Bad News for 975X

Several weeks ago we briefly touched on the new Intel 975X chipset, a revision of 955X with a PCIe lane configuration that would work with either SLI or Crossfire. However, after talking with manufacturers in Taiwan, we hear that this new chipset will not support NVIDIA's SLI. Furthermore, the original November launch schedule has been abandoned in favor of a launch very close to Intel's Napa (Centrino) platform.

975X will feature two PEG slots in a dual 8 lane configuration, more than ample bandwidth to run two NVIDIA 7800GTX or two ATI X800XT cards in tandem. Originally, we expected the 975X launch date only a few weeks out; manufacturers have working samples they were able to show us in Taiwan this week. Unfortunately for Intel, this launch has been pushed back to January. One product manager mentioned to us that the reason for the delay was actually the immaturity of [ATI and Intel] drivers rather than the silicon.

Virtually all manufacturers we visited this week mentioned that they will have a high end, 975X solution in their roadmaps. Particularly interesting was ECS's plans to put the new Yonah socket on a 975X platform, making it the only option for dual graphics and Yonah. Gigabyte and MSI also had new 975X motherboards to show, both with interesting cooling features that will show up on new high end boards from both companies.

Yonah Tidbits

Intel's next generation Centrino, dubbed Napa, launches early January, 2006. The core component of Napa is Intel's 65nm Yonah processor, a Dothan successor. As we mentioned a few days ago, Yonah will have a new product naming scheme compared to Dothan and Banias, but it will also use an electrically incompatible 479/478 pin socket. Thus, existing 915GM and 855GME motherboards will not work with the new processor.

Fortunately, many manufacturers are already working on two different chipsets to succeed the existing mobile on desktop (MOD) motherboards. The first of these, 945GT, is nearly an identical revision to Intel's 945G, but will feature the new Yonah specific socket. As with other Intel CPUs, the 945 and 955 North Bridges are required to enable both cores. 945GT will show up for several small form factor and HTPC PCs, but vendors tell us there are no full scale ATX motherboard designs in the works.

Intel's 945GM is a follow up chip to 945GT, but will feature SO-DIMM DDR2. 945GM will be used mainly for laptops and ultra portables, but we will also see set-top DVRs based on the 945GM as well due to the profile advantages.

Other interesting Yonah tidbits we've picked up over the last few days include:

  • There will be single core and Celeron versions of Yonah - but Celeron M won't show up until H2'06.
  • 945GM and 945GT will cost about the same as 955X does on the chipset level.
  • Centrino will have a slightly newer logo (due apparently to legal counsel).
  • Most Yonah models will feature VT, but the ultra low voltage and low voltage designs geared for ultra portables will have it disabled.
  • Merom (Yonah's successor) will feature 64-bit extensions, but Yonah will not.

The upcoming Yonah Celeron M "delays" aren't too surprising. Current Celeron M chips are already very competitive with equivalently clocked Pentium M chips; the difference in performance between 1MB and 2MB of L2 cache really isn't that large. Rather than devaluate their high-end, high-cost Pentium M chips, Intel is simply refusing to release faster versions of the Celeron M. The fastest current Celeron M is clocked at just 1.6 GHz, with a 1.7 GHz version launching in January '06. Of course, while Intel has a couple 65nm fabrication plants getting ready, they'll still have 90nm plants that won't be needed as much for desktop CPUs once the new 65nm chips launch. There's no sense in rushing the conversion of Celeron M to 65nm if Intel isn't going to increase the clock speed much anyway.

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  • Anemone - Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - link

    Not 64 bit...

    And by the time it's available, it will be just a holdover to Merom.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - link

    Show me a laptop with 4GB of RAM and I'll show you a laptop that truly needs 64-bit. Sure, it's a bit of a limitation, but 64-bit is not truly that important to most users, let alone laptop users. Would I buy such a system? No, but then I don't own a laptop anyway. Reply
  • Furen - Thursday, October 20, 2005 - link

    It's not just about 64 bit addressing, it's also about being able to use 64 bit primitives efficiently (Yes, I know you can use 64 bit operands in a 32 bit cpu but operations on these primitives take 2+ passes to complete). Even so, most users will probably gain little from having a 64 bit laptop, but those who need it (and, dare I say, those who truly use the laptop's power... listening to mp3s doesnt count and gaming is the exception) will gain much from having it. Reply
  • Anemone - Wednesday, October 19, 2005 - link

    I can use it and I will spend the money. There will be many more who can use it as well over time. Come Jan obviously you'll have notebooks capable of 4gb. Mostly you need Vista to get to that limit. There are several notebooks out now that can use 4gb, just not with XP.

    :)
    Reply
  • Shintai - Sunday, October 23, 2005 - link

    Vista have nothing to do with the usability of 64bit.

    RAM is not in some sharp curve of getting cheaper. Specially not when they are ramping up speeds instead of density. Also when did you last use over 2GB of memory? And yet alone 4GB? And when do you need over 4GB? Gaming doesn't get boosted much or any from 64bit either. We already have 64bit ports of a few games out..some gain a 1-2%, others lose the same 1-2%.

    Encoding divx/mpeg2/wmv9..sure there is some real gain. Rendering your animations? Sure then there is benefit. Doing some folding and other scientific calculations..sure benefit. But your CPU ain´t gonna touch physics when we get PPU and/or PPU in GPUs anyway. So only benefit 64bit has is the bigger userspace and generelly faster memory past 4GB without PAE.

    But remember you can still on a 32bit system have 16GB or 64GB memory. Just each process can maximum have 3GB each.
    Reply
  • AnthonyQ - Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - link

    "The fastest current Celeron M is clocked at just 1.5 GHz, with a 1.6 GHz version launching in January '06."

    Really? What's the Celeron M 380 (1.6 GHz) chip that I'm seeing as an option in HP (as an example) laptops?
    Reply
  • Shintai - Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - link

    Celeron M 380 1.6 GHz Celeron M 1.6 GHz / 400 MHz / 1 MB L2 / Intel Boxed 0,66 kr. 1.049 kr.

    And avalible since week 35.
    Reply
  • JarredWalton - Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - link

    Bah! Guess I messed up speeds on that one. I mean 1.7 GHz and 390. Edit.... Reply
  • ksherman - Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - link

    i never heard that the Celeron M chips were almost as good (performance wise) as the Pentium Ms... how does the battery life compare? Reply
  • Shintai - Tuesday, October 18, 2005 - link

    Celeron M is just a Pentium-M with 1MB cache instead of 2MB. And a 400Mhz bus instead of 533Mhz. So they will actually last longer on a battery. Reply

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