Mobile Chipsets, Refreshed
Along with its 11 new mobile processors, Intel is also launching a quartet of platform controller hubs. From lowest to highest, in order of pricing: HM55, HM57, QM57, QS57. Add in the PM55 already being used to support Clarksfield processors and you have a total of five mobile chipsets from which to choose in the current-generation Calpella platform.
Given the degree of integration on the processor side (leaving relatively little for core logic to handle), the differences between these five SKUs are fairly subtle, so let’s start with yet another chart and break them down from there.
|Remote PC Assist For Consumer||-||-||Yes||-||-||-|
|Rapid Storage 9.5||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes (AHCI-only)|
|FIS-Based Port Multiplier Support||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|2.5 GT/s PCI Express||8||8||8||8||8||6|
|SATA 3 Gb/s||6||6||6||6||6||4|
|Integrated Graphics w/ PAVP 1.5||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||-||Yes|
Right off the bat, we see that the QM- and QS- models are intended more for businesses than consumers. AMT 6.0 with Remote PC Assist is used by IT administrators and VARs to remotely manage and secure hardware assets—a great feature if you’re the one responsible for keeping tabs on pricey notebooks, especially in larger organizations where inventorying equipment is particularly difficult.
HM57 and HM55 (like H57 and H55 on the desktop) are more relevant to the broader market of consumers.
HM55 includes 12 USB 2.0 ports, six 2.5 GT/s PCI Express links, four SATA 3 Gb/s ports, support for four PCI devices, Anti-Theft technology, and the AHCI component of Intel’s Rapid Storage technology suite (not the software-based RAID support). Of course, Intel also adds its management engine, enabling the protected audio/video path needed for Blu-ray video playback and high-def audio bitstreaming via integrated graphics.
HM57 is available in two different forms. Both step up with 14 USB 2.0 ports, eight PCI Express links, six SATA ports, up to four PCI-based peripherals, and the same protected audio/video path. The “lower-end” version employs up to a 4MB firmware package, while the “higher-end” implementation uses as much as 8MB of space. The larger firmware makes room for Identity Protection technology and Remote PC Assist technology for the consumer space—a version of what Intel enables on the QM57 and QS57—allowing befuddled home users to hit a button, key in a code, and get remote support from a remote tech offering service.
As you’ve no doubt already realized, all four of these platforms are very similar from an I/O standpoint, and differentiated by turning switches on various value-adds on and off. Fair enough—that’s the way it’s destined to be anyway as an increasing amount of technology is integrated into the processor itself.