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Welcome to the latest edition of our Motherboard Memory Lane series here on HWBOT. Following on from our in-depth look at the iconic AMD Socket A platform last week, we now turn our attention to its successor, AMD Socket 754. The Socket retains a slightly odd position in the annals of technological history as it debuted with wholly new and updated 64-bit architecture processor series, yet quickly became the option of choice for budget PC builds as it was eclipsed by the Socket 939 platform. Let’s take a look at the Socket itself, the chipsets and processors that accompanied it, and of course some the landmark scores and submissions that happened during the Socket 754 era.
Introduced in September 2003, the AMD Socket 754 platform was marketed as the replacement for the long standing Socket A (or Socket 462 as was also known). It supported a new range of AMD processors based on architectures that include Newcastle, Venice, Clawhammer and Palermo - all of which come under the AMD K8 architectural umbrella, and were sold under Athlon 64 and Sempron brand names. Although Socket 754 motherboards essentially replaced Socket A motherboards, in most regions the two platforms overlapped. It’s successor, Socket 939 arrived in mid 2004 offering processors with a superior features set that essentially relegated Socket 754 to the budget PC space. This made the platform a popular choice with more affordable AMD Sempron processors.
Today we continue our Mother Memory Lane series, shifting our focus back to the beginning of the last decade, to a time when AMD had the upper hand against Intel in terms of raw performance. Our AMD series of articles kicks off with the classic Socket A (462), a CPU socket and platform which many us will recall with fondness, not least because it also involved some memorably overclockable processors. Let’s take a look at the chipsets, the processors and motherboards that defined the era, plus a few of the outstanding scores that were submitted to HWBOT.
Unlike previous Motherboard Memory Lane articles which focused on a specific platform and a specific chipset, today we’re looking at a platform from AMD which in fact spanned several different chipset designs from companies such as VIA Technologies, Nvidia, SIS and AMD themselves. From an overclocking perspective we can see Nvidia’s nForce chipset series as being the most popular, in particular the Nvidia nForce 2 Ultra 400. The VIA KT400 and KT600 may well have been the most popular in terms of units shipped globally, but it lacked the necessary performance features that overclockers craved. AMD’s 760 series was considerably less popular with SIS featuring heavily in the budget motherboard segment.
AMD’s Socket A used a zero insertion force pin grid array design with 462 pins (hence the alternative Socket 462 naming). It supported a range of K7 architecture AMD processors and core designs that spanned the period from 1999 to 2005. It supported several AMD models that included Duron, Sempron, Athlon, Athlon XP and Athlon XP-M. The AMD Athlon XP series arrived in 2001 and was an immediate hit with enthusiasts, offering superior performance than Intel equivalents, coupled with reasonably competitive prices. The Athlon XP series is regarded by many as AMD’s greatest historical moment in terms of sheer popularity with enthusiasts.
Today we say farewell to our series of Intel-based Motherboard Memory Lane articles on HWBOT, having exhausted history’s quota of Intel Chipsets from the Intel P965 platform to the present day. All of which leads us to the current mainstream Intel platform, the Z270 chipset that was in fact launched just a few months ago. The Z270 chipset arrived with a new Kaby Lake series of backwards compatible processors and the hope of improved overclocking capabilities. Let’s take a look at the chipset, the processors and motherboards, plus a few of the outstanding scores that have been submitted to HWBOT.
First announced back in August 2016, the new Z270 platform was officially launched in January 2017. The Z270 Platform Controller Hub (PCH) was designed as a direct replacement for the previous Z170 that had arrived in August of the previous year. Whereas the 100 series, (codenamed Sunrise Point) included six PCH offerings with Q-,B-,H- and Z- offerings, the 200 series used the codename Union Point and featured five PCH models; the Intel Z270, Q270, H270, Q250 and B250. All members of the Union Point family had specific feature limitations in terms of PCIe lane count and connectivity options. The Z270 remains the high-end model - boasting a full complement of connectivity it is the only family member that allows full CPU and memory overclocking.
A direct comparison of the Intel Z270 PCH and its predecessor reveals very little difference. In short the two main differences are that the Z270 platform offers 24x PCI gen 3.0 lanes direct from the PCH compared to 20x lanes with the Z170. One other new feature that end users can enjoy with a Z270 motherboard is support for Intel Optane Technology. The additional PCIe lanes can be regarded as Intel’s acknowledgment that motherboard vendors were keen to expand support for faster M.2 drives, bringing more bandwidth to the PCH specifically for that reason.
Welcome back to our Motherboard Memory Lane series. This week we’ll actually be looking at a platform that should remain pretty fresh in the memory of most overclockers - the relatively recent Intel Z170 platform. The Intel Z170 platform arrived alongside a brand new batch of Skylake architecture processors just under three years ago and remains a popular platform today. Let’s once again take a look at the motherboards and processor models that were popular in this era, as well as a few of the most exceptional scores and submissions that were made by overclockers on HWBOT.
In the minds of most enthusiasts the newly arrived Skylake architecture processors replaced the previous generation Haswell and Devil’s Canyon architecture chips. This due to the fact that its true predecessor, the Broadwell architecture, basically failed to turn up as a desktop PC option. For most us, Skylake replaced Haswell, just as Z170 replaced Z97.
The Intel Z170 platform officially landed on August 5th 2015, sporting a new CPU socket and a new line of CPUs. Aimed the mainstream PC market, Z170 was eventually joined by several other PCH variants that include the Intel H110, B150, Q150, H170 and Q170. The Z170, as with all Z-series PCH models, was aimed at the enthusiasts and was the only one (at launch) to support CPU multiplier and BCLK overclocking.
We continue our Motherboard Memory Lane series today with a look at the Intel X99 platform. Arriving with a new and updated LGA 2011 socket and three new Haswell-E processors, the Intel X99 platform remains at the heart of Intel’s HEDT lineup today. Let’s take a look at the PCH itself and the feature that it brought, as well the most popular X99 motherboards, processor models and the outstanding scores that were made during the era.
First a recap. The Intel X-series of High End Desktop (HEDT) platform chipsets began with the X38 chipset in 2007 which was codenamed Bearlake. This was followed up by the Bearlake refresh X48 platform in early 2008. By the end of 2008 we had Tylersberg and the iconic X58 platform that dominated the HEDT space for years to come. In late 2011 we finally received Patsburg and the X79 platform. This was replaced by the X99 platform in 2014 which was codenamed Wellsburg.