Intel P67 Chipset
A few short months ago, Intel launched their latest platform, codenamed SandyBridge. Shortly after release the majority of motherboard chipsets were recalled by Intel for a revision, and today, all of those products are back on the store shelf, and not without a bit of fanfare. Manufacturer packaging lauds the inclusion of the latest revision of Intel's P67 chipset, the B3 stepping, and with good reason, as this indicates that the chipset's SATA 6 Gbps drive controller will survive throughout the warranty period.
The above block diagram shows basic layout and functionality of Intel's P67 chipset. Supporting four SATA2 channels and two SATA 6 Gbps channels natively, it offers full functionality and speed for both internal drives as well as for external drives over eSATA and USB3.0, thanks to a full-speed PCIe 2.0 implementation integrated directly into the CPU and chipset. In fact, the P67 chipset merely serves as a basic input/output hub, with the majority of features previously relegated to the chipset now fully integrated within the CPU silicon itself. This serves to provide high-speed, low latency throughput, but at the same time, does limit expansion possibilities a bit. With 16 PCIe 2.0 lanes in the CPU itself, and another eight lanes in the P67 silicon, the platform supports dual graphics connected directly to the CPU itself, and the remaining add-in devices, unless situated in one of the graphics ports, are all managed by the P67 chipset proper.
Like the past P55 chipset, USB3.0 connectively is not provided natively, although unlike P55, the fullspeed PCIe 2.0 implementation in the P67 chipset ensures that external SATA2/3 and USB3.0 controllers receive the bandwidth they need. USB 2.0, on the other hand, is almost over-allocated, with a total of 14 ports driven natively off the P67 chipset. Lost, though, is legacy device support for things like IDE drives and Floppy controllers, although like USB3.0, these can be added by board manufacturers if they really want to. With drive technology advances where they are today, we've tossed out such legacy devices for recycling in favor of today's excellent drive performance and hope that almost everyone else does too.
All of those features are wrapped up together in a stealthy and sleek matte black finish, forming the base of the board we've been testing recently, the Gigabyte P67A-UD4.