Panther Point Chipsets

Panther Point is the codename for Intel 7-series chipsets that are set to release simultaneously with Ivy Bridge CPUs. They will come in six flavors, three of which are for the consumer market and three more for the business sector. As noted already, the socket will be the same LGA1155 that Sandy Bridge uses, with pin compatibility on the CPUs and chipsets. The following table summarizes what we know about current and upcoming chipsets; unfortunately, we had to leave Z68 out of the charts as we’re currently under NDA there—and the same goes for Intel SRT; tune in next week for additional information on both.

Intel Chipset Roadmap
Product Z77 Z75 H77 X79 Q77 Q75 B75
Code Name Panther Point Panther Point Panther Point Patsburg Panther Point Panther Point Panther Point
Platform Name Maho Bay Maho Bay Maho Bay Waimea Bay Maho Bay Maho Bay Maho Bay
Release Date 1H'12 1H'12 1H'12 Q4'11 1H'12 1H'12 1H'12
Socket Support LGA1155 LGA1155 LGA1155 LGA2011 LGA1155 LGA1155 LGA1155
PCI-Express Graphics 1x16, 2x8, or
1x8+2x4 Gen3
1x16, 2x8 Gen3 1x16 Gen3 2x16 to 4x8 Gen3 1x16, 2x8 Gen3 1x16, 2x8 Gen3 1x16, 2x8 Gen3
Intel RST Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
Intel SRT Yes No Yes No (?) Yes No No
Total USB (USB3) Ports 14 (4) 14 (4) 14 (4) 14 (0) 14 (4) 14 (4) 12 (4)
Total SATA (6Gbps) 6 (2) 6 (2) 6 (2) 14 (10) 6 (2) 6 (1) 6 (1)
PCI No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Max Independent Displays 3 3 3 N/A 3 3 3
CPU Overclocking Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No

The only major differences between the consumer chipsets is in the support for PCIe lane configurations as well as SRT. All are set to be released in 1H’12, but they may not all launch at the same time. For example, with Sandy Bridge Intel released P67 and H67 initially and will follow up with Z68 shortly.

In terms of feature support, Intel will allow overclocking in all non-business Panther Point chipsets and will support the IGP on all the new chipsets. That means there will be no direct replacement for P67 (not that it really matters), and similarly there’s no direct equivalent of the non-overclocking H67.  This is good news as quite a few people were annoyed by the lack of a “do everything” chipset for SNB (though Z68 should fix this). The display options are also improved relative to SNB/Cougar Point, and now support up to three independent monitors instead of just two. We suspect most users who want to run that many displays will benefit from a discrete GPU, and it’s also worth noting that with SNB CPUs in 7-series boards you will be restricted to two independent displays.

The biggest improvements are in the I/O segment. One long-awaited feature that’s coming in Panther Point is native USB 3.0 support. Many people were disappointed when Intel decided not to include it in Cougar Point, forcing motherboard manufacturers to use a separate USB 3.0 chip. All Panther Point chipsets will have four USB 3.0 ports which is actually pretty nice, considering that most of the current motherboards only come with two USB 3.0 ports. There are already many USB 3.0 devices (mostly external hard drive bays and flash drives), and with the added bandwidth USB 3.0 offers it’s already moving into the mainstream market. Though some rumors reported Panther Point would include support for Thunderbolt, there is absolutely nothing in the current roadmap to suggest its presence in the 7-series chipsets. There’s always the potential for motherboard makers to use a separate chip to add Thunderbolt, but that could be done with any current platform.

Another interesting I/O update will be PCI-Express. As noted earlier, Ivy Bridge will upgrade PCIe from 2.0 to 3.0, which means twice the bandwidth—or a move from 500MB/s to 1GB/s per lane. This is very good news for users who want maximum graphics performance, meaning SLI or CrossFire, but it also helps with technologies like USB 3.0 and SATA 6Gbps. Sandy Bridge and LGA1156 Nehalems (Lynnfield and Clarkdale) have been somewhat limited by PCIe bandwidth in multi-GPU configurations since they had to share 16 lanes. That meant either one GPU at the full 8GB/s bandwidth, two GPUs at 4GB/s each, or four GPUs with only 2GB/s each (using dual-GPU cards).

