After our X79 review, we were left wanting more from Intel’s chipsets especially considering how little improvements had been made Intel chipsets since the P67 chipset had come out. The same story was somewhat expected from the situation with Ivy Bridge as many people were hoping for USB 3.0 in the X79 as well as better SATA 3.0 (6G) ports.
Today we come with some mixed news about Intel’s new 7X series chipsets for Ivybridge. As you can see in the table below, there will be several different chipsets for Ivybridge as Intel traditionally makes three for a certain chip. On top of that, there are a few very interesting developments in the way of USB 3.0, SATA 3.0 (6G) and PCIe. When it comes to USB 3.0, Intel is finally going to support USB 3.0 natively which will save motherboard vendors money when building Intel chipsets and hopefully make the boards overall less complicated to design. In addition to that, we will hopefully see better USB 3.0 performance and possibly less variation between different USB 3.0 controllers that we have now.
Image Credit to Forum Member Christian Ney of HwBot.org Forums
By ways of the SATA 6G ports, Intel has decided to effectively change nothing from their P67 chipset. They are still sticking to a measly two SATA 3.0 (6G) ports which is the same as X79 and Z68 and P67. This is somewhat disappointing as it signifies that Intel didn’t plan for more bandwidth to the storage controller which may be a worrying trend for a performance version of the Ivy Bridge chipsets in later 2012. We really hope Intel figures this out and actually delivers more SATA 3.0 (6G) ports to consumers as SSDs and higher speed hard drives are going to need more speeds.
Last but not least are the PCIe slots, if you look at the chart, you’ll see that none of Intel’s 7X chipsets for Ivybridge actually support PCI Express 3.0 (8GT/s) – which is obviously being pushed back by a full year, into 2013 and the Haswell architecture. Rather, we are still seeing the older PCI Express 2.0, featuring only 5GT/s. This is a little concerning as we’re expecting to start seeing PCIe 3.0 graphics cards very soon, but considering the fact that Intel doesn’t consider the Q75, Q77, Z77, Z76 and H77 chipsets to be extreme perhaps they don’t feel the need to include PCIe 3.0 support.