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Intel P45 desktop chipset

Makes life more difficult for overclockers

G45 introduces the new GMA X4500HD graphics core that we’ll be covering very soon in a comparison of desktop graphics, and G43 uses GMA X4500 without the HD suffix.

The 4 series uses the new ICH10/ICH10R southbridge. The 3 series was allied with ICH9/ICH9R, but it’s hard to find any substantial differences between the two generations. The two southbridges have the same levels of support for USB 2.0, LAN, 3Gb/s SATA and SATA RAID without a sniff of integrated Firewire or anything exotic such as 802.11n wireless.

3DMark06 Results

Intel P45 - 3DMark06 Results

Longer bars are better

The most visible change in P45 lies in the PCI Express support for graphics as a single graphics card will run on 16 lanes of PCIe 2.0 while two ATi graphics cards in CrossFire will get eight lanes of PCIe 2.0 each. That’s enough bandwidth to run CrossFireX with a pair of dual-GPU graphics cards - which is handy, as AMD has recently brought out the ATI Radeon HD 4850, 4870 and 4870 X2.

Although the PCIe support offered by P45 is a welcome enhancement over P35, it’s not as generous as the dual 16 lanes you get with X38 and X48. For that matter, P45 doesn’t add support for a new FSB or memory speed. We know full well that Penryn will have reached the end of the road at top-of-the-line CPU as soon as 'Nehalem' - aka Core i7 - is launched in conjunction with the 5 series of chipsets, so you might be wondering what’s so great about the P45.

That’s a very good question.

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