Intel talks P45, G45 and X48

Intel talks P45, G45 and X48

Part of the talk detailed Intel's next generation 32nm process which is currently working on SRAM.

At the Intel chipset and CPU meeting today bit-tech had a chance to sit down with some lovely people at Intel and get answers to our niggling questions about the new 4-series of chipsets, formerly known as, Eagle Lake.

First off, let's talk about process technology because it is something that Intel is pushing hard. Everywhere you go is 45nm this that and everything which isn’t bad, but it has been typically limited to CPUs.

That's not the only process that Intel is pushing though, because the entire 4-series range is now built on 65nm technology, as opposed to 90nm with the 3-series. So it turns out that X48 will be different to X38 after all...

In effect, this means that while Intel has delayed its X48 for many months it’s had time to not only re-spin it but tweak it quite considerably.

We were told that it’s had some quality time with engineers and not only have the internal timings have been tightened but it’s been developed and virtually assured to run at the faster front side bus than even a QX9770 – yes, that means the chipsets are virtually guaranteed to offer a considerable overclock, obviously providing everything else is up to take the strain. This should put considerable weight on Nvidia’s upcoming 790i SLI DDR3-based chipset, although that still has SLI and 3-way SLI in its favour of course.

X48 also has XMP support, an alternative to Nvidia’s EPP2 – both are DDR3 standards that should actually provide more compatibility and performance from these profiles, but in actual fact it just divides the market with what should be wholly interchangeable modules. Obviously ANY DDR3 can run in either system, but on our end – having to get XMP and EPP2 performance DDR3 memory to test these boards is a sheer pain in the backside, and it'll also be an annoyance for anyone that switches from one platform to the other.

On the software front, Intel is not being left (too far) behind – while AMD continues to make strides with its OverDrive software and Nvidia has not only its Tweaking Utility but also its ESA monitoring now, Intel’s Extreme Tweaking Utility will work with all 4-series discrete chipsets (X48, P45 and P43) to allow in-Windows overclocking and stability testing.

Intel told us that the software was designed to allow even the greenest user to have a go, without having to venture into the world of the BIOS. It’s not meant to be a replacement of BIOS tweaking for hardcore users and Intel knows that there are plenty of Taiwanese companies that work extremely hard to maximise their own BIOS potential.

However, the company also said it offered the software code for these companies to tweak and work with to suit the options they wanted to include – this could make it potentially far more open and varied than AMD’s or Nvidia’s software. From the demonstration it looked extremely well constructed and intuitive, but still provided quite a few options to play around with.

Intel’s G45 is also an evolutionary step for the company – supporting the full range of HD formats for acceleration as well as “DirectX 10”, the company acknowledged that its gaming performance should certainly improve with its new drivers launched when the chipset arrives, but the G45 was also a stamp for the new Vista Premium certification. Basically, by June 1st only graphics chipsets that are DirectX 10 compliant can obtain Vista Premium certification.

A few Intel executives basically told us that if people want to game properly, they should buy discrete graphics – their chipsets are designed for general productivity and now movie/video watching too, even up to HD resolution. However, the biggest change should be the price – Intel is set to match the competition from the AMD 780G and Nvidia GeForce 8200 IGPs. Considering the AMD 780G is very inexpensive at best, this could mean a very interesting and positive market for the consumer with plenty of competition.

Intel is also pushing the mini-ITX platform for its G45 and G43 very strongly – whether it’s through its partners or with its own boards. In the UK and Europe expect this to mean partners, such is the way of the channel. Intel itself is developing four mini-ITX boards – two of these will be G45 and both will include HDMI and HDCP, the other two will also be embedded solutions with a CPU soldered to the board – this is more for OEMs.

Q45 mini-ITX boards for business with vPro will also be available for small form factor, low cost, low power solutions. Intel explained where before developing for mini-ITX cost companies significant amounts of money, as Intel is working with its partners to push the format hard that $100-$200 price premium should drop to just $20 over any other motherboard.

