The Intel P35 Chipset

Asus and Gigabyte sent over a couple of board each based on the new Intel P35 chipset and we take some time to open them up, test them, look at the features and compare DDR2 memory speeds to the new DDR3 memory.

Introduction

Along with the official ‘Bearlake’ chipset launch today, which we already covered the technical aspects of in a separate article, we have a handful of motherboards based on the P35 chipset to look at.  Both Asus and Gigabyte sent along a pair of motherboards with the new core logic, but interestingly only ONE of the four boards had support for DDR3 on it; the others continued to use DDR2 memory slots.

Here today we’ll be taking a QUICK look at all four motherboards layouts, features and BIOS options and summarizing with a quick set of benchmarks.  The boards covered in here are the Asus P5K Deluxe, Asus P5K3 Deluxe, Gigabyte P35-DS3R and the Gigabyte P35-DQ6.

The Chipset

Uncovering the chipsets from the heatsinks that tower over them we can see the familiar package that Intel’s north bridge chips have used for some time. 

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The die on the north bridge is 34mm squared and consists of a meager 4.6 million transistors or so.

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The south bridge is a bit smaller overall and uses the older BGA packaging in an area of 31mm squared.  It however uses closer to 45 million transistors to power all the storage and extension options.

Again, for more technical details on the features of the P35 chipset, check out my other article published today on that subject.

DDR3 Memory Arrives

As you know by now the Intel P35 chipset has support for BOTH DDR2 and DDR3 memory, but not at the same time.  For our board testing the fine folks at Corsair Memory were able to hook us up with a sample of their XMS3 DDR3-1066 modules.

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These beauties are rated at 1066 MHz at timings of 7-7-7-20 and a CAS latency of 7.  While that is higher than we are used to seeing in both DDR2 and especially DDR1, the higher frequencies ought to help alleviate some of the memory latency increase.

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Here are two Corsair modules mating up, one a DDR2 stick while the other a DDR3.  You can see that just as with the transition from DDR1 to DDR2, the notches don’t match to help prevent the installation of the incorrect memory type into a motherboard.

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