Intel Ivy Bridge Chip, Motherboard A Great Combination

Ivy Bridge In 3-D

Intel's launch this week of Ivy Bridge, its ultra-thin, ultra-efficient processors for desktop and mobile devices, ushers in an era of smaller, more powerful and power-efficient application processors. According to a report by system researcher and UBM Channel sister company UBM TechInsights, Intel's 3-D Tri-Gate technology and its ability to be mass produced using the 22nm process makes possible a further transition to 14nm and even 10nm nodes.

What you're seeing isn't a colorized satellite photo of some inner city. It's the actual high-end Ivy Bridge die, complete with four processor cores, 8 MB shared L3 cache, memory controller unit and an Intel HD Graphics 4000 graphics processor. Ivy Bridge is the first Intel processor series with direct support for DirectX 11, Microsoft's latest graphics and multimedia APIs.

Forward Thinking, Backward Compatible

The Intel Core i7 3770K processor (at near left) is among the first processors available that incorporate Tri-Gate technology, which creates three-dimensional transistors that maximize current flow when in the on state and consume close to zero when off. Intel's previous-generation 32nm process parts provide a 2-D planar channel.

Ivy Bridge processors use the same LGA 1155 socket as Sandy Bridge parts. Ivy Bridge chips can be soldered directly to a motherboard, helping to reduce a system's profile by eliminating the need for a processor socket (at far left).

Extreme Motherboard

Intel also this week unveiled the Desktop Board DZ77GA-70K (code named Gasper) with D77 chipset to match. The D77 is optimized for K-series processors that are unlocked and ready for overclocking. Among the goodies for gamers and PC enthusiasts are eight internal SATA ports: four 6 GB/s, four 3 Gb/s, color coded for easy identification. Connected drives are handled by an on-board Marvell 6 Gb/s SATA controller and Intel Rapid Storage Technology software with support for RAID 0, 1, 5 and 10.

Ports Of Import

Intel's latest ATX motherboard provides an array of front- and rear-panel external ports that are also nicely color coded. These include eight USB 3.0 ports, 10 USB 2.0 ports, one eSATA 6 Gb/s, a pair of FireWire ports, a pair of Gbit Ethernet ports, HDMI output and Intel's Ten-channel High Definition Audio.

The $249 list price also includes an accessory bundle with a front-panel bracket for mounting two of the USB 3.0 ports, a Bluetooth/Wi-Fi networking module, SLI bridge connector, software utilities and a motherboard-sized mouse pad complete with the silk-screened skull logo.

Lots Of Slots

The DZ77GA-70K provides a total of five PCI slots, including two Dual PCIe 3.0 x16 graphics slots with support for NVidia SLI and AMD CrossfireX technologies. A bridge connector is included for systems using two NVidia cards. There are also two PCIe x1 slots, two legacy PCI slots and one PCIe x4 slot.

Intel Visual Bios

A very busy Intel also introduced this week the Intel Visual Bios, which implements the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI), an interface specification managed by a consortium that includes Intel. The all-new, mouse-controlled environment includes an Overclocking Assistant for K-series processors that turns the once-complex practice to child's play and removes some of the mystique from the uber-geek.

For VARs and everyone else, the environment uses tabs, drop-down menus and slider-bars to greatly simplify the configuration of system and processor settings, and it provides a wealth of information about system performance, and health, as well as fan speeds and slot status.

Dual-Channel Memory

The Gasper motherboard supports as much as 32 GB of DDR3 memory running at a maximum of 1600MHz in a two-channel configuration. The motherboard's LGA1155 (H2) socket (far left) will support numerous processors, including not only third-generation Ivy Bridge processors but also Intel's second-generation processors as well as many others.

For its stability, versatility, terrific performance and simple, intuitive visual bios interface, the CRN Test Center recommends the new Intel Desktop Board DZ77GA and Intel Core i7 3770K processor.

More Ivy Bridge Coverage From CRN

Intel Launches Ivy Bridge:
Ivy Bridge Chip, Motherboard Review
Intel 3-D Transistor Paves Way For Thinner Systems
Intel Launches 22-nm Ivy Bridge Processors