Could Intel’s next chipsets drop PCI support?

Intel has had no qualms about producing chipsets without ATA/100 support for the past four years or so, forcing motherboard makers to rely on third-party storage controllers. Could support for 32-bit PCI be next? The folks at Hardware Upgrade seem to think so.

According to the Italian website, “reports” suggest mainstream and high-end versions of Intel’s 6-series chipsets, the “H67, H61 and P67,” won’t have built-in PCI support. Only the business-oriented “Q67, Q65 and B65” chipsets will keep the aging expansion bus. Even if this rumor is true, board makers should have no trouble chucking in some third-party silicon to implement PCI support—the Biostar H67 and P67 mobos we saw at Computex both rocked 32-bit PCI slots.

We asked Intel to comment, but the company wasn’t willing to confirm or deny the rumor, saying the information below is all it’s made public about 6-series chipsets:

MB Spec card model name: XXX (Company) Intel® 6 Series Chipset based Motherboard

Supports next generation Intel® Core™ processors (codename Sandy Bridge)

LGA 1155 Socket

DDR3 Memory

SATA 3.0 (6 Gb/s)

Integrated 1000/100/10 MAC

As you might already know, the 6-series chipsets should arrive together with Intel’s next-generation Sandy Bridge processors next year. Sandy Bridge will have an LGA1155 package, and we’re told neither the boards nor the chips will be backward-compatible with current LGA1156 offerings.

The funny thing is that most motherboards for Intel CPUs still feature parallel ATA connectors, even in this brave new world of hexa-core processors and PCI Express 2.0 graphics cards. Even if Intel kills chipset-level PCI support, I suspect PCI slots could stick around for years to come.

Comments closed
    • ronch
    • 9 years ago

    This is a two-edged sword. On one hand, a lot of PCI cards such as Wi-Fi adapters are still flooding the market. On the other hand, this move will force the industry to finally drop PCI. And who better to do it than Intel? Not AMD, not Nvidia, not Obama.

    Intel is playing with fire here, as integrators and DIYers will be grumpy about having no PCI slots, but really, they’re doing everyone a favor. So, kudos, Intel dudes.

    • paulWTAMU
    • 9 years ago

    Good! While I understand why businesses keep legacy ports around (somewhat) I don’t get how they last so long in the consumer market. Kill PS/2 and PATA and parallel ports please. I just hate having more crap I don’t need cluttering up the motherboard.

    • FireGryphon
    • 9 years ago

    For an industry that advances so quickly, we sure keep outdated standards that are rarely used for a very long time. Some of it just doesn’t make sense, like LCD projectors. Long after DVI became a standard, projectors still come with VGA ports. The things are already expensive enough, so why not catch up on the connectivity front?

      • indeego
      • 9 years ago

      “Long after DVI became a standard, projectors still come with VGA ports.”

      DVI hasn’t been an output standard on many business laptops, which are the most common to use a projector. DVI incurs a licensing cost and OEM manufacturers never really liked it for inclusion on their mobile lines.

      When you have to give a presentation in a foreign location, you don’t want to worry about compatible connectors for your laptop, you simply want it to work. When a good majority of projectors *[

    • indeego
    • 9 years ago

    Q. Is there a single accessory/add-in device from the IBM PC’s of the mid-80’s( or later that claimed compatibility) that in no way could be fit in a modern full tower case using adapters/convertersg{

    • SonicSilicon
    • 9 years ago

    Heh. I’ve found PCIe to PCI adapters and even ribbon PCI extenders, so “legacy” cards can still be used. (It’s amazing how hard it is to find a pair of PCI slots on an Atom motherboard.)

    • swaaye
    • 9 years ago

    I think we should dump PCIe 1x and keep PCI! PCI has vastly more useful cards available. 😉

    I had a boatload of antifun with two ATI Theater PCIe cards a few years ago. A 550 and a 650. They weren’t reliably recognized by a few motherboards I tried them in. That has actually been my only exposure to PCIe 1x cards.

