Intel's upcoming Core i7 platform may throw a curveball to anyone swinging sticks of high performance DDR memory. According to news and rumor site The Inquirer, running memory voltage any higher than a modest 1.65V on an X58-based motherboard outfitted with a Core i7 processor could damage the CPU.
The limitation came to light thanks to an admin on the XFastest forums who posted pictures of the unreleased Asus P6T Deluxe motherboard in retail trim. A closeup of the DIMM slots reveals a warning label which states "According to Intel CPU SPEC, DIMMs with voltage setting over 1.65V may damage the CPU permanently. We recommend you install the DIMMs with the voltage setting below 1.65V.
If true (and The Inq claims Asus has confirmed the limitation), it would mean that several of today's high end DDR3 memory could potentially be rendered useless on the new platform. It's not uncommon for RAM manufacturers to require higher voltages at stock settings, and even many DDR3-1333 kits call for more than 1.65V. Apparently the problem lies with having the CPU and memory voltages on the Core i7 platform run synchronously. That's a major bummer for anyone who may have tried to future-proof their current build, but if you haven't jumped on the DDR3 bandwagon yet, expect to see appropriately spec'd kits start to surface with the Core i7 platform in mind. In the meantime, buyer beware.
Evga, the company best know for its position as a top-tier Nvidia partner, continues to try and build a reputation as the go-to vendor for overclocking enthusiasts. The videocard manufacturer was the first to officially support overclocking its GPUs without invalidating the warranty (only XFX has since followed suit), and Evga's FTW branded motherboards look to live up to the three-letter moniker with all the right marketing bullets.
Adding to the FTW series, and specifically the 790i SLI FTW, Evga has announced the 790i SLI FTW Digital PWM designed for aggressive overclocking. In addition to the usual assortment of high end goodies (1600MHz frontside bus support, DDR3 2000MHz support, SLI certified, PCI-E 2.0), the long-winded FTW Digital PWM edition bumps up the reference design from a 6-phase to an 8-phase design. The board also comes with 100 percent solid state capacitors and ferrite core chokes, both of which purport to offer improved signal-to-noise ratios and ultimately lead to a higher overclocking ceiling.
Overclockers comfortable mucking around with advanced voltage controls will have the ability to disable Vdroop in the "enhanced" BIOS and avoid sagging voltage at higher overclocks. And for those that are more apprehensive when it comes to advanced level tweaks, Evga's BIOS will include several pre-validated voltage settings.
Asus has to be feeling on top of the world, assuming sources at the company aren't blowing hot air. As DigiTimes reports it, those sources are claiming that Asus feasts on the lion's share of P45-based motherboard sales, with the company accounting for a whopping 80 percent of worldwide shipments.
Third quarter motherboard shipments are estimated at 6.12 million units, representing a growth rate of 20 percent and surpassing the company's original estimation of 15 percent. The numbers bode well for what's to come, as demand for Intel's X58 chipset based boards is also expected to run high.
Yet another leaked slide has made its way to the web, this time showcasing a triumvirate of motherboards slated for a late 2008 release by top tier vendor MSI. The company has labeled its enthusiast offering as the Eclipse, and its performance board will carry the familiar Platinum nomenclature as the X58 Platinum. The third board, which doesn't yet have a name (X58 Diamond?), will target the "Über Overclocker" according to the slide.
The mystery board carries the most intrigue, and not because of its lack of name. While all three motherboards bring support for Nvidia's SLI and ATI's CrossFireX, the board without an identity shows support for quad-SLI or tri-SLI with PhysX support in full speed x16 PCI-E v2 slots (insert your own Crysis reference).
Has there ever been a better time than right now to be a PC enthusiast? Due to oversupply, RAM remains dirt cheap, and pricing wars between Nvidia and ATI in the graphics sector, and Intel and AMD on the processor front have made it so you can build a killer rig on a manageable budget. Could motherboards be next?
If there is to be a price war among motherboard vendors, you can count Gigabyte out of the battle. Richard Ma, VP of Gigabyte, says his company has no plans to cut motherboard pricing in response Asus' recent adjustments, fearing that such a move would force Asus' hand to lower prices even more. Instead, Ma says his company's strategy will be to focus on improving quality, an area he claims is of primary concern to those who purchase mid-range and high-end motherboards.
Motherboard shipments, while still meeting Gigabyte's goal of 20 million units, haven't met the company's expectations the past two months, in part because of the new price competition. However, September sales have been kinder to Gigabyte, and Ma expects October and November to be even better with Core i7 CPUs and the X58 chipset on the horizon.
Is Gigabyte making a mistake by not dropping prices? Hit the jump and let us know.
