Intel X79 Patsburg2 Intels Patsburg chipset continues to encounter delays

Now that we finally have gotten past the official launch of Intel's new platform, we thought we'd talk a little bit about the details of Intel's Patsburg chipset, of which the X79 is the first product to arrive in the market. As many of you already knows, Intel's X79 chipset isn't exactly what the company had in mind initially and Intel had to cut back on the feature count not once, but twice. However, the resulting product is little more than a glorified P67 chipset and it doesn't look set to change.

Now that we finally have gotten past the official launch of Intel's new platform, we thought we'd talk a little bit about the details of Intel's Patsburg chipset, of which the X79 is the first product to arrive in the market. As many of you already knows, Intel's X79 chipset isn't exactly what the company had in mind initially and Intel had to cut back on the feature count not once, but twice. However, the resulting product is little more than a glorified P67 chipset and it doesn't look set to change.

For starters the X79 is a power hog; it has a max TDP of 7.8W which should be compared to 6.1W for the 6-series chipsets. However, Intel's server version which should be the C600 series of chipsets peak at 6.7W. The only reason that we can see for this is some additional features such as extra USB 2.0 ports, a couple of extra PCI Express x1 lanes, native PCI support, a built in Gigabit Ethernet MAC and audio, but these don't seem to account for the extra power draw. What we do know is that the disabled SCU is still part of the chipset and it's using power even though it doesn't offer any functionality.

Some reviewers have criticized Intel for the X79 and its lack of features, although it seems that very few were aware of the much higher price Intel is charging the motherboard makers for what is not only a feature castrated chipset, but also for a revision that won't be around for long. As we've reported previously, Intel is working on a new stepping of the chipset, initially for its Xeon platform, but at some stage this revision will make an appearance for the desktop platform.

The only problem here is that Intel was meant to have its new chipset revision done and dusted by now, but the company has run into further problems with the SAS interface. As such, Intel has an interim solution here called Patsburg-J, otherwise known as X79. Patsburg-J might be for Intel's Xeon platform, but as far as we can tell, it's identical to the X79 chipset, bar the features mentioned above that Intel didn't bother with for its server platform. Thanks to this move, Intel can still announce its new LGA-2011 and LGA-1356 Xeon parts sometime in Q1 next year, rather than having to delay the platform further.

We're actually quite surprised that Intel has launched such a half finished product, but the story doesn't end here, as things get even more complicated. With the new revision of the X79 chipset which at the moment we don't know when it'll arrive, Intel will allow the motherboard makers to enable the SCU, although only functionality for four SATA 6Gbps ports. However, there's a but coming here and it's a bold but with exclamation marks and warning signs, Intel isn't guaranteeing the performance, reliability or data integrity of these ports. In other words, if the motherboard makers want to chance it, they can enable the additional four ports and if they end up with major support issues, then it's on their head.

We're really starting to wonder what's going on at Intel, as something isn't right at the company. Minor errata's aren't unusual in this business, but for Intel all of 2011 has been a year of SATA – and in the case of Patsburg SAS – related problems that have caused severe problems to the company. It's also worth remembering that the Sandy Bridge-E CPU's are far from the final revision, with at least one more stepping coming before the Xeon branded Sandy Bridge-EP models launch and most likely another revision or two later this year to try and bring down the power usage of these huge processors.