    Expansion slots don’t get much use these days. I’m thinking that wireless NICs are probably the most popular use? Sound cards are pretty much gone for most people though I use a few. Almost everything else is built-in. I have had to buy a few PCI serial port cards.

    • phileasfogg
    • 9 years ago

    Tundra Semi (now a division of IDT) makes a PCIe-x1 to PCI32bit/33Mhz(or 66Mhz) bridge chip. So does PLX, their chip is called the PEX8112. Sales of both those devices will see a nice uptick if Intel removes PCI support from the 6-series chipsets.

      • phileasfogg
      • 9 years ago

      I should also add Texas Instruments’ XIO2001 (PCIExpress to PCI Bus translation bridge) to this list. So, it’s not as if mobo manufacturers are lacking in choices to allow them to implement PCI slots in the future if they choose to. It will however add to the BOM (bill of materials) cost, which in the end will be passed down to you and me, their consumers. 😉

      • Triskaine
      • 9 years ago

      quoting l[

      • mortifiedPenguin
      • 9 years ago

      According to the PCIe Wikipedia article, PCIe is software compatible with the PCI spec even if it is not hardware compatible. In otherwords, the existence of PCIe should substitute for legacy PCI, as far as Windows is concerned.

        • mnecaise
        • 9 years ago

        Yes, PCI/e looks like PCI, in a generic sense, from a driver perspective. The hardware layer changed but the software layer was done in such a way as to maintain compatibility so it didn’t break too much.

      • yuhong
      • 9 years ago

      To be more precise, it isn’t just the PCI bus. Even today’s Windows need the hardware to be IBM PC compatible to work, and Moorestown isn’t. There is a couple of other differences too, such as SFI vs ACPI.

    • flip-mode
    • 9 years ago

    Good news.

    • Farting Bob
    • 9 years ago

    You can still buy PCI network cards, TV tuners etc. Why i dont know, but companies still make them.
    I can understand on mainstream boards having at least 1 slot is handy (and who really needs 7 PCIE slots anyway, its simpler to chuck in a few PCI slots to fill space) but the super high end enthusiast boards still have 1 or even 2. Do people who buy $300 boards with built in watercooling and support for 700w CPU’s really keep hanging onto decade old PCI cards?

      • OneArmedScissor
      • 9 years ago

      There are two reasons:

      1) They will plug into almost any computer, whether it’s brand new or 10 years old.
      2) They are not hindered by the PCI bus for the things they’re used for.

      You can put 48 CPU cores in one computer, but you don’t even see quad-cores replacing dual-cores. Enough is enough.

    • Krogoth
    • 9 years ago

    PCI is already dead.

    There is no reason to have it on a modern system now that non-video PCIe cards are in bulk availability. I am surprised how long PCI managed to persist. It is almost 20 years old! I think it had managed to outlast ISA!

    • Spotpuff
    • 9 years ago

    Yes, please. I’m just thankful I can put my video card in the bottom PCI-E x16 slot and only block useless PCI ports…

    • jdaven
    • 9 years ago

    It’s about time to kill legacy devices and ports. Sometimes the desire for backwards compatibility can go too far and makes it harder to discontinue these aging standards..

    The first PCI bus was created in July 1993. Seventeen years is enough. No other expansion slot has lasted even near that long. Not because PCI is so great. PCIe is way better. No, because the idea of infinite backwards compatibility as a feature is shared by too many in the tech industry.

    Other technologies that need to die a quick death: PS/2 (1987), PATA (1986), floppy (1982), VGA (1987), RS232 (1969).
    -Dates from wikipedia

    Look at those dates!!! I think some of you just don’t know how old some of these technologies are.

    • pedro
    • 9 years ago

    That’s the thing: PCI won’t be going anywhere for a long, long time even if it’s dropped from the chipset.

    I’d have no problems at all with a PCI-free motherboard but I imagine a *lot* of people have a TV tuner, high-end soundcard, WLAN adapter, etc. that’s PCI.

    • 5150
    • 9 years ago

    Good, kill it with fire.

    • anotherengineer
    • 9 years ago

    Hmmm have to see it to believe it. If so I don’t think I would get one, as my tv tuner and soundcard are pci.

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