Monday, August 7th 2017

Intel "Coffee Lake" Platform Detailed - 24 PCIe Lanes from the Chipset

Intel seems to be addressing key platform limitations with its 8th generation Core "Coffee Lake" mainstream desktop platform. The first Core i7 and Core i5 "Coffee Lake" processors will launch later this year, alongside motherboards based on the Intel Z370 Express chipset. Leaked company slides detailing this chipset make an interesting revelation, that the chipset itself puts out 24 PCI-Express gen 3.0 lanes, that's not counting the 16 lanes the processor puts out for up to two PEG (PCI-Express Graphics) slots.

The PCI-Express lane budget of "Coffee Lake" platform is a huge step-up from the 8-12 general purpose lanes put out by previous-generation Intel chipsets, and will enable motherboard designers to cram their products with multiple M.2 and U.2 storage options, besides bandwidth-heavy onboard devices such as additional USB 3.1 and Thunderbolt controllers. The chipset itself integrates a multitude of bandwidth-hungry connectivity options. It integrates a 10-port USB 3.1 controller, from which six ports run at 10 Gbps, and four at 5 Gbps.
Other onboard controllers includes a SATA AHCI/RAID controller with six SATA 6 Gbps ports. The platform also introduces PCIe storage options (either an M.2 slot or a U.2 port), which is wired directly to the processor. This is drawing inspiration from AMD AM4 platform, in which an M.2/U.2 option is wired directly to the SoC, besides two SATA 6 Gbps ports. The chipset also integrates a WLAN interface with 802.11ac and Bluetooth 5.0, though we think only the controller logic is integrated, and not the PHY itself (which needs to be isolated for signal integrity).

Intel is also making the biggest change to onboard audio standards since the 15-year old Azalia (HD Audio) specification. The new Intel SmartSound Technology sees the integration of a "quad-core" DSP directly into the chipset, with a reduced-function CODEC sitting elsewhere on the motherboard, probably wired using I2S instead of PCIe (as in the case of Azalia). This could still very much be a software-accelerated technology, where the CPU does the heavy lifting with DA/AD conversion.

According to leaked roadmap slides, Intel will launch its first 8th generation Core "Coffee Lake" processors along with motherboards based on the Z370 chipset within Q3-2017. Mainstream and value variants of this chipset will launch only in 2018.Sources: VideoCardz, PCEVA Forums
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68 Comments on Intel "Coffee Lake" Platform Detailed - 24 PCIe Lanes from the Chipset

#1
RejZoR
Few more years and we'll soon be down to just 8 PCIe lanes with Intel...

Am interested in the sound thingie. I wonder what it'll be like...
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#2
TheLostSwede
Oh look, I only posted this in the forums four days ago... https://www.techpowerup.com/forums/threads/z370-details-leak-interim-chipset-for-coffee-lake.235787/

Also, the Z370 appears to just a rebadge of the Z270 chipset, so there aren't really any news in terms of features. Please see https://ark.intel.com/products/98089/Intel-Z270-Chipset which clearly shows support for up to 24 PCIe lanes.

I'm also curious as to where the idea of extra PCIe lanes from the CPU is coming. All the slides state is that the Coffe Lake platform will support CPU-attached Intel PCIe storage, which most likely means you have to go down to x8 for graphics. The fact that it says Intel PCIe storage also suggests that it'll only work with Intel SSDs.

One more thing, the audio is apparently via MIPI if you look at the slide with the chipset diagram, not I2S.
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#3
dicktracy
Hope you guys get paid for trolling in every Intel articles.
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#4
TheLostSwede
dicktracy said:
Hope you guys get paid for trolling in every Intel articles.
Who's trolling? The fact that the author didn't read the slides correctly doesn't mean I'm trolling, I'm trying to correct factual issues with the article.
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#5
ShockG
It is indeed true that we have had a 24 lane capable PCH since Z270, so that isn't new.
There are some other features and integrated controller IO/connectivity that Z370 brings though which weren't available on Z270. Those could be interesting for sure
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#6
FrustratedGarrett
I don't need all these USB 3.1 ports and M.2 connections? Most mice and keyboards still use USB 2.0 connectors. System I/O performance on Intel platforms is always top notch, compared to AMD, but heck it doesn't make much difference in every-day usage.

