Today we are delighted to bring you the next episode of our Motherboard Memory Lane series, a series of articles that take an historical look at classic chipset platforms from Intel. This week our focus turns to the Intel P45 platform that arrived in mid-2008. As always we’ll take a look at the chipset itself, motherboards and processors that were popular in this historical period and the record scores that were submitted to the HWBOT database. The Intel P45 chipset was the successor to the popular P35 chipset that had remained the mainstream platform of choice for most enthusiasts since its launch more than year previously. The P45 arrived on the scene boasting better support for Intel processors that required a higher 1333MHz Front Side Bus, the inclusion of PCIe 2.0 and a more balanced approach to multi-GPU configurations that were becoming more popular. Come with us for a walk down memory lane to a time when the P45 platform was the new and shiny mainstream platform of choice.
Intel P45: Overview
The P45 chipset was in fact codenamed Eaglelake (replacing the previous Bearlake series) and was the first Northbridge Chipset from Intel manufactured on the 65nm process. It was coupled with new ICH10 and ICH10R Southbridges and supported up 16GB of DDR2 and 8GB of DDR3. The smaller manufacturing node had the benefit of of making the P45 a physically smaller chip than previous generations while also consuming less power. When paired with its Southbridge counterpart the Chipset had a TDP of 22 watts, making it cooler to run. Although officially the P45 did not support FSB speeds of 1600MHz, configurations required for Intel Core 2 Quad chips such as the flagship QX9770 processor, the majority of motherboard vendors ensured that unofficial support was pretty much standard. The higher potential FSB speeds also proved key when overclocking Core 2 series processors.
In terms of memory support the Intel P45 remained, much like previous P35 and X38 offerings, at the crossroads of DDR2 and DDR3. Officially the P45 supported memory speeds of up to DDR2-800 and DDR3-1366, but in fact motherboard vendors were more than happy to offer support for speeds of up to DDR2-1366 and DDR3-2000.
Looking at graphics card support, the P45 remained limited to a maximum of 16 PCIe lanes (32 lanes remained exclusively within the purview of X38 and subsequent X48 chipsets – a key differentiator of the X-series chipsets that lives on today in the form of the HEDT product stack). The P45 did however support PCIe 2.0 (which debuted months earlier on the X38 platform) with the ability to split PCIe bandwidth into a pair of x8 lanes for Crossfire configurations. This was an improvement on the P35 chipset which offered only a single x16 PCIe 1.0 lane with an additional x4 coming from the Southbridge. Media testing proved that in fact the arrival of PCIe 2.0 meant that having two PCIe x8 lanes was as effective as having two x16 lanes. SLI would remain an exclusive feature of Nvidia Chipsets until the arrival of the X58 platform.
The ICH10 and ICH10R Southbridge was essentially a moderately updated version of the ICH9. It included support for 6 SATA II ports, AHCI support, Matrix RAID support and up to 12 USB 2.0 ports.
Most Popular Intel P45 Motherboards
Let’s take a look at the top ten P45 motherboards on the HWBOT database. Although this epoch of history remained one where ASUS was the dominant force, it is also a period when GIGABYTE began to penetrate the upper tier of the enthusiast hardware space. Here is a list of the top ten motherboards based on the number of P45 submissions posted on HWBOT overall:
- -ASUS P5Q Deluxe – 9.31%
- -GIGABYTE EP45-UD3P – 8.84%%
- -Biostar TPower I45 – 8.06%
- -ASUS P5Q-E – 7.83%
- -ASUS Maximus II Formula – 6.97%
- -ASUS P5Q PRO – 5.43%
- -ASUS P5Q3 Deluxe/WIFI-AP – 4.72%
- -GIGABYTE EP45-UD3R – 4.23%
- -ASUS P5Q – 4.10%
- -GIGABYTE EP45T-Extreme – 4.02%
ASUS claims top spot on the list with 9.31% of all Intel P45 submissions using an ASUS P5Q Deluxe motherboard. The non-Deluxe version and the PRO edition also feature in the top ten.
