Many users are awaiting impatiently for Intel Corp. to release its long-awaited code-named Conroe processor that promises to have higher performance amid moderate power consumption compared to today’s offerings from the world’s largest chipmaker. Unfortunately, the situation with the platforms that would support Conroe is not completely clear.
Given that the launches of Intel Conroe central processing units (CPUs) and Intel 965 chipset series seem to be aligned, it is highly probably that the forthcoming mainboards will support the forthcoming processors. The status of Conroe support by currently available mainboards is not that obvious. It looks like today’s mainboards, even those built on the latest Intel 975X chipset, will not be compatible with the upcoming processors known as Conroe. Nonetheless, Intel seem to have no plans to release a new high-end core-logic in the middle of the year, thus, the chipset that is to support possible high-speed Conroe processors is the Intel 975X. That said, there seem to be no actual compatibility issues between the Conroe processors and the Intel 975X chipset: the problem lies with the mainboards.
According to several mainboard manufacturers, the platforms designed to support Conroe processors will feature a new type of Voltage Regulation Module (VRM) onboard. In other words, one the same mainboard on Intel 975X chipset may have different VRM depending on the mainboard revision. Note that one revision will support only Pentium 4 and Pentium D processors and another will also support Conroe processors. It looks like the mainboard voltage regulator should be adapted for stable work with Conroe processors that can support lower voltages and have smaller voltage adjustment increments. The modified mainboards will work fine with the previous generation CPUs as well as with the upcoming Conroe based CPUs. The new VRM should be more universal from this standpoint.
We have already witnessed similar situation with the Intel 815-series chipsets and Pentium III Tualatin CPUs compatibility. The existing mainboards acquired new voltage regulator and only then the new mainboard revisions could actually work fine with the Tualatin based processors. The chipset did support the processor core from the very beginning, it is the power conditions that needed adjustment. There have also appeared a few volt-modding methodologies for these particular cases, so that users could actually use Tualatin CPUs in mainboards not designed to support them. The corresponding converters have also been rolled out into the market.
According to this logic, Conroe support could have been implemented even on the modified Intel 945-series and Intel 955 based mainboards. However, you should keep in mind that the set of signals and the peculiar working principles of the “dual-core” 1066MHz bus can also impose certain limitations on Conroe compatibility with these chipsets. Intel 975X has already been designed to support the dual-core Pentium XE 955 with 1066MHz bus from the very beginning, so the Conroe processors working with the same bus should theoretically be able to work with this chipset, too. On the other hand, there are some cases when Pentium XE 955 would work fine with Intel 955X and Intel 865PE based mainboards, so there are still quite a few unrevealed surprises here. Furthermore, there is a possibility that some desktop chips would acquire 1333MHz processor system bus this year, which would require a new chipset to support them.