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Intel X38 adds PCI Express 2.0

| Posted: May 23, 2007 5:47 am

If you've already splashed out on a P35 board, then we're the bearer of bad news, as the X38 chipset should be out in Q3 and it adds PCI Express 2.0 among its new features. According to Intel this is the first PCI Express 2.0 chipset to be commercially available. In practical terms PCI Express 2.0 doesn't bring much new to the table, but it doubles the available bandwidth and power available to the x16 connector(s).

 

Considering that the current PCI Express standard allows for 2.5Gbps it's hard to see what benefit additional bandwidth will offer with current hardware. However, it might allow for better implementations of SLI and CrossFire, so we can get full performance without having to use those annoying bridge connectors. Extra power is self explanatory, as it means that there won't be any need for additional power for the graphics card, although PCI Express 2.0 is still limited to 150W per slot, so high-end cards will still need the extra power connector.

 

 

The X38 chipset is targeting the gaming audience and it will feature dual x16 PCI Express slots, although there's no word if the X38 chipset will support SLI. Since AMD/ATI hasn't closed the Crossfire platform to Intel, the X38 should be Crossfire enabled. One slight downside to the X38 chipset, at least with current pricing, is that it's DDR3 only. That means that you'll end up spending a small fortune on RAM and don't expect X38 based boards to come cheap, as the X38 is a direct replacement for the old 975X which was one of the most expensive consumer level motherboard chipsets to date.

 

Intel has also decided to cater for overclockers, as the overspeed protection has been removed in the X38 chipset. Presumably this also means amended warranty terms, since we doubt that Intel will replace chipsets that have been fried due to overclocking. The slide above also verifies that Intel is looking at releasing quad core processors with 1,333MHz, although it's as yet unclear when these will become available. A new Core 2 Extreme chip is also on the way, so anyone that thought the X6800 was the last Core 2 Extreme might be pleasantly surprised. We'd expect to see a few boards during Computex early next month, even though Intel is holding back the official launch for a couple of months as yet. The official launch of the X38 chipset is meant to be during week 38.

 

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