H55 And H57 Chipsets
Connecting The Dots
As with Intel chipsets past, there’s a four-lane DMI pathway connecting the Clarkdale chips to component number two in Intel’s dual-chip platform. Capable of moving 1 GB/s in each direction, this should once again be plenty of bandwidth for the I/O not yet integrated onto the processor.
This time, however, there’s another interface between the CPU and PCH called the Intel Flexible Display Interface (FDI). Enabled by DisplayPort, this connection carries a display output from the processor package’s core to the connectors attached to H55/H57. The FDI consists of two separate links (one for each of the GPU’s display pipelines), and the unidirectional downstream pairs can be scaled depending on bandwidth requirements. This is why, while the core technically supports output resolutions up to 2560x1600, our Asus P7H57D-Evo only offers DVI output up to 1920x1200.
H55 And H57: Anti-Climactic Core Logic
With all of the integration that Intel is pushing, there’s actually very little left to talk about once we get into the chipset itself. You’re already familiar with P55—Intel’s first Platform Controller Hub, necessitated by a move to a two-component platform (and away from the processor/northbridge/southbridge configuration it once employed).
|Socket Support||LGA 1156||LGA 1156||LGA 1156||LGA 1156|
|HD Graphics with PAVP 1.5||Yes||Yes||Yes||-|
|SATA Ports||6 x SATA 3 Gb/s||6 x SATA 3 Gb/s||6 x SATA 3 Gb/s||6 x SATA 3 Gb/s|
|PCI Express 2.0 Graphics||1 x 16||1 x 16||1 x 16||1 x 16 or 2 x 8|
|PCI Express 2.0 (2.5 GT/s)||8||6||8||8|
|Remote PC Assist for Consumers||Yes||Yes||-||-|
|Rapid Storage Technology||Yes||-||Yes||Yes|
|Identity Protect Technology||Yes||Yes||-||-|
|Quiet System Technology||Yes||Yes||Yes||-|
|AMT 6.0 w/ Remote PC Assist for Business||-||-||Yes||-|
|ME Ignition Firmware||-||-||-||Yes|
|ME Firmware 6.0||8MB||8MB||8MB||-|
|SPI Device Size Required (in MB)||8||8||8||2|
There are actually three chipsets launching today, but we’ll keep our focus on the two most relevant to desktop users: H55 and H57. Q57 is more interesting to system builders working on business machines, since it enables Active Management Technology. Still, between these, you’ll find very few differences.
Let’s start at the top of our chart and work downward. As with P55, H55 and H57 are designed to complement LGA 1156 processors. Duh.
H55 and H57 are differentiated in that they support Intel’s HD Graphics core with a protected audio and video path—needed to support HDCP and bitstream high-def audio. This PAVP 1.5, as it’s called in the chart, is a component of the management engine built into both chipsets. P55 doesn’t have it, which makes sense since it’s a discrete graphics-only platform.
Of course, you also get the I/O normally found in a southbridge. H55 offers 12 USB 2.0 ports, six SATA 3 Gb/s ports, and six lanes of 2.5 GT/s PCI Express 2.0, while H57 serves up 14 USB 2.0 ports, six SATA 3 Gb/s ports, and eight lanes of 2.5 GT/s PCI Express 2.0 connectivity. Both offer four legacy PCI slots, too.
From there, the two chipset are identical, except that H57 offers Intel Rapid Storage Technology 9.5—follow-up to what was once called Intel’s Matrix storage technology with software RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10.