THE IN­TEL 9 SE­RIES

HWM (Singapore) - - Feature -

In May this year, In­tel launched two new 9 Se­ries chipsets, the Z97 and H97. As a re­sult, a slew of newly-minted moth­er­boards based on these chipsets were launched by part­ner board mak­ers. This oc­curred be­fore the launch of the com­pany’s next gen­er­a­tion, 14nm Broad­well pro­ces­sors. The up­com­ing desk­top Broad­well CPUs will be of­fered in the same LGA pack­ag­ing as the pre­vi­ous gen Haswell chips; how­ever, it isn’t known for cer­tain if the cur­rent crop of In­tel 8 se­ries boards will sup­port Broad­well pro­ces­sors. If you’re look­ing to up­grade, it is best to se­cure a 9 se­ries board in or­der to fu­ture­proof your pur­chase. Let us ex­am­ine the two new chipsets in de­tail, and the boards that fea­ture them.

Z97 and H97

In­tel’s lat­est 9 se­ries chipset has two additional new fea­tures, which dis­tin­guishes it from the pre­vi­ous 8 se­ries. The 9 se­ries chipset show­cases the In­tel Rapid Stor­age Tech­nol­ogy ( RST) for PCI Ex­press Stor­age, and In­tel De­vice Pro­tec­tion Tech­nol­ogy with Boot Guard. The first im­prove­ment is the up­grad­ing of In­tel RST to sup­port stor­age de­vices over PCIe 2.0 lanes. This up­grade to the In­tel RST al­lows the us­age of two PCIe 2.0 lanes, for a max­i­mum band­width of 10Gb/s. As a re­sult, SATA Ex­press and M.2 con­nec­tors can be found on In­tel 9 se­ries boards; how­ever, the lat­ter is cur­rently more pop­u­lar. It is also meant to re­place the ex­ist­ing mSATA in­ter­face. The M.2 spec­i­fi­ca­tions are tai­lored for in­ter­nally mounted flash-based stor­age and add-in cards like Wi- Fi/ Blue­tooth mod­ules, Near Field Com­mu­ni­ca­tion ( NFC) de­vices, and wire­less Wide Area Net­work cards. As for SATA Ex­press, its spec­i­fi­ca­tions are meant for 2.5- and 3.5-inch stor­age de­vices. It is also com­pat­i­ble with cur­rent SATA drives. Though both in­ter­faces al­low for us­age of PCIe lanes for data con­nec­tiv­ity; how­ever, they are clearly seg­mented for prod­uct dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion.

As an en­hance­ment to plat­form per­for­mance and se­cu­rity, the De­vice Pro­tec­tion Tech­nol­ogy with Boot Guard is sup­pos­edly able to pre­vent the ex­e­cu­tion of boot block mal­ware. It of­fers additional pro­tec­tion against such unau­tho­rized soft­ware that may fall be­yond the reaches of tra­di­tional anti-virus ap­pli­ca­tions.

How­ever, in or­der to en­able this fea­ture, a new 4th gen­er­a­tion In­tel Core CPU, from the new se­ries of CPUs com­monly known as Haswell Re­fresh, is in or­der.

An­other ma­jor change is CPU sup­port of the new 9 se­ries where both chipsets are ready for the up­com­ing, 14nm Broad­well pro­ces­sors, as well as the new re­fresh of 4th gen­er­a­tion In­tel Core CPUs. It is not con­firmed if the cur­rent crop of 8 se­ries boards will sup­port the Broad­well chips.

For now, the In­tel 9 se­ries chipsets com­prise the Z97 and H97. There are ru­mors the X99 chipset will be launched by the end of Q2 this year; how­ever, this en­thu­si­ast level desk­top chipset is tar­geted at a dif­fer­ent mar­ket seg­ment. In a nut­shell, the Z97 chipset is one that sup­ports multi- GPU set­ups, as well as CPU over­clock­ing func­tions. The H97 chipset is a step down, as it doesn’t show­case the same dis­tin­guish­ing fea­tures of the Z97. The only thing that H97 can call its own would be the In­tel Small Busi­ness Ad­van­tage ( SBA) tech­nol­ogy. It is es­sen­tially a com­put­ing plat­form for small businesses with­out a man­aged net­work. Its bun­dled ap­pli­ca­tions will al­low such businesses to man­ageg se­cu­ri­tyy and pro­duc­tiv­ity is­sues.

"The 9 se­ries chipset show­cases In­tel Rapid Stor­age Tech­nol­ogy (RST) for PCI Ex­press Stor­age, and In­tel De­vice Pro­tec­tion Tech­nol­ogy with Boot Guard.”

The H97 chipset doesn’t have of­fi­cial sup­port for multi- GPU con­fig­u­ra­tions and CPU over­clock­ing.

The Z97 chipset of­fi­cially sup­ports CPU ra­tio over­clock­ing, and multi- GPU con­fig­u­ra­tions.

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