Over the past couple of years it seems as though every new desktop CPU release from Intel has required either a new chipset, board redesign, or at the very least a BIOS update for the user to experience the latest and greatest from Intel. The biggest change occurred in June of 2006 when Intel launched the Core 2 series and overnight several previous generations of Socket 775 compatible chipsets and motherboards were deemed obsolete.

Sure, the 975X, 945G/P, and even the i865 chipsets were able to support the new Core 2 architecture, but the motherboards designed around them required a significant overhaul in the electrical components and trace layouts to work correctly - not to mention new BIOS releases. We also had the release of the P965 family of chipsets that were designed expressly for the Core 2 series which brought about another twist in the selection process. It was a scant four months later when the Kentsfield quad-core CPUs were launched and we went through the entire motherboard/BIOS revision process again. Unfortunately, some of those users that purchased boards at the June launch of the Core 2 family found they required yet another board in order for Kentsfield to operate properly.

Here we are again a year later with another new CPU design release from Intel that requires both specific chipset and BIOS support on the motherboard in order to work properly. As in past releases, there are some motherboard/chipset designs that function out of the gate. Others require nothing more than a BIOS update, a few will become obsolete, and we have several that are still under consideration as to whether or not they will be compatible.

We have spoken at length with the various motherboard suppliers and have a fairly good indication of what motherboard/chipset combinations will work with Wolfdale and Yorkfield (the desktop Penryn codenames for dual-core and quad-core, respectively). The recently released Intel P35, P31, G31, G33, G35, and X38 chipsets have native support for the 45nm processors. However, even though these chipsets fully support Wolfdale and Yorkfield, the motherboards based on these chipsets could require something as simple as a BIOS update, or - in the worst cases - a new board revision.

In the vast majority of cases with these particular Intel chipsets, the motherboard will POST and operate even if the BIOS does not fully recognize the processor. However, in early testing of the processors we have noticed that most of the motherboards will require a BIOS update in order to properly optimize the performance of the system. We expect to see a flood of BIOS updates over the coming weeks that not only recognize each 45nm processor, but also provides specific performance optimizations for each board.

Elsewhere in the land of Intel chipsets, we have several manufacturers that will offer a combination of Wolfdale and/or Yorkfield compatibility on their 945GC-based motherboards. While this chipset does not specifically support 1333FSB operations, a couple of manufacturers have worked their BIOS magic to provide support. We might even see support on the venerable 975X chipset as ASUS is in the process of validation testing for their workstation boards. Even though the P965 chipset does not officially support the 45nm processor families, we have MSI offering BIOS support for two of their boards. We also expect to see "unofficial" support on the latest performance oriented P965 boards from ASUS and Gigabyte if stability problems when overclocking can be overcome. We will be testing a couple of their boards next week to see how well they work.

The situation with the NVIDIA designed chipsets for the Intel market is a little different. The 680i SLI, 680i LT SLI, GeForce 7150, and GeForce 7100 chipsets officially support Wolfdale and Yorkfield. The 650i SLI and GeForce 7050 chipsets will support these processors, but it seems as if that will be a supplier to supplier decision at this time. Of note, we have several 680i SLI motherboards that are currently undergoing qualification testing at this time, not for lack of chipset support, but for board designs. The reference board A1/T1 designs from EVGA will only require a BIOS update to work as an example, while motherboards from Gigabyte, ECS, abit, Biostar, and Foxconn are questionable at this point. We will have an update on these particular motherboards shortly; in the meantime, it appears the revised 680i boards from NVIDIA's launch partners along with boards from ASUS, MSI, and DFI should be fine with nothing more than a BIOS update.

You might be wondering why we have not discussed VIA or SIS yet. Well, there really is nothing to discuss at this time as neither company has a chipset in the market that officially works with the 45nm processors. We do expect new chipsets from SIS in Q1 of 2008 that will provide support but do not expect new product designs from VIA.

