UPDATE: Adding comment from Intel.
Intel Corp. late on Wednesday said that it would shortly introduce a new stepping of its latest Intel P55 core-logic. The new B3 stepping will not require mainboard makers to change anything to the mainboards, however, the latest stepping will support future processors and will require new storage drivers.
The B2 to B3 steppings of the Intel P55 are identical in fit, form, electrical, mechanical, and thermal specifications. Thus, mainboard makers may simply start placing the new B3 version onto existing designs. Still, Intel recommends customers to perform their standard validation testing on the new stepping. Samples have been available starting from the 2nd of October, 2009, the initial commercial shipments of Intel P55 B3 will begin on the 7th of December, 2009. Customers should be ready to receive a combination of both B2 and B3 stepping chipset by the 5th of February, 2010.
Intel P55 B3 chipset will undergo the following changes, according to Intel:
- New MM number and S-spec numbers for the converted products;
- Firmware and minor BIOS updates are required with the conversion;
- Processor MRC/microcode update required to enable future processors;
- Recommended storage driver upgrade from Intel MSM 8.9 to Intel RST 9.5.
Intel P55 chipset supports the new Core i7 and i5 processors based on 45nm Lynnfield core that integrate both a 16-lane PCI Express 2.0 graphics port and two-channel memory controller. Besides, Intel P55 should also support the forthcoming 32nm Clarkdale processors with integrated graphics core. A new Direct Media Interface (DMI) connects between the processor and P55 chipset. The chipset supports 8 PCI Express 2.0 x1 Ports (2.5GT/s), 1 PCI Express 2.0 x16 (which can work in x8 mode for dual graphics boards configuration). The chipset also supports 6 Serial ATA-300 ports with RAID levels 0/1/5/10, up to 14 USB 2.0 ports, Intel high-definition audio, Ethernet and so on.
Intel stressed that both B2 and B3 steppings of Intel P55 will support code-named Clarkdale chips.
“Current P55 boards as well as new P55 boards should support Clarkdale. As always end users should check with their board vendor before upgrading,” said George Alfs, an Intel spokesperson.