Intel P55 Express Chipset
Intel P55 Express Chipset
Below is the block diagram for the Intel P55 Express chipset that support the Lynnfield processors. As the diagram shows, the memory and graphics controllers are now handled by the processor. While dual-GPU configurations (both NVIDIA SLI and ATI CrossFireX but as usual, certification is required for NVIDIA SLI) are supported on the Lynnfield and P55 Express, there are some limitations compared to that on the previous Core i7 chipset, the X58 Express. Namely, when two graphics cards are installed, the available PCIe lanes for each is in a x8/x8 configuration and not the full x16/x16. (A single GPU of course will be able to use the full 16 lanes for itself). For most mainstream to performance GPUs, this shouldn't be an issue, since they won't ever need all that bandwidth. Even for high-end needs, it's not going to be a world of difference.
The shift of the controller to the processor explains why Intel was able to go with a single chip design for the P55 chipset. With support for six SATA ports, HD audio and Gigabit Ethernet, it's all very ordinary so far. The number of USB ports has increased slightly to 14 from the 12 on the Core i7's X58 Express chipset but unfortunately, those hoping for the next-gen SATA 6 Gbit/s interface will be disappointed that they won't be making an appearance just yet. Perhaps expect later motherboard revisions from the usual suspect to sport this feature. Finally, we also see how DMI is now the path for communication between the chipset and the Lynnfield processor.
The Intel Desktop Board DP55KG Extreme Series
For brevity sake, we'll refer to the board as the "Intel DP55KG". It is but one of four Intel P55 Express motherboards available (the others are the DP55SB, DP55WG and DP55WB) from the vendor for Lynnfield, including two mATX variants (DP55SB and DP55WB). Except for the mATX DP55WB, all these boards support DDR3-1600MHz memory and will come with dual-GPU support. You can expect most of the features listed in the P55 Express chipset to make its way to most of these boards.
For the DP55KG, there are additional features to justify its flagship status, like LED indicators, an extra secondary SATA controller that increases the total number of SATA ports to eight and a handy BIOS reset switch at the rear panel. There's even an integrated Bluetooth module, which is usually not a standard feature on motherboards.
Of course, the new socket LGA1156 means that a compatible cooler is required for the Lynnfield processor. The socket itself is fairly simple to install, with a straightforward lever and locking mechanism while notches on the processor ensure that mistakes are unlikely - similar to both LGA775 and LGA1366. Third party vendors have been preparing LGA1156 coolers and universal coolers that support a variety of sockets are already in the wild.