Chinese website it.com.cn has posted a couple of official-looking Intel slides detailing an upcoming replacement for the X58 Express chipset. Due in the fourth quarter of this year, the X79 Express will reportedly interface with "Sandy Bridge - E" processors built for a 2011-pin LGA socket.
Before you start whining about not being able to drop Gulftown's successor into your existing X58 motherboard, note that the LGA1366 socket will have been around for three years by the time the X79 arrives. It looks like the nearly 50% more pins that this socket provides will be put to good use, too. Although it's not mentioned in either of the slides, it.com.cn says this enthusiast-oriented Sandy Bridge CPU will pack four memory channels. The slides suggest that some of the extra pins could be dedicated to a beefier connection to the X79 chipset.
Like Intel's current DMI interconnect, the X79's link with the CPU will be based on PCI Express. In Sandy Bridge CPUs, you get four lanes good for 4GB/s of aggregate bandwidth. I'd expect at least that much with the X79, which also has the ability to employ an additional four-lane interconnect reserved solely to storage devices. Why might one need a dedicated storage pipe to the CPU? Because the X79 reportedly has 14 Serial ATA channels. 10 of those will offer 6Gbps connectivity, and eight of 'em are supposed to work with Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) drives.
With that kind of storage payload, the X79 should be equally at home on motherboards built for servers, workstations, and enthusiast desktops. Yes, the "E" in Sandy Bridge - E stands for enthusiast—and probably expensive, too. Thanks to the HardOCP for the tip.
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