The ASUS P5Q Deluxe – the most popular board of the P45 era with 11.65% of all users making a submission with this board.
The ROG series Maximus II Formula (in 5th place) also illustrates how ASUS’ gaming brand was beginning to penetrate the mainstream platform space. Meanwhile GIGABYTE were busy showing how they could compete with ASUS by having three boards in the top ten. Biostar is the only other vendor to appear on the list with the Biostar TPower I45 board proving to be a relative hit with more than 8% of all P45 submissions.
Most Popular Intel P45 Compatible Processor: The Intel Core 2 Duo E8400
In the P45 era we can identify one processor that stands head and shoulders above the rest in terms of both score submissions on HWBOT and general popularity among HWBOT members. The Wolfdale-based Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 was used in 11.58% of all P45 submissions, just ahead of the more expensive Core 2 Duo E8600. Most boards were capable of pushing the Core 2 Duo E8400 from its stock speed of 3.33GHz to 4.26GHz and beyond using FSB speeds of 1600MHz. Based on the 45nm manufacturing node with a TDP of 65 watts, the E8400 was eminently pushable, which is not surprising seeing as 22.41% of all HWBOT members actually posted a score using one.
The king of Quad-core Overclocking however was the Core 2 Quad Q6600, which represented 7.22% of all submissions. The prohibitive asking price and the lack of benchmarks that could effectively take advantage of four cores however, were doubtlessly key factors at this point in history.
ASUS P5Q Deluxe Record Scores
Let’s take a look now at the highest scores posted using the most popular P45-based motherboard, the ASUS P5Q Deluxe
If you wanted to pushing a CPU in the P45 era, the job invariably involved raising the reference clock as high as possible. This raised the Front Side Bus (FSB) speed (reference clock x4 = FSB). The final parameter of adjustment was the CPU multiplier (FSB x multiplier = CPU clock). As with all Overclocking, thermal and voltage constraints, plus the availability of settings in the motherboard’s BIOS would eventually determine the upper limitations of the reference clock, and therefore the CPU clock.
The highest Reference Clock ever recorded on a HWBOT submission is actually fairly recent. Ivan Cupa (Indonesia) made a record submission on November 28th 2016 when competing in ROG Showdown 2016 Formula Series contest. He managed to hit a Reference Clock of 649.9MHz using an Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 processor.
You can find the submission from Ivan Cupa here: http://hwbot.org/submission/3378636_ivancupa_reference_clock_p5q_deluxe_649.9_mhz
In modern Overclocking we we tend to focus less on actually CPU frequencies as bonafide benchmark scores. However, back in era of the P45 platform of the mid-noughties, it was a highly contested benchmark for many of the world’s top overclockers.
The highest ever CPU frequency ever submitted to HWBOT using the ASUS P5Q Deluxe board was made by China’s wytiwx who back in October 2013, managed to push a Cedar Mill-based Intel Celeron 347 processor from its stock 3.06GHz to a massive 8,370.37MHz (+173.01%).
Here’s a great shot of the LN2 cooled rig used by wytiwx:
You can find the submission from wytiwx here on HWBOT: http://hwbot.org/submission/2435030_wytiwx_cpu_frequency_celeron_d_347_8370.37_mhz
Finally we come to the most classic of classic CPU benchmarks – SuperPi 32M. It remains one of the most important in terms of historical relevance, stretching back to the early days of Overclocking. The fastest SuperPi 32M run submitted on HWBOT using an ASUS P5Q Deluxe board was submitted by Indonesia’s ViNG. He opted to take a server-class CPU, the Intel Xeon X5260, which he boosted to 5,058MHz (+51.76%) to complete a SuperPi 32M run in just 9min 53sec 531ms.
Thanks for joining us for our third Motherboard Memory Lane article. Join us again next week when we take a look at the classic Intel X48 platform.