We will update the data on the following charts as the manufacturers provide additional information. We have placed comments regarding optimized BIOS releases, qualification testing, and other information in the Notes section. A "-" designates that the motherboard should POST with a Wolfdale or Yorkfield processor but the BIOS is not optimized yet or might not offer full functionality. If you have a specific question on a motherboard that is not listed or additional information that is provided here, we suggest you contact the manufacturer directly. Now let's see what the current status is on a supplier by supplier basis.

abit, ASUS, and Biostar
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  • nowayout99 - Sunday, November 25, 2007 - link

    The popular Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3L board is Yorkfield-friendly with the F6 update. Reply
  • mbf - Monday, November 19, 2007 - link

    ...changed its mind about support for Penryn processors on i975X-based boards. As the newly revised list at http://event.asus.com/mb/45nm/">http://event.asus.com/mb/45nm/ shows there is now not a single i975X-based board on that list. Very strange when an even more aging chipset like the i945GC at least still supports the dual-core (Wolfdale) models. Strange stuff indeed... Reply
  • papi4baby - Thursday, November 15, 2007 - link

    Thanks. Reply
  • MichaelD - Tuesday, November 13, 2007 - link

    I have a Gigabyte P965-DS3 Rev1.0. Any word on Yorkfield compatibility? Reply
  • CZroe - Tuesday, October 30, 2007 - link

    As is stands, I'm most interested in the Asus P5N32-SLI PLUS. It was made as a cheaper alternative to the P5N32-SLI and is superior because it uses all solid caps and remains feature-identical with the 680i board. The interesting part is that it is actually a combination of a 650i and an AMD chipset to get 2x16 PRG slots and more. This is why I am extremely curious to know if it supportes these next-gen CPUs. It is often incorrectly called a 680i board or a 650i board, so Asus had to come up with their own chpset name for it on the website (though no one seems to have gone along).

    Please ask and update because it's popular in high-end systems. Also, it is the cheapest board I could find with DTS Connect, so I'm sure a lot of mid-range HTPC buyers snapped it up too and they would like to know.
    Reply
  • MAValpha - Monday, October 29, 2007 - link

    Wait, so abit is updating their 945G board, but not their once-flagship AB9 Pro or QuadGT? I'll be more than a little surprised if the VRM isn't compatible, as 1333FSB support certainly isn't the issue here...

    And more disappointing, DFI isn't doing anything with the RD600-based ICFX3200-T2R/G! Is this board just being swept under the rug as a costly mistake?
    Reply
  • 8KCABrett - Monday, April 07, 2008 - link

    Actually, Abit does now have a beta BIOS which supports the 45nm CPUs out for a few more of their P965 boards, including the AB9 QuadGT.

    Here is a thread on the subject in the ABIT forums:

    http://forum.uabit.com/showthread.php?t=136523">http://forum.uabit.com/showthread.php?t=136523

    Here is the BIOS download post: http://forum.abit-usa.com/showthread.php?t=122393">http://forum.abit-usa.com/showthread.php?t=122393
    Reply
  • Lord 666 - Saturday, September 20, 2008 - link

    Took the plunge and tried installing a Q9550 into my Abit AB9 Quad GT. First tried the BIOS 17 that was on their Tawain site, but it was not marked beta. Watched the bios with the E6600 in board over the weekend, found it to be stable so I moved forward with installing the new CPU into an existing Vista Ultimate 32bit build.

    While the CPU was functional and noticeably faster than the E6600 that was in previously, there were random application errors during bootup and while idle. Right after bootup, there were application failures tied into Windows Media Center. After selecting a previously known working file with Windows Media Player, it would play the first second and then crash the application. WMC wasn't able to access live TV anymore because it stated my dinky USB TV tuner was not found (but saw it within device manager)

    I wiped Vista and went to XP64 and have not had these issues... but that the same time don't have WMC and other XP 64bit issues.

    Lesson learned is I should have stuck with the Q6600 with this board. In the process of finding a suitable board for the Q9550 and going to eventually pair the still rock solid QuadGT with a new Q6600.
    Reply
  • Calin - Monday, October 29, 2007 - link

    There was a time when only VIA had support in chipset for the fastest FSB from Intel (the 133MHz front side bus P3 chipsets) Reply
  • CZroe - Tuesday, October 30, 2007 - link

    I dunno... Weren't there even 440BX boards with 133FSB? I think you are talking about UDMA133/EIDE133/ATA133. That was not an official standard and IBM refusted to make drives supporting it. When IBM sold the division to Hitachi and nVidia nodded with UDMA133 on the nForce, we finally got UDMA133 Deskstar HDDs. ;) Reply

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