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ZOTAC Readies Monster LGA1155 Motherboard

ZOTAC entered the motherboard scene as yet another vendor of reference NVIDIA nForce motherboards, which the like of EVGA, XFX, and BFG also sold. After the fall of nForce, ZOTAC attempted a LGA1366 motherboard, and went dormant with motherboards. Later, it picked up interest in the mini-ITX form-factor as it gained popularity in Asian markets like China and India, manufacturing motherboards based on Intel Atom, Atom with NVIDIA ION, and eventually socketed mini-ITX motherboards as it became a 2-chip affair with Intel's Ibex Peak platform (LGA1156). It looks like Zotac is making a comeback into full-size ATX motherboards that target the very top tier of the market, to woo gamers, professional overclockers, and enthusiasts.

Seen here is what the Chinese press is referring to as "ZT-Z68 Crown Edition-U1DU3", we may have lost the correct name in translation, but let's call it ZT-Z68-U1DU3 for now. It is a full-size ATX motherboard that takes socket LGA1155 Intel Sandy Bridge and future Ivy Bridge processors, and is based on the Intel Z68 Express chipset. It combines a strong VRM to support extreme overclocking, with graphics expansion, adding 4-way NVIDIA SLI and AMD CrossFireX capabilities using an NVIDIA BR-03 bridge-chip that sits on the processor's PCI-E x16 link, to give out two PCI-Express 2.0 x16 links, which are then spread between four slots in x16/NC/x16/NC, x16/NC/x8/x8, or x8/x8/x8/x8 lane configurations.

Intel Smart Response Technology Detailed

Remember the very first strains of Ibex Peak LGA1156 platform motherboards such as this one? Remember that small memory slot next to the bigger DIMM slots? That was Intel's ambitious "Braidwood" technology, a NAND-flash based hard drive assist feature. Fast NAND flash memory would be installed onto the motherboard in the form of removable modules, and those modules would quicken system booting, and act as a fast cache for the system drive. Alas, Braidwood was axed for reasons unknown till date. Maybe it made Ibex Peak platform a lot faster than it should be, or maybe its design wasn't perfected or flawed. Regardles, it disappeared.

Two platforms (Ibex Peak and Cougar Point) later, a similar technology is making its way through Intel's pipes, this time it has a proper market name: Intel Smart Response Technology, and comes with another new development, Larsen Creek. Larsen Creek is the codename of Intel's upcoming line of solid state drives. However, it is targeting entry-level, low-capacity markets, and what better way to sell it than club it with Intel's new platform technology, Smart Response. Instead of NAND flash modules (Braidwood), Intel's Smart Response technology uses SATA SSDs to accelerate hard drives. The SSD can be of any size and speed, it's just that Larsen Creek is the most appropriate given that it will come in capacities as low as 20 GB, and be quite inexpensive.

AMD Details Bulldozer Processor Architecture

AMD is finally going to embrace a truly next generation x86 processor architecture that is built from ground up. AMD's current architecture, the K10(.5) "Stars" is an evolution of the more market-successful K8 architecture, but it didn't face the kind of market success as it was overshadowed by competing Intel architectures. AMD codenamed its latest design "Bulldozer", and it features an x86 core design that is radically different from anything we've seen from either processor giants. With this design, AMD thinks it can outdo both HyperThreading and Multi-Core approaches to parallelism, in one shot, as well as "bulldoze" through serial workloads with a broad 8 integer pipeline per core, (compared to 3 on K10, and 4 on Westmere). Two almost-individual blocks of integer processing units share a common floating point unit with two 128-bit FMACs.

AMD is also working on a multi-threading technology of its own to rival Intel's HyperThreading, that exploits Bulldozer's branched integer processing backed by shared floating point design, which AMD believes to be so efficient, that each SMT worker thread can be deemed a core in its own merit, and further be backed by competing threads per "core". AMD is working on another micro-architecture codenamed "Bobcat", which is a downscale implementation of Bulldozer, with which it will take on low-power and high performance per Watt segments that extend from all-in-One PCs all the way down to hand-held devices and 8-inch tablets. We will explore the Bulldozer architecture in some detail.

