Intel Core i7 Processors: Nehalem and X58 Have Arrived
Introducing the X58 Express
As they typically do when launching a line of processors based on a new micro-architecture, Intel will also be releasing the X58 Express chipset to support Core i7 processors. Due to the fact that Core i7 processors have their memory controllers integrated into the CPU die, however, the X58 isn't so much a brand new chipset as it is an adaptation of existing technologies to support the Core i7.
As you can see, the X58 Express chipset consists of the X58 I/O hub and the ICH10 - ICH10R Southbridge, which was first introduced with the P45 chipset for the LGA775 platform. The X58 is equipped with up to 36 lanes of PCI Express 2.0 connectivity, that with flexible lane configurations possible to support multiple graphics cards. The X58 has native support for ATI's CrossFireX technology, and NVIDIA has opened SLI up to the X58 platform as well, but motherboard manufacturers have to submit their boards for evaluation to NVIDIA and in order to enable SLI, the board's BIOS must be outfitted with the necessary hooks. We've got more information regarding SLI support on the X58 available here.
Notice the three channels of DDR3 memory hang directly off the processor in the diagram above, and that the CPU is linked to the IOH over a QPI link capable of offering up to 25.6GB/s of bandwidth. This kind bandwidth is possible per QPI port because the link is comprised of 40 dedicated data lanes (20 in each direction).
The ICH10 Southbridge supports 6 SATA ports, 12 USB 2.0 ports, HD audio, 6 PCI Express x1 lanes and Intel 82567 Gigabit LAN. Many X58 Express based motherboards, however, will feature the ICH10R, which also adds support for Intel Matrix RAID storage technology. Notice, there is no legacy PATA or LPT support here.