We investigated this back when Lynnfield launched; while the performance difference was negligible in most games, there was a noticeable FPS drop in some games, especially in quad-GPU configurations. Of course, today’s GPUs are even more powerful so the limited bandwidth could be a bigger deal if we reran the test with the latest hardware. However, Ivy Bridge should abolish this bottleneck as the bandwidth will be double once more. This means a single x8 PCIe 3.0 slot can provide as much bandwidth as an x16 PCIe 2.0 slot, i.e. 8GB/s. The same applies to quad-GPU configurations as an x4 PCIe 3.0 slot will provide the same 4GB/s bandwidth as x8 PCIe 2.0 slot. This implies that there should no longer be a loss in GPU performance when running multi-GPU configuration on Intel’s mainstream platforms, though obviously you will need a GPU (or other PCIe card) that supports PCIe 3.0 in order to utilize the faster speeds. We don’t have any information yet about AMD’s or NVIDIA’s plans for PCIe 3.0, but historically they have been ready when the motherboard support is there.

The business chipsets support two additional features. Q77, which is the high-end chipset, will support both vPro and SIPP (Stable Image Platform Program). Q75 will not support vPro but it will support SIPP, whereas B75 will not support either of those. All of the business chipsets also include native PCI support, which is still important for many companies that have custom peripherals.

Ivy Bridge Details and Expectations Intel’s SSD Plans and Wrap-Up
POST A COMMENT

74 Comments

View All Comments

  • DanNeely - Friday, May 06, 2011 - link

    The difference is that some of the writers at DT regularly make major gaffe's not just silly typos. Reply
  • Kristian Vättö - Friday, May 06, 2011 - link

    It is long journey to come all the way to Finland so I doubt anyone would voluntarily travel here anyway :D Reply
  • asuglax - Friday, May 06, 2011 - link

    I know some Sandy Bridge processors already support up to DDR3-1600. The i7-2820QM in my laptop does. Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, May 06, 2011 - link

    Unofficially, yes, but official support is supposed to be DDR3-1333. Reply
  • asuglax - Friday, May 06, 2011 - link

    Intel has it listed as such here: http://ark.intel.com/Product.aspx?id=52227&pro... Reply
  • AstroGuardian - Friday, May 06, 2011 - link

    What are all these official-unofficial BS? Either it supports 1600 or not? Why complicating simple things? Reply
  • Stahn Aileron - Friday, May 06, 2011 - link

    Probably Intel not wanting people to whine and complain when they buy DDR3-1333 that's not running at the DDR3-1600 rated speed the memory controller is spec'ed at. DDR3-1600, as far as I recall, is still considered somewhat in the upper "power user/enthusiast" realm compared to mainstream DDR3-1066 and DDR3-1333 SDRAM.

    TL;DR = lowest common denominator?
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Friday, May 06, 2011 - link

    The official value has to work in a 100F room with the system clogged in dirt. Our systems are much less hostile environments so we can push the parts harder.

    Intel also doesn't want to toss the 1 or 2% of chips with the poorest IMCs when a few hundred extra MHz has almost no impact on normal use.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Friday, May 06, 2011 - link

    So that's somewhat humorous: laptop chips have DDR3-1600 support with SNB, but desktop parts like the 2600K don't. Of course, laptop RAM tends to be less power hungry in the first place which might be part of it. Anyway, the *desktop* Ivy Bridge will get official DDR3-1600 support, which is something desktop Sandy Bridge doesn't have. Reply
  • DanNeely - Friday, May 06, 2011 - link

    I didn't realize it was different for mobile systems. It could also be that 99% of laptops only have room for 1 dimm/channel which makes the bus signaling cleaner. Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now