A New Socket and New Chipsets

There’s no nice way to put this: Sandy Bridge marks the third new socket Intel will have introduced since 2008. The first was LGA-1366 for the original Nehalem based Core i7. In 2009 we got LGA-1156 for Lynnfield, later updated with support for the dual-core Clarkdale CPUs launched in 2010. Next year, Sandy Bridge will launch with LGA-1155.

The CPU and socket are not compatible with existing motherboards or CPUs. That’s right, if you want to buy Sandy Bridge you’ll need a new motherboard.

As is the case today, there are two lines of chipsets for consumer desktops: H and P series. The H series supports Sandy Bridge’s on-die graphics, while the P series is strictly for discrete graphics.

At launch we’ll have P67 and H67 based motherboards, both of which are in testing right now. A quarter later we’ll see value H61 motherboards added to the mix.

Chipset Comparison
  P67 H67 H61 P55 H57 H55
CPU Support Sandy Bridge LGA-1155 Sandy Bridge LGA-1155 Sandy Bridge LGA-1155 Lynnfield / Clarkdale LGA-1156 Lynnfield / Clarkdale LGA-1156 Lynnfield / Clarkdale LGA-1156
CPU PCIe Config 1 x 16 or 2 x 8 PCIe 2.0 1 x 16 PCIe 2.0 1 x 16 PCIe 2.0 1 x 16 or 2 x 8 PCIe 2.0 1 x 16 PCIe 2.0 1 x 16 PCIe 2.0
RAID Support Yes Yes No Yes Yes Mp
USB 2.0 Ports 14 14 10 14 14 12
SATA Total (Max Number of 6Gbps Ports) 6 (2) 6 (2) 4 (0) 6 (0) 6 (0) 6 (0)
PCIe Lanes 8 (5GT/s) 8 (5GT/s) 6 (5GT/s) 8 (2.5GT/s) 8 (2.5GT/s) 6 (2.5GT/s)

With P67 you lose integrated graphics but you gain the ability to run two PCIe x8 cards off of the CPU. You also get fully unlocked memory multipliers with P67, whereas H67 is locked to whatever official DDR3 speeds Intel supports with Sandy Bridge (currently DDR3-1333).

Both H67 and P67 support 6Gbps SATA, however only on two ports. The remaining 4 SATA ports are 3Gbps. Motherboard manufacturers will color the 6Gbps ports differently to differentiate.

There’s no native USB 3.0 support on these chipsets, but most motherboard makers are looking to third party solutions to enable USB 3 on Sandy Bridge boards.

The other major (and welcome) change is the move to PCIe 2.0 lanes running at 5GT/s. Currently, Intel chipsets support PCIe 2.0 but they only run at 2.5GT/s, which limits them to a maximum of 250MB/s per direction per lane. This is a problem with high bandwidth USB 3.0 and 6Gbps SATA interfaces connected over PCIe x1 slots. With the move to 5GT/s, Intel is at feature parity with AMD’s chipsets and more importantly the bandwidth limits are a lot higher. A single PCIe x1 slot on a P67 motherboard can support up to 500MB/s of bandwidth in each direction (1GB/s bidirectional bandwidth).

With native 6Gbps SATA support, the faster PCIe interface will be useful for any third party USB 3.0 controllers.

Original Nehalem and Gulftown owners have their own socket replacement to look forward to. In the second half of 2011 Intel will replace LGA-1366 with LGA-2011. LGA-2011 adds support for four DDR3 memory channels and the first 6+ core Sandy Bridge processors.

A New Architecture The Roadmap & Pricing
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  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, August 27, 2010 - link

    You're correct, I didn't feel a dual vs. quad-core comparison was fair which is why I focused on the 760. I'll clear up the text though :)

    Take care,
    Anand
    Reply
  • Anand Lal Shimpi - Friday, August 27, 2010 - link

    fixed :) Reply
  • mastrdrver - Friday, August 27, 2010 - link

    If we go with what Anand has said and use the roadmap to guess pricing I just have one question then:

    Why in the world would anyone spend ~$300 for the 2500 and ~$500 on the 2600 then use the on chip gpu with no plans on some kind of discrete?

    If the difference between a $600 HP is Llano and Sandy Bridge, Llano has a possibly huge advantage since I think its safe to assume that the gpu side will start at 5450 performance.

    Its like Intel would be trying to tell you that SD Xbox 360 is better than HD Xbox 360 (Llano). Are you serious? If Llano can hit a pc at that price point and have a full shader count, Sandy Bridge is dead in the consumer market.

    I know that's a lot of ifs and time between here and then but Intel doing what it has always done with graphics (suck) is going to haunt it. I think Intel let the door wide open and its head between it and the frame. All AMD has to do is shut it.
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Friday, August 27, 2010 - link

    There are people whose workloads are heavily CPU bound but who don't need a heavy duty GPU. Higher end servers and a lot of workstations fall into this category.

    Beyond that unless Intel made a GPUless die or deliberately disabled the onboard GPU there's no reason not to include it. While we'll have to wait until Intel shows off labeled die shots I doubt that the GPU is a large enough chunk to justify the engineering effort just to save a little on the manufacturing side.
    Reply
  • mastrdrver - Saturday, August 28, 2010 - link

    You are correct but my point was meant to be on "Best Buy" systems and not server or workstations. Sorry if I didn't get that clear.

    On the server front this will have to go up against Bulldozer which is an entirely different topic.

    While it would be foolish for Intel to make a gpuless die since integration with the cpu side is inevitable, Larabee or what ever better be good. Then there is the driver thing. That Dragon Age Origin picture sure doesn't look right. For drivers that still have work to do, that picture looks exactly like the one from when Clarkdale was released. I'd be a little surprised if much driver work is left if those two pictures are actually different.
    Reply
  • arh2o - Friday, August 27, 2010 - link

    How much will these new 1155 motherboard prices be? Will they be in the same price range as the current 1156 motherboards? Reply
  • Rajinder Gill - Saturday, August 28, 2010 - link

    I'd imagine the P67 boards will be priced between $150~$200. Reply
  • odin607 - Friday, August 27, 2010 - link

    What about temps =( Reply
  • cmdrdredd - Friday, August 27, 2010 - link

    I'm never buying an Intel CPU or Motherboard ever again. This is one area that made them what they are today. The ability to take a mid range part and clock it up is what made the Core 2 series such a success with gamers and other performance enthusiasts. Not all of the success is attributed to overclocking, but a good bit of the popularity came from a $200 CPU being able to clock up to levels that the $700+ cpus hit. Now, if the unlocked parts can hit big overclocks and aren't overpriced then maybe it'll work out. However, it's all to easy for Intel to give us the finger and price a $200 CPU at $600 because it's unlocked and say "tough crap, if you want to overclock then pay up!". I am hopeful it doesn't come to this.

    Anyway, quads are old news IMO...I'm looking at 6core for my next one.
    Reply
  • JumpingJack - Saturday, August 28, 2010 - link

    "but a good bit of the popularity came from a $200 CPU being able to clock up" ...

    Reading the preview, it looks like the 2500K may fit this description.

    From the articles:
    "...and the 2500K will replace the i5 760/655K ($205 - $216). ..."

    Even the 875K, when it launched, wasn't as you claim... it actually came in 200 bucks cheaper than the 870.

    http://techreport.com/articles.x/18988

    It would seem to me that Intel has been planning this change for sometime and went out to address this....
    Reply

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