THE X79 PATSBURG CHIPSET
“What is the difference from the 2700K?” seems to be the question of the day with respect to this CPU. The differences between the six-core processors on the X79 compared to the four-core P67 processors are obvious. Between the four cores 2700K and the 3820 contenders, the answer really isn’t all about the architectural differences in the chips themselves.
The difference really comes down to the chipsets that the processors reside in. The LGA 2011 (X79) motherboards have several key advantages over the LGA 1155 (P67) generation. The X79 is designed specifically for the enthusiast crowd while the P67 is for mainstream users.
Chief among the differences between these chipsets is the integrated PCIe 3.0 with 40 PCIe lanes. In comparison, the 16 lanes of the P67 are meager and for users who are requiring very high PCIe bandwidth, the X79 chipset is an obvious choice. Our testing of high powered RAID controllers and Multi-GPU setups, for instance, will benefit greatly from the extra PCIe lanes.
For manufacturers, the extra lanes also afford them more room to leverage add-on features such as extra SATA controllers for an increased number of SATA ports. It isn’t uncommon to see X79 motherboards with up to 12 SATA ports, much like our ASRock motherboard used for testing. The extra bandwidth that is needed for the additional two controllers, the Marvell SE9220 and the SE9172, are brought to us by the PCIe lanes. At the end of the day we end up with 8 x SATA 3 ports, along with 4 x SATA 2 ports for the motherboard.
For those with large storage requirements, from casual to SMB (Small/Medium Business) users, this can be a tangible benefit. USB 3.0 and other non-native specifications can also easily be integrated from third party providers with negligible performance impact. The ASRock motherboard is again a perfect example of great implementation, with 8 USB 3.0 connections, and 4 additional USB 2.0 ports.
The Patsburg chipset also brings with it much higher memory bandwidth and the capability to scale up past 32 GB of memory. The Quad-Channel Memory channels gives users a big added boost in bandwidth, and the extra memory capacity can be very useful. With memory currently at rock bottom pricing, there couldn’t be a better time for users to load up with RAM. In the past using RAM disks for caching has been an expensive niche proposition, but we are certainly seeing this scenario with end-users more frequently.
Another aspect of this chipset that is commonly overlooked is the Intel Rapid Storage Technology (IRST) Enterprise 3.0 that is utilized. These drivers and GUI control the various functions of the SATA ports and manage RAID configurations.
The previous generation of LGA 1155 includes IRST, but not the Enterprise version. The enhanced functionality that is enabled via the IRST Enterprise drivers will come to fruition with the next stepping of the X79 chipset. This will provide some enhancements moving forward with this chipset, and possibly speaks to more longevity from the Socket 2011.
These capabilities overall allow the X79 Patsburg to provide a quasi-enterprise level chipset at a much lower price, and without the user being forced to use a server motherboard with 2 CPUs. For enterprise, SMB, and those users looking for the ultra-high end performance from a single chip solution, this chipset is the obvious choice.