Later this week at CeBIT, Intel will show off its new Bearlake chipset family for desktop PCs. This new chipset is designed to support the firm's upcoming 45nm processors, DDR3 memory and 1333MHz FSBs.
The main chipset on show is known as the P35 and is to be positioned as the successor to Intel's current 965 Express series for mainstream desktops, according to sources. Motherboards based on the P35 will be able to support FSB speeds up to 1333MHz (up from the 1066MHz of the 965) which will be required for several of the CPUs Intel is planning to launch in the second half of the year. The P35 also introduces support for DDR3 memory which is currently specified to run at up to 1066MHz, versus DDR2's 800MHz, and so offers greater memory bandwidth. DDR3 also operates at just 1.5V compared to DRR2's 1.8V.
Supplies of DDR3 are, however, currently low and prices relatively high, which does not match the mainstream position of the P35. For this reason Intel has also designed the P35 with optional legacy support for DDR2 which motherboard makers can choose to implement is several ways: cutting-edge boards that only support DDR3 but which increase system costs because new, expensive RAM needs to be bought; legacy boards that support DDR2, but not DDR3, allowing users to take advantage of the abundance of DDR2 now, but may be limited in the future when DDR3 becomes more common; and so-called "combo" or "hybrid" boards which support both DDR3 and DDR2, but not at the same time, meaning that consumers can save some money by using DDR2 now and upgrade to DDR3 later, but the system is limited to only two DIMMs at a time compared to the four that are available in the other implementations.