updated 09:10 am EDT, Tue June 3, 2008
Intel 4-series Chipset
Intel today used Computex to formally unveil its 4-series chipsets, the foundation for its mainstream desktops as well as a clue to the graphics technology that will underpin all basic Intel-based systems in the future. The G45 Express chipset is the first to include Intel's new Graphics Media Accelerator X4500HD video platform and represents a fundamental leap over the X3000 and X3100 in previous mainboards. The chipset is the first from Intel capable of full hardware acceleration of most HD video formats up to and including 1080p Blu-ray; the technology offloads most of the work from the main processor, even with background apps, and boosts the image quality of the picture itself.
Performance for 3D graphics is also improved, with the first support from an Intel chipset for the DirectX 10 feature set as well as OpenGL 2.0 through an upcoming software update. Native support for digital output also extends to include DisplayPort as well as HDMI.
A scaled-down chipset, the G43 Express, offers most of the same features in reduced form, Intel explains. For gamers, the P43 Express and P45 Express strip out the integrated graphics entirely to focus on dedicated video cards; the P45 is targeted at mid-to-high-end gamers with the option of running two PCI Express 2.0 slots at 8X for AMD's CrossFire or similar dual video card setups.
All of the new mainboard platforms have an improved memory controller with support for DDR3 memory up to 1,066MHz as well as a new low-power mode that significantly drops power use when paired with a newer, 45 nanometer Core 2 Duo or Core 2 Quad processor.
Intel hasn't set official ship dates for mainboards built on the technology, though they should be available shortly; the technology behind the X4500HD is known to be a core feature of the Centrino 2 platform for notebooks in August and should help improve battery life by taking more video decoding work away from the processor.