X79, Llano motherboards break cover at Computex

Computex — Intel’s X58 chipset is in dire need of an upgrade, and we caught a glimpse of what that will look like while visiting with Gigabyte today in Taipei. The company was displaying an X79 motherboard equipped with a 2011-pin socket primed for "Sandy Bridge-E" CPUs. Check it out:

The next-gen socket looks pretty beefy and extends all the way to the heatsink mounting holes. Two DIMM slots line up on each side, allowing users to tap each of the CPU’s quad memory channels with a single module. South of the socket, a stack of five PCI Express x16 slots provides loads of expansion capacity. At least some of those slots are based on the PCIe 3.0 standard, which doubles the per-lane bandwidth available with gen-two PCI Express. Add in 14 Serial ATA ports, and this puppy looks like one heck of an enthusiast board.

If you’re in the market for something a little more sedate, Gigabyte was also showing Llano boards based on AMD’s A75 platform hub. The model pictured above uses a full-size ATX form factor, but microATX flavors are on the way, as well. AMD hasn’t officially announced when Llano will hit desktops, but if motherboards are already being displayed, the next batch of Fusion APUs can’t be too far away.

When Gigabyte announced its G1-Killer series of high-end motherboards at CES earlier this year, we lamented the lack of love for Intel’s newly launched Sandy Bridge CPUs. As it turns out, delaying the series’ foray into LGA1155 waters might not have been such a bad idea. The first G1-Killer board designed for Sandy Bridge CPUs is based on the new Z68 Express chipset, which boasts switchable graphics and SSD caching capabilities—exactly the sort of features you’d want in a high-end motherboard. Gigabyte doesn’t stop there, either. The G1-Killer also features an onboard X-Fi backed by audiophile-grade electrical components. There’s an integrated Killer NIC, too.

Speaking of Z68 motherboards, Gigabyte has cooked up a feature called EZ Smart Response that allows Intel’s SSD caching scheme to run with the storage controller configured in AHCI or IDE mode. Smart Response currently requires the storage controller to be in RAID mode, which can create problems if you’re trying to add an SSD cache to a system that’s already been set up in either of the other two modes. EZ Smart Response should be a good match for the four Z68 models Gigabyte is preparing with onboard mSATA slots. One of those boards, the Z68XP-UD3-iSSD, will be bundled with an Intel 311 Series 20GB SSD.

Comments closed
    • internetsandman
    • 8 years ago

    I might have fallen behind on Intel’s CPU roadmap, what are the differences between Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge-E CPU’s? Which sockets will they go into? How many cores will each variant go up to? Are either of them actual new architectures?

    • FuturePastNow
    • 8 years ago

    That’s one big socket. Looks like Intel has finally been forced to replace the pushpins for heatsink mounting.

    • loophole
    • 8 years ago

    Are we expecting to see any enthusiast X79 motherboards with more than one DIMM slot per channel?

    For any X58 owners who have boards that support 6 DIMM slots (which I’d guess would probably be most) it looks like we’re losing some flexibility in memory configurations.

      • loophole
      • 8 years ago

      We should see some 8 DIMM slot boards.
      Here’s an interesting Asus hybrid board with both LGA1366 and LGA2011 sockets with 8 DIMM slots hanging off the LGA2011 socket:
      [url<]http://en.ocworkbench.com/tech/computex-taipei-2011-coverage-asus-showcase-dual-socket-lga1366-and-lga2011-rog-motherboard-danshui-bay/[/url<]

    • michael_d
    • 8 years ago

    X58 owners should wait for Ivy Bridge or for a new 22nm architecture, X79 ain’t worth it.

    • Forge
    • 8 years ago

    I want that X79 board.

    Gigabyte! I am loyal X58-UD5 owner! Previously owned and loved the EP35-DS4. I love you! Please?

    • Firestarter
    • 8 years ago

    14 SATA ports? Awesome! That way I’ll have plenty of upgrade room after I’ve hooked up all 3 of my SATA drives 😎

    • Parallax
    • 8 years ago

    Someone please design a MB with more than 4 memory slots!

      • RickyTick
      • 8 years ago

      Wouldn’t that be an X58 with 6 DIMM slots?

      • wibeasley
      • 8 years ago

      How about 32 DIMMS? [url<]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813151219[/url<] Or 8 for a single socked Magny-Cours? [url<]http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813182240[/url<]

    • gbcrush
    • 8 years ago

    Pictures or it didn’t happen! 😀

    …and well heck. I was pretty sure I had a mobo and processor all nice and selected for my fall build. I guess I’ll keep my mind a open a little longer and see what computex reveals to try and change my mind. 🙂

      • gbcrush
      • 8 years ago

      ok, there the pictures go. guess it took a moment.

      I’d -1 myself if I could 🙂

      But now that they’re up, indeed, it says PCIe 3.0. I thought they were waiting for Ivy Bridge to do that? Everything I heard about SB-E said PCIe 2.0, with 2.0 channels acting as an uplink to the processor.

      This, perhaps anything, might make me consider going SB-E instead of normal sandy bridge.

        • bcronce
        • 8 years ago

        Ivy Bridge is coming out either this fall or next spring. The X79 will use PCIe3.0 because IB will run on the X79.

          • OneArmedScissor
          • 8 years ago

          That doesn’t have anything to do with X79 boards for a long time to come. The PCIe controllers are in the CPUs in both cases, unlike with previous X series boards.

          Ivy Bridge as it will be known through the next year or so is still socket 1155, just a straight shrink of the existing mainstream Sandy Bridge platform, and doesn’t have a set release date yet.

            • bcronce
            • 8 years ago

            I guess I did word that incorrectly.

            I was meaning to say, Ivy Bridge Server/Enthusiast was long ago announced to be on the 2011 pin, to have quad channel and PCIe3.0

            It was only fairly recently announced that Sand Bridge would have a 2011 pin variant. It was generally expected that the 2011 was to be just for IB until the recent (February) announcement that there would also be an SB-E version.

            “The PCIe controllers are in the CPUs in both cases, unlike with previous X series boards.”

            Partially correct. The SB-E/IB-E will have an “additional” PCIe3 4x coming directly off the CPU and meant specifically for the SATA controller. There is still a QPI link from the CPU to the x79 and the x79 then has your regular PCIe3 links for the GPU/etc.

            The x79 boards will have 10 SATA6 and 4 SATA3 controllers. 10 SATA6 ports can consume nearly 7500MB/sec, which could easily happen with SSDs that will be coming out over the next few years. A 4x PCIe3 gives those ports their own 4GB/sec of bandwidth that doesn’t have to contend with anything else. 4GB/sec is only 8 of the newer 550MB/sec SSDs. This should help IO, mostly for servers than desktops.

            All the need now is another 4x PCIe from the CPU to 4 10gb NICs.

            • OneArmedScissor
            • 8 years ago

            I don’t think you’re explaining that right. The QPI link should handle all the controllers in the southbridge just fine. The southbridge has its own 8 PCIe 2.0 lanes, but just for additional, less demanding peripherals that connect to 1x slots or the like.

            When they say the additional 4x PCIe 3.0 link is for storage, they mean a high end PCIe SSD, which can go several GB/s and include their own SATA controller. They have not made it clear, but it likely goes straight to the CPU to lower latency.

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