Integrated graphics are typically of little interest to power users, but as onboard GPUs continue to develop, such solutions quickly become tempting for a secondary rig, kids' PC, or any other setup that has no aspirations for playing Crysis. If you fall into one of those latter categories, you may want to hold off for a couple of weeks before shelling out for a motherboard.
According to DigiTimes, Nvidia will launch its MCP7A IGP chipset by the end of the month, which will bring an integrated GeForce 9-series graphics core to the table. Two versions are being planned, with the MCP7A-U featuring a GeForce 9400 GPU and the MCP7A-S coming equipped with a GeForce 9300 GPU. Both GPUs will be identical in architecture, except the 9400 will come with a core clockspeed of 580MHz and shader frequency of 1,500MHz, whereas the 9300's core and shader will come clocked at 450MHz and 1200MHz respectively.
On the chipset front, the MCP7A chipset brings support for a 1333MHz frontside bus, up to 6 SATA ports, up to 12 USB ports, and RAID 0/1/0+1 and 5. Some motherboards will also support Nvidia's Hybrid technology when paired with a third party videocard.
Has the time come to say goodbye to Abit? According to Hexus.net, the Taiwanese technology company and one-time enthusiast favorite will exit the motherboard market at the end of 2008.
"HEXUS.channel has confirmed this as fact from sources close to South East Asian distributors," the news and review site writes. "all of which will be notified by their Abit sales contacts from today onwards."
This isn't the first time Abit has been rumored to shut down or leave motherboards behind. Faced with bankruptcy, Abit was acquired by Taiwanese manufacturer Universal Scientific International (USI) back in May of 2006, and rumors this past year of Abit's demise swirled so strongly that the company issued a public denial.
Old school enthusiasts might recall Abit as one of the premier motherboard makers geared towards overclockers, a reputation which arguably took a hit when the company inked a deal to sell Fatal1ty branded products just months before the acquisition. For fans both old and new, Hexus reports Abill will honor RMAs and warranties for three years subsequently.
Forget about your swank two-monitor setup, word on the tech block is that Intel's 4 Series chipset for desktop and notebook displays will support four monitors at the same time. DisplayLink is providing its technology through a license model, and Intel has jumped first in line as a major customer.
Two of the displays will come courtesy of conventional outputs, while the other two can be connected via USB 2.0. Previous to this, DisplayLink support was only provided to displays that included the company's DP-120/160 chips. Also prior, enthusiasts wanting a four-display setup had to rely on graphics cards outputs.
But what about the performance impact? TGDaily noted up to 30 percent CPU utilization with the DP-120/160 chips, so it will be interesting to see how the G45 chipset handles DisplayLink chores.
We've already had some hands-on time with Bloomfield, Intel's high-end Nehalem part (officially named Core i7). But we know that not everyone's going to make the jump on board this new platform when it's released later this year. Bloomfield pricing hasn't been announced yet, but we expect it to be in the high-end enthusiast range -- ie. only affordable for price un-conscious buyers.
For mainstream system builders, Intel's solution will be Lynnfield, a socket 1160 CPU that'll have its own motherboard configuration. Lynnfield processors will be incompatible with X58 motherboards sporting socket 1366 -- though Intel assured us that they won't phase out the Bloomfield platform once Lynnfield is released in Q1 of next year (unlike what happened with AMD's socket 940 platform). Another difference: Lynnfield's motherboard will run two-channel DDR 3 memory, as opposed to the highly-touted tri-channel setup in Bloomfield.
We were lucky enough to snap up a few spy shots of an early Lynnfield motherboard, shown below:
Can you spot the differences between a Lynnfield and Bloomfield motherboard? Take a closer look after the jump.
All eyes continue to be glued to Intel and its upcoming Core i7 (Nehalem), but AMD has a product release in the wings too, this one for the server market. The struggling chip maker said it's planning to release a new server platform in the second half of 2009 currently code named Fiorano. Built to take advantage of AMD's upcoming 45nm Shanghai processor, Fiorano represents the company's first foray into the server chipset market instead of using chipsets from Nvidia and Broadcom.
The Fiorno platform will fully support the company's chip-to-chip technolgy called HyperTransport 3 while also offering a new virtualization technology called IOMMU, which allows for the virtualization of the system's I/O traffic. Support for the second generation PCI-Express will also be included, but the same can't be said for DDR3 because of cost concerns.
"it will hit once the price of DDR3 comes down," said John Fruehe, who handles worldwide channel market development for AMD's Server and Workstation Division. "The back half of next year is about the time the process changes in DDR3 will happen that will allow the prices to come down."
The first AMD platform to use DDR3 memory will be called Maranello (previously known as Piranha).