The launch of the Intel X38 chipset is just a few days away (after several delays, 9/19 update - Launch is moved to October 11th) and we have a feeling the product managers and press relations personnel in and around Santa Clara are a bit nervous at this point. While the P35 launch was a bit convoluted as product was available on the street before the launch date, the X38 launch is heading down a slightly different path.

Everyone we spoke to just over a month ago expected the same launch situation that we had with the P35. Boards would be hitting certain distribution channels before the press launch date and everyone would be scrambling to figure out which board best met their needs. Well, it's not going to happen that way now. In fact, most manufacturers are scrambling at this point to get boards ready for the press activities on Monday. At this point, they are wondering if there will even be sufficient quantities of product in the distribution channel for a smooth launch. So, what happened?

It seems the X38 was not exactly ready for a grand debut on the 24th after all. We thought it was ready based on what was supposed to be final board designs a couple of weeks ago, but it turns out a few technical issues arose during final QA testing and Intel had to respin the X38 chipset. The chipset has passed the final quality hurdles and is now in full production with quantities being delivered to the major manufacturers. That's the good news, but many manufacturers are still scrambling to get boards ready.

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After discussions this evening, it does appear that retail boards should arrive from a few motherboard manufacturers by early next week, but we do not expect the channel to be full until sometime in October now. This includes additional designs from the launch partners and competing solutions from other suppliers. While that is disappointing to us, we understand the situation and applaud Intel for making sure the chipset is actually ready for the market before releasing it. It appears they have learned their lessons after the rough P965 debut last year, at least.

In the meantime, we have been testing one of the first X38 boards with DDR3 capabilities for the past couple of weeks. ASUS sent us their new P5E3 Deluxe for an early look at the board design, performance, and new features that will be included when this board is released shortly. Although it turns out this board is not based on final silicon, the performance and stability have been excellent in testing to date, and it comes with a very nice feature set.

With that in mind, we are going to provide a very early look at the feature set and a few benchmarks that show its potential. The BIOS is still maturing and based upon the improvements we have seen over the last five releases, this chipset is looking more and more like a winner, especially in a DDR3 configuration. We just hope retail boards make it in time for the launch date; if not, we will have a lot of nice graphics to look at and will then move on to a very interesting product launch from the guys in green on the 25th.

Let's take a look at the feature set of the ASUS P5E3 Deluxe and check out preliminary performance in a handful of benchmarks.

ASUS P5E3 Deluxe: Board Layout and Features
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  • jppoet - Tuesday, September 18, 2007 - link

    I though the ICH9R could only provide 6 PCIe lanes?

    How can the third physical x16 slot be wired with 8 lanes?

    Lanes from the ICH9R are also needed for the x1 PCIe slots, each of the NICs and the JMicron JMB363.

    Where are all of these PCIe lanes coming from?
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, September 18, 2007 - link

    I think the X38 is 40 (or 42?) total PCI-E lanes. That would handle the three x16 slots, and the other stuff would come from the SB. Reply
  • hifisoftware - Tuesday, September 18, 2007 - link

    What does it mean:
    quote:

    However, based upon our preliminary overclocking tests, if a vertical mounted fan in an air cooling unit such as the Tuniq 120 or water cooling is utilized then additional cooling will be required on the MCH and PWM areas.
    ?

    Will it need some extra heat sinks or just a side fan blowing on existing heatsinks?
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, September 18, 2007 - link

    It means a down blowing fan (Tuniq 120 is side blowing) might be necessary. However, as this is a preliminary X38 article and the latest respin appears to address heat and power concerns, this may become less of a problem on retail mobos. Reply
  • tynopik - Tuesday, September 18, 2007 - link

    page 7

    > DDR3 boards will be REGULATED to the very high end of the market for the near future
    Reply
  • DigitalFreak - Tuesday, September 18, 2007 - link

    What's this green team launch on the 25th? A 680i replacement or something on the low end? Reply
  • n0nsense - Tuesday, September 18, 2007 - link

    C72 for mainstream and C73 as 680i replacement.
    later something with HybridSLI support for intel.
    Reply
  • takumsawsherman - Tuesday, September 18, 2007 - link

    eSata is fine and all, but at this point, can't we just get some Firewire800? Does it really cost that much more? I can understand that a motherboard destined for OEM is going to need to be pared down. These, however, are enthusiast boards. And Firewire lets you daisy chain, which is nice, but Firewire 400 is getting a little long in the tooth, and you are sharing a bus at that point. Tack the $2 on to the price and do it, already. Reply
  • n0nsense - Tuesday, September 18, 2007 - link

    I think Mac coming with 800.
    at least before they switched to intel.
    Reply
  • mostlyprudent - Tuesday, September 18, 2007 - link

    It's almost laughable how long it's taken to see Firewire800 show up on motherboards. I'm with you - to see a $250 motherboard with Firewire400 instead of 800 is absolutely ridiculous. Reply

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