Intel’s socket 775 is running its last meters in sight of the finish line, as the Nehalem platform is approaching us rapidly now. Only a few more months to go and we'll be working with brand-new sockets, chipsets, memory ... in short new technologies. We all know that when a certain platform is about to be replaced, manufacturers try to push the old technology a last time, just to show what really is possible. So, before we actually make the change to the Nehalem series, we have a look at Intel's latest push in technology as they gave the P35/X38 chipset a few new updates, making it the best performing chipset for the S775 CPU: the P45 and X48 chipsets.P35 versus P45
We've already provided you with our findings on the P35 and X38 conclusions in both our P35 round-up
and the DFO X38 review
, so you already know that the X38 mainly is a P35 tuned for higher-end processors and memory.
Now, after reading more about the differences between the X38 and P35 chipsets on the Intel homepage and looking at the comparison between the two, I can only say that the only drastic difference is the extra x16 PCI-E lane. In fact, the X38 is just a higher-binned P35 chipset and should guarantee better overclocks and tighter Northbridge latency straps. That's all, nothing more, nothing less
So what is the main difference between the P35 and P45 then?PCI express 1.0 (8GB/s) => PCI express 2.0 (16GB/s)
ICH9 => ICH10
Introduction of the 'Intel Extreme Tuning' support
While the first two are only minor improvements (well, not world-shocking any way), the third evolution is interesting. Intel is now openly supporting the overclocking community in spite of numerous rumors of the Nehalem not being overclock-friendly (FSB and multiplier can be locked). Those rumors were invalidated by Intel, so Nehalem should be overclockable, and in addition, they've made overclocking a lot less difficult. Well ... it's easier to reach high clocks with a minimum of effort and extreme overclockers have more tools for absolutely maxing out their system. Actually, many motherboard manufacturers have started competitions all over the world to draw attention to their version of the P45 chipset, showing a lot (really, a lot) of new options and settings. Clock skews, amplitudes, GTL+ voltages and many more are available for the enthusiasts among us.
What to expect from this article?
Of course, we'll be focusing on what both the MSI P45 Platinum and Asus Maximus II Formula can bring us in terms of performance, overclocking and the performance gained from overclocking. We'll be giving you basic pointers for better results and will spend a little time on the energy-saving technology of both MSI and Asus. But first, we'll start with the pictures to find out what we'll be dealing with.