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Computex 2009 - Part 7

Computex 2009 - Part 7



The Intel P55 Chipset & Braidwood Memory Technology

The Intel P55 Chipset & Braidwood Memory Technology

To accompany the new Lynnfield processor, Intel will be pairing it with an appropriate cost-effective chipset befitting its class of users. In comes the Intel P55 chipset for which we've already seen a handful of motherboards showcasing this new platform. On a side note, the Lynnfield processor will be using a cheaper LGA 1156 socket versus a 1366-pin socket since it will only feature a dual-channel memory controller instead of a triple-channel controller, thus requiring lesser pin-out.

Back to the Intel P55 chipset itself, Robert Malinowski, General Manager of Client Components Group at Intel extolled a few key advantages of the new Intel P55 chipset. Firstly, instead of the old tri-chip platform solution on the Intel Core 2 series, the Intel P55 chipset will integrate the I/O functionality all within the same platform controller hub while the memory controller and PCIe controller will be onboard the Lynnfield processor. The PCIe graphics controller supports either one PCIe x16 or dual PCIe x8 configurations.

Additionally, the Intel 5-series chipset will feature a new technology to improve the I/O performance. Codenamed as the Braidwood memory technology, this is somewhat a revival of Intel TurboMemory which uses a small flash memory via PCIe interface and is available only on a select few Centrino 2 platforms. Now Braidwood will involve a much larger memory capacities (rumored tot be 8GB, 16GB or more), newer and more efficient caching algorithms and will use the Open NAND Flash Interface (ONFI).

While Intel wouldn't admit that this is similar to TurboMemory, they do acknowledge that the concept is similar. If you ask us, it feels just a refresh of the old technology. Of course cost considerations will now come into play and will undermine weather it would be adopted or left out. And more dear to our hearts, would it deliver? We've a feeling it would because it's essentially a smaller form of an SSD unit. Imagine loading the OS from the Braidwood memory in quick time while using your conventional HDD for storage - we can't confirm yet if this is possible, but it could likely be the case as it will be seen as an extra storage drive on the OS level (just like TurboMemory).

Take note though, we've spoken to a handful of motherboard vendors who've confirmed that Braidwood will only make it on the Intel P57 chipset, which is exactly the same as an Intel P55 chipset (even pin-compatible) in all other ways.