DigiTimes’ sources buried deep in the motherboard industry are talking again. This time, it’s about Intel’s upcoming 7-series chipsets for Ivy Bridge processors. We got our first hint of their capabilities a few months ago, and this latest report confirms what we learned back then. 7-series chipsets will apparently stick with the same Serial ATA setup as current 6-series models but add four USB 3.0 ports to the mix. The Z77 and Z75 will probably be most interesting to enthusiasts; DigiTimes’ moles say both will support CPU overclocking and Intel’s Smart Response SSD caching scheme.
Those same sources indicate that 7-series chipsets are coming in “March or April 2012.” We’ve already seen at least one 6-series motherboard that promises compatibility with Intel’s next-gen CPU, so it’s possible that Intel could unleash its new CPUs before rolling out fresh chipsets. Given recent history, though, I’d expect Ivy Bridge and 7-series chipsets to arrive together.
At the tail end of the article, DigiTimes mentions that Intel will be ready to ship X79 chipsets in August. The X58 replacement is long overdue, and most of the motherboard makers we spoke to at Computex mentioned an August/September timeframe for X79 boards. With quad memory channels and a whopping 14 Serial ATA ports, the X79 is clearly designed for workstations and servers. It’ll be interesting to see whether enthusiasts adopt the platform as eagerly as they have other high-end Intel chipsets.