May 14, 2018 // 10:48 a.m.
Intel has released official specifications for its upcoming Z390 chipset, promising the ability to better split PCI Express lanes between graphics and storage, full overclocking capabilities, and support for up to six USB 3.1 Gen. 2 ports.
Long rumoured but only confirmed by the publication of a product brief by Intel over the weekend, the Z390 chipset is to become Intel's gaming-centric platform for its eighth-generation Core processors when it launches later this year. Key features of the chipset include the usual Z-prefix overclocking functionality, with the ability to unlock and modify core, graphics, and memory frequencies when paired with a suitable processor, support for Intel's Optane storage products, optional integrated 802.11ac and Bluetooth 5 functionality, and support for three independent DisplayPort or HDMI displays when using integrated graphics.
For those with multiple graphics cards, PCI Express-connected storage devices, or both, there's an additional new feature in the Z390: the ability to choose between one 16-lane, two eight-lane, or one eight-lane and two four-lane PCIe configurations for the processor's onboard PCI Express bus - though Intel confirms this will be 'depending on desktop motherboard designs' rather than being fully flexible and under user control. This is in addition to the 24 PCIe 3.0 lanes provided by the chipset itself.
Other confirmed features of Z390 include up to six USB 3.1 Gen. 2 ports, up from four on the company's current chipsets, up to 10 USB 3.1 Gen. 1 ports, up to 14 USB 2.0 ports, six SATA 6Gb/s storage ports, an integrated gigabit Ethernet controller, the Intel Management Engine, High Definition Audio with Smart Sound Technology digital signal processor (DSP), optional Rapid Storage Technology (RST) with RAID 0/1/5/10 support, and Intel's Platform Trust Technology.
While more information is available in the product brief, Intel has not yet committed to a launch date for the Z390.