Gigabyte X79 board lends credence to cut-down chipset rumors

Despite everyone at Computex talking about Intel’s upcoming Sandy Bridge E processors arriving in the August/September timeframe alongside X79 motherboards, the rumor mill has recently hinted that there could be a delay. We’ve heard mumblings about the platform’s PCI Express 3.0 implementation not being ready for prime time. There’s also word that the X79 chipset, which was slated to have a staggering 14 Serial ATA channels, has been cut down considerably.

Intel remains tight-lipped on the subject, but Turkish site Donanim Haber has come upon pictures of a new Gigabyte X79 motherboard that may shed some light on the matter. The board proudly proclaims its PCI Express 3.0 support, so that’s still in the cards in some form. However, given Intel’s history with the gen-two spec, it’s probably not safe to assume that the next-gen PCIe implementation is running at full speed.

Looking over the board reveals six edge-mounted Serial ATA ports and at least two Serial Attached SCSI connectors. The X79 was supposed to have up to eight SAS ports, but that always seemed like overkill for high-end desktop systems.

That’s not to say the Gigabyte board, referred to as the GA-6PXSV, is entirely free of excess. There are eight DIMM slots onboard—two for each of Sandy Bridge E’s four memory channels. You also get PCIe x8 and x4 slots in addition to a pair of x16s. Amusingly, the port cluster appears to be peppered with a pair of serial ports. There’s no new information on when we’ll see boards like this one in the wild, though.

Comments closed
    • DjKlax
    • 8 years ago

    Interesting article, but it has a flaw. The motherboard picture the Donanim Haber website posted was taken at Computex, before all the reports about the lack of PCI Express 3.0 in SNB-E started appearing.

    You can see it here: [url<]http://www.heise.de/newsticker/meldung/Mainboards-fuer-Sandy-Bridge-Xeons-E5-2400-und-E5-2600-1253138.html[/url<]

    • jackbomb
    • 8 years ago

    Last board I had with 8 memory slots was a PII/440FX board that took EDO memory. And it had a staggering [i<]two[/i<] 16.7mb/s PATA channels, none of which were edge-mounted.

    • Rectal Prolapse
    • 8 years ago

    Hmmm – I thought each SAS connector can handle 4 ports each – so two SAS connectors = 8 ports.

      • Kurotetsu
      • 8 years ago

      You are correct. So it looks like this line:

      [quote=”Tech Report”<]Looking over the board reveals six edge-mounted Serial ATA ports and at least two Serial Attached SCSI connectors. The X79 was supposed to have up to eight SAS ports--[/quote<] Is misleading?

    • loophole
    • 8 years ago

    It’s good to see a board with eight DIMM slots rather than the four we saw on all the boards from Computex – going back to four slots after having 6 in the original Nehalem platform with X58 seemed like a bit of a backwards move.

      • Krogoth
      • 8 years ago

      There will be “budget”/mATX X78/X79 boards with four-DIMM slots.

      Boards with eight or mroe DIMM slots are only going to be found on higher-end boards geared toward prosumers.

      • chuckula
      • 8 years ago

      Bear in mind that the older X58 boards mainly only support 4GB DIMMs while the new X79s likely support 8 GB DIMMs so even a 4 socket board could support up to 32 GB instead of 24 GB in the older boards.

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 8 years ago

    Every time I read something about SB-E, it reads like, “Intel failed on <something new>, Ivy Bridge-E will be the real deal.” Intel’s heart’s (wow, they have one!) just not in the work around this platform, is it?

    Perhaps they should just scrap SB-E, delay it a bit, and make it all IB-E much sooner instead. So instead of waiting until October for IB-E, give it to us in June (or earlier) and let the high end stick with SB then IB until then. Much rather see a complete platform than one they hacked to pieces just to get out.

    • UberGerbil
    • 8 years ago

    Until PCIe 3.0 peripherals start showing up, it’s going to be hard to test/prove the motherboard implementation — even for Intel (in terms of real world devices — obviously they have the tools to test against the specs).

    Serial ports are still useful to a lot of scientifc / industrial applications that workstations are disporportionately involved in. And they’re still the simplest way to get IO when debugging.

    And there is no number of DIMM slots that a workstation customer will consider excessive.

    It’s hard to imagine a workstation situation that needs that much (local) SAS connectivity, though; that looks more like a case of “the server chipset needs to have it so we might as well throw it in.” So while a cut down implementation is unlikely to matter to workstation customers, it’s a bit ominous for the server timetable..

      • chuckula
      • 8 years ago

      If the X79 on display will be a commercial product, and isn’t just a prototype where they stick on serial ports to talk to diagnostic equipment and what-not, then the serial ports are likely there for specialized scientific and industrial applications where RS-232 is very much alive & well. I’d also expect to see a “gamer” version that drops any legacy ports.

      Testing for PCI express 3.0 is very much a chicken & egg problem since there are no commercially available parts so Intel is likely stuck with specialty boards that behave the way the PCI express 3.0 is “supposed” to behave.. but in the real world the spec and actual products can be different in subtle and annoying ways.

        • UberGerbil
        • 8 years ago

        I meant when debugging (low-level) [i<]software[/i<]. You don't even need anything that resembles a library / driver to emit bytes to an old serial port from assembly. Good luck doing that with USB. And yeah, the fact that real-world components in the wild can depart from the presumed interpretation of the specs in theory is exactly what I was talking about.

      • Kurotetsu
      • 8 years ago

      Having some built-in SAS ports would be useful if you have the excess cash needed to buy one of these:

      [url<]https://techreport.com/discussions.x/21439[/url<]

        • Farting Bob
        • 8 years ago

        If your spending that much, get a PCIe SSD, much faster speed, no need for power cables etc.

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