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Reviewed by: Carl Nelson [11.02.08]
Manufactured by: Intel


X58 Platform "Tylersburg"

With every new CPU microarchitecture comes a chipset platform to run it on. Usually, Intel launches an "Enthusiast" version alongside a more "Mainstream" offering. The "Enthusiast" chipsets usually offer a few extra features, but really all they are meant to do is offer "Official" support for their "Extreme Edition" CPUs. For instance, all the X48 added to the P45 was official support for a 1600 MHz FSB, and an extra PCI-E X16 slot. Besides the PCI-E slot, and motherboard manufacturer can replicate 160 MHz FSB support by adding the proper memory multipliers.

With the memory controller now sitting on the CPU itself, and the Frontside Bus replaced by QPI, Intel no longer has a need to offer 'special' chipsets for enthusiasts. If you want a faster QPI and such, buy the faster CPU. They will all sit in a motherboard using the X58 chipset. We may see a "P55" some time in the future, likely supporting only a 4.8 GT/s QPI bus, and less PCI-E lanes.

Here is how the X58 chipset is laid out:

You will immediately notice that the memory now has a direct interface with the CPU, in this case it is triple-channel DDR3, with up to 8.5 Gb/s per channel. The QPI is the only connection between the chipset and CPU, so we will never see a version for Core 2. As I mentioned on the previous page, QPI offers 25.6 GB/s for Extreme Edition CPUs, and 19.2 GB/s for all others (to clarify on the image above). The X58 chipset actually has two QPI links, so it has the potential to be used in dual-socket configurations. At this time however, no Core i7 has more than one QPI, so the second one in the X58 will have to sit idle for now.

The X58 I/O controller has 36 PCI-E lanes, which will likely be set up in 2x16 with some extra x1 slots. From there, it has a direct interface with an ICH10 or ICH10R southbridge. This is the exact same southbridge used in previous chipsets, so there's nothing new to report here.

X58 can support Nvidia SLI, but board manufacturers must submit their designs to Nvidia for "validation". You can be sure that there is some sort of fee involved with that ;) However, X58 is only officially allowed to run up to 2-way SLI, even though it has 4 PCI-E lanes to spare on the Northbridge. So Nvidia is keeping 3-way SLI to themselves, for the time being.

Intel DX58SO "Smackover"

And with every new chipset Intel releases, comes a new motherboard model. Intel boards used to be the lamest, most boring designs around, and they always had little quirks and differences that you never saw from the typical Taiwanese companies. Lately, Intel has been focusing on providing enthusiasts with a true high-end option, and this board is no exception.

Their "Smackover" board might have the raddest name ever (and a sweet skull logo), and although the BIOS interface is awkward, it has a ton of features for enthusiasts. Actually, we'll be looking at this board in great depth, once we collect some more X58s to compare it to. Stay tuned!

Next Page: (Pricing; Test Setup)