CHIPMAKER Intel has unveiled higher performing desktop versions of its 9-series chipsets for Haswell processors, the Z97 and H97 chipsets.
The chipsets are designed for high-end desktops, with the main differences between the two being that the Z97 supports overclocking of unlocked Intel processors, but the H97 does not. Both chipsets will also support Intel's fifth generation Core procesors.
The 9-series chipsets offer some improvements over the 8-series, including an increased data transfer speed for storage drives that means they now support M.2 specification, allowing them to drive two lanes of PCI Express 2.0 to boost transfer speeds of an SSD or a hybrid drive giving them up to 1GBps bandwidth. This is an increase from 600MBps speed of the 8-series chipsets.
The Intel Z97 and H97 will also most have of the same connectivity options as the 8-series chipsets: a total of up to 14 USB ports, six of which can be USB 3.0, up to six SATA III ports, an integrated gigabit Ethernet controller, and eight PCI Express 2.0 lanes.
Intel has also upgraded its Smart Response Technology (SRT) in these new chipsets, supporting hybrid hard drives with integrated flash storage and removing the need for different drives, when the feature required separate solid-state and mechanical hard drives connected to separate connectors.
The Intel Z97 and H97 are essentially releases to keep high-end desktop users happy while the firm readies its Broadwell 14nm fifth generation Core processors, which will significantly improve the performance of laptops, convertibles and tablets when they finally reach the market.
Broadwell was supposed to come by the end of this year but during a conference call in October last year, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich admitted to delays in bringing the next generation processor line to market.
"While we are comfortable with where we are at with yields, from a timing standpoint, we are about a quarter behind our projections. As a result, we are now planning to begin production in the first quarter of next year," he said.
Based on 14nm chip microarchitecture, Broadwell is expected to bring 30 percent improvements in PC power efficiency. The chip was introduced at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) at San Francisco in September. µ
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