Finally, we found out the P45 and G45 are exactly the same chip – just with certain parts of one turned off and other parts turned on instead. We were assured the P45 was still optimised as a discrete part, where it’s possible to open up avenues of data travel that the G45 prohibits, but the actual manufacturing of both is just a single die.

While we may think of this was wasteful at a die level – it’s also why the 65nm P45 part looks as big as the current 90nm P35, at least it allows Intel to shift the production of either SKU, without having to start a new wafer from scratch.

The 65nm process should make the chipsets more overclockable, need less voltage and more energy efficient – we’ll be sure to test all these claims when they are released around May.

Are you looking forward to G45, P45 or X48? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.


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naokaji 7th March 2008, 14:12 Quote
I don't see a release date for p45? did i miss it or is it not there? other than that, looking good.

release date in TimS's post... it says may... i'm a bit well, stupid today.
[USRF]Obiwan 7th March 2008, 14:22 Quote
As long as DDR3 cost 6 times as much as DDR2 and at the same performance level, you are a thief of your own wallet...
wuyanxu 7th March 2008, 15:30 Quote
can't wait for the 8-phrase Abit iP45 Pro :)
Bindibadgi 7th March 2008, 16:44 Quote
Originally Posted by [USRF]Obiwan
As long as DDR3 cost 6 times as much as DDR2 and at the same performance level, you are a thief of your own wallet...

It's not the same performance -when you get at 1,600MHz and above you get performance increases and if you increase the FSB to 500 plus the improvements to internal chipset timings specific to DDR3 should make the performance even better. It's a premium chipset that requires premium kit - it's for those looking for that 5% here, 2% there - every little bit to get ahead, just like Nvidia 790i Ultra SLI.

Obivously, there's still P45 for those wanting a decent oc and DDR2 etc and X38 still in the marketplace.

Everyone has said by Q3 DDR3 prices will drop largely - it'll still be expensive until AMD launches its DDR3 products next year but there will be a significant shift starting in Q3-Q4.

X48 should be released more this month into next and P45 is May-June.
DXR_13KE 7th March 2008, 19:52 Quote
i wonder were is larabee..... or whatever its name is......
Bindibadgi 7th March 2008, 20:57 Quote
I asked, no comment was given.
Primoz 7th March 2008, 21:40 Quote
Love the miniITX board. Imagine what you can do with it. Ultra small HTPCs.
Fod 8th March 2008, 17:47 Quote
mini-ITX g45?
new HTPC, kthxbai.
r4tch3t 9th March 2008, 01:39 Quote
I have 2 miniITX cases sitting at home not being used, if these are cheap enough for a student I will be getting one.
genesisofthesith 9th March 2008, 12:14 Quote
Originally Posted by DXR_13KE
i wonder were is larabee..... or whatever its name is......

The current announcements were hardly unexpected. The big revelations are being saved for IDF (Nehelam family and Larabee), which is less than a month away, so that the announcements aren't competing as much with other companies press releases for attention.
K20 20th March 2008, 19:41 Quote
Does the 'Intel Extreme Tuning Utility' allow you to clock each core individually on a quad core? Same question for NVIDIA's ntune if anybody knows.
r4tch3t 20th March 2008, 23:35 Quote
Short answer no,, long answer no, all the cores run at the same speed regardless. It is an overall clock speed. Even when some cores are not used the power saving kicks in and powers them down but they stay at the same clock speed as the other cores.
As for nVidia probably not, should be possible due to being essentially two cards slapped together.
K20 21st March 2008, 02:51 Quote
Thanks r4tch3t, I knew that the Intel '2 Core 2 Duo dies in one package' quad cores couldn't adjust the clock speed of each core independently but I thought I'd ask anyway; maybe you can force a core to run at a different speed even if the processor can't do so automatically. After all each core in a Core 2 Duo die can adjust its speed independently so why can't a quad core?

About ntune I meant can it clock the cores of an Intel quad core processor independently. Talking of NVIDIA, with Intel opening up fast transfer paths in the P45 and NVIDIA chipsets going integrated exclusive does this mean a NVIDIA graphic card could perform better on an Intel chipset than an NVIDIA one :).
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