I mostly play Indie games and HoTS these days so I don't really need a 6-core CPU. It's nice to have a proper 6-core mainstream CPUs from Intel, unlike the Ryzen ones, but most people don't need them.
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#7
TheLostSwede
ShockG said:
It is indeed true that we have had a 24 lane capable PCH since Z270, so that isn't new.
There are some other features and integrated controller IO/connectivity that Z370 brings though which weren't available on Z270. Those could be interesting for sure
Don't confuse the slides, the 8th Gen Intel Core Coffe Lake-S Platform Overview slide is not of the Z370 chipset, but of the future models, whatever they may be. The Z370 is on the KBL Refresh & CFL Desktop Platform Key Features slide only. Judging by the naming of this slide alone, the Z370 is a refresh of the Z270, nothing more, nothing less.

FrustratedGarrett said:
I don't need all these USB 3.1 ports and M.2 connections? Most mice and keyboards still use USB 2.0 connectors. System I/O performance on Intel platforms is always top notch, compared to AMD, but heck it doesn't make much difference in every-day usage.

I mostly play Indie games and HoTS these days so I don't really need a 6-core CPU. It's nice to have a proper 6-core mainstream CPUs from Intel, unlike the Ryzen ones, but most people don't need them.
Now now, no need to be selfish, other people might want them and USB is backwards compatible, so why be mad about that? NVMe is great, so why complain that you can use more storage options? Your needs aren't the same as everyone else's needs. No-one's forcing you to upgrade either...

Also, how are the Ryzen 6-cores not proper processors?
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#8
RejZoR
Intel X58 had 36 PCIe lanes. Freaking 9 years ago. One would expect mainstream stuff to catch up HEDT stuff after almost a decade...
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#9
TheLostSwede
RejZoR said:
Intel X58 had 36 PCIe lanes. Freaking 9 years ago. One would expect mainstream stuff to catch up HEDT stuff after almost a decade...
The X58 was a three chip solution though. Ever since the Northbridge/IOH/whatever was integrated into the CPU, we've seen fewer PCIe lanes in "mainstream" platforms, as the PCIe root complex takes up a lot of die space. So keeping the PCIe lane count low makes for cheaper to manufacture chips. This is why we're getting more and more lanes via the ICH from Intel instead now, with that nice PCIe 3.0 x4 (DMI) bottle neck between the chipset and CPU...

Posted on Reply
#10
-The_Mask-
The slides clearly state, that the platform has 24 PCI Express 3.0 lanes, including the 16 from the CPU.
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#11
Hood
btarunr said:
The PCI-Express lane budget of "Coffee Lake" platform is a huge step-up from the 8-12 general purpose lanes put out by previous-generation Intel chipsets,
Z97 has 8 chipset PCIe lanes, Z170 has 20, Z270 has 24 - so how is the same 24 lanes on Z370 a "step up"?
RejZoR said:
Few more years and we'll soon be down to just 8 PCIe lanes with Intel...
How did you get that from the OP? He (erroneously) said Z370 has MORE lanes, but it has the same 24 as Z270 - somehow you take that to mean Inel's lane count is shrinking every generation? Rej, you're slipping farther into a (Ry)zen meditation coma every day, come back to the familiar reality of Intel's safe embrace for a while, and play with your INTEL/NVIDIA PC ...Ryzen and Threadripper were only a bad dream, wake up now...
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#12
bug
RejZoR said:
Intel X58 had 36 PCIe lanes. Freaking 9 years ago. One would expect mainstream stuff to catch up HEDT stuff after almost a decade...
Apples to apples, you got 36 lanes from the northbridge. Today you get 16 from the CPU. You also got a staggering 6 lanes from the southbridge, whereas today you get 24. And you used to get 2.0 lanes and today you get 3.0. You got about the same number of lanes, but twice the bandwidth.

At the same time, I'm wondering where would manufacturers physically place those many M2 ports we are all waiting for. My motherboard is full ATX and can only accommodate 3. Perhaps with some redesign there could be 4. But that's still a far cry from the number of SATA ports we are used to.
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#13
Parn
24 lanes for the first time? Previous generations only offered 8 - 12 lanes? You joking?

Z270 offers 24 lanes and Z170 offers 20 lanes.

