Over the past couple of years it seems as though every new desktop CPU release from Intel has required either a new chipset, board redesign, or at the very least a BIOS update for the user to experience the latest and greatest from Intel. The biggest change occurred in June of 2006 when Intel launched the Core 2 series and overnight several previous generations of Socket 775 compatible chipsets and motherboards were deemed obsolete.

Sure, the 975X, 945G/P, and even the i865 chipsets were able to support the new Core 2 architecture, but the motherboards designed around them required a significant overhaul in the electrical components and trace layouts to work correctly - not to mention new BIOS releases. We also had the release of the P965 family of chipsets that were designed expressly for the Core 2 series which brought about another twist in the selection process. It was a scant four months later when the Kentsfield quad-core CPUs were launched and we went through the entire motherboard/BIOS revision process again. Unfortunately, some of those users that purchased boards at the June launch of the Core 2 family found they required yet another board in order for Kentsfield to operate properly.

Here we are again a year later with another new CPU design release from Intel that requires both specific chipset and BIOS support on the motherboard in order to work properly. As in past releases, there are some motherboard/chipset designs that function out of the gate. Others require nothing more than a BIOS update, a few will become obsolete, and we have several that are still under consideration as to whether or not they will be compatible.

We have spoken at length with the various motherboard suppliers and have a fairly good indication of what motherboard/chipset combinations will work with Wolfdale and Yorkfield (the desktop Penryn codenames for dual-core and quad-core, respectively). The recently released Intel P35, P31, G31, G33, G35, and X38 chipsets have native support for the 45nm processors. However, even though these chipsets fully support Wolfdale and Yorkfield, the motherboards based on these chipsets could require something as simple as a BIOS update, or - in the worst cases - a new board revision.

In the vast majority of cases with these particular Intel chipsets, the motherboard will POST and operate even if the BIOS does not fully recognize the processor. However, in early testing of the processors we have noticed that most of the motherboards will require a BIOS update in order to properly optimize the performance of the system. We expect to see a flood of BIOS updates over the coming weeks that not only recognize each 45nm processor, but also provides specific performance optimizations for each board.

Elsewhere in the land of Intel chipsets, we have several manufacturers that will offer a combination of Wolfdale and/or Yorkfield compatibility on their 945GC-based motherboards. While this chipset does not specifically support 1333FSB operations, a couple of manufacturers have worked their BIOS magic to provide support. We might even see support on the venerable 975X chipset as ASUS is in the process of validation testing for their workstation boards. Even though the P965 chipset does not officially support the 45nm processor families, we have MSI offering BIOS support for two of their boards. We also expect to see "unofficial" support on the latest performance oriented P965 boards from ASUS and Gigabyte if stability problems when overclocking can be overcome. We will be testing a couple of their boards next week to see how well they work.

The situation with the NVIDIA designed chipsets for the Intel market is a little different. The 680i SLI, 680i LT SLI, GeForce 7150, and GeForce 7100 chipsets officially support Wolfdale and Yorkfield. The 650i SLI and GeForce 7050 chipsets will support these processors, but it seems as if that will be a supplier to supplier decision at this time. Of note, we have several 680i SLI motherboards that are currently undergoing qualification testing at this time, not for lack of chipset support, but for board designs. The reference board A1/T1 designs from EVGA will only require a BIOS update to work as an example, while motherboards from Gigabyte, ECS, abit, Biostar, and Foxconn are questionable at this point. We will have an update on these particular motherboards shortly; in the meantime, it appears the revised 680i boards from NVIDIA's launch partners along with boards from ASUS, MSI, and DFI should be fine with nothing more than a BIOS update.

You might be wondering why we have not discussed VIA or SIS yet. Well, there really is nothing to discuss at this time as neither company has a chipset in the market that officially works with the 45nm processors. We do expect new chipsets from SIS in Q1 of 2008 that will provide support but do not expect new product designs from VIA.

We will update the data on the following charts as the manufacturers provide additional information. We have placed comments regarding optimized BIOS releases, qualification testing, and other information in the Notes section. A "-" designates that the motherboard should POST with a Wolfdale or Yorkfield processor but the BIOS is not optimized yet or might not offer full functionality. If you have a specific question on a motherboard that is not listed or additional information that is provided here, we suggest you contact the manufacturer directly. Now let's see what the current status is on a supplier by supplier basis.

abit, ASUS, and Biostar
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  • Crassus - Monday, October 29, 2007 - link

    Thinking about it - what happened to the chipset business of VIA and SiS? I remember a time when I was considering either one or the other, and now I haven't heard anything interesting about either in years. Have they given up only on the retail board market chipset business, or the whole business, or am I missing something here? Reply
  • MGSsancho - Monday, October 29, 2007 - link

    VIA has a mainstream product, but they mostly focus on specially products and embedded devices Reply
  • DukeN - Monday, October 29, 2007 - link

    Just an oversight or is the most popular Asus P5K series board not supported yet? (I'm guessing it's probably the most popular of that series). Reply
  • Heidfirst - Monday, October 29, 2007 - link

    abit's BIOS15 release for FP-IN9 SLI has:
    1.Support Wolfdale & Yolkfield (sic) CPU.

    & presumably their forthcoming I-N73H/HD GF7xxx/630i mobos will be OK too.

    Reply
  • MGSsancho - Monday, October 29, 2007 - link

    =) Reply
  • bongsi21 - Wednesday, March 18, 2009 - link

    MSI has a complete list of fully supported Wolfendale processors listed in their website. But the problem is there is alot of controversial in the web about the P6n motherboards having an approve list but wont work with wolfendale processors especially with E8400 C0 and EO series even from the current latest bios.
    I for one had that experience, just purchase an e8400 processor and the motherboard post wont even start.

    So lets not thank MSI for a redundant list. :p If you want faqs and sources from my statement try typing in the Googlesphere: "MSI P6N-SLI + E8400"
    Reply
  • Jedi2155 - Monday, October 29, 2007 - link

    Thanks indeed, I love how my eVGA 680i board still has full support and is still a premier high end board nearly a year after I bought it. Reply
  • Deusfaux - Monday, October 29, 2007 - link

    It appears to go beyond your information in places, even though its been up for weeks?

    http://event.asus.com/mb/45nm/">http://event.asus.com/mb/45nm/

    Like what about the 975x board people are most likely to have - the P5WDH Deluxe?
    Reply
  • gramboh - Monday, October 29, 2007 - link

    It looks like my P5B-Deluxe will be ok, I'm assuming OC1333 means you have to manually set the bus speed/multiplier? Reply

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