Intel Sandy Bridge to Introduce New Sockets, Chipsets, Reorganize Platform Further

Intel plans a pair of new sockets for launch with its new processor architecture that succeeds Westmere, codenamed "Sandy Bridge", which are due for 2011. As part of its "tick-tock" product launch strategy, the company is currently transitioning between the 45 nm "tock" (Nehalem architecture), and 32 nm "tick" (Westmere architecture). In 2011, it will transition from the 32 nm "tick" (Westmere architecture), to the 32 nm "tock" (Sandy Bridge architecture). The company uses a "tick-tock" model of process development, where each processor architecture gets to be made in two successive manufacturing processes, while each process gets to build two succeeding architectures. It seems to have become clear that with Sandy Bridge, Intel will also switch to new socket designs, making existing motherboards obsolete then. Architecturally, Sandy Bridge will introduce new feature-sets that make the CPU more powerful, clock-to-clock, such as AVX - Advanced Vector Extensions, an evolution of the SSE instruction set, native AES engine which has been introduced with Westmere, and so on.

The present LGA-1156 package on which Intel builds value-through-performance processors including a bulk of mainstream processors, will be succeeded with the LGA-1155 package. Though similar, LGA-1155 and LGA-1156 are not inter-compatible, meaning that LGA-1155 processors will not work on existing LGA-1156 motherboards, and LGA-1156 processors will not work on LGA-1155 motherboards, either. For these processors, the arrangement of vital components is similar to the LGA-1156 package, except that every LGA-1155 processor - dual-core or quad-core - will feature an on-die display controller.

Eurocom Launches World's First i7 Clarksfield Based High-End Notebooks

Eurocom, the world's leading developer of highly personalized, high-performance notebook PCs and LCD PCs, plans to launch its new mobile notebook line-up based on Intel Calpella in early October. The Calpella platform is based on Clarksfield processors with four cores that will be marketed by Intel under Core i7 trademark as well code-named Ibex Peak-M core logic that will be branded as Intel PM55.

There will be two notebook models available: 15.6-inch HD EUROCOM W860CU Cougar and 17.3-inch W870CU Cheetah based on Intel i7 Mobile processors, Intel PM55 chipset, DDR3-1333 Memory, NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 2x0M or GTX 3x0M series upgradeable MXM 3.0 Type B VGA technology.

Gigabyte GA-IBP LGA-1156 Motherboard Pictured

It looks like motherboard vendors aren't missing the opportunity CeBIT provides to display their upcoming motherboards, notably those based on Intel's LGA-1156 supportive P55 chipset. One of the first ones from the house of Gigabyte is the GA-IBP. "IBP" refers to "Ibex Peak", the platform codename. Featuring most common components of a motherboard of its kind, that include four DDR3 DIMM slots for dual-channel memory, connections for Intel's Felxible Display Interface (FDI), three PCI-E x16 (electrical x16, x8, x8, rearranges based on slot population), and the single-chip P55 chipset, the board supports both ATI CrossFireX and NVIDIA SLI technologies. six internal SATA ports, HDCP-compliant onboard audio and dual-Gigabit LAN make for the rest of the offering. We will learn more about this basic design from Gigabyte as we get closer to the launch of Intel's upcoming LGA-1156 processors.

Source: PCGH

ECS Shows Off LFH-A P55 Motherboard

ECS showcased yet another upcoming motherboard during the ongoing CeBIT event: the LFH-A. Based on Intel's P55 chipset, the motherboard supports LGA-1156 socket. Featuring all the essentials the Ibex Peak platform provides, that includes two support for dual-channel DDR3 memory, six internal SATA ports, two PCI-Express 2.0 x16 slots and one PCI-E x4, the board also extensively supports Intel's Flexible Display Interface that links the IGP on the processor die to the connectors on the board: DVI, D-Sub and HDMI.