Multiple M.2, U.2 and USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports ... well, if you try to use all of them simultaneously, you will be bottlenecked by the 4-lane interconnect between the chipset and CPU. Honestly I don't understand why Intel can't just add 4 extra lanes into the CPU making it 20 instead of 16. Then users will be able to have a full 16x lane for graphics and the remaining 4 for a CPU attached storage. Surely a 20-lane mainstream CPU will not affect the sales of those 28 - 40 lanes HEDT parts.
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#14
Hood
RejZoR said:
Intel X58 had 36 PCIe lanes. Freaking 9 years ago. One would expect mainstream stuff to catch up HEDT stuff after almost a decade.
X58 has PCIe 1.1 lanes - the PCIe 3.0 lanes on Z170 and newer chipsets have about 4 times the speed and bandwidth - so X58 has the equivalent of 9 PCIe 3.0 lanes. Nice try, but go back to school, your math skills are getting rusty.
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#15
Readlight
Probably you can istal on it dolby master audio. They better need to make windows 10 drivers for produkts that peepl already haw tablets.
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#16
nemesis.ie
bug said:

At the same time, I'm wondering where would manufacturers physically place those many M2 ports we are all waiting for. My motherboard is full ATX and can only accommodate 3. Perhaps with some redesign there could be 4. But that's still a far cry from the number of SATA ports we are used to.
Some of the new boards already have m.2 slots (or one anyway) on the back of the motherboard.

Maybe in conjunction with case makers, a suitable area could be left with a hole (like the CPU holes we have seen appear in the last few years) to make using them easier?

1 on the rear for e.g. boot drive and 3 or 4 on the front and then maybe a couple on a riser (like Asus do) would give a good number.

Readlight said:
Probably you can istal on it dolby master audio.
Isn't Dolby calling their system "TrueAudio" and MasterAudio is the DTS one?

I want to see DTS-X and Atmos on-board, 15 channels. :) (4 subs)

That would save buying a separate sound processor.
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#17
TheLostSwede
Parn said:
24 lanes for the first time? Previous generations only offered 8 - 12 lanes? You joking?

Z270 offers 24 lanes and Z170 offers 20 lanes.

Multiple M.2, U.2 and USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports ... well, if you try to use all of them simultaneously, you will be bottlenecked by the 4-lane interconnect between the chipset and CPU. Honestly I don't understand why Intel can't just add 4 extra lanes into the CPU making it 20 instead of 16. Then users will be able to have a full 16x lane for graphics and the remaining 4 for a CPU attached storage. Surely a 20-lane mainstream CPU will not affect the sales of those 28 - 40 lanes HEDT parts.
Due to the integrated graphics, Intel only have some much die space before the chips get too costly to make.
This is a die shot of the i7-7700K.



And this is a die shot of an i7-6950X



Although they're not perfect comparisons, you can see that the I/O takes up a lot more space on the latter and part of this is the PCIe root complex. So there are some trade-offs to be done when it comes to die space used up by whatever part you want to stick inside a chip.

Likewise AMD compromised on Ryzen, although we get 20 usable lanes from the CPU, the chipset is instead crippled by only offering PCIe 2.0 lanes. The performance difference for NVMe between Ryzen and Intel (at least in my case using an Plextor M8PeG drive) is actually in favour of Intel in most tests, surprisingly and this was using a Z170 board.

Regardless, it would be nice to see Intel adding another 4-8 PCIe lanes to the CPU that could be used for storage and say 10Gbps Ethernet.
Posted on Reply
#18
Hood
Parn said:
Surely a 20-lane mainstream CPU will not affect the sales of those 28 - 40 lanes HEDT parts.
Yes it would, for the reason you just stated (it would seem to remove one reason to upgrade to HEDT, for those who can't do simple math). However, since Z170, the chipset lanes are PCIe 3.0, just like the CPU lanes, so fast NVMe drives should run the same speed as on the CPU lanes (unless running multiple drives simultaneously on the chipset). On my Z97 board, the chipset lanes are only PCIe 2.0, half the speed and bandwidth of 3.0, and the M.2 slot runs off the chipset, slowly. My "workaround" is to run an Intel 750 NVMe drive on the 2nd GPU slot, using 8 CPU lanes and leaving 8 for the GPU (which doesn't matter since no existing GPU can saturate even 8x 3.0 lanes). Unless you're running 2 graphics cards, you don't really need an extra 4 PCIe lanes to the CPU. Even with 2 video cards and a fast NVMe drive or two, you won't lose any speed as long as you're on Z170, Z270, or Z370, since those chipsets are all PCIe 3.0. HEDT's 28-44 lanes are really only necessary for those requiring 3 or 4 add-in-cards for graphics or storage.
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#19
Manu_PT
Damn I really loved the fact AMD is back on track as we needed competition, but these forums have been so salty lately, is annoying. Every Intel article means a bunch of amd bots spreading hate. Yeah, in 2 months we will have 6 core mainstream CPUs that will clock insanely high and will have Day 1 support with 4000mhz DDR4. Deal with it.

