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Intel Sneaks Out Z390 Chipset Documents: Native USB 3.1 Gen2, Wireless-AC, Bluetooth 5 (Update)

Update, 5/24/18, 12:15pm PT: Intel added the Z390 to its official chipset documentation, which you can find here. Aside from the details we've already dug up, the documentation includes more information about the HSIO (High-Speed I/O) lanes, which we've included in an album below. Hat tip to PCGamesHardware for finding the update.

Intel has posted an Z390 Chipset Product Brief to its site with little fanfare. The document outlines the features of the new chipset, which largely mirrors the features of the new 300-series chipsets the company launched with its latest round of Coffee Lake processors. Unfortunately, the document doesn't confirm the new chipset will support the rumored eight-core mainstream desktop model, but given the information we've already gathered from multiple sources, it is almost a certainty. 

Intel touts the Z390 chipset as compatible with eighth-generation processors. Intel has already listed the pending eight-core processors on its website, so we know they will also fall into the eighth-generation family of processors.

Bluechip, a German PC OEM, also recently accidentally posted a roadmap that indicated the Intel Z390 would appear at Computex with the eight-core processor to follow in Q3. Bluechip has since removed the roadmap, but you can see it here.

In April, Intel refreshed its 300-series chipset with the 14nm Cannon Lake PCH, whereas the Z370 chipset used a 22nm process node.

Intel's new PCH only dropped onto new H-, B-, and Q-series motherboards, which curiously left the Z370 platform (the only overclockable chipset of the bunch), with a slightly-outdated chipset. The new Z390 document doesn't reveal any new earth-shattering details. Instead, the chipset just brings the Z-series chipsets up to par with the new 300-series models.

Intel 300 Series Chipset Features Table (April 2018 Updates)
DDR4 OverclockingYesYesNoNoNoNo
On-CPU PCI Express*3.0 Configuration(s)1X16 or 2X8 or 1x8+2X41x16 or 2x8or1x8+2x41x16 or 2x8or1x8+2x41x161x161x16
Independent DisplayPorts / Pipes Support3/33/33/33/33/33/2
Memory Channels / DIMMs per Channel2/22/22/22/22/22/1
Processor OverclockingYesYesNoNoNoNo
Integrated Intel Wireless-ACSupport (CNVi)YesNoYesYesYesYes
Intel Optane Memory SupportYesYesYesYesYesNo
Maximum High Speed I/O Lanes30?3030302414
Maximum USB 3.1 Ports: Gen 2 / Gen 16/100/106/104/84/60/4
Maximum SATA 6Gb/s Ports666664
Maximum PCI Express* 3.0 lanes24 (v3.0)24 (v3.0)24 (v3.0)20 (v3.0)12 (v3.0)6 (v2.0)
Intel Rapid Storage TechnologyYesYesYesYesYesNo
Maximum Intel RST for PCIe Storage Ports (x2 M.2 or x4 M.2)333210
Intel RST PCIe RAID 0, 1, 5YesYesYesYesNoNo
Intel RST SATA RAID 0, 1, 5, 10YesYesYesYesNoNo
Intel RST for CPU-attachedIntel PCIe StorageYesYesYesNoNoNo

The Z390 chipset comes with native support for USB 3.1 Gen2 (up to six ports). Intel also added support to the Z390 for Wireless-AC 2x2 160 MHz and Bluetooth 5. Intel integrated the MAC into the chipset, but it still requires a PHY for operation. Intel offers its own CNVi module as the other half of the integrated solution, but the company also supports third-party solutions. The connection provides up to 1,700 Mbps of bandwidth, provided your router supports it. We've covered the finer details of the new 300-series chipsets, which also include an improved audio DSP, in our launch article. Head there for more detail.

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Intel will undoubtedly provide more details about the Z390 chipset during Computex, and due to Intel's practice of launching new chipsets along with new processors, we might also learn about new additions to the eight-generation family.

Paul Alcorn

Paul Alcorn is the Deputy Managing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He writes news and reviews on CPUs, storage and enterprise hardware.