Intel’s C200 E3-series Xeon chipsets detailed

Cougar Point for workstations and servers

WEVE SEEN MOST, if not all of Intel’s consumer chipsets for the LGA-1155 platform for this year, but Intel is planning three additional versions of Cougar Point for its E3-series of Xeon processors which shares the same socket. What we’re looking at is the Intel C202, C204 and C206 chipsets, all of which are similar, but quite different to what Intel is offering for its desktop consumer platform.

Starting from the bottom and moving up we’ve got the C202 which as the model name suggests is the most basic chipset SKU. It supports 16 lanes of PCI Express bandwidth from the CPU, much the same as the desktop chipsets, as well as eight lanes worth of bandwidth from the chipset itself.  It has support for up to 12 USB 2.0 ports, six SATA 3Gbps ports, although it doesn’t support SATA 6Gbps at all, but it does offer RAID functionality although we don’t have any details as to which modes are supported.

The mid-range C204 SKU boosts the CPU PCI Express lane count from 16 to 20 and two of the six SATA ports now offer SATA 6Gbps speeds. The C204 also gains support for Intel’s node manager and DCMI options and these features are unique to this SKU.

Finally we have the C206 which gains two more USB 2.0 ports over the C204 as well as support for integrated graphics, integrated HD audio and Intel’s AMT 7.0. This would be the chipset of choice for entry level workstations, whereas the C202 and C204 are more suitable for entry level, single socket servers.

Common features among all three SKU’s include support for up to four PCI slots, support for PCI-X and support for ECC and parity memory. All three SKU’s support a maximum of two memory channels and two DIMMs per channel, just as the desktop equivalents. Also on offer is support for Intel’s AMT, QST and VT technologies as well as support for Intel’s nearly forgotten Braidwood technology, although we’re not certain the latter will actually appear despite being listed as a supported feature.

So there you have it, Intel’s entry level server and workstation chipsets aren’t going to set anyone’s world on fire, but should be plenty for the small office market and low to mid-range workstation market. As for the SKU’s without integrated graphics support it’s worth keeping in mind that six out of 11 of Intel’s E3-series of Xeon processors come without any kind of integrated graphics, so it’s not as crazy as it first may seem.S|A

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