The P55 chipset is cooled by a small pre-production heatsink. It should also indicate that the P55 chip indeed runs cool enough to warrant a heatsink of that size, and that since most of the traditional chipset machinery has migrated to the CPU, there's very little the vendors need to do as far as chipset cooling goes. ECS LFH-A might feature in some of the first waves of motherboards to launch along with the launch of the platform itself.

Source: Silicon Madness

Intel to Add More Mobile CPUs, Ibex Peak in 3Q'09

Industry sources tell DigiTimes, that Intel would be launching a fleet of mid-thru-high end mobile processors on December 28, later this year. These processors fall under the 35W Core 2 Duo range, for use in notebooks. The processors include Core 2 Duo models T9800, P9600, T9550 and T8700. It also includes Core 2 Quad Q9000. The dual-core chips are priced (in above order) US$530, $348, $316 and $241, while the Q9000 will sell for $348, in thousand-unit tray quantities.

Around the same time, Intel would give the desktop Core 2 Duo E8600, a much needed price cut sending its price from $241 to $209. In other news, the P55 PCH chipset for LGA-1160 socket, would be available in the third quarter of 2009, note sources at motherboard manufacturers.Source: DigiTimes

P55 to Succeed P45 as Mainstream Core Logic

In the weeks to come Intel and its partners, would be buzzing with activity, in the form of product launches. Three models of the Core i7 series processors, accompanied by supportive motherboards, and possibly tri-channel DDR3 memory kits, would hit shelves. The LGA-1366 socket would serve as an extreme and performance segment offering, on the whole. The mainstream segment would continue in the form of the newer LGA-1160 socket, and the Ibex Peak platform. Processors would essentially use the same architecture as the upcoming i7 processors, but feature dual-channel memory interfaces, and continue using the DMI front-side bus as the system interface.

As for its supportive chipset, Intel plans to label them under the P5x series. Chipsets without IGPs, would have so little machinery, with the memory controller shifted to the CPU, that even high-performance chipsets could be monolithic. A single chip would handle the system's peripherals, storage, and connect it to the CPU. There are indications that the CPU could house PCI-Express switches on-die. This would provide direct connections between PCI-E devices such as graphics cards, and the CPU. The P5x series chipsets could include a confirmed P55 chipset that rules its roost, with P53 and P51 chipsets that fabricate the lineup.

Platform Images of the Ibex Peak Emerge

The first platform image of a reference motherboard based on the 1160-pin land grid array (LGA-1160) and its initial corresponding core-logic Ibex Peak has emerged, it was pictured at the Intel Developer Forum. The pictures show a company reference board with the LGA-1160 socket. A quick glance over the board shows its most significant feature, the core-logic (chipset) is now consolidated into a single chip instead of the traditional northbridge + southbridge design. The board features four DDR3 slots, the processors that make it this platform, namely Lynnfield and Havendale would sport dual-channel memory controllers. This board merely demonstrates the platform, it cannot be taken as Intel's final design at this point. Next to the DDR3 slots can be seen a SO-DIMM slot, that goes on to show that the very same platform could drive Nehalem's mobile platform.

Source: Expreview

Details on the Ibex Peak Platform Emerge, 4x PCI-E 2.0 x16 @ x16

Ibex Peak is the name of the system core logic platform that runs the LGA 1160 socket processors that are expected to release later next year. It is peculiar as to being a single-chip design, where the northbridge (NB) + southbridge (SB) design that Intel has been having for all these years paves way for a single chip that handles both their functions. This level of integration is possible with a huge chunk of machinery for the memory controller being transferred to the CPU, with the chipset left to perform all functions of the ICH and also hold a PCI-Express switch. This design methodology has been adopted by NVIDIA almost five years ago with some of the nForce chipsets for the AMD platform coming in single chip designs for the very same reason. Only in cases where large PCI-E switches were used, the chipset was split up into SPP and MCP (NB and SB), such as the nForce 590 SLI, with the SPP and MCP holding smaller PCI-E switches each to total the x16, x16 lane count.

Back to 2008 and Ibex Peak, apart from the Calpella mobile platform where mobile variants of these chips are used, three new desktop/enterprise platforms emerge:
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