|by Mike D. | March 27, 2010|
Last September, Intel took the lid off of their new socket 1156 platform, the new Lynnfield based processors and last but not least, the P55 Express chipset. We won’t be getting too in depth about the platform but we’ll go through a quick refresher so as to best speak to the P55A-UD7’s unique implementation of this chipset and the Lynnfield/Clarkdale interconnects.
For anyone interested in an in-depth look at the P55 Express and Lynnfield architecture, please have a look at our platform review.
Intel’s main goals with the Socket 1156 platform was to get as much integrated into the CPU as possible so as to require only a low power, low cost single chip platform solution. Although the i7 socket 1156 CPUs are not all that much cheaper than their Nehalem 1366 counterparts, the total cost of the platform – including motherboard and memory – is significantly less expensive due to this.
The original i5 and i7 processors on this platform were the first processors to have integrated PCI-Express controllers, and inherited an integrated DDR3 memory controller, just like Nehalem. With both memory control and PCI-E control moved to the CPU, there was a lot less for the chipset – or “platform controller hub” – to do. The P55 is essentially what used to be considered the “Southbridge”, controlling USB ports, SATA, audio, and other on board components.
The CPU itself is able to control a maximum of 16 PCI-E 2.0 lanes, meaning a single GPU in 16X mode, or a pair of GPUs in an 8X/8X configuration. Although this is plenty for 90% of buyers on the market, there are always the select few who want to run a triple or quad GPU configuration. Considering the Gigabyte GA-P55A-UD7’s top of the line status and over $300 price tag, we are certainly not surprised that Gigabyte tried to accommodate. We’ll look at the UD7’s PCI-E configuration in much greater detail in the next section.
The below listing of specifications were taken from Gigabyte’s GA-P55A-UD7 product page:
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