Now stop spreading hate because of a hardware product, geez.
Posted on Reply
#20
R0H1T
TheLostSwede said:
Don't confuse the slides, the 8th Gen Intel Core Coffe Lake-S Platform Overview slide is not of the Z370 chipset, but of the future models, whatever they may be. The Z370 is on the KBL Refresh & CFL Desktop Platform Key Features slide only. Judging by the naming of this slide alone, the Z370 is a refresh of the Z270, nothing more, nothing less.



Now now, no need to be selfish, other people might want them and USB is backwards compatible, so why be mad about that? NVMe is great, so why complain that you can use more storage options? Your needs aren't the same as everyone else's needs. No-one's forcing you to upgrade either...

Also, how are the Ryzen 6-cores not proper processors?
So why do we need a new freakin chipset every time Intel decides to (re)release their 6/7/8th gen core, oh right they;re in the business of making money.

Did I tell you about the time Intel allowed non Z OC & then shut it down after the sales of h87/97/170 were eating into their Zxx big fat profit margins, or the unofficial hiatus on G4560?

It's a shame that more people put up with this, not you but many others :shadedshu:
Posted on Reply
#21
RejZoR
Hood said:
X58 has PCIe 1.1 lanes - the PCIe 3.0 lanes on Z170 and newer chipsets have about 4 times the speed and bandwidth - so X58 has the equivalent of 9 PCIe 3.0 lanes. Nice try, but go back to school, your math skills are getting rusty.
9 FREAKING YEARS AGO! C'mon, don't act stupid.
Posted on Reply
#22
Aquinus
Resident Wat-man
RejZoR said:
9 FREAKING YEARS AGO! C'mon, don't act stupid.
You're comparing a HEDT platform to mainstream, Holmes. You want to keep the comparison apples to apples? My 3820 and every other CPU on skt2011 (not v3,) had 40 PCI-e lanes, some of which can even do PCI-e 3.0. Compare even that to a platform that has 36 lanes of PCI-E 1.1 which is literally just as good as 9 lanes at 3.0 and you have your answer.

If you want to have people not be stupid, you should start with your own comments.
Posted on Reply
#23
Hood
RejZoR said:
9 FREAKING YEARS AGO! C'mon, don't act stupid.
You are the one complaining that PCIe lane count is dropping. when they're obviously getting better with almost every platform upgrade - the 40 PCIe 3.0 lanes on Z170-270 (16 + 24) have the same speed and bandwidth as 160 PCIe 1.1 lanes - can you divide 36 into 160? (Hint - it's 4.44444444444 times as much PCIe speed and bandwidth). Not that bad in 9 years...you can stop complaining now. Oh, and the contemporary HEDT platform has 52 or 70 lanes altogether, all 3.0, so equivalent to 208 or 280 PCIe 1.1 lanes. There's your HEDT to HEDT comparison.
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#24
jabbadap
Aquinus said:
You're comparing a HEDT platform to mainstream, Holmes. You want to keep the comparison apples to apples? My 3820 and every other CPU on skt2011 (not v3,) had 40 PCI-e lanes, some of which can even do PCI-e 3.0. Compare even that to a platform that has 36 lanes of PCI-E 1.1 which is literally just as good as 9 lanes at 3.0 and you have your answer.

If you want to have people not be stupid, you should start with your own comments.
Well yeah he should be comparing these to short lived Lynnfield platform(lga1156). Then it was 16 pcie2.0 lanes from cpu and 8 lanes from chipset. But well on that era, desktop platform came after the hedt platform x58. So the time was a bit different, but spread to desktop/HEDT platform, which we have now, started there.

Posted on Reply
#25
RejZoR
Hood said:
You are the one complaining that PCIe lane count is dropping. when they're obviously getting better with almost every platform upgrade - the 40 PCIe 3.0 lanes on Z170-270 (16 + 24) have the same speed and bandwidth as 160 PCIe 1.1 lanes - can you divide 36 into 160? (Hint - it's 4.44444444444 times as much PCIe speed and bandwidth). Not that bad in 9 years...you can stop complaining now.
MEGA GALACTIC FACEPALM. How is X58 suppose to have PCIe 3.x lanes if they haven't existed yet? Eh? But it still had metric shit tons of lanes them 9 years ago. Of course they are 3.0 now. Why would they use 1.x a decade later?
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