ED#80 : Intel 1600 MHz Platform Update
Here are the latest updates on the Intel 1600 MHz FSB desktop platform.
Intel will not be positioning the 1600 MHz FSB as a future upgrade for the Core 2 processors. Instead, they are limiting the 1600 MHz FSB to the Extreme segment for high-end enthusiasts and gamers.
This means only Core 2 Extreme desktop processors will support the 1600 MHz FSB. Currently, only two processors do that - the Core 2 Extreme QX9775 and QX9770 processors, both running at 3.2 GHz with two 6 MB L2 caches.
Previously, the only real difference between the Extreme and mainstream Core 2 processors is the unlocking of higher multipliers in the Extreme processors. This allows for easier overclocking of the Core 2 Extreme processors, albeit at a much higher cost. The restriction of the 1600 MHz FSB to the Core 2 Extreme segment would allow Intel to further differentiate those extremely-expensive models from mainstream Core 2 processors.
The first chipset to officially support the 1600 MHz FSB is, of course, the Intel X48 Express chipset. Set for a Q1'08 launch, the X48 Express and motherboards based on it will be costly as they are targeted only at high-end enthusiasts and gamers who would not mind paying a premium for the faster 1600 MHz FSB. Of course, the low volume of these processors and motherboards would also ensure their high cost.
The Intel X48 Express is really nothing more than the X38 Express with support for the higher 1600 MHz FSB speed. The X48 Express will not support DDR2, only DDR3 memory. It also supports Intel's Extreme Memory Profiles (XMP) which allows it to support faster DDR3 memory modules that do not yet have JEDEC certification. At launch, it will support up to DDR3-1600 via XMP.
For those who are interested in the nitty-gritty details, here's the latest Intel X48 Express Chipset Schedule :
The Intel X48 Express (NU82X48) began sampling in late 2007 (WW40), with production targeted for WW45. Looks like Intel has no problem hitting a Q1'08 launch. Based on what we know, the launch of the Intel X48 Express chipset and motherboards is imminent. Whether you can afford it, and the 1600 MHz Intel Core 2 Extreme processor to go with it, is another question altogether.
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