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Gigabyte X48T-DQ6: Linux On Intel's X48 Chipset

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While Intel's X48 Express Chipset is not due out until the middle of March -- after having faced a few delays reaching production -- the kind folks at Gigabyte have today provided us with the Gigabyte X48T-DQ6 motherboard. This motherboard is similar to the Gigabyte X38-DQ6 that we reviewed last October, but it employs the new X48 Express MCH and the revised feature-set that this chipset brings to the hands of enthusiasts. This is our first Intel X48 motherboard review and the world's first look at this new flagship chipset under Linux. In this review of the Gigabyte X48T-DQ6 we will be comparing it to Intel's current P35 and X38 motherboards.

Intel's X48 Express Chipset is an incremental update to the X38, which itself was only released last quarter. The major changes between the X38 and X48 is the support for CPUs with a 1600MHz FSB and DDR3-1600 memory support in contrast to the 1333MHz support found on the X38 Bearlake. No Intel processors currently have a 1600MHz FSB, but launching next month as well will be the Intel Core 2 Extreme QX9700 and QX9770, which will be their first 1.6GHz FSB chip. Of course, this chipset will continue to support CPUs with a lower FSB. The memory controller embedded into Intel's X48 is optimized for XMP memory. XMP is short for Intel's Extreme Memory Profiles, which is similar to NVIDIA's EPP (Enhanced Performance Profiles). Like the X38, this new Intel Express Chipset also supports dual PCI Express 2.0 x16 slots with compatibility for ATI's CrossFireX technology.

The initial motherboards at least utilizing Intel's X48 chipset will continue to use the ICH9 or ICH9R southbridges. As you probably know by now, the Intel ICH9R supports 12 USB 2.0 ports, PCI Express x4 (or four PCI Express x1), two PCI Express x1 slots, Gigabit ethernet, Intel HD audio, and six Serial ATA 2.0 ports with Intel Matrix Storage Technology.

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