Even though multiple review sites have already looked at Intel’s Z97-based motherboards Intel is only officially releasing the whole 9 series of chipsets as of today. Of course the 9 series supports 4th generation Intel Core processors code-named Haswell, but also Haswell Refresh parts and future Broadwell processors. There are two offerings in the 9 series: the Z97 and the H97. The Z97 supports multiple graphics cards and overclocking, but does not support Intel’s small business advantage software. The H97 chipset on the other hand only supports one dGPU, offers no overclocking abilities, but does support small business advantage. On a silicon level both the Z97 and H97 chipsets use the same A0 stepping die. The dichotomy between these two chipsets is pretty obvious, use a Z97 board for doing real work, and an H97 board for building a locked down internet terminal *cough* business machine.
Intel has two new features to bundle with all of their 9 series chipsets: Intel Rapid Storage technology for PCI Express Storage and Intel Device Protection technology with Boot Guard. RST for PES is a straight forward extension of Intel’s original RST which was an SSD caching feature; the difference now is that it will work with PCI-E based devices rather than just SATA drives. IDP with BG on the other hand is another one of Intel’s well-intentioned but likely irrelevant security features that aims to prevent malicious attacks that occur before the OS has loaded. However, Boot Guard doesn’t solve the built in security hole that Intel’s chipsets are known to carry. Both are decent features, but considering how long Intel’s had to refine its 8 series chipsets into the 9 series it’s a little disappointing that there’s no big bangs.
The only interesting part about this reveal is that Intel is now starting to talk a little more openly about its upcoming Devil’s Canyon processors while promising support for Broadwell. It’s hard not to be interested in dropping a completely unlocked Haswell-based Pentium Anniversary Edition into one of the new Z97 motherboards from Gigabyte, Biostar, or ASUS. If there’s one thing you absolutely should be looking forward to this year, it’s Intel’s Devil’s Canyon.
For more on Intel’s 9 series chipsets check out this PDF.S|A
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