an SSD. Will we see a return of Intel’s Braidwood technology that was meant to launch with the H57 and the now defunct P57 chipsets? Well, your guess is as good as ours, but we’d imagine that Intel is still working on it.

As with the current generation there will be desktop and mobile versions of this chipset. Hopefully Intel will remove the dreadful DMI interface between the chipset and CPU which is currently very limiting for the P55, H55 and H57 chipsets. The DMI interface is pretty much a custom PCI Express x4 link and considering that Intel allows for eight PCI Express lanes from the PCH, this is very much a bottleneck that affects data intensive add-ons. However, this might also be a reason as to why Intel is only adding a single SATA3 6Gbps port, but that’s just us speculating. As for what the next generation of chipsets will be called, we’ll let you guess, but we’re fairly certain that the number six will somehow be involved.S|A

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