Haswell-E Debuts: Intel Core i7-5960X Processor Review

The Intel X99 Chipset

To support the new Haswell-E based Core i7 desktop processors like the Core i7-5960X, Intel is also releasing the X99 chipset. Below is a high-level block diagram of the X99 chipset, which is targeted at the high-performance and enthusiast market segments.

Intel X99 Express Chipset Block Diagram

Like most recent chipsets for Intel’s current processors, the X79 Express is essentially an I/O hub, as all of the traditional Northbridge functionality is integrated into the processor itself. As you can see, LGA 2011 v3 Haswell-E processors offer up to 40 lanes of PCI Express 3.0 connectivity and feature an integrated quad-channel DDR4 memory controller. The PCIe links can be arranged in any number of configurations to better support multiple graphics cards, including 2x16 + 1x8 or 5 x 8.

The processors are linked to the chipset via a DMI 2.0 x4 interface and the X99 Express is outfitted with 8 more PCIe 2.0 lanes, along with various other I/O options, like USB 2.0 (8 ports), USB 3.0 (6 ports), 10 SATA III ports, an integrated Gigabit MAC, HD audio, etc.

Although it’s not shown in the diagram, the X99 also has support for M.2 and/or SATA Express solid state storage. M.2 offers bandwidth of up to 1GB/s, up from the theoretical 600MB/s max of a SATA III port. M.2 SSDs are also bootable or they can be configured to work with Intel's RST caching technology.

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