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P6X58D Premium

Forget Intel, mobo makers will go on their own

Technology enthusiasts are the first to adopt faster interfaces. Interface speeds increase every couple of years, and it is no surprise that an upgrade cycle usually follows. No one wants to get stuck with an older interface, especially if they are planning to keep their motherboard for several years.

USB 3.0 and 6 Gbps SATA are both getting speed increases this year in an unusual two-for-one special. USB 3.0 introduces the SuperSpeed mode, which provides raw throughput of 5 Gbps versus the measly 480 Mbps of USB 2.0. The USB interface uses 8b10 encoding, so with overhead USB 3.0 will top out at around 400 MB/s. This standard will quickly be adopted by USB flash drives and digital cameras due to the large amounts of data involved.

The case for 6 Gbps SATA isn't as strong, unless you're into Solid State Drives. While Seagate has shipped the world's first hard drive to support the new standard, it uses magnetic storage and is only able to use the extra bandwidth when reading from cache. However, SSDs have been bandwidth limited since early this year, and SSDs supporting the new interface should have transfer speeds over 500 MB/s.

ASUS and Gigabyte were both showing off motherboards supporting USB 3.0 and 6 Gbps SATA during the Computex trade show in June. They both announced several motherboards last week, and the boards are available in volume. All of these boards use NEC's USB 3.0 host interface controller introduced in June.

ASUS is now shipping the P7P55D-E Premium using Intel's P55 chipset and the P6X58D Premium using the X58 chipset. The P55 chipset only supports the first generation of PCIe with single lane bandwidth of 250 MB/s, so ASUS uses a PLX8613 bridge chip and four PCIe lanes to optimize the throughput potential of the new interfaces.

The company is also making its U3S6 expansion card available for all P7P55D series motherboards. It will plug into a PCIe x4 or x8 connector and add two USB 3.0 and 6 Gbps SATA ports.

Gigabyte is also shipping seven motherboards in its P55A series supporting the new technologies. They have decided against using a bridge chip, but their implementation means you will be unable to use a second PCIe x16 slot for CrossFire or SLI.

Meanwhile, problems at Intel have delayed new chipsets that will use these new technologies until the beginning of 2011. Solutions from motherboard manufacturers will have to do for now.

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RE: So what happens...
By Taft12 on 11/4/2009 5:29:42 PM , Rating: 4
Are you saying Intel won't factor the cost of these features into their future chipset prices? That's quite some insider information you have!

RE: So what happens...
By leexgx on 11/5/2009 12:53:16 AM , Rating: 2
the USB 2.0 is norm Part of the south bridge, its only an matter of them putting USB 3.0 into it but they seem to be having some problems with making the USB 3.0 work as part as the south bridge, why its going to take them 1 year and bit seems bit long really as that may limit the use of USB 3 untill 2011-2012 (it has to be popular for companys to make stuff for it i guess USB 3.0 PCI-e cards will do but they take one slot up)

it will be cheaper having USB 3 part of the chip set then having an extra chip like now

RE: So what happens...
By Targon on 11/5/2009 6:42:54 AM , Rating: 2
The problem isn't just with USB 3.0 support, it is how Intel times the releases of their new chipsets, and deciding what features go in which chipsets.

Think about it, Intel makes different chipsets for different levels of machines, and they try to force people to buy high-end chipsets to go with the high end processor lines when they can. On the flip side, AMD releases one Northbridge and one Southbridge every so often, but doesn't worry about trying to rope people into buying only the highest end chipsets to support lower end processors. The only question is when AMD will have their USB 3.0 chipset ready.

RE: So what happens...
By 457R4LDR34DKN07 on 11/5/2009 9:41:25 PM , Rating: 2
You can't really integrate this into south bridge because they generally only have 150 mb/s bandwidth. can't put it into northbridge for 55 chipsets because it is part of the processor uncore. As it stands intel can update the x58 nb but the 55 series it requires a faster bus likely 4x pci-e which would be direct from the processor uncore on the dmi.

RE: So what happens...
By mindless1 on 11/5/2009 11:43:59 PM , Rating: 2
While I have not kept up with the bandwidth of all chipset busses available in contemporary chipsets, I am fairly sure you are mistaken that there is only 150Mb/s bandwidth.

Intel's old Hub Link 1.0 to southbridges like ICH2 was 266MB/s, but today they are at least using 4X or 8X that, possibly about 2GB/s instead of 150MB/s.

RE: So what happens...
By 457R4LDR34DKN07 on 11/5/2009 11:51:33 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not going to dispute that I pulled that number out of knowhere, I looked for it but no avail. The fact still remains not enough bandwidth the rest is semantics.

RE: So what happens...
By 457R4LDR34DKN07 on 11/5/2009 11:58:43 PM , Rating: 2
I take back what I said earlier, it can likely be handled by the southbridge and dmi it's just not a standard feature.

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