With Computex 2009 just around the corner, snippets of news, hazy pictures, and rumours are starting to abound about the new products that will be on show next week. One such flurry of excitement comes courtesy Asus who has given us a sneak peak of its yet to be announced P7P55 Pro motherboard.
Built around Intel's upcoming P55 chipset, this board uses the new LGA 1156 CPU socket for Intel's new mainstream Core i5 line of CPUs, which are expected to be available in September of this year. These new CPUs are based on the same 'Nehalem' architecture as Core i7 but use a smaller package and have fewer features - for instance, they will use dual channel memory as opposed to triple channel and have support for only two x8 graphics slots - and will correspondingly cost less. As such, Intel is branding this range as 'mainstream' though rumoured price ranges for P55 based motherboards of £125 - £200 may still make many buyer's eyes water.
In case you missed that, yes, this means Intel is introducing another socket technology after having only just brought in LGA1366 for its Core i7 chips. Not that LGA1366 is set to be retired, it will sit alongside LGA1156 for the forseeable future as the enthusiast platform of choice. It's just a shame Intel will be introducing inherent blockages to the CPU upgrade path by running two different CPU sockets. e.g. If someone buys a modest P55 motherboard and Core i5 CPU but then decides they want something more powerful they won't be able to invest in the 'best' CPUs without upgrading their motherboard as well. Once Core i5 CPUs arrive, the old Core 2 based P45 chipset will be retired but LGA 775 will live on in the G41 and P43 chipsets, at least up until 2010.
Back to the particular board we've seen and Asus seems to have put together a rather neat design incorporating two well spaced PCI-E x8 slots and a generally spacious layout. We asked an Asus representative if it would have either SLI or Crossfire support but were told that such information couldn't be divulged yet.
Part of the reason the board looks so spartan is the chipset is actually a single chip as opposed to the usual two or three. This leaves plenty of space for added extras but for now Asus is sticking with a clean and simple design that will appeal more to the mainstream masses that the chipset is aimed at.
All we need now is to actually play with a working sample and see how it performs...