In the second episode of our Motherboard Memory Lane series we hone in on the Intel P35 Chipset, the successor to the Intel P965 chipset that we covered last week. The plan as always is to take a look at the P35 chipset and its Southbridge companion, the ICH9 in a little detail, outlining the new features that it brought to market, the most popular motherboards of that era on HWBOT, and of course the benchmark records that we can attribute to that era. With no further ado, let’s crack on.
Intel P35: Overview
Codenamed Bearlake, the P35 Chipset was launched in the 2nd Quarter of 2007, replacing the popular and long standing Intel P965 chipset. It was launched to target the enthusiast segment alongside mainstream and entry-level G35 and G33 offerings (which also featured integrated Chipset graphics capabilities). The P35 arguably boasted one key feature that made it standout from previous offerings from Intel; a higher 1333MHz Front Side Bus and support for Dual-channel DDR2 1066/800/667. It also support DDR3 at memory at similar speeds (and was the first commercial Chipset to do so) although at this point in history DDR3 kits remained around double the price of equivalent DDR2 kits while simultaneously bringing virtually no performance gains thanks to predominantly higher latencies. The fact that the vast majority of popular P35- based motherboards supported only DDR2 is clear evidence of this.
The key advantage that the Intel P35 chipset brought however remained its ability to really get the most from the latest processors from Intel, including those based on Wolfdale, Kentsfield and Conroe architectures. Native support for 1333MHz front-side bus speeds was a key factor in unlocking the performance potential of these CPUs. In terms of additional features however the P35 remained very similar to its predecessor the P965. Looking at multi-GPU support, the P35 officially supported ATi/AMD Crossfire configurations but did not yet support splitting the native 16x PCIe lanes of the Northbridge. Dual GPU configurations had to make do with x16 lanes for one card (from the Northbridge) plus 4x lanes from the Southbridge. SLI at this stage was reserved for Nvidia Chipset solutions only. Gigabit LAN support also made an appearance on the ICH9 Southbridge, while native IDE support was dropped in favor of 3Gbps SATA (although many board vendors added IDE support via 3rd party controllers).
The Intel P35 was based on a 90nm manufacturing process, and along with the ICH9 / ICH9R Southbridge, had a TDP of 20 watts, significantly lower than competing Nvidia Chipsets at that time.
Most Popular Intel P35 Motherboards
Looking at the top ten P35 motherboards on the HWBOT database we see that in this period ASUS was by the far the dominant force, being the brand of choice for the majority of PC enthusiasts. Here is a list of the top ten motherboards based on the number of P35 submissions posted on HWBOT overall:
- ASUS P5K – 10.06%
- ASUS P5K Deluxe/WIFI-AP – 9.18%
- GIGABYTE P35-D34 – 6.82%
- Abit IP35 Pro – 6.35%
- DFI LANparty UT P35-T2R – 5.75%
- ASUS P6K-E/WIFI-AP – 5.70%
- ASUS P5K Premium/WIFI-AP- 4.68%
- GIGABYTE P35-DQ6 – 3.53%
- GIGABYTE P35-DS3 – 3.48%
- ASUS Blitz Formula (Special Ed) – 3.18%
With the Intel P965 platform saw ASUS steal the limelight with one of its early ROG boards. However, in the P35 realm the only ROG board to make the top-ten is the Blitz Formula (Special Edition) which garners only 3.18% of all submissions. The most popular boards for the P35 platform with a combined share of around 20% of all P35 submissions are the ASUS P5K and it’s more expensive brother, the P5K Deluxe/WIFI-AP board. In terms of general design, the two are almost identical, although the Deluxe arguably looks more attractive with its larger heatsinks and black PCB.
ASUS is responsible for five of the top ten motherboards which collectively account for around a third of all P35 submissions on HWBOT. GIGABYTE have three boards in the top ten but in fact these collectively account for less than 14% of the P35 pie. DFI, as with the P965 chipset, found themselves with a winner in the form of the LANparty UT P35-T2R while Abit managed to engage enthusiasts in this era with their IP35 Pro board.
Most Popular Intel P35 Compatible Processor
In the era of the Intel P35 platform we can identify two processors that proved to be the most popular in this period. Quad-core computing was fairly new in early 2007 but already the performance advantages of those additional cores was being explored, primarily in the shape of the Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600. The Core 2 Quad Q6600 was a Kensfield-based chip that actually represents 16.9% of all P35 platform submissions. In terms user usage, it proves to be even more popular with 27.42% of users using it.
Dual-Core offerings also remained popular of course, especially as the majority of benchmarks in 2007 were ill-equipped to deal with more than two cores. Thus we find that the second most popular CPU of the era was the Wolfdale-based Core 2 Duo E8400 – this CPU was responsible for 10.61% of all P35 submissions with more than 16% of users posting scores with it.
ASUS P5K Record Scores
Let’s take a look now at the highest scores posted using the most popular P35-based motherboard, the ASUS P5K.
In the Intel P35 era the job of actually overclocking the CPU more often as not involved pushing the reference clock, which in turn would raise the Front Side Bus (FSB). After adjusting the CPU multiplier, you end up with a specific CPU clock speed. As usual, thermal and voltage constraints, plus the availability of settings in the BIOS would eventually determine the upper limitations of the reference clock, and therefore the CPU clock.
According to the HWBOT database, the highest reference clock ever on the ASUS P5K motherboard was achieved by Japan’s DAKARA in 2010 who managed to hit a 626.02MHz clock using an Intel Core 2 Duo E6850 ‘Conroe’ architecture processor. A reference clock of 626.02MHz (FSB 2504.1MHz) with a multiplier of x9 resulted in a clock speed of 5,634.17MHz (+87.81%).
You can find the submission from DAKARA here:
Today we tend to focus less on actually CPU frequency records, but back in the mid-noughties it was a highly contested benchmark for many overclockers. The highest CPU frequency ever submitted on an ASUS P5K motherboard comes from France’s boblemagnifique who managed to push an Intel Celeron 347 processor to 7,647.59MHz, a massive +149.43% beyond the chip’s stock settings. His configuration included a reference clock of 332.5MHz (FSB 1330MHz) and a multiplier of x23 – all cooled on liquid nitrogen of course.
You can find the submission from boblemagnifique here:
In terms of classic CPU benchmarks, SuperPi 32M is among those that have been used since the dawn of Overclocking. The fastest SuperPi 32M run submitted on HWBOT using a P35-based ASUS P5K motherboard was submitted by another Japanese Overclocker, the respected Hideo who is still very much an active Overclocker today on HWBOT. He managed a SuperPi 32M run in just 8min 54sec 218ms, a score that was achieved using a Conroe-based Intel Core 2 Duo E6850 processor pushed on LN2 to 5,720.2MHz, which is +90.67% beyond stock settings. Memory settings include an ADATA DDR2 kit clocked at 636MHz (CL5.0 4-4-4 2T).
You can find the submission from Hideo here:
Thanks for joining us for our second Motherboard Memory Lane article. Join us again next week when we take a look at the Intel X38 platform.