Motherboards: X79 chipset
A new platform, a new chipset. Motherboards for the Socket 2011 processors will use the X79 chipset. Because the PCI-Express controller for video cards already is in the processor, there was no reason any longer for a chipset with north and south bridge. Just like the P67 and Z68 the X79 is just one chip.
The specifications for the X79 are disappointing. Initial rumours- that multiple sources supposedly confirmed off the record- described an integrated USB 3.0 controller and no less than 14 Serial ATA connections, six of which would work with Serial Attached SCSI (SAS). Intel disabled or removed the USB 3.0 ability and the extra SATA connections, most likely due to complications. Because of this the final specifications are as follows: 4x USB 2.0, 2x Serial ATA 600, 4x Serial ATA 300, High-Definition Audio and 8 PCI-Express 2.0 lanes for on-board chips or x1/ x4-slots on the motherboard.
Should a motherboard manufacturer still want to implement USB 3.0 or add more Serial ATA connectors, separate individual controller chips will need to be used. In any case, the Socket 2011 platform offers enough PCI-Express lanes to add an army of extra controllers. Solutions like this prevent any real limitations, but it remains a disappointment that the initial features of the chipset don't live up to what was promised and hoped for. AMD has had chipsets with 6X Serial ATA 600 for a year and has chipsets on the market with integrated USB 3.0 for months now. When you consider the important role Intel played in the development of both USB 3.0 and Serial ATA 600, it is especially odd that neither of these made their appearance in the X79 chipset.
A block diagram of the possiblities with the Intel X79 chipset.
Intel X79 motherboards come from different manufacturers. We have seen announcements from ASUS, Gigabyte, MSI, ASRock, EVGA, ECS and Biostar among others. Of course Intel also released their own Socket 2011 motherboard with the X79 chipset.